T H E  R E N N E S – L E – C H Â T E A U

 T H E M E   P A R K




T H E   P L A N T A R D   S U B P L O T



PAGES (Just click on the page you wish to go to):


Page 1—Abandon All Hope: Introduction to a Hermeneutical Hell

Page 2—“The Saunière Episode”   Who Wrote It?

Page 3—The Plantard Subplot

Page 4—The Lincoln Story & Its Aftermath

Page 5— Puzzling Pieces of the Story

Page 6—Summing Up

Page 7—Links & Sources

All pages are best viewed by monitors set to 1024 X 768 resolution.





 The thing that is so interesting about “The Plantard Subplot” is that it tried so hard to become the main plot, which caused a lot of people to take their eye off the real main plot and get side-tracked in conspiracy theories.   Plantard’s “Priory of Sion” and attempt to establish Merovingian roots for his family appear to have been pure grafts upon “The Saunière Episode,” but was it simply or entirely that?  And was Plantard himself really attempting that or were people putting words in his mouth and misrepresenting him? Was Plantard simply lost in a fantasy of his own making, or did he have such fantasies because there was a basis for them in family history and thus others had forced this upon him?

Not easy to tell, even at this late date, for it can always be supposed that when the secret agenda of powerful people went awry, they, typically, covered their tracks by making somebody else the scapegoat and by discrediting the very people who represented them.  Or perhaps even a few of them sacrificed themselves to ridicule and convictions of fraudulence rather than reveal their secret.  Did not the leadership of the Knights Templar take that route?   We are staring down a bottomless pit of possibilities for intrigue here, which is no doubt why thriller novelists like Dan Brown have moved in on this material.   A further difficulty is that we live in a benighted time in which people have come to believe that fiction is the opposite of fact, when of course fiction can be a higher order of fact and in the hands of the great fictionalizers always is.   Which is why Leonardo is so plausible as the inventor of a “Da Vinci Code.”




G É R A R D   D E   S È D E  


&   “T H E   C O N S P I R A C Y”





First, before the Plantard or Priory of Sion conspiracy kicked in, a small contribution was made by a professor from Paris, J. Cholet, who undertook excavations in Saunière’s church in 1959, even though the “Cholet Report” asserting that nothing of significance was found was not published until 2000.  There must have been talk about the dig, which undoubtedly got out.  But how helpful are the reports of those who do not find any treasure?  The surprise would be if they told us they did find something!  If they reported finding something, it would launch a stampede!   Anyway, how thorough was Cholet’s investigation?    It’s a big area, full of natural hiding places, and centuries of digging have not uncovered everything buried nor will centuries more.  

So too with a book, Treasures of the World (1962), by a “Robert Charroux (real name Robert-Joseph Grugeau?), a known treasure-hunter and author of several other such books, who snooped around Rennes-le-Château from 1956 (or 1958?) on with a metal detector without finding anything.  Or so he said, but, again, since when did treasure-hunters become reliable on this score?  For one thing, apparently the mountain the village is on, as with surrounding mountains, is honeycombed with natural cave tunnels, such as the one under the Tour Magdala, not to mention the presence of many ancient, played-out mines and their man-made tunnels in the area around, and Charroux did not claim to have investigated every tunnel and cave, and, for another, he simply may have been trying to discourage other treasure-hunters.  And of course his findings say nothing about “treasure” that would be non-metallic!  There’s also the possibility, recently raised by Douzet, that the treasure Saunière discovered was not at Rennes at all but elsewhere.  Charroux’s contribution can only be deemed inconclusive, if not downright unhelpful and misleading.  Yet it may have been crucial in inspiring “the conspirators” to graft their conspiracy on to Rennes-le-Château, if that’s what happened. 

A “conspiracy” that had been building behind the scenes was made manifest when in 1967 there appeared a rather unreliable book, Le Trésor Maudit (The Accursed Treasure), by a man named Gérard de Sède, who already had a reputation of confusing “fact” with “fiction” in his treatment of Gisors in The Templars Are Among Us (1962).  A recent English translation of The Accursed Treasure lists Sophie de Sède as his ”collaborator,” an unfortunate choice of words given the association with “fraudulence” and “conspiracy.”  De Sède, when checked later by another investigator (Henry Lincoln), was charged with just guessing at some of the facts or with having been misled or not fully informed about them by others whose mouthpiece he was (although to what degrees he was being “used” and knew he was being “used” are open questions).  

{By the way, it’s amazing that the English translation by Bill Kersey makes no allusion to this charge, and De Sède and his translators have done no updating or made any attempt to refute the charge.  This is all the stranger since De Sède has apparently given interviews in which he acknowledges a considerable degree of fraudulence in the information fed to him by the Plantard camp.  Another curiosity is that certain photographs that appeared in the original have been removed, perhaps precisely because they were charged with being misleading or inaccurately labeled.  But recently Douzet has called our attention to the curiosity that the supposedly ill-informed De Sède apparently knew about “Saunière’s model,” his strange, unorthodox model of the area reputed to be that of Jesus’ crucifixion and entombment, reporting it in his book The Gold of Rennes, long before the existence of this model was known to others, thus making us wonder about the characterization of De Sède as “used” or “misinformed.  Whatever the case there, De Sède was also ahead of everyone in seeing the Blue Apples phenomenon (alluded to in one of the parchment codes) in Saunière’s church as the result of a projection of sunlight through a stained glass window, if that is indeed what it refers to and is not just a Masonic or other kind of joke.  Doubt is cast upon this, however, by the contention of Patrick Mensior in Pegase that this blue apples phenomenon was the consequence of the stained glass windows installed in 1887 by Saunière (specifically the one depicting the raising of Lazarus), which raises the question of what a reference to “blue apples” was doing in a document supposedly dating from the 1780s, since the phenomenon apparently did not exist until 1887!!   It’s stuff like this that raises more suspicions than the raising of Lazarus!   Of course it’s possible that Saunière’s new window was a copy of an older window that needed to be replaced, but can that be established?  De Sède also knew about the “Mass Books” and came to conclusions about them the opposite of Bedu, thinking them fake or coded because Saunière could not possibly have said so many masses.   Finally, in Still Spins the Spider of Rennes-le-Château, translator Bill Kersey more than once expresses his admiration for De Sède’s “objectivity” as a researcher, a word I would never think to apply here, but we need to keep open the possibility that there’s more to De Sède than meets the eye.  That De Sède died early in 2004 just means that he now has passed totally into the world of myth and is now subject only to its very flexible laws.

Well, back to the argument, who was using De Sède, if that’s an accurate characterization?



