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This is an index of the chapters in the novel which contain substantial claims about history. Those chapters which contain only action scenes or plot elements have been ommited.

Each chapter is sub-divided into topic headings analysing the claims made in that section of the novel and their associated subjects.


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CHAPTER SIXTY

The 'Experts' Support Teabing?

"As you can see, my dear," Teabing said, hobbling toward a bookshelf, "Leonardo is not the only one who has been trying to tell the world the truth about the Holy Grail. The royal bloodline of Jesus Christ has been chronicled in exhaustive detail by scores of historians." He ran a finger down a row of several dozen books.

Sophie tilted her head and scanned the list of titles:

THE TEMPLAR REVELATION: Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ

THE WOMAN WITH THE ALABASTER JAR: Mary Magdalene and the Holy Grail

THE GODDESS IN THE GOSPELS: Reclaiming the Sacred Feminine
(Chapter 60, p. 253)

This is one of the many places where Dan Brown claims that 'historians' support the things his characters are claiming. This is the only one, however, where he details who these 'historians' actually are. Unfortunately, none of the books cited here are works of historical analysis and none of the authors mentioned are professional historians; they are all amateurs with no academic credibility at all. After all of Langdon and Teabing's repeated assurances about 'historians', 'scholars', 'academics' and 'experts' who, apparently, all agree with their assertions about Jesus, Mary, Constantine, the gospels, the 'Holy Grail' and this supposed 'Bloodline', it is interesting that the books Teabing then uses to bolster these claims are not by 'experts' at all.

The Templar Revelation, for example, is by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince. Lynn Picknett describes herself as a 'researcher into the paranormal, the occult and historical and religious mysteries'. She got her start as a writer for magazines such as The Unexplained and has worked with Clive Prince on several books, including The Stargate Conspiracy: The Truth about Extraterrestrial life and the Mysteries of Ancient Egypt, which argues that the ancient Egyptian gods were extraterrestrials who will soon return to Earth. Neither she nor Prince has any relevant academic qualifications and their books are generally regarded as works by a pair of New Age eccentrics. Their other claim to fame is that they appear as extras in the 2006 film of The Da Vinci Code, sitting on a London bus near Langdon and Sophie.

'Margaret Starbird' is another amateur who, after reading Holy Blood Holy Grail, left the Catholic Church and set out to establish her own spirituality based on her firm belief that Mary Magdalene and Jesus were married and established a 'bloodline' in southern Gaul. She has no qualifications in history and her works are regarded as little more than fringe New Age-Christian speculation by actual historians, but they have been received with great enthusiasm by some spiritual feminists and those on the mystical left wing edges of Christianity, particularly by the movement for the ordination of women. She is the author of The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, where she conflates several Biblical figures with Mary Magdalene, invents a royal heritage for her and then connects her with much later medieval legends about her, which 'Starbird' takes entirely at face value as factual and historical. She takes these themes much further in The Goddess and the Gospels: Reclaiming the Sacred Feminine; both books forming a major part of Brown's ideas about Magdalene and the role of women in the early Church.

The fact that these books are presented by Brown, via Teabing, as the work of 'experts' and 'historians' is an indication of exactly how unscholarly and non-academic his sources of 'information' are. Conspicuously absent from this list are any works by actual historians or anyone with any standing in the academic world.

Holy Blood Holy Grail

"Here is perhaps the best-known tome," Teabing said, pulling a tattered hardcover from the stack and handing it to her. The cover read:

HOLY BLOOD, HOLY GRAIL
The Acclaimed International Bestseller

Sophie glanced up. "An international bestseller? I've never heard of it."

"You were young. This caused quite a stir back in the nineteen eighties. To my taste, the authors made some dubious leaps of faith in their analysis, but their fundamental premise is sound, and to their credit, they finally brought the idea of Christ's bloodline into the mainstream."

(Chapter 60, pp. 253-254)

Holy Blood Holy Grail, of course, was the 1982 book by Michael Baigent and Henry Lincoln and Richard Leigh which was solely responsible for bringing the fake 'Priory of Sion' to the attention of the English-speaking public and reviving interest in Pierre Plantard's already debunked hoax.

