by David Hatcher Childress
The Knights Templar have been associated with
all sorts of incredible activities including: having the Ark of the
Covenant, the Holy Grail, a secret fleet that sailed the oceans, and an
awe-inspiring self-confidence and courage that made their enemies shudder in
Despite their fearsome, battle-hardened reputation, the Knights Templar were
learned men, dedicated to protecting travelers and pilgrims of all
religions, not just Christians. They were great statesmen, politically
adept, economic traders, and they were apparently allied with the great
sailor-fraternity that had created a worldwide trading empire in Phoenician
Despite a great deal of negative propaganda against the Templars at the time
of their suppression, they are still known today as the preservers of
knowledge and sacred objects. While the origins of the Knights Templar are
said to go back to the building of King Solomon’s Temple by Phoenician
masons from Tyre, or even the Great Pyramid and Atlantis, we trace their
modern history from the Crusades period of the Middle Ages.
The Knights Templar began when a group of nine "French" knights came to
Jerusalem in the year 1118 A.D. These knights petitioned the king of
Jerusalem to allow them to live in the ancient Temple of Solomon, then
partly a mosque and partly in ruins.
In his book
The Mysteries of Chartres Cathedral the
French architect Louis Charpentier claims that the Knights Templar
built Chartres as a repository for ancient wisdom. This repository is
equal to Stonehenge, the Temple of Solomon or the Great Pyramid of Egypt. He
further claims that special knowledge about the Temple in Jerusalem was
gained by the founding group of nine knights who lived at Solomon’s Temple
starting in 1118 A.D.
In that year it is historically recorded that
nine "French" knights presented themselves to a Christian King Baldwin II of
Jerusalem, and explained that they planned to form themselves into a company
with a plan for protecting pilgrims from robbers and murderers along the
public highways leading to the holy city. King Baldwin II had been a
prisoner of the Saracens and knew of their infighting. Factions such as
Assassins were active in Moslem politics.
They also asked to be housed within a wing of the palace, a wing that
happened to be adjacent to the Dome of the Rock mosque, which was built on
the site of Solomon’s Temple.
The king granted their request and the Order of the Knights of Solomon’s
Temple or Knights Templar was born.
Ten years later the nine knights
presented themselves to the Pope, who gave his official approval to the
Knights Templar. Although only nine mysterious knights existed, a tenth
joined them, who was the Count of Champagne, an important French noble.
In fact, none of the "poor" knights was apparently poor, nor were they all
French. Several came from important French and Flemish families. Of the ten
original knights, four have not been identified, although their names are
known. Furthermore, it seems unlikely that the Knights of the Temple of
Solomon were formed to protect the pilgrims to Jerusalem because such an
order of knights already existed. They were the Knights Hospitallers or
Knights of St. John, later to become
the Knights of Malta.
It is important not to confuse the Knights Templar with the Knights of
Malta, as many readers, and some historians, do. The Knights Templar are
quite different from the other crusaders and were sometimes said to fight in
combat against each other, even in the "Holy Land."
The Knights Hospitallers, which still exist today as the Knights of Malta,
were forced to leave Malta by Napoleon, who stopped at the island on his way
to Egypt. Today the Knights of Malta reside in Italy, still have their own
"sovereign country" and are said to be
a secret society for the Vatican.
Charles Addison, a London Lawyer, who wrote in his 1842 book The History of
the Knights Templar mentions in the first few pages how it was commonly
believed the Templars were at odds with the Vatican and their military arm,
the Knights Hospitallers. Addison denies the rumors, but admits such rumors
Charpentier likens the original band of Knights Templar to commandos who
raided the ancient Temple of Solomon in order to uncover its engineering
secrets and possible lost treasure such as the Ark of the Covenant, possibly
hidden deep in a strange cavern system beneath the temple.
With the help of the brilliant French Abbot Bernard de Clairvaux, the nine
knights, directed by the Count of Champagne, created the Knights Templar.
With the money that they accumulated, a cathedral at Chartres was built.
Later, other cathedrals were built around Europe and the legends of the
"Master Stonemasons" became common.
Incorporated into Chartres Cathedral are beautiful stained-glass windows,
many of the colors difficult or impossible to duplicate today. Hidden within
the cathedral are various ancient "cubits" of measure, plus such esoteric
devices as the famous Chartres Maze and other visual tools such as sacred
geometry, for personal transformation - a sort of personal alchemy of the
soul. Included in the image was the quest for the Holy Grail.
When a nobleman would join their ranks, he would surrender his castle and
property to the Knights who would use revenues generated from the property
to purchase weapons, war-horses, armor and other military supplies. The
ranks of the Knights Templar grew rapidly. Other noblemen and kings who were
not members often gave them gifts of money and land. King Steven of England
contributed his valuable English manor of Cressing in Essex. He also made
arrangements for high-ranking members of the Knights to visit nobles of
England and Scotland.
Pope Eugenius decreed that the Knights Templar and only the Knights Templar
would wear a special red cross with blunt wedge-shaped arms called the cross
patee on the left breasts of their white robes, so that they could be
quickly recognized at any time by Christians and by other Templars on the
field of battle. The white robes with red crosses became their required
dress. The warrior-knights fought bravely in the Middle East, and were
highly respected by their Moslem counterparts for their strategy and
In 1129 the Templar Grand Master, Hugh de Payens, led a company of 300
knights, recruited from the noblest houses of Europe, to accompany a huge
train of pilgrims to Jerusalem. During this time the Templars formed part of
a contingent which, allied with the Assassins of Persia, tried to take the
important city of Damascus.
According to Arkon Daraul in his book A History of Secret Societies, the
followers of Hasan Ibn Sabah, leader of the Assassins, were definitely in
contact with the Templars and apparently the Assassins were prepared to
become "Christians" should their goals be met, which they were not. At one
point, a payment of 3000 gold pieces from the Syrian branch of the Assassins
was made to the Templar order, apparently as some form of tribute. The exact
association between the Templars and the Assassins has remained a mystery.
The Templars, it must be said on this regard, were not noted for political
assassinations, as were the Assassins. Rather, the Templars fell victim to
political intrigue and were either publicly executed or assassinated as was
Henry Sinclair, Grand Master of the Templars, in 1401, when the Templar
Fleet returned from North America.
Many Templars were of Palestinian birth, spoke perfect Arabic, and were
familiar with every religious sect, cult, and magical doctrine, including
the Assassins. For instance, the Grand Master Philip of Nablus (1167 A.D.)
was a Syrian. The Assassins, it might be mentioned, eventually became what
is known today as the Ismaili sect of Islam. Their head is the Aga Khan, and
their followers reside largely in Pakistan and India, today. The Aga Khan, a
hereditary leadership descended from Mohammed, maintains residences in both
London and Bombay. The father of today’s Aga Khan was married to Hollywood
actress Rita Hayworth.
By 1133, King Alfonso of Aragon and Navarre (northern Spain) had fought the
invading Moors in 29 battles, and willed his kingdom to the Templars.
However, the Templars were prevented from claiming the kingdom because of
the Moorish victory over Spain.
Meanwhile, there was a parallel religious order, the Knights of St. John,
founded at Amalfi, Italy, in the 11th century. They went to Jerusalem to
protect and minister to the Christian pilgrims but soon extended their
mission to tending to the sick and poor all over the Holy Land.
As the years went by the Knights of St. John
(Knights Hospitallers) became increasingly militant and, generally
speaking, fought along-side the more mystical Knights Templar and the
Germanic order of the Teutonic Knights of St. Mary.
by Eric Opsahl
The Teutonic Order (usually, hospitale sancte Marie Theutonicorum
Jerosolimitanum - the Hospital of St. Mary of the Germans of Jerusalem or
der orden des DŸschen huses - the order of the German houses, in the
sources) was one of the three major knightly or military orders that
originated and evolved during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
The Templars and Hospitallers are the other
The military orders were "true orders" of the Roman church governed by
regulations similar to those governing monks, generally variants of the
Benedictine or Augustinian Rules. For most purposes, they were technically
answerable only to the pope. They did have some feudal responsibilities to
lay and other clerical entities as dictated by circumstances of place and
time. Large numbers of knights became monks but often were found in military
fortifications rather than monasteries.
The members of most orders took vows of
poverty, chastity, and obedience.
Origins of the
According to tradition, early in the twelfth century a wealthy German couple
built a hospital in Jerusalem at their own expense to care for poor and sick
pilgrims who spoke German. The hospital and an accompanying chapel were
dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
This story is similar to the traditions of the
origin of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem founded by Amalfitans. The
German hospital apparently was affiliated with the Hospital of St. John, at
least, in the observance of the rule of St. Augustine. After Saladin's
conquest of Jerusalem in 1187, there are no more records of the German
hospital there. There was no indication that the German hospital ever had a
During the siege of Acre during the Third Crusade (probably 1190), Germans
from Lübeck and Bremen established a field hospital for German soldiers
reportedly using ships' sails as cover from the elements. Duke Frederick of
Swabia placed his chaplain Conrad in charge of the hospital and soon
transformed the organization into a religious order responsible to the local
Latin bishop. Although some scholars question its authenticity, Pope Clement
III (1187- -1191) apparently approved the Order on February 6, 1191.
