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Da Vinci Code Articles

Including the 2006 court case brought by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh against Random House Publishers.

Random House Publishers were at the time publishers of both The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and the Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (HBHG) by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln.

Basically Baigent and Leigh were sueing their own publisher for plagiarism. It is perhaps my duty to point out that the movie starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou was due to be released later that same year.

At the end of the much publicised trial both books, The Da Vinci Code and Holy Blood and the revised and illustrated Holy Grail boasting Exclusive new Material (out the year before the trial) received massive boosts to their sales.

According to sources the normal edition of Holy Blood and the Holy Grail increased sales by ten fold.

In the previous year (2005) Century Publishing of Random House 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA; had brought out a new version of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail describing itself as "Illustrated Edition with exclusive New Material".  ISBN:1 844 13840 2 which retailed at the expensive for the time £20.

So nothing suspicious there then. 

It is important to note that Dan Brown, the author of the Da Vinci Code, was not the defendant in the trail but Random House Group Ltd was.

It is perhaps good to list the witnesses 'called' to testify at the trial.

Mr Leigh

 Mr Brown 

Blythe Brown

Mr Ruben

Mr Janson-Smith

Clearly the top two are relevant these being Richard Leigh the co-author of HBHG &

Dan Brown author of The Da Vinci Code

Blythe Brown is the wife of Dan Brown and she will become more interesting later.

Blythe Brown did not testify at the trial


Mr Ruben (Who?)

 Interestingly his name was mispelt in the judge's summing up

Steve Rubin was the President of Doubleday and various other companies in the Random House Group, he is quoted as saying:

 “….I have certainly never read anything like Mr Brown’s work. I believe then, and still believe now, that this type of book had never been written before”.
Thanks for your "expert" input Mr Rubin. Is that it then? 

Mr Ruben or Rubin was later to be ousted by the publishers.


Mr Janson-Smith (again Who?)

The presiding Judge MR JUSTICE PETER SMITH
said of Mr Janson-Smith

"His evidence did not assist me at all in the overall pattern except to suggest there might have been discussions between him and Mr Leigh when Mr Leigh may have given an impression that litigation was brought for the purpose of extracting money in the expectation of settlement. I do not need to form a view as to that. All I will say is that if Mr Leigh believed that he demonstrated a folly which inflicts Claimants from time to time. It is a very dangerous exercise to commence litigation in the hope that the other side will settle and make a payment. I rather suspect this will be driven home to Mr Leigh (if that was his thought) at the conclusion of this judgment."


John Peter Janson-Smith was Ian Fleming's literacy agent


Michael Baigent did not testify at the trial


 So We get to the former Mrs Dan Brown

Blythe Brown

First let me state in case you don't know that the final judgement found in favour of Random House (AKA Dan Brown) that he had not plagiarised Holy Blood and the Holy Grail.


The judge found instances in the book Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (US edition) owned by Dan Brown and Blythe Brown of annotations made by Blythe Brown.

In the margin on page 352 Blythe ( not Dan) had written in pencil

"Jesus survived."

Judge Peter Smith said:

 "As I have said I am firmly of the view that Blythe Brown at least had access to HBHG before the Synopsis was written. It does not actually matter when she used it or had access to it or when Mr Brown saw it or had access to it. The real question to be answered is the extent to which it was used. I have already set out my finding as to when HBHG was used by Blythe Brown."

 With regard to the Synopsis it used for Dan Brown's book was summed up by Judge Peter Smith thus:

