The Order of Knights of the
Temple was founded in the Holy Land in1118 AD by a Burgundian Knight, Hugues
de Payens. It's organisation was based on that of the Saracen fraternity of hashishim
whom Christians called Assassins. The Templars first headquarters was a
wing of the royal palace of Jerusalem next to the al-aqsa mosque, revered by
the Shi'ites as the central shrine of the Goddess Fatima.
Western romances, inspired by
Moorish Shi'ite poets, transformed this Mother-shrine into the Temple of the
Holy Grail, where certain legendary Knights called Templars gathered to offer
their service to the Goddess, to uphold the female principle of divinity and
to defend women. These Knights became more widely known as Galahad, Perceval,
The real Knights Templar,
however, professed Christianity and assumed the duty of protecting Christian
pilgrims and merchants travelling through the Holy Land. They also undertook
to protect the travellers' lands, castles, and other properties back home,
where Templars from Jerusalem arrived to take charge. When pilgrims failed to
return from their journeys, the property could pass into the Templars'
permanent possession. As a result, like other holy orders founded on a vow of
poverty, the Templars soon became very rich.
At first the Knights Templar had
difficulty getting papal sanction for their military order. The papacy refused
to recognise them until a vindication of their aims was written by Saint
Bernard, whose uncle joined the order and became a Grand Master. The Templars'
original charter, signed by Pope Innocent II, granted them freedom from papal
claims on their property, even from church taxation. This financial
independence was to prove their downfall.
Having acquired estate, the
Templars were accused of organised heresy, devil worship, ritual sodomy, and
blasphemy. It was claimed they adored an androgynous idol named Baphomet,
"having sometimes three faces, sometimes two, or only one, and sometimes
a bare skull which they called their saviour, and believed its influence to be
exerted in making them rich, and in making flowers grow and the earth
The rumour-mongers claimed the
Templars secret rites involved denial of Christ, treading on the cross, and
similar charges that were to become monotonously familiar in witch
persecutions. Grand Master Jacques de Molay and other dignitaries of the order
were arrested and confessed under torture, that they had indeed done such
things, with the aim of teaching newly initiated Knights unquestioning
obedience to their superiors' commands. Later, de Molay and his associates
publicly renounced their confessions, saying they had been forced by torture.
In 1314 they proclaimed their innocence before a large crowd of people and
were burned at the stake as relapsed heretics the same afternoon.
The order was suppressed with
great cruelty. With the church's blessing, local barons in France, Cyprus,
Castile, and other areas simply murdered the Knights and took their
properties. Captured Templars were forced to confess to every sort of crime,
most apparently invited by their judges. It was found that each Templar
confessed to one set of sins when tortured by one judge and a completely
different set when tortured by a different judge. Trials were transparently
rigged. During the trial of Templars at Paris, the court repeatedly refused to
hear depositions from no fewer than 573 witnesses for the defence.
A few Templars managed to flee
to England, where torture was not legal. This made it impossible to obtain
what Pope Clement called "true evidence", meaning evidence extorted
by torture. The pope wrote to King Edward II demanding that the Templars be
arrested and tortured. Otherwise, Edward and his court would be excommunicated
as impeders of the Inquisition. As a bribe, Edward was offered a Plenary
Indulgence for all his past sins. Finally he permitted papal judges to torture
the Templars, changing the English Law "out of reverence for the Holy
See". The indispensable utility of torture was thus established, and
"the success of the extermination of the Templars set the patterns for
the subsequent persecution of witches".
Scholars have tried to determine
the truth, if any, of the charges against the Templars. Most agree that the
Templars "had adopted some of the mysterious tenets of the eastern
Gnostics". Their alleged idol Baphomet may have been the Triple Head of
Wisdom pictured on the arms of the orders' founder, in the form of three black
Saracen heads. On the other hand, no idol of Baphomet was ever found in the
Templars houses or shrines, though these were seized and sealed immediately.
Templars were accused of
"making a fig" at the crucifix with their hands; but this derisive
sexual symbol was not a mockery by eastern standards. Orientals called it a
knowledge sign, the feminine counterpart of the phallic cross; in India it was
a lingam-yoni. If the Templars trampled a crucifix, they may have copied the
custom of Arab dervishes who ceremonially rejected a cross with the words
"You may have the Cross, but we have the meaning of the
Cross". As for the charge of sodomy, no monastic order was
free of that. Men cut off from women were no less prone to
homosexual behavior in the 13th century than in the prisons, barracks, lumber
and mining camps, and boys' schools of the 20th.