T H E   P L A N T A R D   P R I O R Y



The story is that a mysterious Parisian of aristocratic bearing (but actually a common vestryman?), Pierre Plantard de St. Clair (1920-2000), a.k.a. Pierre de France, among other pseudonyms, was later discovered to be De Sède’s puppet-master, who got De Sède started by, supposedly, showing him Saunière’s coded parchments in 1964. (But how Plantard explained coming into possession of them is not clear, although it has been suggested that a young linguist at St. Sulpice in Paris named Émile Hoffet who assisted in their decoding in Saunière's time made copies of them and somehow those got to Plantard.   The originals are now supposedly secreted in some bank in England, the process of transmission being highly mysterious, and no one has been able to produce the originals, nor has anyone living seen the actual parchments.  For an alternate view of how Plantard came by the documents and a much more thorough account of this matter, see Tracy Twyman's http://www.dragonkeypress.com/articles/article_2004_10_19_4743.html).  Supposedly Plantard was at the time sharing the Grand Mastership, and from 1981 to 1984 became the lone Grand Master (“His Druidic Majesty” being his official title?), of a secret society known as “The Priory of Sion.”  This society may actually have been inspired by Paul le Cour’s The Age of Aquarius (1937 and thus rather in advance of the “New Age”), which calls for chivalric priories to be formed that would lead in the reclaiming of a Europe damaged by democracy, but Plantard (it was said) claimed for The Priory ancient roots, dating from at least the First Crusade and connected by Holy Land “discoveries” and lessons learned at that time to even more ancient, esoteric matters, of Egyptian and Atlantean origin, the Druids (the first Gauls) being keepers of the flame along the way.  But Plantard was seemingly a devious puppet-master, for he apparently was not telling De Sède a straight or accurate or complete story, thus, as said, causing De Sède’s account to come under some suspicion almost from the start.  Yet it may be said of De Sède that if he was Plantard’s puppet, he also at times seemed to be well aware of that and well paid for it.   {For example, Paul Smith reports that “The Gold of Rennes” was mainly written by Plantard and De Chérisey, and that De Sède only came on board when, after many rejections, a professional writer was needed to make the manuscript publishable, and afterwards he took the lion’s share of the royalties.   This is reportedly what led to the breakup and the singing of a different tune by Plantard and De Chérisey in an effort to discredit the royalty-hogging De Sède.   I question this, however, because supposedly royalty arrangements were contractual, and so what kind of publisher would contradict its own contract?   Or was it that De Sède was supposed to share the royalties, no matter what the contract said, and then reneged on that?}

[Breaking News!   Paul Smith has published on his website two 1989 articles from Vaincre (To Conquer), the Priory of Sion’s house organ,  both of which suggest a radically different origin for the Priory.   In these Plantard himself, on the occasion of his brief retaking of the grandmastership of the Priory in 1989, is quoted as saying that the Priory does NOT have ancient roots but rather dates from either the 17th C. or the 18th C.   In an interview of Plantard by Noel Pinot published in April of 1989, Plantard says that “the PRIORY OF SION was founded on 19 September 1738 in Rennes-le-Château by Francois d’Hautpoul and Jean-Paul Negre.  If there are any connections pre-dating this then we are certainly not aware of them.”   In an article apparently written by Plantard’s son, Thomas, then grandmaster of the Priory, published in September of 1989, it says that “the Priory of Sion dates from 17  January 1681, with, as founder, Jean-Timoleon Negri D’Ables, and with the participation of Blaise D’Hautpoul (+1694), and Abbé Andre-Hercule de Fleury (+ 1743).”    Just before that, it says that “The origins of the Priory of Sion are actually quite modest.   The Priory stems from Razes and is only a more or less direct successor of the Children of St. Vincent and (probably) of the Company of the Blessed Sacrament founded in 1629 by Henri de Levis, theoretically then dissolved in 1665, but of which some secret adepts were still in existence 50 years later.”  Despite the uncertainty of the starting date for the Priory, this all rather contradicts Smith’s thesis that the Priory is totally fraudulent and dating only from 1956.  Of course this might all be some sort of clever revisionism, to make the Priory’s “history” accord with one of the more likely explanations of Saunière’s secret (assuming he had one), that it had come to him via Abbé Bigou who had learned it from, perhaps, one or more of the local aristocrats named above or some descendant of them.   At any rate, this amusing bit of contradiction bolsters my thesis that “the truth” is never going to be available to us, especially about the Priory of Sion.  But back now to “The Plantard Subplot” as it was thought to be.]


Of course it’s possible Plantard himself was doing some guessing because he didn’t know the whole truth.  One rather charitable view of the Priory, in fact, by those who still believe this society’s claim of ancient roots (or was this claim made for them by those who wanted it to be true?), is that, precisely because they do not themselves know the full truth of their inheritance, they have been using others to do their research for them.   Clever dogs!

It’s also possible that the “conspirators” were simply inept at what they were attempting, which was to build on Charroux’s and Corbu’s tales and stitch that together with other, mostly mythic or legendary material in order to pursue their own grand scheme, a method that had some plausibility because their goals had points of contact with Saunière’s supposed goals—both seemed to be interested in restoring the monarchy, at least, and both may also have been part of an esoteric, chivalric Catholicism (and thus the irony of their being thought in league with “proper heretics,” for their “heresy” may have been on the opposite side).  Discrepancies in the dating of material and of events cited in the material that Plantard et al published anonymously or pseudonymously and then deposited in the Bibliothéque National contributes to the impression of ineptitude, although it may be that jugglers Plantard et al simply had too many balls in the air at once and couldn’t keep track of them all.          

Another possibility is that the Priory were (and are) just jokesters, deliberately and laughingly leading us into the Hermeneutical Hell we now occupy.  De Sède’s quoting of surrealist André Breton’s “The imaginary is something that tends to become true” (99) is not comforting, for it suggests a playfulness with reality that can’t help but make one suspicious.  Even if there was no joking involved, it leads one to wonder if “the conspirators” were trying to make Life imitate Art.   Which, admittedly, has worked many times over the centuries, possibly even explaining Christianity itself.  The strategy is ingenious—start with a design in your head, convince people that the design is to be found in life, and then voila!, there it is, the imaginary has become true as people create the thing they wished for.  That’s what the debunkers think happened in this case, that Plantard inserted his family into a genealogy of blue-blood descent that validated extravagant claims and then persuaded others that it was genuine.  And that he also made it seem the Priory was ancient and had at least hundreds or thousands of members when in truth it may have been an ad hoc society of one, for the most part, albeit with assistance from a few (duped? Or duping?) collaborators from time to time.

Whatever the case, Plantard made it appear that he knew a good deal about both Rennes-le-Château and Saunière and his Secret, but not because of Corbu or Charroux or any other sources.  Supposedly Plantard’s grandfather had known Saunière personally, and the Priory had known about this place and had been passing its Secret down for centuries. {The Plantards, as descendants of local nobility, supposedly, are said to own considerable land in the area, including Mt. Blanchefort, but Smith, while not directly disputing this, quotes a researcher who has found the Plantards to have peasant background, and Plantard’s circumstances throughout his life seem to have been modest enough, based on addresses given and jobs taken, and none of the addresses are from the Rennes area.  Of course the two reports wouldn’t necessarily contradict, since plenty of aristocrats have slid down the social and money ladder over the centuries, especially since democracy became popular.  But can’t the ownership of land be clearly established?   Putnam and Wood present the possibility that while Plantard owned land in the area, it was purchased only after he made many trips to the area in the 1950s investigating the local lore, as if testing it for compatibility with his grand ambition.  And one plot of land purchased was on the top of Mt. Blanchefort!} 

Of course the debunkers believe the Priory just made up a story to fit the facts, to take advantage of Corbu’s and Charroux’s accounts of Saunière’s supposed discovery.  That is, the Priory didn’t make up Saunière and his getting rich or doing strange things in Rennes-le-Château—those are facts of the case that remain regardless—but some think Plantard and the Priory simply took advantage of those facts to perpetrate a hoax.  Why would they do that?  Perhaps because they were latter-day Dadaists playing postmodern games with Truth, or because their monarchist ambitions exceeded their grasp, or for some other reason we’ll never know because we’ll never be able to believe any “confession” by erstwhile members, for reasons I’ll soon get to.

What ambition did the Priory declare?  Plantard’s ulterior motives, if not joking ones, apparently featured either the restoration of the monarchy in France (with himself or his son as king?) and possibly the establishing of a United States of Europe on some sort of chivalric model based on Atlantean sources, as updated by esoteric Catholicism, and on modern socialism, or, as he himself once insisted, just the recognition of ancient royal lineage, for Plantard seems to have claimed to be directly descended from the Merovingian kings, the first kings of France (or the Franks), who in turn may have claimed literal Davidic descent. [Apparently, French kings have for many centuries claimed a symbolic Davidic descent, but not a literal one.] That is, he claimed for the Plantards a significant Jewish royal descent.  If he did (and it wasn’t just De Sède or someone else playing with the idea), did he understand what this meant, given the anti-Jewishness of some of his early publications?

