Quite without any evidence at all, this website HERE makes the sweeping statement that the legend of the devils treasure was 'invented' by Auguste de Labouïsse-Rochefort to explain a detail that is personal to Auguste de Labouïsse-Rochefort and his first wife. Because Labouïsse-Rochefort's father-in-law was a self-made millionaire who later lost most of his fortune - this is why Labouïsse-Rochefort 'created' the myth of the treasure at Blanchefort. The evidence cited is because Labouïsse-Rochefort was the first person to write the 'legend' down.
It's a bizarre statement, especially as in the whole of the rest of the document Labouïsse-Rochefort wrote, he does not appear to have done the same thing anywhere else! I know Labouïsse-Rochefort was a poet, and he could use poetic licence - but i'm not sure that even he could implicate characters in this little fable - and name such as M. de Fleury.
For example Labouïsse-Rochefort wrote:
"The annoying thing about this affair [that of the legend of the Devils Treasure] was that M. de Fleury, then Lord of the villages of Montferrand, Bains, Rennes, as well as the ruins of Blanchefort, wanted to bring an action against them [the villagers] for having attempted to violate his lands…"
This echos suspiciously the trial of Blaise Hautpoul and Nicolas Pavillon some 200 years earlier!
Is there more to the statement by Labouïsse-Rochefort than meets the eye? We know that many people were already on the Fleury lands actively seeking artifacts. For example Catel, well before the arrival of Nicolas Pavillon to Alet, noted remains preserved in the church of Rennes-les-Bains. This proves the remarkable interest already expressed in Rennes-les-Bains in the sixteenth and seventeenth century's - reports of ancient coins being found on the territory of the commune abound. Catel had carefully reported an inscription on a cippus white marble stone which was engraved with the name "Pompeius Quartus." Later Antoine Delmas confirmed the presence of this pedestal in his office.
It was not just the local clergy who were interested in the area of Rennes-les-Bains. Outside of the circle of the local parish priests there were those such as Alexandre Du Mege (1780-1862) who reported that Abbe Bertrand Capmartin of Chaupy (1720-1798), an archaeologist born near Toulouse, had recovered more than 400 currencies of gold and silver coins in the region of Rennes! Du Mege, who had often stayed in Rennes-les-Bains, spoke of counselors at the Parliament of Toulouse who stayed at Rennes and found medals and coins. Jean-François de Montegut (1729-1794), from a family of collectors and a scholar himself, had more than 3,000 Roman coins including many from Rennes-les-Bains. Delmas even offered a beautiful sepulchral lamp to the President of the Parliament of Toulouse, M. Caulet!
Paul Urban Villecardet, Count of Fleury (1778-1836) had a nice collection of coins and medals, objects that he had put into a small personal museum he created. He asked Mr. Du Mege to help him appraise all of the artifacts. And in 1857, his son Henri-Paul Elie was awarded the Silver Medal of the Imperial Academy of Sciences, Inscriptions and Belles-lettres de Toulouse for his discoveries at Rennes-les-Bains - and his preservation of two wheels and various fragments of a bronze chariot found in the territory of the commune.
Finally, we should note that Alfred Sauniere [brother of Berenger Sauniere] was a member of the Archaeological Committee of Narbonne and that Henri Boudet knew Henri Rouzaud who was President of that Committee. Mr. Rouzaud made many study trips to Rennes-les-Bains and Boudet offered him several objects discovered on the territory of his parish: Vases, pottery and a beautiful gourd dated to the fifth or sixth century. How did Henri Boudet make such a find? (see HERE). In what context, archaeologically speaking, did Boudet make this find? One does not simply come across a fifth/sixth century gourd lying about the landscape that is so well preserved.
So lots of 'treasure' - such as the archaeology might be described - was being found by many people. The Fleury's were used to people then sto,ping over their land and essentially 'stealing'.
The M. de Fleury mentioned by Auguste de Labouïsse-Rochefort who was the Lord of the villages of Montferrand, Bains, Rennes, as well as the ruins of Blanchefort, at the time of the Devil Treasure story had certainly married one of the descendants of Henry and Blaise Hautpoul - and he indeed faced the same issues of people searching and pillaging his lands as his antecedents did!
We have several legends concerning Blaise Hautpoul and Henry Hautpoul, father and son respectively. One revolves around Blanchefort and Rennes-les-Bains and a shepherdess [which would appear to refer to Catherine Planel and the tomb of a Great Roman], the other a shepherd and Rennes-le-Chateau. It becomes all the more intriguing when we realise that there were some strange events surrounding these the Hautpouls in 'real history'. This includes the following:
In 1646 - Blaise Hautpoul, son of Francois, has the church at Rennes-le-Chateau restored and in this endeavour was helped by Nicolas Pavillon. November 1661 - Blaise Hautpoul then goes to court against Nicolas Pavillon, bishop of Alet, to prevent the Kings troops (Louis XIVth) searching and trampling over his lands and mines. Blaise's lands and possessions include Rennes, St Just, Le Bezu, les Bains (Rennes-les-Bains), Montferrand, Montazels and La Val Dieu. The long and complex trial will end in Grenoble in April 1666 to the advantage of Nicolas Pavillon, but after King breaks the judgments in favour of the bishop. This historical fact deserves to be noted as Louis XIVth and Nicolas Pavillon were particularly opposed. Why then give a judgment in favour of his opponent?
