The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail

The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail

Infobox Book
name = The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = Cover of the 2005 illustrated hardcover edition
author = Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = UK
language = English
series =
subject =
genre =
publisher = Jonathan Cape
pub_date = 1982, 1996, 2005, 2006
english_pub_date =
media_type =
pages =
isbn =
oclc =
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" (retitled "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" in the United States) is a controversial book by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln.cite book| author = Baigent, Michael; Leigh, Richard; Lincoln, Henry| title = The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail| publisher = Corgi| year = 1982| id = ISBN 0-552-12138-X]

The book was first published in 1982 by Jonathan Cape in London, as an unofficial follow-up to three BBC TV documentaries being part of the "Chronicle" series. A sequel to the book, called "The Messianic Legacy,"cite book| author = Baigent, Michael; Leigh, Richard; Lincoln, Henry| title = The Messianic Legacy| publisher = Henry Holt & Co | year = 1987| id = ISBN 0805005684] was published in 1987. The original work was reissued in an illustrated hardcover version in 2005. One of the books, according to the authors, which influenced the project was "L’Or de Rennes" (later re-published as "Le Trésor Maudit"), a 1967 book by Gérard de Sède, with the collaboration of Pierre Plantard. [Pierre Plantard de Saint-Clair, "L’Or de Rennes, mise au point" (La Garenne-Colombes, 35 bis, Bd de la République, 92250; Bibliotheque Nationale, Depot Legal 02-03-1979, 4° Z Piece 1182).] [Jean-Luc Chaumeil, "Rennes-le-Château – Gisors – Le Testament du Prieuré de Sion (Le Crépuscule d’une Ténébreuse Affaire)" Editions Pégase, 2006]

In this book, the authors put forward a hypothesis that the historical Jesus married Mary Magdalene, had one or more children, and that those children or their descendants emigrated to what is now southern France. Once there, they intermarried with the noble families that would eventually become the Merovingian dynasty, whose special claim to the throne of France is championed today by a secret society called the Priory of Sion.

An international bestseller upon its release, "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" spurred interest in a number of ideas related to its central thesis. Response from professional historians and scholars from related fields was universally negative. They argued that the bulk of the claims, ancient mysteries, and conspiracy theories presented as facts are pseudohistorical. Nevertheless, these ideas were considered blasphemous enough for the book to be banned in some Roman Catholic-dominated countries such as the Philippines.

In a review of the book for the "The Observer", literary critic Anthony Burgess wrote: "It is typical of my unregenerable soul that I can only see this as a marvellous theme for a novel." 21 years later, the theme of "The Holy Blood and Holy Grail" would be very successfully fictionalised by Dan Brown in his 2003 conspiracy fiction novel "The Da Vinci Code",cite book| author = Brown, Dan| title = The Da Vinci Code| publisher = Doubleday| year = 2003| id = ISBN 0-385-50420-9] even using Richard Leigh’s and Michael Baigent’s last names (Baigent's scrambled) for the character Leigh Teabing.


After reading "Le Tresor Maudit", Henry Lincoln persuaded BBC Two's factual television series of the 1970s, "Chronicle", to make a series of documentaries, which became quite popular and generated thousands of responses. Lincoln then joined forces with Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh for further research. This led them to the pseudohistorical "Dossiers Secrets" at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, which though alleging to portray hundreds of years of medieval history, were actually all written by Pierre Plantard and Philippe de Chérisey under the pseudonym of "Philippe Toscan du Plantier". Unaware that the documents had been forged, Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln used them as a major source for their 1982 non-fiction book "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail".

Comparing themselves to the reporters who uncovered the Watergate scandal, the authors maintain that only through speculative "synthesis can one discern the underlying continuity, the unified and coherent fabric, which lies at the core of any historical problem." To do so, one must realize that "it is not sufficient to confine oneself exclusively to facts."cite paper| last = Miller | first = Laura | title = The Last Word; The Da Vinci Con | date = 2005 | url = | accessdate=2008-07-16]


In "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail", Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln presented the following myths as facts to support their hypotheses:cite paper| author = Thompson, Damian| title = How Da Vinci Code tapped pseudo-fact hunger| date = 2008 | url =| accessdate=2008-03-28]

* there is a secret society known as the Priory of Sion, which has a long history starting in 1099, and had illustrious Grand Masters including Leonardo da Vinci, Victor Hugo and Jean Cocteau;
* it created the Knights Templar as its military arm and financial branch; and
* it is devoted to installing the Merovingian dynasty, that ruled the Franks from 457 to 751, on the thrones of France and the rest of Europe.

The authors re-interpreted the "Dossiers Secrets" in the light of their own interest in undermining the Roman Catholic Church's institutional reading of Judeo-Christian history. ["Conspiracies On Trial: The Da Vinci Code" (The Discovery Channel); transmitted on 10 April 2005.] Contrary to Plantard's initial Franco-Israelist claim that the Merovingians were only descended from the Tribe of Benjamin, [Pierre Jarnac, "Les Mystères de Rennes-le-Château: Mèlange Sulfureux" (CERT, 1994).] they asserted that:

*the Priory of Sion protects Merovingian dynasts because they may be the genealogical descendants of the historical Jesus and his alleged wife, Mary Magdalene, traced further back to King David; and
*the Church tried to kill off all remnants of this dynasty and their supposed guardians, the Cathars and the Templars, in order for popes to hold the episcopal throne through the apostolic succession of Peter without fear of it ever being usurped by an antipope from the hereditary succession of Mary Magdalene.

