Uma Ordem com a antiguidade histórica da Ordem do Templo, para mais suprimida por meios violentos e injustos, deixou naturalmente muitos ecos da sua existência que perduram séculos. Para os estudiosos o problema da sobrevivência da Ordem não é um mistério, já que há dados suficientes para demonstrar que a Ordem foi suspensa pela Santa Sé, única autoridade reconhecida por ela, pelo que compete à mesma Santa Sé retomá-la ou não. Estou certo que o fará em moldes que chocarão profundamente a maior parte dos ditos “neo-templários” ou “templários” dos dias de hoje, arrasando de vez com mitómanas pretensões e tolices disfarçadas de “história”. Mas a seu tempo o veremos.
É para nós – e aqui falo em nome da Ordem que represento – completamente indiferente o que aconteceu ao “corpo”, parte tangível e mortal da Ordem Templária. Quem quiser o seu cadáver (e muitos o querem…), que o reclamem e lhes seja de boa serventia. O que nos importa é o interior, a dimensão espiritual e transcendente que compunha a mística da Ordem, a qual lhe é anterior e de origem ainda por apurar. Esse cimento invisível de coesão – que Filipe, o Belo, não pode matar ou queimar – esteve bem presente quando D. Dinis sabiamente apadrinhou a Ordem de Cristo. Essa chama que dá a luz imperecível, a mesma que assegura que o candelabro que ilumina a Santa Palavra sobre o altar de Chartres veicula idêntica luz espiritual que aquela candeia na noite gélida de Trancoso ilumina a Sagrada Família na sala da estar de uma velha mãe que reza em súplica a Maria piedosa pela sua prole, essa luz imortal que activa o Templo terrestre e procede do Templo celeste, essa é a causa e a força que nos interessa. Essa é a verdadeira chave que sobeja uma vez varridas as cinzas dos corpos calcinados na fogueira das tiranias humanas. Ao queimar corpos e carne e ossos, Filipe não impediu que o “ethos” Templário se prolongasse na história através de luminárias como a Ordem de Montesa, a Ordem de Calatrava, a Ordem de Alcântara, os Cavaleiros do Gládio da Ordem Teutónica, a Guarda Real de Robert Bruce, a Estrita Observância Templária e, porventura a mais brilhantes de todas as partículas em brasa dessa Fénix Templária que foi a Ordem de Cristo de Portugal. Se Filipe teve algum mérito foi o de tornar imortal uma Ordem que mostrava sinais de decadência. Foi o de multiplicar por dez os corpos que veicularam com êxito a missão e a ética Templária ao longo da Europa medieval e renascentista.
Ora, olhando profundamente se notará que parte do espírito Templário sintetizam uns e outros ramos dessa antiga família ainda activos nos dias de hoje. Há grupos excursionistas, cujas actividades se centram em viagens pelo mundo para assistir a uma missa e uma “investidura” de gente que jamais voltam a ver na vida. Essa é uma vertente. Há outros grupos que preferem os Jantares de Gala e toda a vaidade que com eles se vive. É um outro aspecto. Os Templários originais foram acusados muitas vezes de “bêbados e comilões, pouco interessados pelos pobres”, pelo que é perfeitamente legítimo andar a exibir essa parte da Tradição Templária pelo mundo. Porque não? O que é muito difícil encontrar é um filho, num dos ramos centrais ou colaterais, que mantenha as práticas mais puras e mais bem ancoradas na verdade Templária, que possam dar acesso à tal Cavalaria Espiritual que fez o Templo e o refez sempre que assim foi preciso ao longo da História.
