CHAPTER TWO THE PRIORY OF SION, ITS GRAND MASTERS AND THE PLANTARDS

IN THE DA VINCI CODE, ROBERT LANGDON INTERPRETS THE INITIALS “P.S.” ETCHED ON SOPHIE NEVEU’S SAFE DEPOSIT KEY, AS INDICATING THE PRIORY OF SION. THIS ABBREVIATION ALSO APPEARS ON ONE OF THE DOCU­MENTS THAT BERENGER SAUNIERE, WHOM WE SHALL LEARN OF IN CHAPTER FOUR, FOUND INSIDE THE CHURCH AT RENNES-LE-CHATEAU AND APPEARED ON THE TOMBSTONE E>F MARIE DE BLANCHEFORT WHICH WAS ONCE IN THE CHURCH GRAVEYARD.

The subject of the Priory of Sion is the basic undercurrent run­ning throughout the plot of the Da Vinci Code. although unaware of its existence before she met Langdon, every aspect of Sophie’s life had been dominated by it. this puts her in pre­cisely the same situation as many readers, who, while raised christian, were unaware of the real historical forces at work behind Christianity. Ann Evans, the researcher that Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln employed while writing their book about the priory, The Messianic Legacy, had thirty-five years of experience in the field and yet she stated that she had never before encountered so many obstacles and contradictions while conducting research. the uncertainty of the so-called “evidence” creates a nebulous atmosphere which makes the priory all the more intriguing. and the truth which is known is decidedly murky.

 

From the beginning

Most of the actual “evidence” of the existence of the Priory has been deposited in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, which, say many researchers, has made obtaining the rele­vant documents quite difficult. such claims tend to indicate that at least certain administrators at the french national library are in league with the Priory of Sion, which since the 1950s has enjoyed leaving tantalizing tidbits of information there for researchers to stumble across.

There are two documents that were of particular interest to Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln when they were writing their authoritative 1982 book Holy Blood, holy grail, concerning the Merovingian bloodline. the first is the enigmatic dossiers secrets, a collection of seemingly unconnected papers which were mysteriously added to and taken from periodi­cally. the second is a work known as Le Serpent Rouge (The Red Snake), perhaps written by Jean Cocteau, as it echoes his style. it contains a genealogy of the Merovingians, a ground plan of l’Eglise de Saint-Sulpice and thirteen poems relating to the signs of the zodiac (including a thirteenth sign inserted between Scorpio and Sagittarius: Ophiuchus, “the Serpent Holder”). the attributed authors of both of these documents (four men in all) have died in unexplained circumstances.

The Priory of Sion, or the “Prieure de Sion” as it is known in french, is said to have its ultimate roots in a hermetic or gnostic society led by an Egyptian sage named Ormus in about 46 ad. “Ormus” is also the subtitle that the Priory of Sion adopted in 1188 when it changed its name from “Order of Sion.” at this time they also referred to them­selves as the “Ordre de la Rose-Croixveritas” (“Order of The True Rose-Cross”), indicating that the Priory of Sion may have in fact been the original Rosicrucian order.

Not until the Middle Ages does an organization relating to Sion become known to historians The Abbey of Orval in Stenay ( once called “Satanicum”), located in the Ardennes in northern France, was founded by a group of monks from Calabria in Italy in 1070, led by the Merovingian “Prince Ursus” (rumored to be Dagobert II’s great-grandson, Sigisbert VI). These monks formed the basis of the Order of Sion into which they were absorbed, along with Godfroi de Bouillon’s Templar order in 1099 -the year that he cap­tured Jerusalem. Godfroi de bouillon was not only the Duke the of Lorraine. as a descendant of Dagobert ii, he was, as a Merovingian, a rightful king (see chapter three for a full discussion). Stenay was one of the two capital cities of the Merovingians. it was in the nearby sacred forest of Woevres that king Dagobert II was assassinated while hunting on December 23, 679, as Dan brown states, stabbed in the eye while sleeping under a tree. It is thought that his godson had assassinated him under the orders of Pepin the fat, the turncoat mayor of Dagobert’s palace.

It appears that the remit of the Priory of Sion has always been the restoration of the Merovingian dynasty and blood­line to the thrones of Europe, having lost their birthright after Dagobert’s assassination. through various political pacts and marriages, the line eventually came to include var­ious noble and royal houses, such as the Blanchefort, Gisors, Saint-Clair, Montesquieu, Montpezat, Poher, Luisignan, Plantard and Habsburg-Lorraine families. It is confirmed by records of the time that the headquarters of the Order were the Abbey of Notre Dame du Mont de Sion, which lies to the south of Jerusalem. it was well-fortified and built on the ruins of a byzantine basilica. according to a 1990 issue of Biblical Archaeology magazine, Mt. Sion seems to have been the headquarters of the Ebionites of Jerusalem. these followers of Jesus considered his brother james, and not the Apostle Paul, to be the rightful leader of the Christian church.

What is perhaps not so certain is the claim that the Priory of Sion, as Langdon puts it, “has a well-documented history of reverence for the sacred feminine,” and reveres Mary Magdalene, whom they hold to be Christ’s wife, as an embodiment of that feminine principle. As Tracy Twyman of Dagobert’s Revenge Magazine writes:

Mary Magdalene is held up by many grail researchers as some feminist heroine and they claim that she was “written out of the bible” because the church was threatened by her femininity. but neither Magdalene nor the church fathers thought in such lan­guage, nor would they even have conceived of such a notion. Magdalene was a threat to the church not because she was a woman, but because she was the mother of Christ’s children -the heirs to his royal and priestly lineage. By all rights they should have been the proper inheritors not only of Christ’s church, but of his royal throne in Jerusalem (which in the eyes of some should have also held hegemony over the entire world). Both of these claims were a threat to the Church, which not only wished to rule the world spiritually, but secularly as well, for the Church proclaimed that it had the right to make kings, regardless of their birthright.

