As Langdon gathered his thoughts to tell Sophie about the Priory of Sion, their taxi passed throughthe wooded entrance to the park and began heading west on the cobblestone crossfare. Langdonwas having trouble concentrating as a scattering of the park's nocturnal residents were alreadyemerging from the shadows and flaunting their wares in the glare of the headlights. Ahead, twotopless teenage girls shot smoldering gazes into the taxi. Beyond them, a well-oiled black man in aG-string turned and flexed his buttocks. Beside him, a gorgeous blond woman lifted her miniskirtto reveal that she was not, in fact, a woman.
Heaven help me! Langdon turned his gaze back inside the cab and took a deep breath.
"Tell me about the Priory of Sion," Sophie said.
Langdon nodded, unable to imagine a less congruous a backdrop for the legend he was about totell. He wondered where to begin. The brotherhood's history spanned more than a millennium... anastonishing chronicle of secrets, blackmail, betrayal, and even brutal torture at the hands of anangry Pope.
"The Priory of Sion," he began, "was founded in Jerusalem in 1099 by a French king namedGodefroi de Bouillon, immediately after he had conquered the city."Sophie nodded, her eyes riveted on him.
"King Godefroi was allegedly the possessor of a powerful secret—a secret that had been in hisfamily since the time of Christ. Fearing his secret might be lost when he died, he founded a secretbrotherhood—the Priory of Sion—and charged them with protecting his secret by quietly passing iton from generation to generation. During their years in Jerusalem, the Priory learned of a stash ofhidden documents buried beneath the ruins of Herod's temple, which had been built atop the earlierruins of Solomon's Temple. These documents, they believed, corroborated Godefroi's powerfulsecret and were so explosive in nature that the Church would stop at nothing to get them." Sophielooked uncertain.
"The Priory vowed that no matter how long it took, these documents must be recovered from therubble beneath the temple and protected forever, so the truth would never die. In order to retrievethe documents from within the ruins, the Priory created a military arm—a group of nine knightscalled the Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon." Langdon paused.
"More commonly known as the Knights Templar."Sophie glanced up with a surprised look of recognition. Langdon had lectured often enough on theKnights Templar to know that almost everyone on earth had heard of them, at least abstractedly.
For academics, the Templars' history was a precarious world where fact, lore, and misinformationhad become so intertwined that extracting a pristine truth was almost impossible. Nowadays,Langdon hesitated even to mention the Knights Templar while lecturing because it invariably led toa barrage of convoluted inquiries into assorted conspiracy theories.
Sophie already looked troubled. "You're saying the Knights Templar were founded by the Priory ofSion to retrieve a collection of secret documents? I thought the Templars were created to protectthe Holy Land.""A common misconception. The idea of protection of pilgrims was the guise under which theTemplars ran their mission. Their true goal in the Holy Land was to retrieve the documents frombeneath the ruins of the temple.""And did they find them?"Langdon grinned. "Nobody knows for sure, but the one thing on which all academics agree is this:
The Knights discovered something down there in the ruins... something that made them wealthyand powerful beyond anyone's wildest imagination."Langdon quickly gave Sophie the standard academic sketch of the accepted Knights Templarhistory, explaining how the Knights were in the Holy Land during the Second Crusade and toldKing Baldwin II that they were there to protect Christian pilgrims on the roadways. Althoughunpaid and sworn to poverty, the Knights told the king they required basic shelter and requested hispermission to take up residence in the stables under the ruins of the temple. King Baldwin grantedthe soldiers' request, and the Knights took up their meager residence inside the devastated shrine.
The odd choice of lodging, Langdon explained, had been anything but random. The Knightsbelieved the documents the Priory sought were buried deep under the ruins—beneath the Holy ofHolies, a sacred chamber where God Himself was believed to reside. Literally, the very center ofthe Jewish faith. For almost a decade, the nine Knights lived in the ruins, excavating in totalsecrecy through solid rock.
Sophie looked over. "And you said they discovered something?""They certainly did," Langdon said, explaining how it had taken nine years, but the Knights hadfinally found what they had been searching for. They took the treasure from the temple andtraveled to Europe, where their influence seemed to solidify overnight.