No nosso caso, OSMTHU, ramo da OSMTH (obrigado a seguir caminho autónomo nos anos da 2ª Guerra a partir da OSMTJ), estamos muito pouco preocupados em saber se Clemente V foi conivente com Filipe deixando que os Templários fossem queimados na fogueira, ou se Clemente V não foi conivente, assinou um documento (“Carta de Chinon”) em que absolveu a Ordem, na sequência do qual deixou Filipe queimá-los na fogueira. Para nós, o “cheiro a esturro” não se dissipa. E nós, OSMTHU, fomos os primeiros (senão os únicos) a ser convidados por Barbara Frale e o Padre Pagano a visitar os Arquivos Secretos do Vaticano e ver o documento , nos idos de 2002. Contudo sabemos que documentos históricos devem ser enquadrados no seu contexto e tempo históricos, pelo que pretender reconhecer mais de 700 anos depois da assinatura da Carta de Chinon uma Ordem fundada mais de 400 anos após a mesma assinatura é de uma desfaçatez e fantasia mitómana que em nada abona a organização que mantém esse fim, declarando à imprensa que vai “negociar” com o Vaticano… Como se o Vaticano negociasse este tipo de assuntos como quem regateia o preço das nabiças na saudosa Praça do Bolhão… Tenham paciência…
Estamos pouco preocupados em saber se o cadáver Templário pode ser exumado pelo simples facto de que o seu espírito e a sua força anímica, a sua componente transcendente (que não é de jantares anuais, mas, recorde-se, de MONGES -SOLDADOS), o seu SER, está vivo e é tão coerente hoje como o era há 800 anos. É tão Templário como sempre o foi.
Dito isto, há que reconhecer que este post é motivado pela verdadeira avalanche de emails, comentários e pedidos que temos recebido nos últimos dias de entrada na Ordem. Isto deve-se à recente cerimónia realizada em Coimbra por um outro ramo da Ordem que teve cobertura mediática muito razoável. Sobre esse ramo não nos cabe pronunciar (mais uma vez, o frutos são o melhor indicador da árvore que os dá). Cabe sim esclarecer que a OSMTHU está numa fase de interioridade que não é compatível com cerimonial público. Por um tempo ainda indeterminado a Ordem considerou que é profundamente importante reforçar os dois aspectos marcantes da nossa Tradição:
a) A Instrução da Cavalaria (quer histórica, quer filosófica, quer simbólica)
b) A Instrução Religiosa (sem a qual o potencial Cavaleiro não pode realizar a plenitude da iniciação MONGE-SOLDADO)
Estas duas componentes aparentemente contrárias (a do guerreiro que tem o poder de matar e a do sacerdote que tem o poder de absolver) são específicas do nosso ramo da Tradição Templária e não se encontram disponíveis em nenhum outro ramo activo neste momento.
Deste modo, a OSMTHU em Portugal determinou que, antes de se proceder a qualquer tipo de aproximação à Ordem, é de vital importância que possíveis candidatos às suas fileiras entendam de modo muito claro o que é a Ordem e o que podem de forma REALISTA esperar da sua filiação. Deste modo, estabeleceu-se um protocolo com o In Hoc Signo Hermetic Institute (ver www.ihshi.com) que permite a qualquer postulante empreender um período de estudo aprofundado através do Grupo de Estudos Templários, após o qual está melhor posicionado para decidir que ramo da enorme família Templária mais se coaduna com as suas aspirações.
Assim, até notícia em contrário e à semelhança de outras Ordens de carácter iniciático, a OSMTHU em Portugal delega no Instituto IHS a fase introdutória de preparação e orientação prévia dos seus futuros membros.
Mas afinal onde estão os Templários?
Ao leme, Senhor… Ainda estão ao leme.
We have done it! We have hit 1,000,000 visitors. Thank you to you all. It’s a pleasure to serve the Templar community. We are officially the most visited Templar page in the world.
Mais um marco histórico. Atingimos o número de 1,000,000 visitantes no nosso site. Obrigado a todos, É um prazer servir a comunidade Templária. Somos oficialmente o site Templário mais visitado do mundo.
This last Saturday, the 13th of March, a group of contributors and readers of the http://forum.thomar.org (in Portuguese), visited the Convent of Christ for its 11th meeting.