The authors therefore concluded that the modern goals of the Priory of Sion are:

*the public revelation of the Holy Grail - a secret tied to the lost treasure of the Temple in Jerusalem - which would facilitate Merovingian restoration in France;
*the establishment of a theocratic "United States of Europe", as an interlocking network of Merovingian popular monarchies, which would re-institutionalize chivalry, and be politically and religiously unified through the imperial cult of a Merovingian sacred king, who occupies both the throne of Europe and the Holy See; and
*the transfer of the governance of Europe and its sphere of influence to the Priory of Sion through a federal parliament.

The authors also incorporated the antisemitic and anti-Masonic tract known as "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" into their story, concluding that it actually referred to the activities of the Priory of Sion. They presented it as the most persuasive piece of evidence for the existence and activities of the Priory of Sion by arguing that:

*the original text on which the published version of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" was based had nothing to do with a Zionist conspiracy. It issued from a Masonic body practicing the Rite of Strict Observance which incorporated the word "Zion" in its name;
*after a failed attempt to gain influence in the court of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, Sergei Nilus changed the original text to forge an inflammatory tract in 1903 in order to discredit the esoteric clique around Papus by implying they were Judaeo-Masonic conspirators; and
*some esoteric Christian elements in the original text were ignored by Nilus and hence remained unchanged in the antisemitic canard he published.

Influence and similarities

* The 1973 book "The Jesus Scroll" by Donovan Joyce was an early attempt by an author to claim that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had been married and had a son together.
* The 1988 novel "Foucault’s Pendulum" by Umberto Eco mentions the Jesus and Mary Magdalene hypothesis in passing (a quote from the book is in fact one of the chapter headings). However, Eco, a secular humanist, takes a negative stance on such conspiracy theories. Foucault's Pendulum was a strong debunking of themes found in "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" through the medium of satire.
* The 1991 controversial non-fiction book "The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception" by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh promotes a conspiracy theory accusing the Roman Catholic Church of having suppressed the content of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
* The 1994 novel "Arthur War Lord" and its sequel "Far Beyond the Wave" by Dafydd ab Hugh use elements from the book as background for the time-travel story.
* The 1996 novel "The Children of the Grail" by Peter Berling incorporates the bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene as a central part of the plot.
* The 1996 video game " "references this book as well, in the form of dialogue when the player asks what a character knows of the Templars.
* The 1999 third installment of the "Gabriel Knight" series, "", used the idea that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had children as one of the basic structures of the storyline, tying it together with a number of other myths in an original story. “Et in Arcadia ego” is also an important object, with the characters finding important clues in the picture.
* The 2003 conspiracy fiction novel "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown makes reference to this book, also liberally using most of the above claims as key plot elements; indeed, in 2005 Baigent and Leigh unsuccessfully sued Brown’s publisher, Random House, for plagiarism, on the grounds that Brown's book makes extensive use of their research and that one of the characters is named Leigh, has a surname (Teabing) which is an anagram of Baigent, and has a physical description strongly resembling Henry Lincoln. In his novel, Brown also mentions "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" as an acclaimed international bestseller (chapter 60) and claims it as the major contributor to his hypothesis. Perhaps as a result of this mention, the authors (minus Henry Lincoln) of "Holy Blood" sued Dan Brown for copyright infringement. They claimed that the central framework of their plot had been stolen for the writing of "The Da Vinci Code." The claim was overturned by High Court Judge Peter Smith on April 6, 2006, who ruled that “their argument was vague and shifted course during the trial and was always based on a weak foundation.” In fact, it was found that the publicity of the trial had significantly boosted sales of "Holy Blood". The court ruled that, in effect, because it was published as a work of (alleged) history, its premises legally could be freely interpreted in any subsequent fictional work without any copyright infringement.
*The 2008 documentary film "Bloodline" by Bruce Burgess, a filmmaker with an interest in paranormal claims, expands on the "Jesus bloodline" hypothesis and other elements of "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail". Accepting as valid the testimony of an amateur archaeologist codenamed "Ben Hammott" relating to his discoveries made in the vicinity of Rennes-le-Château since 1999; Burgess claims to have found the treasure of Bérenger Saunière: several mummified corpses (one of which is allegedly Mary Magdalene) in three underground tombs created by the Knights Templar under the orders of the Priory of Sion.Cinema Libre Studio, " [,355964.shtml Tomb Discovered in France Considered Knights Templar - When Excavated, Findings May Challenge the Tenets of Christianity] ", "", 2008. Retrieved on 2008-04-17.]