It is interesting that Brown has Teabing comment that 'the authors made some dubious leaps of faith in their analysis', since Holy Blood actually forms the main basis for the entire Jesus/Mary/'Bloodline' theory which forms the background 'history' of The Da Vinci Code, as well as being Brown's sole source for his ideas about Constantine, the Council of Nicea and the Templars.

Brown's use of Holy Blood was so extensive and so blatant that the two of its authors took his publishers to court in early 2006 in a plagiarism case that attracted international headlines. They argued that Brown had lifted the entire 'intellectual architecture' of their book and used it as the main framework for his novel. They lost the case, since the judge ruled that a fiction author cannot be said to have plagarised a work which claimed to be non-fiction, but even he acknowledged what anyone who has read both books would realise: Brown based the bulk of his 'research' on Holy Blood.

Once again, Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln are not historians, art experts or any kind of experts at all. Baigent has a degree in psychology, Lincoln is a former actor and scriptwriter for the science fiction TV series Dr Who and Leigh is a former fiction author.

The Church Covers Up the 'Bloodline'

"What was the Church's reaction to the book?"

"Outrage, of course. But that was to be expected. After all, this was a secret the Vatican had tried to bury in the fourth century. That's part of what the Crusades were about. Gathering and destroying information. The threat Mary Magdalene posed to the men of the early Church was potentially ruinous. Not only was she the woman to whom Jesus had assigned the task of founding the Church, but she also had physical proof that the Church's newly proclaimed deity had spawned a mortal bloodline. The Church, in order to defend itself against the Magdalene's power, perpetuated her image as a whore and buried evidence of Christ's marriage to her, thereby defusing any potential claims that Christ had a surviving bloodline and was a mortal prophet."

Sophie glanced at Langdon, who nodded. "Sophie, the historical evidence supporting this is substantial."

(Chapter 60, p. 254)

The reaction of the various churches to Holy Blood Holy Grail was actually a combination of outrage, derision and exasperation. This was not because the book had somehow uncovered a centuries-old attempt at suppression of information, but because its scholarship was so shoddy, its leaps of logic so wild and its piling up of conjecture and supposition so ridiculous that it was amazing that anyone could take it seriously. Despite this, many people did and (predictably) several church leaders spoke out against it. Since the book was only a brief bestseller in the English-speaking world, however, most of those churchmen were from the Anglican Church in Britain. The Catholic Church there also dismissed the book but the Vatican itself did not even bother to comment.

The idea that the Crusades were partly about 'gathering and destroying information' about this supposed 'Bloodline' is pure fantasy and there is no evidence of any such activity during those campaigns. As for Langdon's solemn assurance that the historical evidence to support the rest of what Teabing claims here 'is substantial' this is yet another instance where Brown has his characters make this assertion without actually saying what this 'substantial' historical evidence might be. This is because it simply does not exist.

Mary Magdalene Goes to France

"The point here," Langdon said, motioning back to the bookshelf, "is that all of these books substantiate the same historical claim."

"That Jesus was a father." Sophie was still uncertain.

"Yes," Teabing said. "And that Mary Magdalene was the womb that carried His royal lineage. The Priory of Sion, to this day, still worships Mary Magdalene as the Goddess, the Holy Grail, the Rose, and the Divine Mother."

Sophie again flashed on the ritual in the basement.

"According to the Priory," Teabing continued, "Mary Magdalene was pregnant at the time of the crucifixion. For the safety of Christ's unborn child, she had no choice but to flee the Holy Land. With the help of Jesus' trusted uncle, Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene secretly traveled to France, then known as Gaul. There she found safe refuge in the Jewish community. It was here in France that she gave birth to a daughter. Her name was Sarah."

Sophie glanced up. "They actually know the child's name?"

"Far more than that. Magdalene's and Sarah's lives were scrutinously chronicled by their Jewish protectors. Remember that Magdalene's child belonged to the lineage of Jewish kings - David and Solomon. For this reason, the Jews in France considered Magdalene sacred royalty and revered her as the progenitor of the royal line of kings. Countless scholars of that era chronicled Mary Magdalene's days in France, including the birth of Sarah and the subsequent family tree."