This was a very special one. I have been a part of this group since its early inception (I think I met them at their 2nd or 3rd meeting) and it used to be just a small number of enthusiast – no more than 8 – all discussing Templar history, the city of Tomar and its monuments and the Castle overlooking every one of these meetings. We shared books and copies of rare documents, we analyzed pictures and commented on new thesis about both the Templar Order and the Order of Christ. We had the ambition of growing in number and being able to share with more people our passion. Well, pretty much we have succeeded.
This time Rui, the main guy in a loose group without leaders or subordinates, had the idea of visiting the Convent after dark, having dinner inside, invite a few people who could talk about the Church of Santa Maria dos Olivais, see the result of a recent radar study about its floor and what lies underneath and thus commemorating the 850 years of the foundation of the Templar castle, almost to the date. In fact, the “stellar date” – so to say – is accurate, since with the precession of the equinoxes, the night sky at midnight presents the same configuration as it did that night of the 1st of March of 1160, when Master Gualdim Pais laid the first stone to the Charola Temple.
Rui arranged for a great and entertaining evening. We were guided along the dark corridors by actors playing different roles (an architect, a knight, even Gualdim Pais, the Master, who staged a short ceremony where he invested 4 children in the audience as Knights in a very funny and moving moment).
All in all a great evening spent within the walls of one of the most mysterious and most interesting Templar monuments in the world. I sure won’t miss the next meeting of this bunch!
Work is getting underway to preserve one of Scotland’s most famous and important chapels.
Rosslyn Chapel in Midlothian starred in the blockbuster Da Vinci Code and has seen a massive increase in visitor numbers since.
But thanks to a botched repair job in the 1950s the roof is crumbling and has been sealed off for some time.
The Rosslyn Chapel Trust is looking to secure a further £1 million to ensure that a £9 million restoration can be completed within the next year.
Work is set to start next month on a brand new roof for the chapel, restoring the building to its former beauty.
It is famous for the intricate carvings that line the walls of the small chapel, and the rumoured connections to the Knights Templar.
Work has already begun on restoring the stained glass windows in the main body of the building.
By Cara Sulieman
Bannockburn has long been heralded as Scotland’s finest victory over the Auld Enemy.
The battle has been celebrated in verse and song ever since Robert the Bruce defied the odds to send King Edward II’s army “hameward tae think again” in 1314.
However, a historian now claims the credit lies not with the Scots but with a band of Templar knights from overseas.
Robert Ferguson, an American lawyer, says a new “statistical analysis” shows that a significant number of Templars arrived in Scotland from other parts of Europe and that they tipped the balance in Bruce’s favour.
The King of France ordered the arrest of any Templars in his country in 1307 – seven years before Bannockburn – and Pope Clement later ordered all European monarchs to follow suit.
Ferguson claims, citing a statistician he hired for his research, that at least 29 battle-hardened knights and sergeants would have ended up in Scotland, based on 335 avoiding capture, and that they influenced Bruce’s tactics. And he argues that the real figure could even be as high as 48.
He said Bruce progressed with unusual speed from small encounters with the English to a full-blown battle at Bannockburn with properly armed men.
Ferguson says he has built up a convincing case from the circumstantial evidence that is available.
“Given the battle plan that is commonly accepted for Bannockburn, I believe that the Templars were necessary,” he said.
“The existence of Templars at Bannockburn follows a consistent line of facts.
“There is now good evidence that a number of Templars, if not most of them, were aware that they were going to be arrested, and they escaped. There’s only two places they really could escape to, Portugal and Scotland.”
Ferguson’s new claims are made in his book The Knights Templar And Scotland, which will be published in the new year by The History Press.
Ferguson is a Californian attorney, a former professor of astronomy, and a former vice-president of his local Clan Ferguson Society. His book comes with an endorsement from Raymond Morris, laird of 14th century Balgonie Castle in Fife, who claims to be the “Grand Prior of the Scots” Templars.
“Every Templar should read it,” said Morris.
There are several Templar groups in modern Scotland.
“I’ve got about 150 people in America of Scots ancestry,” said Morris.
But Ferguson’s claims were met with scorn yesterday by historian Helen Nicholson, who teaches medieval warfare at Cardiff University and is an expert on the Templars.