Godfroi de Bouillon was well aware that he was a member of a Grail family, and therefore a Merovingian and de facto King of Jerusalem who could trace his family origins back through .the Davidic line. After capturing Jerusalem, he founded the Templars. Even though there were three other Christian armies bound for Palestine, Godfroi seemed to know that he would be chosen to be the King ofJerusalem. He had, after all, sold everything before leaving, and made clear that his intention was to stay in Jerusalem for life. However, he refused the title of “King,” and accepted only that of “Defender of the Holy Sepulchre.” Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln put forward the idea that the aforementioned group of Calabrian monks, which disappeared without explanation from Orval, is the same group of non-militant advisers who are known to have accompanied Godfroi to Jerusalem. They also suggest that it was this very group of people who selected the King of Jerusalem.

The Order of Sion appears to have been based in the Abbey of Notre Dame du Mont de Sion from the public foundation of the Templars in 1118 until 115 2. The Templars were rec­ognized as a religious-military order in 1127 at Troyes by the court of the Count of Champagne and Hugues de Payen was selected as the Grand Master.

When Louis VII of France returned from the second crusade he brought back ninety-five members of the order. Seven of them entered the military force of the Knights Templar and the rest re-established their French connection in Orleans. The documents with which Louis VII established the order in France are still in existence.

The Abbey of Orval became a house for the Cistercian order in 1131 . This order had been seriously impoverished in the past, but their circumstances improved along with those of the Templars. Both acquired huge wealth and areas of land.

The name of the Ordre de Sion has appeared on documents from at least July 19, 1116. A further charter dated 1178 was found, bearing the seal of Pope Alexander III and con­firming the Order’s land holdings not only in the Holy Land, but throughout continental Europe.

In 1956 the Copper Scroll from Qumran was deciphered at Manchester University. This revealed that the Ark of the Covenant and an enormous treasure of gold bullion had been buried under the Temple of Solomon. In 1 9 7 9, Pierre Plantard de Saint-Clair, -the last known Grand Master of the Priory of Sion, told. Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln that the Priory of Sion possessed the treasure from the Temple of Jerusalem, which had been plundered by the Romans dur­ing the revolt of 66 AD. The scene is depicted on the Arch of Titus in Rome. When the Visigoths later plundered Rome, the treasure was taken, perhaps to the south of France, near Rennes-le-Chateau. M. Plantard went on to say that the “treas­ure” would be returned to.Israel when the “time was right.” He did not specify whether this is treasure in the traditional sense or a collection of documents, or -as Dan Brown sug­gests -a map to indicate the hiding place of the Holy Grail.

There is also a legend stating that the Cathar “heretics” were in possession of this treasure. The Cathars (or “Albigensians”) were headquartered in the Languedoc area of what is now southern France, where Rennes-le-Chateau is situated. In 1209 they were subjected to a massacre, the scale of which amounted to ethnic cleansing at the hands of 3O, O O O soldiers. Languedoc was a center of great learning at the time -at the expense of Roman Catholicism. It was the Cathars’ casual attitude to religion in general, and their lack of respect of Roman Catholicism in particular, that was more responsible than anything for the hatred they spawned within the ecclesiastical authorities. Among the many “transgressions” of which they were accused, it is thought that they practiced birth control and abortion. The treasure that was reputedly in their keeping was thought to tran­scend that of “mere” gold, and could have been either the Grail chalice itself or knowledge that would bring about unimaginable riches.

 

The Rise and Fall of the Knights Templar

The reason for the existence of the Templars was ostensibly to protect the roads to Jerusalem for the pilgrims journey­ing there. However, as Robert Langdon tells Sophie in The Da Vinci Code, their real mission was to investigate what was hid­den beneath the foundations of the Temple of Solomon, which not coincidentally, was the location of the Templars’ living quarters in Jerusalem.

The Templars were the heroes of their time. The sons of noble families joined in droves. They became political advisers to monarchs at the highest level, and everyone wanted to bask in their reflected glory. They wallowed in generous donations and their influence grew enormously. They owned their own sea­ports and founded hospitals. Their fleet was the first to use a magnetic compass. Ironically, every member had to sign over all his possessions to the order and take a vow ofpoverty. They had to cut their hair, but were not allowed to cut their beards. They were not allowed to retreat in battle, and were obliged to fight to the death. Pope Innocent II issued a Papal Bull in 113 9 which stated that they were totally independent of any authority and were, effectively, a law unto themselves.

It was the Templars who founded the first international banking system. They built the most graceful and elegant Gothic cathedrals of Europe, such as Notre Dame in Paris, at this time. The word “Gothic,” in fact, has no connection to the Goths, but derives from the Greek goetic which means “magical (action).” This reflects the sacred geometry that Templar stonemasons used to build these cathedrals.

