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The Priory of Sion in Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code" - A Complete 20th Century Hoax

Aug 17, 2007
If you enjoyed reading the Da Vinci code and fancied tracking down the Priory of Sion, save yourself the effort. The Priory of Sion is nothing more than a 20th century hoax created by Pierre Plantard, an oddball in search of royal descent.

These events, which Dan Brown presents as the truth, are simply untrue. 'The Da Vinci Code' has been hailed as a 'a faultless piece of research', a 'learned' book, and a 'history lesson'. Dan Brown a former English teacher and art historian, tried to pass off as truth the story of the Priory of Sion invented by Pierre Plantard a french anti-semitic fanasist.

Dan Brown in his preface states: 'The secret society of the Priory of Sion was founded in 1099, after the First Crusade.'

In 1975, parchments referred to as 'Dossiers Secrets' were discovered at the Bibliotheque Nationale, which mention the names of certain members of the Priory, including Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo and Leonardo Da Vinci'. Plantard, the son of a butler, who dreamt of royal descent and who lived like a hermit, created his own myth using the strange legend of a treasure buried in the environs of Rennes-le-Chateau, the Abbey Sauniere, the secret genealogy of the Merovingians.

Plantard (before he changed his name) started the hoax in the 1950s in the Haute-Savoie, when he with some friends created a charitable association registered as the the Priory of Sion. The association's constitution documentation are filed with the Sub-Prefecture of Saint-Julien-en-Genevois and its registered office was located in Annemasse.

According to Plantard and his fellow founders, the Sion in the name did not relate to Jerusalem but to Mont-Sion, near Geneva. The objective of the Priory was to defend the rights and liberties of the low-rental housing sector.

The association ceased to exist in 1957. There is no absolutely no historical reference to the existence of any Priory of Sion before that date. And furthermore there was no hint of any mysteries of any kind in the organisation.

Plantard's imagination was fed by a meeting with Noel Corbu, the heir to Abbey Barenger Sauniere of Rennes-le-Chateau and one time detective fiction writer. Noel Corbu told him the strange story of Abbey Sauniere, the priest of the small commune at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries.

A mysterious influx of money enabled the Abbey to renovate the church and build a villa as well as a tower even though the parish was poor. This money allegedly came from a treasure that the Abbey had discovered in the surroundings of the village using clues contained in parchments found inside one of the pillars of the church when renovation work was being carried out.

However, the entire treasure story was just a fantasy dreamed up by Noel Corbu to attract customers to his restaurant. In actual fact the Abbay Sauniere's money came from trafficking in masses, pocketing money for 5000-6000 masses a year that were never held, and something for which he was suspended from ecclesiastical duties by the authorities.

In the mid 60s several mysterious documents were lodged with the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, collected together under the name of the 'Dossiers Secrets' of Henri Lobineau, a pseudonym.

These include documents relating to the founding of the Priory of Sion in 1099 and a list of Grand-Masters of the Priory going back to the 12th century, including Leonardo Da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo, Claude Debussy, and Jean Cocteau, and genealogies of descendants of the Merovingian kings copied from parchments belonging to the Abbey Sauniere and which suggested a blood relationship between Pierre Plantard and King Dagobert I.

In 1971, following a row with Gerard de Sade about the royalties from his book, Philippe de Charisey publicly admitted that the parchments were his own forgeries. Plantard subsequently confirmed this to Jean-Luc Chaumeil, but subsequently claimed that these forgeries were actually copies of original parchments.

In 1975 Pierre adopted the name Plantard from the name of the Plantard family who were descendents from the Merovingians, the people who Brown presents in his novel as the descentdants of the marriage of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene.

In 1982 'Holy Blood, Holy Grail' written by Henry Lincoln, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh re-wrote the Rennes legend and accepted the Priory myth and formulated a bizarre hypothesis: Jesus, married to Mary Magdalene, could have had a child who was born after his crucifixion. The child would have been none other than the first of the Merovingians, and Pierre Plantard would have been his direct though distant descendant.

The French journalist Jean-Luc Chaumeil unmasked Plantard's imposture in the 1980s and he proved that the 'Dossiers Secrets' were forgeries by Pierre Plantard and his accomplice Philippe de Charisey.

Plantard's downfall began in 1989 when he drew up a new list of the Grand Masters of the Priory, which included the name of Roger-Patrice Pelat (an old friend of Francois Mitterrand). When Pelat died he was involved in a serious financial scandal. In 1993, an investigating magistrate investigating Pelat's death, ordered the search of Plantard's apartment. Documents certifying that Plantard was the true King of France were found. After close cross-examination, Plantard admitted his imposture and was let off with a severe reprimand.

Plantard died in February 2000 before witnessing the huge success of Dan Brown's Da Vinci code with over 40 million copies sold and a movie and the tale of the Priory of Sion. The authors of The Holy Blood, Holy Grail, claimed to be a direct inspiration for The Da Vinci Code and sued Dan Brown for plagiarism. Random House publish both the The Holy Blood, Holy Grail, and The Da Vinci Code.

It was ruled and upheld on appeal by the Court of Appeal in London that Brown had not copied any central theme of the plaintiff authors. Dan Brown still conveniently ignores the unanimous conclusion of scholars and serious investigators: that the Priory was a 20th-century hoax, and that the famous people listed never had anything to do with it.
About the Author
Corina Clemence runs a luxury french chateau in the Loire Valley near Blois, for up to fifteen people perfect for touring vineyards and chateaux and relaxing french holidays. It is also ideal for a french wedding, party or event. Rent the whole castle or rent a suite. Rent a castle in France. Hire castle - hire chateau Rent castle http://www.loirechateau.com Rent chateau
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