In Rennes-le-Château 'lore' there exists a mysterious letter known as the Paul Sennier letter. It was allegedly found by a person called Elie Punnars. He was so amazed at some of the contents that he forwarded it to the Terre de Rhedae group, presumably for its members to analyse and use in their research. It was received by the Rhedae group in October 1994.
The letter was immediately considered a hoax, with observers pointing out that the name Paul Sennier was really only an anagram of Arsène Lupin, that fictional character who appears in a series of detective fiction novels written by Maurice Leblanc. The letter seems to have quickly been associated with Ramuntxo (or Raymond) Sagarzazu, a well-known French researcher with early links to the beginning of the modern 'mystery' of Rennes-le-Château. He was known to frequent Rennes-le-Château internet forums under various pseudonyms (for example Hercules) - so if he was the 'author' of the letter he wasn't new to using pseudonym's.
The main thrust of the contents of the Sennier letter referred to details about a treasure of the Aniort family and a sacrosant tomb1. There is no explanation as to why the Aniort family should be linked to some kind of treasure or tomb.The Aniort family are of noble extraction from the Languedoc with a pedigree that stretches back to the early Middle Age's. They have two very famous members who played a crucial role in the Albigensian Crusade. And in its more modern incarnation the family also have links with Marie de Nègre. It is with Marie and her 'missing' burial stones that the basis for the 'modern' legend of Rennes-le-Château is to be found.
Were the Aniort family then privvy to any 'inside' information regarding the Rennes Affair and perhaps Marie de Nègre herself?
The Sennier letter itself, from internal information on an attached cover note, was obtained by someone called Punnars (who said he found it in the loft of a property he had bought in Rouen) but that originally the letter was addressed to Abbè Saunière. Punnars explained that it never reached Saunière because he had died on 22nd January 1917 and the letter was therefore returned to the sender unopened. Punnars further explained in his cover note to the Terre de Rhedae group that he had known of the 'Saunière Affair' ever since the appearance of the works of Robert Charroux2 adding that '..as i was studying history at the time, i'd been fascinated by the search for a phantom treasure in a family property (an ancient vault which local tradition attributed to the Templars3.)
We may ask what family? What family property? What ancient vault? Why was it attributed to the Templars? It did not make much sense to me. However as we shall see below it will become clear where the root of this particular version of the story stemmed. Punnars in his cover note continues - talking of the well known prophecies of Marie-Julie Jahenny. He write's '...It is from these prophecies that one of our old friends has drawn his new surname (de Saint-Clair).4 This 'old friend' must be Pierre Plantard - although strangely after mentioning Plantard he seems to have no further bearing on this version of events or even any real links with it. Punnars suggets that Plantard adopted his most famous alias from the prophecies of the Saint of Blain. When discussing other points, Sennier/Punnars mentions Henri Boudet, the Marquis de la Franquerie (described as the herald of the divine mission in France) and the Sacred Heart movement. These all have correlates found in other Priory of Sion propaganda and 'fictions'. The letter relates other information of interest regarding events surrounding Rennes-le-Chateau including:
· An historical study of 1896 by Abbè Barne. This tells the story of a magnificent treasure hidden in a mysterious mountain, seat of the former Rhedae and capital of the Visigothic counts of the Razes. On papal instructions a new treasure was added in the 13th century.5
· Details about the counterfeit money at Albedun (Le Bézu) involving three co-lords at Rennes who used ‘gold taken from the deposit’ 6 The text refers to Jacques Fournier, the new Pope, in 1334. Fournier is alleged to have intervened 'forcefully' so that the 'sacred deposit' of the Razes would remain 'secret'. He imprisoned the 'alchemist' monks of Boulbonne who were 'taking too close an interest in this immeasurable treasure'. It was Fournier's nephew, Guilhem Catalini, along with the three co-lords of Reddas (Rennes-le-Château) who made the counterfiet money at Albedun with the gold of that deposit. Catalini was later freed only after direct intervention of the next Pope, Clement VI.7
