The Rennes le Chateau Mystery
Rennes le Chateau is a small, sleepy village in France with many secrets to hide. History dating back to pre-Christian times tells of a treasure, encompassing riches from Greece, Rome and Jerusalem which later vanished from all records.
This amount of wealth was on a scale of tonnes, something which could not simply be hidden. Various finds at Rennes, including both gold bars from the Holy Land and strange inscribed tablets, similar in nature to the Money Pit cipher stone propose a strong link. This, coupled with the Knights Templar’s heavy presence in the area proposes a strong case that some, if not all of this treasure could have found its way to Oak Island.
The History of the Treasure
In the year 70 AD, the Roman emperor Titus attacked the religious city of Jerusalem. Its entire wealth was plundered including the Temple of Herod who was a renowned prodigious builder who had ordered the construction of innumerable fortresses and temples throughout his lands. Titus himself wanted to preserve the building which would make a splendid addition to the Roman Empire and an excellent base from which to dictate the empire.
When Titus attacked the Temple and the Jews who were guarding it the building was set alight. His army were consumed with hate and greed and in the end the entire temple was burned to the ground. Roman soldiers returned to the ruins when the fires had ceased and demolishing the blocks of masonry which had made up the walls and foundations in order to get the gold which had run in between the stonework.
Alongside the contents of the city of Jerusalem, the interior of the temple was also looted. The treasure of Jerusalem was taken back to Rome in triumph where initially at least, the greater part of it would have been stored.
Three hundred years later, in 394, Alaric I was proclaimed king of the Visigoths. This was originally a Germanic tribe where the Visigoths lived mostly in Eastern Europe. They mainly served the Romans as mercenaries. Upon the death of Theodosius I, Alaric was quick to renounce this allegiance to Rome.
Alaric led his troops into Greece where he conquered Sparta, Argos and Corinth. He would also have taken Athens itself but for a substantial ransom paid by the Greeks. It was not long after this impressive victory his army came into conflict with the Romans where he was to suffer defeat at the hands of the Roman General Flavius Stilicho. Alaric’s motivation was the wealth of Rome, and he once again attempted to invade Italy and was again beaten by Stilicho.
Unfortunately for the Romans, Alaric took this as a sign of weakness and asked for almost 2000 Kilos of gold as a tribute upon payment of which he would he would renounce his plans to invade Rome. Alaric immediately invaded Italy, angered by this proposal and began a siege on Rome. A huge sum of money was paid as ransom but in 410 Alaric captured Rome regardless and sacked it.
Alaric’s troops took six days to empty the city of its wealth. Not only did the Visigoths remove everything of value that the Romans possessed but also it is believed they also got hold of a large portion, if not all of the fabulous treasure of Jerusalem which had lain untouched in the vaults of the city.
The treasure thus changed hands and another conquering army to returned home with the spoils of war held aloft as a trophy of triumph. The quantity of treasure the Visigoths had in their possession must have been immense.
- There was all the treasure they obtained from their expedition to Greece, including a huge ransom paid by the Athenians
- There was the entire wealth of the city of Rome
- There was a large portion of the treasure of Jerusalem
- The Visigoths quickly spread out from Italy capturing various regions throughout Spain, Portugal and France. In these early days they made Toulouse in France their capital.
The location of this vast treasure disappears until re-emerging at the end of the century when Alaric II finds himself under attack by Clovis. Not wishing his fortune to fall into enemy hands he moves it to his stronghold at Carcassonne. From this point onwards, not one single reference to the treasure appears anywhere in historical records. Today links with Rennes-le-Château, a sleepy little village in France provides possible answers to the whereabouts of this huge bounty.
In the late nineteenth century a new character discovers connections with this famed treasure. On 1st of June 1885, a young Bérenger Saunière is ordained as a priest and has arrived to take office in the village of Rennes-le-Château in France.
As a child Bérenger Saunière enjoyed playing in the woods of Rennes-le-Château with his friends and having adventures looking for what he called the ‘lost treasure’. When he was later to become a priest, his knowledge of the treasure was enough, some believed to make him follow this vocation, in hope of gaining access to the church and thus the treasure.
On approaching his church for the first time, he discovered it was almost a complete ruin. The roof was all but missing and when it rained, water would pour through the gaping holes, falling directly upon the altar. The windows were all boarded up to prevent even more damage occurring to the stained glass from the violent storms.
In the October of 1885 the State elections were occurring and to the astonishment of everyone in Rennes-le-Château, Bérenger Saunière, began openly campaigning for people to cast their votes against the Republican Party.
Unfortunately for Saunière the Republicans won the elections and were obviously bitter towards a priest who had encouraged people to vote against them. They went out of their way to seek retribution and he was promptly denounced to the authorities of the region for inciting public disorder and trying to influence the electoral system.