"Taking into account the generality of the central themes and the repeated references to them, not only in HBHG and DVC, and bearing in mind that Blythe Brown has not come to explain how she did her research, I conclude that, in the main, the majority of the Central Themes were drawn from HBHG in a language sense but it was not the sole source of Blythe Brown’s efforts. She had the other books and they were used for the Synopsis. However, it seems to me clear that when it came to providing the Langdon and Teabing lectures a different pattern emerges. The Teacher, so called in the Synopsis, had no name. When it came to write the rest of the book at a later stage he was given the name Leigh Teabing, which is drawn from HBHG. It is logical, in my view, that having drawn the name from the authors of HBHG, Mr and Mrs Brown would do that at the time when they were writing the lecture parts of the second part of DVC. That is when they introduce HBHG into the list of books and it is in my view when the detail of the language of the Themes is created. I have already observed that in my view Blythe Brown had done significant research using HBHG from some time in 2000. I do not believe Mr Brown used it, as I have said, for the Synopsis, but it was deployed at this later stage when these lectures were written. As the bulk of the material set out in the themes is to be found in HBHG, I can not believe that Blythe Brown would have adopted a scatter gun approach to find these various themes in a series of other books. She used the other books to expand slightly the material which came from HBHG."

Notice that Blythe Brown did not turn up to be questioned under oath and was not summoned to attend by the accusers. (Strange!)

Leigh Teabing (the Teacher in Brown's book)

The name is actually made up from Richard Leigh and Teabing is an anagram of Baigent.

and yet the writer(s) of the novel said they hadn't used any details from Holy Blood Holy Grail according to the judge.

No details but used the actual authors names of Holy Blood Holy Grail.


The Templar Revelation

"Much quoted" as being from where Brown recieved ALL of his research information.

The authors were extras in the movie starring Tom Hanks.

 When starting on the research for DVC was started in May 2000 Brown says started buying books. One of the first books he purchased (he said) was Templar Revelation TR. The Synopsis he says was written long before they bought or consulted HBHG. 

On the cover of Templar Revelation (US version) TR is this statement.

“One of the most fascinating books I have read since the Holy Blood and the Holy Grail” – Colin Wilson. 

Holy Blood and the Holy grail (HBHG) is extensively cited in the text.

After the first annotations at the front of the book in Mr Brown’s copy of TR the next significant annotation is at page 39 (US Version)  where HBHG is referred to for the first time. The title of the book is actually underlined and along side it Blythe Brown has written “get this book”. Presumeably Brown is researching DVC still at this point or why would "Get this book" be important. At page 46 (US version) where the text is dealing with HBHG again parts are highlighted (by Blythe Brown). Finally in this context, TR  reports on HBHG on page 48 (US version 59 English version) as follows:

“the mass of evidence assembled by Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln in the Holy Blood Holy Grail for the historical existence of the Priory is unassailable. And yet more evidence – which has been amassed by other researchers – was published in the 1996 revised and updated edition of their book. (This is essential reading for anyone interested in this mystery.) ”

The following interesting conversation took place at the trial between:

 “MR. JUSTICE PETER SMITH (Q) and Dan Brown (A) who was in the dock:

The page numbers refer to the US version of The Templar Revelation 

Q............can I ask you to look at page 48 of Templar Revelation, second paragraph at the end. Do you see what they say about Holy Blood, Holy Grail?

A. The second paragraph?

Q. It starts: "The mass of evidence".

A. On page 49?

Q. 48.

A. "The mass of evidence", yes. (Pause for reading) Yes.

Q. How did you miss it?

A. How did I miss it?

Q. Templar Revelation tells you Holy Blood, Holy Grail is "essential reading" for anyone interested in this mystery and yet that is the only book you did not look at.

A. Actually, I am sure there is an enormous bibliography here of material that we did not look at. In fact, on page 39 there is an actual note that says go and look at the Holy Blood Holy Grail.

Q. That would not really help you. The two things would suggest that you would actually go and get Holy Blood, Holy Grail as "essential reading", it says.

A. And, as I have said, yes, it was essential reading we used it at some point. The question here is when it entered the mix.

Q. You get Templar Revelations around May 2000, you are preparing the synopsis ultimately leading to its release in January 2001. The Templar Revelations is a book that you heavily rely upon and it tells you that HBHG is essential reading. Yet when leading up to the synopsis you want me to believe that you did not look at it?

