Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Forged will: family charges!

October 14, 1901

The Marquise de Fontenoy reports today on a court case in Munich, where "two beautiful Countess, each of them under 80 years old," are contesting the will of their grandmother, Archduchess Maria Leopoldina of Austria, who was the wife of the last Elector of Bavaria. (The Marquise notes that this marriage was "negotiated by an American hailing from England," Benjamin Rumford, who "entered the Bavarian service at the close of the American war of independence. Rumford became a principal advisor to the Elector, and was a made a count. He was also knighted in England, and was a founder of the Royal Society.)
The Elector was 71 years old when he married the Archduchess. There were no children from the marriage, and after his death, Maria Leopoldina married her "principal chamberlain and gentleman-in-waiting, Count Louis Arco."
The couple had two sons, Count Aloys and Count Max. The archduchess' "enormous fortune" was divided equally between her two sons "with the proviso that in the event of one of her sons dying without male issue two-thirds of his inheritance should go to the children of his brother."
Count Aloys' first marriage to Irene Pallaviccini was childless. After his wife's death, he married a commoner, Pauline Oswald. They had one daughter, Countess Sophie Arco, who in 1890 married Count Ernst von Moy, who holds a position with the Port of Munich.
Before Count Aloys died, he "made an agreement with his younger brother, Max, according to which the former agreed both for himself and for his daughter to pay over a sum of a million marks at his death to Count Max's youngest son, Maximilian," who was chief male descendant of the archduchess.
Count Aloys died in 1891.
Countess Sophie paid over one million marks to her cousin, Maximilian. The lawsuit came about when Maximilian's first cousin, Countess Mathilde Arco, the only child of Maximilian's older brother, Karl.
Mathilde, who is unmarried, has brought suit against Countess Moy, "declaring she had no business to pay the million marks" to her cousin, Maximilian. Mathilde's lawsuit charges that the money should have come to her, and "she has succeeded in accumulating a quantity of evidence tending to show that the clause in the Archduchess' will" regarding the two-thirds inheritance was a forgery.
Count Max's eldest son, the late Count Ludwig inherited his father's portion of the archduchess' estate.

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