· A deed of 1747 from Abbè Jean Bigou testifying to the closure of the crypt at the Church of Le Bézu and of the tomb of the Lords of Rennes on a decision by François d’Hautpoul Lord of Rennes.8
· A memoire of Antoine Bigou, Cure of Rennes, dated 11th February 1781 (a month after the death of Marie de Negre d’Ables) which was certified by Abbe Francois-Pierre Cauneille, Cure of Rennes les Bains. This memoire 'authenticates the discovery of the tomb of Constant I, by a young shepherdess of Bains, Catherine Planel, of the smallholding of Favies. It is this discovery which is the origin of the legend of the treasure of Blanchefort, which was reported by M. de Labouisse-Rochefort in his 'Voyage a Rennes-les-Bains'. (Paris 1932). Bigou patiently questioned the shepherdess - and from her directions was able to find the place of this tomb burial'. Here it is described that ‘our Abbè's [i.e. Bigou and Cauneille] had found the treasure of the Aniorts, namely the treasure of Alaric, hidden in the Valley of the Aude, after the fall of the Kingdom of Toulouse'. This treasure of the Aniorts was claimed to be buried in a necropolis which the priest's had refused to enter but who nevertheless took care to mark the place for later posterity.9 It is not explained why the finding of the tomb of Constant I should be related to the Aniorts or why it was also associated with the legendary treasure of Alaric. Constant was born c.323 and he died in 350 (he was Roman Emperor from 337 to 350). As one can see from the dates his death occurred 60 years before King Alaric sacked Rome and took the famous treasure for himself. Also the fall of the Kingdom of Toulouse was hundreds of years later after this. How could Constant I be relevant in any way regarding the treasure of Alaric?
The only slim unifying factor in relation to this Sennier letter might be the circumstances surrounding the death of Constant I. Alexander Canduci in his 2010 book Triumph & Tragedy: The Rise and Fall of Rome's Immortal Emperors asserted that when "he [Constant] was forced to flee for his life.....he tried to reach either Italy or Spain, but Magnentius' supporters cornered him in a fortification in Vicus Helena (now Elne) in the Pyrenees, southwestern Gaul, where he was killed by Magnentius' assassins after seeking sanctuary in a temple". What temple in the Elne area of the Pyrenees did Constant take refuge in? Was it a well known Temple? Are there any archaeological remains of it?
The Sennier letter talks of a monument that was to be built or had been built and which was connected to Constant I or at least to a very important burial or necropolis. Was the burial attached to this old Temple where Constant was assassinated? Bigou is described as making "sure that the access to the tomb was marked with the aid of triangulation's of which the point of departure was an engraved stone hidden in the fault of a rock, visible from the clock tower of the church of Saint Marie-Madeleine".
· There was a further notice attached to the Sennier letter explaining that 'Constantine the Great (of the Labarum and of the Triumph of Christianity), Roman Emperor .... divided his Empire between his three sons..... the text [ie the Sennier letter] speaks about the whereabouts of the tomb of Constant I in the Razes area, identifying Elne'. The author states 'we think he [Constant I] was captured and assassinated at Coustaussa, because the most ancient name known of this village was Villa quae vocatur Constantium' (villa which is called Constantium).... also ...the second sign is the very ancient marble quarry situated 200 metres to the north of Peyro Dreto, the druidic stone of Pontils, in the commune of Peyrolles. From the dimensions of some of the blocks extracted, still visible today, we can deduce that these blocks were destined for a very important monument, and more, to be situated in the immediate area'.10 We can see here that Sennier is associating the tomb of Constant I not in the area of Elne but with the village of Coustaussa and by extention also to a marble quarry in conjunction with this tomb would be the place where rocks were carved out to create a possible monument! And in fact this quarry had been investigated by team Plantard and Cherisey in the 50's and 60's.
Even if this were correct why is the discovery of the tomb the true source of the legends associated with Blanchefort? Why is it associated with the area of the Peyro Dreto? Sennier says that the monumental blocks in the vicinity of the Peyro-Dreto were 'destined for a very important monument' - perhaps indicating that this mission was never accomplished. The statement is also ambiguous - were the blocks brought to the area to build a monument or was the monument already insitu and later added to?