What is the most significant Jewish descent of all, as far as Europe is concerned?  One popular guess at Saunière’s Secret is that, in addition to finding literal treasure, he had found documentary proof that the Merovingian’s Davidic descent was through Jesus, possible if Jesus had been married to and had children by, say, Mary Magdalene  (Remember, Saunière’s church is dedicated to the Magdalene, he dedicated several sites in his estate to her, and his travels and research seemed often to be connected to her.  And then there’s the way she keeps popping up in the New Testament in strange relationship to Jesus).  This scenario, following from the belief that there are a number of fishy things about the Bible’s account of the ministry and crucifixion of Jesus, supposes that Jesus escaped his tomb and joined co-conspirator Joseph of Arimathea in bringing his family to the Languedoc (then Septimania), where there were Jewish settlements, and eventually a direct descendant married into the Frankish Merovingians.  Or else, in a somewhat less extravagant version of the legend, just Mary Magdalene and her children escaped, the body of Jesus later being dug up from its Jerusalem grave and delivered to the Languedoc or some other burial spot.   However it happened, the Priory’s descent theory (as imagined for them?) assumes that whoever inherits the Holy Blood of Jesus becomes a de facto Priest-King, who just needs to be, never mind whether he actually rules, and the world just needs to know that he exists. 

The principal threat here of course seems to be to the Catholic Church and its notion that its apostolic succession represents Jesus.  Since the popes are not blood relatives of Jesus, they are thus not considered by the Priory of Sion (as imagined by the popular story!!) as legitimate heirs of the True Priesthood, nor do they have the True Cross.  In Jesus’ presumed marriage and fatherhood is a further challenge to the Church’s rule of celibacy for priests, one that has been posed before by Eastern Orthodoxy, whose priests marry in accordance with precedents of the earliest of Christian churches, and of course subsequently by Protestantism.   In short, as their secret intentions are read by this popular account, the Priory of the popular story is implying that the Catholic Church is the real heresy.  Just as the Cathars did in times gone by.  Dy-no-mite!  And thus the justification for the idea that Saunière’s wealth came from blackmailing the Church.  Well, we know that the Church has in just the last fifty years paid out millions of dollars to settle claims against pedophile priests in a futile attempt to keep the scandal quiet, so the blackmail theory gains some credibility from that.  They’ve done it before.

The reason Catholics have thought the Church not heretical and its enemies are is, according to skeptics, that “history is written by the winners.”  That is, the Church, with the help of the Emperor Constantine and later enforcers (such as the Inquisition), did such a good job of squashing its rivals and editing or destroying their documents that history eventually reflected only its version of the truth.  Early in the Fourth Century A.D., it was by no means certain that the Church’s version of Christianity would be the one that prevailed in the West, but by the end of that century the balance had been tipped well in its favor by Constantine’s politically-motivated edict making its version the official state religion and a ruthless persecution of those henceforth declared “heretics.”  The Church did not face another serious challenge until its schism with Eastern Orthodoxy was finalized in 1054 (just 5 years before Saunière’s church was dedicated to the Magdalene!), and in the same century the Cathars and similar “heresies” began to gather large number of adherents in the West (the Languedoc being a hotbed of “heresy”), largely in response to the corruption and worldliness of the Church.  And at times there have been people within the Church itself who wanted radical change.  The question is whether Plantard was among those who were working within the Church through esoteric Catholicism to re-establish its authority or those who were attempting to subvert it with a rival claim to the throne of Peter (such as posed by the fact that the original Christian church, in Jerusalem, was led by Jesus’ brother James, who apparently kicked Paul and Pauline Christianity out of the original church).

The popular story believes in the latter case, that Plantard was working for a cause counter to the Church, so let’s continue with that, leaving the alternative for later.  It supposes that Plantard claimed to be descended from people who were among the first to be declared “heretics” by the Church, which ironically would include Jesus’ own descendants, since, by this account, they did not agree with Church doctrine or the Church’s characterization of Jesus as “The Redeemer.”  The “heretics” knew the truth, that Jesus, not divine but divinely inspired, came not to redeem but to reveal, that he was an especially adept adept who came to reveal to others “The Way” to a saving adepthood (one of Plantard’s pseudonyms, by the way, was “Captain Way”).   This means that to stay alive this family of “heretics” had to at least dissemble, often hide, and, when necessary, flee.  And that’s why a lot of their descendants today have snow to shovel. 

For example, note that Plantard’s putative full last name ends in “St. Clair.” which became “Sinclair” in Scotland and clues us to matters of Scottish descent as well, for much of the mostly hidden holy royal family fled north, the story goes, in centuries past, and Scotland may in fact contain the family with the most direct descent.  Those who wish to investigate the Scottish angle should start, perhaps, with Rosslyn Chapel, south of Edinburgh, another very strange church, which seems to have roots in the Knights Templar and Freemasonry, speaking of “heretics.”  Andrew Sinclair has provided a video documentary entitled The Secret Scroll which shows Rosslyn and many other sites that illustrate this theory of descent, especially emphasizing the evolution of the Knights Templar into the Scottish Masons, but strangely there is not the slightest suggestion of heresy in Sinclair’s narration of this tradition, quite the contrary.   The implication may be that the real heresy lies with the Church.   For an even fuller and far more intriguing treatment of this, see The Hiram Key by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas.

One way to understand all this is as the movements through history of a counterculture,  which while often pretending in public to be mainstream orthodox was sometimes, when its cover was blown, forced to go underground and occasionally change its name.  But at times it was more public and had the power it sought within its grasp, such as during the period of “La Fronde,” when the House of Lorraine (containing Priory members, supposedly) challenged Louis XIV for the throne of France.  More typical of the Priory’s preferred indirect method, supposedly a recent pope (John XXIII), who tried to change Catholicism utterly, was one of them!  Infiltration and Trojan horses, rather than direct confrontation, seem to be the favorite devices of the indefatigably scheming Priory.  According to the popular story. (Which, mind you, may not even be necessarily what Plantard had in mind!) And it’s the credibility of this notion of an underground counterculture, historically verifiable, that lends plausibility to Plantard’s Priory claims to be connected to it (or the story’s claim for them!).  But even if one grants the probable existence of a group of powerful families operating secretly to influence the affairs of Europe, and even if such people were loosely federated under a name like the Priory of Sion, with principles in common, did Plantard’s Priory have any connection with the “real” Priory?  (See Rex Deus, by Hopkins, Simmans, & Wallace-Murphy, for a detailed examination of this question.)

In the popular version of the Rennes-le-Château story, the Priory of Sion often finds itself associated with the Knights Templar, the Masons, the Rosicrucians, and the whole historically-verified Hermetic/ Alchemical/ Pythagorean/ Cabalistic/ Gnostic tradition in general, with its Egyptian/Atlantean roots.  Whatever differences exist(ed) among these groups, together they add up to an often underground counterculture emphasizing a special Wisdom as man’s salvation, achieved without benefit of priests.  The True Cross is not a redemptive cross, this tradition says, but a symbol of the intersection of universal, harmonizing forces in the individual when personally connected to the Divine through application of a specific, inherited sacred Wisdom.  Thus a major question, in the popular version, is whether Plantard’s Priory, assuming that it was the “real” Priory, was interested in far more than a restoration of the monarchy or a recognition of the continuation of Holy Blood.  The grandest conception of the Priory is that the reason they wanted to be restored to power is that they would bring with them, not just Holy Blood, but special knowledge of ancient, peace-making, civilization-building Wisdom, much-needed in a world on the brink of suicide.   But again, “Hell is paved with good intentions.”

