Marie de Blanchefort after the marriage of her third daughter, Marie Gabrielle, (september 1756) remained alone in the castle together with Elisabeth. Her husband François d’Hautpoul, severely ill, was said the have abandoned the house the same day of Gabrielle’s marriage, retiring to Limoux, where he died not much later. Up to January 1781, Marie de Blanchefort was the Lady of the village, owner of the castle and all the lands around and the earnings from the lands, as well as, above all, owner of the ancient and enigmatic documents of her father in law. The inhabitants of Rennes feared her and there is no reason to suppose that abbot Bigou thought different. Very probably he was treated as the first and most important of her domestic helps. Don’t be amazed, a marchioness d’Hautpoul de Blanchefort, before the french revolution, could make tremble even a bishop.
So to understand the customs of the times, there is a funny story about a Breton duchess who, in the same years of the dame de Blanchefort’s death, on her deathbed called for the bishop to give her the last rites. The bishop was so intimidated that, while he was blessing his illustrious host, was caught by a heart attack and died after falling over the duchess. The lady did not move and coldly intimated to the servants: “take this bishop off”.
This anecdote is taken from “Histoire de la Révolution Française”( history of french revolution) by Jules Michelet, Paris 1848. An extremely interesting work ( the full version is some 2000 pages in two books) that shall make you plunge in the social tragedy before and during the french revolution. Indispensable to understand the abyss among classes in the eighteenth century in France. Consequently we cannot in any way not only put Antoine Bigou above the two marchionesses, but not even remotely at the same level. In the previous century, in the same Rennes le Chateau, a marquis d’Hautpoul had a young shepherd murdered, because in the village he was said to have discovered a treasure in the deep of a cave. The boy was tortured to death and then the marquis had the killers murdered too. All that in the total indifference and impunity by the local judicial, as well as religious, authorities.
Is it plausible that was Marie de Blanchefort to ask Bigou to hide the little treasure unbeknown to her daughter? When the same had entrusted to Elisabeth the management of the secret documents and authorized her to forbidden the access of the family documentation to her other daughters?
So, who was the original owner of the findings in the church? Was it plausible that a priest of a tiny village, surely coming from lower classes, had the culture, tradition, knowledge, wealth to be the owner of medieval gold coins, Visigoth jewelry and the esoterically hot glass phial with powder and papers? Unless he had stolen the whole from the Hautpoul castle or crypt, the answer can only be that he was ordered by one of the two marchionesses. In fact nothing strange happened during the Bigou service in Rennes le Chateau, except the unusual burial procedure for Marie de Blanchefort.
The other supposition, that’s to say that Bigou must know everything since he was the confessor of the two marchionesses, is very weak. In fact are we so sure that the two women were so fervent catholic, and moreover that they, at a certain point of their lives, were willing to renounce their millenarian family knowledge?
Let’s s open a parenthesis on Antoine Bigou: We know that Abbot Bigou made off during the revolution. Were only a few countryside priests who fled like the aristocrats, the majority of them remained close to people. But those in collusion with the powerful fled, and so did Bigou. There has been so much talking about Bigou belonging to some secret societies. Perhaps, but if he had stolen the documents, why not to hand them to his secret principals, instead of badly hide them in a decaying church a few steps away from d’Hautpoul marchionesses, in a time when only they were entitled to do restoration works to the church? And, secondly, why a secret society must hide a little treasure in a church to make Berenger Saunière to find it, while they could directly have Saunière to become a member, instead? There was too much uncertainty on who would have found. In fact, as said above, the para-masonic secret societies generally look for the assumption of control of places and people.
Was Elisabeth to order Bigou to keep out of sight her little treasure before fleeing to Spain during the revolution, or even before, when gangs of armed men already attacked the castles in isolated areas? Anyway, there is no rationality in this decision. In fact why to choose a church open to public use to hide something crucial? Was the area around Rennes le Chateau non enough provided with natural holes, caves and more suitable places? Anyway Bigou didn’t come back from Spain, where he died in 1794.
Let aside, for a moment, this question and jump to the other, which will focus our attention on the strange treatments both mother and daughter suffered in their burial procedures. The penultimate Lady of Rennes had no funeral, but a furtive burial during a January night , with no one in the village to attend and testify. She had the burial of a criminal or a witch. Her gravestone was poorly and roughly sculptured, with insulting errors. In the end, after a century, Berenger Sauniere desecrated and destroyed her tomb. Even stranger was the civil burial procedures. In fact Antoine Bigou himself wrote up the death certificate of Marie, the same night of her death, and deposited it in the same night in the village hall. They could not follow the normal practices in which a civil death certificate could be issued only by a civil officer, not a priest. As a priest should have just to write down on funeral and burial in the archives of the parish. But, strangely enough, this didn’t happen.
