This year it will be 24 years since Andrews and Schellenberger published their book, The Tomb of God - The Body of Jesus and The Solution To A 2000-year-old Mystery.
Dismissed and ridiculed that same year by the BBC in its programme - Timewatch - History of a Mystery - the book and its authors then virtually sank into oblivion and have never been heard from again. If one did not know any better one might think this was a deliberate set up job by the BBC!
I have tried to contact the authors myself - on behalf of my friend Paul Karren who wanted to present his research to them and tell them they were 'on the right track with their geometry'. But to no avail.
There has always been some resistance to any theories which include geometry. Henry Lincoln said as much on his own personal blog [which has disappeared from the web and can be accessed only via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine] - saying that in relation to his own geometrical findings - '...the mathematics and the geometry stand. Why do some people wish to pretend that they do not?" [Posted on: Wed Nov 18 2009].
'The History of a Mystery' production team patently set out to destroy the work of Andrews and Schellenberger - this was not done based on their new geometrical theory - but rather on the authenticity of the parchments they used and other elements of the RLC story - which had no real impact on Andrews and Schellenberger's geometrical theories.
When discussing the strange behaviour of the BBC, Lincoln has concluded that "at the BBC a strange hostility was developing .... viewers had begun writing to tell me that when they asked for copies of the Rennes-le-Château documentaries, they were told that these were not available as “there was no public interest'" And then Timewatch produced The History of a Mystery, in which, by debunking a rather silly book, they tried to destroy the Saunière story, labelling it as ‘pseudo-history’. What has happened? This is a confusing tale and it is not easy to draw together all the various elements, but something curious has occurred. Why the complete change of attitude at the BBC?"
The Wikipedia entry for The Tomb of God describes the book as "a 1996 speculative non-fiction book by Richard Andrews and Paul Schellenberger, which charted as a number one bestseller. It claimed that the body of Jesus Christ was reburied in the 12th century on Pech Cardou (Mount Cardou) in the Rennes-le-Château region of France. They arrived at this idea through tracing map references within the parchments described in the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail. However, the authors do not succeed in locating the tomb or evidence relating to it on the mountain itself. The book became the focus of a BBC 2 Timewatch documentary "The History of a Mystery" shown in September 1996, in which the authors faced difficult questions over their methods and assumptions. The theory is not taken seriously by academic scholars."
For the BBC the theory of Andrews and Schellenberger had become the theory that was one theory too far.
The view taken by most was exemplified at the time by Lynne Truss in The Times newspaper and no doubt by others of her ilk. Published under the title - Demolishing an absolutely fabulous theory - on the 18 September 1996 - she began her article rather humourously, saying:
"For the first five minutes of last night's terrific ‘Timewatch: The History of a Mystery’ (BBC2), I was squirming and muttering and blowing steam out of my ears. Didn't they remember ‘The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail’? “Rennes-le-Château has been done!” I said, amazed. Surely everyone remembers that historian bloke with the beard, who kept saying “Rennes-le-Château” and “Et In Arcadia Ego” with such resonance and conviction? It was a ‘Chronicle’ in the 1970s. The mystery of Rennes-le-Château in France all boiled down to Knights Templar and secret Rosicrucians and Jean Cocteau, and Joseph of Arimathea. Good grief, hand me that Poussin painting, and I'll draw you a strangely convincing pentacle on it" [Lynne Truss, Demolishing an absolutely fabulous theory (The Times, 18 September 1996].
‘The Tomb of God’ – [try] to prove (wait for it) that Jesus Christ died a natural death in France. And over at ‘Timewatch’, something snapped, “This time you've gone too far!” they said, “Stand back, a history unit is coming through!”