Well, inasmuch as Saunière was, publicly at least, anti-republican himself, it’s possible even on the surface that there’s some connection between the Big Secret he supposedly uncovered and the monarchist goals of the hierarchical Priory of Sion, grafted on or not.  Of course if Saunière was simply a simoniac selling salvation, then the debunkers are right that Saunière and the Priory were unconnected, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t think alike on the issue of restoring the monarchy (albeit an “heretical” branch of it, if the Jewish-rooted Merovingians of the popular interpretation of them were involved!).  At any rate, the Priory (or the story of them) made it seem that they were connected.  Which is a possibility if the Priory really exists as an historically significant secret society, as the True Believers think, and is not, as the debunkers think, just an ad hoc committee to restore Plantard or someone else of bogus Merovingian descent to the monarchy.  That is, if they weren’t just joking about that.

As for the timing of the Priory leaks, the popular view is that Plantard and the Priory were simply reacting to the collapse of the French Empire in the 1950s and the Suez Crisis, and fearing civil war if a strong hand did not take over (which is why they backed DeGaulle, who then betrayed them by giving Algeria independence).  They made it seem, however, that they had broader interests in the formation of a United States of Europe under a constitutional monarchy and suggested that they had a better vision for a world that had just been through the horror of WWII and seemed headed for the even greater horror of a nuclear WWIII.  That is, they made it seem that what principally motivated their revealing of a family secret kept for centuries was the world’s desperate need for wiser leadership, and what could be better than a Priest-King with the blood of Jesus in him who had access to esoteric Wisdom?

It’s important to understand that the Priory members of the popular version were not common, garden-variety monarchists. The “realPlantard Priory may have been, but not the Priory of the popular version.  These were monarchists who thought their candidate’s blood was the blood of Jesus and that they were thus justified in attempting what Jesus attempted, to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.  The assumed idealism was enormous, if sincere!   But this over-the-top idealism was one of the things that gave them away.               

To begin with, if Plantard, or any other Merovingian pretender, thought having the blood of Jesus in him made him automatically fit to be Priest-King of Europe, or whatever, how is this any different from the Nazis’ delusions about the superiority of “Nordic blood”?  And as for the theocracy the Priory was planning, the likes of the Iranian Ayatollahs, the Taliban, and Osama bin Laden have once again demonstrated the ancient truth that the real Great Satan is theocracy.   Theocracy has again and again proved to be absolutely the world’s worst, most tyrannical form of government, because its assumptions about life tend to be so preposterous that it always needs coercion to gain assent.  Thus the often cozy relationship between the Church and the fascists of the Twentieth Century, just as the Church historically used thugs whenever “heretics” needed to be squashed.   [By the way, for conclusive proof that Hitler and the Nazis grew directly out of right-wing Christianity, see Richard Steigmann-Galls’ The Holy Reich.   See also a movie called “             .” ]


At any rate, as Pierre Plantard is now dead, it would seem to be up to his son, Thomas, now in his forties perhaps, to follow through on this grand vision.  Plantard may have had his son in mind all along.  It’s reported that Plantard lived with his widowed mother for a long time before finally having a child with a second wife, and we may be looking at nothing more here than fatherly, and perhaps grandmotherly, ambition for the fruit of his aged loins.  Is there any connection between the date of Thomas’ birth and the date at which Plantard supposedly began trying to connect himself with Merovingian ancestry --1961? At any rate, we might have a Doubting Thomas on our hands, if the son questions his father’s ambition.   But Paul Smith reports, in “Pierre Plantard and the Priory of Sion Chronology,” that a Thomas Plantard was Grand Master of the Priory of Sion in 1990 and that he published something in a revived Vaincre, so perhaps the Priory dream is still alive with Thomas, not doubting at all.  And the breaking news above very much supports that.

Another possibility, if one wishes to rescue the belief in the historical mission of the Priory (and assuming that Plantard is part of that mission), is that Plantard may simply have been ambivalent.  Perhaps he had received from his family this idea that he carried the blood of Jesus and a call to live up to that, but did he simultaneously feel a reluctance to play the fool?  “We are made fools for Christ’s sake,” said St. Paul, although he had a different Christ in mind.  So did Plantard let the Secret out, half hoping the call would be realized in his annunciation, the fantasy realized, but he let it out in such a way as to doom it, because also half hoping that he wouldn’t have to answer the call?  Like a Chekhov character, dooming his own aspirations because more in love with his failure? He could say he tried.  After all, he may have reasoned, they’ve waited so long, surely they can wait longer.  The world may not be ready for the Second Coming.  Perhaps it’s enough for now to let the world know that Godot does exist and will, someday, come!  At any rate, Plantard resigned from the Priory in 1984, citing health reasons, perhaps realizing the jig was up.  (And yet he returned, briefly, in 1989, after which Thomas Plantard became Grand Master!  Paul Smith gives as reason for Plantard’s final stepping down as due to an investigation into some sort of financial scandal involving insider-trading, caused by his claiming that a well-known financier, Roger-Patrice Pelat, was a Grand Master of the Priory.  The claim was a fantasy, says Smith, implying that Plantard was burned by his own fantasy!)

There are major discrepancies in the Priory’s story, and this is where Paul Smith’s website is helpful, although his certainty that Plantard was a complete charlatan may be questioned.   I wish it were that simple.  Consider the fact that Jesus was supposedly crucified for being such a charlatan.  For another, one does not become a charlatan for no reason, nor does one obligate one’s son to a fraudulent life for no reason.   And, too, there are degrees of charlatanism. Plantard may have taken seriously his descent from the Merovingians, perhaps because his family did, which would mean that his “charlatanism” was confined to the means he used to get others to believe in that descent, the end justifying the means, in his mind.   Or if his “Merovingian blood” was pure fantasy, and he knew that, then one wonders at the motivation and drive that led him to the perpetration of one of the great hoaxes of all time.  And at the lucky but inspired guess that connected him with Rennes-le-Château in such a convincing way.  But of course we’re talking about the Plantard of the popular story, which may have little or nothing to do with the real Plantard!

First, let’s consider a discrepancy that presents itself to anyone capable of simple logic, without help from the sort of historical research Paul Smith and his French sources have done, in the contradiction between the Jewish inheritance that, in the popular story, Plantard was claiming through his Merovingian descent and the virulent anti-Jewishness found in some of his publications.  Even the popular version reports that Plantard during WWII, supposedly active in the Resistance, published a journal that occasionally gave vent to extreme right-wing views, including anti-Jewishness (see note on why the term “anti-Semitism” is euphemistic nonsense and should no longer be used as a substitute for “anti-Jewishness,” and then return.  Mark your spot).  There are two reasons why this doesn’t add up.   First, if Plantard was truly descended from the Merovingians, then that made him partly Jewish, according to the argument that the Merovingians were descended from Jesus.   Secondly, according to a different argument that Plantard himself seemed to believe in, the Merovingians were said to be descended from the lost tribe of Benjamin, in which case they, and maybe Plantard, were totally Jewish.  But if the Benjamite origin is accepted, then why would the introduction of Jewish “blood” into the Merovingians by intermarriage with the line of Jesus matter to them?  Well, probably because it was the best of both worlds, the best of two lines of Jewish descent, one being Davidic.  Jewishness through Jesus was a trump card to play.  The option is to accept the idea that Plantard didn’t care about the descent from Jesus and perhaps thought that was extraneous.  Either way, that still leaves him claiming Jewish descent.   So was Plantard’s early anti-Jewishness as expressed in publications an act to fool the Nazis, as those attempting to rescue the Plantard Priory have proposed? [See a thorough accounting of this in Dagobert's Revenge, Vol 5, No. 1, by Tracy Twyman].  If so, it didn’t work, for he was denounced by even more radical anti-Jewish groups and imprisoned by the Nazis for several months, which is often cited as to Plantard’s credit.  Anti-Jewish rhetoric is considerably toned down or absent altogether from Plantard’s post-War pronouncements, though there are still references to the need for “cleansing” France that are suspicious and make one wonder if the man understood that he was claiming Jewish royal blood for his family.  Of course there’s no contradiction if the popular story has it all wrong about Plantard’s Jewish-Merovingian roots!  If he didn’t have a drop of Jewish blood in him, he could be as anti-Jewish as most others on the extreme political Right.   But he himself seems to have thought he did.   So was he schizoid? 