By 1306, the Knights Templars’ wealth had grown to such an extent that the King of France, Philippe IV (also known as Philippe the Fair), became decidedly nervous. He owed them a large amount of money and was painfully aware that their influence from every point of view was greater than his own. He was restricted from taxing the clergy through a Vatican edict. This did not put Philippe off however and he had the Pope, Boniface VIII, caught and murdered. The next pope, Benedict XI, fared no better -he died suspiciously soon afterwards. At last Philippe’s favored candidate, Bertrand of Goth, became Pope Clement V Then Philippe went to work against the Knights Templar, leveling charges of heresy, to which they were particularly vulnerable. The Knights Templar refused to share the accepted Christian views of the Crucifixion and their business activities neces­sitated them mixing with Jews, Gnostics and Muslims, including a secret relationship with the notorious Muslim equivalent to the Templars -the Hashashin or Assassins. They were also said to worship a devil named Baphomet, the bearded male head that Langdon speaks of, which supposedly spoke to the Templars and gave them magical powers.

Philippe’s plan was carried out on arguably the original “Friday the 13th”: Friday, October 13; 13 0 7. Since then, Friday the 1 3th has always been considered to be a bad day in Western culture. Philippe had issued orders to his governors throughout France, which were opened by his seneschals at precisely the same time. All Templars were to be arrested, their preceptories taken over, and their goods confiscated. After imprisonment, interrogation and torture, they were burned at the stake. Witnesses testified that the Knights Templar were guilty of a variety of crimes, including necromancy, homosexuality, defil­ing the image of Christ and witchcraft. However, despite these extreme measures, Philippe did not achieve his objective of securing for himself the treasure of the Knights Templar.

Perhaps the attack was not such a surprise. Just before the massacre a new contingent of Knights Templar troops was sent from Rossillon in the Spanish province of Aragon to Rennes-le-Chateau in southern France, where they estab­lished a stronghold on the mountain called Bezu. Out of all the Knights Templar, it was only they who were not targeted.

This may be because Pope Clement V (a.k.a. “Bertrand de Goth”) was the son of Ida de Blanchefort, from the same family as a former Templar Grand Master, Bertrand de Blanchefort. It seems more than likely that these family con­nections saved the skins of this Templar contingent on the day the arrests took place.

In all probability, the Grand Master of the Knights Templar at that time, Jacques de Molay, was also aware of what was coming, as he arranged for the treasure to be shipped out of France. It is said that most of the ships went to Scotland, but Philippe knew nothing of this. He continued his persecu­tion by trying to persuade other European monarchs to hunt down the Templars in their own countries. He arranged for Clement V to outlaw the Knights Templar in 1312 . Eventually Jacques de Molay was burned at the stake in 1 3 14. As a parting gesture, he prayed out loud through the torture of the flames that his persecutors, Pope Clement and Philippe, would join him in death within a year and explain their deeds to God’s court. It seemed to work. Pope Clement died within a month and King Philippe died under mysterious circumstances within the year. Their deaths were possibly caused by poison, which the Templars were adept at using.

Edward II of England was in an awkward position. He was the son-in-law of Philippe, but he did not share Philippe’s obsessive loathing of the Templars and had no desire to per­secute them. Against his better judgment he implemented the Inquisition and had a large number ofTemplars arrest­ed. However, they were given comparatively light sentences and were not subjected to the continued persecution that Philippe meted out to the Templars in France.

In Scotland, the Papal Bull was disdainfully ignored and the Templars flourished. Each Bruce and Stewart King from the time of Robert the Bruce has been a Knight Templar from birth, so there wasn’t much chance of Philippe’s orders being carried out there.

 

The Cutting of the Elm

The Order of the Temple (Knights Templar) and the Priory of Sion shared the same Grand Master and were two arms of the same organization until something called the “cutting of the elm,” which took place at Gisors in 1188. This falling out between the two orders was supposedly caused by the so-called “treason” ·of Grand Master Gerard de Ridefort, which according to the Dossiers Secrets, resulted in Europe’s loss of Jerusalem to the Saracens.

There is an historic record of the “cutting of the elm” at Gisors in 1188, although no source except for the “Priory Documents” connects this event to the Templars or to the Priory of Sion. It is one of those apparently silly, medieval tales which one suspects hides a greater and more solemn truth. There was, in fact..,an elm in the Champ Sacre -the sacred field which had been deemed as such for centuries. The tree was said to have been over eight hundred years old and so large that nine men could hardly link hands around its circumference. The field was used for meetings between the kings of England and France.

According to one account, matters reached boiling point on one occasion between Henry II of England and Philippe II of France. In an example, perhaps, of the eter­nal antipathy that exists between the English and the French, Henry II and his entourage took refuge from the Sun that was beating down on the field, leaving the French victims to the unremitting heat. Unable to bear it any more and possibly humiliated by the jibes of the English, the numerically superior French attacked the English, who retreated into the city of Gisors. In an act of belligerent defiance, Philippe II had the tree cut down and returned to Paris in a vile temper, saying that he would never again play the part of woodcutter.

Another account says that Philippe told Henry that he intended to cut down the tree. Henry was enraged by this and put hoops of iron around the tree trunk to reinforce it. The French attacked and Henry’s son, Richard the Lionhearted, and his men protected the tree, but with great losses. The French won and the tree was cut down.

Both of these accounts are probably allegorical tales point­ing at something altogether different than what is apparent. However, it does seem that at this point in history the Order of Sion and the Knights Templar parted company. The Order was to continue its dedication to the Merovingian line and was known as the Priory of Sion from this time foreword, while the Knights Templar appear to have allied themselves with the Scottish royal bloodline, the House of Stuart, an offshoot of the Merovingian house. The Stuarts later, when exiled in France, became deeply involved in Freemasonry and founded what is known as the “Scottish Rite,” which has more degrees than other Masonic organizations and promises knowledge of mysteries that are essentially Scottish.