A. That is exactly what I want you to believe. It is a very short period of time. I am dealing with broad strokes. I have everything I need in the books in my synopsis, in that bibliography. I would not have been eager to pick up a book this thick about specifics when Templar Revelation so beautifully outlines the points I needed; the same with Margaret Starbird. I am in a synopsis phase. I am looking at the big picture, not the details”.

What Dan Brown is saying that he has acquired all the books he needed for material for his novel accept the one described to him as essential reading.

The ones that had brought litigation against him.

But we know Blythe Brown had read HBHG and used some of the information.

A reminder that Blythe Brown was not summed to testify by those representing Baigent and Leigh.

Curiouser and Curiouer.

Now here is

Judge Peter Smith on Blythe Brown

"With that in mind however I accept Mr Brown’s evidence that he did not use HBHG when he wrote the Synopsis. The single point identified in this extract of cross examination referred to above is equally explicable on the basis of Mr Brown being caught out in paragraph 123 in being overly casual. I do not accept that this single point is sufficient to reject his evidence on this point. It is quite possible that the annotation occurred after the Synopsis was written when Sophie was linked to Sauniere. 


He is supported in my view by an examination of the theme of the Synopsis. It seems to me that the theme of the Synopsis is clearly derived from WAJ (Woman with the Alabaster Jar), TR (Templar Revelation), HK (Hiram Key)  and GG (Goddess in the Gospels). It concentrates on the artistic elements of Leonardo da Vinci and the Sacred Feminine Line. I accept that this was down to Blythe Brown’s beliefs in this area and I can see and determine in my view that those were the sources for the Synopsis. 33

Use of HBHG By Blythe Brown/Dan Brown

 However that does not lead to the conclusion that Blythe Brown did not have HBHG at that time and had not prepared research based on it. In my view later evidence as I will set out in this judgment plainly demonstrates that she was using HBHG as a source of material to put to Mr Brown when the Synopsis was written and earlier. It is possible (and given the passage of time the omission is quite understandable) that in discussions between Blythe and Mr Brown the word “Mer” was discussed in the context the Merovingians. Mr Brown could easily then have incorporated that in the Synopsis without appreciating that she had taken it from HBHG already.


"As appears further in this judgment there is significant other material which points inexorably to Blythe Brown having used HBHG extensively much earlier (as early as 2000 in my view) than Mr Brown admits. I do not accept that he necessarily knew that and I suspect that this is the area of difficulty which has led to Blythe Brown not giving evidence."


A reminder that this is Judge Peter Smith saying this

Dan Brown later said that he had not used Holy Blood Holy Grail for his material but has used Margaret Starbird's book Woman with the Alabaster Jar and Goddess in the Gospels for a large part of his synopisis for The Da Vinci Code

Margaret Starbird says in her introduction that she got the basis of the story for her books from Holy Blood and the Holy Grail as early as 1985.

Judge Peter Smith says:

"It is even clearer in the case of WAJ (Woman with the Alabaster Jar) where Margaret Starbird, in her preface, sets out why she came to write the book. As part of her interest in Judeo – Christian Scriptures in 1985 she read HBHG. She says she was frankly appalled and believed that the authors of HBHG were not only wrong but their book bordered on blasphemy. She says (rightly in my opinion) that the core of HBHG was the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. She, being a catholic, assumed the authors of the heretical book were mistaken and that therefore it is quite wrong to believe that the established church had suppressed ruthlessly the important female role in the early church. She set about finding the truth. She believed it would be an easy exercise and interestingly she started at the paintings and the symbolism to be found in paintings. After her detailed investigations she completely turned round and came to the conclusion that “there was real substance in their theories set forth [HBHG]”. It is clear, therefore, that WAJ is the product of an independent process of reasoning on the part of Margaret Starbird. One example suffice is to show that this is the case. She refers (page 61) to the child of Jesus and Mary Magdalene being called Sarah. That is plainly the product of her researches; as I have already said it is not to be found in HBHG. I have already observed that that aspect is also to be found in DVC."

(Page 61).



Da Vinci Code Documentaries by Paul Smith

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