Holy Blood, Holy Grail

Holy Blood, Holy Grail

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385338455
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/06/2004
Edition description: DELTA TRAD
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 128,840
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 8.12(h) x 1.12(d)

About the Author

Michael Baigent was born in New Zealand in 1948 and obtained a degree in psychology from Canterbury University. At one point he gave up a successful career in photojournalism to devote his time to researching the Templars for a film project. Since 1976 he has lived in England.

Richard Leigh is a novelist and short-story writer with postgraduate degrees in comparative literature and a thorough knowledge of history, philosophy, psychology, and esoterica. He has been working for some years as a university lecturer in the United States, Canada, and Britain.

Henry Lincoln is an author and filmmaker and has written for television.

Read an Excerpt


In 1969, en route for a summer holiday in the Cévennes, I made the casual purchase of a paperback. Le Trésor Maudit by Gérard de Sède was a mystery story—a lightweight, entertaining blend of historical fact, genuine mystery, and conjecture. It might have remained consigned to the postholiday oblivion of all such reading had I not stumbled upon a curious and glaring omission in its pages.

The "accursed treasure" of the title had apparently been found in the 1890s by a village priest through the decipherment of certain cryptic documents unearthed in his church. Although the purported texts of two of these documents were reproduced, the "secret messages" said to be encoded within them were not. The implication was that the deciphered messages had again been lost. And yet, as I found, a cursory study of the documents reproduced in the book reveals at least one concealed message. Surely the author had found it. In working on his book he must have given the documents more than fleeting attention. He was bound, therefore, to have found what I have found. Moreover, the message was exactly the kind of titillating snippet of "proof" that helps to sell a "pop" paperback. Why had M. de Sède not published it?

During the ensuing months the oddity of the story and the possibility of further discoveries drew me back to it from time to time. The appeal was that of a rather more than usually intriguing crossword puzzle—with the added curiosity of de Sède's silence. As I caught tantalizing new glimpses of layers of meaning buried within the text of the documents, I began to wish I could devote more to the mystery of Rennes-le-Château than mere moments snatched from my working life as a writer for television. And so in the late autumn of 1970, I presented the story as a possible documentary subject to the late Paul Johnstone, executive producer of the BBC's historical and archaeological series Chronicle.

Paul saw the possibilities and I was sent to France to talk to de Sède and explore the prospects for a short film. During Christmas week of 1970 I met de Sède in Paris. At that first meeting I asked the question that had nagged at me for more than a year: "Why didn't you publish the message hidden in the parchments?" His reply astounded me. "What message?"

It seemed inconceivable to me that he was unaware of this elementary message. Why was he fencing with me? Suddenly I found myself reluctant to reveal exactly what I had found. We continued a verbal fencing match for a few minutes and it became apparent that we were both aware of the message. I repeated my question, "Why didn't you publish it?" This time de Sède's answer was calculated. "Because we thought it might interest someone like you to find it for yourself."

That reply, as cryptic as the priest's mysterious documents, was the first clear hint that the mystery of Rennes-le-Château was to prove much more than a simple tale of lost treasure.

With my director, Andrew Maxwell-Hyslop, I began to prepare a Chronicle film in the spring of 1971. It was planned as a simple twenty-minute item for a magazine program. But as we worked, de Sède began to feed us further fragments of information. First came the full text of a major encoded message, which spoke of the painters Poussin and Teniers. This was fascinating. The cipher was unbelievably complex. We were told it had been broken by experts of the French Army Cipher Department, using computers. As I studied the convolutions of the code, I became convinced that this explanation was, to say the least, suspect. I checked with cipher experts of British Intelligence. They agreed with me. "The cipher does not present a valid problem for a computer." The code was unbreakable. Someone, somewhere, must have the key.

And then de Sède dropped his second bombshell. A tomb resembling that in Poussin's famous painting "Les Bergers d'Arcadie" had been found. He would send details as soon as he had them. Some days later the photographs arrived and it was clear that our short film on a small local mystery had begun to assume unexpected dimensions. Paul decided to abandon it and committed us to a full-length Chronicle film. Now there would be more time to research and more screen time to explore the story. Transmission was postponed to the spring of the following year.

