Part One: The End Is The Beginning Is The End
By Stephen Dafoe
The following article was originally written for Knight Templar Magazine, the official publication of the Grand Encampment of knights Templar (USA)
On 28 May, 1291 the Templars relinquished their fortified compound to the Mamlukes who had been besieging the port city of Acre for the past six weeks. The Mamlukes had actually breached the city walls ten days earlier, but the Templars were the last to leave the field, a situation that was a long-standing tradition with the Order.
The loss of Acre was not merely another crusader defeat, for the port had been home to the Templars and Hospitallers for nearly a century; having been captured by Richard the Lionheart on 12 July, 1191. Although the capture of Acre marked the passing of the era of the Crusader States for Christendom, the Templars suffered as well. Not only had they lost their headquarters in the east, they also lost their grand master, William de Beaujeu, who was injured during the battle and died int he arms of a Hospitaller brother.
De Beaujeau was replaced by Theobald Gaudin, who was elected by his brethren at the Templar fortress at Sidon, 60 miles north of Acre. One of de Gaudin’s first actions as head of the Order was to remove himself to the Island of Cyprus to recruit assistance for his brethren. No help was to be received and on 12 July, the knights abandoned their last fortress on the mainland, joining their brethren on Cyprus.
When Pope Nicholas IV learned of the Christian defeat at Acre, he immediately made arrangements to take back the Holy Land. Part of his plan was to unite the military Orders into one cohesive unit. Of course the idea was not an original one, having been tossed around as early as 1274. Although Nicholas appointed a committee to investigate the idea, he died before their report was completed. A year later, Jacques de Molay, who had succeeded Gaudin as grand master, left the Island of Cyprus on a three-year tour of England, France, Aragon and Italy in the hopes of drumming up support for his own plan to recapture the Holy Land. De Molay wasn’t looking for fresh bodies to fight the enemies of Christendom, but to look for arms and aide for the cause. Pope Boniface VIII accommodated the Templars by issuing the Order a series of papal favours in 1297. The fact that the Holy Church was willing to continue its support of the Templars discredits the notion that after the loss of Acre, the Templars lost favour with the Holy See.
Although de Molay returned to Cyprus in 1296, the Templars did not involve themselves in many military campaigns; however, they seem to have become immersed in Cyprian political intrigue at the turn of the century, culminating in a change of Cyprian crowns in 1306.
De Molay and the pope
In the fall of that year, de Molay was once again on the move to France, having been summoned by Pope Clement V, who had resuscitated Nicholas’s idea of uniting the military Orders. It is at this point in the story where some popular Templar mythology needs to be debunked. Many modern works on the Templars make the claim that the real reason for Clement summoning de Molay to France was to lead him into a trap. This notion is apocryphally based on the unfortunate events that followed de Molay’s arrival. To understand the matter, we should understand a bit about Clement V and King Philip IV.
Philip became King of France at the age of 17, was the eleventh in a continuous line of male heirs to occupy the throne and, perhaps most importantly, was the grandson of a saint. But the Capetian Dynasty’s rich lineage had left young Philip with far more than big shoes to fill – massive war debt accumulated by his father’s battles in Aragon had left the country strapped for cash. Philip tried a variety of remedies – fiddling with the currency and even taxing the clergy, the latter of which created a long-standing riff between the king and Pope Boniface VIII. Philip’s remedy for that strife was to have the pope arrested; this was the same man who had proclaimed his grandfather King Louis IX a saint. It would be no surprise when Philip would turn on the Templars, who had helped bail his grandfather out of Egypt when he was captured during the crusades.
But while much of what has been written about Philip and the Templars is accurate, the story of Bertrand de Got – latterly known as Pope Clement V – is not. Although Bertrand and Philip had been childhood friends, their paths departed considerably in later life, de Got supporting Boniface VIII in his struggles with the French king. Many accounts of this period of Templar history have made the claim that Clement’s choosing to fulfil his papal duties from France rather than Rome was directly connected to the marionette strings of his king and master, Philip IV. This is certainly not the case. Clement was a Frenchman by birth and chose Avignon because political conflicts in Rome made Rome an unsafe place to do papal business. This was certainly nothing new, for Pope Urban II, who launched the First Crusade, had experienced similar problems during his rein, forcing his into exile for several years.
Uniting the Orders
From the safety of his Avignon throne, Clement V could focus part of his attention on the concept of uniting the crusading Orders into one all-powerful unit. In 1292, a man named Raymond Lull, who had written several treatises on recapturing the Holy Land, had put forth the idea of uniting the Orders under a Rex Bellator or war king. It was a position that Philip IV was willing to relinquish his monarchy to obtain, perhaps looking to live up the ideals of his crusading grandfather.