Saunière was suspended yet during his suspension from the church he somehow managed to form an acquaintance with the Countess of Chambord, an exceedingly illustrious and important person. She advanced him the princely sum of 3000 Francs equating to almost three and a half year’s salary. The amount of which was not coincidental. Saunière had obtained an estimate for the repairs to the church, which came to exactly 2797.97 Francs.
With immediate effect, Saunière began to restore the church. The altar, being the most important object, required his immediate attention having been severely damaged by the elements. The heavy stone lintel stood on an ancient Visigothic carved pillar. With the aid of some local masons Saunière removed the heavy altar stone. To the distress of the group, the pillar cracked and fell apart only to reveal that it was hollow and contained dry bracken.
The church restoration – an amazing discovery
Saunière found three wooden tubes sealed tight with wax. He opened them and found inside a number of parchments.
A short while later while repairing a large flagstone in front of the altar, the workmen found a clay pot packed full of ancient gold coins, a very fine Visigothic necklace and bracelet and a 13th Century gold chalice.
An ancient carving was revealed on the underside of the flagstone. Experts have since confirmed that the stone dates to the Visigothic or Carolingian period. It has two carved panels one of which is very worn. The panel on the left shows a man bearing a sword drawn about to mount a horse while the right panel appears to show a man with sword drawn on horseback with possibly a child on the horse with him.
In addition to these finds, a number of skeletons were discovered interred under the stone and one skull in particular showed signs that it had a ritualistic hole drilled into it.
After a certain amount of restoration had taken place, whilst descending from the bells, a bell-ringer noticed something glinting in the wooden pillar at the foot of the stairs. On closer inspection it emerged to be a small glass phial inside which was a tightly rolled scrap of paper. He quickly took his find to Saunière who almost immediately began excavations within the church. Holes were dug in the Aisle, Nave and the Transept.
By the year 1893, Saunière was obviously unable to have deciphered the parchments and decided that help was needed. His bishop in Carcassonne at that time was Félix Arsène Billard who suggested that he take them to Paris where he knew of some priests who were well versed in such matters. To Saunière’s surprise the bishop even paid his fare.
Having handed over the documents, he returned on the appointed day to hear the verdict on his discovery. It appears that whatever was discovered, the priests’ superiors were not willing to part with all the information they had uncovered.
Although we have no evidence of what transpired between the two men, it is obvious that Saunière managed to extract something from Bieil because no sooner had he returned home than he apparently became rich beyond quantifiable measure.
Saunière had changed from a poor priest to a millionaire. He incredibly made the following purchases:
The complete restoration the church began, including help from the most skilled craftsmen in the region to create statues and carve intricate stonework.
Saunière had a luxurious villa built, with spectacular landscaped tropical gardens.
He built a gothic tower in which he housed his impressive library. Books were purchased from far and wide and he even appointed a professional bookbinder to work for him full time.
He bought a collection of 1000 postcards and another of 100,000 stamps. · Saunière filled his garden with exotic animals.
He imported wines and spirits from all over the word and entertained lavishly.
To the poorest families in the region he gave sums of between 10,000F and 15,000F, an absolute fortune in those days. considering the estimate of just 4,500 F for the construction of an entirely new church.
It is estimated that from the moment he came into his fortune to the end of his life he spent somewhere in the realm of 15-24 Million Gold Francs of the day.
At the start of the 1914-18 war years, Saunière began to experience a change in his fortunes. This was not due to his money had running out, but because he was prevented from crossing international boundaries to conduct his banking affairs. His funds began to dry up and he was obliged to sell off some of his assets. However, completely unruffled by his apparent predicament, he began in 1917, to lay down even more elaborate and ambitious plans for the construction of new buildings.
On the 5th of January 1917 he signed a contract with a builder for the sum of 8 Million Francs, an amazing amount in today’s money that would be equivalent to tens of millions of Pounds Sterling.
Sadly on the 17th of January Saunière fell victim to a stroke. Close to death he asked for his old friend the Abbé Rivière from the nearby town of Esperaza to read his last rites and hear his confession.
Despite the fact that the two men had known each other all their lives, Rivière left the dying man’s bedside with a look of shock and terror on his face. It was as though he had been in the presence of the Devil himself, and it is said that he became a recluse after that day, never smiling again.
Whatever Saunière’s final words were, it left a terrible mark upon him and the rest of us who are eager to learn his secret.
Saunière’s estate passed on to Marie Denarnaud, his long time housekeeper and lover. It was around about this time that the French government were having problems with black marketing and in order to put paid to this practice they came up with the idea of issuing new currency.
It was announced that the old banknotes would no longer be legal tender after a certain date and that anyone wishing to exchange their old notes for new should take them to their local bank. This posed a problem to anyone in the possession of large amounts of money, who would then have to explain to the authorities where this money came from. This was the case for Marie Denarnaud. Her solution to the problem, rather oddly or perhaps rather bravely, was to burn the lot.
Shortly following Saunière’s death, neighbours reported that she had been seen in the garden throwing heaps of banknotes onto a bonfire.