A possible answer could be that the idea of having “Jewish blood” hadn’t occurred to him yet or hadn’t been revealed to him by his family at the time that he was vilifying Jews.  The notion that he was of Merovingian descent may have been late-blooming.  Or, if one dismisses the notion of the Merovingians as Benjamite,  perhaps the best answer is in the ambivalence expressed throughout Catholic Europe through all the centuries in its veneration of a Jew as God and simultaneously its constant drumbeat of Church-sponsored anti-Jewish propaganda against “the killers of Christ,” which resulted in Europeans of almost all countries gladly shipping Jews off to the Nazis, with Pope Pius XII in silent collusion.   Hitler’s favorite play, by the way, was the Vatican-sanctioned, viciously anti-Jewish Passion Play at Oberammergau (since expurgated), the popularity of which speaks volumes about how schizoid Europe was about Jewishness (and now again regressing to, thanks to Mel Gibson).   So did Plantard reason, as much of Europe did, that as long as you were descended from the one Jew who was the exception to Jewish blood guilt, it was all right?  He would not be the first “anti-Jewish” Jew ardent for Christ.  It’s even been argued that some of the Merovingians were outwardly anti-Jewish, but if so that might just make them another example of “anti-Jewish” Jews, although that may have been a ruse just to appease the heretic-sniffers of their own time.               

One could go on pointing to obvious discrepancies in Plantard’s and the Priory’s account of things, but let’s save time by directly citing the evidence Paul Smith has collected that both were out and out frauds.   Smith’s website systematically demolishes all attempts to rescue Plantard’s reputation and the notion that Plantard’s Priory of Sion had deep historical roots. [Except lately Smith has published articles (see excerpts above) from relatively recent Vaincres that support historical roots less deep but deeper than he elsewhere claims, so keep that contradiction in mind!] You should read the detail for yourself beginning at http://smithpp0.tripod.com/psp/id23.html, but I will attempt a summary.   [This case is, as said, now better argued in Putnam and Wood’s book, but let’s give Smith his due as the originator.]

TOP     END  


P L A N T A R D ‘ S   P R I O R Y   D E B U N K E D




Much of Paul Smith’s case is based on the debunking testimony of Jean-Luc Chaumeil, a French Jew, supposedly, who seemed to be one of Plantard’s chief lieutenants, but who upon discovering Plantard’s anti-Jewish roots completely turned on him and presumed to expose him as a fraud.   Smith cites Chaumeil’s claim, for instance, that a 1945 Secret Service report (they had been investigating Plantard’s pre-Priory “Alpha Galates” organization since 1942, at the request of the Nazis!)) lists Pierre and Raulo Amélie Plantard as Plantard’s parents.  It goes on to assert that as a young adult Pierre Jr. seems to have been dependent on his mother, who survived on a pension derived from the death of her husband, “killed in a work accident.”  The unemployed young Plantard is also said to have been the sexton for the parish of Saint-Louis d’Antin. It appears that he eventually had at least two wives, one of which bore him a son, Thomas.  Interesting details, but one wonders how trustworthy any Secret Service report at that time in that place would have been, by French collaborators with the Nazis.   A further wrinkle is that Chaumeil’sJewishness” is contested by those who think he invented that identity to give him cause to break with and discredit Plantard over a money dispute.   Is Chaumeil actually right-wing Catholic, as has been claimed?

Whatever the truth of this, it seems that Plantard (down-at-heels aristocracy or peasant stock or bourgeoisie or some combination?), born in 1920 and living with his widowed mother in Paris, was as a teenager (and as Hitler’s storm troopers were gathering momentum in the next country over) an ardent nationalist, monarchist, and orthodox Catholic but interested as well in esoteric, occult, pre-Christian traditions that gradually he tied to his right-wing views, easy enough to do because many of these traditions are monarchist in their allegiance to the idea of a savior-king and their call for a chivalric order that will restore nobility to Europe.  This is why Heinrich Himmler had no trouble adapting the same occult, mythic material to the Nazi cause. Many of Europe’s fascists had no trouble accommodating the fascist leadership model to a certain heroic monarchist tradition, for they saw themselves as knightly orders bent on redeeming a “lost” society, corrupted by Jews and Masons.  And French monarchist tradition had from the time of Clovis I (Fifth Century) so thoroughly connected state with church and symbolically identified the King with Christ the King that the young Plantard just took all that for granted.   Plantard was accused by more than one associate of mythomania, and it’s understandable how his circumstances contributed to that and made him not all that unusual in a Europe inclined toward that.

But what caused the young Plantard to begin to take political action?  Smith says it was the election of Leon Blum, a Jew, as the first socialist Prime Minister of France in 1936 (and just months before the publication of Paul Le Cour’s The Age of Aquarius!).  “Better Hitler than Blum” soon became a right-wing slogan, which would account for Plantard’s support of the Vichy government during the Nazi occupation and his attempt to curry favor with Vichy’s leader, Marshall Pétain.  [Long before, apparently, the right wing in France blamed the overthrow of the monarchy during the French Revolution on the influence of what they insisted was a German Jew (although not identified as Jewish on any current websites) named Adam Weishaupt (1748-1811), cited as founder of the Illiuminati (1776) in Bavaria and proponent of rationalist republican and anti-clerical values.  [See Dan Brown’s thriller novel Angels & Demons, for an assigning of older, non-Jewish roots to the Illuminati, to Galileo, no less!]  But before the war, in 1937, Plantard began his first attempt to organize a group devoted to “purifying” France, the explicitly anti-Jewish and anti-Masonic “Renewal of France.”  This failing, he tried to form a “French National Association” in 1941.   At this time, he also formed something like a Boy Scout organization that reminds one of the “Hitler Youth” in Germany. 

The “French National Association” failing as well, in 1942 Plantard joined and soon became the leader of an Hermetic group called “Alpha Galates (“The First Gauls”), which based its program on Celtic myth that found the origins of Gallic chivalry in survivals from Atlantis!  This group aimed to put its Fatherland to rights by, as member Jean Falloux (real name Francis Sadot) put it, “eradicating from its soul the dominant pathogens, the hate-filled resentments and the false dogmas such as secularism, godlessness and the corrupt principles of the old democratic Judaeo-freemasonry.”  The group’s publication, Vaincre (To Conquer), was full of such right-wing vitriol, and Plantard seems to have been its editor and chief contributor.  Ironically, however, because it was insufficiently Nazi in its sympathies, it was denounced by even more extreme publications, which led to Plantard’s imprisonment by the Nazis.  His imprisonment, that is, was not for heroically opposing Nazi principles but because he preferred to see those principles applied by French fascists rather than German.   (Another irony is that the Jean Falloux cited above later was denounced by Plantard for disloyalty and expunged from the society, an example of the splintering effect that always seems to be attendant upon the gathering of ideologues.)   

