And they say his mother said to some of her intimates once that not of Sabbatius her husband, nor of any man was Justinian a son. For when she was about to conceive, there visited a demon, invisible but giving evidence of his presence perceptibly where man consorts with woman, after which he vanished utterly as in a dream.

Actions have consquences, and Procopius knew that violating the conspiracy of silence surrounding Justinian’s satanic nature and Theodora’s amorous adventures, was unlikely to be good for his health. He cleverly waited until he was dead to unleash his Secret History upon the world. It was not the first exposé, probably not the even the first to suggest that the emperor’s wife used black magic, but it was the first to sum things up so neatly. There are secret histories, truths that the people who really run things don’t want you to read. And we’ve been reading them ever since, to their immeasurable disgust.

In the sixth century, Procopius, the Byzantine historian, published a book. The good bits — scandalous, even pornographic in parts — of his latest missive contained information that the average reader might have found a bit more interesting than Procopius’ previous "Justinian’s Buildings", a straightforward account of of all the buildings in the eastern Roman empire for which the emperor was responsible. While the latter has proved invaluable for historians and archaelogists, the former contained such information as the emperor (and his wife, Theodora’s) apparent supernatural origins:

And they say his mother said to some of her intimates once that not of Sabbatius her husband, nor of any man was Justinian a son. For when she was about to conceive, there visited a demon, invisible but giving evidence of his presence perceptibly where man consorts with woman, after which he vanished utterly as in a dream.

Actions have consquences, and Procopius knew that violating the conspiracy of silence surrounding Justinian’s satanic nature and Theodora’s amorous adventures, was unlikely to be good for his health. He cleverly waited until he was dead to unleash his Secret History upon the world. It was not the first exposé, probably not the even the first to suggest that the emperor’s wife used black magic, but it was the first to sum things up so neatly. There are secret histories, truths that the people who really run things don’t want you to read. And we’ve been reading them ever since, to their immeasurable disgust. A mere twelve hundred years later, America’s Constitutional Convention was dominated by two philosophical groups, Federalists and Anti-Federalists. The members of these two groups disagreed about the relative importance of states and a central government, about agrarian versus manufacturing economies, about the Rights of Man. Many from both parties, however, agreed on at least one thing: they met on the level and parted upon the square. Many of the leading lights of the new Republic were Freemasons, and when there is a free and accepted brotherhood that only accepts so many, people start to get nervous.

Thus, when a nineteenth century Mason from upstate New York, William Morgan, was killed, conditions were ripe in the fevered environment of upstate New York for a belief in the secret history to take hold. Morgan had threatened to write a tell-all book about the rituals of the Freemasons and was shortly thereafter killed. Evidence pointed to a conspiracy on the part of a local lodge, public sentiment against the Masons was inflamed, and propaganda denouncing secret socities began to spread. At some point, it ceased to matter if the Masons were a debating society, a mere fraternal organization of civic-minded gentry, or tools of the ultra-arcane Priory of Sion sent forth to help mankind realize the true message of the Shepherds of Arcadia (although the last is slightly unlikely). The movement led to the rise of the first alternative political party in America (and the first one to hold a political convention), the anti-Masonic party, and forced such dangerous conspiracies as the Phi Beta Kappa Society to open their doors.

William Morgan really was murdered, and his Masonic lodge probably really was behind it, but to conspiracy theorists, it hardly matters; the existance of the secret history is the important thing. The much-reprinted Protocols of the Elders of Zion, spread by such luminaries as Henry Ford, was cribbed from a nineteenth century text that didn’t even mention the Jews; the anti-Catholic literature of nineteenth century England and America recycled a torrent of material from the days of the Popish Plot and Guy Fawkes. And like the Protocols, the anti-Catholic literature never really went away.

Occasionally, moments of genuine historical revelation occur. Archives are opened and we discover that Alger Hiss really did put a bunch of secret papers in a pumpkin on a Maryland farm, or archaelogists discover the real "Atlantis of the sands", or medical science puts a name to Thucydides’ plague of Athens. History, though, is mostly messy. People look for answers. We look for answers. We become true believers. The Rosicrucians invented their society out of whole cloth just by announcing themselves to the people of seventeenth-century Paris and saying that they had read Brother Rosencreutz’s secret book of life. Who wouldn’t want to get a glimpse? Knowing the truth is a powerful, an overwhelming thing; the power of the truth led an illiterate Italian immigrant, Benjamino Evangelista (Benny Evangelist after Ellis Island got through with him) to begin dictating a book based on the visions that God began providing to him in 1906. The project dominated the next twenty-three years of his life, and he called it the True History of the World (via Mythic Detroit).

In July 1929, Benny Evangelist and his family were brutally murdered. Evangelist himself was beheaded. The murderer or murderers were never caught, and the true history of the world will never be known.