Payens 1118 - 1136
de Craon 1136
des Barres 1146
de Tremelai 1149
de Montbard 1153
de Blanquefort 1156
de Milly 1169 - 1171
St 1161 - 1171
de Toroga 1179
de Ridfort 1185
de Sa 1191 - 1193
Era 1193 - 1200
de Pleas 1201
de Char 1209
de Monta 1219 - 1230
de Parigord ?
de Bur 1245 -
William de So 1247
de Vichy 1250
de Beaujeu 1273
de Gaudin 1291
Jacques de Molay 1293
On Tuesday, November 27th 1095,
Pope Urban !! launched the First Crusade accompanied by the cry of "Deus
lo volt!" ("God wills it."). The pope launched the Crusades
because of the religious persecution of the Muslim leaders in Jerusalem. This
was a lie. The Muslim leaders practised a religious tolerance that all nations
could learn from today. The Christian leaders in Byzantium had requested a
small army from the Pope to help in some border wars. A huge army of Christian
Knights, most hungry for land, invaded the Middle East. The Muslim's at the
time were not quite prepared for the scope or ferocity of the Crusaders. So,
by the year 1099, Jerusalem had fallen, as had several principalities in and
around the Holy Land. Christian kingdoms were established.
In 1118, Hugh de Payens and
eight other knights went to make the unusual commitment to monastic orders, as
Knights. Most Knights, at the time, were fighting for money, land or power.
Since Knights had to buy their own equipment, a vow of poverty was almost like
a vow of non-violence. The stated reason for their order was to protect
pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land. Baldwin II gave them the al-Aqsa
Mosque on Temple Mount as their headquarters. This sight was also thought to
be the exact location of the Temple of Solomon. The Knights took on monastic
style orders and vowed poverty. Their symbol was two Knights on a horse to
show just how poor they were.
For their first nine years, the
Order didn't seem to grow. Bernard of Clairvaux, St Bernard, was out to
destroy the enemies of the church. Since the Muslims had the effrontery to
actually resist the first crusading army, they were, by definition, enemies.
He almost single handedly built the Templars into the power that they became.
Pope Innocent II issued a bull that exempted the Templars from all authority
except the Pope. This was the final part of the foundation for them to begin
to construct an international power structure. They built an army and a fleet.
To feed and equip the army they bought farms and industry. The surplus money,
since individuals in the Order had vowed poverty there was a lot of surplus,
was then re-invested and lent. The church prevented usury (interest on loans)
so the Order accepted gifts in the form of more land and equipment. The
Templar army was drilled and trained as units on a large scale in a time when
such training was unheard of. They also had secret initiations and meetings.
This was the key to their downfall.
Not long after building a large
army, the Templars turned away from their original purpose of protecting
pilgrims. They began taking part in the efforts of the Christians to keep the
land already taken and expand into further Muslim lands. To exacerbate the
situation, St Bernard called for another crusade, stirring up warlike Knights
in Europe who wanted to make a grab for the riches in the Holy Land. Pope
Eugenius called for another crusade not long after he was forced out of the
Papal See and was able to take refuge with Templar Knights. This was when the
distinctive Templar emblem was established by the pope. The cross patee would
be worn on the left breast of the all white robes the Templars wore into
battle. True soldiers of Christ. (The same ones worn by Richard the Lion
For the next 100 years, the
Templars fought along side the other Crusaders against all others. They fought
along side Richard Coeur de Lion. They won the respect and fear of Saladin
himself. Then the Templars made a fatal mistake. They got involved in the
politics of Europe (they had always been neck deep in the politics of the Holy
Land). Innocent III was more concerned with challenges to his authority that
in the Holy Land. A collection of free thinkers known as the Cathars actually
thought they could get to heaven with arranging it with the Pope. He called
for a Crusade in southern France to purge this dangerous collection of
heretics from the land. Templars took an active part.
Now thoroughly mixed into
European politics, the tide turned against the Christians in the Holy Land.
One kingdom after another fell. The huge forts fell one by one and finally in
1291, the final fort of Sidon fell. The Templars had lost all bases in the
Holy Land. To them, this must have been their darkest hour. Unfortunately,
things were going to get worse.
In France, the last of the Grand
Masters of the order was selected, Jaques de Molay. The Templars' had made
some sizeable loans to the King of France, Philip the Fair. Philip was
embroiled in Papal politics and he was able to get his own puppet Pope on the
throne. In 1306, Philip was still desperate for funds. He built an audacious
plan to take the Templar treasure, Only one crime allowed a King to confiscate
property - heresy. On October 13th, all Templars in France were arrested by
order of the Pope and thus he disbanded his own personal army. He requested
all Christian rulers to follow Phillip's lead. Then the torture began. Nearly
all the Templars arrested were tortured in one way or another. They confessed
to all sorts or nonsense from outright devil worship to systematic, organized
homosexuality. Over the next few years, the order was broken up in all
In 1314 on March 18th, the last of the Templars was burned at the
stake. Supposedly, de Molay had time for a curse. He called for Pope Clement
and Philip IV to join him within a year. Clement died the next month and
Philip IV seven months later.