Nobody was certain whether the Knights had blackmailed the Vatican or whether the Churchsimply tried to buy the Knights' silence, but Pope Innocent II immediately issued an unprecedentedpapal bull that afforded the Knights Templar limitless power and declared them "a law untothemselves"—an autonomous army independent of all interference from kings and prelates, bothreligious and political.
With their new carte blanche from the Vatican, the Knights Templar expanded at a staggering rate,both in numbers and political force, amassing vast estates in over a dozen countries. They beganextending credit to bankrupt royals and charging interest in return, thereby establishing modernbanking and broadening their wealth and influence still further.
By the 1300s, the Vatican sanction had helped the Knights amass so much power that PopeClement V decided that something had to be done. Working in concert with France's King PhilippeIV, the Pope devised an ingeniously planned sting operation to quash the Templars and seize theirtreasure, thus taking control of the secrets held over the Vatican. In a military maneuver worthy ofthe CIA, Pope Clement issued secret sealed orders to be opened simultaneously by his soldiers allacross Europe on Friday, October 13 of 1307.
At dawn on the thirteenth, the documents were unsealed and their appalling contents revealed.
到13 世纪的时候，梵蒂冈的通告已经为武士团的扩张提供了极大的帮助，这让克莱蒙五世教皇下定决心对此采取一些遏制措施。他与法国国王菲利浦四世联手策划了镇压武士团、限制其财富扩张的一系列行动，以便将秘密控制在梵蒂冈城邦的手中。在一次秘密的军事演习中，克莱蒙五世教皇下达了一个命令。这个命令被事先密封了起来，欧洲各地的士兵必须等到1307 年10 月13 日--星期五--才能拆封这个命令。
Clement's letter claimed that God had visited him in a vision and warned him that the KnightsTemplar were heretics guilty of devil worship, homosexuality, defiling the cross, sodomy, andother blasphemous behavior. Pope Clement had been asked by God to cleanse the earth byrounding up all the Knights and torturing them until they confessed their crimes against God.
Clement's Machiavellian operation came off with clockwork precision. On that day, countlessKnights were captured, tortured mercilessly, and finally burned at the stake as heretics. Echoes ofthe tragedy still resonated in modern culture; to this day, Friday the thirteenth was consideredunlucky.
Sophie looked confused. "The Knights Templar were obliterated? I thought fraternities of Templarsstill exist today?""They do, under a variety of names. Despite Clement's false charges and best efforts to eradicatethem, the Knights had powerful allies, and some managed to escape the Vatican purges. TheTemplars' potent treasure trove of documents, which had apparently been their source of power,was Clement's true objective, but it slipped through his fingers. The documents had long since beenentrusted to the Templars' shadowy architects, the Priory of Sion, whose veil of secrecy had keptthem safely out of range of the Vatican's onslaught. As the Vatican closed in, the Priory smuggledtheir documents from a Paris preceptory by night onto Templar ships in La Rochelle.""Where did the documents go?"Langdon shrugged. "That mystery's answer is known only to the Priory of Sion. Because thedocuments remain the source of constant investigation and speculation even today, they arebelieved to have been moved and rehidden several times. Current speculation places the documentssomewhere in the United Kingdom."Sophie looked uneasy.
"For a thousand years," Langdon continued, "legends of this secret have been passed on. The entirecollection of documents, its power, and the secret it reveals have become known by a singlename—Sangreal. Hundreds of books have been written about it, and few mysteries have caused asmuch interest among historians as the Sangreal.""The Sangreal? Does the word have anything to do with the French word sang or Spanishsangre—meaning 'blood'?"Langdon nodded. Blood was the backbone of the Sangreal, and yet not in the way Sophie probablyimagined. "The legend is complicated, but the important thing to remember is that the Prioryguards the proof, and is purportedly awaiting the right moment in history to reveal the truth.""What truth? What secret could possibly be that powerful?"Langdon took a deep breath and gazed out at the underbelly of Paris leering in the shadows.
"Sophie, the word Sangreal is an ancient word. It has evolved over the years into another term... amore modern name." He paused. "When I tell you its modern name, you'll realize you alreadyknow a lot about it. In fact, almost everyone on earth has heard the story of the Sangreal."Sophie looked skeptical. "I've never heard of it.""Sure you have." Langdon smiled. "You're just used to hearing it called by the name 'Holy Grail.' "