The claims made in "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" have been the source of much investigation and criticism over the years, with many independent investigators such as "60 Minutes", "Channel 4", "Discovery Channel", "Time Magazine", and the BBC concluding that many of the book’s claims are not credible or verifiable.

Pierre Plantard stated on the Jacques Pradel radio interview on 'France-Inter', 18 February 1982:cquote|I admit that 'The Sacred Enigma' (French title for 'The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail') is a good book, but one must say that there is a part that owes more to fiction than to fact, especially in the part that deals with the lineage of Jesus. How can you prove a lineage of four centuries from Jesus to the Merovingians? I have never put myself forward as a descendant of Jesus Christ. [cited by Philippe de Cherisey in his article "Jesus Christ, his wife and the Merovingians", published in Nostra - Bizarre News N° 584, 1983.] There are no references to the Jesus bloodline in the "Priory of Sion documents" and the link exists only within the context of a hypothesis made by the authors of "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail". From the "Conspiracies On Trial: The Da Vinci Code" documentary:cquote|The authors of the 1980s bestseller "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" re-interpreted the Dossiers in the light of their own Biblical obsessions - the secret buried in the documents ceased to be the Merovingian bloodline and became the bloodline of Christ - the genealogies led to Christ's descendants. ["Conspiracies On Trial: The Da Vinci Code" (The Discovery Channel); transmitted on 10 April 2005.]

While Pierre Plantard claimed that the Merovingians were descended from the Tribe of Benjamin, [Pierre Jarnac, "Les Mystères de Rennes-le-Château: Mèlange Sulfureux" (CERT, 1994).] the Jesus bloodline hypothesis found in "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" instead hypothesized that the Merovingians were descended from the Davidic line of the Tribe of Judah.

Historian Marina Warner commented on "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" when it was first published:cquote|Of course there's not much harm in thinking that Jesus was married (nor are these authors the first to suggest it), or that his descendants were King Pippin and Charles Martel. But there is harm in strings of lurid falsehoods and distorted reasoning. The method bends the mind the wrong way, an insidious and real corruption". ["The Times", 18 January 1982.]

Prominent British historian Richard Barber, wrote:cquote|The Templar-Grail myth... is at the heart of the most notorious of all the Grail pseudo-histories, The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail, which is a classic example of the conspiracy theory of history... It is essentially a text which proceeds by innuendo, not by refutable scholarly debate... Essentially, the whole argument is an ingeniously constructed series of suppositions combined with forced readings of such tangible facts as are offered. [Richard Barber, "The Holy Grail, The History of a Legend" (Penguin Books Ltd; 2004).]

In 2005, Tony Robinson narrated a critical evaluation of the main arguments of Dan Brown and those of Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln, "The Real Da Vinci Code", shown on Channel 4. The programme featured lengthy interviews with many of the main protagonists. Arnaud de Sède, son of Gérard de Sède, stated categorically that his father and Plantard had made up the existence of a 1000-years-old Priory of Sion, and described the story as “piffle.” ["The Real Da Vinci Code", Channel Four Television, presented by Tony Robinson, transmitted on 3 February 2005.] The programme concluded that, in the opinion of the presenter and researchers, the claims of "Holy Blood" were based on little more than a series of guesses.

The Priory of Sion myth was exhaustively debunked by journalists and scholars as one the great hoaxes of the 20th century. [ "The Secret of the Priory of Sion", CBS News '60 Minutes' (CBS Worldwide Inc.), 30 April 2006, Presented by CBS Correspondent Ed Bradley, Produced By Jeanne Langley] ] Some writers have expressed concern that the proliferation and popularity of books, websites and films inspired by this hoax have contributed to the problem of conspiracy theories, pseudohistory and other confusions becoming more mainstream.cite paper| author = Thompson, Damian| title = How Da Vinci Code tapped pseudo-fact hunger| date = 2008 | url =| accessdate=2008-03-28] Others are troubled by the romantic reactionary ideology unwittingly promoted in these works.cite paper| author = Klinghoffer, David| title = The Da Vinci Protocols: Jews should worry about Dan Brown’s success| date = 2006 | url =| accessdate=2008-03-28]

Quoting Robert McCrum, literary editor of "The Observer" newspaper, about "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail":cquote|There is something called historical evidence - there is something called the historical method - and if you look around the shelves of bookshops there is a lot of history being published, and people mistake this type of history for the real thing. These kinds of books do appeal to an enormous audience who believe them to be 'history', but actually they aren't history, they are a kind of parody of history. Alas, though, I think that one has to say that this is the direction that history is going today..." ["The History of a Mystery", BBC 2, Transmitted on 17 September 1996.]

See also

* Smithy code


External links

Notable reviews
* Burns, Alex. (2000) " [ Holy Blood, Holy Grail] ". Disinfo
* Mondschein, Ken. (2004) " [ Holy Blood, Holy Grail] ". New York Press
* Miller, Laura. (2004) " [ The Da Vinci crock] ".
* Telegraph editors. (2004) " [ Da Vinci Code bestseller is plagiarism, authors claim] ". "The Daily Telegraph"
*Simon Raikes. (2005) " [ The Real Da Vinci Code] ". Channel 4

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