The Priory of Dacia.

Confirmation of the creation of the Dacia Priory as part of the Russian Grand Priory in exile is given in a number of documents (infra), written by both Professor Baron Michel de Taube, and Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovitch Romanoff acting with the authority of the Hereditary Commander's Association of the Russian Grand Priory of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.

There had been strong Imperial Russian links with Denmark prior to the Revolution. Emperor Nicholas II's mother, Marie Feodorovna, had been the daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark After the Revolution, following a short stay in London, the Dowager Empress returned to her native Denmark, where she died 13th October 1928.

In 1938, discussions took place between the Paris group, and a group of gentlemen in Denmark; Baron Palle Rosenkrantz., Prebend Ahlefeldt Bille, and Prebend Holger Christian Wenck von Wenckheim. In 1950 H. K Ostenfeld joined the "Danish Initiative Committee". Authorisation for the creation of a Danish Priory was granted by Grand Duke Andrei, October 19th, 1938, and the Priory under the name of  "The Ecclesiastical Knightly Order of Malta of Saint John of Jerusalem, Priory of Saint Andrew", and began its formal life on April 10th, 1939. It was later to be known as "The Autonomous Priory of Dacia of the Order of Malta".

In the summer of 1938, the Danish Committee wrote to Commander G. Gadd, Grand Duke Kirill's personal representative in Copenhagen, about the possibility of joining the Russian Grand Priory of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Gadd suggested, that a direct approach to Grand Duke Kirill ought to be made. When Grand Duke Kirill received the Danish Committee's letter, he passed it on to his younger brother Grand Duke Andrei, who had accepted responsibility for the Russian Grand Priory. Grand Duke Andrei, then asked Baron Michael de Taube the legal consultant to the Hereditary Commanders to discuss the matter with the Danes. Baron Michael de Taube had been Professor of Law at St Petersburg University and first legal adviser for the Russian Foreign Office, Senator of Russia and a member of the Council of the Empire.

Initially the first consideration was to widen membership of the Russian Grand Priory itself to include in a seamless way, a Danish group. The final conclusion of the discussions, was that a Priory would be created to serve the "North", under the title of Dacia. Prebend Wenck von Wenckheim as leader of the group became the first Prior. The war years halted any real activity of the Priory, and Baron Michael de Taube and Grand Duke Andrei gave assistance in continuing the work in the post war period from 1950 onward..

After the sudden death of Wenck von Wenckheim in 1957, John K Ostenfeld who had joined the Committee in the post war period, became the Prior but retired from Office in 1968 succeeded by Niels Sandberg Stouge 1968-1969. In the period of 1968 to 1970 disputes caused the separation of a Swedish Commandery. Part of this period was during the leadership of acting Prior, Helmuth Kieldsen 1969-1971. The problems were put to a firm end when in 1971 John K Ostenfeld was re-appointed Prior. By the mid 1970s, the Priory had lost contact with the Paris Headquarters, due to the death of the latter's leading members. What had not helped in maintaining contact were the disputes within the Dacia Priory and its changes of personnel, and the increasing isolationism of the aging Paris administration which was in stark contrast to the previous pro-active role undertaken by Baron Michel de Taube.

Contact with self-styled "Orders".
After more than a decade of being isolated, Dacia sought to regain international contact, and accepting the claims of the King Peter Order, as being part of the same pedigree as Dacia, contact was made in 1985, with the so-called 'Russian Grand Priory of Malta' (King Peter Constitution) under their Grand Prior, Gaston Tonna-Barthet. This contact was brought to an end in October 2001, with Dacia's association with the Bobrinskoy Order (founded by those of whom the leading  members had been members of an ex-King Peter Order, but claiming that it had succeeded the Paris Group).
This association resulted from the acceptance of the claims of the "Sovereign Order of Orthodox Knights Hospitaller St John of Jerusalem" led by Count Nicholas Bobrinskoy, (his deceased older half brother having been a member of the Paris Group), to be a genuine continuation of the Paris Group. Likewise this was brought to an end by 2005, on the realisation that the Bobrinskoy Order had not in fact legally succeeded the Paris Group.
The Internet has proved a valuable research tool, in assessing the assertions of various groups, claiming to be part of the historic Order of St John, due to the publication of historic material on, or by, the various groups concerned. Scholars have also made their research readily available.
This now includes a series of documents concerning the beginnings of the Dacia Priory, which had been deposited in the National Record Office in Copenhagen and embargoed from examination by the Public until the year 2031 ( see below for the full list).