(Chapter 60, p. 255)

This is another cluster of claims by Brown, via Teabing, which have no basis in any historical evidence. Just as there is no real evidence Jesus married anyone, let alone Mary Magdalene, there is similarly no evidence that Mary was pregnant at his execution or that she had a child. The 'Priory of Sion' never actually existed and even the fake one created by Pierre Plantard never made any claims about Jesus, Mary, a child or any 'holy bloodline'. This is a fantasy that Brown seems to have got from 'Margaret Starbird' and is supported by no evidence at all.

Teabing's claims about Mary Magdalene fleeing to Gaul comes from (yet again) Holy Blood Holy Grail, which put forward this 'possibility' as part of the many piled up 'maybes', 'perhapses' and 'hypotheses' which make up its insubstantial theory. Their 'maybes' were filled out by 'Margaret Starbird' in The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, who built up a much more detailed story of Mary, her journey to Gaul and her 'daughter', Sarah.

So where did the Holy Blood authors and 'Starbird' get their idea that Magdalene fled to France with a child? The earliest traditions do not mention Gaul/France at all, they state that she died and was buried in Ephesus in Asia Minor (now Turkey) and her remains were taken to Constantinople by the Byzantine Emperor Leo in 886 AD. This is still the tradition believed by the Greek Orthodox Church.

The French legends about Mary Magdalene came much later. As Christianity took root in western and northern Europe between 500 and 1000 AD, European medieval Christians began to develop stories and legends about Biblical characters visiting their part of the world. These stories began as folk-tales, since medieval European Christians seemed to feel that at least some of the people in the Bible must have paid some attention to their part of the world. So, in the first 500 years of Christianity in Europe, many of these folk-tales arose and many of them became accepted as historical fact.

Exploiting the 'missing years' gap in the gospel accounts of Jesus' life between 12 and 30, some English medieval Christians circulated stories about how a young Jesus actually visited England - then Roman Britain. According to these medieval legends, Jesus was taken by his uncle, the rich trader, Joseph of Arimathea, to Britain, where he visited Glastonbury. These legends said Joseph later returned to Glastonbury, died there, and was buried. By a roundabout way, these legends became entangled with the stories of the 'Holy Grail' and Joseph and his descendants became part of the evolving 'Grail' legends. That aside, Joseph was venerated at Glastonbury, even though there is no evidence the legends that said he went there (with Jesus) are anything other than folk tales.

There is also no evidence that he was Jesus' uncle. All the gospels say about him is that he was a 'rich man' who provided a tomb for Jesus' body. Many of these medieval legends also made marginal Biblical figures like Joseph into relatives of each other. In some, for example, Mary Magdalene was supposedly betrothed to the disciple John.

Other such Biblical figures developed similar European legends. Saint James was supposed to have traveled to Spain and died at Compostella, where his alleged tomb is an object of Catholic pilgrimage to this day. The legends about Mary Magdalene are even more varied and wide-ranging: she is supposed to have traveled and preached in places as widely separated as Egypt and Northumbria. But the place where most later medieval legends about her became strongest was southern France.

These (confused and contradictory) stories evolved into legends slowly however and there is no indication that they are based on any historical reality.

The Conflicting Medieval Tales of Mary Magdalene

The first French medieval story of Magdalene in France dates to the Eleventh Century, but it clearly circulated in folk-tale form before then. Sometime in the early Eleventh Century a medieval French monk wrote the Apostolic Life of Mary Magdalene, which says simply that she traveled to France (Gaul) and preached there. From there, various other legends about Mary in France developed; all increasing in detail and the number of characters.

By the Thirteenth Century the legends had developed to the point where Mary was accompanied by Martha of Bethany, Martha's brother Lazarus (who Jesus raised from the dead) and/or one 'Maximinus' and 'many others'. She is variously described as preaching or retiring to live as a hermit in a cave 'clothed only in her hair'. Versions of these stories were circulated in the immensely popular medieval book, the Legenda Aurea, which recorded a large number of medieval religious folk-tales and legends which detailed the 'lives' of various figures that the Bible inconveniently left as mere mentions. It is hard to say how literally these stories were taken even then, but they became part of the quasi-religious folklore of medieval Europe.