Is this legend different from the 'other' legend of the treasure of Blanchefort, associated with the shepherd Ignace Paris? It seems odd that the discovery of the tomb of a Roman Emperor should be associated with Blanchefort as well as the Pontils area!
There is an air of deliberate confusion and yet some thread of continuity in these garbled references and the wider picture of the Rennes-le-Château mythology. Viz; a tomb stone at Pontils, the Peyro - Dreto stone, cemeteries (Rennes-le-Château, Les Pontils), removal of a tombstone on the instruction of Bigou, the motto Et in Arcadia Ego .... Marie de Nègre, Poussin's tomb, Peyrolles, Serres, effacement of tomb stone inscriptions by Sauniere and his placement of them in an ossuary - an ossuary that he had created in the cemetery at Rennes-le-Château etc.
This confusion is repeated in the documents of Plantard and de Cherisey. In the Priory of Sion document ascribed to ‘Jean Delaude’ called Le Cercle d’Ulysse (published in 1977) the following is reported: "...the question is not to determine whether Poussin made a journey to the Languedoc in 1635, but to find out if the picture 'Les Bergeres d'Arcadie', second version, really represents the tomb said to be that of Arques, such as it was at that period. In reality, the tomb is not at Arques - but situated on the zero Meridian between Peyrolles and Serres. This tomb, mentioned in an 18th century work by the Abbe Delmas, had on its north face a vertical stone which bore this motto 'Et In Arcadia Ego', and in 1789 it was transported to the cemetery at Rennes-le-Chateau. So it is correct that Poussin did depict this stone. It is also correct that Abbe Bigou took charge of a stone! In the bishops archives there exists a document in the priest's handwriting bearing on the transfer of this stone by Guillaume TIFFOU from Serres to Rennes-le-Chateau. The engraving in his book by Gerard de Sede via Chesa was tampered with. From 1789 - 1895 this stone was found on the grave of the Marquise of Blanchefort, in the cemetery at Rennes-le-Chateau, near the bell tower. This is the one which was defaced by the parish priest, Sauniere, in January 1895, then placed by him on the ossuary which he had had constructed by Elie Bot, treated chemically and photographed by infrared in September 1966 which revealed the following text ...."
Dominique Olivier d'Hautpoul made his first protest to the Mayor of Rennes in Febuary 1895, that the stone had been removed from the tomb of his ancestress.
That same year Abbe Sauniere had a new slab engraved, the text of which was published in 1906, in Volume XVII p105 of the Bulletin de la Societe d'Etudes Scientifiques de L'Aude. This stone was witdrawn a few months after having been placed on the tomb of the Marquise of
Blanchefort, after the second protest by Dominique Olivier d'Hautpoul because of the text on the epitaph ....' [i.e. the mistakes that were apparent].
This stone was not defaced and lying broken in the middle in a corner of the cemetery at Rennes-le-Chateau. It was removed by Ernest CROS, deposited at Ginoles, then in 1939, transferred it to a private property at Carcassonne, where it remains to this day. M. Rene Descadeillas knew this very well, as is proved by the passage from his book Mythologie du Tresor de Rennes - 'the Abbe was accused of having removed a slab placed on the tomb of the Hautpouls, or more exactly of having defaced the inscription'. From questions put patiently to some people and then others, M. Cros had, he said partially reconstructed the inscription Reddis Regis. It is difficult to imagine that these obvious errors and confusions are due to ignorance! Some of these 'errors' are as follows;
1) The Meridian this text extract from 'Le Cercle de Ulysse's' refers to is the so called 'Rose Line' - which is indeed associated with a tomb in the minds of the 'Priory' ... on the Rose Line
2) The only tomb that the Abbe Delmas referred to was that of the so called Roman Pompeius Quartus! Delmas said he was in posession of an artifact which he considered was part of the tomb of one '...Sextus Pompeius ....travelling on his way to Spain, one of his great friends or one of his foremost officers being dead, Pompey raised some sort of mausoleum or column over his tomb [Sextus Pompeius, his son] and this was one of the stones from that column'. This seems to be mixed up in some bizarre way with the Sennier letter and the tomb of a Roman in the vicinity of Caustaussa! It is hard to see how Plantard and Cherisey however, have this mixed up with the 'Et In Arcadia Ego ...' stone - a stone that was transported to the cemetery at Rennes-le-Chateau! The origin of this tombstone is not even the tomb at Arques (and therefore the Poussin 'connection'), but the 'tomb' on the zero Meridian between Peyrolles and Serres!
