In 1982 Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln wrote a book called The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, which revealed-a number of surprising facts. The wedding at Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine, had in fact been Jesus's own wedding, to Mary Magdalene. The happy couple had had issue, including one unruly boy called Barabbas - the very same Barabbas who was later reprieved while he and his dad were on Death Row. After Christ's crucifixion, Mary and Barabbas and the other children had escaped to France - where, a few centuries later, their descendants were Merovingian kings. Mary had also taken with her to France her offspring's birth certificates, the genuine Holy Grail. (San greal = sang real= proof of Jesus's bloodline, geddit?) From that day to this, the documents had been in the keeping of a secret society called the Priory of Sion, whose 'Grand Masters' over the centuries had included Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo and Jean Cocteau. Oh, and the Knights Templar and the Rosicrucians were involved as well, somehow or other. There was no evidence for any of this, but that merely strengthened the authors' case: the very lack of evidence, they suggested, was itself proof of how efficiently and ruthlessly the Priory had 'covered up' its great secret.
Jonathan Cape took a certain amount of ridicule for publishing such nonsense, but millions of train-spotters, Dungeons 'n' Dragon freaks and other cranks bought it. The authors got rich.
Three years later the same team brought us a sequel, The