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Priory of Sion Parchments and Steven Mizrach

Steven Mizrach has written a lot about the Priory of Sion Parchments - he is thoroughly obsessed with them and takes them extremely seriously. The
decoding process to the Large Parchment evidently stirs both his soul and imagination - his commentaries on the process are quite technical in nature.
He also takes very seriously the statements that the Priory of Sion Parchments were copies of older parchments.

The story behind the Parchments

During the mid-1950s - after the death of Marie Dénarnaud in 1953 - Noel Corbu, the inheritor of Saunière’s Estate in 1946, decided to open a restaurant
in the Villa Béthanie called the ‘Hotel de La Tour’. Corbu soon afterwards began spreading a story that Bérenger Saunière had discovered parchments in
the hollow Visigothic pillar of his Church when he began renovating it in 1891, leading to a treasure discovery enabling the priest to fully renovate and
refurbish the church and to build an ornate Estate. According to Corbu’s story, the parchments contained the Seal of Blanche of Castille.
Noel Corbu’s allegations contain many problems: Saunière’s renovation of the Church began in 1886, not in 1891; the ‘Visigothic’ pillar that allegedly
contained the parchments was not hollow, nor did it in fact originate from Saunière’s church - the pillar dates from 1891 when Saunière installed his
Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes at Rennes-le-Château (the pillar was moved into the ‘Saunière Museum’ in 1993 and was replaced by a replica provided
by the Association Terre de Rhedae, and that version itself was to be later replaced by another replica, done by sculptor Alain Feral in 2000).

Enter Pierre Plantard

There is no historical evidence to suggest that Bérenger Saunière discovered any parchments (or treasure) - the priest’s life is very well documented.
French books have been published demonstrating the true story about the priest with accompanying primary sources showing that Corbu’s story was
indeed just a legend. The details in Corbu’s story only dated from the time when he started making the allegations during the mid-1950s - and it has
been rightly observed by many sober-minded researchers that it was a mere publicity gimmick, devised to attract custom to his restaurant.
Sometime during the late 1950s/early 1960s Pierre Plantard appeared on the scene with Philippe de Chérisey. That Plantard met and knew Corbu can
easily be established - letters written by the two men to each other exist - as well as photographs of them standing together by the Tour Magdala in
Rennes-le-Château. Pierre Plantard developed an interest in Corbu’s story about Bérenger Saunière and decided to embellish it.

Pierre Plantard writes a Book

Pierre Plantard decided to write a book about the story, accepting on face value Corbu’s claims about Bérenger Saunière. He repeated the false stories
concerning the 1891 renovation of the Church and the discovery of parchments in a non-existent ‘Visigothic’ Pillar that was not hollow. But Plantard
could not find anyone to publish his manuscript. The next best thing to do was to deposit documents in the Bibliothèque Nationale giving his story. One
of these documents, dating from 1965, contains a written description of the parchments that were allegedly discovered by Bérenger Saunière. The
parchments were THE integral part of the story concerning Bérenger Saunière and the renovation of his church in 1891 involving the ‘Visigothic’ pillar.
Pierre Plantard eventually found an author, Gérard de Sède, to re-write his manuscript about Bérenger Saunière and Rennes-le-Château - and this was
published in 1967 entitled L’Or de Rennes. The book contract also contained the name of Philippe de Chérisey, who was entitled to a share of the
profits from the book for creating the parchments. Their appearance matched the description of them found in the 1965 Priory Document.
There are two parchments. One is small; the other is large. Both contain ‘hidden messages’. One message is easy to decipher; the other one is cryptic.
One message refers to Dagobert II (Plantard claimed to be descended from him) and the other contained references to ‘Sion’ (Plantard claimed to be a
member of the ‘Priory of Sion’). The conclusion is simple: Plantard had produced an embellished version of the Corbu story in order to utilise it as
propaganda for his Priory of Sion activities. That the parchments were described in 1965 prior to their appearance in Gérard de Sède's L’Or de Rennes
established them as being part of the Priory Documents and directly linked with Pierre Plantard and Philippe de Chérisey.

