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Bloodline of the Holy Grail: The Hidden Lineage of Jesus Revealed
Laurence Gardner
(Shaftesbury, UK: Element Books, 1996)

Reviews from Publishers Weekly and Charles W. Evans-Günther


Review I: Publishers Weekly

One of the most important developments of the last 50 years in religious studies has been the emergence of suppressed and forgotten texts and lore. A flood of new archeological knowledge and newly discovered ancient texts sheds unexpected light on the traditions of Christian worship. Into this flood, Gardner, who holds the office of the Jacobite Historiographer Royal of the Royal House of Stewart, would like to inject yet another revelation: the bloodline of Jesus Christ. According to Gardner, Jesus married Mary Magdalene, and she was pregnant with his child when he was crucified at Qumran, not Golgotha as it is usually thought. Mary delivered a male child before she and her son were spirited out of Palestine to France, where she died. This child became the scion of an amazing genealogy that terminates (surprise!) in the House of Stuart. Furthermore, that house did not expire but flourishes to this day. This book is an amazing patchwork of scholarly trappings and dizzy tomfoolery stitched together with myth and fable until it fabricates the amazing argument that indeed the Crown of England properly belongs to the Line of David through Jesus Christ himself. This is exhilarating fantasy worthy of a great romantic novel.

Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review II: Charles W. Evans-Günther for the Journal of the Pendragon Society, Spring 1997, Volume XXVI, Nr 2.

This is a large book, over 500 pages long with 25 b/w photographs, 11 maps, 9 diagrams/illustrations, 17 charts in the body of the book, 4 diagrams/illustrations and 29 charts in the appendices, together with notes, references, appendices, bibliography and a ten page index.

This all sounds quite impressive but then so did John Morris's 'The Age of Arthur'! Unfortunately, I found this publication to be a disappointment. It varies in content and seems to move from fact into fantasy with an ease that worries me greatly. 'Bloodline of The Holy Grail' supposes to be a survey of the descendants of Jesus Christ from the 1st century to the 1990s.

I am not going to go into the complex story of the family tree of Jesus I will say that I found the way Mr Gardner uses various sources of considerable interest. This book has a vast amount of information and to go through it all, or even a part of it, would take most of the pages of this present issue of 'Pendragon'. I found myself immersed in a labyrinth of material and trying to separate the chaff from the wheat became time consuming (and after a while rather pointless!). Where to end was a problem - there being so much to comment upon. Having read the book through a couple of times (I had to do this at least to be fair that I had not missed something vital, having put it down numerous times due to boredom or falling asleep while reading) I found myself constantly returning to the genealogical charts. The study of family trees is fascinating to me and even when it has no bearing on a subject I am interested in, I am still drawn to genealogical information.

Gardner, however, brings in fictional characters into his pedigrees and does some unique twisting of information to suit the overall premise of this book. We get to read about characters like Arviragus, Bran, Lucius, Joseph of Arimathea, Coel, Galahad and Viviane as if they were historical. Surely we are dealing with mythological people here rather than persons that actually lived. Take Arviragus who became the son of Cunobelinus rather than the Brigantian rebel living during the reign of Emperor Domitian (AD 81-96). The character only appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth's 'History of the Kings of Britain'! Bran belongs to legend not to history and any connection between him and South Wales and Christianity belongs to the wishful thinking of certain antiquarians. Lucius is claimed to have been a king in Britain who is said to have requested the introduction of Christianity to the country. The earliest reference is the last decades of the 5th century and it is generally accepted now that this Lucius was not British but the king of Britium in the east of the Roman Empire. Coel is another creation of Geoffrey of Monmouth. There was a historical Coel but he lived in the north of Britain and had no connection with St Helena. The latter of course was not British at all and ample records show she was the daughter of an innkeeper, perhaps at Drepanum in Bithynia.
Joseph of Arimathea is one of those characters who have played an important part in the folklore and legend of Europe for some time. Little is found in the Gospels and none of it seems to correspond to Mr Gardner's version of the story. That Joseph was really Jesus's brother James needs to be discussed but I am going to leave that to the theologians. That Joseph became connected with the Grail stories is well documented but it is legend and not fact. At one point he is said to be called Ilid in Wales. But, if that is so, he must have had a sex change since Ilid is feminine and in fact St Julitta. Interestingly, the only person to link St Ilid with Joseph of Arimathea is Edward (Iolo Morganwg) Williams.

Later we find Viviane being "married" to Taliesin and their daughter being Ygerna who is at one point married to Gwyr Llew and later Aedan McGabran of the Dalriada. Ygerna and Aedan's son was of course Arthur who married Gwenhwyfar daughter of Leo de Grace. I must admit at this point, on the first reading, I gave up and put the book aside. I had enough and hoped that someone else would write in with a review of this publication. Unfortunately, no one did and does that say anything?! That Arthur should be the son of Aedan McGabran is not a problem. There is reference to an Arthur being Aedan's son or grandson, but this would place Arthur at the end of the sixth century being killed in a battle against the Picts and being survived by his father! The Scots have never bothered to claim that King Arthur was a son of Aedan and the earliest references to Ygerna have her as the daughter of Amlawd Wledig. Galahad also appears as the son of Lancelot and Elaine, with Lancelot being son of Ban le Benoic and Viviane daughter of Taliesin and Viviane. Not content with using fictional characters created by Chretien de Troyes, we find Titurel and Anfortas from Wolfram von Eschenbach's Grail story.

I tried hard to be fair to this book but the more I read it the worse it gets. At times I get the impression it was produced just to glorify Prince Michael of Albany, who claims descent from Bonnie Prince Charlie and has been Alexander IV, King of the Scots, since 1963. 'Bloodline of the Holy Grail' is a mishmash of various theories from numerous books including 'Jesus the Man' and 'The Holy Blood And The Holy Grail'. It also covers much familiar material as Mary Magdalene, Templars, Freemasonry and the Tarot. If you are into this sort of adventure or you are a supporter of the Jacobites, you will find this a fascinating book. It has got a bit of everything for everybody and it even has some history!



Copyright © 2001 - G.W. Schüller