All lovers of the mystery of Rennes know Blaise at least in name, for his is a very special case. Just after the year 1645, there was supposed to have been a discovery of a fabulous treasure by the shepherd Ignace Paris, in one version, and a shepherdess in a second version, on land owned by Blaise d'Hautpoul. Labouisse-Rochefort, told in 1832 of the legend of the treasure of Blanchefort that was protected by the devil. The devil's treasure was 19 and a half million gold coins and a shepherdess surprised him one day when he was counting out his gold coins. By the time the villagers were called to see the spectacle the devil and the treasure had disappeared. The farmers appealed to a sorcerer in Limoux to enter into a relationship with Satan to recover the treasure, which he accepted only on the condition that he be assisted by his countrymen, but the 'sorcerer' could not count on their support because they fled frightened, after hearing the noise made by the demon. The experiment was abandoned.
Since then, a/the devil is always central to the treasure hidden in the ruins of Blanchefort.
Another kind of 'version' of the legend tells that in 1645 a shepherd of Rennes-le-Château named Ignace Paris had lost one of his sheep. When he saw that it had disappeared, he decided to go looking for it and thanks to the bleating of the animal, he spotted it in the bottom of a hole. He cautiously descended into the hole and found himself in a cave. The animal was there but so too were many skeletons and then the shepherd noticed that the ground was covered with gold. Paris, without hesitation, filled his pockets, his wallet and his beret and immediately went to tell his story to the villagers. After many questions, he refused to reveal the location of his find, and the people were perplexed by this story of rapid fortune, and they, believing he had done some trading with the devil, stoned him. The treasure of Paris remained buried deep in a crevice. And yet another variation of this story says that Henry Hautpoul, eager to know where the treasure was buried - had the shepherd tortured to answer questions about the find but the shepherd died of his torture/injuries without revealing his secret.
Which version is the truer?
There is also a later mention of a Jean-Pierre Cabanie that is interesting. He was a priest of the local area and may have known Sauniere. Another priest, Abbé - François-Pierre Cauneille, a close friend of the Abbe Cabanié, had some involvement in the 'affair' & was especially mentioned in the Sennier letter, as one who witnessed on 11 Feb 1781 Bigou's memoir authenticating the discovery of the tomb of Constant I by one Catherine Planel. It is this legend, according to Sennier, of Labouïsse-Rochefort's legend of the devil's treasure.
These events through the centuries interested Cherisey, who wrote:
"....there was a gold depot dépôt in ROCKO-NEGRO near Rennes-les-Bains, where stood the ruins of the famous Blanchefort castle belonging to Blaise I d’HAUPOUL. Nothing should have allowed the Royal power to dig up someone else's property. By chance, however, Blaise d’Haupoul had asked to reclaim the title of marquis de Blanchefort. Everything was set to proceed quickly on one side and very slowly on the other. In 1644, owing to Colbert's efforts, a team of German or Scandinavian miners landed at Rocko-Negro and started digging long tunnels which are still visible today. These workers spoke a language unknown to the occitans and [they] lived in camps on the spot: discretion was thus assured.
Meanwhile, Blaise d’Haupoul is informed that all is well regarding the marquisat of Blanchefort, but he is discretely dispossessed of Rocko-Negro where stands the BLANCHEFORT castle. On January 4th 1669, the Haupouls are made Marquis de Blanchefort. The trick had been to baptise "château de Blanchefort" - a mere pillbox measuring 2 by 3 m. at the top of a rock bearing the name Coume les Bains. The gold mining failed in 1667 and the miners decamped".
We must also remember the recent work of Buttegeg - who said that after surveying extensive evidence which included unpublished historical documents, archives from Colbert, archives of Dubosc, private letters of the Fleury family, Plantard archives and the works of Boudet it had to be concluded that:
"Everything suggests that there is a dark secret lurking in the bowels of Rennes-les-Bains! But is it a simple gold mineral deposit, a former monetary deposit or a sacred or historical treasure of an ancient temple? To discover this all [we need to do] is go back in to the history of mining in this country ... Whether in ancient times, the Middle Ages, the 18th or the 19th century, the mining of Baings de Regnes appears recurrently! Marie de Negre d'Ables and the Comte de Fleury jealously guarded these mines and Boudet seemed to attach paramount importance to them... " (Stephanie Buttegeg)
My point for this post? If, by trying to find the origin of a local treasure story, it is a toss up between the origin of the Devil's treasure being from a poet who was just poetically describing the loss of his father-in-laws hard earned wealth - or the traditions and legends persistently describing members of the same family through the centuries in the same area of land that this family owned - i think i know which one i settle for!
I think it is also pertinent to ask for the origin of these treasure stories involving the Hautpoul family. These legendary stories may be unverifiable - handed down by tradition from earlier times and popularly accepted as historical. Mainly stories of this kind emanate from a particular people, group, or clan - in this case the Hautpoul.
Welcome to the blog of Rhedesium
My name is Sandy Hamblett, inspired and passionate researcher of the mysteries at Rennes-les-Bains.