Last updated on February 13th, 2021
A History of the Priory of Sion and Their Involvement with the Knights Templar
By Tracy R. Twyman
The “Prieure de Sion”, or “Priory of Sion (Zion)” first began publicizing itself, in modern times, at least, in 1956, when an explosion of written material regarding Rennes-le-Chateau, the Templars, and the Merovingians began to appear in France. The majority of this material appeared to the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail to have originated from the same group of people – although credited to divergent and supposedly unrelated authors. Most of these authors appeared to have inside knowledge of the Rennes-le-Chateau affair, and this information was leaked systematically through tantalizing tidbits that served to whet the reader’s appetite, and increase the aura of mystery already surrounding the whole affair. In short, it appeared to be “propaganda” which promoted the subject of Rennes-le-Chateau and the Merovingian monarchy on the part of this shadowy organization.
Some of the material appeared in mainstream books, newspapers, and magazines. For example, there was a series of best-selling paperbacks by Gerard de Sede, including The Accursed Treasure, written by a man who turned out to himself be an agent of this shadowy organization. His books were largely based on an informant named Pierre Plantard, the organization’s leading figure. The rest of this explosion of materials, which are referred to in Holy Blood, Holy Grail as the “Priory Documents”, took the form of papers, pamphlets, and privately-published limited edition books and magazines deposited quite purposefully in France’s national library, the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. Each of these would provide certain pieces of the puzzle which, when put together with the others, would begin to form a fuller, albeit still bewildering, picture. Large portions of these were authored under obvious pseudonyms of symbolic significance, such as Antoine l‘Ermite (Saint Anthony the Hermit) or “Madeleine Blancassal” (derived from the French spelling of “Magdalen” and the names of the “Blanque” and “Sals” rivers, which converge at the village of Rennes-le-Chateau). The work of Ms. Blancassal was said to have been published by Switzerland’s foremost Masonic lodge, Grand Loge Alpina. Strangely, the lodge itself denies this, although a researcher hired by the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail spotted it on the lodge’s library shelves.
Other “Priory Documents” (as Holy Blood, Holy Grail refers to them) were published under the names of actual people, some of whom died mysteriously shortly after their publication. For instance, Dossiers Secrets (Secret Dossiers), a strange collection of purported data pertaining to the Merovingians and the Priory of Sion. It contained genealogies, letters, newspaper clippings, and other scraps all thrown together, along with commentary from the author, “Henri Lobineau”, and some other unnamed commentator. However, within the Dossiers themselves it is revealed that “Lobineau” is a pseudonym, and it is claimed that the real author was one Leo Schidlof, who died in 1966. The authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail talked to his daughter, who denied that he had written the Dossiers, but said that during his life and especially on the day of his death, a number of people had tried to contact him on the subject, which he swore he knew nothing about. Yet Secret Dossiers asserts that he had not only written or compiled most of the material in the book, but had also possessed a leather briefcase filled with secret documents pertaining to the Rennes-le-Chateau between 1600 and 1800. The Dossiers claim that shortly before his death M. Schidlof passed the briefcase onto a courier named Fakhar ul Islam, who was supposed to meet in East Germany with an “agent delegated by Geneva” in February 1967, in order to transfer the briefcase to him. However, it is claimed that Fakhar ul Islam was expelled from East Germany before this could occur, and went back to Paris to “await further orders.” His body was found on February 20 on the railway tracks at Melan, France, having been thrown from an express train. The details of Mr. Fakhar ul Islam’s death turned out to be true, as the discovery of his decapitated body had been reported in the papers the following day. The briefcase, of course, was gone.
One of the most significant “Priory documents” was Le Serpent Rouge. This consisted of a prose poem, thirteen stanzas in length, each dedicated to one of the houses in the thirteen-house zodiac system used by the Priory of Sion (which we will discuss more later on.) It also contained a Merovingian genealogy, two maps of medieval France, and a map of the grounds of the Seminary of Saint Sulpice. The poem, although cryptic, made clear allusions to Rennes-le-Chateau, Mary Magdalen, January 17th, Freemasonry, alchemy, and a host of other subjects pertaining to the mystery at hand. It appeared to provide, in coded language, step by step instructions for discovering the secret of Rennes-le-Chateau. The authors were purported to be named “Louis Saint-Maxent, Pierre Feugere, and Gaston de Koker”, three men who, just days after the poem was deposited in the library, were found hanged without explanation.
