Knights Templar and the Free Masons…..


Unless you are a fan of the Knights Templar you will find this a rather boring post, if not explore away and dive right in, it is dry and textual and not something I would

Cross of the Free Masons Knights Templar

normally post but it is in my roots the very foundations of my family, not a very sporting read and it is taken from several different locations across the web, please bear with an old man as he seeks the history of his family.

Knights Templar and the Free Masons:

This article is about the medieval military order. For the Knights Templar associated with Freemasonry, see Knights Templar (Freemasonry). For other uses, see Knights Templar (disambiguation) and Templar (disambiguation).

The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (Latin: Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici), commonly known as the Knights Templar, the Order of the Temple (French: Ordre du Temple or Templiers) or simply as Templars, were among the most famous of the Western Christian military orders. The organization existed for nearly two centuries during the middle Ages.

Officially endorsed by the Catholic Church around 1129, the Order became a favored charity throughout Christendom, and grew rapidly in membership and power. Templar knights, in their distinctive white mantles with a red cross, were among the most skilled fighting units of the Crusades. Non-combatant members of the Order managed a large economic infrastructure throughout Christendom, innovating financial techniques that were an early form of banking, and building fortifications across Europe and the Holy Land.

The Templars’ existence was tied closely to the Crusades; when the Holy Land was lost, support for the Order faded. Rumors about the Templars’ secret initiation ceremony created mistrust, and King Philip IV of France, deeply in debt to the Order, took advantage of the situation. In 1307, many of the Order’s members in France were arrested, tortured into giving false confessions, and then burned at the stake. Under pressure from King Philip, Pope Clement V disbanded the Order in 1312. The abrupt disappearance of a major part of the European infrastructure gave rise to speculation and legends, which have kept the “Templar” name alive into the modern day.

Knights Templar a History:

The Knights Templar trace their origin back to shortly after the First Crusade. Around 1119, a French nobleman from the Champagne region, Hugues de Payens, collected eight of his knight relatives including Godfrey de Saint-Omer, and began the Order, their stated mission to protect pilgrims on their journey to visit The Holy Places. They approached King Baldwin II of Jerusalem, who allowed them to set up headquarters on the southeastern side of the Temple Mount, inside the Al Aqsa Mosque. Since the Temple Mount was the site of biblical King Solomon’s Temple the Order took the name “The Knights of the Temple of King Solomon”, which later became abbreviated to “Knights Templar”. The original order consisted of Hugues de Payens and eight knights, two of whom were brothers and all of whom were his relatives by either blood or marriage: Godfrey de Saint-OmerPayen de MontdidierArchambaud de St. AgnanAndre de Montbard,Geoffrey Bison, and two men recorded only by the names of Rossal and Gondamer. The ninth knight remains unknown, although some have speculated that it was Count Hugh of Champagne himself—despite the Count returning to France in 1116 and documentary evidence showing that he joined the Knights on his third visit to the Holy Land in 1125.

Little was heard of the Order for their first nine years. But in 1129, after they were officially sanctioned by the church at the Council of Troyes, they became very well known in Europe. Their fundraising campaigns asked for donations of money, land, or noble-born sons to join the Order, with the implication that donations would help both to defend Jerusalem, and to ensure the charitable giver of a place in Heaven. The Order’s efforts were helped substantially by the patronage of Bernard of Clairvaux, the leading churchman of the time, and a nephew of one of the original nine knights. The Order at its outset had been subject to strong criticism, especially of the concept that religious men could also carry swords. In response to these critics, the influential Bernard of Clairvaux wrote a multi-page treatise entitled De Laude Novae Militae (“In Praise of the New Knighthood”), in which he championed their mission and defended the idea of a military religious order by appealing to the long-held Christian theory of just war, which legitimated “taking up the sword” to defend the innocent and the Church from violent attack. By so doing, Bernard legitimized the Templars, who became the first “warrior monks” of the Western. Bernard wrote:

[A Templar Knight] is truly a fearless knight, and secure on every side, for his soul is protected by the armor of faith, just as his body is protected by the armor of steel. He is thus doubly-armed, and need fear neither demons nor men.

Donations to the Order were considerable. The King of Aragon, in the Iberian Peninsula, left large tracts of land to the order upon his death in the 1130s. New members to the Order were also required to swear vows of obedience, chastity, piety and poverty, and hand over all of their goods to the monastic brotherhood. This could include land, horses and any other items of material wealth, including labor from serfs, and any interest in any businesses.

In 1139, even more power was conferred upon the Order by Pope Innocent II, who issued the papal bullOmne Datum Optimum. It stated that the Knights Templar could pass freely through any border, owed no taxes, and were subject to no one’s authority except that of the Pope. It was a remarkable confirmation of the Templars and their mission, which may have been brought about by the Order’s patron, Bernard of Clairvaux, who had helped Pope Innocent in his own rise.

