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TRACY R. TWYMAN | The Fronde and the Compagnie du Saint-Sacrament

By Tracy R. Twyman

Originally written for Dagobert’s Revenge Magazine, Copyright 2002
(Does not necessarily represent author’s current viewpoint.)

Louis XIV 1638-1715 as Jupiter Conquering the Fronde, 1648-67, by Charles Poerson, on display in the Palace of Versailles

In the 19th century, the Priory of Sion was behind a movement to place Gaston d’Orleans on the throne of France. This plot was foiled when Louis XIII finally sired an heir, assuring the succession of the kingship. This sparked the beginning of a civil war that would continue off and on for the next decade, known as “the Fronde” — an attempt to remove Cardinal Mazarin and Louis XIV from their positions. This civil war, consisting largely of highly-orchestrated “popular uprisings,” was sponsored by the same families associated with the Grail blood and the Priory of Sion that have consistently been the instigators of revolutions throughout history. And for their headquarters these “frondeurs” chose the ancient Merovingian capitol of Stenay, near the location of Dagobert II’s assassination, as though they were making the statement that the ultimate aim of the plot was in fact the avengement of Dagobert’s death.

The “Priory documents” state that during the Fronde years, the Priory “dedicated itself to opposing Mazarin.” As the documents say, it did so under the facade of another fraternal organization, one acknowledged by history to have been at the forefront of the Fronde — the Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement. The documents state that the Priory of Sion was the Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement.

History tells us that the Compagnie was formed around 1629 by a close associate of Gaston d’Orleans, although he is the only founding member who is known. The rest of the group’s upper hierarchy were anonymous, and even the low-ranking members did not know who they were. Of these lower-ranking members, some of them have been named: the duchess of Longueville’s brother, the bishop of Alet (near Rennes-le-Chateau); Charles Fouquet (brother of the Superintendent of Finances, whose other brother wrote that infamous letter to Nicolas Poussin; Saint Vincent de Paul; and Jean-Jacques Olier, founder of the Seminary of Saint Sulpice, which was used as the Compagnie’s headquarters. The members did not understand or question the orders they were given, and they were not permitted to communicate with one another. The main thing that bonded them together was a mysterious and elusive secret, what chroniclers referred to as “the Secret which is at the core of the Compagnie.” The order’s own statutes state that, “The primary channel which shapes the spirit of the Compagnie, and which is essential to it, is the Secret.”

St. Sulpice in Paris

The purpose behind the Compagnie has been, to historians, completely confusing. On the surface, it claimed to be devoted to charitable work, but underneath the surface, it was much more devoted to spying on behalf of the frondeurs, and infiltrating the upper echelons of government, nearly dominating, at times, the parliament, judiciary, and police, as well as holding key positions in the king’s cabinet. Saint Vincent de Paul was made confessor to Louis XIII, and Anne of Austria was, for a period, completely malleable in the hands of the Compagnie, who managed to turn her against Mazarin for a brief span.

Another ambiguous aspect of the Compagnie was their religious affiliation. Historians present the Compagnie as representing rigidly conservative Catholicism, and as being devoted to eliminating “heresy.” Yet many of the group’s known members were Protestants. Furthermore, why should such an organization be opposed to arch-Catholic Mazarin? And if it was heresy they were against, why did the Catholic hierarchy of the time refer to the Compagnie as heretical in itself? They were charged, quite reminiscent of the Templars, of “impious practices,” and bizarre, unnatural initiation ceremonies. Some of them were even threatened with excommunication, a threat which did not seem to faze these supposed “arch-Catholics.”

Even though Cardinal Mazarin and Louis XIV had rallied against them for years, the Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement carried on as normal, well past 1660, when the king finally ordered their dissolution. But in 1665, they concluded, according to the “Priory documents,” that they could not continue in their “present form,” and withdrew from public light, recalling all of their official documents and sealing them away in Saint Sulpice. The authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail point out that these documents would then have been available to the decoder of the Rennes-le-Chateau parchments, Emile Hoffet, later on. But in one form or another, the Compagnie is known to have operated into the next century, tormenting Louis XIV, and some say it continued into the 1900s. They were mentioned in a negative context by the royally patronized writer Moiliere in his play Le Tartuffe, and the Compagnie actually used its conspiratorial ties to have the play suppressed for the next two years. Meanwhile, the Compagnie had its own literary propagandists in La Rochefoucald and La Fontaine, known members of both the Fronde and the Compagnie who used allegorical satire to attack the king. And in the case of La Fontaine, the king attacked back, attempting to bar his entrance to the Acadamie Francaise. Interestingly, La Fontaine was patronized by the duke of Guise, the duke of Bouillon, and Gaston d’Orleans’ widow.