It has been claimed before that Templars took part in the battle, and Nicholson said Ferguson’s theories drew on discredited Victorian historical fantasies.
Nicholson said the idea was “hardly more credible” than old claims that the kingdom of Scotland was founded by the Egyptian princess Scota, and that Ferguson’s theories reheated an old slur on Bruce’s achievements.
“The myth is being used to show that Robert the Bruce was a weak man who couldn’t win his own battles, rather than the inspirational military leader that he was,” she said.
“I think that the Scots should be fighting this myth.”
Nicholson, author of The Knights Templar On Trial, bluntly said claims of Templars fighting at Bannockburn in 1314 were “rubbish”.
“There are no records of any French-speaking knights appearing in Scotland in the early decades of the 14th century in a country where French speakers would certainly be noticed.” she said.
“The story has an unpleasant result for the Scots, because it makes out that Robert Bruce was incapable of defeating the ‘all-powerful’ English, without the help of foreigners.”
The Templars’ main fighting force was wiped out at the Fall of Acre in 1291, she said. By 1307, any left with fighting skills would have been in Cyprus.
“Bruce’s battle plan at Bannockburn would have followed best contemporary practice which, as the Templars also did the same, would have meant that there were some elements in common. This does not mean that Bruce had actually met any Templars.”
The Templars rose to prominence as knights of the Crusades, guarding revered sites and castles in the Holy Land.
But on Friday, 13 October, 1307, King Philip IV of France, heavily in debt to the order, ordered the arrest of its Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, and other French Templars. Many confessed to numerous sins under torture, and Pope Clement made his order the following year.
The writer Dan Brown drew heavily on Templar stories in his 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code, which was later made into a film, claiming that the order built Rosslyn Chapel, near Edinburgh, and guarded many secrets there with their lives.
By Tim Cornwell
A supposed tibia relic belonging to Mary Magdalene is making it rounds in the U.S. From the Catholic Georgia Bulletin: “The tradition of the Church is historically pretty close to being infallible in this area,” said Borgman. “King Louis XIV crawled on his knees up the mountains to venerate the relics of Mary Magdalene, and the princes of Europe and their ladies and the queens made special pilgrimages to this grotto in the 1200s. For centuries the relics were missing, disappearing from about A.D. 710, when the Saracens pillaged the south of France and the Church hid sacred objects to safeguard them. Then in 1279, the relics were discovered by Charles II of Anjou in a crypt of a chapel in the town of St. Maximin in a sarcophagus that did not have her name but tt contained a piece of old parchment dated A.D. 710, which read, ‘Here lies the body of Mary Magdalene.’ Upon discovering the bones, Charles II sealed the crypt and gathered all the bishops for an official opening and inspection. All of the bones including the skull were found intact. The only missing bone was the lower jaw bone which was later found and identified by the pope as the same jawbone that had been venerated, for centuries, as the jawbone of Mary Magdalene, at St. John Lateran Church in Rome. A letter of authentication from Bishop Dominique Rey of Frejus-Toulon indicates that the relics have been venerated, without interruption, since their rediscovery in 1279.”
The greatest hoax perpetuated on humanity has created wars, murders, subterfuge, and the enslavement of minds of a large majority of the masses. There is a vast difference between spiritual and religion. Spiritual is one’s personal connection to the Divine within. Religion is man-made and is used to control people. The current whoop-de-la regarding a tibia supposedly belonging to Mary Magdalene is part of the great deception.
During my research for my book Secrets of the Magdalene Scrolls, I found that many of the relics so revered in the Catholic Churches were nothing more than animal bones. The fad of relics began in 325 A.D. when Constantine appointed his mother Helene to go to Palestine and locate relics of Judeo-Christian faiths. This move was to strengthen his newly found religion. It is reported that she found some nails of the crucifixion. Really? After 325 years, she was able to locate these when Jesus was not at this time revered as a Christ or the Son of God? This did not happen until the Council of Nicene in 325 A.D.