There are records deposited in Orleans which suggest that members of the Priory of Sion misbehaved there, angering both the Pope and the King of France, Louis XIV, with vari­ous decadent practices. By 1619 the authorities lost patience and the Priory of Sion was forced to leave their premises at Saint-Samson in Orleans. It seems unlikely that this was of any great importance in the total history of the Priory of Sion. Rather, it suggests that Orleans by that time was an outpost of little consequence and the main thrust of the Priory’s activities was being conducted elsewhere.

One thing that in turn annoyed the Priory of Sion about Louis XIV was his decision to give France a new national Meridian, as calculated by the astronomer Cassini, to pass through the Paris Observatory. Dan Brown mentions that the “Rose Line” (supposedly the original, ancient meridian) runs through l’Eglise de Saint-Sulpice. Le Serpent Rouge and other “Priory documents” maintain that this older meridi­an on the north-south axis ran through several hermetic churches in France, including Saint-Sulpice in Paris, the Lady of the Roses cathedral in Rodez, St. Vincent’s in Carcasonne and the Church of St. Stephen’s in Bourges. Significantly, it also ran through Rennes-le-Chateau, whose name itself comes from Rhedae, the name of one of the Celtic tribes that considered the Rose Line sacred. Louis XIV replaced romanticism and religious significance with a mun­dane line with the intention of facilitating commercial life. 2
2 It has been pointed out that the meridian line in Washington, D.C. was also moved when Greenwich in England became the International Meridian. Capital Street is Washington’s present meridian line on the North-South axis. Until it was changed, the “zero meridian” line was on 16th Street, on which you will find a Scottish Rite Temple and other eso­teric churches and monuments.

 

The Nostradamus Connection

In the sixteenth century, the Lorraine and Guise families made repeated attempts to take over the French throne, which was at that time in the hands of the Valois family. Their efforts, as Holy Blood, Holy Grail hints, were coordinated by the Priory of Sion. Francois de Guise was on the point of achieving this in 1563 when he was assassinated. This did not deter them however, and by the end of the century the Valois family disappeared. The Guise family also suffered considerably from the feud and they were no longer able to realize their ambition.

One of those suspected of helping the Guise and Lorraine houses is Nostradamus. As he was astrologer to the French court, ideally positioned to advise the two families on mat­ters of state that concerned them, he could have acted as a spy on their behalf. It is also thought that many of Nostradamus’ writings are not the prophecies that they are generally considered to be, but codes of various kinds revealing the secret plans of the Priory of Sion.

Some of Nostradamus’ “prophecies” referred not to the future, but to the contemporary past and present and specifically to the Merovingians and the Knights Templar. According to Gerard de Sede, who wrote extensively on the Cathars, the Templars, the Merovingian dynasty, Sauniere and Rennes-le-Chateau, Nostradamus spent time in Lorraine. He is said to have been shown a mysterious book upon which he later based his writ­ings. This book was kept at the Abbey of Orval which, as we have seen, was the place where the Priory probably originated.

The same families have been consistently involved in the reli­gious disturbances of the sixteenth century, the French civil war known as the Fronde of the seventeenth century and the Masonic conspiracies of the eighteenth century They have also featured prominently in the history of the Priory of Sion. They owe their heritage to the Merovingian line, which passed through Dagobert II and his son Sigisbert II.

 

The Grand Masters of the Priory of Sion

The list of Grand Masters that Dan Brown provides in The Da Vinci Code appeared originally in the Dossiers Secrets. The list consists partly of those who one would expect to be involved in a clandestine organization. Many of them had connections with such places as Rennes-le-Chateau and Stenay and many were also connected in various ways to the influential Lorraine family.

On the other hand, there are individuals who are well­known in other contexts, but apparently incongruous in this one. One thing that they all had in common were their unorthodox religious beliefs. Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln have concluded that the title of Grand Master of the Priory has been passed down through families of Merovingian descent, but if there is nobody available through these means for some reason, an outsider is invited to take over the position. This would explain how Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton and Jean Cocteau were listed.

One curious “coincidence” concerns Cocteau. After the “cutting of the elm” in 1188, the first Grand Master of the Priory of Sion was Jean de Gisors. Since that time, every male Grand Master has adopted the name “Jean” and each of the four females who took on the role became “Jeanne.” However Jean de Gisors was listed in the Priory documents not as “Jean I” but as “Jean II” bringing about speculation that Jean I was either John the Baptist, John the Evangelist (John the Beloved of the Fourth Gospel) or St. John the Divine, the author of The Book of Revelation. John the Baptist was the prophet who predicted the arrival of the Messiah, a royal figure who would defeat the Roman invaders. John the Baptist presented a great danger to Herod-Antipas of Galilee who had him executed later. Jesus Christ was, in fact, a disciple of John the Baptist. Christian scholars have always found it difficult to explain why Jesus Christ should appear subordinate ·to John the Baptist and some heretics throughout the years have even proclaimed that it was John,. not Jesus, who was the Christ. These peo­ple are known as “Johannites.”

Jean Cocteau, according to the Dossiers Secrets, was Jean XXIII, as he was the twenty-third male to hold the position. When Pope Pius XII died in 195 9, Jean Cocteau was still the Grand Master. The new pope, Cardinal Angelo Giuseppe Rancalli, caused considerable consternation when he chose his papal name to be John XXIII. This was the same name taken by the infamous “antipope,” who set himself up as a rival to the papacy in’the fifteenth century. It was inexplica­ble that the new pope would want to adopt this name.