Conflict between Pierre Plantard, Philippe de Chérisey and Gérard de Sède

A court case developed between the three authors of L’Or de Rennes - because Pierre Plantard and Philippe de Chérisey were not receiving any
royalties from their book. And Philippe de Chérisey was angry that he had not received any extra money for creating the parchments that appeared in the
book.
This led to both Pierre Plantard and Philippe de Chérisey announcing that the parchments that appeared in L’Or de Rennes were forgeries. Philippe de
Chérisey made several statements that the parchments were his creation in:
 Circuit (1971)
 Stone and Paper (1970s)
 L’Enigme de Rennes (1978)
 Various letters to many different people

Enter Henry Lincoln

Henry Lincoln took an interest in the story in 1969. A BBC documentary was transmitted in 1970 repeating the story of the parchments and treating
them as if they were authentic. Pierre Plantard was now receiving big publicity and he invented a new allegation claiming that although the parchments
were forgeries created by Philippe de Chérisey, they were nevertheless based on "originals". The English Language world was not informed of the
previous history concerning the parchments and the legal dispute between the three authors of L’Or de Rennes.

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Aftermath

Sometime after 1986 Pierre Plantard and Henry Lincoln went their separate ways and another history of the parchments developed - they were
castigated as worthless forgeries all over again. In 1989 Pierre Plantard stated: "As regards the question of the ‘famous’ parchments published by ‘a
person’ who claims authority in the matter, that is a fabrication by Philippe de Chérisey for a film on Rennes similar to that of Jean Louis FOURNIER,
based on the novel by J.M. THIBAUX called L’OR DU DIABLE (‘The Devil’s Gold’). These latter parchments are of no value at all. The original text is
in the BN, in a book of Christian Antiquities."
Needless to say, everything indicates that the whole thing is a hoax from beginning to end, and those responsible behind it made further things up as
they went along: the parchments were also said to be contained in a London ‘safe-deposit box’; and there were three more of them - involving the Seal
of Blanche of Castille, a testament, and a genealogy.
A lot of what has been mentioned in this essay has been overlooked in those accounts given by Steven Mizrach - who concentrates on the decoding
process to the Large Parchment as an argument to suggesting its authenticity.
The parchments never existed and the original copies that appeared in the book L’Or de Rennes were given to French author Jean-Luc Chaumeil by
Pierre Plantard during the 1970s when he was writing a book about him. Chaumeil has also subjected the parchments to tests proving that they do not
date from before the early 1960s.
Criticisms that Philippe de Chérisey could not have devised such a complex encryption/decryption process to the Large Parchment just do not hold
water - he was an Academic with a University Degree. And other criticisms suggesting that he was lying when he gave contradictory dates as to when he
created the parchments do not hold water either - they ignore the fact that he was a prankster, that he was an alcoholic who died from Liver failure in
1985, and that other accounts relating to other things by him found in other Priory Documents also contradicted each other.
Again, it has to be repeated that the basic facts presented at the beginning of this essay - that the pillar was not hollow, that it was not ‘Visigothic’, and
that there is no historical evidence that Bérenger Saunière discovered any parchments - are mainly ignored by people like Steven Mizrach, who seems to
accept the ‘seriousness’ of the parchments for their own entertainment.

Prison Sentence for Fraud

All the evidence points to the conclusion that once Pierre Plantard became attracted by Noel Corbu’s legendary story of the mid-1950s concerning
Bérenger Saunière, he decided to embellish it and incorporate it into his developing Priory of Sion mythology between the years 1964-1985. And this
behaviour involving many falsehoods spanning decades is entirely consistent with someone who spent time in prison during the 1950s for breaking the
French Law relating to fraud and embezzlement.
Pierre Plantard did serve time in prison during the 1950s for offences relating to fraud and embezzlement. The mystery-buffs who take the Priory of
Sion seriously reject this and do their utmost to try and impress that it this is a lie - but it is a demonstrable and verifiable fact.