The only hiccup in Smith’s account of Plantard’s Alpha Galates days occurs when we hear that Plantard’s mentor was the Count de Moncharville, supposedly head of Alpha Galates before Plantard, and read the count’s essays, as published by Alpha Galates, “The East and the West.”  This may all have been invented by Plantard after the fact, as Smith insists, including the notion that there was an Alpha Galates before Plantard joined it, but there’s nothing conclusive to support that.  (And lately Paul Smith has published documents that make it appear that he now accepts the Count as not just a Plantard fabrication and as in some sense Plantard’s mentor.   Confusion is caused on this website when Smith does not announce changes in his position; he just changes, without necessarily making his present position consistent with documents posted that represent positions he’s held in the past.)

At any rate, the count, advertised as “Professor of Law at the University of Strasbourg” and “Head of the Government Mission to Tibet,” seems to have thought that his Alpha Galates was a chivalric order that preserved an Atlantean doctrine that he saw as opposed to Catholic doctrine.[Or was it just opposed to the modern Church?]   Further, the count insists that his visits to Tibet included a descent into a fantastic, advanced underworld civilization that revealed a connection between Buddhism and Druidic thought, for the Tibetan underworld seemed to be much like the underworld beneath Mont-Saint-Michel in Celtic, northern France, where Atlantean technology and ritual observance had also survived.  One can see how Plantard might have learned from the count (or his imagining of the count) how to weave myth and legend and personal aspirations together, but otherwise the count’s rather pagan, anti-Catholic view of history seems to have been diametrically the opposite of Plantard’s, as Smith understands Plantard.   Thus it doesn’t make much sense that Plantard invented the Count de Moncharville of Alpha Galates and actually wrote the essays attributed to him, but perhaps he did, perhaps justifying it as fiction.   There is an air of playfulness in some of Plantard’s doings that makes one wonder if he wasn’t just principally amusing himself. 


Plantard then seemingly drifted around a bit in the post-War world, until the rapid dissolution of the French empire abroad, beginning in the 50s, may have spurred him into further action.  According to Paul Smith, Plantard in the mid-50s was employed as a draftsman in Annemasse (in the French Alps, just south of Geneva), and was “living in poor quality housing.”   In what some of his colleagues thought was a joke, he declared that they should “form a group devoted to the aim of Low-Cost Housing.”   This group was given the name of “The Priory of Sion,” which was named after a nearby mountain—Sion (that is, nothing to do with the Jerusalem Sion, Paul Smith believes, but one can also imagine a Plantard who was delighted at the coincidence!).  In accordance with French law, he officially announced the existence of the Priory on July 20, 1956.   The problem with Smith’s analysis here is that no one founds an organization “devoted to the aim of Low-Cost Housing” and calls it “The Priory of Sion.”   The low-rent aims of the organization, as Smith imagines them, do not fit with the organization’s grand name.   So this sounds like a “cover.”  

Whatever, this effort seems to have collapsed in 1957, possibly because Plantard had been arrested and tried for pedophilia or kidnapping of a child.  This charge was made later by the supposedly Jewish ex-member of the Priory of Sion, Jean-Luc Chaumeil, whose rather incoherent letters to Paul Smith are now carried on Smith’s website at http://smithpp0.tripod.com/psp/id98.html.   Henry Lincoln chose to disregard this charge as a “vicious libel.” {And in the winter of 2002-3 there was a big hullabaloo on the-daily-grail@yahoogroups.com over this, largely between Paul Smith and “Stella Maris” (presumably a Robin Crookshank Hilton), in which it is suggested that Chaumeil is about to retract his charge and rebut his letters to Paul Smith in which the charge was made; and he’s doing this, supposedly, because investigators have backed him into a corner with documents and other evidence that suggests he at least misrepresented the case, if not outright lied about it.  And Chaumeil may not be Jewish after all.  More to come, no doubt!}  But even if it is true that Plantard was at one time arrested and tried for some sort of sexual deviance regarding children (assuming that this is not just a smear), this does not affect Plantard’s (or the story’s) insistence that he was of Merovingian descent.  In fact, it ironically makes that pedigree more likely, since the inbreeding of aristocrats has long been suspected as a cause of degeneracy among them.   A sexually perverse Plantard is, ironically, a more credible Merovingian!  One would like to believe that this matter could be settled by producing official documents of the arrest and conviction of Plantard, but even if such were produced (and French libel law apparently dictates against that, or is that a red herring?), there would be cause to wonder if they were doctored or invented for the occasion [And now it’s being argued that the original documents were misunderstood because the French law pertaining was incorrectly cited].   

(Keep in mind throughout this debunking account that we’re relying on documents and testimonies that are assumed to be genuine but which an organization as theoretically clever and omnipresent and dissembling as the Priory, or whoever might be behind them or might be using them, could easily forge or arrange, especially in this age of identity theft.  As for the later Priory, Smith reports that one of its members, Jean-Luc Chaumeil, a French Jew, supposedly, who became suspicious of Plantard in the mid-70s, had his father, high up in the French Police Force, assist in investigating Plantard and subsequently broke with Plantard upon discovering his Vichy, anti-Jewish past, but all this needed was the discrediting of Plantard by such official investigations to make the case for cover-up.  As the French establishment is notorious for its cover-ups, secret plots, and mysterious double dealings, this is made to order for my case of postmodern relativism!   And in this age of identity theft and document manipulation by “officials,” public records are no longer conclusive proof of anything.  Furthermore, of course the original members now disavow any notion that Plantard’s original Piory was “serious” or had any of the goals later attributed to it!  If they’re genuine, they can’t do anything but insist that they weren’t genuine.  Covering one’s trail or tail is always the first rule of any sincere secret society. ).

Then, in 1961, according to this debunking account but confirmed by True Believers as well, Plantard began depositing (or having others deposit) in various official libraries, under various pseudonyms (Henri Lobineau being his favorite, starting in 1961), documents that he would later use in building his connection with Rennes-le-Château and his case for royal ancestors.  Smith notes that as Plantard “was once a professional draughtsman, it could not have been too difficult for him to create genealogies through the application of a stencil-kit—genealogies that were part of a developing system of belief involving the historical fiction of the Priory of Sion.”  But, as Smith further notes, Plantard did not make any attempt to connect with Rennes-le-Château until 1964, after the publication of Robert Charroux’s book brought Rennes to his attention and he apparently went on to find Corbu’s account and see enough possibilities in that to revive the Priory of Sion as an active organization with different membership in a different part of France.  Before making this connection, however, in 1961 Plantard apparently met Gérard de Sède and persuaded him to cite him, Plantard, as an expert on Gisors (where the Templars are supposed to have broken with the Priory in 1188) in De Sède’s book, The Templars Are Among Us, thus “resulting in the early historical fiction of the Priory of Sion being publicized in a big way for the first time.”  When Plantard discovered the possibilities of weaving the Priory of Sion together with the Rennes-le-Château mystery in or about 1964, say the debunkers, he abandoned Gisors and showed what were presumed to be Saunière’s coded parchments to De Sède, convincing him to research Rennes-le-Château and write that story up in The Accursed Treasure.  And off we go into a world where the subplot attempts to become the main plot.  

Interestingly, Smith’s account of Plantard makes him a soul brother of Smith’s Saunière, which is why Smith has no trouble in seeing much of the priest’s church and estate as expressive of the politics of the extreme and rather unscrupulous right wing in reaction to the secularizing assertions of Republican France.   The ironic outcome of Smith’s debunking is to show how these two men could very well have been co-conspirators, had they been contemporaries, even though he’s convinced there’s no real connection between them.  Well, the connection would be spiritual, obviously.  And that would be why Plantard was able to exploit a connection for so long.   

