Pierre Plantard and his “Underground Temple”

Some observations

Paul Smith

6 November 2014
Updated 30 November 2014

When Pierre Plantard first began embarking upon the story of Bérenger Saunière and Rennes-le-Château during the early 1960s he was already steeped in the background of the French esoteric tradition. Since the late 1930s and early 1940s Plantard was actively involved in starting Right-Wing political groups aligned with quirky, unusual esoteric beliefs that were commonplace of the period.

Plantard’s formation of the Priory of Sion in 1956 and his later claims during the early 1960s to be descended from French nobility were an obvious reflection of his past involvement in Right-Wing Gallic esoteric fringe politics.

Serious researchers of the Priory of Sion in England during the 1980s soon noticed some similarities between the 1956 Statutes of the Priory of Sion and the 1937 Statutes of the Alpha Galates when they were first published by Jean-Luc Chaumeil during the mid 1980s (the ‘Légion’ and the ‘Phalange’; there was no actual link between the Statutes and the real activities of the association, when cross-referencing with the contents in the issues of “Circuit”).

Plantard’s interview with Gérard de Sède in Gisors et son secret (1962) contained references to elements that involved secrets contained within the subconscious mind – and the story of the castle of Gisors was about an underground chapel that allegedly concealed the hidden treasure of the Knights Templar.

Pierre Plantard may have been inspired by the quirky ideas and beliefs held by the Abbé Henri Boudet as published in his 1886 book La Vraie Langue Celtique et le Cromlech de Rennes-les-Bains. But Boudet’s book has been ridiculed by rational mainstream archaeologists – by Germain Sicard in 1928 and by Guy Rancoule in 1969: what Boudet imagined were dolmens, menhirs and cromlechs were actually natural geological formations, and his linguistics fall into the category of fantasy (the recent claims of Jean Alain Sipra of a Roman Temple in the region are flimsy rorschach). But it was Auguste de Labouisse-Rochefort that Plantard cited in relation to his “underground temple” and not the Abbé Boudet.

Pierre Plantard did not openly refer to Alexandre Saint-Yves d'Alveydre (1842-1909) anywhere in his works, but they both shared similar ideas. D’Alveydre believed in the existence of the underground world of Agarttha – and Plantard believed in the Sanctuary of the Dragon that formed the “Alpha”, preserving the Atlantean doctrine – of which the Druids were the survival. These ideas found in the articles of “Vaincre” were falsely attributed to Le Comte Moncharville (whose real name was actually Maurice Lecomte-Moncharville).

“It was through the Sanctuary of the Dragon that the first knights passed to meet with the subterranean dwellers, who led them to the heart of the Breton crypts 379 metres down, in the City of the Alpha, where the Temple of Aga was located.” The article continued by referring to the existence of a Table Rond within the Hall of The King (Vaincre, Number 5, 21 January 1943, page 3).

Plantard’s “underground temple” at Roque Négre was all about initiation into the Priory of Sion involving the symbolism of caverns found within mountains representing the subconscious mind containing secret enlightenment. The symbolism of the Alpha Galates was simply transposed over the Priory of Sion of the 1980s and 1990s with the journal “Vaincre” revived.

Plantard may have also believed there were gold deposits in the region, and at one stage he claimed he discovered the Jewish Menorah – but he also claimed the “treasure” of the Priory was “spiritual”.

Plantard may have had financial means to buy plots of land around Roque Négre – but unlike Sir Francis Dashwood – was unable to build the physical caverns to accommodate his esoteric beliefs.