The Order grew rapidly throughout Western Europe, with chapters appearing in France, England, and Scotland, and then spreading to Spain and Portugal.

Knights Templar and the Crusades:

The Knights Templar were the elite fighting force of their day, highly trained, well-equipped and highly motivated; one of the tenets of their religious order was that they were forbidden from retreating in battle, unless outnumbered three to one, and even then only by order of their commander, or if the Templar flag went down. Not all Knights Templar were warriors. The mission of most of the members was one of support – to acquire resources which could be used to fund and equip the small percentage of members who were fighting on the front lines. Because of this infrastructure, the warriors were well-trained and very well armed. Even their horses were trained to fight in combat, fully armored. The combination of soldier and monk was also a powerful one, as to the Templar knights, martyrdom in battle was one of the most glorious ways to die.

The Templars were also shrewd tacticians, following the dream of Saint Bernard who had declared that a small force, under the right conditions, could defeat a much larger enemy. One of the key battles in which this was demonstrated was in 1177, at the Battle of Montgisard. The famous Muslim military leader Saladin was attempting to push toward Jerusalem from the south, with a force of 26,000 soldiers. He had pinned the forces of Jerusalem’s King Baldwin IV, about 500 knights and their supporters, near the coast, at Ascalon. Eighty Templar knights and their own entourage attempted to reinforce. They met Saladin’s troops at Gaza, but were considered too small a force to be worth fighting, so Saladin turned his back on them and headed with his army towards Jerusalem.

Once Saladin and his army had moved on, the Templars were able to join King Baldwin’s forces, and together they proceeded north along the coast. Saladin had made a key mistake at that point – instead of keeping his forces together, he permitted his army to temporarily spread out and pillage various villages on their way to Jerusalem. The Templars took advantage of this low state of readiness to launch a surprise ambush directly against Saladin and his bodyguard, at Montgisard near Ramla. Saladin’s army was spread too thin to adequately defend themselves, and he and his forces were forced to fight a losing battle as they retreated back to the south, ending up with only a tenth of their original number. The battle was not the final one with Saladin, but it bought a year of peace for the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and the victory became a heroic legend.

Another key tactic of the Templars was that of the “squadron charge”. A small group of knights and their heavily armed warhorses would gather into a tight unit which would gallop full speed at the enemy lines, with a determination and force of will that made it clear that they would rather commit suicide than fall back. This terrifying onslaught would frequently have the desired result of breaking a hole in the enemy lines; thereby giving the other Crusader forces an advantage.

The Templars, though relatively small in number, routinely joined other armies in key battles. They would be the force that would ram through the enemy’s front lines at the beginning of a battle, or the fighters that would protect the army from the rear. They fought alongside King Louis VII of France, and King Richard I of England. In addition to battles in Palestine, members of the Order also fought in the Spanish and Portuguese Reconquista.

Knights Templar the Decline:

Their success attracted the concern of many other orders, with the two most powerful rivals being the Knights Hospitaller and the Teutonic Knights. Various nobles also had concerns about the Templars as well, both for financial reasons, and nervousness about an independent army that was able to move freely through all borders.

The long-famed military acumen of the Templars began to stumble in the 1180s. On July 4, 1187 came the disastrous Battle of the Horns of Hattin, a turning point in the Crusades. It again involved Saladin, who had been beaten back by the Templars in 1177 in the legendary Battle of Montgisard near Tiberias, but this time Saladin was better prepared. Further, the Grand Master of the Templars was involved in this battle, Gerard de Ridefort, who had just achieved that lifetime position a few years earlier. He was not known as a good military strategist, and made some deadly errors, such as venturing out with his force of 80 knights without adequate supplies or water, under the devastating desert sun. The Templars were overcome by the desert heat within a day, and then surrounded and massacred by Saladin’s army. Ridefort then made a further error which was destined to demoralize the entire Templar Order: rather than fighting to the death as was the Templar mandate, he was captured, and allowed himself to be ransomed by surrendering Gaza to Saladin. Ridefort tried to attack Saladin’s forces again a few months later at the Siege of Acre, but this too ended in failure and capture, only this time he was beheaded.

The battle marked a turning point in the Crusades, and within the year the Muslims had re-taken Jerusalem. This shook the foundation of the Templars, whose entire reason for being had been to support the efforts in the Holy Land. They attempted to drum up more support among European nobility to return to battle, but after the fallibility shown by Grand Master Gerard de Ridefort, the French withdrew their own support of the war. Without the support of other countries, even the remarkable leadership of King Richard the Lion-Hearted could not prevail. The Templars suffered loss after loss, such as 1192’s Battle of Jaffa. In one disastrous battle in 1244, 348 Templars were wounded, and 312 killed. Additional crusades led by Louis IX of France andEdward I of England were unsuccessful. With each new loss, such as 1250’s Battle of al-Mansurah or the 1266 Siege of Safad, Europe had less interest in pursuing the losing battles of the Crusades. The Templars continued to lose more and more land, and after the Siege of Acre in 1291, they were forced to relocate their headquarters to the island of Cyprus.