Although Philip, longing for the hot Levantine sun, may have loved the concept, de Molay, who had spent many years in the east, was less positive about the notion. In his report to Clement V, de Molay expressed his doubts on the grounds that the Templars and Hospitallers had existed separate for many years and the rivalry between the two Orders had benefited Christendom. Additionally, uniting the two Orders would require a new Rule of Order to be drafted. The Templar master feared that the less strict Hospitaller way of life would pollute that of the Templars.
With such important matters to Christendom being contemplated, it was understandable that the streets of Paris were rife with rumors. But they were not the only rumors involving the Templars – there was also the talk of heresy.
Part Two: Revenge Destroys Everything
By Stephen Dafoe
They spit on the Holy Cross, these Knights Templar. Not only do they deny the divinity of Christ during their reception, they do not even worship God Almighty, but a graven idol instead.
These accusations, well known to many Templars, were the words of a renegade member of the Order named Esquin de Floryan, who – according to some accounts – had been imprisoned and subsequently made his claims known to his fellow inmates out of revenge. But sharing rumours with cellmates is of little benefit to a man longing for freedom. As such, de Floryan was eager to share the juicy gossip with Philip IV. The French King was not his first choice, for he had previously told the story to the King of Aragon, James II, who dismissed the rumours as the rubbish they were. Whether he actually believed the accusations, Philip was all too willing to make use of them to his full benefit, and immediately informed Clement V of all that had come before his ears.
Clement responded to Philip in a letter of 24 August, 1307 letting the king know that he was planning to launch a formal investigation into the accusations in October. Philip, of course, had no intention of letting the matter wait another two months and issued a letter to his bailiffs on 14 September, authorizing them to arrest the Templars 30 days later.
The Arrest of the Templars
On October 13, Philip’s men acted on the arrest orders, launching a series of raids on Templar properties throughout France. One of the more popular myths regarding this period of Templar history is that the Templars learned of the arrest orders early on and escaped in large number. The consensus among modern historians is that the Templars had little to no advance notice, although it is generally agreed that de Molay was aware of the rumours in circulation. Official records record twelve members of the Order who managed to escape and most of these were ultimately captured. Among them was Gérard de Villiers, the former Master of France and Imbert Blanke, the Master of Auvergne, who crossed over into England with a handful of brethren. Blanke was later captured and went on to play a role in defending the English Templars.
Regardless of just how many French Templars snuck away in the quiet of the night, no myth regarding their escape has gained more currency than the notion that the Templar fleet set sail from the French port of La Rochelle. According to the popular tale, the Templars loaded 18 galleys with men and treasure and pulled anchor, sailing for points unknown. The source of this myth comes from the testimony of Jean de Châlons, a serving brother, who said that he had heard that de Villiers had set sail with 18 galleys. De Châlons’s testimony regarding the Templar galleys was not based on first hand knowledge; rather it was merely a repeated rumour. Given that the rest of his testimony was damning of the Order, it is doubtful that there was any truth to his claims. The fact remains that the Templars simply did not have that sort of naval presence at the time. After the dissolution of the Templars in 1312, the Hospitallers became more involved in naval warfare as a result of their occupation of Rhodes; however, at that time they are recorded as having only four galleys. As such, the idea that the Templars had so large a fleet stretches credulity.
The Interrogation of the Templars
De Floryan had told Philip but a handful of lies about the Order, but by the time the French King had the Templars in custody, the laundry list of heresies had expanded to some 87 articles of accusation, including sodomy and the worship of a bearded head. In Paris, 138 members of the Order were put through a series of interrogations beginning on 19 October. Even in this Philip showed his cunning, as the depositions were to be sent to the king in sealed envelopes, but the details were to be widely circulated to help sway public opinion. Of course, it was equally important to make sure that the enclosures had just the right information. The Templars were kept isolated form one another and informed that both king and pope were aware of the scandalous activities of the Order; pardoned awaited the confessed, while certain death awaited the unrepentant. Of course, a little medieval torture was thrown in for good measure; for nothing will make a man say things that are untrue like the crack of a whip. It is hard to imagine how a group of knights who had remained on the field of battle despite incredible odds could cave to such measures, but it is important to remember that the majority of incarcerated Templars were not battle toughened warriors, but serving members of the Order. In all 36 Templars succumbed to the torments of their jailers and died before testifying.
On 27 November, Clement issued the bull Pastoralis praeminentiae, authorizing the arrest of the Templars throughout Christendom. The bull was not met with enthusiasm and even in countries that followed the papal orders, torture was not generally used and the arrests were with great reluctance.
