Holy Blood, Holy Grail: The Secret History of Christ & The Shocking Legacy of the Grail

by Michael Baigent

Paperback, 2004



Call number

DC40 .B33


Dell (2004), 496 pages


A revolutionary study explores the startling information uncovered in mysterious parchments unearthed in a small French church that reveal new insight into the mystery of the Holy Grail.

Media reviews

Knjiga je nastala kao rezultat zainteresovanost autora za misteriju Rene-I-Šatoa, odnosno ruševina srednjovekovne tvrđave u njegovoj blizini. Tragajući za odgovorima na ovu misteriju oni su nas uveli u mističan svet vitezova templara, tajnih pergamenata, mistike u tajnim društvima, njihovim ritualima, odvodeći nas do samih osnova hrišćanstva i pitanja da li je ono što nam govori današnja Biblija istina ili spretni falcifikat. Rasvetljavajući nam same početke hrišćanstva kroz materijalne dokaze koji su odoleli vremenu i uništavanju od strane onih kojima nije odgovaralo izvorno hrišćanstvo.

User reviews

LibraryThing member steambadger
Yes, yes -- I know it's not true. It's still one of the most delicious hoaxes in literary history.
LibraryThing member craigim
I found this book (and the sequel) while browsing at Powell's City of Books. Pinned under a shelf full of Dan Brown books was a card saying that if I liked his books, I should check out Holy Blood, Holy Grail in the non-fiction religion section, so I bit and picked up this, the sequel (The Messianic Legacy) and Angels and Demons by Dan Brown.

Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln start off with the discovery of French documents that purport to outline a secret history of Jesus after the resurrection wherein he and Mary Magdalene fled to France and settled down, had kids, and fathered a line of French kings that exists to the present day.

Each chapter follows a general pattern: take a document or set of documents, engage in wild speculation about how, with the right set of eyes, you can see how it fits into the grand scheme of things, and admit that it is speculation but that it could be true. Then, begin the next chapter with some variation of, "now that we concretely established X from the previous chapter as true, we will now examine the next bit of evidence". Rinse, repeat.

Although it's all pretty silly, and it was later revealed that the documents they rested their theories on were forgeries, they are far more imaginative than Dan Brown could ever hope to be, so if you're into that kind of conspiracy theory fiction, read the original rather than subjecting yourself to The da Vinci Code, as it is pretty much a fictionalization of Holy Blood Holy Grail.
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LibraryThing member Muscogulus
A relative sent me a copy of the book several years ago (before The Da Vinci Code, which plays off this book's claims). It's utterly ludicrous, but a textbook example of how to play a con game with the public using little-known or half-remembered episodes and characters from ancient and medieval history.
The trick is to come up with a fictional past that people will want to believe in (in this case: Jesus married Mary Magdalene, and just as you always suspected, the whole church establishment is a fraud). Then write a tedious narrative full of mystifying language about how we, the authors, were inexorably drawn to believe this theory in despite of all our dry-as-dust scholarly colleagues with their timorous reliance on careful sourcing.
All this padding is essential; it adds heft to your book, which increases its air of authority. But be sure to spice it up here and there with quick-moving passages that assert really wild and sexy claims (like, a lineal descendant of Jesus will someday assert a claim to rule all of Europe). These will be the only parts most readers will absorb, so give them arresting subheadings.
Readers will underline these passages and email their friends, then ask their ministers about them. Soon one or two scandalized churchmen can be counted on to rail against your book on TV. You'll be invited to appear as well, for the sake of balance, and all you have to do is act the role of a maverick but dedicated scholar.
Then the paperback comes out, graced with a lengthy introduction in which you express, with cherubic innocence, your shock at all the uproar about your humble and sincere efforts to uncover the truth. History Channel, here we come.
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LibraryThing member johnclaydon
The main thesis seems to be bogus but some of the background is worth following up. Overall, fun reading.
LibraryThing member melannen
I'm only about a third of the way through, so I suppose it gets better - but this is dense, plodding, (very small type), and it manages to include *every single one* of the fallacies commonly employed by writers of crank paperbacks, all at once. (seriously - somewhere I have an essay catagorizing them all with examples from *one chapter* of this book.)

The occcasional tidbits of fact slipped in (such as the mystery of what Sauniere found and the cutting of the Elm) are fascinating, though. Too bad they're weighted down with tons of unreliable speculation, so I have no idea what I can believe without checking the sources. Instead of playing on the reader's idiocy to try to convince them it's all God's honest truth, somebody should write this (admittedly fascinating) story as fiction.

Only, you know, do it well.
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LibraryThing member tole_lege
Note the tag I have used... (this is not the edition I own, however, I doubt that makes much difference).

Interesting - if you are as fascinated as I am with what people will believe, read this.

If you want history - go to Barber (MALCOLM) et al.
LibraryThing member jeaneva
I tagged this "nonfiction?" because I found it difficult to believe anyone would read this without thinking they were reading an alternate history novel dressed up as a historical thesis, complete with footnotes. I actually enjoy those conjectures--like what if Gandhi had faced a German conqueror in India or what if the South had been allowed to secede or win the Civil War or what if a Romanov had survived the assassination. (In fact I OWN all those stories in book form.)
Because the authors of THIS book actually believe this, I tried to seriously follow their trail of the Grail. Not convincing.
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LibraryThing member thf1977
I first read Holy Blood, Holy Grail back in 1995 long before the Da Vinci Code was even conceived, and I was much inspired by it. Even though the authors are not "official" historical scholars, and despite various arguments being based on rather poor (or non-existing) historical evidence, a lot of the theories are actually plausible and interesting. And most of those theories are not unsubstantiated, despite what some critics have said. Holy Blood, Holy Grail is thoroughly annotated, and it's main problem seems to be, not the lack of sources, but rather the lack of source criticism.