Jacques de Molay, who was to be the last of the Order’s Grand Masters, took office around 1292. One of his first tasks was to tour across Europe, to raise support for the Order and try to organize another Crusade. He met the newly invested Pope Boniface VIII, who agreed to grant the Templars the same privileges at Cyprus as they had held in the Holy Land. Naples and Edward I also pledged varying types of support, either continuing to exempt the Templars from taxes, or pledging future support towards building a new army.

Knights Templar and regaining the Holy Lands:

In 1298 or 1299, the military orders (the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller) and their leaders, including Jacques de MolayOtton de Grandson and the Great Master of the Hospitallers, briefly campaigned in Armenia, in order to fight off an invasion by the Mamluks. They were not successful and soon the fortress of Roche-Guillaume in the Belen pass, the last Templar stronghold in Antioch, was lost to the Muslims.

In 1300, the Templars, along with the Knights Hospitaller and forces from Cyprus attempted to retake the coastal city of Tortosa. They were able to take the island of Arwad, near Tortosa, but lost it soon after. With the loss of Arwad, the Crusaders had lost their last foothold in the Holy Land.

Though they still had a base of operations in Cyprus, and controlled considerable financial resources, the Order of the Templars became an Order without a clear purpose or support, but which still had enormous financial power. This unstable situation contributed to their downfall.

Knights Templar the fall:

At the time of their arrest, the Order of the Temple, Knights Templars had amassed great wealth, though not as much as the Hospitallers. When they were in the Holy Land and upon their return, they were exempt from all taxes and had many privileges. They loaned enormous amounts of money to the Kings of England and France as well as many great nobles. For the explanation of Philip IV of France’s persecution of the Templars we need hardly look further than to financial considerations. “The wealth of the Order was more than sufficient to excite the lust of royal freebooters, and its power and privileges quite enough to arouse distrust in the mind of a less suspicious despot than Philip le Bel. He was already deeply in debt to them.”

One example of many is that in 1299, the Order loaned to Philip the enormous sum of five hundred thousand livres for the dowry of his sister. He was also in desperate straits for money to meet the endless drain of the Flemish War. He had imposed taxes until some of his subjects were in revolt, and others were on the verge of it. When in extreme financial straits he debased the coinage until a popular insurrection was excited in Paris. During the insurrection it was in the Temple that he took refuge, and it was the Templars that defended him against the assaults of the mob. All these obligations were too great to be incurred by a monarch who was striving to render himself absolute. His resources were exhausted and his scruples were few. If it be asked why he attacked the Templars rather than the Hospitallers, the answer is probably to be found in the fact that the Temple was the weaker of the two, while the secrecy shrouding its ritual rendered it an object of popular suspicion.

The plan was laid. Philip’s ministers and agents—Guillaume de Nogaret, Guillaume de Plaisian, Eenaiid de Roye, and Enguerrand de Marigny were quite able to appreciate such an opportunity to replenish the royal exchequer; in addition they were at no loss to find testimony upon which to frame a formidable list of charges on the Templars, for history had already shown how readily evidence was procured from apparently respectable witnesses convicting Boniface VIII of crimes equally atrocious. Expelled Templar members were also in plenty who had been ejected for their misdeeds, and who could lose nothing by gratifying their resentments. Apostates also were there who had fled from the Order and were liable to imprisonment if caught, besides the crowd of worthless liars whom the royal agents could always secure when evidence was needed for any purpose wanted. These were quietly collected by Guillaume de Nogaret, and kept in the greatest secrecy at Corbeil under charge of the Dominican, Humbert. Heresy was, of course, the most available charge to bring.

The Inquisition was there as an unfailing instrument to secure conviction. Popular rumor, no matter by who affirmed, was sufficient to require arrest and trial, and when once on trial there were few indeed from whom the inquisitorial process could not wring conviction. When once the attempt was determined upon the result was inevitable.

The final fall of the Templars may have started over the matter of another loan. The young Philip IV, King of France (also known as “Philip the Fair”) had needed cash for his war with the English and asked the Templars for more money. They refused. The King assigned himself the right to tax the French clergy, and he tried to get the Pope to excommunicate the Templars, but Pope Boniface VIII refused, instead issuing a Papal Bull in 1302 to reinforce that the Pope had absolute supremacy over earthly power, even above a king, and excommunicated King Philip instead. The king responded by sending his councilor, Guillaume de Nogaret, in a plot to kidnap the Pope from his castle in Anagni in September 1303, charging him with dozens of trumped-up charges such as sodomy and heresy. This outrageous incident inspired Dante Alighieri in his Divine Comedy: the new Pilate has imprisoned the Vicar of Christ. The people of Anagni rose up and rescued the aged Boniface VIII, but he died only a month later from shock due to the ill treatment.