The Order was taken under Pope Celestine III's
(1191--1198) protection on December 21, 1196, with the name of the "Hospital
of St. Mary of the Germans in Jerusalem." The name is possibly the only
connection with the earlier German hospital although some argue a more
direct relationship with the earlier hospital.
A ceremony purportedly held on March 5, 1198, altered the Order's raison
d'etre. The patriarch of Jerusalem, the king of Jerusalem, the head of the
crusading army, and the masters of the Templars and the Hospital of St. John
attended the celebration establishing the Teutonic Knights as a military
A bull by Pope Innocent III (1198--1216) dated
February 19, 1199, confirmed the event and specified the Order would care
for the sick according to the rule of the Hospitallers. It would conduct its
other business by following the Templar rule and would wear the Temple's
distinctive white cloak.
Its black cross would differentiate the
Teutonic Order from the Temple.
During the first twenty years of its existence, the institutional structure
of the Order developed and stabilized. The Teutonic Order followed the lead
of the Templars and Hospitallers by creating a system of provinces. Unlike
monastic orders composed of independent abbeys, the Teutonic Knights had a
hierarchical chain of command with commanderies (house, Kommende) at the
lowest level. Provinces or bailiwicks (Ballei, Komturei) were parts of
"countries" that composed the Order as a whole. Its first independent rule
was adopted in 1264.
The officials governing the Teutonic Order at the various levels were
commander (Komtur, preceptor) at the local level, province commander (Landkomtur),
national commander (Landmeister), and grand master (Hochmeister, magister).
The highest leadership positions (including grand master, grand commander [Grosskomtur],
marshal [Ordensmarschall], draper or quartermaster [Trapier], hospitaller [Spittler],
and treasurer [Tressler]) were elected by the general chapter.
Membership of this mostly German-speaking order was composed of various,
distinct classes: knights, priests, and other brothers (lay brothers,
sisters, and "familiars"). There was a large number of people who supported
the professed members of the Order, ranging from auxiliary knights to
slaves. The highest ranking were secular knights, serving for free.
Turcopoles (Greek for "son of Turk") were originally probably lightly-armed,
half-breed cavalry whose name applied to Turkish mercenaries employed in the
Byzantine army, later the term was adopted by the military orders.
There were attendants called squires (Knechte),
and sergeants-at-arms. Footsoldiers were usually coerced from the local
peasantry. Sister-aids (Helfschwestern) were employed as domestics as were
Helfbrüder; they took religious vows. Married and single lay domestics also
were employed by the Order. Artisans and laborers (e.g., gardeners,
carpenters, masons) worked for charity or wages.
Many serfs and slaves were owned by the Order.
From the outset, the possessions and wealth of the Teutonic Order grew
astoundingly fast and its numbers skyrocketed, especially under Grand Master
Hermann von Salza (c. 1210--1239). Von Salza was successful in gaining many
favors for the Order because he was a confidante to both the German emperor
Frederick II (1211--1250) and the popes. His immediate successors also did
well. Between 1215 and 1300, one or more commanderies were founded each
year, usually through gifts.
The Teutonic Order was invited into Greece (1209), Hungary (1211), and
Prussia (1226) by secular rulers to perform military duties on their behalf.
In the Peloponnesus the Frankish Prince of Achaia provided fiefs near
Kalamata for the Teutonic Knights in return for military service; there are
traces of the Order's continuous service there until 1500. The Hungarian
King Andrew II (1205--1235) expelled the Order in 1225 when it became strong
and may have threatened his rule. The conquest of Prussia began in 1230
(after the Order's Grand Master was named prince of the Holy Roman Empire)
and lasted until 1283.
In addition to the Holy Land and these other "theaters of war," the order's
members could be found elsewhere in the Mediterranean and western Europe:
Armenia, Cyprus, Sicily, Apulia, Lombardy, Spain, France, Alsace, Austria,
Bohemia, the Lowlands, Germany, and Livonia. Only in the frontier areas (the
Holy Land, Armenia, Greece, Hungary, Prussia, Spain, and Livonia) was
military service required of members.
By 1221 the German Order was given the same privileges as the Templars and
Hospitallers by Pope Honorius III (1216--1227). Both senior orders fought
the autonomy of the Teutonic Order until about 1240.
The German Order may not have quite equaled in
wealth and possessions the other two military orders which were more than 80
years older, but it became the only other order to rival them in
international influence and activity.
After the crusaders were defeated at Acre in 1291, the Teutonic Order moved
its headquarters to Venice, a long-time ally. In 1309, the Order moved
again, this time to Marienburg in Prussia. Here the Order had subdued the
pagan inhabitants and established a theocratic form of government.
The position of the knights in the Baltic region had been strengthened in
1237 when a knightly order in Livonia, the Brothers of the Sword (Schwertbrüder),
joined the Teutonic Order. The history of the German knights in Prussia and
Livonia is one of almost perpetual revolts, uprisings, raids, conquests,
victories, and defeats. Many secular knights from western Europe (e.g.,
Chaucer's knight in the Canterbury Tales) would go to the Baltic to help the
Order in "crusading activities" for a season or more. The Grand Master's
prizes and feasting for especially heroic knights became legendary and
reminds one of various aspects of King Arthur's knights of the Round Table.
During the fourteenth century, dozens of towns and about 2000 villages were
created in Prussia by the Order. The Order was successful in trade. For
example, as a Hanseatic League participant, it provided western Europe with
some of its cheapest grain.
The nations of Poland and Lithuania, perennial enemies of the Order, became
stronger and stronger in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries.
In 1410 at Tannenberg, the Order was crushed in a battle against a coalition
led by these powers. The result was a bankrupting of the Order and
significant reduction in its military and political capabilities.
In 1467, the whole of western Prussia was
ceded to Poland and the eastern part acknowledged the suzerainty of the king
1525 to 1797
Martin Luther's (1483-1546) Reformation affected the Teutonic Order
significantly. In 1525, Grand Master Albrecht von Brandenburg converted to
the Lutheran faith. He then was enfoeffed by the Polish king as Duke of
Prussia. As a medieval, crusading entity, the German Order essentially ended
at this time.
In 1526, the Teutonic Order master of the German lands became the
"Administrator of the Grand-mastery in Prussia and Master in German and
Romance Countries." Mergentheim became the main seat of the Order.
There was a great deal of confusion in Germany in the aftermath of the
Reformation, its resulting wars, and the political changes. The bailiwicks
of Saxony, Messe, and Th(ringia became Protestant until Napoleonic times.
The office of Landkomtur alternated among Lutheran, Reformed, and Catholic
leaders in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The bailiwick of Utrecht
was Calvinist until modern times. A new rule was adopted in 1606 in an
attempt to accommodate the changes in the Order.
In European affairs, from time to time, the Order still participated
militarily. Some 1000 troops were raised to help the Austrians against the
Turks. After 1696, there was a regiment of the "Grand and German Master."
But the numbers and wealth of the Order
dwindled. Little other military activity is recorded.
Revolution and After
As the anticlerical French government expanded its political control in the
1790's, the Order lost its commanderies in Belgium and those west of the
Rhine (1797). Many east of the Rhine were lost in 1805. In 1809, Napoleon
dissolved the Order in all countries under his dominion, leaving only the
properties in the Austrian Empire.
Even in Austria, the Order had to exist secretly for a number of years until
1839 when Austrian Emperor Ferdinand I reconstituted the Order as the Order
of the Teutonic Knights (Deutscher Ritterorden). The mission fulfilled by
the Order was mainly the caring for wounded soldiers.
In 1866, the "Honorable Knights of the Teutonic Order" was founded. Knights
were required to provide annual contributions for hospitals. The Marianer
des Deutschen Ordens, for women, was created in 1871.
In 1914, some 1,500 sponsors from the Austrian nobility supported the care
giving efforts of the Order. During World War I, the Order took care of
about 3,000 wounded soldiers in their facilities.
In 1923, masters of the Order were allowed to come from among the clerics
rather than the "knighthood" for the first time. Under National Socialist
rule, the Order was dissolved in Austria in 1938 and Czechoslovakia in 1939.
The leaders of the Third Reich abused the history of the Teutonic Order.
