If you’ve been reading my reviews of William F. Mann’s Templar Sanctuaries in North America, you’ll recall that our author believes himself to be one of the last descendants of Henry Sinclair’s Grail Guardians, charged with protecting the Holy Bloodline of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene during its six-century exile near Mann’s home in Canada. (Technically, he believes himself a Grail Guardian, while his wife is an indirect descendant of Henry I Sinclair, and they both share early Sinclair/Norman DNA since he and his wife are distant relatives.) In the first half of his book, he probed European hoaxes and conspiracies for evidence of his exalted status. In the second half of the book, his attention shifts to North America.
He devotes most of a chapter to the southwestern United States, where he rehearses the history of various Puebloan peoples and then does almost nothing with the information, turning course and declaring that Brigham Young and the Mormons were in on the conspiracy, too, heirs to the secret Templar knowledge of archaeoastronomy. His argument, drawn from other conspiracy theorists, is that the golden tablets Joseph Smith uncovered at the founding of Mormonism were part of the Templar treasure, and he notices that the early Mormons argued vociferously that Jesus was married (and polygamous no less!), which he takes for confirmation of secret knowledge of the Holy Bloodline among the Mormons. This, he says, is the real reason Mormons are interested in genealogy: to track the descendants of Jesus for the Grail Guardians.
The next chapter begins with the assumption that Henry I Sinclair, Earl of Orkney traveled to America repeatedly in the 1390s. Mann calls him Prince Henry, despite the noble holding no title higher than jarl in Norway and baron in Scotland; jarls ranked high in Norway, hence the title inflation. He uses this as a springboard to rehearse the history of the Vikings and the Normans in order to posit that Sinclair gained knowledge of the Americas from his Norman ancestors, who maintained it from the Vikings who reached Vinland in Canada in the 1000s. He supports this with no references to any of the primary sources about Sinclair, many of which I have read, in Latin. They don’t leave much room for this grand adventure, let alone several: He was known to be in Norway in 1389 and is said in the Sinclair Diploma of 1443 to have died in defense of Orkney sometime before 1401. If he made several transatlantic voyages, it is surprising that no one took notice of his absence for years at a time—especially since Henry would have been in his 50s at the time, and rather old for an arduous journey in that era. (That’s why racist conspiracy theorist Thomas Sinclair proposed that Henry II, thirty years his father’s junior, was the adventurer who traveled to America.)
Despite the lack of documentation, Mann claims to know not only Sinclair’s itinerary but also that the Cistercians accompanied him to America. He attributes this not to facts or evidence but to “logic and reason,” which produced for Mann proof “without a doubt.” This chapter then falls into hero worship as Mann extolls the virtues of Scott Wolter and uses his “expertise” to “prove” that Norse-Scottish Templars colonized America and left behind stones covered in runes, the most famous of which is the Kensington Rune Stone, Wolter’s hobbyhorse. Besides endorsing all of Wolter’s claims, Mann further speculates that the Mandan and other “Welsh” (or “White”) Indians were genetic proof of this expedition, a claim that predates Wolter but which also appears in his work.
Mann argues that Thomas Jefferson knew about the Templar treasure and that it was buried in Henry Sinclair’s Grail grave here in America. Lewis and Clark, Mann says, were dispatched to try to beat out other claimants to reach the cache first, leaving behind no record of any of this. Jefferson, Mann thinks, learned about Sinclair’s voyage while Minister to France, having partaken of the Freemasons’ secret records.
I wonder, though, if Mann ever read the Zeno Narrative he claims as proof of Sinclair’s voyage. It specifically states that Zichmni (the character Mann assumes to be Sinclair) explored Greenland and founded a city on an island near there. The Sinclair Diploma of Henry’s grandson said that he died while in residence on Orkney. Where, pray tell, is there room for a return to America and entombment therein?
As we start to move toward the end of the book, Mann brings in Freemason conspiracies involving Enoch, the Royal Arch, etc.—all the usual suspects, familiar from their appearance in previous Masonic conspiracy theories—which he tries to link to Cardinal Richelieu and through him to the anti-Habsburg French Grail Guardians. Need I even mention that the Sinclair family and Rosslyn Chapel enter into the story, too, in their usual Holy Bloodline conspiracy roles?