3) It is said that Abbe Cabanie asked TIFFOU to remove the 'Et In Arcadia ...' stone from Les Pontils.
4) It was in 1962 that Noel CORBU talked of using infrared and chemical means to make the obliterated inscription on Marie de Negre's tombstone somehow reappear! Again there seems to be deliberate confusions over which tombstones are relevant! If the CI GIT stone has never been seen (especially if the SESA article is not valid in some way (see below) then the only real evidence of a tombstone being 'seen' is the 'Et in Arcadia' stone. Monsieur CROS was said to have restored the original text on the stone with the help of some villagers from Rennes. CROS had written in his notebooks; 'The locals told me - 'there were other vertical letters, but we cant tell you what they meant. We were told the letters were Greek but we didnt understand anything' CROS went on to say - 'Personally i do not think the letters were Greek, but rather Kabalistic Templar signs .' Perhaps the inclusion of the tomb of Constant I was supposed to make people think of the Plantard mythology of the tomb of the Grand Roman/Monarch and the work of Abbe Delmas? This could be possible because the citing of the prophecies of the above Marie-Julie Jahenny are a reference to this mystic's prophecies which feature the Grand Roman/Monarch. These prophecies dont generally refer to aGrand Monarch that has been but in a future one who is to come.
The prophecies may be interesting in their own right regarding the Rennes Affair because we know that Bérenger Saunière subscribed to some of the supporters of this 'Grand Monarch' theme. The modern day prophecies of the Grand Monarch were not only made by Jahenny but also by Calvet and Giraud, visionaries at La Salette, France. Saunière did have an interest in the visions of La Salette.
The whole concept of the Grand Monarch theme is linked far back in time to the famous Saint Remi, who baptised the first King of the Franks, Clovis I. At the time Saint Remi had had a vision and prophesied that in the distant future the last monarch who descended from this line of kings would be revealed and re-established in the Holy Roman Empire at the end of time. The prophecy came through Hincmar, archbishop of Reims followed by Rabanus Maurus Magnentius. In the 19th century the prophecy reappeared again when French legitimists believed that the count of Chambord, Henry V of France would be the new king. Of course, the Countess of Chambord (his wife) made donations to various priests who supported the cause including Bérenger Saunière.
Earlier in the text of the Sennier letter it states that Bigou had patiently questioned Planel and that from her answers he could not decide if she had 'surprised a man desecrating the tomb in the early morning, or whether she really did have a diabolical apparition of which she was convinced she had'. The paragraph is ambiguous - had Planel stumbled upon a man who had already found the tomb of Constant I. Was she not, therefore, the real finder of the tomb? Why mention the early morning? How is that relevant? Or had she really just dreamed the whole affair - described in the letter as some kind of diabolical apparition?
