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The so-called mystery of Rennes-le-Château and its priest Bérenger Saunière (Is this French village full of buried treasure?, G2, 9 January) fascinated my late friend Vi Marriott, who wrote what must be the definitive book on the subject in 2005, called The Fool’s Coat. She was initially inspired by Henry Lincoln’s The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail on the BBC’s Chronicle programmes and later by Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, and spent years investigating and piecing together the patchwork quilt that makes up this particular fool’s coat.

As Sherlock Holmes used to say, “once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth”, and Ms Marriott suggests that the simplest solution is probably the correct one, namely that it was all pseudo-history or what she used to call “tablecloth” – scribbles that some famous person might have doodled on a tablecloth and later historians spend hours analysing, when actually it’s just a doodle. She concludes that Saunière’s wealth had no legendary origin, but was provided by misguided enthusiasts who were supporting a lost cause. Saunière wanted to raise his parish from anonymity but, ironically, this was eventually achieved by default by Henry Lincoln and his co-authors, along with Dan Brown, who brought more fame to this little village than Saunière could ever have imagined. Read More …

 

As Sherlock Holmes used to say, “once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth”, and Ms Marriott suggests that the simplest solution is probably the correct one, namely that it was all pseudo-history or what she used to call “tablecloth” – scribbles that some famous person might have doodled on a tablecloth and later historians spend hours analysing, when actually it’s just a doodle. She concludes that Saunière’s wealth had no legendary origin, but was provided by misguided enthusiasts who were supporting a lost cause. Saunière wanted to raise his parish from anonymity but, ironically, this was eventually achieved by default by Henry Lincoln and his co-authors, along with Dan Brown, who brought more fame to this little village than Saunière could ever have imagined.