The Lost Treasure of Jerusalem? was screened in February 1972 and provoked a very strong reaction. I knew that I had found a subject of consuming interest not merely to myself but to a very large viewing public. Further research would not be self-indulgence. At some time there would have to be a follow-up film. By 1974 I had a mass of new material and Paul assigned Roy Davies to produce my second Chronicle film, The Priest, the Painter and the Devil. Again the reaction of the public proved how much the story had caught the popular imagination. But by now it had grown so complex, so far-reaching in its ramifications, that I knew the detailed research was rapidly exceeding the capabilities of any one person. There were too many different leads to follow. The more I pursued one line of investigation, the more conscious I became of how much material was being neglected. It was at this juncture that chance, which had first tossed the story so casually into my lap, now made sure that the work would not become bogged down.

In 1975 at a summer school where we were both lecturing on aspects of literature, I had the great good fortune to meet Richard Leigh. Richard is a novelist and short-story writer with postgraduate degrees in comparative literature and thorough knowledge of history, philosophy, psychology, and esoterica. He had been working for some years as a university lecturer in the United States, Canada, and Britain.

Between our summer-school talks we spent many hours discussing subjects of mutual interest. I mentioned the Knights Templar, who had assumed an important role in the background to the mystery of Rennes-le-Château. To my delight I found that this shadowy order of medieval warrior-monks had already awakened Richard's profound interest, and he had done considerable research into their history. At one stroke months of work I had seen stretching ahead of me became unnecessary. Richard could answer most of my questions, and was as intrigued as I was by some of the apparent anomalies I had unearthed. More important, he, too, saw the fascination and sensed the significance of the whole research project on which I had embarked. He offered to help me with the aspect involving the Templars. And he brought in Michael Baigent, a psychology graduate who had recently abandoned a successful career in photojournalism to devote his time to researching the Templars for a film project he had in mind.

Had I set out to search for them, I could not have found two better qualified and more congenial partners with whom to form a team. After years of solitary labor the impetus brought to the project by two fresh brains was exhilarating. The first tangible result of our collaboration was the third Chronicle film on Rennes-le-Château, The Shadow of the Templars, which was produced by Roy Davies in 1979.

The work we did on that film at last brought us face to face with the underlying foundations upon which the entire mystery of Rennes-le-Château had been built. But the film could only hint at what we were beginning to discern. Beneath the surface was something more startling, more significant, and more immediately relevant than we could have believed possible when we began our work on the "intriguing little mystery" of what a French priest might have found in a mountain village.

In 1972 I closed my first film with the words, "Something extraordinary is waiting to be found . . . and in the not too distant future, it will be."

This book explains what that "something" is—and how extraordinary the discovering has been.