According to the “Priory Documents”, especially those found in the Bibliotheque Nationale, there was another hidden order behind the foundation of the Knights Templar: the Priory of Sion. The purpose of the Priory, which has continued, unlike the Templars, intact unto the present day, was and is the preservation, support, and eventual restoration to the throne of the Merovingian bloodline. In fact, not only are the Merovingians considered by the Priory to still be the rightful kings of France, they are also considered to be eligible for other thrones throughout Europe, as well as that of Jerusalem. This is by virtue of the fact that they passed their divine lineage on, though dynastic intermarriage, to most of Europe’s leading royal and noble houses, and most especially to a certain few, including the lines of Blanchefort, Gisors, Saint-Clair/Sinclair, Plantard, Hapsburg, and Lorraine. The Priory, according to the documents, possessed in its day a great deal of clout in the realm of international politics, and it still does today, secretly commanding the allegiance of a number of key individuals in politics, diplomacy, banking and finance, especially in Europe, and especially in France.
The authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail found that there was in fact an Ordre de Sion which resided in Jerusalem at least as early as the turn of the twelfth century – a mere ten years after the supposed foundation of the Order, according to the documents, in 1090. Furthermore, their headquarters was the Abbey of Notre Dame du Mont Sion, an Abbey founded by Godfroi de Bouillon. The Priory Documents state that the Knights Templar were created specifically by the Ordre de Sion, with the help of guiding lights Hughes de Payen, Bisol de Saint Omer, Hughes, Comte de Champagne, and Andre de Montbard (said to have been made a member of the Ordre de Sion, in 1111, the same year in which Holy Blood, Holy Grailspeculated the Templars to have actually been founded.) In 1117, Sion supposedly had Baldwin I, who, they say, “owed his throne” to the Ordre de Sion, negotiate the constitution of the Knights Templar. But as we know, the Templars had already existed in a rudimentary form prior to that.
Baigent, et. al. did find evidence that the historical Ordre de Sion had connections to the Templars, including charters bearing the signature of Hughes de Payen, along with those of known members of Sion. Even more convincing, the list of Templar Grand Masters included in Secret Dossiers was even more complete and correct than any previously published list, as if drawn from inside information. They also found evidence that the group which eventually became the Ordre de Sion had a hand in starting the Crusades in the first place. This group consisted of monks from the Southern Italian region of Calabria who in 1070 migrated to the Ardennes forest, then owned by Godfroi de Bouillon. This same group is mentioned in the works of Gerard de Sede as having been led by the Merovingian “Prince Ursus” (a.k.a. Dagobert II’s descendant, Sigisbert VI. They were patronized by de Bouillon’s aunt and foster mother, Mathilde de Toscan, duchess of Lorraine, who gave them land at Orval, near Stenay, the site of Dagobert II’s assassination. But then in 1108 they vanished completely, and nobody knows where they went. Holy Blood, Holy Grail, however, speculates that they may have followed Godfroi de Bouillon on his crusade to the Holy Land, where “he is known to have been accompanied by an entourage of anonymous figures who acted as advisors and administrators.” Further, Gerard de Sede wrote that Peter the Hermit, de Bouillon’s tutor and one of the main figures behind the undertaking of the Crusades, was a member of the Calabrian monks.
