The Missing King
In history there are many myths of great leaders who will return one day to lead their oppressed followers to victory. Let us look at a few of them. I am not going to examine King Arthur or Robin Hood, because the legends attached to them appear to have been composed long after their supposed existence.
Jesus Christ Not the one who was said to have been crucified under Pontius Pilate, but the one who is said to have escaped from Titus's capture of Jerusalem in AD 70 and who was the only survivor of the capture of Masada in AD 73. Flavius Josephus describes how, when the Jewish Revolt of 66 AD had been reduced to a last-ditch stand in the Temple, there were three factions competing for the leadership of the Jewish nation. The Romans stood by and let them all fight it out between themselves. In the process the Temple was wrecked. The leader that the Gospels are really about was Eleazar bin Jair, who is identified by Josephus in The Jewish Wars and, more cryptically, in the “Secret Gospel” which was the name given to the last three chapters of St Mark by early Christian writers.
Amazingly, it is still orthodox Christian doctrine that this person will come back and reign over us. There are several later legends about this Christ's subsequent movements. (1) He died in Kashmir in AD 100; (2) He went to Glastonbury (this is an obviously bogus story put out by monks to cash in on the tourist trade); (3) He took his family to Narbonne. It is from this legend that certain families claimed descent from Christ. I have discussed the appalling slaughter that its proponents caused in the 17th Century.
I suspect that the fact that Jewish scholars have understood the Jesus Christ legend in relation to their own history is the original reason for the persecution of the Jews by Christians at various times ever since.
King Dagobert II He was the last of the Merovingian dynasty of Kings of France. He disappeared in AD 741, mysteriously. He was one of those supposedly descended from Christ through his descendants in Narbonne. He was replaced by his steward Pepin (ruled 741-768), the founder of the Capetian dynasty. One imagines that Dagobert was simply murdered, though he may have forestalled this likely end by emigrating. The story is that he will return in his country's direst need and lead his people to victory. His badge was the Golden Bees (see below). This legend survived in folk memory and was picked up by the student of mediaeval literature JRR Tolkien and incorporated in The Lord of the Rings, in which Gondor is France and Aragorn is Dagobert.
The point is that Dagobert and his descendants (if any) are the true Kings of France; Pepin and his descendants are just keeping the throne warm until the true King reveals himself.
The Twelfth Imam The main branch of Shi'a Islam are known as “Twelvers” because they accept the authority of twelve Imams, or religious leaders. The first eleven of these were murdered, and the twelfth, who should have acceded to his father's position in AD 874, disappeared. The subordinate officials of the Shi'a religion carried on receiving the Imam's income, but there came a point where he could not be presumed to be alive any longer. So he was said to have gone into “occultation”, from where he would at some time return and lead his followers to glory. This is an essential belief of devotees of the main body of Shi'a Islam. It is tempting to see a close parallel with the orthodox Christian dogma, so much so that one legend could have influenced the other.
I like to think that the twelfth Imam, aware of the fate of all his predecessors, did a runner and lived out his life as a Christian in Constantinople. However, he could just as easily have been knifed and chucked down a well. The latter is more likely, since the later Imams were effectively prisoners of the Sunni régime in Baghdad. The twelfth Imam was only eight years old when he was last seen.
The Orleans Family Henri IV, on his assassination in 1610, was succeeded by his eldest son, who came to the throne as Louis XIII (1601-43). Louis was a child when he succeeded, and when he came of age it was evident that he was homosexual. He spent his time with his mignons, and left the government in the hands of Cardinal Armand Duplessis, Duc de Richelieu (1585-1642). For form's sake Louis married Anne of Austria (1601-1666), but the pair lived apart and kept separate courts. So it was a great surprise to one and all when Anne gave birth to a son in 1638. The story was hurriedly fabricated that Louis had chanced to meet his wife in a hunting lodge, and, being overwhelmed by her beauty, got her pregnant.
Richelieu was succeeded by Anne's adviser Cardinal Mazarin (1602-61), and Louis was succeeded by Anne's little boy Louis XIV (1638-1715), with Anne acting as Regent during the child's minority. The hunting lodge story was obviously a stitch-up. Most people believed that Mazarin himself was the boy King's father; and Louis in later years seemed to confirm the story by his efforts to destroy any existing portraits of Cardinal Mazarin.
The person who lost out was Louis XIII's younger brother, Gaston Duc d'Orléans, who would have been the legitimate heir. Admittedly, Gaston had a bad reputation. He had been caught conspiring with foreign enemies against his own brother, and he was lucky to have kept his head on his shoulders. So he was never in a position to challenge Richelieu, Mazarin, and Anne. So there came into being the Orléans bloodline, all believing that they were the legitimate rulers of France, but having no backing among the political classes that would have enabled them to mount a challenge. So they had to fume silently.
Silently, that is, until the Revolution, when the current head of the family, Louis-Philippe d'Orléans, changed his name to Philippe Égalité. He voted in the National Assembly for the guillotining of Louis XVI and his queen. His son, also Philippe Égalité, did not benefit; he tried consorting with France's enemies and had to take refuge in Twickenham. In due course the 1830 Revolution broke out, the last Bourbon was deposed, and Philippe was elected King under the name of Louis-Philippe. His régime was known as the July Monarchy and he the Bourgeois King. After years of corruption and a series of bad harvests, the 1848 Revolution saw him deposed in his turn, and he ended his days as “Mr Smith”.
There is more to this story. Napoleon Bonaparte had been briefed by Charles Nodier, the Librarian of the Bibliothèque Nationale, about the back history, real or supposed, of the French monarchy. That is why Napoleon's imperial coronation robe was embroidered with the golden bees of Dagobert II.
And there is yet more. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, being a Freemason, would have been kept aware of the the circulating driftwood of bygone conspiracies. I contend that the names of the two girls in Così Fan Tutte, Fiordiligi and Dorabella, are a reference to the French hidden king legend. It is just Mozart's way of telling those in the know that he too was fully informed. “Fiordiligi” is simple: it is Fleur-de-Lys, the emblem of the Valois and subsequently the Bourbon kings. “Dorabella” looks like “Beautiful Gift”, a perfectly pleasant name to give a baby girl. But if you write it “D'or Abella” you get “Golden Bee”. References to the Dagobert legend may be presumed to be coded references to the contemporary claims of the Orléans family.
Moral: A legend does not have to be true for it to influence people's decisions. On the contrary, we ought to define a legend as a story that does influence people's decisions. That is why we must be very careful what stories we put about!
The eleventh Imam, Hasan al-Askari, died in a Sunni prison in our AD 874. At the same time his son, Abu al-Qasim Muhammad, recognised as the twelfth Imam, “went into occlusion”. He was eight years old. One fears the worst.