I did have to laugh. A history unit coming through? What exactly was this source 'history unit' being used to debunk the whole RLC enigma? It was none other than seasoned researcher Jean Luc Chaumeil. He is to be found doing the rounds at Rennes-le-Château and Rennes-les-Bains [even today] - appearing readily at researcher study days and lectures, often as a speaker and probably being paid a very nice fee for it thank you very much. Even though he rubbishes all the theories he ensures that he publishes books that can make money for him on the very same subject he rubbishes! He makes claims that no one can independently testify in relation to Rennes-le-Chateau. Others think he is the only person alive who can tell the truth about Plantard and Cherisey and the Priory of Sion, as if he knew all these characters well! In fact the truth is more prosaic and it is not at all clear that he was a trusted member of any of the trio of Plantard, Cherisey, de Sede and also Lincoln.
Truss rattles on breathlessly and gleefully showing what a pair of 'numpty's [that West country favourite word of mine which means idiot] Andrews and Schellenberger were, to be taken in by it all. She writes;
“The original parchments, have you seen them?” asked ‘Timewatch’. “No, nobody has”, said the Meek Jeaned Ones. Cut to a French historian who knows the whole story of the forgery, who holds up bits of paper. “This is the original”, he says. Historical method usually involves checking things, you see, yet key things in the Rennes-le-Château story seem to have passed unchecked for years. Did the priest at Rennes really travel to Paris in 1900, and collect a copy of the Poussin painting (to draw lines on it)? Everybody says he did, but when the Louvre records were finally consulted, the answer was “Non”. “Have you checked that?” asked ‘Timewatch’. “We have not checked that”, came the reply".
She concludes: 'What ‘Timewatch’ exposed so neatly last night was bad history, history which makes its own rules, and turns airy supposition into equally airy QEDs by the simplest sleight of hand".
Of course parts of the programme are difficult to watch - and as Andrews and Schellenberger thought, they were edited to look precisely as Truss reported.
The representative wheeled out as an 'historian' and guardian of the real truth was farcical. Jean Luc Chaumiel - writer on all things paranormal and UFO's [does he really believe what he writes?], who once knew Plantard but went on to fall out with him and after this falling out started to rubbish him. Shouldn't we smell a rat here? Lincoln certainly did. His view of Chaumeil was that "[he, Chaumeil] is one of our least trustworthy of witnesses."
And how did he come to this conclusion? Because he knew Chaumeil a lot better than Lynn Truss and the BBC did. On Tuesday 22nd September 2009, Lincoln wrote this on his blog:
"I have promised to deal further with the curious attitude of Jean-Luc Chaumeil, the BBC’s now preferred “expert" in the matter of Rennes-le-Château. The story is amusing if unimportant, but it demonstrates how easily fantasy can become accepted fact. It began in 1973, when I received a letter from Gérard de Sède. (See my Key to the Sacred Pattern - pp116 et seq). In it, he told me that with ‘one of his colleagues’, he had found Bérenger Saunière’s treasure and he was prepared to offer me photographs. I did not fall for what was an obvious ‘con’ and the fraudulent photographs were eventually sold to a magazine. (Charivari, No 18, Paris, Oct-Dec 1973). The accompanying article, titled The treasure exists – we have seen it, was written by de Sède’s colleague - who proved to be the said Jean-Luc Chaumeil. What sort of ‘expert’ is this? One must certainly question his reliability!"
This same article has appeared in a book published by Chaumeil. Where is the integrity then? The same source for material used by the web site of Paul Smith [a false name probably, why do all these characters hide?] - is also Jean Luc Chaumeil. Smith frequently claims knowledge held but writes 'i cannot say anymore because Chaumeil would be in trouble under French Law' blah blah blah.
"Some few years later, I was preparing my third BBC film on Rennes-le-Château. Pierre Plantard, in his role as Grand Master of the Prieuré de Sion, had agreed to cooperate and said that he would appoint someone to speak on screen as their spokesman.To my amusement, this spokesman proved to be Chaumeil. All was prepared for the filming, which was to take place in a small Parisian art gallery owned by Chaumeil’s mother. As mama was brushing her son’s hair for his appearance before the camera Plantard, at the very last moment, decided that he needed no spokesman – he would speak for himself. I was delighted – Chaumeil and his mother were incensed. I suspect that it was this incident that launched Chaumeil’s hostility to myself, the Prieuré, Plantard and all his works. Time passed and then, at the height of the Da Vinci Code excitement, Chaumeil was interviewed by the French newspaper Le Figaro. After so many years, the filming fiasco evidently still rankled. Amongst other inventions he made the ludicrous claim that I addressed Pierre Plantard as “Your Majesty?! What, one wonders, makes someone decide to invent such nonsense?"
