Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Rough Guide to the Da Vinci Code

[An image showing Rough Guide to the Da Vinci Code]A useful little book summarises the facts and beliefs, orthodox and otherwise, behind the hugely successful book “The Da Vinci Code”.

The Rough Guide to the Da Vinci Code”, written by Michael Haag and Veronica Haag, sets out some of the background to the famous book written by the novelist Dan Brown.

The first thing to point out is that the book “The Da Vinci Code” is a novel, and should not be read as fact. Neither should the forthcoming movie, recently filmed in various English locations including Lincoln.

The story, however, does draw on quite a few beliefs, some long standing, relating to the origins of Christianity.

Several of these were famously drawn together in the 1980s in a book called “The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail” by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln.

One of the key issues is the nature of the Holy Grail. Does it exist? Did it ever exist? And if so, what is it?

The usual answer to the last question is that it is the cup from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper, or possibly that caught His blood as He hung on the Cross.

But this book postulated that it is in fact the bloodline of Jesus. Traditions through the centuries have asserted that He did not die on the Cross, but was revived and, being a wanted man, escaped with his wife, Mary Magdalene, and their children, probably to the South of France. Furthermore, their descendants were the Merovingian Kings of early France.

The book also suggests that these “facts” would be so damaging to the established church that all knowledge of them has been suppressed to the general public, but kept alive by such organisations as the Knights Templar (who incidentally had a preceptory near where I am writing, at Rothley), and the Priory of Sion, which seems to have been a 1960s invention.

The great Leonardo da Vinci comes into the story because it is alleged that he included clues to the nature of the Grail, and indeed its current whereabouts, in his paintings, in particular “The Last Supper”.

Dan Brown has used a lot of this stuff in “The Da Vinci Code”, which has now led to accusations of plagiarism by the authors of “The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail”. Strange that, because it’s only a violation of copyright if Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln made up the whole thing, which presumably they would deny.

The interesting thing about all this is that some of the theories will be based on pretty good evidence, while other bits will be complete rubbish. But how can we tell which?

The Rough Guides form an excellent library in their own right. Best known for books on travel, featuring individual countries and cities, they also have books about genres of music and films, and are well worth seeking out.

“The Rough Guide to The Da Vinci Code” is available at all good bookshops.