It was Paul who gave Jesus the title of Christ ,and Paul was not a disciple. Josephus, the noted Roman/Jewish historian is quoted widely by any scholar writing about Jesus and his life. In the first translation I read, there was no mention of Jesus or Mary Magdalene. I thought this was odd. A few months later, I again went to a translation of Josephus’ ”Jewish Antiquities.” In this version of “Jewish Antiquities” 18.3.3 there is a short paragraph regarding Jesus. It is possible that this paragraph was added later. What does this have to do with Paul?
I also discovered the books written by Ralph Ellis who has done extensive research into the bible and ancient history, especially that of ancient Egypt. In Ellis’ book Jesus, Last of the Pharaohs, Chapter VII, titled The Evangelist, pages 220-221. This is about the evangelist named Paul, formerly called Saul—the author of the Book of Acts, which is Paul’s autobiography.
Ellis also researched Josephus’ own autobiography and found amazing coincidences between Josephus and Paul/Saul. The events of their lives are almost identical, so much so that it is obvious that Josephus and Paul/Saul are the same person. It is this same Josephus, who became a turncoat as an undercover spy for the Romans. When the Romans conquered Jerusalem and destroyed its temple, Josephus, a Jew went to Rome and was given Roman citizenship. While living in Rome, he began his writing. Even though Josephus’ creation was a hoax, it is not the greatest one—or perhaps his was the beginning of the greatest hoax perpetuated by the Vatican in order to control the people and their minds. Today the Vatican is extremely wealthy and the papal palace filled with priceless objects. It is all about power. It is time the truth be revealed to those who have the eyes to see and the ears to hear. We are living in the era of revelations.
This relic myth is still believed today. A relic can be minute flakes of bone, a hair follicle, skin, as examples. In fact, there is one report of the foreskin removed at the circumcision of Jesus being a relic. The truth is that relics became a way to control the people and to have them worship these relics. In John 14:12, Jesus is quoted as saying, “”the works I do, shall ye do also, and greater works shall ye do.” In John 10:34, Jesus said in answer to the Jews who would stone him, “Is it not written in ‘your law’, I said, Ye are gods?” This is in reference to Psalms 82:6, “I ‘said, Ye are gods, and all of you sons of the Most High.” Religions slide over these verses and focus on false beliefs that Jesus died for your sins. I think it is time to take him down from the cross.
Mary Magdalene was deemed to be an adulteress and a repentant prostitute by Pope Gregory the Great in a speech given in 591 A.D. For centuries, she has been portrayed as a symbol of repentance. It was not until 1969 that the Church allegedly admitted that her being a prostitute was not in the Bible. Myths have an insidious way of being believed as being true.
This great myth regarding Mary Magdalene as being a ‘fallen woman’ has no actual foundation. In A.D. 710, anyone could have placed a piece of an old parchment reading, “Here lies the body of Mary Magdalene.” There is no doubt in my mind that Mary Magdalene was a great woman. Her presence in southern France and the Pyrenees is evident and her memory has been kept alive, and it is possible that it was the Knights Templar who realized her greatness and is responsible for the preservation of her memory.
With the revelation that Ben Hammott of the UK discovering a hidden tomb near Rennes-le-Chateau, France containing a mummified body of a female covered by a Knights Templar shroud, it is now suspect that the Catholic Church suddenly is sending a supposedly reliquary containing the tibia of Mary Magdalene around the United States. Hammott and others are working with the French government to examine this tomb and Hammott has already had the hair of the body tested for its DNA.
Having researched Rennes le Chateau extensively when I was writing my books “Secrets of the Magdalene Scrolls” and “Mary Magdalene, Her Legacy,” I was well aware of the vast number of treasure seekers and read numerous books on this as well as the Knights Templar and Mary Magdalene. I visited Rennes le Chateau and the Languedoc region in 2001 and returned home with a desire to know more. I knew there had to be more than what was known at the time. I pondered why a figure of a demon or devil called Asmodeus was at the entrance of the church and why there was a sign over the church entrance stating Terribilis est locus iste and generally translated as This place is terrible.
