Last week I discussed my discovery of the 1902 French journal article by Eugène Beauvois that introduced to the world the claim that the Knights Templar colonized North America. You will undoubtedly recall that this story was based on linguistic word play, identifying the Nahuatl term Tecpantlacs (“Residents of the Palace-Temple”) with the Knights Templar. To this, the author added more than a little racism, with just a soupçon of French nationalism thrown in for good measure. In researching the story, I found that very few Templar conspiracy fringe writers seemed aware of where their own ideas came from. Frederick J. Pohl, for example, the man who invented the myth that Henry Sinclair was a Micmac god, knew of Beauvois but did not know of this article, citing a different article in his 1974 book on Sinclair. The exception seems to be Steven Sora, who discussed Beauvois’s claims approvingly in a 2009 article for Atlantis Rising magazine (reprinted this year in the Atlantis Rising collection Missing Connections), though he does not use Beauvois’s name:
The native Mexica peoples share the legends of Quetzalcoatl and of his arrival by ship with his white soldiers. According to the Vatican codex, one of the few documents preserved from the massive destruction of Mexican writings, the natives called the newcomers Tecpantlaques, which can be interpreted to mean, “Men of the Temple.”
This claim could only have come from Beauvois, but the author’s misspelling of Bauvois’s Tecpantlacs (a French rendering of a Nahuatl word) indicates that he did not use him as a primary source. I was curious as to when Sora learned of Beauvois. For that answer, I turned to Sora’s first book, The Lost Treasure of the Knights Templar (1999), which he described at the time as the culmination of seventeen years’ worth of research into ancient mysteries.
Would it surprise you to discover that Beauvois is nowhere in the book? This is especially bizarre since Sora also adopts Beauvois’s most famous claim, the ancient Celts colonized the Americas and founded Mexican civilization.
It’s a bit strange that Sora doesn’t seem to have the sources that he discusses, but that is hardly a surprise. In the book Sora cites medieval texts to secondary sources, usually other fringe books, to the extent that he seems never to have read any of the primary sources that supposedly make his case for the Templars’ voyage to America.
Beauvois and the Mexican Templars also make no appearance in his later books from the early 2000s, suggesting that the claims about them are the result of later research.
So where did he get the information from?
Since he doesn’t know Beauvois’s name, we can eliminate Beauvois as a direct source. The misspelling suggests that he used either an earlier English-language source with the same error, or a source derived from a Spanish discussion of Beauvois, which used the Spanish-inflected spelling Tecpantlaques in place of the Gallicized Tecpantlacs. In his book, Sora betrays no knowledge of other languages—despite writing several chapters on French and/or Latin material that he, apparently, cannot read. This means that his source must not be a direct one. In the same section of the article, he mistakenly ascribes the origin of the Templar-Mexico claim to the novelist Jean de la Varende, which helps us to narrow down the source. That piece of wrong information originated, as best I can tell, in Pierre de Sermoise’s 1973 book Joan of Arc and Her Secret Missions.
But we needn’t speculate fruitlessly. Sora tells us in an offhand way where he got the information when he makes parenthetical reference to Alejandro Vignati’s and Tabita Peralta’s 1975 book El Enigma de los Templarios. Although I do not have access to this text, written by an Argentine journalist specializing in UFOs and ancient mysteries, I know from secondary sources that it does indeed discuss the claim that the Templars arrived in Mexico. It also meets our other criteria: Being published in Spanish, it accounts for the Hispanicized suffix on the Gallicized Tecpantlacs. This would also explain why there is a nearly verbatim parallel text in Paul Falardeau’s Societes Secretes en Nouvelle France (2002), a French-language book that cites Beauvois explicitly but otherwise contains an inexplicable use of the Spanish spelling of the Tecpantlacs’ name. (I have only read an English translation of excerpts appearing in Karen Ralls’s 2012 book The Templars and the Grail.) The logical conclusion, though one I cannot confirm without seeing Enigma, is that Vignati discussed Beauvois. The other option is that there is a later source drawing on both Vignati and Beauvois, but I was unable to find any evidence of one.
The bottom line is that regardless of whether Sora got his information directly or indirectly from Vignati, the copy-paste mentality of fringe history means that if an original source, like Beauvois, is mistaken, all of his copyists and copyists’ copyists will be, by definition, wrong decade after decade, even though they will never know the original reason for their own errors. I am not sure that to this day Sora has any idea who Beauvois was or why Beauvois made the claims that Sora accepts without proof.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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