Lincoln bears witness to a Chaumeil inventing things! He also suggests that the story about finding the treasure of Rennes was an invention! In this same contextual quote - Lincoln goes on.
In an extract from 'The Key to the Sacred Pattern' Lincoln describes a meeting with Philippe de Cherisey. (pp154)
"The day is ending, but it is fine. De Cherisey expresses a desire to take a stroll and a lengthy preambulation end on a bench in the Tuileries Gardens. He is still regaling me with well told - and often very funny - anecdotes. But I have more on my mind than entertainment. We are getting on well and the atmosphere is friendly. At last, with time passing and nothing to lose, I decide to put my request baldly. 'Can I take another look at the parchment photographs?' With only minimal hesitation, he opens his briefcase and hands them to me. 'Why add the marks' I ask 'To amuse the laity' he replied 'But why?' I insist. He shrugs 'I'm an entertainer.' It is clear that I am to get no straight answers. But - perhaps simply because it was to hand - he adds another fragment. Picking a few sheets from his case, he says: 'I'm writing an explanation of the codes. I'll send you a copy. You'll be amused'. But I am never to see it1. Nor am I ever to get any closer to the 'parchment originals'. Sadly Philippe de Cherisey died suddenly in July 1985."
An added footnote is explained as follows: 1] There is reason to suspect that this document may have been part of the haul of stolen Priory papers' which figured in the Chaumeil imbroglio.
Presumably then this is the document that figures in a book by Chaumeil over 20 years later and which carries a copy of a document called Stone & Paper - which is Cherisey's explanation of the codes in his own handwriting? One wonders why Lincoln suspects that it is part of stolen documents from Plantard and Cherisey.
The only other reference i have come across regarding stolen files is in a purported letter typed by Cherisey himself to Plantard - saying that;
"Still no answer to my letter of the 17th January ... Thus only one word to warn you that Gerard de Sède is in possession of the case of files of the Priory of Sion stolen from 37, rue Saint Lazare and with it's contents prepare he is preparing a book against us. He is also in possession of the file of George Monti, as well as a photocopy of your contract with Rene Descadeillas or you 65% of the rights for the work: Rennes and its last Lords. Worse still, in this case was your (original) manuscript of Circuit! What can one make of the affair? Before publication - do you want me to say CIRCUIT isn't by me? What answer do you want me to give?
On the origin of the Priory of Sion, my research ...... [shows?] all the publications of Philippe Toscan come from one [who] is delirious under the effect of drugs, the truth according to the files of the Order held by my uncle Saint Hillier at the Chateau de Lys, is that on September 19, 1736, François d' Hautpoul and Jean Paul de Negre founders of the Priory of Sion, the 2nd Grand Maitre is Andre Hercules de Rosset (Limoux/Stenay). The continuation does not have any error: Charles and Maximilien of Lorraine, finally after the revolution; Nodier, Hugo, Debussy (with Monti) and Cocteau. I received a threatening letter of an insane, his name is Roger Dagobert, he declares [to be] the descendant of general Dagobert, and Saint Dagobert, therefore heir legitimate to the gold mines that are on your grounds at ROCK NEGRE at Rennes, moreover, that he is pretender to the throne of France. Soon" .
Of the many interesting points this private letter of Cherisey to Plantard raises - it shows de Sede and possibly Chaumeil [as a friend of his] eventually got some sort of access to some Priory files. As the letter says, de Sede is in possession of the stolen files ... the mention of Roger Dagobert is interesting too, because he appears to be instrumental in Pierre Plantard's downfall. [see HERE].Above - the letter of Cherisey to Plantard ..Just as a point of interest - the date of the letter looks to be 11th July 1985. If this is correct 6 days later Cherisey was dead. But one does have to be cautious, after all, how do we know if this letter is genuine? And as some have pointed out, Cherisey was not known for his typewritten letters!
