October 18, 2004
from DragonKeyPress Website
recovered through WayBackMachine Website
According to chroniclers of their early years, the Knights Templar were founded in 1188 by Hughes de Payen, a vassal of the Count of Champagne. This occurred after they had presented themselves to Baldwin I, King of Jerusalem, whose older brother, Godfroi de Bouillon had led the crusaders to victory in the Holy Land almost twenty years previous.
They proposed themselves as a order of fighting
monks, who would protect the roadways for pious pilgrims journeying to
Jerusalem. They were immediately given an entire wing of the royal palace as
their headquarters - a wing that had been built upon the foundations of the
Temple of Solomon. Thus they received their name: "the Knights of the
Guillame de Tyre, the chief chronicler of the age and an intimate associate of King Baldwin, doesn't even mention them, causing the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail to suspect that he had been silenced by the royal muzzle to cover up for the Templars' actual activities - excavating the Temple Mount. The authors speculate that when the Roman legions sacked the Temple in 70 A.D., they took only the most obvious loot, unwittingly leaving behind the most valuable treasure, chief among which would have been the Ark of the Covenant, and perhaps, the artifact which came to be known as the Holy Grail.
This could have been secreted away by the Temple priests in any of the numerous tunnels known to exist beneath Solomon's Stables on the Temple Mount - stables which the Templars made use of during their nine-year stay. This could have, in fact, been the purpose behind the foundation of their order - a mission based upon knowledge that had been passed down from Christ's descendants to the Merovingians, and then on to the Templars' founders.
The main figures involved in the Templar's
foundation - King Baldwin, the Count of Champagne, Andre de Montbard, Hughes
de Payen, Bertrand de Blanchefort and Godfroi de Bouillon were all
descendants of Merovingian blood, and if they had been in on the family
secrets, that would explain why they willingly pledged themselves, their
money, and in the king's case, the royal quarters, to the cause. If they had
been successful in their mission, it could explain how they acquired the
capital with which they eventually created a vast empire.
By 1127, most of the knights had returned to Europe, and in the following year, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Andre de Montbard's uncle, published a pro-Templar tract entitled In Praise of the New Knighthood. At the Saint Bernard-inspired Council of Troyes, the Church officially recognized the Templars as a religious and military order dedicated to the defense of Christendom.
Saint Bernard then assisted in drawing up their rules of conduct, based upon those of the Cistercian order of monks, another group upon whom Bernard had much influence. Templars were sworn to poverty and celibacy. They wore white mantels to symbolize their purity, emblazoned with the red cross patee. And just as the Merovingians were forbidden to cut their hair, the Templars were likewise forbidden to cut their beards. The Templars' reputation for bravery was well-earned.
They were not allowed to retreat from battle unless the odds outweighed them three to one, and when they were captured they were obliged to fight to the death rather than beg for mercy or ransom. They were also pledged to secrecy about the orders workings, and were inducted with a strange initiation ceremony about which there were many rumors. A few years later, there was another interesting development in their rule.
In 1139, a former student of Saint Bernard's,
Pope Innocent II, issued a papal bull stating that the Knights Templar would
owe allegiance to none except the Pope himself, making them immune to the
political whims of all authorities, both religious and secular.
Soon they stood at the helm of a huge, international empire over which they held complete independent sovereignty. During Christendom's Second Crusade, the Templars accompanied France's King Louis II into battle, and played a decisive role in preventing the war from becoming a total disaster. Over the next century, they secured their important role in international politics by utilizing their influence upon a number of kings, nobles, and ecclesiastic authorities. Many of these kings were financially indebted to the Templars, and some actually resided with them.
The Grand Master of the Temple even stood by
England's King John as he signed the Magna Carta. At times, it appeared that
the Templars possessed the power to make or break a monarch's career
according to their desire.
This made it possible for pilgrims and travelers to journey safely without fear of roadside robbers, and the cheques were unforgable, as they were written in sophisticated secret codes for which the Templars became known. Almost every king or queen in Europe banked with them, as well as a number of Muslim leaders whom they dealt with on a regular basis.
As Holy Blood, Holy Grail puts it,
The Templars' enterprises made them the conduits of new forms of art, science, and craft, new forms of thought and belief. They had access to new advances in agriculture, armaments, surveying, mapmaking, and navigation, and they were one of the first groups of people to employ the magnetic compass in their seafaring.
