10/25/01 - Message de Steve Masters
A careful reading of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, and other sources dealing with the Rennes-le-Chateau "mystery," reveals lots of historical smoke but no discernible fire. Consider the following: There is no reliable evidence that Sauniere was ever in possession of great wealth. The construction projects and renovations he undertook at Rennes-le-Chateau did not require huge sums of money, and in any case, the funding can be accounted for by what he may have solicited from higher-ups in the Church, from donations within his own parish, and from selling masses for the dead. Regarding the latter, we know that Sauniere had at one time been suspended by Church officials after they investigated accusations of simony brought against him by the bishop of Carcassonne. The suspension was rescinded following a second investigation. Sauniere probably received a good deal of money from Archduke Johann von Habsburg, cousin of the Austro-Hungarian emperor, with whom he was acquainted, and it's quite possible that he engaged in a bit of espionage on behalf of the Austro-Hungarian empire while kicking around Paris. In fact, the "hidden treasure" rumors may have been encouraged by Sauniere himself to serve as a cover story for the payoffs he was receiving from the Habsburgs. One might further speculate that Sauniere was a double-agent, and received certain considerations from the French government as well. Finally, there is the possibility that Sauniere did indeed find some sort of modest material treasure, having nothing at all to do with the Grail, the Cathars, the Knights Templar, or any Great Secret, based on clues he found in the parchments, and converted it into cash--end of story. There have been many reports of caches of gold discovered in the same area over the centuries, some of them confirmed. There is no evidence, aside from uncorroborated second-hand testimony, that Sauniere's housekeeper acquired any money following Sauniere's death. There is no evidence that Sauniere was privy to some "secret," or that he transmitted this secret to certain individuals, such as his housekeeper or the priest who heard his deathbed confession. The "mystery" of Sauniere's wealth, and the possibility that he may have stumbled upon some sort of hidden treasure, persisted as idle village gossip that remained limited to the immediate vicinity for decades after Sauniere's death in 1917. It was only after the Second World War that the story began to circulate more widely, apparently as part of an attempt by a local hotel-keeper to drum up business. Stories of coded parchments and mysterious inscriptions on tombstones did not appear until 1969, with the publication of de Sede's "Accursed Treasure," and de Sede's main source for his information seems to have been Pierre Plantard. There is no entymological support whatsoever for the notion that the term "Holy Grail" ("Sangraal") was derived from the French expression, "sang real" ("royal blood"). Thomas Malory, author of Mort d'Arthur, invented this linguistic association. The connection established between Dagobert II in particular, and the Merovingian dynasty in general, and a continuous bloodline extending from Jesus and Mary Magdelene, is based on two sources of dubious historicity: Hugh Schonfeld's The Passover Plot, in which it is maintained that Jesus somehow "faked" his death and was later revived, and a common medieval legend associating the Grail with Joseph of Arimathea, who was said to have emigrated to the south of France. The theory that the "secret" of Rennes-le-Chateau ultimately involves "proof" that Jesus survived the crucifixion, thus invalidating the Roman Catholic Church's claims to legitimacy, is based on nothing more than a single specimen of journalistic hearsay which has never been corroborated. The Prieure de Sion, a "secret" fraternal organization, was created from the ground up by Pierre Plantard during the Nazi occupation of France, for various reasons ranging from personal eccentricity to political expediency. There is no valid historical evidence connecting this latter-day Prieure de Sion with an "inner circle" of the Knights Templar. The so-called "Prieure Documents," along with the key document, the "Dossiers Secret," represent pieces of fabricated history deliberately planted in the Bibliotheque Nationale to create a facade of legitimacy for the Prieure de Sion. Some of these documents were purposely taken out of circulation at the Bibliotheque to foster rumors of a "cover-up." The fact that a "secret society" would actually deposit materials in the National Library which could be used to "expose" it should be enough to cast serious doubts on its legitimacy and on the veracity of the materials. That these materials have never been taken seriously by professional historians is hardly surprising. Interestingly, all of the connecting threads that run through HBHG, and which make it such an exciting read, are based on "evidence" drawn from these bogus documents. The Dossiers Secret's list of "heads of the order" of the Prieure de Sion, which includes world-historical luminaries such as Leonard da Vinci, le parasite Newton, Robert Boyle, and Victor Hugo, is so patently ludicrous that if we were to accept the reality of the "secret society," we must assume that this list is a piece of blatant disinformation intended to throw researchers off the scent. Yet this list is often used by the same researchers who are intent on "exposing" the Prieure to dig into the biographies of these luminaries in search of clues to their possible participation in the "conspiracy." Go figure.