Gustave Vison, an impossible quest?
This discovery started in a rather unconventional manner, namely with the study of Clovis d’Ardentor, a work that some have linked with the mystery of Rennes-le-Château. The book was written by Jules Verne, who had a certain privileged relationship with Archduke Louis Salvator, nephew of the Austrian Emperor. Clovis d’Ardentor was written in 1896, one year before the murder of Gélis. The action itself is set in 1885, one year before the publication of “La vraie langue celtique et le cromleck de Rennes-les-Bains” by Henri Boudet.
has been discussion about Clovis d’Ardentor before, specifically the
mention that the captain of the Argeles is named Bugarach, the name of the
mountain very close to Rennes-le-Château.
One image in the book immediately strikes us as quite important: the Barrel. Clovis traverses a gigantic barrel on horseback, which occupies almost half of the illustration. It is one of the items that caught the attention of Michel Lamy in his book on Jules Verne, but we will refrain from using certain play on words and other Kabbalistic techniques. We will mere list the facts, and nothing but the facts.
is clear that the book has several Masonic and occult references. Ardentor
is born, and lives, in the “Place de la loge (no. 4)”, a clear
Masonic reference. Normally, he embarks in Marseille, where, in 1868, Brother
G. Cremieux, venerable of the Lodge “La Réunion des Amis Choisis”
created a central security savings bank. Marseille, where Joseph Bonaparte
is initiated in 1973, in the Lodge “La Parfaite Sincérité”;
later, he becomes King of Spain.
There are also indirect references, such as his encounter with the widow Elissanne and her daughter in Oran, “where he chose domicile for the adoption”. Do we need to understand that he actually refers to the creation of a lodge? Oran, we note, is in Algeria.
Mr. Oriental, of Montpellier, is an astronomer, who has become a Gastronomer. Should we see the addition of the letter G as a reference to the Craft? Furthermore, the name Oriental obviously is linked with the Orient – another name for the Craft – and we note that in Montpellier, he might be underlining certain Masonic references of that city? Let us note that it is here, in 1754, that Martines de Pasqually founded Masonic rites, and that it was here too that from 1820 onwards, one Augustin Vernhes directed the lodge of the Rite of Misraim.
Several of the characters in the novel are also coopers. P. Pigorin is a specialist, especially of the “old Rivesaltes” – something which we hold dear, if only because of its proximity to Perillos. Let us also note that the Rivesaltes is linked with Bugarach, through the river Agly. Let us also note that the movement of all of these characters is between the Pyrénées-Orientales, the Balearic Island and Oran. It seems that Jules Verne is making certain allusions between events that involve these areas and even highlights the period: the first empire, with the French prisoners on the Ilet de Cabrera, the conquest of Algeria, from 1830 onwards, as well as the revolution that same year, with George Sand and Chopin in Valldemosa in 1838 – the latter referenced in the novel.
is a fact of life that the region of the Pyrénées-Orientales
is a primary industry for coopers. In 1872, there were 60 cooperage ateliers
in Narbonne, producing products worth three million gold francs. Most of
it was of course destined for the vineyards. Apart from Narbonne, other
principal centres were Perpignan, Sète, Frontignan, Mêze and
Béziers – in short, the major cities of the region.
In the “Bulletin des lois de l’Empire Français”, 11th series, second semester of 1853, number 68 to 121, we read about the “houses of Vison and Ducros de Saint Germain”, the seat of which is at Narbonne (Aude) through the Lord of Manneville, relating a judgment that involves a mechanised system of tons. The ruling states that the house of Vison and Ducros de Saint Germain had the exclusive right to use this system, though only in the Aude department. And that, of course, is where we came upon the name Vison.
The Vison enigma
was Jos Bertaulet who introduced the enigma of Gustave Vison into the mystery
of Rennes-le-Château, underlining the man’s memorial stone along
the “Voie Sacrée” that climbs from the river’s
valley to the sanctuary of Notre-Dame de Marceille. The commemorative stele
states that Gustave Vison died on May 2, 1886.