Pope Boniface’s successor, Benedict XI, lifted the excommunication of Philip IV but refused to absolve de Nogaret, excommunicating him and all the other Italian kidnap co-conspirators on June 7, 1304. Benedict died just eight months later in Perugia, perhaps from poisoning by an agent of Nogaret. There followed a year of dispute among the French and Italian cardinals as to the next Pope, before deciding on the non-Italian Bertrand de Goth (Clement V), a childhood friend of Philip, in June 1305. Clement withdrew the Papal Bulls of Boniface VIII which had conflicted with Philip IV’s plans, created nine more French cardinals, and, after a failed attempt to unite the Templars and the Hospitallers, agreed to Philip IV’s demands for an investigation of the Templars. Pope Clement also moved the papacy from the Italian Anagni to the more palatable (and controllable) French Avignon, initiating the period called the Avignon Papacy.

King Philip had other reasons to mistrust the Templars, as the organization had declared its desire to form its own state, similar to how the Teutonic Knights had founded Prussia. The Templars’ preferred location for this was in the Languedoc of southeastern France, but they had also made a plan for the island of Cyprus. In 1306, the Templars had supported a coup on that island, which had forced King Henry II of Cyprus to abdicate his throne in favor of his brother, Amalric of Tyre. This probably made Philip particularly uneasy, since just a few years earlier he had inherited land in the region of Champagne, France, which was the Templars’ headquarters. The Templars were already a “state within a state”, were institutionally wealthy, paid no taxes, and had a large standing army which by papal decree could move freely through all European borders. However, this army no longer had a presence in the Holy Land, leaving it with no battlefield. These factors, plus the fact that Philip had inherited an impoverished kingdom from his father and was already deeply in debt to the Templars, were probably what led to his actions.

At dawn on Friday, October 13, 1307, scores of French Templars were simultaneously arrested by agents of King Philip, later to be tortured in locations such as the tower at Chinon, into admitting heresy and other sacrilegious offenses in the Order. Over 100 charges were issued against them, the majority of them identical charges that had been earlier issued against the inconvenient Pope Boniface VIII: accusations of denying Christ, spitting and urinating on the cross, and devil worship. The main interrogation of the Templars was under the control of the Inquisitors, a group of experienced interrogators and clergy who circulated around Europe at the beck and call of any European noble. The rules of interrogation said that no blood could be drawn, but this did nothing to stop the torture. One account told of a Templar who had fire applied to the soles of his feet, such that the bones fell out of the skin. Another record state that some Templars were suspended by the ceiling of dungeons and had weights attached to their feet or even genitalia, which were then dropped. Other Templars were suspended upside-down or placed in thumbscrews. Of the 138 Templars (many of them old men) questioned in Paris over the next few years, 105 of them “confessed” to denying Christ during the secret Templar initiations. 103 confessed to an “obscene kiss” being part of the ceremonies, and 123 said they spat on the cross. Throughout the trial there was never any physical evidence of wrongdoing, and no independent witnesses; the only “proof” was obtained through confessions induced by torture. The Templars reached out to the Pope for assistance, and Pope Clement did write letters to King Philip questioning the arrests, but took no further action.

Despite the fact that the confessions had been produced under duress, they caused a scandal in Paris, with mobs calling for action against the blaspheming Order. In response to this public pressure, along with more bullying from King Philip, Pope Clement issued the bull Pastoralis Praeeminentiae, which instructed all Christian monarchs in Europe to arrest all Templars and seize their assets. Most monarchs simply didn’t believe the charges, though proceedings were started in England, IberiaGermanyItaly, and Cyprus, with the likelihood of a confession being dependent on whether or not torture was used to extract it. There were five initial charges lodged against the Templars. The first was the renouncement and spitting on the cross during initiation into the Order. The second was the stripping of the man to be initiated and the thrice kissing of that man by the preceptor on the navel, posteriors and the mouth. The third was telling the neophyte (novice) that unnatural lust was lawful and indulged in commonly. The fourth was that the cord worn by the neophyte day and night was consecrated by wrapping it around an idol in the form of a human head with a great beard, and that this idol was adored in all chapters. The fifth was that the priests of the order did not consecrate the host in celebrating Mass. On August 12, 1308, the charges would be increased and would become more outrageous, one specifically stated that the Templars worshipped idols, specifically made of a cat and a head, the latter having three faces.

The dominant view is that Philip, who seized the treasury and broke up the monastic banking system, was jealous of the Templars’ wealth and power, and frustrated by his enormous debt to them, sought to seize their financial resources for himself by bringing blatantly false charges against them at the Tours assembly in 1308. It is almost impossible to believe, that, under the influence of his carefully chosen advisors (the same that had persecuted Boniface); he actually believed the charges to be true. It is widely accepted that Philip had clearly made up the accusations, some nearly identical to those made against Boniface, and did not believe any of the Templars to have been party to such activities. It is a fact that he had invited Jacques de Molay to be a pall-bearer at the funeral of the King’s sister on the very day before the arrests.