Even though there have been many interpretations of the paintings and decorations of this church, none of the researchers gave what I call a valid translation or found Saunière’s treasure. Ben Hammott had a dedicated tenacity to search and find the secret. This led him to the discovery of bottles containing these clues, which he deciphered. In his book, “Lost Tomb of the Knights Templar: A Tomb; A Treasure; A Great Secret,” Hammott deciphered the clues Saunière had left in the bottles. On page 316 of Hammott’s book begins the deciphered statements of Saunière.
Saunière found a tomb with a mummified body covered by a tattered shroud with the Knights Templar symbol of a red cross. Saunière realized that this was the body of Jesus Christ from the crucifixion marks on the body. He realized that the Catholic Church knew the story and that Christianity is based on a lie. This is explosive information. Hammott writes that Saunière decided to preserve his information and thus we have a renovated church created by Saunière with his clues for future seekers. Hammott discovery of another message, which is apparently documents of the Knights Templar giving information that they discovered the body under the Temple in Jerusalem and brought it back to France (Gaul) reburying it in this tomb.
Although Hammott discovered a tomb not with a tattered shroud, but a seemingly intact shroud that covered the mummified corpse in it. Are there two tombs? Is one of Jesus and the second the body of Mary Magdalene? Ah mystery! Following the clues Saunière left, Hammott found a possible anointing jar and a cup that could be the wedding cup of Mary Magdalene and Jesus.
If this is so, then it does indicate the duplicity of the Vatican—the cover-up and lies over the centuries. I now perceive that the demon Asmodeus represents the Catholic Church and the phrase This place is terrible refers to religion.
Ben Hammott’s book of 680 pages is never boring. He writes with humor, and uses photos to document his journey of discovery and the DNA testing of the body as well as discussing artifacts found in the tomb. From André Doucet’s book “Saunière’s Model and the Secret of Rennes-le-Chateau,” it is written, ‘There is very little difference between Galilee, Galicia and ‘Gaule’, the area of France and England. Doucet writes that one could say that “Gallile” can be read as “en galles il est,” in Gallie (Gaule) he is.”
Can the public accept this? Probably not. The Church has over the centuries coerced, plundered, murdered, warred, and above all lied. Was there ever a Paul, formerly called Saul? What did Jesus and Mary Magdalene really teach? What are their true messages to the world? What else is to be uncovered?
Bettye Johnson is the award-winning author of Secrets of the Magdalene Scrolls, an Independent Publishers Book Award Winner 2006.
Thierry Tilly looks like a geography teacher or a chartered accountant, or a French version of Bill Gates. He claims, variously, to be a Nato “master-spy”, a confidant of presidents and prime ministers, a financial genius, a 21st-century representative of an ancient, secret order descended from the Knights Templar and a man with superhuman powers sworn to fight the forces of evil.
He is now in a French prison, refusing to answer questions on possible charges of kidnap, brutality and torture. Seven or eight of his followers, from three generations of a French aristocratic family, are living in Oxford, Tilly’s base for the past nine years. One of them, formerly a gynaecologist, is working as a gardener. Others have jobs in fast-food restaurants. Until 2006, 11 members of the family had spent five years barricaded in their château at Monflanquin, 100 miles east of Bordeaux.
Their relatives say they remain under the spell of a lurid fantasy, which might have been torn from the pages of a Dan Brown thriller. They have been convinced by Tilly that their family – the De Védrines, part of the Protestant nobility of south-west France for 300 years – has been chosen to struggle against supreme evil by an ancient order called L’Equilibre du Monde (The Balance of the World). Lawyers and relatives say they refuse to accept that they have been duped and fleeced of the family fortune of up to €5m (£4.5m) by an unscrupulous, possibly deranged but mysteriously effective con-man.
Angry landlords in Oxford, owed tens of thousands of pounds by Tilly and his followers, say the De Védrines, aged from 96 to 24, are not necessarily all victims. Some members of the clan, they say, have become Tilly’s willing accomplices.