And that’s why there was plausibility to the Priory’s account of the parchments Saunière supposedly found, until that was called into question by insider revelations as to the true authorship.   Although Abbé Bigou, the priest of Marie de Blanchefort, the last of the local aristocratic family that passed “the secret” down, is supposed to be the author and hider of the parchments (either in 1781 when Marie died or in 1791, shortly before he fled to Sabadell, Spain?) that Saunière supposedly found in 1891, Smith makes much of the fact that an accomplice of Plantard’s, the Marquis de Chérisey, has confessed to being the author of the parchments. However, De Chérisey’s account, which is to be found on Paul Smith’s website at http://smithpp0.tripod.com/ psp/id89.html, raises more questions than it answers and all by itself makes one wonder if it can be trusted.  Throwing even more doubt on it is a recent (July 2003) article in The Rennes Observer by Ian Campbell, which makes an excellent case that De Chérisey could not possibly have forged both parchments, for their handwriting and use of Latin characters is distinctly different.   If they were forged, it seems, there were at least two different authors.  

Furthermore, surprisingly, in his “confession” De Chérisey does not contradict the basic story that Saunière had found documents in his church, had them deciphered in Paris at St. Sulpice, and lived the life of a multimillionaire.  He apparently believed in the truth of that story and was passing it on to others after a visit to Rennes-les-Bains in 1961, when he learned of a town hall fire in Rennes-le-Château during which the archives that contained Saunière’s documents went up in smoke (although, supposedly unbeknownst to De Chérisey, these were copies, not originals).   De Chérisey just says he constructed his own documents, the ones published by De Sède, only in 1961 when he as an actor in Brussels was inspired to do so by a fellow actor and radio personality, Francis Blanche, who, after hearing De Chérisey’s account of Saunière, wanted for his radio serial a story about mysterious parchments that led to treasure.  Well, ask yourself why a radio dramatization would need actual parchments!!!!   Even a televised drama would not need such.   At any rate, De Chérisey said he felt free to invent the documents for Blanche’s fictional needs because he thought the originals were lost for good, and so at the same time he also made up the story that the town’s mayor had made copies of Saunière’s documents, which he further said had been deposited in a bank vault in England, thus accounting for his only showing photocopies to De Sède (which later were shown to Lincoln?).   Thus not even De Chérisey saw the original parchments, if he even saw copies, but he seems to have believed in their one-time existence.  

But how is it possible that these De Chérisey “parchments,” which so ingeniously connect with Saunière and the history of Rennes-le-Château, not to mention all the Knights Templar, Cathar, Gnostic, hermetic/alchemical/astrological/Masonic connections, could have been made up out of whole cloth in so short a time?  It is hard to believe that De Chérisey started entirely from scratch [and see now on page 1 the news that the Codex Bezae has been discovered to be the source of one of the messages].  What had he heard about the original parchments on his trip to Rennes?   There was an oral tradition around then that he may have tapped into, and so some elements of the originals, one could argue, might have found their way into the De Chérisey documents (if indeed he authored one of them).  And then there is De Chérisey’s claim that he was “a complete duffer at cryptography,” difficult to accept because while one of the codes in the “parchments” was simple enough to crack (although De Sède did not), the other one was admired for its complexity by baffled professionals.  A further mystification arises from the fact that in 1971 De Chérisey published a novel, Circuit, in which he supposedly deciphered all his own codes, for his decipherments apparently have left much to be deciphered, suggesting that he had coded material on hand that he did not entirely understand.  [A recent translation of a chapter published in The Rennes Alchemist suggests that a badly written Circuit is of little help in decipherment].  No, De Chérisey needs a great deal more investigation until anything this actor/author says can be taken as straight fact.  This is the weakest part of Smith’s argument, for a good lawyer would need less than ten minutes in a court of law to destroy the credibility of either a De Chérisey or a Chaumeil.   Smith seems not to notice that the very witnesses he calls to discredit Plantard and the Priory are witnesses he has impugned by declaring them charlatans and frauds.   You can’t have it both ways.

Furthermore, this account by De Chérisey does not square with either Smith’s insinuation elsewhere that draughtsman Plantard created the “parchments” or with the contention from one of Smith’s “authorities” (Descadeillas) that Saunière created them, which I will pursue below.  In any case, as said, professional code-breakers have found some of the parchment codes so complex that they think one would have to have been a professional to pull it off, and that might dismiss all of the above, not just duffer De Chérisey, as authors of the codes.   Of course the codes might have been based on already extant historical material capable of adaptation, as De Chérisey claimed (and such as the Codex Bezae has been found to be), but that then opens up questions about the historical material.   [Pierre Jarnac reports that De Chérisey told Jean-Luc Chaumeil that he took the ancient text, in uncial, at the Bibliothéque Nationale, from a 15-volume work entitled Dictionnaire d’archéologie chretienne et de liturgie (1924-9952), published under the direction of dom Fernand Cabrol.  So where did it come from?   What is the context?   And how does this square with the recent discovery that one of the coded messages was based on the Codex Bezae?   If that Codex is not contained in that Dictionnaire, what then?]


In short, that there may have been in the machinations of Plantard’s Priory a monarchist plot at work (perhaps serious, perhaps not) doesn’t mean that there wasn’t or isn’t something else as well.  The monarchists may simply have been taking advantage of a situation that lent itself to their cause or that was parallel to it in some way.   And that the particular Priory of Sion Plantard dreamed up (if that’s what he did) may be exposed as fraudulent does not necessarily mean that there isn’t a real Priory of Sion or some secret society that operates on much the same principles and for much the same reasons.  Etc. Etc. Etc. It is a matter of historical record that there was some mysterious society called the Ordre de Sion situated in Jerusalem on Mt. Sion at the same time as the Knights Templar were there and that there were family connections between the Ordre of Sion and the Templars.  (“Sion” and “Zion” are simply alternate spellings of the same thing).

For example, that a Priory of Sion exists that has nothing to do with Plantard is suggested by the 1999 publication of Weidner and Bridges’ Monument to the End of Time and a number of other current studies.  And so, in the texts confronting us, we may have to think in terms of there being at least THREE different Piory of Sions.   There’s Plantard’s Priory as it existed in the minds of people who wrote about it, there’s Plantard’s Priory as it may have really been, and then there’s a Priory that might have nothing to do with Plantard and that really does exist and has the kind of reach and power imagined for Plantard’s Priory.   And now add a fourth.   There’s also the possibility that while the Piory of Sion may be largely or totally a fiction, in all its possible manifestations, nevertheless a similar organization does exist with similar goals, as suggested by Rex Deus, by Hopkins, Simmans, and Wallace-Murphy.  “Rex Deus” is their name for a widespread European family of aristocrats with the same Merovingian, Gnostic, Hermetic, Cabalistic, Alchemical roots as was attributed to Plantard’s Priory.  However valid this claim may be, it makes the point that there’s still plenty of potential for mystery here, and it’s of the kind to lead to my next point.

We’ve gone far enough now to sum up some major reasons why I say the cancer of Postmodern Relativity is metastasizing at Rennes-le-Château. 

What may make this “mystery” impossible to solve is that one can never trust the public pronouncements, documents, and personas of the cast of characters because, as possible jokesters or as agents of secret agendas and/or as possessors of perhaps dangerous, suppressed truths, most of the cast was committed to dissembling, and so there’s no telling when they’re telling it straight and when not, and when documents may be “planted” and when not, and when there may be even more powerful forces operating behind the scenes, using our cast as puppets.   And causing evidence to disappear!