After World War II, the Order began anew in Germany. Its possessions in
Austria were returned. In Italy, the Order had changed little. A great deal
of support for the care taking and missionary Order has been found in
Germany, Austria, Italy, Belgium, and even in North and Central America.
The Order's headquarters, treasury, and
archives are now located in Vienna, Austria.
With the fall of Jerusalem in 1309, the Knights of St. John retreated first
to Cyprus and then to Rhodes. As the main base for the crusaders in their
struggle against the Ottoman Empire, Rhodes was a fortress, a prison, and a
supply base for the ships and armies on their way to Palestine and Asia
When the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet Fatih failed to clarify the succession
question of the newly powerful Ottoman Empire, in 1481, a battle between his
two sons at Bursa resulted and Cem was defeated by his brother Beyazit. Cem
fled to Egypt but was denied asylum by the Marmelukes who controlled that
country for the Ottomans.
Cem took the irreversible step of fleeing to Rhodes where he appealed to the
archenemies of the Ottomans, the Knights Hospitallers, or Knights of St.
John. With his brother now in the hands of the crusader army, Beyazit knew
he was in trouble and the Ottoman Empire had to respond quickly.
Beyazit shrewdly contacted the Knights of St. John and negotiated a contract
to pay 45,000 ducats of gold annually - a huge sum at the time - in return
for the imprisonment of his brother on Rhodes and later in the English Tower
at the castle in Bodrum, on the Turkish mainland.
The Knights eventually handed their valuable prisoner over to the Vatican,
where Cem was made an interesting offer: to lead a crusader army to
recapture Istanbul (Constantinople).
To stop this final threat from his wayward brother Beyazit spared no expense
paying to the Vatican 120,000 gold ducats and a number of sacred relics from
Jerusalem including the famous Spear of Destiny. This was also known as the
Lance of Longinus and was reportedly the Spearhead of the Roman centurion
Longinus that was used to pierce the side of Jesus while on the cross.
Another artifact offered was the sponge of the last refreshment. This was
the vinegar-like sponge used to wet Jesus’ lips while on the cross
According to the legend of the lance,
"Whosoever possesses this Holy Lance
and understands the powers it serves, holds in his hand the destiny of the
world for good or evil."
Adolf Hitler believed in this power and removed the
lance from the Vienna museum when the Nazis took over Austria.
With this hefty payment, the Pope abandoned Cem and the plans for him to
lead an army against Istanbul. Cem died alone at the Terracina prison in
1495. Rumor had it that he was eventually poisoned. Today Cem is but a
footnote in history, a victim of the diplomatic maneuvers that brought the
Spear of Destiny to the West
The Knights stayed on Rhodes for 213 years, transforming the city into a
mighty fortress with 12-meter thick walls. They withstood two Muslim
offenses in 1444 and 1480, but in 1522 the Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent
staged a massive attack with 200,000 troops.
A mere 600 Knights with 1,000 mercenaries and 6,000 Rhodians eventually
surrendered after a long siege. In 1529 Charles V, grandson of Ferdinand and
Isabella of Spain, offered Malta to the Knights of St. John as their
permanent base and they began to build fortifications around the Grand
Harbor. In 1565 the Ottoman fleet arrived at Malta and immediately attacked
With 181 ships carrying a complement of over 30,000 men, the fleet bombarded
the fortress with over 7,000 rounds of ammunition every day for over a month
and finally took St. Elmo. But the Turkish marines had suffered many
casualties and could not take the other heavily defended forts that were
around the bay and inside the island. News of reinforcements coming from
Sicily caused the Turks to retreat from the island and the Great Siege was
The Knights of St. John changed their name to the Knights of Malta and were
said to be fanatically loyal to the Vatican, and the Pope apparently used
them as his personal crusaders and soldiers. Other Orders such as the
Knights Templar and the Teutonic Knights were far more independent, and if
anything, were trying their best to subvert the church that was centered on
Rome. In fact it was sometimes said that the Knights Templar and the Knights
of St. John (later to be known as the Knights of Malta) sometimes fought in
combat against each other. The Knights Templar were sworn to fight the
Vatican while the Knights of Malta became the Pope’s private army.
The Knights then turned to the Russian Tsar Paul I who offered to found an
Orthodox League of the Knights of St. James. This deal with the Russian Tsar
particularly enraged Napoleon.
Napoleon sailed to Malta and made anchor just outside the Grand Harbor in
June of 1798. When he was refused entry by the Knights of St. John, he began
to bombard the fortress. After two days of shelling the French landed and
gave the knights four days to leave, thus ending their 268-year presence on
The Pope restored the office of the Grand Master in 1879 and the Knights of
St. John still exist today. They are known as the
Knights of Malta, though
they no longer reside in Malta at all, but have offices in various cities in
Europe. Even though they have no actual territory, they are still recognized
as a separate state by 40 or more countries around the world, similar to the
recognition of the Vatican.
Critics of the Knights of St. John/Malta claim that they are a right-wing
Catholic organization that worked in Eastern Europe to suppress non-Catholic
Wehrmacht General Reinhard Gehlen received the highest honor
given by the Knights of Malta shortly after World War II for "services
Gehlen has been credited with helping many former Nazi and SS
officers into new positions with the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS)
and later the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
The Sea Empire of the
During the 180 years of Crusades, the Templar wealth grew into a huge
fortune. They owned over nine thousand manors and castles across Europe, all
of which were tax-free. Each property was farmed and produced revenues that
were used to support the largest banking system in Europe. The Templar
wealth and power caused suspicion and jealousy among some members of the
Slanderous rumors were spread of secret rituals and devil
King Philip IV of France was responsible for many of these rumors. Philip IV
had taken refuge from an angry mob in Paris at the Templar headquarters
there. The Templars had moved their main headquarters from Jerusalem to
Paris after the Crusaders’ defeat in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Ottoman
Navy had taken over most of the Mediterranean and were busy besieging the
Knights Hospitallers on Malta.
The Templars gave Philip IV refuge from the mob, but it is said that the
King saw the magnificence of the Templar treasure and wanted it for himself.
His nation was bankrupt, he was a weak king who was unpopular with the
people, and he knew that the Templars were more powerful and wealthy then he
King Philip IV went to Rome in 1305 and
convinced Pope Clement V that the Knights Templar were not the holy
defenders of the faith but were seeking to destroy it. The Pope ordered King
Philip to arrest all the Knights in France and begin an inquisition. When
the Kings men went to the Templar castles they found many of them abandoned
and the large naval force that had been anchored at the Templar base in La
Rochelle was gone.
Those that were arrested were tried and found guilty of
sins against God. Jaques de Molay, the last grand master of the Knights
Templar, was burned at the stake in Paris in 1314.
A contemporary English poem asked the question that many ask today, where
did all the Templars and their great wealth go? The brethren, the Masters of
the Temple, who were well-stocked and ample, with gold and silver and
riches, where are they? How have they done? They had such power once that
none dared take from them, none was so bold; Forever they bought and never
This question has plagued historians and treasure hunters for centuries. For
hundreds of years there have been rumors that the Knights Templar were not
only the defenders of the faith, but were also the guardians of the Holy
Grail. The Holy Grail is said to be the most holy of religious artifacts.
Different versions of the legend exist, with the two most prominent stating
that the Holy Grail is the cup or chalice used by Christ at the Last Supper
or a piece of the cross that he was crucified on. The chalice version of the
Holy Grail has Saint Joseph of Arimathea bringing to England the cup used at
the Last Supper which had been used to collect the blood that flowed from
A Welsh version of the Grail story says Saint Joseph of Arimathea brought
the Grail to England with the word of Christ, and left the holy relic at
Glastonbury; there it reached King Arthur and the knights of the Round
Table. The Grail is said to have taken many forms and King Arthur saw it in
its fifth and final form while receiving Communion with hermits, a bleeding
lance, which was also known as the Lance of Longinus, which was discovered
by the Crusaders at Antioch. This last version would put the Templars and
the lance in the Middle East at the same time. Before leaving the legend of
the Holy Grail stop and think of the religious significance such a relic
The mysterious Knights Templar had an extensive sea network and may have
inherited some of the maps and other secrets of the Phoenicians. When the
Templars were outlawed and arrested in 1307 by King Philip IV of France, the
huge Templar fleet at La Rochelle, France, vanished and many Knights Templar
sought refuge in lands outside of France. Portugal was one of the few places
where they could find some asylum, and it is likely that the Templar fleet
made a stop at Almourol castle before continuing to its final destination.
It should be noted that many Portuguese explorers and royalty were Knights
Templar and later Masons. Many believe that the Portuguese Knights Templar
were instrumental in Portugal acquiring its transatlantic colony, Brazil.
