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
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)
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!