In 1976, a collection of poems was published which were said to have been written by Pope John XXIII. It is not certain that they were really penned by him, but the introduction throws an interesting spanner in the works. It suggests that John XXIII was a member of the “Rose-Croix.” As we have seen, the sub­title that the Priory of Sion adopted in 1188 was “Rose-Croix Veritas.” Does this mean that Pope John XXIII was a member of the Priory of Sion? It certainly seems beyond coincidence that the election ofJohn XXIII of the Priory of Sion would coincide with that of a pope who chose, against everyone’s wishes, to call himself John XXIII. It is impossible that the list was con­trived since it was deposited in the Bibliotheque Nationale in 1956 and the Pope was not in power until 1958.

Pope John XXIII went on to bring about the greatest changes to the Roman Catholic church that had ever been seen. He reversed the church’s position on Freemasonry; for two hundred years previous, Catholics had been forbidden from joining. Now that sanction was lifted. In his apostolic letter of June 1960, he attached particular significance to “The Precious Blood of Jesus.” He said that what had actu­ally redeemed man was Christ’s suffering and the shedding of his blood. These two aspects of Jesus’ story thereby extended to assume greater significance than either the Resurrection or the Crucifixion itself It has been said that it changes the whole basis that supports Christian belief In other words, it was not necessary for Jesus to die for the purpose of redeeming man’s sins. This effectively rendered the Crucifixion and the Resurrection as irrelevant.

 

Some of the Alleged Grand Masters

Nicolas Flamel born circa 1330, probably in Pontoise, France, died circa 1418, Paris

Nicolas Flamel was the first Grand Master of the Priory not to have a family connection with the other Grand Masters. His name is perhaps familiar to aficionados of Harry Potter. It was Flamel who was said to have worked with the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Professor Albus Dumbledore, on alchemical matters such the changing of lead into gold. His posthu­mous fame comes from his life-time interest in the magi­cal arts and some people are certain that he never died! In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone he was said to be about 665 years old. This would more or less make sense as he was actually born in 1330. He was a copyist of illuminat­ed texts and a bookseller in Paris. Flamel educated himself through the books that passed through his hands. It is said that one night, Flamel had a dream in which an angel appeared to him, showing him a book which seemed to consist of pages made of thin wood and a cover of well­-fashioned copper. He was unable to take the book from the angel as he awoke from the dream.

However, that was not the last of the matter and so began a phase of his life that would change everything for him.

Some time later a visitor came to his bookstall, desperately in need of money. He offered to sell him a book. Flamel was able to identify some of the characters on the copper cover as Greek and the pages seemed to be made from the wood of tree saplings instead of the more us.ual parchment. Flamel bought the book immediately recognizing its similarity to that he had seen in his dream. He could make out that the book had the rather snappy title of The Sacred Book of Abraham the Jew, Prince, Priest, Levite,Astrologer and Philosopher to that Tribe of Jews who by the Wrath of God were Dispersed amongst the Gauls.

At that time there were no Jews in France as they had all been driven out. Flamel realized that only a Jewish scholar would be able to help him translate the book so he copied out a few pages and set off for neighboring Spain in 1382. At first he had no luck as all the Jews that he met were suspicious of him. He was about to head back home to France when he happened to meet a converted Jew by the name of Maestro Canches who lived in Leon . Canches was initially suspicious of him too, until Flame! mentioned that the book was by Abraham the Jew who was well-known to him. He was able to translate the few pages that Flame! had brought with him, but was unable to return to France to translate the rest because of the persecution and the fact that he was too old to travel. However, as a result of the pages that Flamel could now understand, it is reported that he conducted the first successful alchemical transmutation at noon on January 17. Soon thereafter he became spectacularly wealthy and devoted much of this wealth to the foundation of charitable organizations such as hospitals and churches.

 

Rene d’ Anjou born Jan. 16, 1409, Angers, France, died July 10, 1480, Aix-en-Provence

Rene d’ Anjou was also known as “Good King Rene.” Among his many titles, he was nominally King of Jerusalem. He lived a colorful life and although he was one of the first to codify the rules of chivalry, the “Good King’s” sense of val­ues was at times at odds with what we would consider hon­orable behavior. He was taken prisoner at Bulgneville in 1431, and handed over to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, but was released on parole in 1432, after giving his sons John and Louis as hostage.

He became Grand Master at the age of ten, which according to the Dossiers Secrets was not unusual. He was later admitted to several other orders including the Order of the Crescent, which for some reason displeased the Pope. Rene used the Cross of Lorraine as his own personal device which symbol­ized his royal house. The Cross was later used by the Free French Forces in World War II under Charles de Gaulle. It was also used by Godfroi de Bouillon and the Knights Templar.

Rene had a great influence on the advent of the Renaissance and one of his daughters married Henry VI of England. He also apparently had some kind of liaison with Joan of Arc whose mission was to save France from the English. Rene is said to have been with her when she went to the Dauphin’s court at Chinon and was possibly by her side at the siege of Orleans. Her sudden success in achieving her aim of ensuring that the weak Dauphin would become King was, it seems, largely due to the influence of Iolande d’Anjou, the mother of Rene. Many feel that the sit­uation was manipulated and that there was a secret organization operating behind the scenes -the Priory, obviously.