The description of Bigou making sure that the access to the tomb was marked with the aid of triangulations of which the point of departure was an engraved stone hidden in the fault of a rock' seems to call to mind the Coumesourde stone. And in fact, as noted above, Elie Punnars said that he had known of the 'Saunière Affair' ever since the appearance of the works of Robert Charroux. Charroux it was who met Noel Corbu at Rennes-le-Château and discussed the Marie de Negre tombstones found and effaced by Sauniere, quite clearly getting the 'stones' mixed up in the process. As Mensior wrote:
"In the first part of the dialogue recorded in the church, after Noel Corbu refers to the flagstone in the ossuary, Robert Charroux proposes to go to see it later in the cemetery. Then he talks of the anonymous document attributed to the engineer Ernest Cros, which circulated soon within Rennes-le-Château i.e. at the end of 1959. He describes the Coumesourde stone and the flagstone - Reddis Regis Cellis Arcis. Persuaded that these stones are both in Paris, Noel Corbu benefits then from the invitation of Robert Charroux to go on a research trip bound for the Capital in the hope of finding the ’missing stones’. By doing this they can locate the stones and then use modern processes to reconstruct the words which they believe are missing. In the second part of the ‘interview’, which takes place in the cemetery, Noel Corbu speaks this time of the stone of the lady of Blanchefort whose inscriptions were, he says, erased by Bérenger Saunière. He [Corbu] has the hope however to make them reappear by employing chemical and optical processes! What this tells us is that Noel Corbu, in connection with the flagstone in the ossuary in the cemetery, unquestionably was well informed, by the testimonies of the villagers in particular, of the existence of a stone comprising of inscriptions, located on the original tombstone of the Lady of Rennes-le-Château". (http://www.rhedesium.com/the-stegravele-of-blanchefort-and-noel-corbu.html)
The Coume Sourde stone has a strange history. De Sede for example said that "...it was the Marquis de Fleury who, before his departure caused another stone to be carved, which was discovered only by chance much later. It had been buried under an ilex oak tree. It was lost again, to be rediscovered in 1928. This time it had been hidden in a hollow rock on the mountain side of Coumesourde, near Rennes-les-Bains. This is also a strange tombstone".12 Intriguing is it not that this Coumesourde stone should be called 'a strange tombstone'? The diagram that De Sede provides in his book is alleged to come from the work of Ernest Cros. Bizarrely this stone associated with the Marquis de Fleury in a convoluted twist of fate may be related to the lettering found on the reverse side of the Coume Sourde stone illustrated and published by De Sede in his 'Gold of Rennes'. The lettering here is CEIL BEIL. Ceil is the ancient name for the town of Auriac in the Aude. Ceil (Ceilho) is the castle of Auriac not far from the town of Carcassonne, on the River of St. Jean. Antique ways of spelling the name were Sellanum (1101), Scelanum (1226), Ceillan (1318), Selie and Ceillio being more modern forms. Le prieuré of Saint Jean de Ceille (Ceilhes) is mentioned in Besse’s History of the Counts of Carcassonne. There is, however, perhaps another Ceil[hes] which is more directly associated with the Fleury family, which in fact links back the Marquis de Fleury who de Sede has already said carved this Coume Sourde stone.
Ceilhes-and-Rocozels is a French commune located in the department of Hérault. The main chateau of Bouloc in the village was the refuge of the lords of Rocozels, who by marriage became associated with the family of the Lords of Rennes. These Lords of Rocozels, i.e. the Rosset de Rocozels were a family of noble origin from the Languedoc.They were an old feudal family of Rocozels evidenced in the area as early as 1025. In the Middle Ages, the family had engendered two bishops: William IV of Rocozels (Bishop of Béziers from 1198 to 1205) and Raymond III of Rocozels (Bishop of Lodève 1262 and 1280). In the sixteenth century as a result of a marriage alliance with the Rosset's, a family originally from Rouergue (lords and barons Monpaon, Diocese of Vabre ), they became the descendants of Rocozels. In the 17th century the family obtained the small lordships of Rocozels of Bouloc and Ceilhes where they took up residence at the chateau Bouloc, abandoning the old castle of Rocozels. In 1680 Bernardin de Rosset of Rocozels married Marie de Fleury , sister of the famous Cardinal Fleury .It was this marriage through his grandmother - Marguerite de Rosset - that Paul-François-Vincent de Fleury, Sgr de Rennes-les-Bains, Montferrand, Bézis and marquis de Blanchefort by later marrying (on the 13 sept. 1767) Marie-Anne-Gabrielle-Élisabeth d’Hautpoul, daughter of François d’Hautpoul, baron de Rennes-les-Bains, Sgr de Montferrand, Bézis, and the marquis de Blanchefort that the two families became linked together. It is this same Paul-François-Vincent de Fleury who has two graves in the cemetery at Rennes-les-Bains and this Paul-François-Vincent de Fleury who de Sede alleges created the Coume Sourde stone.
However, according to Paul Smith (at http://priory-of-sion.com/pos/coumesourde.html) Sagarzazu himself received a communication from Pierre Plantard in a letter dated 10 August (no year is stipulated) stating “You refer to the tombstone of Coumesourde. I'm sorry to have to disappoint you, but it simply never existed”.