Founding of the Knights Templar
The First Crusade
"In medieval Europe "the ethics of the ruling class remained those of the Nibelungenlied and the Icelandic sagas. As late as the tenth century a heathen religious order called the Joms-Vikings appeared in Scandinavia, restricted to warriors of proven bravery who submitted to a harsh discipline, sleeping in barracks without women. Death in battle was their dearest ambition - to join Woden in Valhalla. The House-Carles who gave a grim an account of themselves at Hastings had been founded by King Sweyn Forkbeard, a former commander of these Jomsburg brethren, and many European noblemen had Scandinavian blood. The traditions of the northern war-band were very much alive in the twelfth century and the chansons de geste expressed the same pagan ideals: physical prowess, the joy of plunder and the duty of revenge."
The followers of the Warrior Cults of Northern Europe were feared for their frenzied ferocity in battle. Operating under a patchwork of warlords, they stood in the way of a pacified and united Europe operating under the Holy Roman Empire.
"The church tried desperately to stop the unending bloodshed. An early expedient was the 'Truce of God', specified days on which noblemen wore not to fight. The long-term policy was chivalry, an attempt to tame murderous instincts by providing a Christian ideal of the warrior; ultimately knighthood, originally a reputation for skill in battle, became almost a religious calling, hallowed by quasi-sacramental rites - vigils, weapon blessings, even vows of chastity. The code of the Germanic comitatus gave way to one of prayerful self-sacrifice, which exalted the protection of the defenseless.
"A knight must be merciful without wickedness, affable without treachery, compassionate towards the suffering, and open handed. He must be ready to help the needy and to confound robbers and murderers, a just judge without favour or hate. He must prefer death to dishonour. He must protect the Holy Church for she cannot defend herself."
"Sagas were replaced by romances of King Arthur and Amadis of Gaul, the berserk transformed into Don Quixote. It was an example of the Catholic Church at her syncretic best, civilizing the barbarian invaders of the Roman Empire. But this process took centuries so there was urgent need of another, quicker solution.
'Behold the royal ensigns fly,Its tune was an old marching song of the Roman legion."
- Desmond Seward, The Monks of War
"The knighthood which had taken part in the first Crusades had been made up of acquisitive groups of warriors who hunted together, and who subordinated individual courage to the joint discipline of the pack. By the end of the thirteenth century this earlier knighthood, which had been taunted by St Bernard for its greed, its vanity, its evil violence, had begun to give was to the literary idea of knighthood as an individual quest, a kind of lay parallel to the divine pilgrimage of the monks. The knight-errant who sought 'adventure' in a personal search which was often connected with worldly, erotic experience had little in common with the violent sinners who sought to purge grave sins by taking the cross."
"Jerusalem was stormed in July 1099. The rabid ferocity of its sack showed just how little the Church had succeeded in Christianizing atavistic instincts. The entire population of the Holy city was put to the sword, Jews as well as Moslems, 70,000 men, women and children perished in a holocaust which raged for three days. In places men waded in blood up to their ankles and horsemen were splashed by it as they rode through the streets. Weeping, these devout conquerors went barefoot to pray at the Holy Sepulcher before rushing eagerly back to the slaughter."
"Those who stayed in Palestine were adventurers, mainly French, with nothing to go back to, and the state they created reflected the feudalism of their own land."
"Once you know that the Church is being continually worn down by such a succession of disasters and by so many deaths of the sons of God as a result of the oppression of the pagans, we believe that not one of you will lie low. We urge you . . to do your utmost to defend your brothers and to liberate the Churches."
(2) A New Order is Created
"The Templars came into existence in Jerusalem during the aftermath of the First Crusade. Their Order of Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon grew from a group of pious soldiers who fathered in Jerusalem during the second decade of the twelfth century. They undertook the duty of protecting pilgrims on the dangerous roads between Jaffa, where they landed on the coast of Palestine, and Jerusalem. They lived under the religious rule known as that of St Augustine, and they had help and guidance from the canons of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem."
"In 1104 the Count of Champagne had met in conclave with certain high-ranking nobles, at least one of whom had just returned from Jerusalem...Also present was the liege lord of André de Montbard."
"Immediately after this conclave Hughes traveled to the Holy Land, where he remained until 1108. He returned there briefly in 1114, than went back to Champagne and donated the Clairvaux site to St. Bernard. Four years later - according to the official story - his vassal and possible relation, Hughes de Payens, with André de Montbard and seven companions, set out on their mission and formed the embryonic Knights Templar. In 1125 Hughes of Champagne himself joined the new Order."
Hughes de Payens, also from Champagne, was a member of a cadet branch of the Counts of Troyes.
"A document of 1123 refers to Hughes as 'Master of the knights of the Temple' ['Magister Militum Templi'] - it is perhaps significant that 'Magister Militum' had been the title of the commander-in-chief of the later Roman Empire] but his little band was merely a voluntary brotherhood and recent research seems to indicated that they were having difficulty in finding recruits and were on the verge of dissolution. Hughes had come about another crusade, not to ask for a rule.
