22 Sep

This is a quote from Jean Joseph Ange d’Hautpoul-Felines in around 1799. He had been called to the chateau at Rennes by Elisabeth d’Hautpoul-Rennes, or simply Dhaupoul, who was daughter of Francois d’Hautpoul-Rennes. Since Elisabeth never got married and her brother died, she was also the last heir of the main branch of the d’Hautpoul family. After 1781, she remained the unique owner of the castle in Rennes-le-Chateau, as well as of the mysterious documents which her paternal grand-father passed directly to her mother Marie Nègre d’Ables de Blanchefort.

In the spring of 1799, Elisabeth invited all her family to a strange celebration held at the already ruined Montferrand castle. Even Jean Joseph Ange d’Hautpoul-Felines, general and senator (he died as an hero in the Eylau battle), attended what had to be a ceremony of great significance. Writing in a letter he wrote: ”the whole of the family was there”.

He continued reports in his memoirs;

One day, all this company went up to Rennes, a famous place, with an old castle situated at the top of a very high peak. This castle was owned by an old aunt, Mademoiselle d'Hautpoul de Rennes; last heir to the oldest branch of my family, and the estate was to go to my cousins, Alexandre, Prosper and Charles".

Why indeed was Rennes, according to him, 'a famous place' in around 1799? One must remember this is not Rennes-les-Bains we are talking about, but Rennes-le-Chateau. A village which had become a backwater by this time, if it was ever more than this. Why would Jean Joseph Ange d’Hautpoul-Felines - a French cavalry general of the Napoleonic wars - refer to Rennes as 'a famous place'? What was it famous for? 

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