They ran their own hospitals to treat wounded soldiers, and were at the forefront of modern medicine, bringing to the field a scientific point of view unusual among their contemporaries, including an unprecedented understanding of the principals of hygiene. They even made medical use of mold extracts, similar to the widespread use of penicillin as an antibiotic today.
Their mastery of architectural principles, both
ancient and modern, including the understanding of advanced mathematics,
such as was used in the building of the Giza pyramid, for example, along
with their patronage of the stonemasons' guilds, led to the development of
Their ambiguous relationship with the Saracen enemy in the Holy Land, with whom they maintained a respectful peace whenever possible, led to the incorporation of a number of these new thought systems and scientific techniques, for Arab culture was still, at that time, a high civilization. There were even rumors of a close relationship with the Order of the Assassins, called by some authorities the Islamic equivalent to the Knights Templar.
Like the Templars, they took oaths of secrecy,
conducted strange ceremonies, and were obliged to fight with the same
He also managed to destroy the long-established
truce between the Christians and the Saracens, and led the Christians into a
battle at Hattin in 1187 that resulted in the end of their 100-year-long
reign in Jerusalem. By 1291, almost the entire Holy Land was under Saracen
control. The last Christian fortress, Acre, fell dramatically in May of that
Other authors, such as Alan Butler and Stephen Dafoe, have suggested that Switzerland is a likely candidate for the planned Templar state, and even suggest that the Swiss nation is a direct result of this. Evidence they give includes the extensive Templar holdings that existed there, the Templar-style equilateral cross on their national flag, and the well-established role that Switzerland plays as the center of European finance.
But the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail believe that the land which the Templars had picked to be the "New Jerusalem" was, in fact, the Languedoc region of Southern France - land of the Merovingian kings, whose descendants included the Templars' founders.
It was also the realm of
the Cathar heretics,
who, as it turned out, were closely associated with the Knights Templar as
And although the Templars were officially neutral in regards to the Albigensian crusade, they did accept a number of Cathars into their ranks at that time, providing them with immunity from prosecution. They even allowed Cathar refugees to take shelter in their preceptories, and on some occasions did defend them militarily.
According to Holy Blood, Holy Grail,
But the Catholic crusade against heresy would soon be turned against the Templars themselves, and the Holy Inquisition, which had been formed to deal with the Cathar problem, would soon be torturing their knights. For by 1306, the Templars had made a most powerful enemy: King Philippe IV of France. He did not merely resent them because they owed no allegiance to him, being obliged solely to the Holy See, and constituted a military threat greater than his own armed forces.
He also owed them a lot of money, which he could not afford to repay, but which he knew they held in great abundance. Furthermore, they had insulted him in the past by refusing him admittance to their ranks. Perhaps he had even heard about the treasure from Jerusalem that they supposedly possessed. Whichever the case, he had decided that he would do away with the Templars, not only in his own domains, but everywhere altogether.
And the only other power he knew of that held the amount of international clout needed to execute the plan was the only power that held command over the Templars: the Papacy. But manipulating the Papacy was nothing new to King Philippe the Fair. He had already, as most historians will attest, played a guiding role in the kidnapping of Pope Boniface VIII and the poisoning of Pope Benedict XI.
The current pope, Clement V, owed his very
throne to Philippe, who had been responsible for his election. Even as the
son of Ida de Blanchefort, from the same family as the Templars' fourth
Grand Master, Clement V still could not resist pressure from Philippe the
Fair. Philippe wanted to persecute the Templars for heresy.
Philippe had drafted a list of charges, largely
based on evidence gleaned from spies, and from a defected Templar who agreed
to be a witness. He then issued secret orders to his seneschals throughout
France, sealed, with instructions that they were to be opened at dawn on
Friday, October 13, 1307, and implemented immediately. All Templars were to
be arrested at once, and all of the order's property seized.
The order's current Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, had just had all of the order's books burnt for no apparent reason.
And one Templar who left the order had been told by the treasurer that this
was a "wise" move, as danger for the order lurked around the corner. Also, a
memo had been given to all of the Templar preceptories in France warning
their members not to divulge any information to anyone about the order's
customs and rituals. The Templars who were arrested went without struggle,
as if they had been instructed to submit.
These ships vanished without a trace shortly
before the arrests.
A list of charges drawn up by the Inquisition on August 12th, 1308 reads:
They were also accused, among other things, of homosexual rites, of baby sacrifice, of committing abortions, and of ritually trampling upon the Christian cross during their initiation ceremony.
