Underneath an earlier three part study by me in German about Fabre Palaprat's NeoTemplar- Johannite succession followed by a short description in English.
Fabre Palaprat's Templars in 1811 replied to the Grand-Orient Lodge that they were independent of Masonic organization, however, their connection with the Chevaliers de la Croix remained, and the definite nature of their break with Masonry is in some doubt.
The elaborate constitution of the Order, which envisaged Grand Priories of Japan, Tartary, and the Congo, not to mention other less remote points on the globe, also provided for four 'Lieutenants-General' or "Grand- Vicars." It maybe that Fabre-Palaprat found it hard to control the aristocratic elements in his Order, as he found it necessary to remove the Grand-Vicars, to quarrel violently with the Duc de Choiseul who supported them, and to fulminate bulls of interdiction and excommunication against all and sundry.
The opposition set up against Fabre-Palaprat a rival Grand Master, Count Lepeletier d'Aunay, and for over a decade after 1814 the Order was divided by this schism.
By comparison with the German Strict Observance, the French Neo-Templars were a very modest body, and remained hardly more than an exotic Parisian lodge of somewhat doubtful credentials.
After the end of the Napoleonic war William Sydney Smith tried to get support for the idea of a new international Christian chivalrous Order. These new Christian knights would then carry out joint naval operations in the Mediterranean in order to suppress the Barbary pirates, and would work elsewhere for the suppression of the slave trade…
From the time of their beginnings the Masonic Templars had dreamed of making the Order of St John disgorge some of the wealth they had acquired from Templar lands after the dissolution of the medieval Order in 1312. Hence both the Chevaliers de la Croix and the Neo-Templars attracted Smith as possible helpers in the establishment of his new Order. But Smith's was a vain dream: the British government sat firmly in Malta and was stubbornly unsympathetic both to the Hospitallers and to anyone who thought to succeed them. Smith's new Order never even reached the stage of serious discussion.
Instead Fabre-Palaprat was taking the Neo-Templars in a very different direction. He somehow came into possession of a manuscript entitled the Levitikon; according to one version he picked it up from a second-hand bookstall. The Levitikon contained a heavily modified version of the Gospel according to John, in which the orthodox presentation of Christ had been excised in favour of a version which eliminated the miracles and the Resurrection, and presented Christ as an initiate of the higher mysteries, trained in Egypt.
The esoteric doctrine was passed down through the official medieval Order until its fall in 1312, and then through their successors who extend the chain down to the present time. The part played by "Levites" in this religion is essentially secularizing. Knights who were also initiates were "Levites" with the power of pronouncing the words which declare the pardon of the Spirit to the repentant sinner. Since Levite-knights could create other Levite-knights the religion is in the hands of the initiate laymen; there is provision for 'Bishops' or "Primates," but the function of these prelates is very different from their function in Christianity, since the part played by apostolic succession has been usurped by the Johannite succession of the initiates.
Fabre-Palaprat's doctrine of the Levitikon was reorganized after 1828 under the name of the High Initiation, or the Holy Church of Christ, or the Church of Primitive Christians. It was a secular religion of the kind which was peculiar to this period," though it put down some roots, and still influences some French esoteric circles. Essentially it was an academic, didactic faith which became more and more bookish as it tried to leave the Masonic lodge and establish itself in public precincts. So long as the restored Bourbon monarchy persisted, setting up new secular religious places of worship was difficult.
Once the July Revolution of 1830 had taken place - and Fabre-Palaprat himself took an active part in the July days - the way was clear for movements such as those of the Saint-Simonians and of Fabre Palaprat's Church of Primitive Christians.
He needed, however, a "Primate" of some kind, and found him in the advanced radical clergyman, Ferdinand Chatel, whose 'French Catholic Church' proclaimed freedom from papal authority and the preaching of the liturgy in French, rejected clerical celibacy and the practice of auricular confession, and asked for the popular election of bishops. Chatel was seeking an authority to consecrate him as Bishop of this new Church, and he found it in the doctrines of Fabre-Palaprat's Levitikon and in the Neo-Templar chief's willingness to consecrate him "Primate of the Gauls."