I say, if you read the book mostly for the historical theories, then skip the parts about the bloodline and even the Prieure de Sion. Those parts are entertaining and well written, but (unfortunately?) proven wrong to some extent. However, their theories and descriptions of early christianity and the Knights Templar carries much more weight, and leans on more respected sources. This book is really not as ridiculous as some people have claimed it to be!
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LibraryThing member Sundownr
The book is quite detailed in trying to prove its theory and does so very well as far as I am concerned. It took me a while to read through and absorb. I learned many things, a few I never thought to ask, in reference to religion in general and Christianity specifically.
LibraryThing member giant_bug
Dan Brown took most of his ideas for the Da Vinci code from these guys.

"He who steals my purse steals trash." about sums it up.
LibraryThing member RajivC
This is a good book overall, and seems to be very well researched.

What I like is the rather dry manner in which the authors have written the book. Anyone expecting shocking revelations at the turn of every page will be disappointed.

While the dry style is good, it also means that there are times when your attention wavers, and can make grasping the complex links a bit challenging.

The main conclusion is, however, tenuous in my opinion. Establishing a bloodline with genetic data is difficult enough, and to establish a 2,000 year old bloodline on the basis of documents even more so. I would think that there is some speculation here.

That Jesus Christ was a mortal man, married, and was deified later is entirely possible. I have my own country, and the myths of Rama and Krishna to attest to this possibility.
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LibraryThing member denmoir
Entertaining although patent nonsense. Much better than the dreadful da Vinci code
LibraryThing member antiquary
Even just dipping into this, it was full of obvious errors.
LibraryThing member Adrianesc
I read this book before the Da Vinci Code came out andwondered why everyone thought those ideas were new. These guys researched it first!
LibraryThing member brian_irons
I read this after I had read 'The Davinci Code' interested in the true story behind it. What I came out with was much more than I had expected. The idea that Christ fathered a child (to me) is not unheard of. Controversial yes, but not unbelievable. In my opinion it makes perfect sence.
LibraryThing member theportal2002
This was a great book. It was where Dan Brown got his idea for the Da Vici Code. If you love conspiracies this is a book for you.
LibraryThing member erock71
I purchased and read this book before The DaVinci Code erupted into the popular culture. I stumbled on to it quite by accident. This book helped to fuel my interest in Christian Mythology. The whole premise of this myth has been debunked by numerous scientists, historians, and theologians. But isn't that exactly what makes a good conspiracy even more intriguing? There are few proposed conspiracies that can abduct the good reason of people like this particular Holy Grail myth. Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln weave a dense tapestry of intrigue as they follow this presumably valid conspiracy of the bloodline of Jesus. Their search begins with insignificant people from virtually unknown locales and gradually discover the involvement of some of the most famous names in history. This has been uncovered as an elaborate hoax perpetrated by an eccentric gentleman in France.

Still, there is much there to make one wonder if there isn't just a bit of truth to the myth. If you are a fan of mythology or conspiracy, check this out. It's not a short read and is dense with dates, places, and names but that is what makes it one of the greatest mythologies in history.
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LibraryThing member corgidog2
Intellectually challenging read suggesting that the holy grail is actually the bloodline of Jesus carried on into modern times. Read it. It is much more satisfying than The Da Vinci Code.
LibraryThing member rebelwriter85
Reads like a good mystery or thriller. What is chilling is that it is non-fiction. At times it may be hard to follow with the flowery British writing.
LibraryThing member bostonian71
Interesting and extremely thought-provoking theory. Major weak point is that the authors will make certain assumptions (admitting that there's no concrete evidence to support them), then use them as though they were rock-solid facts.
LibraryThing member JBD1
The "underpinning" for "Da Vinci Code". Generally unconvincing and unscholarly.
LibraryThing member danrebo
While the authors don't convince on the historical case, the book reads like a mystery novel or a thriller. I enjoyed it on that basis alone. That Magdalen's womb was literally the vessel of Jesus' blood(line), represented symbolically by the Holy Grail, is as charged (and heretical) a metaphor as there could be for the Christian church. But heresies and conspiracy theories are exciting material for thrillers; the authors might have done better by calling it a novel, as Dan Brown did: then they could have hired him instead of suing him over it--but maybe that's just good marketing at this point.… (more)
LibraryThing member bleached
An interesting insight into the mystery of the holy grail. Remarkable ideas, which have been featured in other works including The Da Vinci Code, with facts to back them up. A very interesting and thought-provoking book.
LibraryThing member KbookB
Holy Blood, Holy Grail is an exciting and interesting look at Christianity and several, now infamous, secret societies. The authors begin their story with a French priest who became suddenly wealthy, and this quickly leads them to information about the Knights Templar, the myth of the Holy Grail, the life of Jesus, and the Priory of Scion. Each discovery yields more questions as the researchers attempt to find how all of these disparate threads weave together.

Most readers will be familiar with the ideas in the Holy Blood, Holy Grail, thanks to the Da Vinci Code. Its pretty obvious that Dan Brown based his novel on the research in this book. The authors do an excellent job of presenting their findings and are very open about what they can support with documentation and what they are making educated guesses about. Even the guess are plausible and it all presents a very interesting picture. Readers interested in history, religion or a good detective novel will enjoy this book.
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LibraryThing member DCArchitect
A fascinating look at hidden history with just enough evidence to make it look plausible. As with all matters of religion, one's opinion about the veracity of the claims within this book are most likely preconcieved, but it's a fun read that speaks to the consiracy theory in all of us.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

496 p.; 5.2 inches


0385338457 / 9780385338455


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