One place where Mary was the focus of a series of these developing medieval legends was Vézelay, in Burgundy. This was one of a number of places across the Mediterranean and Europe that claimed Mary Magdalene's tomb. Exactly how a Galilean woman came to be buried in Burgundy was a problem for the monks of Vézelay, who claimed her body was buried somewhere under their monastery church. One Eleventh Century account from the monastery was reduced to observing, somewhat testily, that 'all is possible to God', implying that her body made its way there miraculously. The same writer, however, (perhaps aware that not everyone was convinced by vague appeals to the miraculous transferal of bones) claimed he had seen a vision of Magdalene beside her supposed tomb who assured him that is where she lay.

By the Thirteenth Century these claims seem to have lost their pulling power for pilgrims - a lucrative source of income for an abbey. Around this time, therefore, the legend of Mary Magdalene of Vézelay suddenly became much more detailed, with Jacobus de Voragine adding the claim that she had originally been buried in Provence, but had been brought to Vézelay by Gerard de Rousillon (who just happened to be the semi-legendary Eighth Century founder of the abbey) to protect her bones from Muslim raiders.

But Vézelay had a French rival for the claim to Mary Magdalene's bones. On September 9, 1279, at Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume in Provence the 'real' tomb of Mary Magdelene was 'discovered'. The abbey of Vézelay and Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume then began a competition to see who could attract the most pilgrims to the 'genuine' tomb of Mary.

It is clear to see that these medieval French legends about Magdalene were just that - legends. It would be ridiculous to pretend that any of them are historically-based.

'Princess Sarah Christ'

The figure that is missing from all these varied, contradictory and evolving medieval legends of Mary Magdalene is 'Sarah', who Teabing confidently asserts was the child of Jesus and Magdalene. But this 'Sarah' does not appear in any of the legends of Saint Mary Magdalene of Vézelay or in any of the other various medieval legends of Magdalene. So where did Brown get this idea that Jesus and Mary had a child called 'Sarah'?

The answer is, yet again, from 'Margaret Starbird'.

'Saint Sarah' or 'Sara' is still revered by the Roma (or 'Gypsy') people in an annual pilgrimage and procession at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, in the Camargue district of southern France. The town gets its name from the church built there to 'Mary Salome', the mother of disciples James and John, and 'Mary Jacobe', the mother of the disciple James the Lesser. Medieval legend claims these two Marys came to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in a boat with no oars and settled there, founding its church. 'Sarah' only appears in the story much later, in 1521, where she is said to have been the Egyptian maidservant of the two women. The stories about her vary, but she came to be venerated as a saint herself by the Roma, though she was 'decanonised' by the Catholic Church in the Twentieth Century because of insufficient early evidence that she ever existed.

'Starbird' decided that she was Mary Magdalene's daughter purely on the basis that one version of the Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer legends says that Magdalene was also a passenger on the magical boat. None of the legends connect 'Sarah' to Magdalene in any way and 'Starbird' seems to be the only person to have decided there was any such connection and that she was Mary and Jesus' child.

'Starbird' explained her reasoning to researcher, Tony Robinson, in the British Channel Four documentary The Real Da Vinci Code in 2004:

"The legend is that Mary Magdalene and her brother and sister and friends showed up in this little boat with no oars. And they brought with them the Holy Grail - the Blood Royal. Well, you don't carry the Blood Royal around in a jar. It's actually a child that carries the Blood Royal. And there is a legend then … there is a child on the boat. That's the thing, I think, that struck me when I started praying about this story: there was a child on the boat. Everyone thinks the child has to be male, but in this case the child on the boat was female and her name was Sarah.

Sarah means 'princess' in Hebrew and the legend calls her Sarah. So if there's a little girl on the boat and her name is Sarah, which is Hebrew for 'princess', well, who do you think she is?!

I just drew that … I just made a 'deduction'. It was a deductive leap."