Henry Lincoln

January 17, 1981

Table of Contents

Part 1The Mystery
1Village of Mystery31
Rennes-le-Chateau and Berenger Sauniere31
The Possible Treasures39
The Intrigue43
2The Cathars and the Great Heresy48
The Albigensian Crusade49
The Siege of Montsegur55
The Cathar Treasure57
The Mystery of the Cathars61
3The Warrior-Monks64
Knights Templar--The Orthodox Account65
Knights Templar--The Mysteries78
Knights Templar--The Hidden Side86
4Secret Documents96
Part 2The Secret Society
5The Order Behind the Scenes111
The Mystery Surrounding the Foundation of the Knights Templar115
Louis VII and the Prieure de Sion118
The "Cutting of the Elm" at Gisors119
The Prieure at Orleans125
The "Head" of the Templars126
The Grand Masters of the Templars127
6The Grand Masters and the Underground Stream131
Rene d'Anjou136
Rene and the Theme of Arcadia138
The Rosicrucian Manifestos141
The Stuart Dynasty145
Charles Nodier and His Circle150
Debussy and the Rose-Croix127
Jean Cocteau157
The Two John XXIIIs159
7Conspiracy Through the Centuries162
The Prieure de Sion in France164
The Dukes of Guise and Lorraine166
The Bid for the Throne of France171
The Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement173
Chateau Barberie177
Nicolas Fouquet178
Nicolas Poussin180
Rosslyn Chapel and Shugborough Hall183
The Pope's Secret Letter184
The Rock of Sion185
The Catholic Modernist Movement187
The Protocols of Sion190
The Hieron du Val d'Or195
8The Secret Society Today201
Alain Poher204
The Lost King205
Curious Pamphlets in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris207
The Catholic Traditionalists210
The Convent of 1981 and Cocteau's Statutes214
M. Plantard de Saint-Clair220
The Politics of the Prieure de Sion227
9The Long-haired Monarchs234
Legend and the Merovingians234
The Bear from Arcadia237
The Sicambrians Enter Gaul239
Merovee and His Descendants239
Blood Royal241
Clovis and His Pact with the Church242
Dagobert II245
The Usurpation by the Carolingians253
The Exclusion of Dagobert II from History257
Prince Guillem de Gellone, Comte de Razes259
Prince Ursus261
The Grail Family265
The Elusive Mystery269
10The Exiled Tribe271
Part 3The Bloodline
11The Holy Grail283
The Legend of the Holy Grail285
The Story of Wolfram von Eschenbach292
The Grail and Cabalism303
The Play on Words305
The Lost Kings and the Grail306
The Need to Synthesize309
The Hypothesis313
12The Priest-King Who Never Ruled316
Palestine at the Time of Jesus322
The History of the Gospels327
The Marital Status of Jesus330
The Wife of Jesus333
The Beloved Disciple338
The Dynasty of Jesus344
The Crucifixion347
Who Was Barabbas?350
The Crucifixion in Detail352
The Scenario357
13The Secret the Church Forbade360
The Zealots369
The Gnostic Writings378
14The Grail Dynasty383
Judaism and the Merovingians387
The Principality in Septimania389
The Seed of David395
15Conclusion and Portents for the Future398
AppendixThe Alleged Grand Masters of the Prieure de Sion415
Notes and References449