The arrests caused some shifts in the European economy, from a system of military fiat back to European money, removing this power from Church orders. Seeing the fate of the Templars, the Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem and of Rhodes were also convinced to give up banking at this time.

Knights if the Templar Dismantling:

In 1312, after the Council of Vienne, and under extreme pressure from King Philip IV, Pope Clement V issued an edict officially dissolving the Order. Many kings and nobles, who had been supporting the Knights up until that time, finally acquiesced and dissolved the orders in their fiefs in accordance with the Papal command. Most were not as brutal as the French. In England, many Knights were arrested and tried, but not found guilty.

Much of the Templar property outside of France was transferred by the Pope to the Knights Hospitaller, and many surviving Templars were also accepted into the Hospitallers. In the Iberian Peninsula, where the king of Aragon was against giving the heritage of the Templars to Hospitallers (as commanded by Clement V), the Order of Montesa took Templar assets.

The order continued to exist in Portugal, simply changing its name to the Order of Christ. This group was believed to have contributed to the first naval discoveries of the Portuguese. Prince Henry the Navigator led the Portuguese order for 20 years until the time of his death.

Even with the absorption of Templars into other Orders, there are still questions as to what became of all of the tens of thousands of Templars across Europe. There had been 15,000 “Templar Houses”, and an entire fleet of ships. Even in France where hundreds of Templars had been rounded up and arrested, this was only a small percentage of the estimated 3,000 Templars in the entire country. Also, the extensive archive of the Templars, with detailed records of all of their business holdings and financial transactions, was never found. By papal bull it was to have been transferred to the Hospitallers, whose library was destroyed in the 16th century by Turkish invaders. Some scholars believe that some of the Templars fled into the Swiss Alps, as there are records of Swiss villagers around that time suddenly becoming very skilled military tacticians. An attack was led by Leopold I of Austria, who was attempting to take control of the St. Gotthard Pass with a force of 5,000 knights. His force was ambushed and destroyed by a group of about 1,500 Swiss peasants. Up until that point, the Swiss really had no military experience, but after that battle, the Swiss became renowned as seasoned fighters. Some folk tales from the period describe how there were “armed white knights” who came to help them in their battles.

Little is known about what became of the Templar’s fleet of ships. There is record of 18 Templar ships being in port at La Rochelle, France on October 12, 1307 (the day before Friday the 13th). But the next day, the fleet had vanished.

Knights of the Templars charges, Heresy and Blasphemy:

There were five initial charges lodged against the Templars. The first was the renouncement and spitting on the cross during initiation into the Order. The second was the stripping of the man to be initiated and the thrice kissing of that man by the preceptor on the navel, posteriors and the mouth. The third was telling the neophyte (novice) that unnatural lust was lawful and indulged in commonly. The fourth was that the cord worn by the neophyte day and night was consecrated by wrapping it around an idol in the form of a human head with a great beard, and that this idol was adored in all chapters. The fifth was that the priests of the order did not consecrate the host in celebrating Mass. [Subsequently, the charges would be increased and would become, according to the procedures, lists of articles 86 to 127 in which will be added a few other charges, such as the prohibition to priests who do not belong to the order.

The incontrovertibility of the evidence that the Templar priests did not mutilate the words of consecration in the mass is furnished in the Cypriote proceedings by ecclesiastics who had long dwelt with them in the East.

Debate continues as to whether the accusation of religious heresy had merit by the standards of the time. Under torture, some Templars admitted to homosexual acts, and to the worship of heads and an idol known as Baphomet.  Their leaders later denied these admissions, and for that were executed. Some scholars, such as Malcolm Barber, Helen Nicholson and Peter Partner, discount these as forced admissions, typical during the Medieval Inquisition.

The majority of the charges were identical to other people being tortured by the Inquisitors, with one exception: head worship. The Templars were specifically charged with worshipping some type of severed head; a charge which was made only against Templars. The descriptions of the head allegedly venerated by the Templars were varied and contradictory in nature. Quoting Norman Cohn:

Some describe it as having three faces, others as having four feet, others as being simply a face with no feet. For some it was a human skull, embalmed and encrusted with jewels; for others it was carved out of wood. Some maintained that it came from the remains of a former grand master of the order, while others were equally convinced that it was Baphomet – which in turn was interpreted as ‘Mohammed’. Some saw it as having horns.

Barber has linked this charge to medieval folklore about magical heads, and the popular medieval belief that the Muslims worshipped idols.Some argue it referred to rituals involving the alleged relics of John the Baptist,Euphemia, one of Ursula‘s eleven maidens,and/or Hugues de Payens  rather than pagan idols.