A widespread interpretation of this ritual, repeated often throughout the confessions, is that they were expressing their denial of the crucifixion, presumably because they had come across evidence that Christ (Jesus) did not die on the cross. This ritual could also have served as an introduction to a spiritual discipline that was older than Christianity. One aspirant, during the initiation ceremony, was supposedly told that he should not believe in Christ, but in a "higher God."
A crucifix was then displayed, and he was told,
regarding this ritual, however, had been floating around the rumor mill
since at least 1249.
The latter seems a likely rumor to have been circulating amongst the Templars, for one of the theories surrounding the order is that they ascribed to the Johannite belief that John the Baptist was the true messiah, and Christ a false prophet. Some even said that Baphomet was not a mere head, but a demon, perhaps the Devil himself - half-male, half-female, half-human, and half-beast.
This was the source for the 19th century occultist Eliphas Levi's well-known depiction of Baphomet, now incorporated into the Waite tarot deck as "the Devil." This popular image, sometimes referred to as "the Sabbatic Goat", was made to embody symbols of conflicting dualities. Thus the beast bears the breasts of a woman and the sex organs of a man.
He is shown poised between the waxing and waning moon symbols with his right and left hands pointing up and down, respectively. Levi designed a sigil depicting an inverted pentagram with Baphomet's goat face super-imposed onto it, and called it the "Goat of Mendes."
This symbol was later used by Anton LaVey's
Church of Satan.
Given the evidence that the Templars knew of and believed in the Grail family, descendants of Christ, and Mary Magdalen, it is theorized that this idol contains the relics of Magdalen herself. After all, as Boyd Rice has suggested, 5 + 8 = 13, and M is the 13th letter of the alphabet, so "58 M" could be a code signifying the name "Mary Magdalen."
However, there is another important detail to
consider as well. The "M" was actually written as the astrological sign for
"Virgo." There is, as discussed in the articles The Cutting of the Orm and
Le Serpent Rouge Decoded, a connection between the figure of Mary Magdalen
and the figure of Virgo. There is also a connection between Mary Magdalen
and the goddess Venus, or Isis.
There he discovered a head resting on a pair of legbones (perhaps the origin of the Templar's famous skull and crossbones symbol.)
The voice told him that if he was careful to
guard the head, it would be "the giver of all things." He took it with him
and for the rest of his days it protected him. Later on, the tale relates,
the Templar order got a hold of it and incorporated it into their rituals.
Their lands were given to the Knights Hospitaller of Saint John, now known as the "Knights of Malta", and the
military wing of
the Vatican. It was an order that reportedly had much in
common with the Templars, perhaps even certain belief systems, and there is
evidence that some of the escaped Templars simply joined this rival order.
Most likely, Scotland, which provided a haven for renegade Templars from all over Europe. Scotland was at war with England at the time, so pressure from King Edward would have been useless, and Scottish people at that time didn't care much what the Pope thought of them either. Escaped Templars played an integral role in the history of Scotland, where the order was never officially dissolved. They are said to have fought by the side of Robert the Bruce during 1314's Battle of Bannockburn.
They purportedly survived in Scotland at least
until 1689, when, during the Battle of Killiecrankie (part of a revolt
against the deposition of Scottish Stuart king James II by William of
Orange), an ancient Templar device was found on the body of John Claverhouse,
Viscount of Dundee.
In Portugal, the order itself was cleared of all charges, and merely had to change its name, becoming the Knights of Christ.(1)
This order was devoted specifically to sailing, and sponsored a number of history's most well-known explorers. Vasco de Gama was a member of the order, and Prince Henry the Navigator, speculated as having been among the few to explore (albeit secretly) the New World prior to Christopher Columbus, was a Grand Master. Most importantly, however, Christopher Columbus himself was the son-in-law of a Knight of Christ, and may have used his relative's maps to navigate his way to America, where his ships sailed under flags bearing the order's insignia, the red equilateral cross.
The Templars also reputedly used their influence
in the Teutonic Order to exact a measure of revenge against the Catholic
Church, when they decided to support the Protestant Reformation of Martin
Before he died, de Molay is said to have called
on both Pope Clement and King Philippe to join him in death within a year.
Clement died of dysentery within a month, and about eight months later,
Philippe died of unknown causes. This, of, course, lent credence to the
rumors that the Templars were adept at witchcraft.
In 1789, the dying curse of de Molay re-emerged in the actions of French Freemasons, heirs to the traditions (and perhaps the secrets) of the Knights Templar. These Freemasons were responsible for orchestrating the French Revolution against both the Catholic Church, and the current political state. King Philippe's descendant, Louis XVI, was beheaded before a cheering crowd.
