Arms of the current Baron of Gavín, emblazoned by Carlos Navarro Gazapo
For those who are not up to date with the comings and goings of the world of heraldry & nobility in Spain, there has been a lot of talk about the title of “Baron of Gavín”.
Before continuing, I would like to make it clear to anyone reading this that I’m not backing any horse in this race. My interest is the truth and the good reputation of the Spanish institutions.
First, some background info:
The current holder of the title of Baron of Gavín is a gentleman named Manuel Fuertes Rojo (later Manuel Fuertes de Gilbert y Rojo) who had applied to restore the barony to him in 1978 and finally got it approved in 1981.
Since then, the Baron has become a very much respected personality in the high social circles of Spain and particularly Madrid as well as a highly regarded contributor to the science of heraldry. Among the various august organizations he is a member of, one finds the following: Real Academia Matritense de Heráldica y Genealogia (Royal Academy of Heraldry & Genealogy of Madrid) as the current vice-director, Diputación y Consejo de la Grandeza de España (Delegation & Advisory Board of Grandees of Spain), Real Cuerpo de la Nobleza de Madrid (Royal Body of the Nobility of Madrid), Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George, etc.
Coat of arms of the Abarca, lineage of the Barons of Gavín
Now, the story:
A few years ago, some cracks had begun to appear surrounding Mr. Fuertes Rojo’s claim to the title.
Talk had been going on for several years but, the first really public question on the validity of the title appeared in the magazine Cuadernos de Ayala #39 (July-September 2009), on page 30.
As a result, new chatter appeared here and there about the title but, nothing much came out of it since.
However, just in November of 2010 Mr. Armand de Fluvià i Escorsa who, among other things, is the Asesor de Heráldica y Genealogía de Cataluña and also a long time member of the Royal Academy of Madrid published a book with the title “Historia de una Falsificación Nobiliaria: La baronía de Gavín, en Aragón” (History of a Nobiliary Falsification: The barony of Gavín, in Aragon).1
In the book, Mr. Fluvià i Escorsa demonstrates (very clearly in my opinion) in about 40 pages that the legitimate holder of the barony is the Duchess of Alba and directly accuses Mr. Fuertes Rojo to have deliberately falsified his petition to the title.
The allegation is that the fundamental document used by Mr. Fuertes Roja to substantiate his claim does not and never did exist! Naturally, the author elaborates on this and covers much more in the book.
As is to be expected when there is any confrontation between high profile persons, this has taken up a lot of time in the circles that care about these things – in this case heraldic and genealogical circles.
Because there is a direct and clear accusation against Mr. Fuertes Rojo and due to his very senior position in the Royal Academy of Madrid, the Federación Española de Genealogía y Heráldica y Ciencias Históricas (Spanish Federation of Genealogy, Heraldry and Historical Studies) issued a circular in January of 2011 decrying the issue as a scandal that must be addressed quickly and decisively in order to restore the dignity of the institution.2
If some of you are getting a feeling of déjà vu from this, you’re not alone.
I can’t help but ask myself: Could this be the MacCarthy Mór of Spain?
This whole thing is indeed starting to sound a lot like the whole MacCarthy Mór “scandal” from the 1990′s and 2000′s, though obviously not as egregious. The Baron of Gavín never claimed a font honorum and never created new or revived ancient orders. Not only that, at least Mr. Fuertes Rojo had some real genealogy to base his claim on (however fraudulent that claim is alleged to be).
It is a shame that a person who was considered one of the giants of Spanish heraldry to have come about his noble title with ignoble methods. It is particularly ironic considering that just in late 2010 he had authored a publication on nobiliary orders where, among other things, he decries all the “fake” orders of knighthood.
It would be in his best interest to speak up in his own defense but, as far as I know, he has not done so and his silence is not helping him.
It appears that both the Ministry of Justice of Spain and the House of Alba will not be taking any measures on this matter. Personally, I would prefer to see a statement from either or both and perhaps add some clarity or even closure.
Until the appropriate government authorities of the Kingdom of Spain step in, things will probably stay in a rather gray area. Though, it is absolutely certain that socially this is a devastating blow to Mr. Fuertes Rojo.
In any case, it is a very sad state of affairs that we all hope will come to a definitive conclusion soon enough. If the title was acquired with fraudulent means, it needs to be dealt with clearly and decisively, for the good of the institution in Spain.
Some further reading material (all in Spanish):
- Though I have access to the book by Mr. Fluvià i Escorsa, I cannot publish scans etc. for obvious copyright reasons. However, if anyone want to know the publishing details please feel free to contact me.
- I have a PDF of the circular mentioned above by the Federación Española de Genealogía y Heráldica y Ciencias Históricas – feel free to contact me if you’d like to know more about it.