While Portugal was an important haven for the Knights Templar, their main
base of operations, until they were outlawed was southern France and
Cataluña, the area of
the Cathars and
the Merovingian kings. Barcelona, the
capitol of Cataluña, was originally a Phoenician port and this area along
the border of Spain and France has long thought of itself as Cataluña, a
state, people and culture separate from the rest of Spain. The populace
speaks their own language, Catalunian, a language that may have originated
with ancient Phoenician.
Outside of Barcelona is Montserrat monastery, site of religious pilgrimage
for a long time, probably going back even before the Christian era. It is a
mountain rising 4,054 feet above the coastal plain which eventually became
the site of a celebrated Benedictine monastery. It was at Montserrat that
Saint Ignatius of Loyola vowed to dedicate himself to a religious life.
The monastery can be found about halfway up the steep, barren mountain. Only
ruins can be found of the 11th-century Benedictine monastery and the new
monastery on the site was built in the 19th century.
According to the Columbia Viking Desk Encyclopedia (1968 version),
Montserrat was thought in the Middle Ages to have been the site of the
castle which contained the Holy Grail.
Says the encyclopedia,
Renaissance church contains a black wooden image of the Virgin, carved,
according to tradition, by St. Luke. In the Middle Ages the mountain, also
called Monsalvat, was thought to have been the site of the castle of the
Curiously, Barcelona is the city where Columbus landed upon his return to
Europe from the New World. Why did Columbus come all the way to Barcelona
when he had left from Cadiz, a port that he had to pass on his way to
Perhaps Barcelona was a safer port to land at than Cadiz?
quite possible that Columbus was a Knight Templar. He always signed his name
with a curious triangle and coded letters, something which Knights Templar
were known to do. All Jews had been banished from Spain on the very day that
Columbus had sailed for the New World.
Some historians have claimed that Columbus was
actually a Spanish Jew and not an Italian from Genoa as later historians
were to claim. If Columbus was a Jew, perhaps Barcelona and the Cataluña
area was a safe haven for him and his crew. Also, Barcelona would have been
a highly likely city for the secret Grand Master of the Knights Templar to
One of the most interesting and mysterious of Scottish characters was Prince
Henry Sinclair, the last king of the Orkney Islands. Henry Sinclair, like
many other nobles of the Middle Ages, held many titles and he was many
things. He was king of the Orkney Islands, although they were officially an
earldom granted to Prince Henry by the King of Norway. At the same time
Prince Henry held other territories as a vassal of the Scottish king. Prince
Henry Sinclair was also a Grand Master of the Knights Templar, a veteran of
the crusades and, according to some sources, the possessor of the Holy
In the year 1391 A.D. Prince Henry Sinclair met with the famous explorers
and mapmakers Nicolos and Antonio Zeno at Fer Island, which is located
between the Orkneys and the Shetlands. The Zeno brothers were well known for
their maps of Iceland and the Arctic. Prince Henry would contract them to
send an exploratory fleet to the New World.
With the aid of funding from the Knights Templar, who had now been banished
by the Pope, Prince Henry gathered a fleet of twelve ships for a voyage to
establish a safe haven for the order of Knights and their treasure. The
party was led by Prince Henry under the guidance of Antonio Zeno, the
mapmaker from Venice.
The fleet left the Orkneys in 1398 and landed in Nova Scotia, wintered there
and later explored the eastern seaboard of the United States. It is said
that the effigy of one of Henry’s close companions, Sir James Gunn, who died
on the expedition is to be found carved upon a rock-face at Westford,
The party is said to have built a castle and left a portion of their navy in
Nova Scotia. As we shall see, the famous Oak Island just off the mainland of
Nova Scotia is to become part of the mystery surrounding Prince Henry
Prince Henry and his fleet returned to the Orkneys but shortly afterward
Prince Henry was assassinated in Scotland. The year was 1400 and it was
another 92 years before Cristobal Colon, known to us as Columbus, was to use
his knowledge of Iceland and the Zeno brothers’ maps to make his famous
voyage across the Atlantic.
In his book Holy Grail Across the Atlantic, Michael Bradley attempts to show
that the ancient treasure from the Temple of Solomon was kept at Montsegur
in the French Pyrenees, the Cathar region of France. This mountain fortress
was besieged by the forces of Simon de Montfort and the Inquisition on March
16, 1244, but it is believed that the secret treasure escaped.
The treasure probably included both ancient treasure from the Middle East
but also gold, silver and jewellery of more modern manufacture. The Knights
Templar were well funded in secret by various royalty; after all, the
Merovingian kings were of the Holy Blood of Jesus - or so it was
Bradley asserts that Prince Henry took over as many as 300 colonists to the
New World and a literal "Grail Castle" was built in Nova Scotia - the New
So strong is the evidence for Prince Henry Sinclair’s voyage across the
Atlantic with the Knights Templar that his distant relative Andrew Sinclair
wrote a book entitled The Sword and the Grail in which he claimed much the
same as Bradley in Holy Grail Across the Atlantic.
The Templars may have also come into the possession of some highly accurate
maps made by the Moors and Turks, and in so doing, inherited the secret sea
knowledge once guarded so carefully by the Carthaginians and their allies.
Bradley and Sinclair claim that a special Grail Castle was built in an area
of central Nova Scotia called "The Cross." This spot could be reached via
river from either side of the Nova Scotia peninsula and at the mouths of
both rivers was an island called "Oak Island." Curiously, one of these Oak
Islands has the famous "Money Pit" which is a man-made shaft hundreds of
feet deep with side tunnels.
It is believed that there is a treasure in this pit and millions of dollars
have been spent in attempts to reach the submerged bottom of the pit.
It has been traditionally believed that the Oak Island Money Pit was built
by pirates to hide a treasure, but Bradley and Sinclair claim that it was
built by Sinclair and the Knights Templar. Furthermore, they claim, Canada
was settled as a direct result of the Holy Grail being taken there.
Sinclair and the Templars were attempting to
create the prophesied "New Jerusalem" in the New World.
The Final Stand of the
The lost Templar fleet is discussed in Michael Baigent and Richard
Leigh’s book The Temple and the Lodge.
They point out that the Templars had a huge fleet at their disposal, a fleet that was stationed out
of ports in Mediterranean France and Italy as well as ports in northern
France, Flanders and Portugal.
"On the whole, the Templar fleet was geared
towards operation in the Mediterranean - keeping the Holy Land supplied
with men and equipment, and importing commodities from the Middle East
into Europe. At the same time, the fleet did operate in the Atlantic.
Extensive trade was conducted with the British Isles and, very probably,
with the Baltic Hanseatic League.
Thus communities subordinate to the Templars
(called preceptories in Europe), in England and Ireland, were generally
located on the coast or on navigable rivers. The primary Atlantic port
for the Templars was La Rochelle, which had good communication with
Mediterranean ports. Cloth, for example, could be brought from Britain
on Templar ships to La Rochelle, transported overland to a Mediterranean
port such as Collioure, then loaded aboard Templar ships again and
carried to the Holy Land.
By this means, it was possible to avoid the
always risky passage through the Straits of Gibraltar, usually
controlled by the Saracens."
When the Order was persecuted by Philip IV of
France starting in 1307 and culminating in the burning at the stake of
Jacques de Molay in 1314, the Knights Templar became an outlawed
organization. Philip IV of France persecuted them because of their financial
and political power, but to many historians the persecution was part of a
continued campaign against early Christian heretics like
Cathars. Indeed, there is a great deal of evidence to show that
the Knights Templar and the Cathars were strongly allied.
The Knights Templar were apparently part of a secret movement to restore
Merovingian kings, who had the Holy Blood of Jesus in their veins. The
question is, what happened to the Templar fleet after they were outlawed?
Traditional history has no answer to this
Baigent and Leigh in The Temple and the Lodge claim that the Templar fleet
escaped en masse from the various ports in the Mediterranean and northern
Europe and left for a mysterious destination where they could find political
asylum and safety.
This destination was Scotland.
Knights Templar in Scotland
1128 - Hugh de Payen, a relative by marriage to the St Clairs
of Roslin, travels to Scotland where he stays with his relatives.
The Templars are granted land – which becomes their headquarters in
Scotland at Ballontrodoch – now Temple.
1203 - The sack of Constantinople. Important relics looted
and fall into Templar hands. The Orkney Crusade saw Scottish Templar
families, including the Sinclairs, join the crusade.
1307 - 11 October, two days before the arrest of many Templar
Knights, it is recorded in French Masonic history that the Templar
ships leave at midnight from La Rochelle, probably heading to
1311 - Bishop Lamberton of St Andrews gives the Templars his
1314 - Possibility that Knight Templars fought at
1790 - Alexander Deuchar revives the order in Scotland in an
attempt to re-start a new chivalry.