In the Secret Dossiers, there is a quote from historian René Grousse stating that the kingship of De Bouillon’s brother, Baldwin I, rested upon a “royal tradition”, itself “founded on the Rock of Zion”, which was described as “equal” to that of all European dynasties. This is strange, considering that at that time, Baldwin’s office as “King of Jerusalem” was an elected position. But if Baldwin was indeed a descendant of the Merovingians, and thus Christ and King David, this would explain the allusion to the “Rock of Zion”, a reference to the sovereignty of David’s god-ordained kingship and the divine right of his bloodline to rule. Further, if Baldwin had in fact been installed in his office by an organization which represented that bloodline, this would explain how he “owed his throne” to the Ordre de Sion. This is certainly what it sounds like when contemporary chronicler Guillame de Tyre writes that as soon as Jerusalem had been captured, a secret group of unknown men, one “a certain bishop from Calabria”, met to offer the throne of the new kingdom to Godfroi de Bouillon. For whatever reason, he declined the “King” title, but accepted that of “Defender of the Holy Sepulcher”, and when he died in 1100, his brother Baldwin gladly accepted the crown.
After this point, the Ordre de Sion is not mentioned again in history until 1152, when King Louis VII of France brought them ninety-five new members and gave them the priory of Saint-Samson at Orléans. Says Holy Blood, Holy Grail, of these new members, “twenty-six – two groups of thirteen each – are said to have entered the ‘small Priory of the Mount of Sion’, situated at Saint-Jean le Blare on the outskirts of Orleans.” The significance of the numbers twenty-six and thirteen is discussed in other Dagobert’s Revenge articles.
In 1188 there was a rift between the Order of Sion and the Order of the Temple. The Templars’ current Grand Master, Gerard de Ridefort, had recently lost the Holy Land to the Saracens, and had also committed some kind of unspecified “treason.” So in that year, during a ceremony called “The Cutting of the Elm”, the Order of Sion officially disavowed the Templars and cut themselves off from them. As the Priory documents state, an event known as the “Cutting of the Elm” did occur at Gisors during that year, although the historical record of this event does not contain any reference to either the Order of Sion or the Knights Templar. It also does not appear to have ever been fully explained. Supposedly, there was an elm tree located in the “Champ Sacre”, or “Sacred Field” at Gisors. The authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail write that, “According to medieval chroniclers the site had been deemed sacred since pre-Christian times, and during the twelfth century had provided the setting for numerous meetings between the kings of England and France.” The Elm was, as the story goes, the only source of shade on the field. It was more than 800 years old, and “so large that nine men, linking hands could barely encompass its trunk.” In 1188, during one of those historic meetings between the French monarch, Philippe II, and the English monarch, Henry II, a skirmish broke out between the two men’s armies over the shelter provided by this tree. After three days of negotiations, Holy Blood, Holy Grail states that a “full-scale onslaught” ensued. The English “took refuge within the walls of Gisors itself, while the French are said to have cut down the tree in frustration. Philippe II then stormed back to Paris in a huff, declaring that he had not come to Gisors to play the role of woodcutter.” Other accounts of the story include some other bizarre details. They say that Philippe announced to Henry that he intended to cut down the tree, and Henry’s response was to reinforce the trunk with bands of iron. Holy Blood, Holy Grail tells us that:
|Prior to “Cutting of the Elm”|
|Hughes de Payen||1118 – 1131|
|Robert de Bourgogne||1131 – 1150|
|Bernard de Tremblay||1150 – 1153|
|Bertrand de Blanchefort||1153 – 1170|
|Janfenders Fulcherine||1170 – 1171|
|Francois Othon de Saint Arnand||1171 – 1179|
|Theodore de Glaise||1179 – 1184|
|Francois Gerard de Ridefort||1184 – 1190|
|After the “Cutting of the Elm”|
|Jean de Gisors||1188 – 1220|
|Marie de Saint-Clair||1220 – 1266|
|Guillaume de Gisors||1266 – 1307|
|Edouard de Bar||1307 – 1336|
|Jeanne de Bar||1336 – 1351|
|Jean de Saint-Clair||1351 – 1366|
|Blanche d’Evreux||1366 – 1398|
|Nicolas Flamel||1398 – 1418|
|Rene d’Anjou||1418 – 1480|
|Ioland de Bar||1480 – 1483|
|Sandro Filipepi||1483 – 1510|
|Leonardo da Vinci||1510 – 1519|
|Connetable de Bourbon||1519 – 1527|
|Ferdinand de Gonzague||1527 – 1575|
|Louis de Nevers||1575 – 1595|
|Robert Fludd||1595 – 1637|
|Johann Valentin Andrea||1637 – 1654|
|Robert Boyle||1654 – 1691|
|Isaac Newton||1691 – 1727|
|Charles Radclyffe||1727 – 1746|
|Charles de Lorraine||1746 – 1780|
|Maximilien de Lorraine||1780 – 1801|
|Charles Nodier||1801 – 1844|
|Victor Hugo||1844 – 1885|
|Claude Debussy||1885 – 1918|
|Jean Cocteau||1918 –|
“…the following day the French armed themselves and formed a phalanx of five squadrons, each accompanied by a distinguished Lord of the realm, who advanced on the elm, accompanied by slingsmen, as well as carpenters equipped with axes and hammers. A struggle is said to have ensued, in which Richard Coeur de Lion, Henry’s eldest son and heir, participated, attempting to protect the tree and spilling considerable blood in the process. Nevertheless… the tree was cut down.”