It was certainly a leap, but not much deduction was involved (though apparently some prayer was). The Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer legends focus on two other Marys, not Magdalene, who only appears in one late version of the story as a bit player. The legends say nothing about any of these Marys bringing the 'Holy Grail' and 'Starbird's' idea that this therefore means the 'Blood Royal' is based on her own, rather fanciful interpretation of Holy Blood Holy Grail. 'Sarah' does mean 'princess' in Hebrew, but the legends make it clear she was a servant, not a princess. And 'Starbird's' prayerful 'deductive leap' that this name is significant is based on her own fantasy that Magdalene had royal blood, which seems to be another 'deductive leap' that she has made, perhaps aided by more prayer.

Whatever you can say about her rather muddled interpretations of these stories, they are not historical and they are not even a reasonable hypothesis. 'Wishful thinking' would be one of the kinder ways to describe them.

This means that all of Teabing's authoritative statements about Jesus and Mary and their child Sarah are actually founded on nothing more than a confused New Age fantasy cobbled together out of a number of conflicting medieval legends and folk stories.

His bold assertion that 'Magdalene's and Sarah's lives were scrutinously (sic) chronicled by their Jewish protectors' is pure nonsense - there are no legends about Magdalene having a child at all and the jumbled medieval legends of the two are not connected and evolved 1000 years after the fact anyway. Similarly, his statement that 'countless scholars of that era chronicled Mary Magdalene's days in France, including the birth of Sarah and the subsequent family tree' is also total fantasy.


'History is written by the Winners'

Teabing chuckled. "No more so than they can confirm the authenticity of the Bible."

"Meaning?"

"Meaning that history is always written by the winners. When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes the history books - books which glorify their own cause and disparage the conquered foe.

As Napoleon once said, 'What is history, but a fable agreed upon?' "He smiled. "By its very nature, history is always a one-sided account."
Sophie had never thought of it that way.

(Chapter 60, p. 258)

Napoleon was an excellent general, but it seems his grasp of how history is recorded and analysed was as bad as Teabing's.

Or Dan Brown's for that matter. Brown takes up this theme of 'history is written by the winners' in the FAQ on his website:

SOME OF THE HISTORY IN THIS NOVEL CONTRADICTS WHAT I LEARNED IN SCHOOL. WHAT SHOULD I BELIEVE?
Since the beginning of recorded time, history has been written by the "winners" (those societies and belief systems that conquered and survived). Despite an obvious bias in this accounting method, we still measure the "historical accuracy" of a given concept by examining how well it concurs with our existing historical record. Many historians now believe (as do I) that in gauging the historical accuracy of a given concept, we should first ask ourselves a far deeper question: How historically accurate is history itself?

(www.danbrown.com - Frequent Questions)

This represents a very shallow, rather childish and totally misguided concept of how history is studied. There is no doubt that historical sources are often written by the 'winners', but to say that they are always written by the victors is flatly wrong. Almost all of our information about the Roman Empire's collapse and the Germanic invaders who replaced it comes from the Romans themselves, for example, with virtually nothing from the Germanics. In this case the Romans were definitely the 'losers', they just happened to be the more literate 'losers'.

But the main problem with this idea that 'history is written by the winners' is that it assumes historians simply take their sources at face value. This is completely ridiculous. No professional historian simply reads a source, let alone an ancient source, and believes it outright. The main skill involved in historical source analysis lies in putting sources into context, examining their biases and likely biases, looking at who wrote them, why, who they were written for and what their objectives and intentions were. So even if history was solely recorded by the winners (which it is not), their biases are taken into sceptical account by historians as a matter of course.

This idea also ignores the fact that historians use a wide range of sources to get as many perspectives as possible. Many of these may be by 'the winners', others are often by 'the losers' (who have their own biases). Others are by neutral observers. Then there is archaeological data, coins, inscriptions, diaries, letters, household accounts and a host of other sources of information.

The idea that history is unreliable and therefore just a matter of opinion, faith or fancy may be appealing to some - because it means they can believe whatever they like - but it is a cartoonish caricature of how history is actually studied.

