Anthony Blunt and the Cambridge Spies
Oct 25, 2004
Author: Tracy R. Twyman
During the 1930’s, in the years preceding World War II, four young Englishmen known as “the Cambridge Spies” were used by the KGB to infiltrate British intelligence. They had been recruited from the university’s Trinity College, chosen for their keen minds and their Marxist sensibilities. Their names: Donald Maclean, Harold Adrian Russell “Kim” Philby, Guy Francis de Moncy Burgess, and Anthony F. Blunt, the man this article is concerned with. All but one of them – Philby - was a homosexual. It was Blunt who was recruited first, and he soon began recruiting other alumni, (although he was not responsible for recruiting the other three Cambridge Spies). He and Burgess had been members of a Marxist secret society called “the Cambridge Apostles.” The son of an Anglican Bishop, Blunt has been described as “tall, charming, arrogant, somewhat cold, and a dedicated communist.” Of the four, Blunt's espionage career lasted the longest. After establishing himself as a French tutor, art historian, and advisor to Queen Elizabeth (for which he was knighted), he joined MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence service, in 1939. Burgess and Maclean became secretaries to the British Foreign Office, and Philby, who would become the ringleader of the Cambridge Spies, served the Communists as a member of MI6, Britain’s CIA.
Between 1940 and 1945, these men did some serious damage to Britain and the United States. Blunt and Burgess provided the KGB with secret Foreign Office and MI5 documents describing Allied military strategy. Maclean reported directly to Stalin, and was his “main source” for information on the communications between Churchill and Roosevelt, then later between Churchill and Truman. This included updates on the development of the atom bomb, and how much uranium the U.S. had stockpiled. Philby informed the Russians when the Nazi code “Enigma” was broken by the Brits, and fingered British agents who were working inside Russia, to be dealt with swiftly by the KGB.
After the war, the Cambridge Spies continued to clandestinely serve the Communist cause. Maclean reported to Stalin about Truman and Churchill’s plans to occupy Germany and alter the borders of the Eastern European countries - information he was armed with at the Yalta conference. Philby was sent to Washington to work as a liaison between MI6 and the CIA, and also the FBI. This gave him access to all of the FBI reports shared by the British, and he was able to tell the Russians when the FBI had broken the Soviet code (“Venona”). He also forewarned them that the United States would not use nuclear weapons during the Korean war, and that MacArthur would be prevented from carrying the war beyond the Yalu river. Burgess continues to provide top secret documents to the KGB while working in his capacity as secretary to the British Deputy Foreign Minister. During these years, Blunt mainly acted as a middle man for these transactions.
In 1949, Philby became aware that his partner Maclean had been identified as a Russian spy, and that the British would shortly close in on him. He sent Burgess, who was living with him at the time, back to London to warn Maclean of his impending capture, and to suggest that Maclean defect at once to Mother Russia. Before Burgess left, Philby asked him not to defect along with Maclean, lest suspicion fall on Philby himself, whom he was rooming with. Of course, that is exactly what happened, and Philby, who never forgave the betrayal, became known to British intelligence as “the Third Man”, the one suspected of having warned Maclean. He was able to stay on MI6 for several more tumultuous years, but in 1963, while working on assignment in Beirut, an MI6 associate was sent to question him. He confessed, but managed to defect to Russia before he was sent back to London for prosecution.
After Philby’s defection, suspicion began to fall quite heavily on our man Anthony Blunt, whom British intelligence called “the Fourth Man.” One of his recruits from Cambridge, an American named Michael Straight, pointed him out to MI5. Blunt was offered immunity, and on April 23, 1964, confessed. He was then interrogated by “Spycatcher” Peter Wright, but was careful to provide only information pertaining to agents who were already dead, or who had already been found out. But he was not publicly unmasked until 1979, when Margaret Thatcher revealed his treachery to the world and stripped him of his knighthood. He was also forced to resign his post as Adviser to the Queen’s Pictures. But that was the worst punishment he ever received, and he continued to live in England with his lover, John Gaskin, until he died of a heart attack in 1983.
The reason why we here have an interest in Anthony Blunt is because of his unusual expertise in the field of art history, for he was actually acknowledged as the world’s foremost expert on the works of Nicholas Poussin. This was the famous French artist who’s painting The Shepherds of Arcadia is so central to the thesis of this magazine and the whole issue of the Holy Grail. Poussin was one of the names mentioned in the parchments found at the parish in Rennes-le-Chateau, France, which stated:
“To Dagobert II, King, and to Sion belong this treasure and he is there dead.
Shepherdess no temptation that Poussin and Teniers hold the key; Peace 681 by the cross and this horse of God I destroy this daemon guardian at noon blue apples.”
After these parchments were found by the parish’s cure, Berenger Sauniere, he purchased a copy of The Shepherds of Arcadia, and began performing excavations on the parish grounds in the middle of the night. He soon became fabulously rich, with the help of mysterious contributions from the aristocratic Blanchefort family. It is believed by many, as speculated in the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, that Saunière found the “treasure” that was referred to in the parchments. This treasure was purportedly something which may have proved that Jesus had survived the crucifixion, and that his descendants were none other than France’s original royal family, the Merovingians, of whom King Dagobert II was one. Thus the treasure really would belong to “Sion”, meaning the royal House of David, and to “Dagobert II, King.” It would have also been of interest to the Blanchefort family, which was related by blood to the Merovingians. And such a treasure would most certainly be of interest to the Catholic Church because of the potentially disastrous theological implications, and certainly they would have wished to silence Father Saunière, with cash contributions perhaps.