Around 1990, Jos Bertaulet was unable to find any reference to this man’s existence and concluded that the stone – the only one of its kind along the route – had been set up by Henri Boudet, part of the “game” the latter was playing with his book, The True Celtic Tongue, which referenced Notre-Dame de Marceille and which had been published in 1886 as well.
It was only a decade later that André Douzet was able to find the proper paperwork, which Bertaulet had been unable to find, as there were certain differences between the information listed on the stele and “reality”.
to the act, Vison had died of cardiac arrest, even though the autopsy stated
that he died as the result of a great number of fractures. Let us note that
the funerary stele is very visible, but that in the cemeteries of Limoux
or Narbonne, there is no trace whatsoever of the tomb of Vison, who appeared
to have lived elsewhere.
Léon Gineste sums up that “the case of Mr. Gustave Vison and his funerary monument are an interesting enigma”. For Gineste, the tomb of Vison is not discovered “for reasons that the reader will find in the works of Fulcanelli”. But we wonder whether there are other reasons too.
The Vison solution?
The reference to a firm “Vison & Ducros de Saint Germain” proved that at least there was a Vison not just anywhere, but in the general region, and more or less the correct timeframe. This was a major revelation. It is – in all bizarre circumstances – an interesting fact that we chanced upon it through Clovis d’Ardentor. For when we look into this firm, we find that his parents, Pierre Vison and Marie Stocky died at Oran – in Algeria! And apart from this information, we also have further information, specifically links to Ducros de Saint Germain and one De Manneville.
There are a number of people named “Ducros de Saint Germain”, and the one we are hunting for is related to the Ducros de Saint Germain who married Honorine Mazer on April 14, 1816. We do not know whether they had children, but we know that Isaure Ducros de Saint Germain and Gustave Vison had one child, Charles, born in 1859, who died in 1860, when he was looked after by Jean Bergasse; he was buried in the cemetery of Fontcouverte.
Of Ducros de Saint Germain, we know that – from the “Almanach Royal et National” of 1839, that a member of the family was mayor of Narbonne – an important political position. Let us add that fifty years later, Narbonne would become the hub where Saunière received the support of certain individuals, before being sent back to Rennes in 1886 – the year Vison died.
seems that Ducros’s mayorship was not without incident. 1848 was a
tumultuous year, especially in Paris, and there were echoes of it in the
provinces. Narbonne was divided in two groups: those of Lamourgier, which
was the group of the Reds and the party of the old mayor, and the “Union
of the Whites”, who were convening with Hercule Birat, near Saint-Just.
There were violent clashes between the two clans and the municipality of
Verdier, held responsible, was dissolved. After dubious elections, the new
municipality was lead by the “Party of Order” and Ducros de
Saint Germain presided over it. This party was loyal to Louis Napoléon
Bonaparte, but several of its members went into the opposition after the
coup d’état of December 2, 1851.
We read in the “Journal de Toulouse, Politique et Littéraire”, of July 26-27, 1852, that a prefectorial arrest of July 23 suspended Ducros de Saint Germain in his function of mayor because of the publication of internal correspondence between the prefecture and the mayor. M. Peyre, first adjunct, replaced him with immediate effect.
Peyre was previously mayor of Limoux – and Limoux is, of course, where Notre-Dame de Marceille is located. In documents from 1842, it is reported that Peyre was accused of having maintained certain Carlists into certain position, some of which were relatives, and others who were placed in positions so as to ease his election.
In 1851, when Ducros de Saint Germain was mayor, 174 inhabitants of Limoux were arrested following the coup d’état of December 2, and several were deported to Algeria, in 1852, guilty of being “affiliated with Secret Societies”. It is clear that such an event left evidence throughout the towns and villages. This was no mean feat. It is an important part of the history of Limoux, which has never been properly highlighted.