Clement was not at all pleased with Philip’s handling of the matter and suspended the trial in February of 1308, demanding that it be handled by the Church. The pope capitulated to the king’s pressure and resumed the trials in July; however, he insisted that they remain under the Church’s control. In August, Clement issued another bull, Regnans in coelis, calling for a general council to be held at Vienne in October of 1310.
To prepare for the council, a new set of interrogations was commenced by the Church with a true desire to get to the bottom of the matter without the use of torture. Among the many interrogations were those conducted at the castle of Chinon in Tours, which have been made famous with the recent exaggerated claims about the discovery of the Chinon Parchment. In actual fact, the document is well known to historians, having been published in Étienne Baluze’s Lives of the Popes of Avignon in 1693. The papal commission who interviewed de Molay and other Templar leaders at Chinon absolved them from excommunication, but despite recent claims, did not find the Order innocent.
A call was sent out requesting those Templars who wished to defend the Order to assemble at Paris. By February 1310, 600 Templars came forth with a desire to testify, but in so doing they set up a catch-twenty-two for themselves with respect to Philip. Having previously confessed during the first set of interrogations, Philip argued that any subsequent recantations would mark them as lapsed heretics – an offence punishable by death.
On 12 May, 1310, fifty-four Templars were turned over to the king’s men and burned at the stake in Paris. They would not be the last.
Part Three: The Curse of Jacques de Molay
By Stephen Dafoe
In August of 1308, Pope Clement V had issued a papal bull calling for a general church council to be held at Vienne in October of 1310. The purpose of the council was to try the matter of the heinous charges levelled against the Templars by King Philip IV of France. However, the council was postponed a year – not out of any procrastination, but because the papal commission who had been given the task of collecting evidence was having difficulties. Witnesses and testimonies contracted one another or, in many cases, even themselves. When all was said and done, the commission determined that the Templars and their Rule of Order were orthodox, but that some peculiar and unworthy aspects had been allowed to creep into the Templar initiation cere
monies. Those who had acknowledged these errors were absolved of their sins and reinstated with the Church, as was the case at Chinon in Tours. It was this conclusion that was to be presented to the Council of Vienne, a matter that, had it been brought to full light, would have changed the face of Templar history.
But such was not to be the case. Although the church fathers who had gathered at the council were, for the most part, doubtful of the Orders’ guilt, King Philip had no intention of letting the matter go in the Order’s favor. On 20 March, 1312, Philip, along with a sizeable portion of his army arrived at Vienne. Within two days, Clement called a special meeting with his commissioners and a number of cardinals, who, in a four-fifths majority, voted to dissolve the Order of the Temple. The result was the papal bull Vox in Excelso, penned on 22 March and read publicly on 3 April. With so much evidence in support of the continuation – albeit modified – existence of the Templars, Clement knew that his report would be met with resistance. To this end, a clerk announced that anyone who rose to speak to the matter without permission would be excommunicated. Of course, with Philip sitting in the council chambers and his army sitting outside, there was little that could be done. After all, Clement did not wish to suffer the same fate as his predecessor Boniface VIII, in whose death, Philip had played a prominent role.
But even in the bull dissolving the Templars, a document of far greater important than the Chinon Parchment, we see that it was not the Order’s guilt, but reputation that was the cause.
“Therefore, with a sad heart, not by definitive sentence, but by apostolic provision or ordinance, we suppress, with the approval of the sacred council, the order of Templars, and its rule, habit and name, by an inviolable and perpetual decree, and we entirely forbid that anyone from now on enter the order, or receive or wear its habit, or presume to behave as a Templar.”
Of course, this was but the first of several papal bulls dealing with the dismantling of an Order that had served Christendom for nearly two centuries. A short time later, Clement issued the bull Ad Providam, which transferred Templar properties and assets to the Hospitallers, who were further authorized to pay the former Templars a pension. In the end, Philip had succeeded in destroying the Templars, but failed to acquire any of their assets for himself. But it would not be his last dealing with the now defunct Order or its members; for de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Templars, was still in prison.
The Death of de Molay
The story of Jacques de Molay’s final hours is an important one to Masonic Templars; for we see in his martyrdom a great act of resolve in the hour of danger, and a human parallel to the sufferings of Christ on the Cross. But de Molay’s execution, while a matter of historical record, has been greatly embellished over the years to include the notion that the last Grand Master cursed the king and pope, who died soon after. Although this story has formed the pinnacle of the Templar mythos for many years, early chroniclers mentioned de Molay’s execution in passing. The most reliable of the contemporary accounts comes to us from the continuation of the chronicles of Guillaume de Nangis. The writer tells us that on the Feast of St. Gregory (March 18) de Molay and other Templar leaders were brought to the steps of Notre Dame de Paris to hear the final decision of three cardinals, who had been charged with determining their fate. According to the chronicle, de Molay and Geoffrey de Charney – upon learning that they were to remain in prison for the rest of their lives – interrupted the cardinals in protest, retracting their pervious confessions. When Philip learned of the matter, he moved swiftly and ordered the same fate for the Templar leaders that he had issued to the fifty-four knights he’d burned at the stake in 1310. That evening de Molay and de Charney were taken to a little isle on the Seine and executed.