The charges of heresy included spitting, trampling, or urinating on the cross; while naked, being kissed obscenely by the receptor on the lips, navel, and base of the spine; heresy and worship of idols; institutionalized homosexuality; and also accusations of contempt of the Holy Mass and denial of the sacraments. Barbara Frale has suggested that these acts were intended to simulate the kind of humiliation and torture that a Crusader might be subjected to if captured by the Saracens. According to this line of reasoning, they were taught how to commit apostasy with the mind only and not with the heart.

The accusation of venerating Baphomet is more problematic. Karen Ralls has noted, “There is no mention of Baphomet either in the Templar Rule or in other medieval period Templar documents”.The late scholar Hugh J. Schonfield speculated that the chaplains of the Knights Templar created the term Baphomet through the Atbash cipher to encrypt the Gnostic term Sophia (Greek for “wisdom“) due to the influence of hypothetical Qumran Essene scrolls, which they may have found during archaeological digs in the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Knights Templar and the Roman Catholics:

The papal process started by Pope Clement V, to investigate both the Order as a whole and its members individually found virtually no knights guilty of heresy outside of France. Fifty-four knights were executed in France by French authorities as relapsed heretics after denying their original testimonies before the papal commission; these executions were motivated by Philip’s desire to prevent Templars from mounting an effective defense of the Order. It failed miserably, as many members testified against the charges of heresy in the ensuing papal investigation.

Despite the poor defense of the Order, when the papal commission ended its proceedings on June 5, 1311, it found no evidence that the Order itself held heretical doctrines, or used a “secret rule” apart from the Latin and French rules. On October 16, 1311, at the General Council of Vienne held in Dauphiné, the council voted for the maintenance of the Order.

But on March 22, 1312, Clement V promulgated the bull Vox in excelsis in which he stated that although there was not sufficient reason to condemn the Order, for the common good, the hatred of the Order by Philip IV, the scandal brought about by their trial, and the likely dilapidation of the Order that would result from the trial, the Order was to be suppressed by the pope’s authority over it. But the order explicitly stated that dissolution was enacted, “with a sad heart, not by definitive sentence, but by apostolic provision.”

This was followed by the papal bull Ad Providum on May 2, 1312, which granted all of the Order’s lands and wealth to the Hospitallers so that its original purpose could be met, despite Philip’s wishes that the lands in France pass to him. Philip held onto some lands until 1318, and in England the crown and nobility held a great deal until 1338; in many areas of Europe the land was never given over to the Hospitaller Order, instead taken over by nobility and monarchs in an attempt to lessen the influence of the Church and its Orders. Of the knights who had not admitted to the charges, against those whom nothing had been found, or those who had admitted but been reconciled to the Church, some joined the Hospitallers (even staying in the same Templar houses); others joined Augustinian or Cistercian houses; and still others returned to secular life with pension. In Portugal and Aragon, the Holy See granted the properties to two new Orders, the Order of Christ and the Order of Montesa respectively, made up largely of Templars in those kingdoms. In the same bull, he urged those who had pleaded guilty be treated “according to the rigors of justice. “

In the end, the only three accused of heresy directly by the papal commission were Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Knights Templar, and his two immediate subordinates; they were to renounce their heresy publicly, when de Molay regained his courage and proclaimed the order’s and his innocence along with Geoffrey de Charney. The two were arrested by French authorities as relapsed heretics and burned at the stake in 1314. Their ashes were then ground up and dumped into the Seine, so as to leave no relics behind.

In England the Crown was also deeply in debt to the Templars, and probably on that basis, the Templars were also persecuted in England, their lands forfeited and taken by others, (the last private owner being the favorite of Edward II, Hugh le Despenser). Many of Templars in England were killed; some fled to Scotland and other places. In France, Philip IV, who was also coincidentally in terrible financial debt to the Templars was perhaps the more aggressive persecutor. So widely was the injustice of Philip’s rage against the Templars perceived that the “Curse of the Templars” became legend: Reputedly uttered by the Grand Master Jacques de Molay upon the stake whence he burned, he adjured: “Within one year, God will summon both Clement and Philip to His Judgment for these actions.” The fact that both rulers died within a year, as predicted, only heightened the scandal surrounding the suppression of the Order. The source of this legend does not date from the time of the execution of Jacques de Molay.

Knights Templars Absolution:

Main article: Chinon Parchment

In September 2001, Barbara Frale discovered a copy of the Chinon Parchment dated 17–20 August 1308 in the Vatican Secret Archives, a document that indicated that Pope Clement Absolved the leaders of the Order in 1308. Frale published her findings in the Journal of Medieval History in 2004 in 2007; The Vatican published the Chinon Parchment as part of a limited edition of 799 copies of Processus Contra Templarios. Another Chinon parchment dated 20 August 1308 addressed to Philip IV of France, well-known to historians, stated that absolution had been granted to all those Templars that had confessed to heresy “and restored them to the Sacraments and to the unity of the Church”. ‘

This by no means a complete history or even a very accurate record of the Templar Knights, but it a start to many more blogs into the heritage of the family and I am  not even sure I covered the Free Masons and the Knights templar.