In her old age she called in a family by the name of Corbu to look after her. She often told them “You are walking on gold” and she also promised that one day they would have more money than they could ever hope to spend. The Corbu family believed that upon her deathbed she would pass on some form of wealth to them.
Unfortunately Marie too fell victim to a stroke that prevented her from speaking. The result was that whatever secrets she knew went to the grave with her.
Rennes le Chateau and the Knights Templar
The presence of the Templars in the area is evident. They were extremely well established in this region and were also extremely powerful and wealthy. The Templars were certainly close to Rennes-le-Château in the settlements named La Croix Rouge (the red cross, the emblem of the Templar) and Les Murs du Temple (the temple walls). They were certainly familiar with the Arcadian treasure and it is thought that when the Templars went down in 1307 and left Europe for the safety of Scotland, some of the treasure made its way with them, finally across the Atlantic to Oak Island.
There are many theories currently circulating that the Knights Templar were the custodians of a secret of earth shattering proportions. They kept this secret throughout their reign and popular opinion suggests that the information has been passed on across the generations and is still in the possession of certain groups of people today.
Considering the Knights involvement with not only this area, but also the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, they would have been eager to protect a treasure of religious importance, not only to mention possible connections with Egyptian treasure.
The Arcadian treasure was rumoured to take the form of emerald tablets, inscribed in an unknown language, similar to that of the stone found in the Money Pit. Could this be the legendary treasure the Knights Templar wanted to protect and keep it safe in the New World?
Is there really a treasure?
In 1830 a man found a gold ingot weighing almost 20 Kilos whilst out walking near to Rennes. Not long after this in 1860 another man found a gold bar near to Bézu made from partly smelted Arabic coins and weighing almost 50 Kilos. These are real, confirmed discoveries. Doubtless there have been many others where the discoverers did not announce their finds.
A 50 Kilo gold bar is extremely heavy and one would think, if dropped, would be noticed. Also, it is not the kind of object an individual uses in the form of his secret investment. It was normal of people in bygone days to usually bury coins, being more mobile.
These gold bars could have come from a number of sources.
One possibility is that caravan was transporting them across country. If a heavily laden horse stumbled and fell or a cart lost a wheel it is possible that the mass of gold it was carrying would have spilled out across the land and it is not unfeasible that one or two bars may have become embedded in the soft soil and were overlooked.
The caravan may have been fleeing an enemy, thinking it preferable to loose a few gold bars than waste time gathering the spilled gold only to end up loosing the entire convoy.
This could be part of the treasure of the Visigoths, the sacked plunder of Rome and Jerusalem. It would be a phenomenal tonnage. Therefore a possibility exists that some part of this treasure may still exist, buried, perhaps long forgotten.
Even the Third Reich during World War II sent treasure hunters to the region.
To date not one of them has come up with more than a handful of dirt, at least that we know of. If there is a treasure out there it’s buried deep and it’s hidden well.
The treasure is very likely that of the Visigoths. Their reign was quite long and their conquests were many and varied, ending in the sacking of Rome in 410 AD. This would be an incredible amount of treasure by any stretch of the imagination. They would have not have confined themselves to plundering simply gold and silver but anything which could conceivably be considered of value. The quantity of treasure must have to be in the realm of several thousand tons.
Towards the end of 5th Century when the Visigoths were being pursued by “Clovis”, we know that Alaric II was forced to abandon his stronghold at Rhoda (Rennes-le-Château) and to flee south. The problem that must have faced Alaric almost from the outset was what to do with his treasure. The sheer volume would make transportation over a long distance an exceptionally complicated and risky operation.
Several suggestions as to what he may do with the immense weight of treasure are plausible:
He could bury the treasure although moving such a vast quantity of bullion across country to a suitable and presumably remote location would be almost impossible. The ground would not support heavily laden carts plus there would be the problem of excavating a hole deep enough and secure enough to accommodate the treasure.
The treasure could be deposited in a cave, typical to the region. However, the tracks of such a huge convoy would be clearly visible on the ground and act as a sure sign as to the whereabouts of the treasure.
The treasure could have been deposited into many small treasures and hide it all over the countryside. This is more feasible but it is also highly labour intensive.
An excellent option would be to drop it into a lake but preventing the recovery of such at a later date.
It is possible that during the many years that Alaric occupied Carcassonne and Rheddae, large subterranean vaults were created to house the treasure.
It is doubtful that such vaults could have remained undiscovered beneath the feet of French citizens.
By transporting it to the coast, it could be taken by ship to some other country. This is very plausible particularly when you consider how near the coast is to Rennes-le-Château.
The fact that large lumps of gold have been found lying in fields is testimony to the fact that someone at sometime tried to move a mass of ore and lost some of it. The fact also that the Visigoths resided in this area for a great many years means that they could easily have designed and built some sort of permanent installation in which to house their treasure.