Templar Lore


Web of Gold – The secret history of a sacred treasure – by Guy Patton and Robin Mackness

According to these guys, the Romans sacked the Temple of Jerusalem and carted off its goodies to Rome whence it was again plundered by the Visigoths. This people eventually settled in an area comprising southern France and northern Spain. And when they in turn were threatened by the expanding Franks, the treasure was secreted around about their last great fortress at what is now Rennes-le-Chateau.

The authors believe this was the first of no less than three treasures (the other two being those of the Knights Templar and the “heretical” Cathars) to be hidden in this region and that over the intervening centuries various interested parties, with varying degrees of success, have sought to recover them. The list includes British Intelligence, the Nazis, a whole range of bizarre individuals and last, but by no means least, certain factions within the French government who, the authors assert, have altogether unwholesome links to the wartime Vichy regime. A tangled web of gold indeed !

The book traces the history of the treasures and investigates the stories behind those who may (or may not) have unearthed all (or part of) any of the three. The story of Bérenger Saunière, the impoverished parish priest of Rennes-le-Chateau is told, of how his renovations in the church with Visigothic foundations unearthed something of world-shattering implication. The involvement of the Priory of Sion is discussed, as well as the alleged dabbling and skulduggery perpetrated by other sinister underground movements.

As its title implies, this is a very complex book covering as it does not only the history of the treasures supposedly hidden in the Languedoc, but also the modern day implications of what those treasures might symbolise were they to be recovered and returned to their rightful owners.

There are so many fingers in this pie, there’s no room for the filling !

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The Tomb of God – by Richard Andrews + Paul Schellenberger

Entranced by the story of Rennes-le-Chateau, a small village in southern France where the local priest, Bérenger Saunière, is reputed to have discovered documents of world shattering consequence during renovations of his rundown parish church, the authors embarked upon a quest to find a solution to the mystery.

They ended up with a whole heap more than they initially bargained for. What started as a localised treasure hunt eventually led to a conclusion that, if proved right, will shatter the belief structure of millions of Christians and destroy the very foundation on which the Church in Rome is founded.

Initial analysis of the alleged documents found in the church at Rennes-le-Chateau led to the involvement of the eminence gris that permeates the entire mystery, the Priory of Sion, an organisation claiming not only descent from the Knights Templar but also guardianship of a secret knowledge that could shake the world.

The trial leads through a study of various renaissance paintings the authors feel have been precisely constructed to encode a secret.

This one’s got the lot ! Ancient tombs located on geographical lines; an intellectual treasure hunt through topographical features; coded latin inscriptions carved into headstones that stand above empty graves; the involvement of the Knights Templar and last, but by no means least, a map that purports to pinpoint the burial site of someone (or something) that will turn the world on its head.

Oh lordy, this one’s a cracker !



Holy Blood, Holy Grail – by Michael Baigent, Henry Lincoln, Richard Leig

This is the one that started the whole thing off. It began as a simple investigation into the mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau and how an ostensibly impoverished rustic priest, Bérenger Saunière, became rich seemingly overnight. So poor he had to conduct renovations on his rustic parish church himself, he appears to have discovered something hidden in a pillar dating back to Visigothic times that supported the altar. Trips to Paris followed soon after and Bernard Saunières was suddenly a very wealthy man. What did he find ?

Enter the Priory of Sion, an eminence gris that would figure hugely as the formerly localised mystery went global. This shady organisation contacted the authors on several occasions and put obscure hints and clues (or were they red herrings) in their path.

Claiming to be an off-shoot of The Knights Templar and the guardians of a secret that could rock the Christian world to its very foundations, the information provided by these people would take the authors on a roller-coaster ride of investigation and discovery, leading them to a startling conclusion.

And would it be capable of shaking the Christian world to its very foundations. Oh yes. You bet !

– Also published as The Holy Blood & The Holy Grail



The Templar Revelation: Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ – by Lynn Picknett, Clive Prince

The Templar Revelation: Secret Guardians of the True Identity of ChristAn underground movement permeating western and middle-eastern society and traceable through movements such as the Knights Templar, Freemasons, and the Priory of Sion ?

The authors lead us on a fascinating voyage of investigation, providing convincing evidence it involved such stars of history as Leonardo da Vinci. Tracing the movement back to the Middle East at the time of Christ, this startling hypothesis will turn on its head everything you thought you knew about the birth of Christianity.

Was John the Baptist Jesus’s spiritual superior ? What exactly was the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene (you’ll never look at Leonardo’s Last Supper the same way again) ?

How do the Templars fit into this and what on earth has it all got to do with a small village in a region of southern France with an historical track record of heresy where a priest named Bérenger Saunière is reputed to have uncovered something world-shattering whilst renovating his dilapidated parish church ? What on earth, indeed !



Masterpiece of insinuation and supposition

The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail The popularity of books about the so-called Da Vinci Code show the attraction of conspiracy theories.

Holy Blood, Holy Grail By Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln
Reviewed by Laura Miller, New York Times

The ever-rising tide of sales of The Da Vinci Code has lifted some pretty odd boats, none odder than the dodgy yet magisterial Holy Blood, Holy Grail, by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln.