This is not the first time i have read that Chaumeil was involved in dubious claims. On the website of Richard Dietrich he writes:
"Plantard had been arrested and tried for peadophilia 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 email@example.com over this, largely between Paul Smith and “Stella Maris” (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!] [see HERE].
I also find it odd when Chaumeil was mixed up with Paul Smith and supplying information to his website regarding Plantard's criminal convictions. On one page Smith writes:
"Pierre Plantard suffered a second prison sentence in 1956, but because there are no secondary references to this event, it cannot be verified with any certainty. However, French researcher Jean-Luc Chaumeil, whose Father was a Commissioner of French Police, does claim to possess copies of material that confirms such an imprisonment, but he is unable to make it public without breaking the French Defamation Law and finding himself imprisoned in the process!"
How do you interpret this claim by Smith? It makes it sound like Chaumeils father looked for the evidence even though his father had nothing to do with any of the investigations. I can tell you that if i looked up something private and confidential in my professional life that had no causal relationship for persons in my care at the CURRENT TIME, i.e. i looked up information 'just to find out something personal' i would be sacked from my job. So had Chaumeil got his father to use his position of power to obtain information on Plantard? It is all murky indeed! Who really knows?
Chaumeil although dismissing the whole Priory Affair in the 70's is still to be found touting his views among Rennes-le-Chateau researchers today and making money off the back of it. He published the Stone & Paper document, allegedly on the back of requests made to him by Cherisey, but there is no proof from Cherisey himself before he died that he asked Chaumeil to publish this document 20 years or so after his death! Chaumeil's views now regarding what Cherisey either told him or wrote nowadays is the following:
"FAREWELL, to the Merovingian king turned former sexton, farewell to the British epic, farewell to the descendants of Jesus, farewell to the last Ayatollah of the British and to the…last Grand Master of the Templars. We remain amazed, however, at the headlong flight of Messrs Lincoln, Baigent, Richard Leigh and indeed….Gérard de Sède, who were perfectly aware of the existence of these two reports, filed under "Alpha Galates" in the archives of the Police headquarters, a file which is open to the general public…!'
The sad fact for the authors of Tomb of God is that their theory - that the historical Jesus is buried in France - has advanced somewhat since their day. With the research of Christian Doumergue we now have 8th century documents and also 19th century information attesting to people believing in just this theory. And don't forget Lincoln et al actually published this in their Holy Blood, Holy Grail thesis all those years ago - the same legend, viz that the mummified body of Jesus rests in the environs of Rennes-le-Chateau! Rather than focus on this bizarre local legend, the authors focused on the Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had children angle!
But the Tomb of God authors - who published a rebuttal to the Timewatch programme [see below] were never given the air time to properly debate with that 'history unit coming through' as described by Truss. If only she had done her homework instead of just jumping on the bandwagon!
The publishers of Andrews and Schellenberger published this rebuke to the BBC2 programme;
"The authors were not permitted a preview of the programme, and so were unable to draw attention to its errors. The main deficiencies of the programme arise from the following:
• The need for brevity and simplicity in television meant that the book's evidence had to be reduced to simple terms and some of it excluded altogether. Certain aspects acquired by the .Mystery are unreliable and have been shown as such in THE TOMB OF GOD. But the Timewatch programme presented these as revelations, and used them in an attempt to undermine the authors' work.
* In the programme the book's thesis was represented falsely as depending on the Parchments reputedly discovered by Berenger Sauniere. A "manuscript' shown in the film purports to reveal the parchments as a hoax and thus destroy the whole basis of the hook, and the entire mystery of the priest Berenger Sauniere and Rennes le-Chateau. This is a travesty of the book. as it ignores the evidence spanning 700 years.