In the New Year of 1831 Chatel established his new French Catholic Church in some former shop premises in Montmartre. He decorated it with black drapes hired from a local undertaker, with a bust of King Louis-Philippe placed under the tricolour flag, and with a poster announcing the names of the three greatest benefactors of humanity: Confucius, Parmentier the apostle of the potato, and the Orleanist banker, Lafitte. The Neo-Templar Johannite Church had its own premises in a former bottle shop in the Cour des Miracles, near the Porte St.-Denis. The place-name was utilized by the Neo-Templars to locate their publications and announcements at the "Apostolic Court of the Temple" (Cour apostolique du Temple). They dated their documents from "Magistropolis," according to a mystical calendar which commenced with the foundation of the Templar Order in 1118.
After 1830 the officials of the Order assumed yet more pompous titles. Jean-Marie Ragon, a former member of the Masonic Rite des Trinosophes, was an official in the Ministry of the Interior. After 1831 he became "Count Jean-Marie de Venise," Primatial Vicar of the French Catholic Church. Like most "clergy" of sects of the Johannite kind, he gave lectures rather than sermons. Another prominent member of the group was the publisher, Guyot, the former editor of the Manuel des Chevaliers de l'Ordre du Temple (1825). The impression given by the Neo-Templar membership of this final period is that of a decorous, respectable, middle-class establishment, which still sought to maintain its connection with the Masonic nobles.
The alliance between Chatel and Fabre-Palaprat did not last long, Chatel soon tired of his Masonic friends, was expelled with ignominy from the Neo-Templar or Johannite flock, and was "tried" for heresy in a synod in which, in true Masonic fashion, the guilty heretic was represented by a rag doll! This was not the end of the troubles of the new religion.
In 1836 the noblemen in the Order who preferred the old tradition of Masonic chivalry to the new Johannite religion precipitated a schism, led once more by the Duc de Choiseul. Fabre-Palaprat defended the purity of his new religion, and expelled the former Grand-Chancellor of the Order, Louis-Theodore Juge. He reinforced the noble element in the Johannite congregation by admitting the retired British admiral, Sir William Sydney Smith, whose connection with the chivalric Masonic orders in Paris had been long and close. After Fabre-Palaprat's death in 1838 Smith was elected Regent of the Order, which he then led back to reunion with the Templar rump. The Johannite religion faded entirely from view, and the Neo-Templar Order tottered slowly towards its natural and final death in the early 1840s, under the direction of a small group of French and Belgian noblemen.
The Johannite religion lacked enthusiasm: it was more like one of the other nineteenth-century religions of "progress" which sociologists classify as "manipulative" than it was like the excitable ecstasies of the Saint-Simonians in their worship of Pere Enfantin. The source of the Levitikon manuscript on which the religion was founded is obscure. It was almost certainly of relatively recent composition, and its claim to antiquity is no more convincing than that of the other Masonic-Templar monuments.
Yet the Johannite creed asks for some attention as almost the only occasion on which Masonry emerged from the shelter of the lodges to put on a Church attire. It suffered from crippling disadvantages as a religion. Partly because it had remained faithful to the old Masonic idea of a "high initiation," partly because it had grown in the half-noble, half-bourgeois atmosphere of the chivalrous lodges, it had no popular appeal whatsoever. The reports on the final schism of 1836 make it plain that only a handful of people were interested either in the NeoTemplars or in the Levitikon.
Many imaginative writers were aware of the recent history of Templarism, some vaguely, others less so. In Talisman (1825) Walter Scott showed himself well aware of the precarious state of Templar reputation. The Grand Master is 'at the head of that singular body, to whom their order was everything and their individuality nothing -seeking the advancement of its power, even at the hazard of that very religion which the fraternity were originally associated to protect - accused of heresy and witchcraft, although by their character Christian priests - suspected of secret league with the Soldan, though by oath devoted to the protection of the Holy Temple, or its recovery - the whole order, and the whole personal character of its commander, or Grand Master, was a riddle, at the exposition of which most men shuddered.
Small wonder, either, that the Grand Master in The Talisman proves a monster of faithlessness and treachery, or that Joseph Hammer should have thoroughly approved of Scott's views on the Templars and should have gone out of his way, in The Mystery of Baphomet Revealed, to quote Ivanhoe.
In the next generation of Romantic writers Gerard de Nerval was the poet of the flight to the East, the historian of the mystical.