And this is where the curse myth begins, for the writer of the chronicle tells us that “They were seen to be so prepared to sustain the fire with easy mind and will that they brought from all those who saw them much admiration and surprise for the constancy of their death and final denial…” Beautiful and poetic words that should have been sufficient to solidify de Molay’s memory in the heart of all Templars; however, others would add to the story. In the popular tale, told in many Masonic templar settings over the years, de Molay did not suffer his fate with resolve and calm mind, but pronounced that before the end of the year Philip and Clement would meet him before God to answer for their crimes. While is certainly true that both men followed de Molay in death; Clement on April 20, as a result of his long suffered illness and Philip on November 29, after being thrown from a horse while hunting, it was not the curse that was responsible for the timing of their deaths, but the timing of their deaths that was responsible for the curse.
The closest contemporary source to the curse story comes from the words of Geoffrey de Paris, a clerk in Philip’s court who wrote in a poem that de Molay said God would avenge the Templars, for he knew who was truly in the wrong. It is not until 1330 that the curse legend begins to truly take form in the works of an Italian chronicler named Feretto de Ferretis, who puts the curse, not in de Molay’s mouth, but in the mouth of an anonymous Templar. Not until the sixteenth century, do we see the words actually ascribed to de Molay, when the French historian Paul Émile became the first to make the claim in his De rebus gestis francorum, published in 1548. Unfortunately, Émile was not the last and the myth of de Molay’s dying words has continued long after the Order he led has vanished into the pages of history and legend.
Knights Templar. — Pauvres Chevaliers du Temple.
(Poor Knights of the Temple).
Temple chapel seemed as if it were intended to be hidden. It is in a sunken valley south of the capital Edinburgh. Seemingly cut off from the rest of the county it is quiet and secluded.
The church is now in ruin and is recognised as such by its unique stones and a Templar cross that rests high on a derelict wall. Somehow in the morning light the cross is silhouetted against the sky producing a faint hint of the past. Reminding us of knights resplendent in armour protected by a holy cross, high on a brave mare, projecting valour and adventure.
The Knights Templar were founded in 1119 AD by Hughes de Payen, a member of nobility from Champagne who presented himself, and a number of friends, before the throne of Baudoin the third king of Jerusalem. The Knights Templar were a religious order of chastity founded to protect Christians on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The Temple of Solomon was high on the list of biblical note deserving particular protection and gave the name of the armed monks.
In 1128 Pope Honorius II granted the Templar monks the white coat denoting purity and in 1147Pope Eugenius III consented in the eight pointed cross a emblem of personal sacrifice.
The Holy Land had been captured by the Crusaders, but was subject to constant attack by Islamic forces. In those circumstances the secret order saw prospects of power in the retention of Jerusalem and its holy relics. Their beliefs ranged from Jesus surviving the cross and escaping to Europe and of finding the Holy Grail.
With access to Jerusalem’s treasures they inevitable became rich and gained admittance to Palaces all over the Europe. Any item belonging to the Biblical City or Saint was seen a guarantee of life after death to the purchaser and eternity in holy company.
Needless to say in short time the Knights Templar were of international importance. In time they became haughty holding themselves above Kings and Queens answerable only to the Pope.
Islamic power grew and eventually expelled the Knights from Jerusalem in 1187. It then became imperative for Christians to regain the upper hand. The siege of Acre and affects lasted from 1189 to 1191. The battle to the east of the city of Acre in 1191 began with the Templar’s on Saladin’s right wing. Later the Templar’s suffered badly and Gerard de Ridefort , Grand Master of the Templars, was killed. Despite being outnumbered the Crusaders managed to repulse Saladin.
In the Battle of Arsuf an ancient city and fortress in Israel, Richard the Lionheart defeated Saladin in September of 1191. The Knights Templar under Robert do Sable were ordered to assist in the opening battle which proved a victory for the Crusaders. Saladin lost his hitherto reputation of infallibility in the field but the Crusades also began to lose their prevailing attraction.
The fall of Acre a city in the Western Galilee district of northern Israel in 1291 sounded the first death knoll of future successful Crusades. During the enormous battle it was recorded with a little exaggeration, the Sultan’s army six hundred thousand armed, divided into three companies; so one hundred thousand continually besieged the city, and when they were weary another hundred thousand took their place before the same, two hundred thousand stood before the gates of the city ready for battle. The gates were never closed, nor was there an hour of the day without some hard fight being fought against the Saracens by the Templars or other brethren dwelling therein. But the numbers of the Saracens grew so fast that after one hundred thousand of them had been slain two hundred thousand came back.