From here he backs up to retell the entire genealogy of the Merovingians and their rightful claim to be god kings by dint of sacred Jesus genes. It doesn’t matter though since Mann is so unfamiliar with primary sources that he could make this claim: “As early as the thirteenth century, the Cistercian monk and chronicler Peter of Vaux de Cernay, claimed it was part of Cathar belief that the earthly Jesus had a relationship with Mary Magdalene and that their descendants had survived as Merovingian royalty.” No, sorry, try again. Read it yourself: There is no mention of offspring of Merovingians. (Peter attributes to the Cathars the belief that God had many offspring, but this God isn’t Jesus.)
Forgive me for cutting a very long and boring argument short, but Mann breaks away from his genealogy to start on a new rant, in which he claims that the last of the Templars in America (aside from the genetic ones sired in Canada among the Mi’kmaq) were holed up in a Masonic lodge in the Alamo (!), which is why James K. Polk started the Mexican War, to get it for the United States (!!). He claims this is likely because the Alamo’s keystone shares the same Marian monogram as a Parisian church associated with the Sulpicians, a group Mann links to the Merovingians because of the hoax Priory of Sion documents. Mann considers the monogram conspiratorial, but it’s a Catholic symbol for the Latin phrase “Mary, Queen of Angels.” (Others think it represents Ave Maria; the carving is a little unclear due to overlapping letters.)
Anyway, Mann believes that the U.S. government has systematically committed genocide against Native Americans not simply to take their land but to eliminate the last genetic claimants to the Holy Bloodline’s land claim over America. Must be disappointing to Native Americans to realize that they only ever had title to America because of Jesus, not for being indigenous or anything. Oh, and he also thinks that the caduceus proves that the Greeks knew about DNA (weird, since Hermes’ double helix staff wasn’t the medical one at first; that was Asclepius’ single-snake staff) and that the Cistercians have a Jesus cloning program since Dolly the sheep was cloned at the Roslin Institute in Scotland, near Rosslyn Chapel. This is “no coincidence,” he warns darkly. He doesn’t actually say they want to clone Jesus, but he does say that they are doing everything in their power to keep the Bloodline “strong” through a selective breeding program and hybridization to avoid genetic diseases. All of this, he says, culminated in his own birth from the union of a European and Native American, one he suspects was planned by the Grail Guardians to keep the Jesus genes strong.
There is so very much more, but it makes so little sense I can’t quite summarize it adequately. Suffice it to say that Mann is concerned that America and Canada have lost their original freedoms, and he believes that only he--cough, ahem, the Templar Grail Guardians—can overcome the evils of the “religious right” to set the two countries back on the morally correct path by exercising their divine Jesus claim to own the two countries’ land.
As for the title of the book—the Templar Sanctuaries—they only come into play in the last pages, when using his code derived from French paintings and modern U.S. geographical toponyms, he concludes that the Templar treasure is buried in the hills around Townsend, Montana. This, he says, proves that the Celts (yes, now we have Celts, too) mapped America and gave those charts to the Templars. Why Celts? Because Madoc of Wales allegedly colonized America.
Oh, and if that isn’t enough, he also proposes that the whole Holy Bloodline conspiracy has been manipulated by “super-families” of European Jews who only pretend to be Christian so they can restore their power as “god kings” so they can rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem and restore the House of David. (This is the modern Rex Deus hoax introduced in the 1990s, which Mann cites by name.) Ah, Jews. What would a conspiracy theory be without them? Finally, we have it all: Watchers, Jews, and Templars, along with muffled hints of a lost antediluvian high-tech civilization. What more could you need? Right: Mann says that Steve St. Clair’s DNA testing shows that Mann might be descended from Aaron, brother of Moses, and thus an heir to the god-kings. He concludes that fringe history has helped him feel more centered in life by realizing that his Native and white heritage are joined in medieval conspiracy, making him one and whole.
I sympathize to an extent with the desire to find ways to bring together two sides of a family, particularly when they are very different. I, for example, found it interesting when I discovered that at some point over the past few centuries all of the territories from which my ancestors came had been under the sovereignty or suzerainty of the Habsburgs (though never all at the same time). I also didn’t learn this until long after I had taken a fancy to central European history, and I didn’t consider it important enough to let it upend my life, though in Mann’s estimation, it must make me his enemy by default since the Habsburgs were anti-Grail crusaders in his view.
Overall, this was the longest ego-trip I’ve ever read, and one that had virtually nothing to do with its title. Containing not a single reference to a primary source, it was nothing more than a distillation of a dozen or more earlier fringe books in the same field, and consequently all the worse for being unoriginal as well as unsupported by fact.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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