Sauniere’s own bizarre behavior following these events - renovating the parish to include a statue of the demon Asmodeus, installing Stations of the Cross that made it look like Jesus was removed from the tomb before the Resurrection, and placing a plaque outside which said “This place is terrible” - are enough to indicate that his own religious beliefs had been shaken to the core. He also began hanging out with known occultists, including opera singer Emma Calve and composer Claude Debussy, who is supposed to have at one time led the infamous Priory of Sion. The Priory was dedicated to the restoration of the Merovingian dynasty, and it was they who chartered the Knights Templar back in 1118, drafted originally as their own military arm. The Templars later became the official guardians of Scotland’s House of Stuart, which is also related to the Merovingians, and interestingly, the Templars are referred to in the Arthurian legends as the “guardians of the Grail.” This is significant, for it is believed by many, including the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, that the “Sangreal”, which is the word originally used in these romances and has been translated as “Holy Grail” is actually a play on the French words “sang real”, or “royal blood.” It is therefore a veiled reference to the bloodline of Christ - the Merovingian dynasty and its various offshoots. Thus the “treasure” that Saunière found, if he did indeed, might have actually been the Holy Grail itself, proof of the continuation of the Royal House of David through the royal house of France.
It was speculated by the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, especially co-author Henry Lincoln in his subsequent book The Holy Place, that Poussin’s painting The Shepherds of Arcadia, which depicts three shepherds and a pregnant shepherdess looking at a tomb, upon which are etched the words “Et in Arcadia Ego” (“And in Arcadia I...”) is actually a depiction of a tomb that really existed in the area surrounding Rennes-le-Chateau. Lincoln found, with the help of his informant Gerard de Sede, a tomb which resembles precisely the one featured in the painting, including the surrounding landscape, although it is missing the etched words and has since been destroyed due to all the attention it has gotten. It was Henry Lincoln’s belief that this tomb may have at one time held the bones of Jesus Christ himself, and that the pregnant woman shown in the painting represents Mary Magdalen, Jesus’ wife according to this theory, who was heavy with a child of his royal Davidic blood. While writing his book on the subject, Lincoln consulted with the world’s Poussin expert, Anthony Blunt, about the possibility that Poussin’s painting was a depiction of this tomb. Surprisingly, to Lincoln, at least, Blunt would not even hear if it. “This is a mere coincidence”, he is quoted as saying. “An extraordinary coincidence, but a coincidence nonetheless!” Blunt maintained that the tomb in The Shepherds of Arcadia was a purely made-up tomb, and that was all there was to it, because Poussin had never been to that part of France where the tomb was. Indeed, Poussin did spend almost every moment of his life in Rome, and only left for a two-year period to work in Paris as Painter to the Court of King Louis XIII between 1640 and 1642. When asked which route Poussin had taken from Rome to Paris, and if he might have passed by the tomb, Blunt replied, “He took the usual route.”
Blunt was then asked about a significant letter from 1656 sent by Abbé Louis Fouquet to his brother Nicolas Fouquet, Superintendent of Finances at the Court of Louis XIV, which said: “Poussin and I discussed certain things which I shall be at ease to explain to you in detail. Things which will give you, through M. Poussin, advantages which even kings would have great pains to draw from him...” Blunt merely admitted that the letter “had never been properly understood by art historians”, but that he thought it might be about “a commission for ornaments for Fouquet’s garden.” This of course does not explain the great caution that was taken when discussing the matter, nor what occurred subsequently. Nicolas Fouquet became extremely rich while managing the Royal Exchequer, and in 1661 he was, for reasons unknown, removed from office and thrown into prison, where he stayed until his death 20 years later. Upon his death his two servants were locked up as well, so that, as their jailer was told, “they will have no communication with anyone either by speech or by writing”, because they might have knowledge of “the majority of important matters of which M. Fouquet was cognizant.”
Why would Anthony Blunt, the world’s expert on Poussin, have found no interest in these extraordinary facts and their earth-shattering implications? Did he just not want to admit that there might have been something about Poussin of which he did not already know? Or did he already know, in fact, all of these “matters of which M. Fouquet was cognizant”? Is it possible that he had been told to keep quiet about such subjects, and to dismiss any such notions as nonsense? We must remember the interest the Catholic Church has in keeping this secret, and the involvement the Church has had historically with both the Mafia and with government intelligence agencies, including MI5 and MI6, especially via their “military arm”, the Knights of Malta. It should also be recalled by those who have read the literature that the Priory of Sion in its current incarnation has also proved itself to have influence in intelligence circles, aristocratic circles, and with leading figures in government and finance. In addition, their most recently-known Grand Master, Pierre Plantard has confessed that they have been “heavily infiltrated” by the Knights of Malta.
So it is possible that the influence of these groups could have touched Anthony Blunt, and they would have had every reason to try, for anyone investigating the mysteries of Poussin would naturally go to Blunt for help. Also let us not forget that Blunt was an employee of the House of Windsor, who would very well have wanted to keep unknown the sacred Davidic/Messianic origins of their rivals, the exiled Stuarts. And it is quite possible, if not probable that Blunt already had knowledge of the Poussin-Holy Grail connection, either through his own researches, or from information given to him by other intelligence agents. He had a history of belonging to secret societies, such as the Cambridge Apostles, and might have been a member of some rouge group within MI5 or the KGB that had an interest in this particular issue. Maybe that is how he got interested in Poussin in the first place. We may never know, for Blunt died not long after this visit from Henry Lincoln, and never spilled the beans. But instead, he left us wondering: What arcane mysteries was he privy to, this learned scholar, Communist revolutionary and traitor to his country? And was it worth the national disgrace he suffered just for the thrill of being a secret agent? We shall continue to wonder.