Papal efforts to rekindle the Crusade spirit met with little response and after some time in Tripoli the Knights Templar moved to the Latin Kingdom of Cyprus. There the Kings made dreamy half hearted plans of recapturing the Holy Land which were never fulfilled. The Grand Master Guilluame de Villaret selected the island of Rhodes as the next destination which was fulfilled by Fulkes de Villaret after two years of campaigns in 1309. The surrender the gave the Templars control of the near islands and the sea trade enabling them to build the Knights Castle at Rhodes.
However, in 1312 much of the gains were handed over to the Hospitallers.
King Phillipe of France was jealous of the opulence and power of the Knights. They had called themselves The Poor Knights of Christ while holding the power of European banker. Aided by manipulative Papal greed it was ordered the Knights of Templar were heretical and therefore excommunicated.
They had never been without a critic, Cardinal Harmeric, a man close to the Pope Honarius II, wrote to Bernard saying “It is not fitting that noisy and troublesome frogs should come out of their marshes to trouble the Holy See and the cardinals.”
The arrests began in 1307 across Europe accompanied by cruel executions.
Robert de Bruce of Scotland had also been excommunicated from the Rome Church and ignored the Pope’s order offered safety to the Knights. A number the Templars were said to have fought at Bannockburn along with the Templar Sinclair’s who had already establish themselves in Scotland. It may be the Templars lead the cavalry charge that send the English foe on the run,.
During the reign of David 1st in 1221 the Templars had based themselves in Kincardineshire under Walter Bisset. Sir William St Clair (Sinclair) began work on the Chapel at Rosslyn in 1446 which he personally controlled. The stone used was first compared to wooden form templates to ensure accuracy and designs from other countries were freely applied. With the cost and design it took nearly forty years to build. Rosslyn is situated a few miles south of the capital and has inside its walls the tombstone of Sir William St Clair. Sir Clair was killed in 1330 while taking the embalmed heart of Robert the Bruce to Jerusalem. Robert the Bruce had died in 1329 of leprosy and in the Celtic fashion his heart was removed.
He had asked for his heart to be carried into battle against the infidel. Two of the Knights Templar were the sons of Henry St Clair antecedent of the Rosslyn Chapel builder. At the Battle of Teba in Spain in 1330 they were both killed fighting the Moors while on the way to Jerusalem. Sir James Douglas the man who carried the heart of Bruce was also killed after he threw it into the ranks of the Moors shouting, “ there go thou valiant heart as thou were want to lead us“. He was accompanied by Sir Robert Logan and Sir Walter Logan, the clan Logan bear a man’s heart in their coat of arms.
Sir William Keith brought the heart back to Scotland as they were unable to bury the heart in the Holy Sepulchre. The Knights Templar became clergy to various parishes including Rosslyn Chapel and property dealers changing their warrior ways.
Or, became feudal land lords or superiors and those still keen to take the field joined The Knights Hospitaller. There are envisaged modern links with the Knights Templar that try to follow their peaceful examples. Still, if the best of traditions are carried on to help others good luck to all. It may interest the reader the first known keeper of the Turin Shroud had links to the Knights Templar. The Templar’s had the worlds biggest fleet in the 13th century and were credited for flying the skull and cross bones.
When the Holy Land fell to the Muslims in 1291 a Templar Knight named Tibald Gaudin is said to have carried off the famous Templar treasure did include theHoly Grail.
Vatican documents discovered in March of 2002 shed some light on the Templars and links with Pope Clement V. It was claimed he denounced them in 1308. The documents were supposed to have been destroyed by Napoleon when his men looted the Vatican. A document known as the “Chinon Parchment”, indicated the pope sent emissaries to France when Phillipe the Fair had them imprisoned to conduct secret trials. The Templar’s were exonerated. But the findings were not be popular and many of the Kings of Europe carried on the persecutions in spite. Clement V was apparently easily influenced and this spelled the end for the Templars.
This Scotland of ours has many a legend and true tales that overlap and spill into our blood. In this little valley at Temple those Knights Templar lived and left a legacy of intrigue and mystery beyond the pointed cross that silhouettes at the saltire Blue sky.
I found this article very interesting and listed the source website very intriguing to the templar history and North America
One legend has it that the Jolly Roger obtained its appellation from the French name for the red flag, the “Jolie Rouge.” And so it may be, for the flag was first used by a French order of militant monks known as the “Poor Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon” – commonly known as the Knights Templar.