The Mediterranean fleet had to sail through the dangerous Straits of
Gibraltar and then probably stopped at various Portuguese ports that were
sympathetic to the Templars such as Almourol castle, near the town of
Abrantes. The fortress of Almourol was constructed by Gualdim Pais, Master
of the Order of the Templars in 1171.
Baigent and Leigh go on to say that the Templar fleet sailed up the west
coast of Ireland to the safe ports in Donegal and Ulster, where Templar
properties were located and arms smuggling to Argyll was common.
The Templar fleet then landed in Argyll by sailing to the south of the
islands of Islay and Jura into the Sound of Jura where the Templars unloaded
men and cargo at the Scottish Templar strongholds of Kilmory, Castle Sweet
Robert the Bruce controlled portions of Scotland, but not all of it.
Significant portions of the northern and southern Highlands were controlled
by clans that were allied with England. Robert the Bruce had been
excommunicated by the Pope in 1306, one year before the persecution of the Templars began. Essentially, the papal decree that outlawed the Knights
Templar was not applicable in Scotland, or at least the parts that Robert
the Bruce controlled.
The turning of the tide for Robert the Bruce, Scotland and the Knights
Templar was the famous Battle of Bannockburn which took place on June 24,
While visiting Scotland I drove out of Edinburgh looking for the site of the
Battle of Bannockburn. It is known to have taken place within two and a half
miles of Stirling Castle.
On June 24 of 1324, Robert the Bruce of Scotland with approximately 6,000
Scots miraculously defeated 20,000 English soldiers. Exactly what took place
has never really been recorded. It is believed by some that Bruce did it
with the help of a special force of Knights Templar. After all, June 24 was
also a special day to the Knights Templar; it was St. John’s Day.
Say Baigent and Leigh:
"Most historians concur that the Scottish army was
made up almost entirely of foot soldiers armed with pikes, spears and axes.
They also concur that only mounted men in the Scottish ranks carried swords,
and that Bruce had few such men..."
Suddenly in the midst of the battle, with the English forces engaged in a
three-to-one combat against the Scottish soldiers, there was a charge from
the rear of the Scottish camp.
A fresh force with banners flying rode forth to do battle with the English.
The English ranks took one look at the new force and in sheer terror of the
new combatants, they literally fled the field, say Baigent and Leigh in The
Temple and the Lodge, ...
..."after a day of combat which had left
both English and Scottish armies exhausted... Panic swept the English
ranks. King Edward, together with 500 of his knights, abruptly fled the
field. Demoralized, the English foot-soldiers promptly followed suit,
and the withdrawal deteriorated quickly into a full-scale rout, the
entire English army abandoning their supplies, their baggage, their
money, their gold and silver plate, their arms, armour and equipment.
But while the chronicles speak of dreadful
slaughter, the recorded English losses do not in fact appear to have
been very great. Only one earl is reported killed, only 38 barons and
knights. The English collapse appears to have been caused not by the
ferocity of the Scottish assault, which they were managing to withstand,
but simply by fear."
In fact, what probably happened was a charge by
the remaining forces of Knights Templar against the English army. These
crusade veterans were like the Green Berets or Special Forces of the Middle
Ages. All combatants suddenly stopped to witness the charging army of
Knights Templar, in full regalia with white banners and red cross insignias
flying high above the mounted Grail Knights.
The probable strategy behind the Templars’ charge into battle would have
been to ride through the thick of the battle and attempt to reach King
Edward and his personal guards. Once engaged with the commanding officers of
the English foe, these seasoned war veterans would have easily defeated King
Edward’s knights and possibly killed the King himself. As noted, King Edward
and his special knights immediately fled upon witnessing the Templar charge.
The 1995 Oscar-winning movie, Braveheart concluded by depicting Robert the
Bruce and his charge at Bannockburn.
My friend Lionel Fanthorpe back in Wales had told me that I should visit
Rosslyn Chapel while I was near Edinburgh, so I headed south from the
Bannockburn battle area. It was just about noon when I arrived at Rosslyn
Chapel in the Lothian Hills south of Edinburgh.
I parked the car and walked around the small but ornate chapel. It was a
Sunday and there was a church service going on inside, so I looked at some
of the graves in the cemetery on the west side of the building.
service finished, a tall, thin man in a tweed sport coat came out of the
chapel and stood in the courtyard for a moment.
"Excuse me," I said to him, "but isn’t
Rosslyn Chapel associated with the Knights Templar?"
"Oh, yes indeed," the man said. "This chapel was built by William St.
Clair, Grand Master of the Templars."
We stood there for a moment talking about the
chapel and the Knights Templar, when he told me he had written several books
on Rosslyn, the Knights Templar, the Holy Grail and the Spear of Destiny.
co-wrote Mark of the Beast with Trevor Ravenscroft," he said, "plus these
other books for sale at the chapel gift shop."
"I’ve read The Mark of the Beast," I said.
"Are you Tim Wallace-Murphy?"
"Indeed I am," he acknowledged, a bit surprised that I knew who he was
and had read one of his books.
"It’s a pleasure to meet you," I said, and we talked a bit about the
Battle of Bannockburn, since I had just come from the area of the battle
"The charge of the Knights Templar at
Bannockburn must have been quite a sight," I said. "Were any of the
"No, not a one," he said. "The English fled in total fear of the
seasoned warriors. Not even one Knights Templar was killed."
"Well, that’s the kind of statistic I like," I said.
Privately, I wondered if this battle was the
reciprocal battle to the last stand of the Cathars at Montsegur. At
Montsegur everyone had been killed; at Bannockburn the Grail Knights had
triumphed and not a man was lost.
Dr. Tim Wallace-Murphy took me into the gift shop where he showed me his
other books on Rosslyn Chapel and its history. He also told me the story of
Rosslyn, which is connected to the Orkneys and the taking of the Holy Grail
to North America.
The builder of Rosslyn Chapel, William St. Clair, was the last Sinclair
‘Jarl’ of Orkney, who lived in the middle of the fifteenth century. Master
Earl William, the ‘Jarldom of Orkney’ passed from the family to the Scottish
crown as part of the dowry of Margaret of Denmark on to her marriage to King
James III of Scotland. William was not only the grandson of Prince Henry and
the last Jarl of the Orkneys, he also had the somewhat peculiar title of
Knight of the Cockle and the Golden Fleece.
As Dr. Wallace-Murphy points out in his book, The Templar Legacy & the
Masonic Inheritance within Rosslyn Chapel. Sir William St. Clair was a
member of a secret group that preserved important knowledge concerning the
Holy Grail, the Holy Blood of the Merovingian kings, and the destiny of the
new continent across the Atlantic. Wallace-Murphy speculates that the
Knights of the Cockle and the Golden Fleece was the current Grail Order of
which Sinclair was possibly Grand Master.
Clearly, the Knights Templar saw themselves as the inheritors of ancient
knowledge that went back to Atlantis. They struggled for hundreds of years
against the Vatican and the reign of terror known as the Inquisition. To the
Templars, the true church, one that taught mysticism, reincarnation and good
works, was being suppressed by a dark power that called itself the one true
Oppression of these other faiths was done with the familiar devices
of torture, terror and extermination.
Did the Templars seek to rediscover and
recreate Atlantis in America?
Henry Sinclair of Orkney had risked all
to make his voyages across the North Atlantic. Had he taken the Holy
Grail and possibly even the Ark of the Covenant to America?
Had these sacred relics helped spur on
the creation of the United States, a land which Masonic founding
fathers like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin
Franklin were to create partially on the Templar ideals of religious
According to Templar historians like Michael
Baigent, Richard Leigh, Andrew Sinclair and Tim Wallace-Murphy, the Knights
Templar had helped create an independent Scotland, then a "New Scotland" and
finally an independent United States.
The Present Day
What of the Knights Templar today? While Masonry apparently sprang from the
Templars, are there other surviving groups?
The "Knights Templar of Aquarius" existed in the 1940s and 50s in England,
based in Canfield Gardens, London, and the Island of Jersey. The head of the
order was an Englishman named H.C. Randall-Stevens. Randall-Stevens wrote
several curious books, including one entitled The Chronicles of Osiris, and
another entitled Atlantis to the Latter Days, which was published in 1954.
In this rare book Randall-Stevens discusses various topics including
Atlantis, the Great Pyramid, King Solomon’s Temple and the Knights Templar.
Recent conspiracy literature has painted a dark portrait of modern day
Masons, often putting the blame of an Orwellian nightmare
New World Order
squarely on the shoulders of a Masonic conspiracy. Murderous renegade
Masonic groups like the infamous P-2 organization in Italy have made world
headlines. The fact that many influential businessmen are also Masons is
also seen as part of the exclusive club of the puppet-masters.
My own opinion is that, while the Masons were a powerful political group 200
years ago, their significance in modern power struggles is probably
overrated. Furthermore, their doctrines are highly misunderstood, especially
by fundamentalist Christians.