First of all, the assumption is that often members of this secret tradition camouflaged themselves by pretending to be the opposite of what they were, for safety’s sake.  Down through the centuries, not a few of them came off in public as extreme right-wingers, including Saunière and Plantard, and who’s to say they weren’t faking it while sending coded messages to their subversive initiates?  In the case of Saunière, every inch of his church and estate is sufficiently ambiguous to attribute both orthodox and heretical meanings to it.  In the case of Plantard, as said, there is a fundamental contradiction between his presumed orthodoxy and his notion of Merovingian descent, which automatically made him a Jewish heretic, if the connection to Jesus and Mary Magdalene is granted.  And the problem with the debunker’s case against the Priory is that much of it is based on testimony from former “co-conspirators” with Plantard who now declare the whole thing a hoax.  An interesting seizure of timely “revisionism,” is it not?   If I were as deeply into conspiracy as these folks earlier made it seem they were, there would be nothing more satisfying than getting people to believe that something was a hoax that was not, if I had a good reason for doing that.  That is why people who are known liars are not given much credence as witnesses in courts of law, even when they’re admitting to former lying.  As I say, “abandon all hope.”


Back to safety being the reason for dissembling.  Another part of the rationale for this Secret’s coming out now rather than at some other time is not that Saunière’s accidental discovery let the cat out of the bag and thus it might as well be admitted to, for that cat curled back to sleep soon after his death in 1917, rather it’s that it is only now, in these relatively enlightened times, that it is perhaps safe to divulge “the Truth,” a Truth that is desperately needed to save a self-destructive world.  But divulge it oh so carefully and indirectly because you never know whose secret agents might have “contracts” on your life!  Well, there are murders and mysterious “accidental” deaths in this story—De Sède’s book concludes with a considerable body count, which is what makes the treasure “accursed”!  The Priory, incidentally, perhaps with De Sède as major contributor, added to the body count by attributing many of its pseudonymously published documents to authors who met with foul play, and other researchers have since added numerous names to the list of those potentially victimized!   Well, who can resist “accursed treasure”?  The logic seems to be that if people are dying in pursuit of a treasure, that means it’s authentic and significant.  Cleverly done! 


But in this atmosphere of paranoid intrigue, in which the Church is imagined to operate like the Mafia (which indeed it did at times in centuries past, and in modern times we have a Vatican bank scandal, insurance scandal, and the mysterious, sudden death of John Paul I to contemplate, not to mention the secret operations of the notorious Opus Dei!), investigators find themselves in a bind—they need reliable testimony but are unable to trust what they find because there’s always the possibility that it’s “disinformation” in some sort of high-stakes war going on behind the scenes.  Lately there has surfaced implications that the secret intelligence agencies of Britain, France, and the U.S.A. are involved, and once you set sail into the world of international spookery, you become as lost in the mist and fog as the legendary Flying Dutchman! 

And that is why, of course, the debunkers dismiss all this as spy novel material.  It is, but is it deliberately so?  Which reminds me to make the point that you also can’t trust the investigators, including the debunkers, for you never know which are in pursuit of relatively disinterested truth and which are secretly asserting or defending an ideology or political agenda, the truth be damned.  And who, after all, is Paul Smith?  James Bond’s latest manifestation or an agent of Spectre?  Smith’s zealous and now almost automatic insistence that it is “all myth,” based on strictly orthodox readings of history, makes one suspect some sort of debunking machine operating behind the scenes, all too eager to make the scandal of Rennes go away, for reasons that don’t seem particularly disinterested.   But maybe not.  Who can say?  Abandon all hope, I tell you!

A good example of how one can’t trust the debunkers apparently occurred even as De Sède was writing his book, in 1966.  He consulted a man named René Descadeillas, then keeper of the municipal library at Carcassonne, known for his erudition regarding local lore and author of a couple of scholarly books on Rennes-le-Château and Saunière (1962, 1964).   Although De Sède borrowed heavily from Descadeillas in his facts, he was surprised to hear from Descadeillas that “Saunière was nothing but a swindler, who enjoyed mystifying people.  He was artful, but uncultured, almost ignorant.  As to the origin of his fortune, there is no mystery about that.  It was passed over to him in the form of gifts by rich folk, who preserved their anonymity to avoid upsetting their heirs.  In addition, he took part in the traffic in Masses.  The manuscripts?  He never found any.  He put them together himself in order to impress his dupes.  As to the decoration of his church, he bought it all readymade in Paris, from near Saint-Sulpice.” Since an investigator named Henry Lincoln received a similar summary from Descadeillas years later, apparently De Sède’s account can be trusted here. 

There are several things suspect about Descadeillas’ summary, not the least of which is that neither he nor his books provided any convincing proof of his debunking charges.  Assertions and inferences and speculations and unsupported testimony are not proof.  And some assertions seem contradicted by other assertions, such as the assertion that Saunière was “uncultured, almost ignorant” is contradicted by the assertion that he created the parchments himself.  Some of the codes of the incredibly complex, historically allusive parchments were not created by someone who was “uncultured, almost ignorant.”  And even if the "parchment" messages we have today are not the originals, the incredibly precise mathematics everywhere in evidence in the layout of Saunière’s estate and the buildings he constructed there and their mathematically precise relationship to other sites contradicts Descadeillas’ characterization of Saunière as “almost ignorant.”  Even more telling is the fact that Descadeillas’ original debunking idea that Saunière faked the parchments has been contradicted by later debunking “confessions” from De Chérisey that the Priory faked them!  And whether it was Plantard or De Chérisey who faked them is also open to question.  Which seems to suggest that what is uppermost for the debunkers is that the parchments are understood as faked, never mind who faked them.  That seems a tad obsessive.  Some would see it as panicky.   Is there a counter-conspiracy?   Now we’re having fun!

[Incidentally, De Chérisey’s “confessions” remind me of a story by Sherwood Anderson entitled “I’m a Fool,” about a boy who admits to being a certain kind of fool in order to hide the fact that he’s an even greater fool than he wants people to know.  So too a hoaxer can admit to a hoax in order to disguise an even greater hoax, which in this case could be that the hoaxer is lying about having lied.  Why would he do that?  Perhaps because the Priory wants to recede back into the woodwork for a while, the sense of urgency it felt in an earlier time having passed, the European Union sufficing for now, or perhaps realizing that it has (temporarily?) failed in its goals.  You see, it’s a bottomless pit.]

It was clever of De Sède to include Descadeillas’ debunking opinion, for that created an aura of objectivity around his investigation and openness to contrary opinions, and even more clever that he kept his reaction to it surprisingly low-key.  De Sède thought it was enough to point out that he later learned that the doubting Descadeillas, along with several friends, “had himself undertaken a series of excavations of Rennes-le-Château.”  (By the way, apparently it was the Descadeillas group in 1956 that found three male bodies with bullet wounds buried in Saunière’s garden, and an inquest was unable to determine who they were or how this came to pass!).  De Sède’s implication is that Descadeillas was just trying to decoy other treasure hunters, but he leaves that to the reader to deduce.  And so it’s also possible that Descadeillas in characterizing Saunière was just expressing bitter disappointment in not finding anything of value.   No treasure found, so Saunière must be a fraud.  A subsequent researcher, Henry Lincoln, who met with hostility from Descadeillas when he sought information about a certain significant local tomb (to be dealt with later), concurs that Descadeillas’ being among the “devoted diggers” around Rennes-le-Château at least puts all his pronouncements under suspicion.  And that he was unaware of the tomb near Arques rather puts into question as well his authority as an expert on the region.    

So, to sum up this point, the debunker’s case against Plantard’s Priory (they make no attempt to deal with the possibility of another Priory) for fraudulence is pretty convincing and may very well be “the truth,” but we are not at the moment in any position to say that with 100% certainty, given the points made above.  And the case against Saunière for fraudulence is considerably weaker.   And so one reaches the point where one just relaxes and enjoys the show.   This “show” really got going with the last set of authors of “The Saunière Episode,” Henry Lincoln et al.  


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