Did Elisabeth really endure with resignation all this? A woman used to quarrel and to open lawsuits as her favorite pastime ? And what about the puzzling lack of interest of the other heirs of Marie de Blanchefort? Nevertheless the grandchildren of those heirs denounced Sauniere for the destruction of Marie’s Stele. We know that the abbot was condemned not only to restore the stele but to pay a tremendous amount of money to d’Hautpouls, which ruined it economically. There is no mention of the tombstone, however, which was no longer restored. Strange that those grandchildren had not denounced Saunière for the more serious crime of desecration of the grave. Yet in 1895 of the bones of Marie (dead in 1781) something had to be remained. I Remember that in venetian land in the end of the 1990’s were found skeletons of French soldiers, dead during the Napoleonic campaign of 1797, buried in a mass grave on the bare ground. The other inhabitants of Rennes le Chateau, in fact, did not protest the rupture of steles ( that Sauniere did not break, but simply shifted. He broke only the one of the Marquise ) but for the storage and movement of their relatives bones. While the Hautpoul were only interested in the stele. And not even in the Tombstone.
Elisabeth, last Lady of Rennes, went to worse. She had neither burial nor funeral, nor death certificate. We are not even sure of her place of death, whether in Paris, in Spain or in Rennes. Oddly, the Hautpoul family provided a date for her death: May 20 1820. This absolute disregard for Elisabeth last moments is really disconcerting. The Hautpoul family was so important that the whole area was defined as ” Pays Hautpoulois”, or Hautpouls country. Elisabeth was, in a sense, the “chief” of this family, being the last heir of the main branch. In fact the whole family attended to the celebration in 1799, but the same family was elusive on her death, and above all not provided her with a grave. Maybe, burdened with debts, or perhaps been robbed by the servants, despite the 52,000 gold florins obtained 4 years before from the sale of the castle, she could have had no money to provide for herself. Strange indifference for this poor old woman, since in the family they were all waiting for the papers guarded by Elisabeth. Were even they too poor to provide a burial accommodation for their extravagant aunt? Odd again, since one of the men attending the ceremony in 1799 would later become Bishop of Cahors (Paul Louis Joseph d’Hautpoul 1764-1849) and another tutor of the son of the duke of Chambord (Marie Constant Fidele Henri Amand d’Hautpoul 1780-1853). I don’t mention Alphonse Henri d’Hautpoul (1789- 1865) First Minister of France.
One thing is clear, Elisabeth Hautpoul-Rennes denied her immediate family (the bloodline) the access to the family papers, which they never had. In fact it is known that the will of Elisabeth was challenged. From all this it may be inferred that Elisabeth judged them unworthy. So they may have vindicated letting the charitable ladies to threw her body in a mass grave in Paris ( wonderful place to have a cadaver to disappear). But is it true that she died at the ladies of Charity? A very cruel treatment, even before they read the will.
And now let’s back to our main topic: why, once come back from Spain, Elisabeth didn’t rush to retrieve her belongings inside the church? In fact the most plausible track of investigation is that the same Elisabeth hid, or had someone to hide for her, and then she never went to collect her belongings on her return from Spain. But why? It is a nonsense, in fact Elisabeth, with the revolution, suffered a confiscation of all her property, except the castle and small plots of land around that did not provided a sufficient sustenance. In fact she reduced the servitude to two persons and let the castle without any maintenance, bringing to live on the south round tower. Oddly enough, on the tower which locals called ” the alchemist’s tower”.
Was Elisabeth a ill and too old woman? One can argue that perhaps Elisabeth was suffering from depression, as she left the castle to decay. But her mother did the same until 1781 and his father abandoned the castle in 1756. Seeing the other castles in the surrounding area It is not surprising to see how this decision to destroy their manors were in fact common to all the aristocracy of the place. The castle on Montferrand was already in ruins in 1799, the castle of Blanchefort holds only memory. Montsegur only resists, because it is a place of martyrdom. Maybe she was ill, but this did not prevent her from continuing her litigations, as well as quarreling with the nephews of Rennes les Bains because of an inheritance, and sadly to keep borrowing money. Even more amazing is that in the meantime she had enough charisma and authority as to call the whole family to celebrate on the ruined Montferrand in 1799.
A woman aged 81, burdened by debts, offered the castle for sale at auction and then, when 82 sued buyers for fraud, won the case and was reintegrated into the castle, can not be the same woman who, some twenty years before, had forgotten to have a small hidden treasure just a few steps from home.
Evidently those coins and jewels were to serve as bait for someone unlearned and very greedy. Berenger Saunière’s portrait. If somebody had to do so to attract hype and curiosity around an ancient hermetic and alchemical forbidden tradition, Berenger Saunière was certainly just the person. But I am convinced that, if he had been left alone, would not be able to bundle all that mess. He had probably been helped by someone, as we will see further on, to raise even more trouble in order to draw even more attention. But this was an attention that had to shut itself. In fact, almost all historical documents in the story are fakes, and not too artfully orchestrated though. Or, even worse, they are conceivable to be fakes. The obtained result is to throw discredit on the whole affair in the most demeaning way.
Who will have the tenacity to continue to dig out a story, debased and ruined by lack of seriousness? Who will save the silent baby fallen in the middle of a garbage dump? Few shall be those who are going further. The most stubborn and those who know what to look for. But none of these two categories knows “where” to look.
What happened from Saunière’s death on, we sadly know. Clouds of esoteric grasshoppers, the so called para-masonic secret societies, were said to reach out to conquer the territory of Rennes le Chateau. Not only they invented documents anew, but also the tombstones of Marie de Blanchefort. Perhaps they have not invented them, but spared no effort in give the impression that they had designed and made them.
I can not but continue to ask myself ” why” they all raged so much on the tombstones of a 67 years old Marchioness?