The 'San Greal documents' and the Book of Q

"The Sangreal documents simply tell the other side of the Christ story.
In the end, which side of the story you believe becomes a matter of faith and personal exploration, but at least the information has survived. The Sangreal documents include tens of thousands of pages of information. Eyewitness accounts of the Sangreal treasure describe it as being carried in four enormous trunks. In those trunks are reputed to be the Purist Documents - thousands of pages of unaltered, pre-Constantine documents, written by the early followers of Jesus, revering Him as a wholly human teacher and prophet.

(Chapter 60, p. 256)

These 'Sangreal documents' simply do not exist. Here Teabing is talking about documents which are supposedly texts found by the Knights Templar under the Temple in Jerusalem. Except there is no evidence they found any 'treasure' there, let alone that this supposed 'treasure' consisted of 'Purist Documents'. Therefore the idea of these supposed 'documents' which are supposedly part of this supposed 'treasure' consist of texts written by 'the early followers of Jesus' is yet another supposition based on several others, with none of them actually supported by any evidence at all.

Also rumored to be part of the treasure is the legendary "Q" Document - a manuscript that even the Vatican admits they believe exists. Allegedly, it is a book of Jesus' teachings, possibly written in His own hand."

"Writings by Christ Himself?"

"Of course," Teabing said. "Why wouldn't Jesus have kept a chronicle of His ministry? Most people did in those days. Another explosive document believed to be in the treasure is a manuscript called The Magdalene Diaries - Mary Magdalene's personal account of her relationship with Christ, His crucifixion, and her time in France."

(Chapter 60, p. 256)

Most of the various documents Teabing claims are 'rumoured' to be in the Templars' supposed cache of texts are fictional - the 'genealogy of Jesus' and 'The Magdalene Diaries' for example. The 'Q Document', however, is not a figment of Brown's imagination.

But it is also not thought to be 'written in (Jesus') own hand' and nor is it something the Church 'admits' exists. 'Q', as it is known, is not really a document at all, but a hypothesis.

In the Nineteenth Century, Biblical scholars compared the texts of the three 'Synoptic Gospels' - Matthew, Mark and Luke - and found they contained a great deal of text in common. It became clear that they were interrelated in some way. Eventually a majority of scholars came to believe that the reason so much of Mark is also found, almost word for word, in Luke and Matthew is that these two gospels' writers actually used the earlier Mark as their major source of information. Further comparison of Matthew and Luke also found that they shared other text in common with each other, but which was not found in Mark or anywhere else. They hypothesised that, as well as using Mark as a source; they both had access to another source which they drew on extensively. These German scholars dubbed this lost, common source 'Quelle' (German for 'Source') or 'Q' for short.

Looking at the hypothetical 'Q' material in Luke and Matthew, they determined that it seemed to be a collection of sayings attributed to Jesus and concluded that this now lost 'Q' must have been a very early Christian writing. There is no evidence, however, that it was 'written in (Jesus') own hand' and it is not something 'the Vatican' somehow reluctantly 'admits' existed - a majority of Catholic Biblical scholars agree with other experts that its existence is the best explanation of this common material found in Matthew and Luke, but not in Mark. Of course, no copy of 'Q' has yet been found, it remains a scholarly hypothesis and some conservative scholars (mainly Protestant ones) dispute the whole idea of 'Q'.

The Merovingians

"Yes, but the brotherhood had another, more important duty as well - to protect the bloodline itself. Christ's lineage was in perpetual danger. The early Church feared that if the lineage were permitted to grow, the secret of Jesus and Magdalene would eventually surface and challenge the fundamental Catholic doctrine - that of a divine Messiah who did not consort with women or engage in sexual union." He paused. "Nonetheless, Christ's line grew quietly under cover in France until making a bold move in the fifth century, when it intermarried with French royal blood and created a lineage known as the Merovingian bloodline."

This news surprised Sophie. Merovingian was a term learned by every student in France. "The Merovingians founded Paris."

"Yes. That's one of the reasons the Grail legend is so rich in France. Many of the Vatican's Grail quests here were in fact stealth missions to erase members of the royal bloodline. Have you heard of King Dagobert?"

Sophie vaguely recalled the name from a grisly tale in history class.
"Dagobert was a Merovingian king, wasn't he? Stabbed in the eye while sleeping?"