Knights Templar of their day, and the Revolutionary War Masons of their day,
were free-thinkers who rebelled against any artificial thought controls or
economic controls forced upon them by the controllers. The Knights Templar
lost their final battle and escaped en masse to Scotland and possibly the
New World. The Revolutionary War Masons of British/Scottish descent and the Rosicrucians of German and Dutch descent succeeded in defeating the British
Crown and fending off encroachment from the Vatican (in the form of royal
Spain) at the same time.
Power struggles, between religious, racial and political factions have
occurred since the beginning of history. History records that the Knights
Templar, and later the Masons, stood for philosophical and political
freedom. It is difficult to believe that the founding fathers of America,
virtually all members of secret societies linked to the Knights Templar,
were trying to set up a nation that was meant to be led into a New World
Order police state. Rather, they were attempting to set up a nation with
special safeguards against such a possibility.
The checks and balances, guarantees of freedoms
and inalienable rights are part of the plan for a true "Nation Under God" -
a utopian society where all citizens live in peace and freedom.
Yet, let us not be fooled. There is Christ and there is the Anti-Christ.
There is the Buddha and there is the Anti-Buddha, and there is the Novus Ordo Seclorum, and there is the Anti-Novus Ordo Seclorum. All prophecies
remind us that a golden age once existed in the past, and a new golden age
is soon to come in the future.
What shall we call this new era of light?
According to arcane lore, from many prophets as well as the Templars, earth
changes will destroy many lands, including Europe, while new lands will rise
in the Atlantic and Pacific. New countries, created by new pioneers, will
settle these new lands. These same people will be escaping the devastation
happening in their own countries.
Perhaps the new golden age is still to come,
occurring on a land that is not yet present.
Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Michael Baigent,
Richard Leigh & Henry Lincoln, 1982, Johnathan Cape, London
(published in the U.K. as The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail).
The Messianic Legacy, Michael Baigent,
Richard Leigh & Henry Lincoln, 1985, Johnathan Cape, London.
The Temple and the Lodge, Michael
Baigent & Richard Leigh, 1989, Johnathan Cape, London.
Emerald Cup - Ark of Gold, Col. Howard
Buechner, 1991, Thunderbird Press, Metairie, LA.
The Secrets of Rennes-le-Chateau, Lionel
& Patricia Fanthorpe, 1991, Bellevue Books, London.
The History of the Knights Templars,
Charles G. Addison, 1842, London.
A History of Secret Societies, Arkon
Daraul, 1962, Citadel Press, NY.
The Mysteries of Chartres Cathedral,
Louis Charpentier, 1975, Avon Books, New York, 1966, Robert Lafont,
Holy Grail Across the Atlantic, Michael
Bradley, 1988, Hounslow Press, Willowdale, Ontario.
The Morning of the Magicians, Jacques
Bergier & Louis Pauwels, 1960, Stein & Day Publishers, New York.
Prince Henry Sinclair, Frederick Pohl,
1974, Clarkson Potter Publishers, New York.
The Sword and the Grail, Andrew
Sinclair, 1992, Crown, New York.
The Templar Legacy & the Masonic
Inheritance Within Rosslyn Chapel, Tim Wallace-Murphy, 1993, Friends
of Rosslyn, Rosslyn, Scotland.
The Glastonbury Legends, R.F. Treharne,
1967, Sphere Books, London.
St. Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury,
Lionel Smithett Lewis, 1922, James Clark & Co., Cambridge.
GENISIS, David Wood, 1986, Tunbridge
The Templars, Knights of God, Edward
Burman, 1986, Destiny Books, Rochester, Vermont.
The Druids, Stuart Piggott, 1967, Thames
and Hudson, London.
Atlantis to the Latter Days, H.C.
Randall-Stevens, 1957, The Knights Templar of Aquarius, London.
The Search For the Stone of Destiny, Pat
Gerber, 1992, Canongate Press, Edinburgh.
Knights of the Temple
This article is extracted from the
Introduction to the recently reprinted 1852 book
The History of the Knights Templar,
by Charles G. Addison and Introduction of
David Hatcher Childress
The Founding of
Founded in 1118ce and destroyed on Friday 13th 1307, the Knights Templar,
or Poor Knights of Christ of the Temple of Solomon to quote their
full title (1), have contributed to
modern society the most inauspicious date in the calendar, so that even
those who know nothing of them are influenced indirectly by them through
superstition. The purpose of forming the Order was to protect pilgrims
travelling to the Holy Land from bandits, muggers and Saracens.
Unlike most medieval knights, the Templars took
vows of poverty ([supposedly] represented on their seal as two knights
sharing one horse), chastity and obedience. They were monks, but they were
fearsome warriors as well, and their service won them a glorious reputation
as pious Brothers dedicated to the Lord and benevolent to pilgrims. It also
won them gifts and donations from wealthy Europeans which other religious
orders envied, and it ultimately won them the ultimate gift available to any
Pope Innocent II granted them total freedom from
every authority but his own. They were answerable to no monarch, law, bishop
or archbishop, and they could collect tithes but didn't have to pay any
themselves - basically they were above every law and answerable only to the
Pope. It was this freedom which also allowed them their own chaplains,
churches and cemeteries (2). And it
was this that contributed to their aura of secrecy and enabled them to do
whatever they liked behind closed doors.
There are some curiosities about their foundation. When they arrived in
Jerusalem in 1119, which at that time was a Christian Kingdom after a
successful Crusade, they asked King Baldwin if they could have their
headquarters on the Temple Mount (the site of the original Temple of
The King consented and gave them part of the Al-Asqa
Mosque adjacent to the Dome of the Rock, despite the fact that his palace
was also there. What is most unusual about this is that at this point there
were only nine knights, and they remained only nine in number for the first
nine years of their existence(3),
and there is no evidence that they protected pilgrims during this period(4).
The most striking point about this to my mind is
that while these nine French blokes were claiming to protect pilgrims and
actually doing very little (apparently) for the first nine years of their
order's existence, the Knights Hospitaller were actually doing this job and
providing food and accommodation for these pilgrims to a high standard.
They never received the same freedoms from the
Pope as the Templars, but eventually created their own freedom when they
managed to acquire Malta for their own personal use (incidentally, this
order was the source of what is now the St John's ambulance brigade). It
seems strange that this anomaly was not recorded at the time and that all
the Templars' benefactors were so easily duped. (.... or were they?)
After the Templars were recognized by the Pope there was a rapid increase in
the amount of donations they received. This often included land, which was
then turned to profit. When new members were recruited into the order they
turned all of their possessions over to the Temple, and because many knights
were nobles many estates were acquired for the order throughout Europe.
Where they had territory they often set up a preceptory where the Templars
lived out their monastic rule, and they sometimes set up a larger church too
(instead of the usual small chapel attached to a preceptory).
Temple Church in London is the most famous
English Templar church, but they had a church at Garway in Herefordshire and
also one in Hereford itself (5) to
name the only two known Templar churches in Hereford and Worcester. The
outstanding feature of Templar and also Hospitaller churches is their round
nave (the nave is the bit people normally sit in to listen to services).
This was done to imitate the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem which was a
symbol of the Holly Land and where the Templars had their headquarters. A
round nave has interesting implications.
An ordinary rectangular nave focuses attention
on the activities of the priest at the altar or pulpit. If the Templars sat,
or stood, in a circle the nature of the service would have "felt" more equal
and possibly would have been more in keeping with "Brotherhood" than being
lectured at by an elevated preacher. If their activities were a occult as
has been suggested then a round nave would have been appropriate in other
Their property outside of the Holy Land was used for money-making, sending
disabled or injured knights to rest, recruiting, training and doing the
religious business that has proven so mysterious. All of this was geared
towards maintaining a military presence in the Holy Land which included
building huge castles and doing battle with Saracens (and occasionally other
Donations were received at these places too and often the Templars acted as feudal Lords over large estates which needed to be managed
as businesses. It is worth noting that the first windmill ever recorded in
England was on a Templar property; it is thought they brought the idea over
from the Middle East (see
Temple Balsall by Eileen Gooder).
