When Pope Gregory XI abruptly decides to move the Papacy back to Rome in 1377, chaos and rebellion descends upon both Avignon and the Papal States in Italy. The Rome-based Pope’s foes and critics are everywhere and any shipment of the papal treasury from Avignon to the Vatican is at risk. An ingenious location is devised by Sir Jean Termonde, a heroic knight, to secure the treasure from discovery until it can be transferred to Rome.
The papal treasure never arrived at the Vatican, and the legend of the lost gold and jewels has grown over the centuries.
Rare book dealer Jim Pierce’s expertise is in tracking down and retrieving old volumes coveted by well-heeled clients. He has little interest in the French Middle Ages until two armed thugs enter his bookstore demanding an ancient 14th century volume on the Avignon Papacy that mentions the Church’s treasury. They are killed thanks to Pierce’s precautionary measures. When he receives an offer of $5 million from the legendary billionaire recluse John W. Baxter, to steal a 14thcentury volume from the Vatican Secret Archives, his interest is piqued leading him to wonder if Baxter wants the volume or if the contents are related to the treasure. So Pierce sets out to attempt two thefts: the volume from the Vatican, and the treasure from Avignon. That’s when he discovers the French and the British police are on Baxter’s heels who is, in turn, after him.