Dotty sect or elaborate fraud? Either way, since the arrest of Thierry Tilly, 44, in Switzerland last month, relatives in France are desperately worried. They fear that the “Oxford Eight” (or perhaps seven) may be so deeply under Tilly’s spell that they could fall victim to a mass suicide pact. They are angry that British authorities have refused to treat the Tilly affair seriously for more than eight months.
Jean Marchand, 62, a former financial journalist, has run an almost single-handed crusade against Tilly for eight years. The Oxford Eight include his former wife, Ghislaine de Vedrines, 55, and his two children, Guillemette, 32, and François, 30. In September 2001, they abruptly severed all ties with M. Marchand, whom they declared to be an “agent of evil”. His daughter, Guillemette, then 24, abandoned her husband after only four months of marriage. Neither husband nor father has seen her since.
M. Marchand’s wife and children barricaded themselves into the family mansion in France with Ghislaine’s elderly mother, also called Guillemette. They were joined by Ghislaine’s two highly educated and successful brothers, Philippe, then 56, and Charles- Henri, 53, Charles-Henri’s wife Christine, 51, and their three children, Guillaume, 24, Amaury, 21 and Diane, 16. The transfer of the family to Oxford began in 2006.
“I still cannot explain Tilly’s hold on my family. It is a kind of mental kidnapping,” M. Marchand said. “He does not even have to be physically present to control them. Almost from the beginning, he has issued most of his orders by telephone or by email and they have always obeyed him.”
For years, the French judicial authorities refused to intervene, despite a police investigation which showed that the family fortune, in cash, furniture, paintings, jewelry and property, was being systematically liquidated and transferred to accounts controlled by Tilly. In March this year, Charles-Henri’s wife, Christine, fled the group in Oxford and returned to France.
She told French police she had been tortured, physically and mentally, beaten and kept for days in darkened rooms. The ill-treatment, she said, was supposed to dredge from deep in her unconscious the whereabouts of a lost treasure of the Knights Templar, the powerful, shadowy, medieval order of chivalry suppressed by the French monarchy in 1307.
The French authorities issued a European arrest warrant. But. despite several requests by a French investigating magistrate, the British judicial authorities refused to honour the warrant for technical reasons. Tilly was finally arrested aboard an aircraft at Zurich airport on 21 October and extradited to France.
“You might think, or hope, that, with Tilly under arrest, the spell would be broken and they would return, painfully, to reality,” M. Marchand told The Independent in his Paris suburban home, still crowded with portraits of his lost family. “But no, it seems not. They are just as much under his spell as they were before.
“I keep thinking of the Temple du Soleil and Jim Jones’ followers in Guyana [sects which entered mass suicide pacts in 1994 and 1978]. What kind of instructions has Tilly given them? Time may be short. The authorities in France have started to take this affair seriously but in Britain we are still being ignored.”
A few days ago, M. Marchand and his lawyer, an expert criminal psychologist, and other helpers visited Oxford and tried to speak to his relatives, now living in guest-houses, expelled from large houses after they failed to pay rent. The attempt led to violent verbal clashes, photographed and filmed by French journalists. M. Marchand tried to accost his son, François, on the street, leading to another shouting match. Oxford police told M. Marchand there was nothing they could do.
“I love Britain. I have a great admiration for Britain,” M. Mar-chand said. “But the attitude of the UK judicial system in this affair has been unhelpful and obstructive since the beginning. Tilly is a convicted fraudster, with other legal problems in Britain and France. He is being sued, many times over, by ex-landlords in Oxford. The French investigating magistrate has asked for the right simply to interview the members of the De Védrines family still in Oxford. He has been systematically refused.”
M. Marchand is especially worried about his daughter, Guillemette, who has not been seen in public for months. In theory, she is still in Oxford but Mr Marchand fears she has been taken elsewhere; or that something worse may have happened to her.
Philippe de Védrines, a former oil executive, now 71, was the first family member to “escape” from Tilly, with his wife Brigitte, 61, in 2008. Much of the French police information on Tilly’s methods and far-fetched claims comes from Philippe, now living in Normandy. He refuses to bring a legal action or talk to the press.