Rene was a poet, and illustrated his own literature. He had a deep interest in esoteric and mystical matters. Although many paintings have been attributed to him, some of them may not actually be his. They bear his arms, but may have been done by court painters. He had a great influence on the Medici family of Florence who were responsible for many significant works of the Renaissance. The classics were translated at this time and Greek was taught at the University of Florence for the first time in centuries. The first public library in Europe, the San Marco Library, was founded in 1444 in Florence. Rene introduced the theme of Arcadia, the Greek pastoral paradise which signified for the Priory the “Golden Age” that they believed would occur once the Merovingians were returned to their thrones. The concept of an “underground stream” became something of a fixation to Rene, symbolizing the “subterranean” move­ment among occultists to hasten the coming of the new Arcadia. These ideas spread quickly throughout Europe via the art and literature of the time.

 

Sandro Filipepi born 1445,Florence (Italy),died May 17, 1510,Florence

Born in 1444, he is better known as the painter Botticelli, who was a great influence on Pre-Raphaelite painters of the nineteenth century. He is the second on the Priory of Sion list not to have a blood connection with the families whose genealogies are detailed in the Dossiers Secrets, but he was well­connected to some of these royal houses. Among his illustri­ous patrons were ·the Medicis. As testimony to his interest in the esoteric, the design of one of the first Tarot packs is ascribed to either him or his tutor, Mantegna. His paintings Primavera (Spring) and The Birth ofVenus are based on the dream­like concepts ofArcadia and the underground stream.

 

Robert Boyle born January 25, 1627, Lismore Castle, County Waterford,Ireland, died December 31, 1691, London, England

Robert Boyle was the youngest son of the Earl of Cork. He is best known for ms experiments with the air pump, which led to a law of physics being named after him. In his youth, he went to Florence where the Medicis were still influential in artistic and esoteric circles. He also stud­ied demonology in Geneva, where he spent twenty-one months of his life. He was one of the first to support the Stuarts when Charles II returned to the English throne. While living in London, one of his visitors was Cosimo III de Medici, who became the ruler of Florence. One of his closest friends was Isaac Newton, to whom he taught the principles of alchemy, which was a life-long interest of his. He wrote two treatises on this subject between 1675 and 1677: Incalescence of Quicksilver with Gold and An Historical Account of a Degradation of Gold.

 

Sir Isaac Newton born December 25, 1642 [January 4, 1643, New Style], Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England, died March 20 [March 31], 1727, London

It is interesting that Dan Brown concentrates so much upon Sir Isaac Newton in The DaVinci Code. Best remembered in the twenty-first century as a mathematician and as the greatest influence on theoretical physics until Einstein, Newton was a Priory of Sion dark horse of the highest order. He was educated at Cambridge and elected to the Royal Society in 1672, becoming president in 1703. He formed a close rela­tionship with Nicolas Fatio de Duillier, who was a Genevan aristocrat leading a peripatetic life throughout Europe, and was possibly a spy against Louis XIV of France. Newton became Master of the Royal Mint in 1699, and in 1701 became the Member of Parliament for Cambridge University. He was also a close friend of Jean Desaguliers, who was responsible for the rapid spread of Freemasonry throughout Europe. Although he was perhaps not a Freemason himself, Newton was a member of an associa­tion known as “The Gentleman’s Club of Spalding” of which Alexander Pope was also a member. Newton started what he considered to be his greatest work, The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended in 1689. He believed that much of the divine wisdom contained within Judaism had filtered down to Pythagoras. In addition to practicing alchemy through his association with Robert Boyle, he also studied sacred geometry and numerology.

 

Charles Nodier born April 29, 1780, Besoncon, Fronce, died Jon. 27, 1844, Paris

Nodier had neither noble blood nor contact with any of the families who figure in the Priory of Sion documents. He fell out of favor with the authorities in his youth after writing a satirical poem about Napoleon.3 ‘ Upon moving to Paris in 1824, he became one of the leading lights in Parisian liter­ary society, entertaining such fellow writers as Victor Hugo and Alfred de Musset, who were to become important in the Romantic movement. He was a prolific writer, known best these days for his short stories. His admission to the Academie Francaise in 1833 consolidated Romanticism as a respected style of literature.
3 There is evidence that Abbe Seiyes encouraged Napoleon to marry· Josephine Beauhamais because she was of Merovingian descendant.

 

Victor Hugo born Feb. 26, 1802, Besoncon, Fronce, died Moy 22, 1885, Paris

Victor Hugo was a poet, novelist, dramatist and the most important of the French Romantic writers. He is best known outside France for his novels Notre-Dome de Paris and Les Miserables. His father was in Napoleon’s army, but had great sympathy with those who conspired against him. Victor Hugo knew Nodier from an early age and Nodier’s knowl­edge of Gothic architecture inspired the setting for The Hunchback of Notre-Dome. Charles Nodier and Victor Hugo founded a literary salon at the Arsenal Library where Nodier worked, known as “the Cenacle.” It is possible that the Cenacle was a cover for the Priory of Sion. It included Romantics, artists, surrealists and Symbolists and they adopted “Et in Arcadia Ego” as their properly elegiac and romantic motto. Hugo married in 1822 at l’Eglise de Saint-­Sulpice. He traveled for some years with Nodier and was pall-bearer at Nodier’s funeral in 1845. Although deeply religious, Hugo had highly unorthodox views on the Catechism and was deeply attracted to Gnostic, Cabalistic and Hermetic philosophies. He respected Napoleon, but Hugo was a strong monarchist and in favor of the Bourbon line being reinstated. He saw this only as a temporary meas­ure however. He supported in particular the constitutional King, Louis-Philippe, who had risen to power in the July revolution of 1831. Louis-Philippe was married to the niece of Maximilian de Lorraine, a previous Priory of Sion Grand Master and member of the Habsburg-Lorraine line. Much of Victor Hugo’s verse was overtly political, but he also want­ed to be the “sonorous echo” of the time and wrote of the social problems of his day.