Knights Templar and the Free Masons:

The Knights Templar is an international philanthropic chivalric order affiliated with Freemasonry. Unlike the initial degrees conferred in a Masonic Lodge, which only require a belief in a Supreme Being regardless of religious affiliation, the Knights Templar is one of several additional Masonic Orders in which membership is open only to Freemasons who profess a belief in the Christian religion. The full title of this Order is The United Religious, Military and Masonic Orders of the Temple and of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta. The word “United” in this title indicates that more than one historical tradition and more than one actual Order are jointly controlled within this system. The individual Orders ‘united’ within this system are principally the Knights of the Temple (Knights Templar), the Knights of Malta, the Knights of St Paul, and only within the York Rite, the Knights of the Red Cross. The Order derives its name from the historical Knights Templar. One theory of the origins of Freemasonry claims direct descent from the historical Knights Templar through its final fourteenth-century members who took refuge in Scotland, or other countries where the Templar suppression was not enforced. Although the theory may not be dismissed, it is usually deprecated on grounds of lack of evidence by both Masonic authoritiesand historians.

Knights Templar, Free Masons, Admistration:

Knights Templar can exist either as part of the York Rite or as an independent organization. Though the York Rite and the independent versions share many similarities there are key differences which are described below.

Knights Templar as a part of the York Rite Free Masons:

A Knights Templar commandery is traditionally the final body that a member joins in the York Rite after the chapter of Royal Arch Masons and a council of Royal & Select Masters. Some jurisdictions, however, allow members to skip over membership in a council. A local Knights Templar commandery operates under a state-level Grand Commandery; however American commanderies also operate under The Grand Encampment of the United States. This is unique among American Masonic bodies, as most report to the state level alone.

While a chapter bestows the Royal Arch degrees, and a council bestows the Cryptic degrees, a Knights Templar commandery bestows three orders and one passing order onto its members. This is opposed to the standard degree system found elsewhere in Freemasonry, and they are the only ones not to deal with the Hiramic Legend. The York Rite orders are:

  1. The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross
  2. The Passing Order of St. Paul, (or Mediterranean Pass)
  3. The Order of the Knights of Malta (or simply Order of Malta)
  4. The Order of the Temple

Knights Templar as an Independent Body Free Masons:

Outside the York Rite, membership is by invitation only. Candidates are required to be Master Masons, and Royal Arch Masons, and to sign a declaration that they profess the Doctrine of the Holy and Undivided Trinity. In some Australian States, the requirement of being a Royal Arch Mason no longer applies.

Local bodies of Knights Templar are known as Preceptories; local bodies of Knights of St Paul are known as Chapters; local bodies of Knights of Malta are known as Priories; all operate under a Grand or Great Priory, often with an intermediate level of Provincial Priories. Although some jurisdictions maintain a separate Great Priory of the Temple and Great Priory of Malta (as, for example, in England), the Grand Master and other officers of both Great Priories hold simultaneous equal office in both bodies. Three degrees are administered in this system:

  1. The Degree of Knight Templar (Order of the Temple)
  2. The Degree of Knight of St. Paul (incorporating the Mediterranean Pass)
  3. The Degree of Knight of Malta (Order of Malta)

The Degrees or Orders

The Degree of Knight of the Temple (Order of the Temple) Free Masons:

The original medieval Order of Knights Templar was established after the First Crusade, and existed from approximately 1118 to 1312. There is no known historical evidence to link the medieval Knights Templar and Masonic Templarism, nor do the Masonic Knights Templar organizations claim any such direct link to the original medieval Templar organization. Though it has been said that its affiliation with Masonry is based on texts that indicate persecuted Templars found refuge within the safety of Freemasonry, the order itself states that “there is no proof of direct connection between the ancient order and the modern order known today as the Knights Templar.” The official motto of the Knights Templar is In Hoc Signo Vinces, the rendition in Latin of the Greek phrase “εν τούτῳ νίκα”, en toutōi nika, meaning “in this [sign] you will conquer”.

The Knight Templar degree is associated with elaborate regalia (costume) the precise detail of which varies between nations. The ritual draws upon the traditions of medieval Knights Templar, using them to impart moral instruction consistent with the biblical teachings of the Christian tradition.