As the king's head rolled off the guillotine, a
man reportedly leapt onto the scaffold and flung Louis' blood all over the
crowd, shouting "Jacques de Molay, thou art avenged!"
The Freemasons do indeed seem to have embraced ideas that would tend to be associated with the Templars, including "secrets" regarding Solomon's Temple, the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail, and alternative interpretations of both the Old and New Testament, embracing a lot of so-called "apocryphal" legends. They also use a number of the same symbols that the Templars used, including the skull and crossbones, the equilateral cross, and the double-barred Cross of Lorraine.
And of course, the Freemasons' approach in
general tends to be "occult" and "Gnostic", just like the Templars, derived
from secrets that have purportedly been passed down from ancient Egypt and
even earlier, just as the Templar wisdom is said to have been derived. The
Freemasons even have entire degrees dedicated to the mythos of the Knights
Within the dimensions of the cathedrals were
contained, so they say, the ancient secrets of alchemy, and by the looks of
them one can easily imagine that to be true.
Even the inner order of the S.S., known as the Black Sun, was patterned after the Templars. Other, more innocuous occult figures have embraced the teachings of the Templars as well, such as H.P. Blavatsky and Rudolf Steiner. Then, of course, there are the numerous neo-Templar orders that proliferate throughout the Western world, mostly social clubs for middle-aged men, all of whom claim a direct pedigree derived from the original order.
Without a doubt, the legend of the Templars will
live on to seed the fertile plain of the human imagination well into the
If the historians are correct, the Templars started in that year with nine knights, and did not add to their membership for another nine years.
But it is known that by 1126 they had added four new members, so either the date of their foundation is wrong, or the bit about them admitting no new members for nine years is wrong. If the last piece of information is correct, then they would have actually been founded in 1111 or 1112. And there just so happens to be much evidence supporting that. For instance, in 1114, the Count of Champagne is known to have received a letter from the Bishop of Chartres regarding his intention to join "The militia of Christ", a nickname for the Templar order.
Clearly, then, the existence of the Templars was
The Count also demonstrated his patronage to the Templars' sister order, the Cistercian Monks of Saint Bernard, when in 1115 he donated the land onto which Saint Bernard's Abbey of Clairvaux was built. Saint Bernard was also the nephew of one of the Templars' original nine knights: Andre de Montbard. The court of Champagne, located in Troyes, was furthermore the center of a number of activities with which the Templars were also associated.
It was a center of cabalistic studies throughout
the Middle Ages, the birthplace of the earliest versions of the Grail
romances, and the site of some of the Templars' most important holdings.
It was also the reason why King Baldwin II gave them quarters on the Temple Mount, and why they kept so few members for the first nine years - so that it would be easier to protect the secret. The suggestion seems to be that the conspiracy officially began in 1104, during a meeting between the Count of Champagne and a number of nobles from the Brienne, Chaumont, and Joinville families, as well as the "liege lord" of Andre de Montbard.
It was immediately after this that the Count of Champagne left on his first trip to the Holy Land. He made another such trip in 1114, apparently desiring to join the Templars, who were already in existence. Upon his return, he donated that land to the Cistercian order mentioned previously. Following that, the empires of both the Templars and the Cistercians expanded exponentially.
The authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail theorized
that a conspiracy had been behind the formation and rapid growth of both
orders, and that this conspiracy in fact constituted a third order in
Under Blanchefort's leadership they became highly-trained and organized, as well as a force to be reckoned with in European finance and politics. It was Blanchefort who donated to them the lands near Rennes-le-Chateau and Bezu upon which they built their preceptories. And in 1156, under Blanchefort's direction, a group of Germans were imported into the region by the Templars, purportedly to work in the region's numerous gold mines.
As Holy Blood, Holy Grail states,
But what was all of this secrecy actually for - especially since the gold mines that they were supposedly working had been emptied by Roman miners during the previous millennium?
According to Cesar d'Arcons, an engineer hired
to write up a report on the region's mineral deposits some time later, these
Templar-employed German miners were not actually mining anything, but were
excavating a subterranean crypt.
No one knows why, however, since the pilgrim
routes that ran through the area were already adequately protected. But as
the locals will tell you, even unto this day, the Templars were actually
there to guard a treasure - one clearly connected with what those German
miners had been doing nearly a century earlier.
And this secret was undoubtedly shared by that third, hidden order of which we previously spoke.
That order is called the Priory of Sion.