Francis Wheen

What Happened to Lincoln?

The Temple and The Lodge


Jonathan Cape 332pp £13.95 order from our bookshop

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.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'The physical courage he demonstrated as a young man [...] gave way to intellectual power; radical thought, gifted… ,
    • 'While Jane Austen didn’t perhaps achieve the full recognition that she deserved in her lifetime, even then she out… ,
    • 'All I have is a voice To undo the folded lie, The romantic lie in the brain Of the sensual man-in-the-street And t… ,
    • 'You are interested in a particular subject; basic research hardens this interest into an obsession, after which th… ,
    • 'Keynes predicted that future generations would enjoy such an improved standard of living that they might work just… ,
    • 'Various dislocations ... emerge, iceberg-like, out of a troubled sea of unconscious motivation and confront Eisenb… ,
    • Today is the first today of the – they've got some excellent events coming up over the next two weeks.… ,