Table of contents:

The most famous literary forgeries, in the authenticity of which almost everyone believed
The most famous literary forgeries, in the authenticity of which almost everyone believed
William Shakespeare and the forgery of his manuscript

As a rule, when leafing through the pages of historical works, ordinary people are used to trusting what was written. But history knows many cases when they turned out to be fake. This review contains well-known falsifications, in the authenticity of which millions of people believed.

Veno Konstantinovo

Constantine I leads a horse by the bridle, on which sits Pope Sylvester I. Fresco of the Chapel of San Silvestro, until 1247

In an effort to increase their influence throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, Catholic dignitaries presented an ancient document known as Veno Konstantinovo (or Gift of Constantinov) to the public. According to him, Emperor Constantine donated lands and power over the Roman Empire to Pope Sylvester I.

The testament document colorfully told that Constantine fell ill with leprosy, and only baptism and conversion to Christianity miraculously cured him of the disease. In gratitude for this, the emperor even wanted to take off his crown and hand over the rule to the Pope, but he generously refused, content only with the highest ecclesiastical dignity. Since the 11th century, it was Veno Konstantinovo that became one of the main levers for the pontiff's claims to supreme power in Europe during the Middle Ages.

Thet of Constantine is a forged testament of Emperor Constantine to Pope Sylvester I

The fact of falsification of the document was proved by the Italian humanist Lorenzo de Valla in the second half of the 15th century. After that, the Roman priests for a couple of centuries tried to assert that this was the original, but then they nevertheless admitted that Veno Konstantinovo was a fake.

Fake Shakespeare

William Henry Ireland is an English lawyer and writer known as the forger of Shakespeare's manuscripts

William Henry Ireland was the son of publisher Samuel Ireland, an avid Shakespearean fan. In 1794, William, who by the nature of his occupation had access to ancient documents, presented his father with a unique debt letter, allegedly signed by Shakespeare himself. From this, the publisher was indescribable delight.

A little later, William Henry Ireland "suddenly discovered" a few more papers written by the hand of the great English poet and playwright. Among them were supposedly the manuscripts of King Lear and Hamlet. Experts confirmed the authenticity of the documents, and Ireland's father and son became very popular in London society.

The manuscript of William Henry Ireland's Shakespeare Forgeries

William Henry, confident that no one would reveal his falsifications, set about composing an entire play, Vortigern and Rowena, which he attributed to Shakespeare. In 1796, it was supposed to premiere, but two days before that, a book by Shakespearean Edmond Malone was published, in which he proved the hoax of Ireland. This career of a forger came to an end.

Collection of Balkan Songs

Prosper Mérimée is a French writer

Once the French romantic writer Prosper Mérimée decided to go to the Balkans to study the life and folklore of the people. But there was no money for the trip. Therefore, Merimee decided to first release a collection of songs allegedly translated into Balkan, sell it for a better price, and then really make a trip to make sure everything written is correct. The collection "Gusli" was published in 1827. The hoax was solved by Victor Hugo and Alexander Pushkin, although Prosper Merimee did not hide the truth too much.

Hitler's diaries

Issue of the magazine "Stern" with the publication of Hitler's fake diaries

In the early 1980s, the first publications of Adolf Hitler's diaries appeared in the German newspaper Stern. They were allegedly found by the artist Konrad Kuyau at the site of the wreckage of a crashed plane that was secretly transporting documents from the GDR to the FRG. The newspaper was persuaded to buy the rarities by the journalist Gerd Heidemann, who had worked in the newspaper for 32 years. In the end, the editors paid Kuyau 9.3 million francs.

Demonstration of Hitler's fake diaries, 1983

After the first publication of the Fuehrer's diaries, the circulation of Stern increased immediately by 300 thousand copies.Only a month later, after a more thorough check, it turned out that the diaries were falsification. Graphologists have established that the handwriting in which the documents were written did not belong to the Fuehrer. Moreover, such paper and ink were not used in the first half of the 20th century. Konrad Kujau and Gerd Heidemann, as an accomplice who received 1.5 million francs from the deal, were sent to jail.

Autobiography of Howard Hughes

The book by Clifford Irving, The Autobiography of Howard Hughes

In 1971, American journalist and writer Clifford Irving took a risky step. He told McGraw-Hill that famed millionaire Howard Hughes had asked a journalist to co-write his autobiography. They believed him and signed a solid contract for the right to publish the manuscript.

Controversial journalist Clifford Irving

In fact, Clifford Irving never even saw Hughes. He gambled on the fact that the 65-year-old millionaire had been living in self-imposed seclusion for over 10 years and had no contact with anyone. Much to the surprise of the journalist, Howard Hughes reacted to the publication, moreover, he took part in an audio conference, in which he indicated that the published autobiography had nothing to do with him, and he was hearing about Irving for the first time. The rogue journalist was sent to prison for 2.5 years.

Clifford Irving was unlucky, but the fate of these 7 rich forgers was much more successful.

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