The Templars, were pious men. They gave up all their worldly possessions when they entered the Order, only carrying money on special occasions when they traveled alone, turning over whatever money that remained upon reaching their destination. They were ferocious warriors; pitching themselves into the midst of their enemies, astride charging warhorses, against incredible odds. Contemporaries had this to say of Templars:
The Templars are most excellent soldiers. They wear white mantles with a red cross, and when they go to war a standard of two colors called balzaus is borne before them. They go in silence. Their first attack is the most terrible. In going, they are the first. In returning, the last. They await the orders of their Master. When they think fit to make war and the trumpet has sounded, they sing in chorus the Psalm of David, “Not unto us, O Lord” kneeling on the blood and necks of the enemy, unless they have forced the troops of the enemy to retire altogether, or utterly broken them to pieces. Should any of them for any reason turn his back to the enemy, or come forth alive [from a defeat], or bear arms against the Christians, he is severely punished; the white mantle with the red cross, which is the sign of his knighthood, is taken away with ignominy, he is cast from the society of brethren, and eats his food on the floor without a napkin for the space of one year. If the dogs molest him, he does not dare to drive them away. But at the end of the year, if the Master and brethren think his penance to have been sufficient, they restore him the belt of his former knighthood. These Templars live under a strict religious rule, obeying humbly, having no private property, eating sparingly, dressing meanly, and dwelling in tents.1
“The warriors are gentler than lambs and fiercer than lions, wedding the mildness of the monk with the valor of the knight, so that it is difficult to decide which to call them: men to adorn the Temple of Solomon with weapons instead of gems, with shields instead of crowns of gold, with saddles and bridles instead of candelabra: eager for victory — not fame; for battle not for pomp; who abhor wasteful speech, unnecessary action, unmeasured laughter, gossip and chatter, as they despise all vain things: who, in spite of their being many, live in one house according to one rule, with one soul and one heart.” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux
“in turn lions of war and lambs at the hearth; rough knights on the battlefield, pious monks in the chapel; formidable to the enemies of Christ, gentleness itself towards His friends.” -Jacques de Vitry
Being men of principle; their rules of conduct were strict. They were willing to die for their beliefs, and so were feared on the battlefield and respected in life. Such was their reputation, that in battle, there were instances where the enemy would turn and run at the very sight of Templars entering the field. Their Rule of Order stated that breaking rank was worthy of losing ones habit. They neither asked nor gave quarter; the were expected to fight until death stayed their sword arm. Retreat from an enemy would not be countenanced unless the odds were greater than three to one against them and they were forbidden to ransom themselves if captured. They fought like men possessed, either prevailing in their cause, or suffering death under the banner of Gol’gotha – the place of the skull – where their Christ died.
Templars were not to succumb to the temptation of thinking that they killed in a spirit of hate and fury, nor that they seized booty in a spirit of greed. For the Templars did not hate men, but men’s wrongdoing.
They were dedicated to the protection of travelers and pilgrims of all religions, though they themselves were Christians, in fact manyTemplars were of Palestinian birth, spoke perfect Arabic, and were familiar with every religious sect, cult, and magical doctrine, including that of the Islamic Assassins. The Grand Master Philip ofNablus (1167 A.D.) was a Syrian.2 They were great statesmen, politically adept economic traders, and they were allied with the great sailor-fraternity that had created a worldwide trading empire in Phoenician times. They became immensely powerful – had the largest fleet and the most successful banking system in Europe. But they could not sustain their grip on the Holy Land. Their losses3 were too great, and they were eventually driven off the Levant by Saladin, their Moslem adversary, in 1291. They continued to fight for their cause in the only manner they could – on the high seas.
The best known Templar pirate ship was the Falcon, “the greatest that had been built at that time.”4 She was in the harbor when the fortress of Acre fell “and rescued many ‘ladies and damsels and great treasure and many important people’4 by evacuating them to ‘Atlit.”
After the orderly navel evacuation of ‘Atlit, the Templars retreated to their Mediterranean island bases on Cyprus, Rhodes and Sicily. Until their dissolution, they, together with the Order of St. John, continued as the foremost maritime powers in the Mediterranean, continuing to effectively wage war on Moslem shipping.
The Templars were still very powerful but in the eyes of European monarchs and the Church, the Templars raison d’tre had ceased with the loss of the Holy Lands. Jealousy and covetousness reigned. Phillip IV, who was deeply in dept to the Order, had seen their treasures stored in Paris, and designed to make it his own.
On Friday morning October 13th 1307 – and the reason for which Friday the 13th has become known as an unlucky day – King Phillip IV together with Avignonese Pope Clement V, ruthlessly suppressed the Order throughout Europe, with false accusations, arrests, torture and executions. (Timeline) Though they were offered communtedsentences and comfortable lives if they would renounce their Order and plead guilty to the charges, for some mysterious reason, they preferred to remain true to their principles5 and received their punishment.