After the Cutting of the Elm, the Order de Sion selected a new Grand Master, Jean de Gisors, changed their name to “Prieuré de Sion”, and adopted an odd nickname, “Ormus”, again with the “M” written as the sign for Virgo, and with the other four letters written inside of the symbol. “Ormus” is also the name of an Egyptian sage from Alexandria, who in A.D. 46 created an initiative order with the Rose Cross as its insignia. It is significant, then, that in that same year of 1188, the Priory of Sion also adopted the subtitle “Order de la Rose-Croix Veritas.” They kept that bizarre nickname, Ormus, until 1306, the year before the downfall of the Knights Templar in France. In that year, 1307, Sion’s Grand Master, Guillaume de Gisors, received the golden head called “Caput 58M” from the Order of the Temple. Apparently then, there was still some degree of cooperation between the two orders. However, it is strongly implied in Holy Blood, Holy Grail that only some members of the Temple at that time continued to receive Sion’s support, and that the Priory may have actually been involved in the persecution of the Templars. Guillame de Gisors was also close friends with Guillame Pidaye, who participated in King Philippe’s raid, indicating that he may have been acting as a double-agent, facilitating the raid on the one hand, and tipping off select Templars in time to escape on the other.
As the years progressed, the Priory itself became the target of Roman Catholic hostilities, albeit in a far less drastic fashion. In 1619, the Priory of Sion was evicted from their house at Saint-Samsom. They had incurred the wrath of the Pope and the King of France for spending extravagantly, boycotting Catholic services and being generally irreverent towards all authority. From that point on, they disappear from the pages of history, at least apparently, until their reemergence in the 20th century. But in the meantime, the Priory of Sion, according to their own literature, experienced an illustrious series of Grand Masters, or “Nautonniers” (Navigators.) Some of these names may be quite familiar to you. The list published in Secret Dossiers is as follows:
One can see that this list consists of a mixture of noblemen and women, some famous, some not, all of whom possessed Merovingian blood, along with a number of well-known artists, intellectuals and occultists, some of whom are among the most important in history. The authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail were able to identify in each purported Grand Master strains of unorthodox religious thought, as well as other activities consistent with Priory membership, and were also able to establish definitive personal links between each Grand Master, his predecessor, and his successor. According to the Priory’s statutes, published in the “Priory documents”, the Grand Mastership is hereditary by default, and electoral in case of vacancy, explaining how even non-bloodliners could obtain the office. However, it is also possible that we do not know the true family history of each of these individuals, and that there may indeed be some “Grail genes” residing within their blood, for it seems unlikely that they would have chosen leaders completely outside of the family. This perhaps explains why some of the Grand Masters are listed as having taken office at ages as young as six, and why, of the famous ones, many assumed office prior to achieving their fame. Perhaps it is worth considering whether or not the Priory may have had a hand in the accomplishments that made them famous. Perhaps these men allowed themselves to be used as pawns in the Priory of Sion’s strategic plot for world domination. Once the light of the Holy Grail is shined upon the works and activities that encompassed these men’s lives, we can see that behind the familiar facade of history are the unseen hands that have guided the destiny of civilization, manipulating hearts and minds in accordance with some obscure grand plan.