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Holy Blood, Holy Grail 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 117 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The amount of meticulous research that went into crafting Holy Blood, Holy Grail is simply breath-taking. This book uses a wealth of historical documents and ancient evidence to support its controversial theories on the Holy Grail and Mary Magdalene and I highly recommend it. Also highly recommended are two other fine Grail books, one non-fiction and the other fiction, and both are by Michael Bradley, a renowned Grail expert who served as a researcher for the Da Vinci Code movie. Bradley's Swords at Sunset is a non-fiction work that traces the Grail to North America, while his fictional novel, The Magdalene Mandala is a wonderfully written thriller with a twisting plot that moves at break-neck speed. It also has well drawn characters and in the view of many is superior to the Da Vince Code. For anyone like me with a growing interest in the Grail, do yourself a favour and discover Holy Blood, Holy Grail; Swords at Sunset and The Magdalene Mandala and Love's Eclipse of the Heart. You'll be very glad you did.
ChristineMadu More than 1 year ago
Great book, food for thought. Yes, some people might be appalled. However, it does not hurt to look at history/archeology/etc. through different eyes. Scientists can get near sighted, where "amateurs" might see a bigger picture. Don't take everything literal. Great starting point to look into it yourself, I for sure did. And no, I did not quite arrive at the same conclusion. As for this not being an easy read, this goes without question. How can a book with this subject matter be an easy read? If you don't like to think, then don't buy it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this after, of course, The Da Vinci Code, and I was interested to see how much of the premise of that book was lifted whole cloth from this one. I found it mostly very readable and extraordinarily well-researched (if the bibilography is truthful and accurate...I haven't looked at any of those sources yet). The detective work is exciting, and the complex history presented very engagingly. It is, though, an intellectual house of cards: conclusions are based on a chain of hypotheticals. Each 'possibility' is ever more remotely linked to the previous one. The authors' technique of declaring a scenario 'incredible,' and then proceeding to assert its truth, is at first persuasive but finally transparent. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this book a great deal and am going on to read related history.
cerulio More than 1 year ago
Good book well informed
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book throws light upon the lineage of the Holy Family. It's a very well-researched book and an excellent reference for the royal lineage. I believe that if one stays focussed through the first half of the book which can get very dry at times, one is in for a treat on various perspectives into the truth behind the stories that act as the foundation of Christian faith. Although the authors don't claim any of the perspectives to be true, it gets one thinking about the different possible interpretations of the Christian mythology.
sergerca on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Interesting. Slog in places. Preposterous conclusions.
Muscogulus on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A relative sent me a copy of the book several years ago (before The Da Vinci Code, which plays off this book's claims). It's utterly ludicrous, but a textbook example of how to play a con game with the public using little-known or half-remembered episodes and characters from ancient and medieval history. The trick is to come up with a fictional past that people will want to believe in (in this case: Jesus married Mary Magdalene, and just as you always suspected, the whole church establishment is a fraud). Then write a tedious narrative full of mystifying language about how we, the authors, were inexorably drawn to believe this theory in despite of all our dry-as-dust scholarly colleagues with their timorous reliance on careful sourcing. All this padding is essential; it adds heft to your book, which increases its air of authority. But be sure to spice it up here and there with quick-moving passages that assert really wild and sexy claims (like, a lineal descendant of Jesus will someday assert a claim to rule all of Europe). These will be the only parts most readers will absorb, so give them arresting subheadings. Readers will underline these passages and email their friends, then ask their ministers about them. Soon one or two scandalized churchmen can be counted on to rail against your book on TV. You'll be invited to appear as well, for the sake of balance, and all you have to do is act the role of a maverick but dedicated scholar. Then the paperback comes out, graced with a lengthy introduction in which you express, with cherubic innocence, your shock at all the uproar about your humble and sincere efforts to uncover the truth. History Channel, here we come.
jeaneva on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I tagged this "nonfiction?" because I found it difficult to believe anyone would read this without thinking they were reading an alternate history novel dressed up as a historical thesis, complete with footnotes. I actually enjoy those conjectures--like what if Gandhi had faced a German conqueror in India or what if the South had been allowed to secede or win the Civil War or what if a Romanov had survived the assassination. (In fact I OWN all those stories in book form.)Because the authors of THIS book actually believe this, I tried to seriously follow their trail of the Grail. Not convincing.
erock71 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I purchased and read this book before The DaVinci Code erupted into the popular culture. I stumbled on to it quite by accident. This book helped to fuel my interest in Christian Mythology. The whole premise of this myth has been debunked by numerous scientists, historians, and theologians. But isn't that exactly what makes a good conspiracy even more intriguing? There are few proposed conspiracies that can abduct the good reason of people like this particular Holy Grail myth. Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln weave a dense tapestry of intrigue as they follow this presumably valid conspiracy of the bloodline of Jesus. Their search begins with insignificant people from virtually unknown locales and gradually discover the involvement of some of the most famous names in history. This has been uncovered as an elaborate hoax perpetrated by an eccentric gentleman in France. Still, there is much there to make one wonder if there isn't just a bit of truth to the myth. If you are a fan of mythology or conspiracy, check this out. It's not a short read and is dense with dates, places, and names but that is what makes it one of the greatest mythologies in history.