 

Claude Debussy born Aug. 22 , 1862, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France, died Morch 25, 1918, Paris

Although he was from a poor background, Debussy rose to prominence quickly. During his youth he came under the patronage of a Russian millionairess, Nadezhda Filaretovna von Meck, who employed him to play duets with her and her children. He traveled extensively with her and met many influential people at that time. He was of a very secretive nature and it has therefore been difficult to establish how strong his connections were with the Priory of Sion fami­lies. The main musical influence in his life was Richard Wagner. He said of Wagner that he was “a wonderful sunset that had been mistaken for a dawn.” His work was the musi­cal equivalent of Impressionist and Symbolist painting and writing. His best-known works include Clair de Lune and Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. He set a number of Victor Hugo’s works to music. Amongst those he got to know were Emile Hoffet, and through him, Berenger Sauniere, as well as the eminent singer Emma Calve, who possibly had a romantic relationship with Sauniere. Debussy was heavily involved in the occult scene of Paris. At the soirees of the symbolist poet, Stephane Mallarme, he also met Oscar Wilde, WB. Yeats, Paul Valery, Andre Gide and Marcel Proust.

 

Jean Cocteau born July 5, 1889, Maisons-Laffitte, near Paris, France, died Oct. 11, 1963, Milly-la-Foret, near Paris

Jean Cocteau was a French poet, librettist, novelist, actor, film director, and painter. He was known by the nickname ofThe Frivolous Poet for years after a poem he had written by the same name at the age of fifteen. He was later given the nickname “King of Poets” by his friend Apollinaire. It was Apollinaire who first used the expression “surreal” referring to Cocteau’s work on the Ballet Russe. Cocteau had a justified reputation as a libertine, however the fact that he came from an affluent and influential family would have helped him to be selected as Grand Master. He was also good friends with Jean Hugo, the great-grandson of Victor Hugo and Claude Debussy, his predecessor as Grand Master of the Priory. His films Orpheus and Testament of Orpheus have strong Priory of Sion undertones and his murals in the churches of Notre Dame de France in London and the Chapel of St. Peter in Villefranche-sur-Mer also appear to contain Priory secrets. In fact, some of his works may have been made at the request of the Priory of Sion. He was a favorite with the French president General de Gaulle and de Gaulle’s brother asked Cocteau to make a national address on the general state of France. Charles de Gaulle is suspected to have been a member of the Priory of Sion at some point.

Jean Cocteau was the Grand Master until his death in 1963. When Pierre Plantard de Saint-Claire spoke to Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln in 1979, he was Secretary-General. He apparently took up the office on January 17, 1981, and apparently stepped down in 1984. It is not known who was in office between Cocteau’s death and Plantard’s Grand Mastership, although Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln were told in 1979 that it had been an influential ecclesiastic named Abbe Francois Ducaud-Bourget, although he denied it.

 

The Present Situation

When the Priory of Sion was evicted from Orleans in 1619 it faded from history. The next time there is a record of the Priory of Sian’s existence is in 1956 when it was listed in the French Journal Official, a weekly government publication in which all societies and organizations declare themselves. 4 However, the Priory of Sion claims to have been involved in various historical events in which it appeared to have an interest throughout the intervening period. It is certain that at least one organization, the Compagnie de Saint­Sacrement of seventeenth century France (discussed later on) operated in the background.
4 The Priory of Sion statutes published in I 9 5 6 state that the Priory of Sion had a total of 9,841 members divided into nine grades. It consisted of 729 provinces, 27 commanderies, and the top level of hierarchy was an Arch referred to as “Kyria.” The Grand Master is known as the “Nautonnier.”

Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln conducted a series of interviews with Pierre Plantard de Saint-Clair when researching their books. Many of these took place at a brasserie called La Tipia on the rue de Rome in Paris. Plantard’s answers were enig­matic and sometimes misleading, as is typical of much Priory of Sion information. For instance, he told them that he had been imprisoned by the Gestapo from October 1943 until February 1944 for his involvement in the French Resistance, but no record has been found of this.

They were able to establish that he had run a magazine named Vaincre during the Second World War. It dealt not in French Resistance matters, but mythology and various eso­teric subjects and appeared to serve as the publication of an organization known as “Alpha Galates.” The prime interest of Alpha Galates was chivalry and in structure it seemed to be identical to the Priory of Sion. Indeed, it probably was the Priory of Sion. Vaincre ostensibly supported the Vichy government of the time and included a hymn to Marshal Henri Phillippe Petain in its first edition. It has to be borne in mind, however, that all publications were subject to the scrutiny of the Nazi censorship machine and Plantard later claimed that the magazine was a secret Resistance journal containing messages and codes that only Resistance mem­bers could understand. As M. Plantard was a later associate of General Charles de Gaulle, who did not tolerate Nazi col­laborators, it is unlikely that his apparent support of the Vichy government was genuine.

One of the main objectives of Alpha Galates/ the Priory of Sion was the formation of a United States of Europe which would be a bulwark between the United States of America and the Soviet Union, as well as a separate entity of great power. Perhaps they have succeeded: Europe now has its own currency and to a large degree, its own federal govern­ment. The emblem for a United Europe that was suggested by the Priory of Sion as early as the 1940s was a circle of stars, which is what is now on the European Union flag.

