My Master’s Degree from the University of Utah was awarded in June 1971. In the mid-1960’s, the research for that degree was well underway. My topic: Antiquaries and the Writing of Local History in England, 1550-1800. Dr. Bitton, my mentor, thought I would have a small number of books to read–maybe 300 or so for the 250 year period–and that I could bypass the Master’s degree and go straight for a PhD. WOW! What an opportunity that would be!
My research turned up thousands of titles and hundreds of writers. You see, the Antiquaries had a vision: they wanted to write a complete history of the British Isles covering all families, all places, all institutions, and all government bodies for England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and the Isles of the Sea which belonged to them. An ambitious undertaking to be sure.
How does this relate to The DaVinci Code? And to your genealogy? Let me describe for you. Included among the items in their vision to be researched–The Knights Templars, The Isle of Thanet, and the Priory of Sion and its many chapels. This is 1600 England we’re describing here. Across England alone, there were several chapels of the Priory of Sion.
How do I know this? I first made a list of the places mentioned in the bibliographies of local historical works and then I checked each one in gazeteers and atlases. Took me a long time to find any reference to the Priory of Sion. John Nicholls, writing from 1750-1800, was the antiquary who gave me the most details and identified where some of the chapels were. He also referenced locations in France. These chapels dated from before 1550. The dates become significant for the Da Vinci Code.
Several guides to reading and understanding Dan Brown’s blockbuster work challenge his references to the Priory of Sion, including the Roman Catholic Church spokesmen interviewed on television. Every single one states that Sion was created in 1956, and infiltrated by con men.
I, Arlene Eakle, professional genealogist and PhD in English History, know that the Antiquaries believed Sion was established as early as 1099, and connected to the Knights Templars with the same grandmaster serving both. Then in 1188, the two were restructured with separate leadership and treasuries. These early genealogists, for that is what the Antiquaries were, also knew that Sion supported the Merovingian royal lineage, still working closely with and in some enterprises, still connected to the Knights Templars. I know because I researched and documented not only their vision but also their achievement. In the Spring of 1985, I finally completed my dissertation and defended it–The Antiquaries and I were blissfully unaware of the controversy such historical reports would ignite years later.
Actually, the author, Dan Brown did not draw evidence from these English writers, as nearly as I can tell. He used other sources. That is not the point here.
So what is my point? Critics and those researchers who are too lazy to investigate multiple streams of evidence, only confuse us. They do not check the sources–printed and original–and their superficial challenge need not deter us from an in-depth study of what intrigues us most about the ideas shared in the Da Vinci Code.
One idea that intrigues me is the real possibility that Prince Michael Stewart of Albany could be a direct lineal, and living descendant from Mary Magdalene. He claims descent through the Merovingians of France and the “forgotten monarchy” of Scotland. He now resides in Scotland. And for years his family was exiled to France and not allowed to enter any part of Great Britain, let alone live there, as a potential claimant to the throne.
When I began tracing my own family, the big deal was to trace your ancestry back to Adam–several early researchers claimed to have done that. They went first back through King Malcolm of Scotland and eventually through the Norse God Thor back all the generations of the begats from the Bible to Adam. We all laughed! What if we could eventually go back all those generations of time? Wouldn’t that be something? Did earlier genealogists know something we don’t know?
So, since I am a very curious and intrigued genealogist, may I recommend that you add to your summer reading list, not only the DaVinci Code, but also these well-documented, fully illustrated genealogy books:
The Forgotten Monarchy of Scotland by HRH Prince Michael of Albany, published originally by Element Books, LTD, 2000 and reissued by Barnes and Noble also in 2000. 36 genealogical charts and 15 appendixes. Richly illustrated.
Bloodline of the Holy Grail by Laurence Gardner, published by Element Books, 1996 and re-issued by Barnes and Noble, 1997. More than 45 genealogical charts, 3 appendixes. (Not to be confused with the better-known Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln, 1982 and involved in the copyright dispute with Dan Brown and his publishers.)
Kingdom of the Ark by Lorraine Evans, and published in London by Simon and Schuster UK, 2000. This volume carries parts of the tale into Egyptian sources.
And for those of you who might be interested, my doctoral dissertation, “Antiquaries and the Writing of English Local History, 1750-1800″, University of Utah, 1985. It is available on microfilm through the Family History Library, film #1440948, item 17.
Now, your genealogy: Unless you are including in your own genealogy multiple streams of evidence from both printed sources and books–including those found on the internet–and original records, critics and lazy researchers will spread inaccuracies and false claims which only confuse and discourage us. And you’ll never get back to Adam either!
Stay tuned to every mind-blowing episode of this Weekly and FREE Genealogy News Sheet. And tell your genealogy cousins and friends to sign on too. The August 6th show will ask: How can I prove my ancestor is the son–everyone on the internet agrees that he has to be. There is no one else! Set your RSS feeder for automatic updates. Or, go to:
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Your comments and questions are invited. Your favorite genealogist, Arlene