The Degree of Knight of Malta (Order of Malta) Free Masons:

This degree is conferred as a prerequisite to becoming a Knight of Malta, in both the York Rite and independent ‘stand-alone’ versions of Knight Templar Freemasonry. The “Preliminary Declarations” of the Order of Malta ritual in England state of a candidate for the Order of Malta: “He must also have received the Degree of Knight of St Paul, including the Mediterranean Pass”. The exact status of the ‘Mediterranean Pass’ has at times led to confusion as to whether this is the ‘stub’ of a separate degree. The English ritual book clarified this in its 1989 edition (and subsequent editions) by stating: “The Mediterranean Pass is one of the secrets of the Degree of Knight of St Paul”.

This degree is close to being a true ‘side degree’, in that a small group (usually three) of members of the degree take the candidate “to one side” (i.e. apart on his own) and simply communicate the secrets of the degree to him, without actually working the ceremonial ritual of the degree. The only respect in which the degree fails to meet the definition of a true ‘side degree’ is that a Chapter of the Order is formally opened and closed by the presiding officer, on either side of the secrets being communicated.

The Degree of Knight of St Paul (Order of St Paul) Free Masons:

This degree is conferred as a prerequisite to becoming a Knight of Malta, in both the York Rite and independent ‘stand-alone’ versions of Knight Templar Freemasonry. The “Preliminary Declarations” of the Order of Malta ritual in England state of a candidate for the Order of Malta: “He must also have received the Degree of Knight of St Paul, including the Mediterranean Pass”. The exact status of the ‘Mediterranean Pass’ has at times led to confusion as to whether this is the ‘stub’ of a separate degree. The English ritual book clarified this in its 1989 edition (and subsequent editions) by stating: “The Mediterranean Pass is one of the secrets of the Degree of Knight of St Paul”.

This degree is close to being a true ‘side degree’, in that a small group (usually three) of members of the degree take the candidate “to one side” (i.e. apart on his own) and simply communicate the secrets of the degree to him, without actually working the ceremonial ritual of the degree. The only respect in which the degree fails to meet the definition of a true ‘side degree’ is that a Chapter of the Order is formally opened and closed by the presiding officer, on either side of the secrets being communicated.

The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross (Order of the Red Cross) Free Masons:

Unique to the York Rite, the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross continues or reverts to the period of the Royal Arch Degree when the Israelites were returning from Babylon to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. Zerubbabel, their leader prevails upon King Darius to restore the Holy Vessels to the new Temple. They had been carried away by the Babylonian armies when the first Temple was destroyed. In presenting his plea before the King, the companion gives a powerful testimony to the almighty force of Truth.

The ritual places the candidate in the role of Zerubbabel and follows him through his journey to King Darius and his role in the Immemorial Discussion, as found in the apocryphal book, 1 Esdras. The purpose is to bridge the gap between Royal Arch Masonry, and the Chivalric Orders as well the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross teaches the lessons of the triumph of truth.

This Order is often considered a compressed version of the Order of Knight Masons.

It should not be confused with the Masonic Order known as the Red Cross of Constantine.

Templar traditions Free Masons:

Despite Freemasonry’s general disclaimer that no one Masonic organization claims a direct heritage to the medieval Knights Templar, certain degrees and orders are obviously patterned after the medieval Order. These are best described as “commemorative orders” or degrees. Nevertheless, in spite of the fraternity’s official disclaimers, some Masons, non-Masons and even anti-Masons insist that certain Masonic rites or degrees originally had direct Templar influence.

  1. American Masonic youth organizations such as the Order of DeMolay for young men are named after the last Grand Master Templar Jacques de Molay who was executed in the final suppression of the Templar order in the early 14th century.
  2. The Knight of Rose-Croix Degree in the “Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite“, and honorary Orders like the Royal Order of Scotland are interpreted as evidence of a historical Templar-Masonic connection, though there is no factual basis for this belief.
  3. Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh has been suggested to be strong link between the Knights Templar and Freemasons due to reliefs combining Templar and Freemason symbolism. Rosslyn Chapel was indeed founded by William Sinclair, 1st Earl of Caithness
  4. Legends in certain degrees pertain to the involvement of Knights Under the command of Sir John De Bermingham, First and Last Earl of Louth aiding the excommunicated 14th Century Scottish King Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn; however this is based on 18th century romance and is not supported by any evidence. This story is the basis for the degrees in the Royal an invitational Masonic honorary organization.
  5. Templar connections have also been suggested through the Earls of Rosslyn (St. Clair, or Sinclair) a family with well documented connections with Scottish Freemasonry, one being a Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland.
  6. Many other old and new organizations are called “Knights Templar”. However, organizations like the Order of the Solar TempleMiliti Templi Scotia, or the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem are in no way related to Masonic Knights Templar, and share no relationship in either history, hierarchy, nor ritual.

This is by no means a complete and actual descrition of the Knights Templar, and there is much more that will come together in the future, please bear with me.

With much gratitude and devotion,

Dan Kline

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One Response to “Knights Templar and the Free Masons…..”

  1. SPECIAL KAYE Says:

    very nice job honey….a lot of work … well done

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