M. de Manneville
Thomas de Manneville was a magistrate, a soldier, born February 21, 1766 in Manneville-la-Raoult (Eure), who died May 8, 1855. In several documents, he is referred to as “the knight de Mannevillle” or “Delamarche de Manneville” (in Honfleur, Calvados). Members of his family were indeed Knights of Malta – even residents of Malta. He was interested in mechanics and might have contributed to the industrialisation of Honfleur. He founded a beet sugar factory and received awards for certain mechanical inventions that aided the production of tons. Indeed, in 1852, we find in the notes of the meetings of the Academy of Sciences (volume 35, p. 477) a request to the Academy to give a verdict over a production system that would determine the capacity with great ease and precision. Let us also note that he had a factory, as early as 1817, in Stenay, a site that would later become linked with the mystery of Rennes.
Pierre and Gustave Vison
And thus we have finally arrived where we need to be. Lucien Sabah’s doctoral thesis “La franc-maçonnerie à Oran, 1832-1914” provides us with various most interesting details. It was quite a quest to find this document, which is only available as a thesis in photocopied format, in certain rare university libraries. In short, to find out about the Vison family… one needs to look in Algeria, not the most obvious of locations, but in retrospect, not illogical either.
In the “livre d’or” of the Union Africaine, we find a note, in the results of the elections of December 19/24, 1846 and September 1, 1847:
M. Vison Sr, payeur adjoint (assistant payer)
M. Vison Jr, propriétaire (owner)
minutes of the meetings of January 16 and 30, 1847, reveal that the Venerable
thanks the brothers Vison – who were initiated into this lodge –
whereby the younger of the two leaves the lodge, apparently not receiving
any satisfaction from attending these meetings.
In the minutes of August 14, 1847, Vison Sr is put forward as secretary. At the same time, brother Sauzède, already initiated in the “mysteries of the temple” was elected Venerable of the Lodge.
On August 17, 1847, we see that the Venerable introduces the brothers Vison, François and Gustave, the latter the very man we are looking for. The brothers Vison quit the lodge of the Union Africaine d’Oran: the Vison family then appears again in 1850-1851 in the Lodge La Baie du Salut of Arzeu, where they appears as founding members, as follows:
Vison Pierre, agent du trésor M °°° (Maître)
Vison Gustave, négociant M°°° (Maître)
It highlights that both were initiated into Freemasonry in Africa, but then moved to France, where they continued, as Master Masons, their interest in the Craft. It thus means that the man who died at Notre-Dame de Marceille… was a leading mason. Surprise. Surprise?
We also note that his profession is listed as a trader, which conforms to his 1886 death certificate. He is identified as the son of Pierre Vison (again conform to the death certificate, though by that time, his father had died at Oran). Of course, we’ve now also learned that he had a brother, François, information not present in the death certificate.
Let us note that this Lodge, of which the Vison family were founding members, was founded in 1850 and closed in 1852, or: after the events of 1848 and after the coup d’état of 1851. To this, we need to add that “contrary to the majority of the lodges of the G.O. [Grand Orient] in Algeria, La Baie du Salut had demanded to practice the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite” (Un siècle de franc-maçonnerie algérienne, X. Yacono, 1969), whereby it was Gabriel-Mathieu-Marconis de Nègre, according to Robert Ambelain, who was holder of all the degrees. It’s a small world, isn’t it?
us note that Vison Jr was a member of the Loge l’Union Africaine d’Oran,
where the Venerable was Pierre Sauzède, born October 25, 1799 in
Quillan, a royal notary, made knight on September 24, 1838, holy bishop
of Oran on May 12, 1833, by the Magistral Legate Amédée de
Tremescen, pontiff of the Primitive Christian Church. As such, it is clear
that the neo-Templars crossed to Africa very quickly, organising themselves
in Oran even before the Grand Orient came to settle there. Let us add that
the Loge de l’Union Africaine had obtained from the Grand Orient the
authorisation to cumulate the rites of French and Scottish masonry (obtained
August 3, 1849).
But let us also add that one of the people he liaised with in Africa, was a native of Quillan. Let us also note that Vison was a rather high-profile member of society, both in Algeria and France. That he was a leading Freemason. And that he had an enigmatic death in 1886 at Notre-Dame de Marceille.