The second breakthrough came in March this year. Christine de Védrines, 59, the wife of the former gynaecologist, Charles-Henri, was persuaded to flee from Tilly by a Frenchman, living in Oxford, for whom she worked as a cook. Robert Pouget was born in Paris and educated in Britain. He came back to England after his French military service and started a business in Oxford selling fresh produce. Mr Pouget said: “After more than a year of working for me, we sat discussing things one night after hours and she just came out with all of it, the whole story.
“She had been incarcerated of her own volition with these people. They had told her she was the direct descendant of people who knew where treasure, handed down from generation to generation, had been hidden by the Knights Templar as a fund to help French aristocrats if they got into trouble: except, she couldn’t remember where it was hidden or how to get it. She said she was taken from bank to bank in Brussels to try to find it but she just couldn’t remember. I told her that was because she had never known. She was told a lie.”
Mr Pouget arranged for Christine to call a cousin in France, who came to collect her within two days. “Christine was a very sweet, nice woman. She was good-natured and kind. When she came to work with normal people, little by little I think, the realisation dawned that it was all an illusion.”
Andrew Scully, 48, also rues the day he ever met Thierry Tilly and the De Védrines. Since renting two houses in Cornwallis Road, Oxford, to Tilly and Guillaume, in 2006 he has been involved in 19 court cases, partly for non-payment of rent, partly counter-claims by the De Védrines.
He rejects the suggestion that the De Védrines are hapless victims. He believes they are “all in it”, especially Guillaume, whom he describes as “Tilly’s right-hand man”. He adds: “They were almost imprisoned in a house that was boarded and shuttered. No one was allowed in or out. Tilly tried to tell me I was being watched and followed, that he had his own entourage of enforcers. I don’t care what happens to any of them, after what they have put me through. They think they are a high-and-mighty, wealthy family but they are just money-grabbing.”
Tilly, in prison in south-west France, is refusing to answer questions. But how was he able to commandeer the lives of three generations of a family, described by M. Marchand as “previously joyous, outward-going, successful people”?
The man was born in March 1964 in Bois-Colombes, west of Paris. He has a record of fraud convictions and failed companies in France. In 1999, he began to work for Mr Marchand’s former wife, Ghislaine (née De Védrines), who ran a successful secretarial school in Paris. He was rapidly taken into Ghislaine’s confidence and, through her, became friendly with her two brothers. M. Marchand said: “I asked her colleagues whether they thought that Tilly and my wife were having an affair. They said, ‘No, we think it’s far, far worse than that’.”
Tilly even tried to recruit M. Marchand. He claimed to be, variously, a “Nato agent”, a confidant of George Bush and to have limitless, mental powers. M. Marchand dismissed his claims as fantasy. He believes Tilly “brain-washed” the De Védrines by playing cleverly on their pride as members of a prominent, Protestant aristocratic family. He persuaded them that previous generations of the De Védrines had always been “called” to act for the forces of good against the forces of evil. He even invented a fictitious role as a wartime resistance hero for the elderly matriarch, Guillemette, but told her children never to discuss it with her.
Another technique used by Tilly, M. Marchand says, was to convince his wife and brothers-in-law that he could make them very rich, then persuaded them that they were in imminent, mortal danger from “evil forces” (including M. Marchand). If they pursued their normal lives, they would be killed instantly.
What were the De Védrines doing for all those years when they were locked in the family chateau, now sold? “Nothing. That is the tragedy,” said M. Marchand. “My brother-in-law Philippe, told me that they were doing absolutely nothing. Most heartbreakingly of all, he says that my daughter Guillemette used to have moments of lucidity. She would say, ‘The best years of my life are being thrown away’. All the same, she remained, somehow, under Tilly’s spell.”
The Independent tried to contact Charles-Henri de Védrines and one of his sons, who work for The Oxford Garden Company. The company said they declined to speak to the press “for the time being”. But Charles-Henri did say: “The truth will come out eventually, then the world will see.”