By Tracy R. Twyman
Originally written for Dagobert’s Revenge Magazine, Copyright 1998
(Does not necessarily represent author’s current viewpoint.)
During the 16th century, the Priory of Sion and the Grail families, including the houses of Guise and Lorraine, embarked on a conspiracy to oust the ruling Valois dynasty and reclaim the French throne for Merovingian blood. The conspiracy spanned three generations, and the terms of three Priory of Sion Grand Masters: Connetable de Bourbon (a.k.a. Charles de Montpensier), Ferdinand de Gonzague, and Louis de Nevers. The plot came closest to fruition between 1550 and 1570 due to the efforts of Charles, cardinal of Lorraine, and his brother Francsois, duke of Guise. They were both cousins of Connetable de Bourbon and relatives of the Gonzague family, each of which provided financial and moral support for the Lorraine cause. Although historians have characterized the two brothers as cruel and fanatical Catholics, Holy Blood, Holy Grail describes them as opportunists who took advantage of both Catholic and Protestant factions whenever it suited them. As the book describes, “In 1562, for example, at the Council of Trent, the cardinal of Lorraine launched an attempt to decentralize the papacy — to confer autonomy on local bishops and restore the ecclesiastical hierarchy to what it had been in Merovingian times.”
By the following year, Francsois de Guise was within reach of the French throne, when he was quite suddenly assassinated. The cardinal of Lorraine died a dozen years later, but the conspiracy continued with the next cardinal of Lorraine and the next duke of Guise. At the helm of this conspiracy was Priory of Sion Navigator Louis de Gonzague, duke of Nevers, and the banner they employed was the Cross of Lorraine. The conspirators succeeded in exterminating the Valois line, but ironically, by that point the House of Guise was itself near extinction, and could not bring forth a legitimate candidate for kingship.