The status of the Priory of Dacia.
It is clear from the literature (links below) that the creation of a branch in, Denmark of the Russian Grand Priory, far from being rejected, was tacitly acknowledged by Grand Duke Kirill, successor to the Russian Throne, to whom the Danes initially corresponded, inasmuch as he handed over the matter to his brother Grand Duke Andrei.

Furthermore, just as the Paris group was declared the; "legale Tradition des ehemaligen Kaiserlich Russischen Gross-Priorats" (legal tradition of the former Imperial Russian Grand Priory) by Dr Kurt-Gerhard Klietmann, "Präsident Internationale Gesellschaft für Wissenschaftliche Ordenskunde" (President of the International Society for the Scientific Research on Orders) and a member of the "Congresso Internacional de Genealogia y Heraldica" (International Congress of Genealogy and Heraldry) in 1955, the Priory of Dacia was declared to be "under the name of The Grand Priory of the North, in all respects be the legal successor of the Grand Priory of Russia".(Letter to the Dacia Priory from Baron Michael de Taube 8th June 1939; see daciadoc.htm, page 9). In addition, Grand Duke Andrei happily acknowledged himself to be the Protector to the Dacia Priory.
This legal recognition of Dacia, was also echoed in the Constitution of 1953; "The admission to the fold of Russian Grand Priory or taking under its protection of similar foreign associations as well as the recognition of their legal existence as autonomous branches of Russian Grand Priory, subjecting them to follow the same regulations as those that manage the election new members of the Priory, and under such or other special conditions that can be put on them."
Following the moribund status of the Paris Group in 1975, following the death of its last Council member, General Georges de Rticheff, Dacia became the only remaining corporate structure of the Russian Grand Priory, and which maintained the tradition for future generations. In 2004, assistance was given by Dacia to family members of the Hereditary Commander's group in re-establishing a new base in Paris.

Priors of the Priory of Dacia

Prebend Wenck von Wenckheim 1939-1957

John Kaad Ostenfeld 1958-1968

Niels Sandberg Stouge 1968-1969

Helmuth Kieldsen 1969-1971

John Kaad Ostenfeld 1971-1972

Eric Foss 1972-1983

Dr. Keld Tving 1983-1990

E. Henning Nielsen 1990-1991

Kay Larsen 1991-2000

Niels Prehn Jensen 2000-

Archives (National Record Oddice Copenhagen) A-H Title Sheet and Archive Index
Archive A: The Declaration of the Hereditary Commanders June 1928
Archive B: Authorisation given to Baron Michael de Taube September 1929.
Archive C: Letter to the Dacia Priory from Baron Michael de Taube September 1950.
Archive D: The approval to create the Priory of Dacia 1938. 
Archive E: Declaration by Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovitch Romanoff, 1950.  
Archive F: Historical Notice by Professor Baron Michel de Taube, 1950  
Archive G: Grand Duke Andrei Romanoff as Protector to the Priory of Dacia 1950. 
Archive H: Historical Notice on the Russian Grand Priory - Danish Committee 1950 
Archive I: Declaration of December 12th 1964 
Archive J: Statement of purpose of the Priory of Dacia 1972 
Archive K: Priory of Dacia Investiture Ceremony 1939/1950  

Updated 10th July 2005

Go back to the referring Web Site
Russian Grand Priory Research Page
Russian Grand Priory Home Page
History Menu