The wealth and power of the Templars was massive. The scale of their
buildings in the Holy Land was equally massive. Chastel Pelerin (Castle
Pilgrim) had an outer wall 6 meters wide and 16 meters high, and two of its
towers were more than 34 meters high. Add to this that it was built on a
spit of land in the sea and that it had its own harbor and an impressive
This castle was the Templars' most important
base in the Kingdom of Jerusalem (6)
and was the point from which the last Crusaders left on 14th August 1291
when they were ousted by Muslim forces.(7)
The Fall of the
After the Holy Land was lost and it became clear that it would not be
regained, the real power of the Templars became evident because it was not
being focused abroad. The owned almost as much land in France as the king
did, which rather annoyed him. In England, King John (buried in Worcester,
where I live) pawned the crown jewels to them for six years because he was
This type of financial power, coupled with a
highly disciplined and effective army of warrior-monks on an international
level, caused some tinges of jealousy, greed and fear in certain European
nobles. Notably King Philip IV of France. (9)
This king has the added feeling of humiliation
after being rejected when he asked to join the order. He eventually managed
to engineer a candidate of his choosing to the position of Pope (Clement V)
who then owed the king a favor. Philip plotted the mass arrest of the
Templars and tried to get the Pope to add his weight to the proceedings - he
was very reluctant but Philip began a public character assassination
campaign against him until he crumbled into submission and supported the
dissolution of the Templars.
On Friday 13th, at dawn, all Templars in France
were seized and arrested. Envelopes containing orders were opened
simultaneously by French Sheriffs which gave them the element of surprise in
the endeavour. (10) The property of
the Templars was mostly turned over to the Hospitallers but the great
"Treasure of the Templars" managed to evade the dawn strike. It is now known
how their rumored secret source of wealth disappeared and, equally
mysteriously, the entire naval fleet of the Templars (which was
considerable) disappeared. (11)
The trial, though highly corrupt, revealed the truth behind some of the
rumors of heresy in the order which Philip had used to legitimize this
attack. In France the Templars were promised leniency if they confessed to
charges of heresy, sodomy and obscenity, and promised death if they refused.
The full trial did not begin there until April
"and by May 54 men had refused to withdraw their repudiation if
initial confessions and were handed over to the secular authorities to be
burned at the stake."(12)
travelled far and wide over their territories and it is reasonable to assume
that many French Templars were abroad at the time of the arrests. Nowhere
were they so harshly treated as in France. In Scotland and particularly in
Portugal there was no serious effort to suppress the order.
In Portugal they became the Knights of Christ
and in Scotland they are thought to have fought at the Battle of Bannockburn
and to have been the source of certain Masonic traditions.(13)
Anyway .... in October 1307 King Philip of France send a letter
to Edward II in England (who had only been king for a couple of months and
who was Philip's future son-in-law) asking him to arrest the Templars in the
same way as he had done.
Edward refused. In fact, he sent several letters
to other European monarchs asking them to ignore the charges against the
Templars, saying that they were inspired by greed and jealousy. Pope Clement
V ended up having to tell Edward to begin proceedings against the order. On
20th December Edward wrote a letter to all his Sheriffs, as the French king
had dome, and on 9th, 10th and 11th January 1308, the English Templars were
placed in safe custody.(14)
On their arrest an inventory of their property was done. In England this
showed that many once prosperous Templar manors and preceptories had fallen
into serious disrepair. In some instances this could be attributed to the
Templars doing a runner. It was several months after the arrests in France
that the English were arrested - plenty of time to arrange a "holiday". In
many cases, however, the property was dilapidated through old age and some
people regard this as evidence of the order's weakness in its latter stages.(15)
The loss of the Holy Land and the realisation
that another Crusade was not likely would have depleted morale somewhat, and
it is not exactly fuel to the fire of enthusiasm in a new recruit. They
weren't attracting as many new members and they had nothing to work for
because their military activities were over (other than their "securicor"
activities as pawnbrokers and bankers).
The final battles in the Holy Land left many
disabled and injured knights as well as all those who died, so all of this
is bound to have placed an enormous strain on the order and helps explain
the state of decay on some of their properties.
The Charges and the
On Tuesday, 21 October 1309 the trial began in England. It was held in
London with the Bishop of London, two Papal Inquisitors (probably Dominicans
of the "inquisition" fame), the Pope's Chaplain and three public notaries.(16)
Internationally there were many different
confessions, but here are the principal heresies quoted from John J
The confessions stated that in their
initiations they had been required to bestow
the Osculum Infame, or
"kiss of shame", on the prior, on his mouth .. or on his navel .. or
below his spine. They had been required to spit on the cross. Denying
Christ, the Templars had worshipped a head, or a head with three faces,
or a head with four feet, or a head with just two feet. It was a metal
head, or a wooden head, or a human skull set in a reliquary. (A couple
of Templars confessed that the head was named Baphomet).
Some confessed that they had also worshipped
an idol in the form of a cat, which was red, or grey, or black, or
mottled. Sometimes the idol worship required kissing the cat below the
tail. Sometimes the cat was greased with the fat from roasted babies.
The Templars were forced to eat food which
contained the ashes of dead Templars, a form of witchcraft that passed
on the courage of the fallen knights. Some said they had to wear a cord
next to their skin after the cord had touched the idol."
At the Paris Temple,
"a silver head was found
with small bones inside, which appeared to have been made to house holy
This is one of the few
pieces of material evidence to support the Templar association with heads.
In England a Templar named Henry de la Wolde confessed to kissing on
the mouth at initiations, but to no other parts of the body. And preceptor
Simon Streche said that he thought receptions everywhere were the
same as in the "chief convent", meaning the Paris Temple where a head was
A knight named Robert de Hamilton, when
asked about the use of idols attached to the girdles that the Templars wore
over their vests, said that the use of the girdle was honorable and called
it the Girdle of Nazareth, and said,
".... it was touched on a certain
column" and that they all carry what girdle they wished.(19)
An interesting piece of evidence against them
was a Franciscan who said that,
"... about 20 years ago the Grand Preceptor
had some relics that he wanted to show the Brothers at Wetherby. At dead
of night there was shouting in the chapel, and the Franciscan got up and
looked through the keyhole, and saw a great light. The next day he asked
a Brother about the night's events and the Brother told him to go on his
way and never speak of it for fear of his life".(20)
An interesting quote in Crusader Castles, by
Hugh Kennedy, is a report by Imad-al-Din of what he thought of the Templar
castle of La Feve after it had been conquered in 1187 by Saladin, the
"It was a place where they met and received
people, a place where they guarded their horses, a place where the
torrents of their men flowed, a meeting place of their brethren, the
residence of their devil and the place of their crosses, where their
masses assembled and their fire was kindled."
What are we to make of these?
The reference to
idols attached to girdles probably relates to a sacred cord which the Templars are supposed to have kept next to their flesh. This may have been
something adopted into the Templars from the [GNOSTIC] Cathars who lived in
the Languedoc region of France. (22)
They were "heretics" according to the Pope and
the Albigensian Crusade ordered by him and carried out largely by the
Teutonic Knights slaughtered most of them. What about Baphomet? The worship
of an idol in the shape of a head was one of the most persistent accusations
leveled against them. Intelligence gained by royal spies who had
infiltrated the order prior to the raids also reported the name Baphomet.
In The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail by Baigent,
Leigh and Lincoln, the possible meaning of this name is explored. Early
examiners of the issue often thought that Baphomet was a corruption of
Muhammad. The authors mentioned above point out that if Baphomet was merely
God of Allah, why bother renaming him Baphomet? The name could also be a
corruption of abufihamet which means "Father of Understanding" of "Father of
If this is the case, the Templars had adopted
Sufism into their rituals. Montague Summers suggested, that the name was a
combination of two Greek words (baphe and metis) and meant 'absorption into
Hugh Schonfield had a different idea for the origin of the name Baphomet as
published in Appendix A - The Essenes and the Templars from the book The Essene Odyssey by himself.
The Essenes, to avoid persecution and because they were a secret sect,
employed the uses of ciphers and codes to hide the identities of important
names. One such cipher, known to bible scholars and translators of the
Sea Scrolls, is the Atbash Cipher. To use the cipher you swap the first
letter of the Hebrew alphabet for the last, second for second to last, third
for third to last and so on. This means that Aleph=Tau, Bet=Shin, hence the
Essene knowledge got passed on to the Gnostics, and Gnostics then passed it
on to the Cathars. The Knights Templar was at one time enrolling many Cathar
nobles as new recruits. It is likely that among the knowledge passed to the
Templars from the Cathars, would have been the knowledge of the Essene
ciphers, including Atbash.
Hugh Schonfield obviously thought so, since he didn't hesitate in applying
the Atbash cipher to what he saw as the "obviously artificial name Baphomet".
So Hugh wrote out the name Baphomet in Hebrew, applied the Cipher and
revealed the word Sophia! Baphomet was the Greek goddess of wisdom!
The Inquisition had thought that Baphomet was the bearded male head that the
Templars prostrated themselves before and which spoke to them and gave them
occult powers. Sophia, however, is obviously female and Hugh was not
surprised to note that Inquisition records also show that in Templar hands
"a casket surmounted by a great head of gilded silver, most beautiful,
and constituting the image of a woman."
But what of the male head? This was
Adam Kadmon, and the head was denominated in Hebrew as Chokmah, i.e. Wisdom.