In Cagliostro (1850) he adopted what he called the "supernaturalism" of a wisdom claiming to be based on that of the Essenes and the Gnostics, which purported to draw on the doctrine of the oriental Assassins, and also on that of the Druses of Syria. He saw the Templars of crusading times as trying to bridge the gap between their culture and that of the subject oriental populations by making a synthesis of Catholicism with the wisdom of the Levantine sects. This synthesis, according to de Nerval, was the origin of Freemasonry. In his Voyage en be respectable, and could be used by radical satanists. Perhaps the most important element in this new milieu was to be the idea that the Templars had in the Middle Ages been some sort of mystical ruler-guardians, who had been free from the clerical contagion of orthodox Catholic society, entirely untrue of course.
But no book on Da Vinci Code, PoS, or Rennes-le-Château would be complete without making some speculation on that vessel known as the Grail (or Holy Grail). Furthermore, its alleged "links" with the Cathars and the Order of the Knights Templar is something like a bad tooth refusing to go away – always coming back, and back, and back….
The story of the Grail first surfaced during the reigns of Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Philip II of France and Philip, Count of Flanders.
Eleanor of Aquitaine claimed descent from Charlemagne, who is known to have brought a bowl containing the Holy Blood of Christ from Palestine into Europe: a fragment of which eventually ended up at the monastery of Reichenau, Germany.
According to tradition, Thierry, Count of Flanders (who attended the Coronation of Henry II in 1154) had in 1150 brought back from Jerusalem a phial containing some of the Precious Blood and Water gathered by Joseph of Arimathea. Historical evidence, however, dates the relic to 1270, where it is recorded that two Flemishmen had to swear an oath on "The Holy Blood kept in a church dedicated to St Basil".
The Precious Blood allegedly brought back by Thierry was placed in a crypt dedicated to the Eastern saint, Basil the Great, built on the site of the Bourg in Brugés, the castle and treasury of the Counts of Flanders - an interesting fact, since it was Basil the Great who wrote a Treatise advising to make full use of classical pagan literature in preparation for a deeper understanding of Christianity (Thierry had married Sybil, daughter of Fulk V, thus making his son Philip and Henry II cousins).
A frequent visitor to the Shrine of Thomas à Becket at Canterbury, Philip, Count of Flanders has been described as "the first Flemish prince noted as a patron of culture. He was famed for his piety and specifically for his relic collection" (David Nicholas, MEDIEVAL FLANDERS, 1992); and, according to Ralph of Coggeshall, the most relentless persecutor of the Cathars.
This tie-in between Religion and Royalty in France dates back to the Baptism of Clovis I "which became a feature of the history of the kings of France, namely canonical investiture; in France henceforth the king would be not only a military but also a religious leader, dux et sacerdos" (Duc de Castries, 1979).
Philip II of France was only 15 at his Coronation on 18th September 1180. Philip, Count of Flanders ceremoniously bore the king’s sword in the opening procession and also fulfilled the honoured duties of steward at the concluding banquet. Philip II had married Isabella, daughter of the Count of Hainault and niece of Philip, Count of Flanders.
To really present a complete picture of the larger context of the Da Vinci Code books and movie, I will next present the most complete overview to date of the so called 'occult revival' in France, Germany, and England. This is at the end is the cultic milieu where PoS and the mysteries presented in The Da Vinci Code really sprang from something all other books on the subject today so far have failed to do.
The popular occult books by Abbe Constant/Eliphas Levy known for its start of the French Occult revival (see further down on U. V. C. (University of the Da Vinci Code) merged the occultist, mystical theories in a single complex source. Templars and Tarot, Masons and Cabbala, all came together in a single magical mish-mash.
Esoteric Egyptology, Indian religion, occultist versions of medieval chivalrous epics, tales of the prehistory of Stonehenge and of the supposed tradition of the Druids and of Atlantis, doctrines of Johannine' Gnosticism, all began to flow in and out of one another in a crazy tradition of immemorial 'wisdom', which also, purported to be a form of science.
These ideas along with Frazer’s "Golden Bough" were particularly popular in Paris in the milieu of the Salon de la Rose-Croix, the group of artist- magicians round Josephin Peladan and Stanislas de Guaita.
It was in this charged, fin-de-siecle atmosphere that the Templar myth was transformed.