russelllindsey on LibraryThing 8 months ago
If you are truly interested in the questions raised in "The DaVinci Code," it is well worth your time. There is a lot of history, speculation, and half-truths in the book. You have to evaluate it for yourself.
rincewind1986 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
a really interesting read, slow going and in some parts a little far fetched but overall i enjoyed this.
bleached on LibraryThing 8 months ago
An interesting insight into the mystery of the holy grail. Remarkable ideas, which have been featured in other works including The Da Vinci Code, with facts to back them up. A very interesting and thought-provoking book.
craigim on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I found this book (and the sequel) while browsing at Powell's City of Books. Pinned under a shelf full of Dan Brown books was a card saying that if I liked his books, I should check out Holy Blood, Holy Grail in the non-fiction religion section, so I bit and picked up this, the sequel (The Messianic Legacy) and Angels and Demons by Dan Brown.Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln start off with the discovery of French documents that purport to outline a secret history of Jesus after the resurrection wherein he and Mary Magdalene fled to France and settled down, had kids, and fathered a line of French kings that exists to the present day.Each chapter follows a general pattern: take a document or set of documents, engage in wild speculation about how, with the right set of eyes, you can see how it fits into the grand scheme of things, and admit that it is speculation but that it could be true. Then, begin the next chapter with some variation of, "now that we concretely established X from the previous chapter as true, we will now examine the next bit of evidence". Rinse, repeat.Although it's all pretty silly, and it was later revealed that the documents they rested their theories on were forgeries, they are far more imaginative than Dan Brown could ever hope to be, so if you're into that kind of conspiracy theory fiction, read the original rather than subjecting yourself to The da Vinci Code, as it is pretty much a fictionalization of Holy Blood Holy Grail.
dragonasbreath on LibraryThing 8 months ago
If you are deeply religious DO NOT read this book. It WILL offend you to your very soul.For the rest of you - you just might find yourself thinking and analyzing what you thought you knew about your parent's religion
brian_irons on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I read this after I had read 'The Davinci Code' interested in the true story behind it. What I came out with was much more than I had expected. The idea that Christ fathered a child (to me) is not unheard of. Controversial yes, but not unbelievable. In my opinion it makes perfect sence.
melannen on LibraryThing 11 months ago
I'm only about a third of the way through, so I suppose it gets better - but this is dense, plodding, (very small type), and it manages to include *every single one* of the fallacies commonly employed by writers of crank paperbacks, all at once. (seriously - somewhere I have an essay catagorizing them all with examples from *one chapter* of this book.)The occcasional tidbits of fact slipped in (such as the mystery of what Sauniere found and the cutting of the Elm) are fascinating, though. Too bad they're weighted down with tons of unreliable speculation, so I have no idea what I can believe without checking the sources. Instead of playing on the reader's idiocy to try to convince them it's all God's honest truth, somebody should write this (admittedly fascinating) story as fiction.Only, you know, do it well.
nderdog on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Interesting, if not all that convincing. Those who were recommended this book because of The Da Vinci Code should beware. This is not a novel. It is a hypothesis layed out with a lot of facts and conjecture. A fairly dry read that builds from one assumption to the next with some odd logical leaps.
DCArchitect on LibraryThing 11 months ago
A fascinating look at hidden history with just enough evidence to make it look plausible. As with all matters of religion, one's opinion about the veracity of the claims within this book are most likely preconcieved, but it's a fun read that speaks to the consiracy theory in all of us.
rebelwriter85 on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Reads like a good mystery or thriller. What is chilling is that it is non-fiction. At times it may be hard to follow with the flowery British writing.
thf1977 on LibraryThing 11 months ago
I first read Holy Blood, Holy Grail back in 1995 long before the Da Vinci Code was even conceived, and I was much inspired by it. Even though the authors are not "official" historical scholars, and despite various arguments being based on rather poor (or non-existing) historical evidence, a lot of the theories are actually plausible and interesting. And most of those theories are not unsubstantiated, despite what some critics have said. Holy Blood, Holy Grail is thoroughly annotated, and it's main problem seems to be, not the lack of sources, but rather the lack of source criticism.I say, if you read the book mostly for the historical theories, then skip the parts about the bloodline and even the Prieure de Sion. Those parts are entertaining and well written, but (unfortunately?) proven wrong to some extent. However, their theories and descriptions of early christianity and the Knights Templar carries much more weight, and leans on more respected sources. This book is really not as ridiculous as some people have claimed it to be!
corgidog2 on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Intellectually challenging read suggesting that the holy grail is actually the bloodline of Jesus carried on into modern times. Read it. It is much more satisfying than The Da Vinci Code.
bostonian71 on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Interesting and extremely thought-provoking theory. Major weak point is that the authors will make certain assumptions (admitting that there's no concrete evidence to support them), then use them as though they were rock-solid facts.
danrebo on LibraryThing 11 months ago
While the authors don't convince on the historical case, the book reads like a mystery novel or a thriller. I enjoyed it on that basis alone. That Magdalen's womb was literally the vessel of Jesus' blood(line), represented symbolically by the Holy Grail, is as charged (and heretical) a metaphor as there could be for the Christian church. But heresies and conspiracy theories are exciting material for thrillers; the authors might have done better by calling it a novel, as Dan Brown did: then they could have hired him instead of suing him over it--but maybe that's just good marketing at this point.
JBD1 on LibraryThing 11 months ago
The "underpinning" for "Da Vinci Code". Generally unconvincing and unscholarly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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