• In THE TOMB OF GOD a published drawing by the eminent 19th Century barrister Julien Sacaze is shown to be of the utmost significance, but it does not appear in the film. This is a serious omission. The drawing by Sacaze utterly negates any possibility of the geometric content of the Parchments being a modern hoax. The technical and logical aspects of the book were approved by ain independent editor specialising in academic scientific works.
• The thesis of the book is that the knowledge of a secret location has been preserved over many centuries, that this has been done in various ways, but principally by the use of a geometric map. The existence of this geometry has been demonstrated beyond doubt in paintings and documents dating back to the 13th Century. Many of these are of known provenance and date. These have been sidelined or ignored by the Timewatch producer. Others of unknown origin are also shown to be sound evidence of the Secret, but the thesis does not rest on these documents as portrayed by the programme. That this omits the most conclusive evidence, reflects a desire to put THE TOMB OF GOD in the worst possible light.
• Without exception, all of the "evidence" unearthed by the programme purported to undermine the authors' work has already been revealed for what it is in THE TOMB OF GOD. thus:
• the authors had already proposed a 20thC date for the parchments", and that de Cherisey was probably the author of at least part (see Pages 2144-215, 222-223)
• that the "Stublein" book Pierres Gravees du Languedoc is of doubtful provenance, and date, but that its purpose is to draw attention to other works, such as the Sacaze (see Page 297)
• that maybe Sauniere's visit to the Louvre "... is a fabrication ... (see Page 120)
"The producer had access to the authors' work at all stages, so ignorance cannot be a defence.
• The origin and validitv of the "manuscript", claimed to have been written by Philippe de Cherisey were not critically examined in the programme. This "manuscript" provides meanings for some elements of the famous riddle "Bergere pas de tentation que Poussin Teniers...". But these have been seen before and are not regarded as serious — the combination of these meanings results in nothing intelligible. The authors' deduction of geographical meanings, produces an intelligible result that includes all elements of the riddle, and ultimately leads to a location identical to that given by all other data This has been regarded as overwhelming support for its validity by those who have read THE TOMB OF GOD.
• The "manuscript" does not admit to any geometric contents in the Parchments, or in the riddle. The producer sees this as proving that there are no such intentions. But, of course, if the inclusion of such were secret, one would hardly expect to see this revealed. The geometric content is, however, undeniable, and is identical to the geometry in the paintings and the Sacaze drawing.
• The authors can demonstrate that the "original parchments" as shown in the film are not those in the photographs known to have been provided by de Cherisey. So which of them are authentic?
• In the Timewatch programme art-historian Martin Kemp says that none of Poussin's work incorporates geometry. The authors' response was not included and Kemp had not been offered the .... example). So the viewer was deliberately misled. (The extraordinary matter of the top section of the painting being covered by the frame was also neglected by the producer).
Some fragments of interviews with the author were used out of context. They were asked to be brief in their replies and had understood that the context would become clear as the film progressed. This did not happen. For example, did Sauniere go to Paris? Did he ever order copies of paintings from the Louvre? The authors did not check the Louvre records to ascertain whether copies had been ordered by Sauniere. Why? Because the authors doubt the story and have said so in THE TOMB OF GOD, also the absence of such a record would not prove that he did visit the Louvre. The producer chose to make this and similar matters crucial to the book when, in fact, they were not. This was misrepresentation.
The truth of the MYSTERY OF RENNES-LE-CHATEAU is revealed for the first time in the book described by one reviewer as "dangerous and pernicious". Why this extraordinary outburst? Why the destructive Timewatch? The answers, and the truth behind the greatest of all mysteries may be found in the book they are trying to discredit: THE TOMB OF GOD by Richard Andrews and Paul Schellenberger Published by Little, Brown".
I believe that Andrews and Schellenberger were not given a fair hearing and that their geometry was never analysed and appreciated for what they did discover. I hope to put that right! Elsewhere on this site i will tackle just how accurate and right i think Andrews and Schellenberger were and still are!