"Exactly. Assassinated by the Vatican in collusion with Pepin d'Heristal. Late seventh century. With Dagobert's murder, the Merovingian bloodline was almost exterminated.

(Chapter 60, p.257)

Here Brown veers back to the suppositions laid out in Holy Blood Holy Grail, which claims that the confused legends of Mary in France are historical, that 'Sarah' was her child and that her lineage became connected to the Merovingian Frankish kings - the earliest French royal dynasty. Brown wisely has Teabing skip around the 'evidence' for this rather creaking tale which consists of little more than a bizarre wild guess.

Baigent et al based their idea that the Merovingian Dynasty was significant on the fact it was the focus of Pierre Plantard's faked 'Priory' documents, which they foolishly accepted as genuine. Their problem was how to link the Fifth Century Merovingians to the stories of Mary Magdalene in France, which they had decided were historical and which therefore had to date to 500 years before. They 'solved' this problem by a fleeting reference to a legend about the shadowy Fifth Century founder of the Merovingian Dynasty, Merovech, related in the Seventh Century in The Chronicle of Fredegar. According to this rather fanciful story, Merovech's mother, conceived after encountering a sea monster called a 'Quinotaur'. By a totally acrobatic leap of logic, Baigent and his co-authors decided that this somehow meant that Merovech was an offspring of Mary Magdalene's descendants, since she 'came from the sea'.

It is probably a good thing Brown did not include this rather ridiculous piece of 'deduction' in Teabing's summary, since it would have stretched the credulity of even the most gullible reader.

Leaving aside the rather ridiculous nature of the Magdalene-Merovingian 'link', much of the rest of what Brown's characters say about the Merovingians here is nonsense. Sophie must not have been paying attention in class if she thought the Merovingians 'founded Paris', since Paris had been the tribal centre of the Parisii tribe before the coming of the Romans in 52 BC - a good 500 years before the Merovingian Franks.

Even more misleading is Brown's lightning-fast sprint across the history of the later Merovingian Dynasty. The murdered 'King Dagobert' Teabing mentions seems to be a reference to Dagobert II, who reigned in the confused and tumultuous final years of the Seventh Century. His reign was brief, from 676-679 AD, and he seems to have left most of the governing to his chief official, the 'Mayor of the Palace' Wulfoald, while he devoted himself to founding monasteries and abbeys. He probably should have paid more attention to the savage factional struggles within his kingdom, because he was killed in a hunting 'accident' in 679 AD which was probably actually an assassination by a rival political faction.

He was not 'stabbed in the eye while sleeping' as Sophie erroneously 'remembers' from her school days (perhaps she was sleeping - Merovingian politics is horrendously complex and rather boring) and he died without issue. 'The Vatican' had absolutely nothing to do with his death, nor did Pepin of Heristal, Mayor of the Palace of the Frankish sub-kingdom of Austrasia.

Fortunately, Dagobert's son, Sigisbert, secretly escaped the attack and carried on the lineage, which later included Godefroi de Bouillon - founder of the Priory of Sion."

"The same man," Langdon said, "who ordered the Knights Templar to recover the Sangreal from beneath Solomon's Temple and thus provide the Merovingians proof of their hereditary ties to Jesus Christ."
(Chapter 60, p. 258)

Dagobert II died without any children and this 'Sigisbert' seems to be purely an invention of Pierre Plantard as part of his 'Priory of Sion' hoax. Dagobert was actually succeeded by Theuderic III, the ruler of the Frankish sub-kingdom of Neustria. Far from being 'almost wiped out' the Merovingian Dynasty continued until 751, when Childeric III, the fourteenth and last king of the dynasty, was deposed by the then Mayor of the Palace, Pepin the Short, who set himself up as the first king of a new dynasty, the Carolingians.

Since this 'Sigisbert' was a total invention, the idea that Godefroi de Bouillon was his descendant is pure fantasy. As is the idea that Godefroi founded the 'Priory of Sion'. This whole breathless 'history' lesson is a grab bag of errors, myths and modern fantasies and has absolutely no credibility whatsoever.

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History vs The Da Vinci Code is copyright Tim O'Neill 2006. All rights reserved.