A best seller in the 1980s, “Grail” is climbing the paperback charts again on the strength of its relationship to Dan Brown’s thriller (which has, in turn, inspired a crop of new nonfiction books coming out this year, from Breaking the Da Vinci Code to Secrets of the Code: The Unauthorized Guide to the Mysteries Behind The Da Vinci Code).

The Da Vinci Code is one long chase scene in which the main characters flee a sinister Parisian policeman and an albino monk assassin, but its rudimentary suspense alone couldn’t have made it a hit.

The book emits pellets of information concerning a centuries-old conspiracy that purports to have preserved a tremendous secret about the roots of Christianity.

This “nonfiction” material gives The Da Vinci Code its frisson of authenticity, and is lifted from Holy Blood, Holy Grail, one of the all-time great works of pop pseudohistory. But what seems increasingly clear is that The Da Vinci Code, like Holy Blood, Holy Grail, is based on a notorious hoax.

Both narratives begin with a mystery that leads sleuths to vaster and more sinister intrigues. In Brown’s novel, it’s the murder of a curator at the Louvre; in “Grail”, it’s the unusual affluence of a priest in a village in the south of France.

In the late 1960s, Henry Lincoln, a British TV writer, became interested in Rennes-le-Chateau, a town that had become the French equivalent of Roswell or Loch Ness as a result of popular books by Gerard de Sede.

De Sede promulgated a story about parchments supposedly found in a hollowed-out pillar by the town priest in the 1890s, parchments containing coded messages that the priest parlayed into oodles of cash.

Lincoln worked on several documentaries then enlisted Baigent and Leigh for a more in-depth investigation.

What eventually emerges from the welter of names, dates, maps and genealogical tables crammed into Holy Blood, Holy Grail is a yarn about a secret and hugely influential society called the Priory of Sion, founded in Jerusalem in 1099.

This cabal is said to have guarded documents and other proof that Mary Magdalene was the wife of Jesus (who may or may not have died on the Cross) and that she carried his child with her when she fled to what is now France after the Crucifixion, becoming figuratively, the Holy Grail in whom Jesus’ blood was preserved.

Their progeny intermarried with the locals, eventually founding the Merovingian dynasty of Frankish monarchs.

Although deposed in the eighth century, the Merovingian lineage has not been lost; the Priory has kept watch over its descendants, awaiting an auspicious moment when it will reveal the astonishing truth and return the rightful monarch to the throne of France, or perhaps even a restored Holy Roman Empire.

All the usual suspects and accoutrements of paranoid history get caught up in this 1000-year jaunt: the Cathar heretics, the Knights Templar, the Rosicrucians, the Vatican, the Freemasons, Nazis, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Order of the Golden Dawn – everyone but the Abominable Snowman seems to be here.

Holy Blood, Holy Grail is a masterpiece of insinuation and supposition, employing all the techniques of pseudo-history to symphonic effect, justifying this sleight of hand as an innovative scholarly technique called “synthesis”, previously considered too “speculative” by those whose thinking has been unduly shaped by the “so-called Enlightenment of the 18th century”.

Comparing themselves to the reporters who uncovered Watergate, the authors maintain that “only by such synthesis can one discern the underlying continuity, the unified and coherent fabric, which lies at the core of any historical problem”.

To do so, one must realise that “it is not sufficient to confine oneself exclusively to facts”.

Thus liberated, Lincoln et al concoct an argument that is not so much factual as fact-ish. Dozens of credible details are heaped up in order to provide a legitimising cushion for rank nonsense.

Unremarkable legends (that Merovingian kings were thought to have a healing touch, for example) are characterised as suggestive clues or puzzles demanding solution.

Highly contested interpretations (that, say, an early Grail romance depicts the sacred object as being guarded by Templars) are presented as established truth.

Sources – such as the New Testament – are qualified as “questionable” and derivative when they contradict the conspiracy theory, then microscopically scrutinised for inconsistencies that might support it.

The authors spin one gossamer strand of conjecture over another, forming a web dense enough to create the illusion of solidity. Though bogus, it’s impressive.

Finally, the legitimacy of the Priory of Sion history rests on a cache of clippings and pseudonymous documents that even the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail suggest were planted in the Bibliotheque Nationale by a man named Pierre Plantard.

In the 1970s, one of Plantard’s confederates admitted to helping him fabricate the materials, including genealogical tables portraying Plantard as a descendant of the Merovingians (and, presumably, of Jesus Christ) and a list of the Priory’s past “grand masters”.

This patently silly catalogue of intellectual celebrities stars Botticelli, Isaac Newton, Jean Cocteau and, of course, Leonardo da Vinci – it’s the same list Dan Brown trumpets, along with the alleged nine-century pedigree of the Priory, in the front matter for The Da Vinci Code, under the heading of “Fact”.

Plantard, it came out, was an inveterate rascal with a criminal record for fraud and affiliations with wartime anti-Semitic and right-wing groups. The actual Priory of Sion was a tiny, harmless group of like-minded friends formed in 1956.

Plantard’s hoax was debunked by a series of (as yet untranslated) French books and a 1996 BBC documentary, but curiously enough this set of shocking revelations hasn’t proved as popular as the fantasia of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, or, for that matter, as The Da Vinci Code.

The only thing more powerful than a worldwide conspiracy, it seems, is our desire to believe in one.