A large number of Templars escaped that day to an uncertain future, and found refuge abroad. On the eve of the arrests, the entire Templar fleet mysteriously vanished from the port of La Rochelle carrying with it a vast fortune, the fate of which remains a mystery down to this day.
Just as a terrorist to one is a freedom fighter to another, so it was with the Templars and their fleet. Wanted by the Pope and all the crowns of Europe, they came to be viewed, by the “comfortable folks” on the mainland, as pirates.
After being driven out of the Holy Land as well as Europe, but still formidable at sea, the refugee Templars found sanctuary in Scotland, where Templar graves bear witness to them having lived and died there in the fourteenth century. King Robert the Bruce had no interest in persecuting the Order, in spite of a papal bull ordering him to do precisely that. To the contrary, he took advantage of their fugitive status, offering them asylum in return for their help in his war for independence against King Edward II of England. Templarshave been suggested as the source of mounted soldiers who assisted Robert the Bruce’s Scots Guard at the battle of Bannockburn, as the Scots did not have a mounted force.
As the Scots Guard continued through the years, two of the prominent families involved in its history were the Sinclairs and the Stuarts. Both families trace their lineage back to members of the Knights Templar, as well as to prominent figures of the New Testament. Hugues de Payns the first Grand Master of the Templarswas married to a Sinclair.
There is also evidence that the Templar fleet traveled to North America in 1398 (almost 100 years before Columbus) with theSinclairs, and settled there at least temporarily. Connections are made between the tower ruins along the eastern coast of the United States, objects discovered in the Oak Island “Money Pit”, and the Templar Order.
The Sinclairs (or Saint-Clairs) castle near Edinburgh, was situated next to Rosslyn chapel, which was constructed by the Sinclairsaccording to the floorplan of Solomon’s original temple. Engraved in the masonry around the chapel are maize and aloe plants, which grew only in North America.
Throughout Scotland, as well as within Rosslyn Chapel, there are carvings and tombstones dating back to the 15th, 16th, and 17thcentury using combinations of Templar imagery (skull and crossbones, Templar swords, Templar crosses) and Masonic symbols (compass and square).
The Stuart royal house became one of Freemasonry’s biggest supporters during their reign of Scotland and England.
Some also suggest that the rituals used in modern Freemasonry have their origins in the ancient texts discovered by the Templars in the ruins of Solomon’s Temple while excavating to build their stables. Recent archaeological digs in the area have supported this theory by finding serveral Templar artifacts buried beneath the temple. In the 1950’s, a scroll made entirely of copper was discovered in the caves near Qumran. When translated with the other “Dead Sea Scrolls“, this “Copper Scroll”, as it has become known, was identified as a treasure map listing various precious metals, religious artifacts, and writings supposedly buried beneath the temple in Jerusalem.
By the 17th and 18th centuries, the skull and crossbones was a symbol with a powerful reputation but identified with no official organization. The Templars had long since gone underground and evolved into other organizations. The symbol was usurped and came to be associated with the pirates of which we are more familiar. They changed the flag to suit their needs replacing the crossbones with swords, adding hourglasses or other symbols.
Anonymous Pilgrim V.2, tr. A. Stewart, Anonymous Pilgrims, I-VII (11th and 12th centuries), Palestine Pilgrims’ Text Society 6, London, 1894 p 29-30.
A History of Secret Societies, Arkon Daraul, 1962, Citadel Press, NY
At Harim in 1164 they had sixty dead from a contingent of sixty-seven; in the space of a little over two months in 1187 they lost 290 knights at the Springs of Cresson and at Hattin; in 1237, while besieging Darbsak, the Templars of Baghras were heavily defeated byAleppan troops, leaving them with only twenty survivors from a force of 120 knights; at La Forbie, in October 1244, they emerged with only thirty-three knights from the 300 they had contributed to the army; less than six years later, at Mansurah, the Grand Master toldJoinville that 280 of his knights had been killed. It is natural to see such losses in human terms, but at the same time it should not be forgotten that each of these knights represented a large financial investment. In 1267 the cost of maintaining a knight for the defence of Acre for a year was ninety livres tournois. As a good estimate of the average annual income of the French monarcy at the time of Louis IX’s first crusade is approximately 250,000 livres tournois, this means that even if each knight killed at La Forbie represents only a year’s investment of Templar resources, the total loss was still little short of a ninth of the annual Capetian income. – Barber, Malcolm, “The New Knighthood”, p232
Ramon Muntaner, Cronica Catalana, p. 368-9, also the Chronicle ofMuntaner tr Goodenough p466-9.