In the United States the newly-formed CIA had the same idea. Millions of dollars were poured into Europe by the American government during the 1950s and 1960s to prevent the “spread of the reds” and to popularize the idea of a united Europe. The CIA and the Vatican have always had a strong relationship. CIA money was freely dispersed to bishops and monseigneurs, including Giovanni Montini, the future Pope Paul VI, to fund various cultural activities and enterprises towards these ends.

 

The Algerian Debacle

In 1957 France was in turmoil because of the war for inde­pendence in Algeria. To protect French interests in Algeria, the Comites de Salut Public (Committees of Public Safety) were formed. The person considered suitable to head these com­mittees was Charles de Gaulle and from that time on they worked to make de Gaulle president of France by any means possible. They received support from many influential sources, including Marshall Alphonse Juin, reputedly a member of the Priory of Sion. De Gaulle allowed the Algerian Committees to believe that he supported their cause.

In 1958, the newly elected French government said that the only way to get out of the crisis in Algeria was to grant Algeria independence. The Committees appealed to de Gaulle to take over the government but he remained detached from the situation.

The Committees for Public Safety then began to assert their position in France. The word on the street was that a mili­tary coup in France was imminent. The government then resigned and de Gaulle stepped into power. At this point there appears to have been a conflict of interest between the Committees in Algeria, who wanted Algeria to stay French and the Committees ill, France, who saw the installation of de Gaulle as muche important.

De Gaulle was in awkward position. He had achieved the Presidency by supporting the continued colonial status of Algeria and yet he was about to negotiate independence with the Algerian leaders. Because of this decision, for the rest of life he lived in fear of assassination at the hands of former Algerian committee members who considered de Gaulle’s actions to be treacherous.

The main danger was, however, from the French Committees of Public Safety whose opposition could have caused much more trouble. The public relations operation to prevent this from happening was conducted by Pierre Plantard de Saint­Clair, who formed the Central Paris Committee with the intention of taking over the other Committees.

 

CIRCUIT

Later on, two series of a new magazine were published by the Priory of Sion. It was called CIRCUIT, which was the acronym for “Chevalerie d’Institutions et Regles Catholiques, d’Union Independante et Traditionaliste” (“Chivalry of Catholic Rules and Institutions of the Independent and Traditionalist Union”). It was the subtitle which the Priory of Sion identified itself as to the French police when it registered in 1956. The first series consisted of an array of esoteric material similar to that in Vaincre, as well as what appears to be information regarding a low-cost housing association. The later 1959 series of CIRCUIT, how­ever, lists its director as Pierre Plantard. It says that it is the magazine for an organization called the “Federation of French Forces.” But no information on such organization has ever been found. Interestingly, however, the contact details given were those which Anne Lea Hisler -the first wife of M. Plantard -said were those of the Secretariat­General of the Committees of Public Safety in metropolitan France. It therefore appears that the Federation of French Forces was the administrative arm of a continuation of the Committees.

In addition to sharing many of the themes of Vaincre, there are also articles in CIRCUIT about vines, viticulture, and the wine trade which could clearly be a coded reference to a genealogy, as wine, in the Christian tradition, represents blood, and vines, a bloodline. As Jesus identified himself as the Vine, it is reasonable to suppose that this specific use of the symbol represents his progeny.

 

The “Truth” behind Pierre Plantard de Saint-Clair

Whether the Priory of Sion exists today after the resignation of Pierre Plantard de Saint-Clair as its Grand Master is a matter of speculation. He told Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln that he resigned in 1984 because of the intractable situation caused by an infiltrating “Anglo-American” contingent, which wanted to move the Priory’s goals in another direction.Another reason for his resignation had to do with inflammatory information that was about to be published in a book called The Scandals of the Prieure de Sion, written by “Cornelius.” Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln received a tract regarding this book, which purportedly detailed various shady financial transactions involving the Priory of Sion, a prominent Italian politician and bankers in the USA. Cardinal Jean Danielou, an erstwhile friend of Jean Cocteau who had probably met Pierre Plantard, was found dead in mysterious circumstances in 1974. “Cornelius” wrote that Danielou was involved financially with the Priory of Sion. He also suggested links between the Priory of Sion, the Italian Mafia, and a secret society known as “P2” (see Chapter Ten for more on P2) . He also says that two days after Plantard was elect ­ed Grand Master, a high-ranking member of the Priory had a meeting with Licio Gelli, the Grand Master of P2, at the previ­ously mentioned “La Tipia.” However, although the tract writ­ten by “Cornelius” was widely distributed, none of the allega­tions were substantiated and could possibly be challenged successfully in a libel court.

Although Pierre Plantard maintained that he was descended from the Merovingian King Dagobert II, some think that Plantard’s royal lineage was based upon a forgery. According to the BBC television program Timewatch, his name was simply inserted into a geneal_ogy that had been copied verbatim from a history magazine. Some say that he was descended from a six­teenth century wilimt farmer and that he only added the par­ticle “de Saint-Clair” to his name in 1964. There is also specu­lation that the revived Priory of Sion was purely of his own invention. Certainly since his resignation, nobody has laid claim to the organization. Dan Brown says that the Priory of Sion is still based in France, but some suspect that it has re­emerged in Barcelona.

It is difficult to see the truth through the all-pervading smoke­screen that has shrouded the Priory of Sion for centuries. But given its history to date, there is no reason to believe that it has packed its bags and gone away. It is more likely that it is play­ing a caretaker role behind the scenes and could rise again in any form at any time.