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Welcome to 'History vs The Da Vinci Code'.

This site is an online resource which aims to comprehensively analyse the various historical claims made in Dan Brown's bestseller and compare them to the historical evidence.

It provides a 'Chapter by Chapter' guide for the novel's readers and an alphabetical listing of relevant claims and issues.

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The Aims of this Site
History vs The Da Vinci Code aims to examine the historical claims made in Dan Brown's novel and compare them to the historical evidence. Unlike many other online resources about this novel, its intention is not to simply examine some of those claims, but to provide a comprehensive analysis of all of them. Its intention is to look at these topics from a purely historical perspective, without any religious bias or orientation.

Why bother comparing the historical evidence to the claims of a fictional novel? It's FICTION!!
There's no doubt that the novel is fiction. Robert Langdon, Sophie, Teabing and the other characters do not exist and the events and action in the story are purely imaginary. But it's not the story or the characters that have caused confusion and controversy; it's the novel's "historical background" and the claims the author has made about them that has caused concern.[More]

But Dan Brown never claimed the history in the book was really true, did he?
Actually, that's precisely what Dan Brown has claimed. Repeatedly, in fact. It was those claims that helped his initial sales immensely and thus first sparked the controversy about the novel. Unfortunately, a great many readers genuinely believed those categorical claims by Brown, despite the fact no historian or art expert on Earth accepts them. [More]

Are you a Christian?
I'm actually an atheist, though one with an academic background in medieval literature and ancient and medieval history and a knowledge of the history of Christianity. Where this site's analysis touches on religious topics it does so purely in terms of history and attempts to handle current religious concerns, beliefs and controversies with neutrality. I have absolutely zero commitment to any religion - my interest in these subjects is based purely on an historian's dedication to what can be reasonably argued from the available evidence.

Didn't Dan Brown research his novel for over a year using information from experts?
Brown's characters often claim that 'historians', 'scholars' and 'experts' agree with the historical and artistic information they impart. Dan Brown, however, clearly and demonstrably used arguments and claims made by amateurs, conspiracy theorists and New Age writers rather than works by respected and reputable professional historians and academics.

In the 2006 plagarism court case over the novel, Brown revealed that he himself didn't actually even read these books in full. His wife, Blythe Brown, read them and then e-mailed summaries of what she thought were key points to her husband. Brown explained to the court that he worked this way because he has 'a short attention span'. Not surprisingly, the historical 'information' he related in his novel via this strange method of 'research' - which he later confidently claimed is 'all true' - has since been utterly rejected by real historians and scholars..

Isn't it true that 'history is written by the winners?'
Many historical sources are written by the 'winners'. Others are written by the 'losers'. Others still are written by people who are neither. No modern historian takes any source at face value and always takes the perspective, biases, context and objectives of each source into account in their analysis. Archaeology, inscriptions, letters, diaries, household accounts and a host of other sources of information are also used so that, even when the 'winners' do try to manipulate information (which is rare), current professional historians are not forced to rely only on their perspective.

Brown's statement that 'history is written by the winners' is a totally oversimplified cliche, and one he uses to try to excuse the complete lack of evidence for most of his claims.


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History vs The Da Vinci Code is copyright © Tim O'Neill 2006. All rights reserved.