Principle – guiding sense of the requirements and obligations of right conduct: a man of principle.
Paraphrasing the crusade historian William of Tyre, “Accepting that ‘mistakes tend to creep into lengthy communications’ [Prov 10:19], we invite our reader to correct errors in the spirit of kindness.” – CCLXIII, p 101.
The Knights Templar
The “Poor Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon”, the full name of the order, grew out of the Priory Of Sion, an organization which still exists today. There were nine founding members whose intent was to become a chilveric religious/military order to protect pilgrims in the holy land, which at the time was in Christian hands following the original crusades.
The knights were headquartered at the ruins of the original Solomon’s Temple, with their stables actually constructed under the temple itself. Their symbols were
a red cross on a white background – “hues of innocence and blood; of pure devotion and murder”,
two knights mounted on a single horse, alluding to their vow of poverty,
and skull and crossbones, alluding to Gol’gotha – “the place of the skull” – and the cross – where their Lord died.
Their willingness to protect pilgrims in the holy land led them to the attention of the future Saint Bernard, who championed their cause and recruited members and support from across all of Europe. The order gained not only members, but influence, wealth, land, and power.
In 1187 Jerusalem was lost to the Saracens. In 1188, at Gisors, in an event that came to known as the “Cutting of the Elm”, the Priory of Sion and the Knights Templar officially separated into two distinct groups, each with its own Grand Master.
With the holy land lost, so too was the original reason for the Knights Templar’s existence. By this time however, the order had become quite wealthy and powerful. It was the Templars who created the modern banking system, originally for the exchange of funds throughout Europe and the holy land, and they had the most powerful fleet of ships in Europe.
Eventually, jealous eyes were turned towards the Templar organization and the fortunes they had amassed …
In 1305, King Philippe IV of France, who at this point was greatly indebted to the Templars for the funds they had lent to the French leader, had a personal friend, Bertrand de Goth, appointed Pope Clement V. Two years later, in 1307, Philippe compiled a falsified list of charges against the Templars and conspired with Clement to disband the order and seize their wealth. The King ordered arrest warrants made up and issued them throughout the country with orders that they not be opened until dawn on Friday, October the 13th (which is where the Friday the 13th superstition originated). Most Templars were arrested, tortured, and questioned. Some, including Grand Master Jacques DeMolay were burned at the stake. Their wealth and land were taken away and disbursed. However, not all of the Templar treasure was found. Much of it disappeared, along with the entire Templar fleet, on the evening of October 12, 1307. Timeline for this period.
There is evidence that some of the Templars fled to Scotland, to serve Robert the Bruce as part of the Scots Guard. Templars have been suggested as the source of mounted soldiers who assisted Robert the Bruce’s forces at the battle ofBannockburn, as the Scots did not have a mounted force.
As the Scots Guard continued through the years, two of the prominent families involved in its history were the Sinclairs and the Stuarts. Both families trace their lineage back to members of the Knights Templar, as well as to prominent figures of the New Testament.
There is also evidence that some of the Templars traveled to North America (over 100 years before Columbus) with the Sinclairs, and settled there at least temporarily. There have been connections made between tower ruins along the eastern coast, objects discovered in the Oak Island “Money Pit”, an image found on a rock in Massachusetts, and the Templar Order.
The Sinclairs (or Saint-Clairs) castle near Edinburgh, was situated next to Rosslyn Chapel, which was constructed by the Sinclairs according to the floor plan of Solomon’s original temple. Engraved in the masonry around the chapel are maize and aloe plants, which grow only in North America.
courtesy of John S. Quarterman
Throughout Scotland, as well as within Rosslyn Chapel, there are carvings and tombstones dating back to the 15th, 16th, and 17th century using combinations of Templar imagery (skull and crossbones, Templar swords, Templar crosses) and Masonic symbols (compass and square). This has led some historians to believe that modern Freemasonry was originally developed as a way for the surviving Templars to preserve their history and to do so in secrecy (as they were hunted men at this time).
The Stuart royal house became one of Freemasonry’s biggest supporters during their reign of Scotland and England.
Some also suggest that the rituals used in modern Freemasonry have their origins in ancient texts discovered by the Templars in the ruins of Solomon’s Temple while excavating to build their stables. Recent archaeological digs in the area have supported this theory by finding several Templar artifacts buried beneath the temple. In the 1950’s, a scroll made entirely of copper was discovered in the caves near Qumran. When translated with the other “Dead Sea Scrolls”, this “Copper Scroll”, as it has become known, was identified as a treasure map listing various precious metals, religious artifacts, and writings supposedly buried beneath the temple in Jerusalem.
Adapted from http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/8303/templar.htm.