Even before the discovery of Baphomet's true name, the feminine side of this
deity had begun to manifest. Most modern depictions of Baphomet show him
with a goats head, breasts (two, four or even six), wings (angelic or
demonic), a phallus (usually a very big one), and hooved legs.
So Baphomet had already emerged as androgynous,
even before the discovery of his being the blending of Adam Kadmon
(essentially a god, although Jews and derivative monotheists wouldn't see it
that way) and the Goddess Sophia due to an Inquisition error.
The Templar Head Cult
A good explanation for the Templar head worship covers another bunch of
heretics from the East. The Johannite or Mandaean heresy
denounced Jesus as a false prophet and acknowledged John the
Baptist as the true Messiah.
In The Holy Blood ... the authors assert
"In the course of their activities in the
Middle East the Templars undoubtedly established contact with Johannite
sects ..." (25)
John the Baptist was decapitated - hence the
worship of a head. In Turin Shroud - In Whose Image ..., where
Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince effectively demonstrate that
Leonardo da Vinci created the shroud, this link is re-affirmed. The reason
the head of the shroud is not quite connected to the unreasonably long body
is partly because Leonardo, as Grand Master of the Priory of Sion, wanted to
allude to John the Baptist in the image.(26)
Priory of Sion still exists today and is
historically linked to the Templars.(27)
The Mandaean heresy connection seems to me to be the most likely explanation
of the head worship of the Templars.
One of the orders that absorbed the Templars' lands was the Knights
Hospitallers, or the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem. I am
mildly surprised that the order's obvious reverence for St John has not been
fully researched in an esoteric light by the very capable authors noted
above - especially considering that St John's right hand is one of the
relics owned by the order, preserved in the private chapel of the Winter
Palace at St Petersburg in Russia.(28)
An upward pointing right hand is a
characteristic of some of Leonardo's paintings and it is noted in the Turin
Shroud - In Whose Image ... as one of the clues which he left relating to
the John the Baptist connection with the Priory of Sion (and hence Templars(29)),
but the order's ownership of this relic is not mentioned in this otherwise
mind-blowing book (I liked it).
Aleister Crowley, the infamous Great Beast, was very
into the Templars. He wrote a play about them,
(30) he was very familiar with the Templar orders in
Freemasonry (as self-styled "Inspector-General" of Masonic rites(31))
and he took the name Baphomet for his position as Grand Master of the Ordo
He explored the meaning and numerology of the
name and says it could mean "baptism of wisdom" (furthering the John the
Baptist links) or that it is a corruption of a title meaning "Father
Mithras". He says that this latter interpretation shows why the Templars
gave that name to their idol. "Baphomet was Father Mithras, the cubical
stone which was the corner of the Temple." (relating to the headquarters of
the Templars on the site of the original Temple of Solomon).(33)
Other sources connect Baphomet with Cernunnos, the God of the witches, and
say that the Templars preserved the deeper aspects of the old ways in their
inner rites. Eliphas Levi, who also showed an interest in the Templars,
equated Baphomet with the Goat of the Sabbat(34) - incidentally, Crowley
believed he was Levi in a former incarnation.
There are many lines of enquiry into Baphomet in
the field of Magick - too long-winded to detail here.
The Cathar Connection
The supposed attributes of the Templar head are interesting in that they are
very similar to the qualities given to Bran's head and to the Holy Grail.
That is, making the land fertile, enriching the people and basically being
pretty darn groovy.
In Parsifal, Wolfram von Eschenbach
describes the Grail as a stone. He also describes the guardians of
the Grail as Templars and Wolfram himself was a contemporary of the Templars
(35) - could this mean that Crowley
was right? Some people say that (even though Wolfram called them Templars)
the Knights in Parsifal are not necessarily Templars.
Primarily because the Templars' sign is a
cross pattée, not a turtle dove (as in Parsifal) and because the Knights
in Parsifal go forth to quest in a manner now concurrent with what history
knows of the Templars. Another point made is that if Wolfram had really
wanted to portray the Templars, he undoubtedly could have made a better job
of clarifying their identity. (36)
Naming them Templars in the story is clear enough, and a dove is sometimes
associated with the Cathars (37) who
the Templars certainly mixed with and maybe got their "treasure" from, and
indeed it was no less than John the Baptist who saw a dove descending as the
So these "errors" make sense if Wolfram was
trying to hint about a connection between the Templars,
John the Baptist and the grail (or treasure) which has been successfully
shown in The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail anyway. That all this occurs in
an Arthurian context, linking it up with older tales like that of Bran's
head perhaps, suggests that Wolfram wanted to allude to that too.
The similarities between Baphomet and Bran's
head/the grail are striking anyway, so to have Wolfram linking these up
through the Templars prior to their trial is certainly an interesting
coincidence if nothing else. In The Sign and The Seal, Graham
Hancock shows how Wolfram could have known all of this.
If what the Templars were up to with Baphomet
was anything near as weird as the Bran's head stuff, or even the Orphic
traditions from Greece, the could our Franciscan friend's "great light"; and
the silver head from the Paris Temple be evidence of this?
Some final interesting points. When Jacques de Molay (the last Grand
Master of the Knights Templar before the trial) and Geoffrey de Charnay
(the order's treasurer) were burnt at the stake, Jacques is reported to have
issued a final curse.
“He called his persecutors - Pope Clement
and King Philip - to join him and account for themselves before the
court of God within the year. Within a month Pope Clement was dead,
supposedly from a sudden onslaught of dysentery. By the end of the year
Philip was dead as well, from causes which remain obscure to this day.”
As evidence that the Templars remained close to
certain French hearts in more recent times (probably through Freemasonry)
the scene of the execution of King Louis XVI in 1789 (French Revolution)
needs a brief review. After the guillotine had fallen and the king's head
lay in a basket "... an unknown man is reported to have leaped onto the
scaffold. He dipped his hand into the monarch's blood and flung it out over
the surrounding throng and cried 'Jacques de Molay, thou art avenged!'"
So many different things have been affected by the Templars that squeezing
like their travels to America (!) (41)
and their quest for the lost Ark of the Covenant
(42) simply was not possible in this comparatively tiny
article. Enquiring minds should consult the list of references for this
article and do much further reading.
Happy Crusading ... or head hunting .. and less
of that orifice-kissing!
Hancock, Graham - The Sign and The Seal
- a quest for the lost Ark of the Covenant, BCA 1992
Robinson, John J - Dungeon, Fire and
Sword - The Knights Templar in the Crusades, Michael O'Mara Books
Ltd, London, 1991
Hancock, ibid cit
'St Giles Church and Hospital,
Hereford'. Hereford and Worcester Sites and Monuments Record no 4409
Kennedy, Hugh - Crusader Castles,
Cambridge University Press, 1994
Robinson, op cit
Elliott, Paul - Warrior Cults - A
History of Magical, Mystical and Murderous Organisations, Blandford
Books, London, 19959.
Walker, Charles - Atlas of Secret
Europe, Dorset Press, New York, 1990
Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln - The Holy
Blood and The Holy Grail, Corgi Books, London, 1982
Hancock, op cit
Gooder, Eileen - Temple Balsall - The
Warwickshire Preceptory of the Templars and Their Fate, Phillimore
and Co Ltd, Chichester, 1995,
see Hancock and Baigent, Lincoln and
Leigh amongst others
Gooder, op cit,
Gooder, op cit
Gooder, op cit
Robinson, op cit
Robinson, op cit
Kennedy, op cit
Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln, op cit
Elliott, op cit
Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln, op cit
Baignet, Leigh and Lincoln, ibid. Quoted
in Turin Shroud - In Whose Image - The Shocking Truth Unveiled, by
Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, 1994
Pickentt, Lynn and Prince, Clive, Turin
Shroud - In Whose Image .... BCA 1994
see Holy Blood and the Holy Grail by
Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln for more on the Priory
Fincham, H W - The Order of the Hospital
of St John and its Grand Priory of England, London, second edition
Picknett and Prince, op cit
Crowley, Aleister - The Confessions of
Aleister Crowley, Arkana Books (Penguin), London, 1989 (first
Crowley - ibid
Crowley - ibid
Crowley - ibid. See also Crowley's
Magical Record of the Beast 666 1972
Levi, Eliphas, Transcendental Magic,
Rider Books, London 1984 (first published 1896)
Hancock, op cit
Nicholson, Helen - Templars,
Hospitallers and Teutonic Knights - Images of the Military Orders
1128 - 1291, Leicester University Press, 1995
Walker, op cit
Jones, Alison - (The Wordsworth)
Dictionary of Saints, Ware, Herts, 1992
Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln, op cit
Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln, ibid
Sinclair, Andrew - The Sword and The
Hancock, op cit