"The Templars "chose the name militia templi - soldiers of the Temple - after the temple supposedly built by Solomon in Jerusalem, near which they had been assigned quarters by the King."
The full original title of new order was Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonis, the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon.
"Their first duty was to protect the road to Jerusalem, but it was not long before they assumed the role of a volunteer police force."
"Certain noblemen of knightly rank, devoted to God, professed a wish to live in chastity, obedience and without property in perpetuity, binding themselves in the hands of the lord patriarch to the service of Christ in the manner of secular canons. Among these, the first and most important were the venerable men, Hughes de Payens and Godefroi de Saint-Omer. Since they did not have a church, not a settled place to live, the king [of Jerusalem, Baldwin II] conceded a temporary dwelling to them in his palace, which he had below the Temple of the Lord, to the south side....The first element of their profession enjoined on them for the remission of their sins by the lord patriarch and the other bishops, was that they should protect the roads and routes to the utmost of their ability against the ambushes of thieves and attackers, especially in regard to the safety of pilgrims."
"King Baldwin welcomed the religious knights and gave them quarters in the eastern part of his palace, which stood on the supposed site of King Solomon's Temple and adjoined the former Al-Aqsa Mosque; in the same area the canons of the Holy Sepulcher gave them stabling for their horses.."
(2) The Order of Sion and Johannite Connections
"There was a secret order behind the Knight's Templar, which created the Templars as its military and administrative arm. This order, which has functioned under a variety of names, is most frequently known as the Prieure de Sion
('Priory of Zion')."
The Prieure de Sion is a modern association, having been formed in France in 1956. Its alleged links to the medieval Order of Sion have been placed in doubt with the admission that key historical documents are fraudulent. See Sources and Documents Exposed.
"Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln uncovered evidence of a conspiracy surrounding the Order of Sion (sometimes referred to as the Order of Our Lady of Sion), which involved a number of families from Champagne. This, they claim, was behind the founding of the Templars. The prime mover in these events was Hugues, Count of Champagne, who was instrumental in founding the Order and who eventually joined the Templars himself in 1125. Some historians believe that Hugues was related to Hughes de Payens - the records are sketchy - but he certainly was his feudal lord."
"Certain writers have suggested that the Templars were 'infected' with the Johannite or Mandaean heresy - which denounced Jesus as a 'false prophet' and acknowledged John [the Baptist] as the true Messiah. In the course of their activities in the Middle East the Templars undoubtedly established contact with Johannite sects..."
"The Grand-Pontiffs of this sect [the Johannites] took the title of Christ, and laid claim to an unbroken chain of succession in their office. At the time of the foundation of the Order of the Temple (AD 1118), the Grand-Pontiff was named Theocletes; he was acquainted with Hugo de Payens and initiated him into the mysteries and privileges of his Church, promising him the sovereign priesthood and supreme government, finally designating him as his successor."
At least two alleged Grand Masters of the Prieure de Sion showed an involvement in Johannite-related activities. The allegation that Hughes de Payens was secretly a Johannite was repeated in the nineteenth century, first by the Vatican and later by the Theosophists.
"The Johannites ascribed to Saint John [the Baptist] the foundation of their Secret Church, and the Grand Pontiffs of the Sect assumed the title of Christos, Anointed, or Consecrated, and claimed to have succeeded one another from Saint John by an uninterrupted succession of pontifical powers. He who, at the period of the of the foundation of the Order of the Temple, claimed these imaginary prerogatives, was named THEOCLET; he knew HUGHES DE PAYENS, he installed him into the Mysteries and hopes of his pretended church, he seduced him by the notions of Sovereign Priesthood and Supreme royalty, and finally designated him as his successor."
"The true version of the history of Jesus, and the early Christianity was imparted to Hugh de Payens, by the Grand-Pontiff of the Order of the Temple (of the Nazarene or Johannite sect), one named Theocletes, after which it was learned by some Knights in Palestine, from the higher and more intellectual members of the St. John sect, where were initiated into its mysteries. Freedom of intellectual thought and the restoration of one and universal religion was their secret object. Sworn to the vow of obedience, poverty, and chastity, they were at first the true Knights of John the Baptist, crying in the wilderness and living on wild honey and locusts. Such is the tradition and the true kabalistic version."
(3) A Secret Objective?
"Receive this writing that you may know how to preserve the books which I shall deliver to you; and set them in order and anoint them with oil of cedar and put them away in earthen vessels in the place which He made from the beginning of the creation of the world until the day of repentance in the visitation when the Lord will visit you in consummation of the end of the days."
"This described only one place to the Jews; the rock beneath the Holy of Holies in the inner sanctum of the Temple in Jerusalem, because this was the first point of creation."
"...In 1894 a group of British Army officers, with a budget of just five hundred pounds, set out to try and map the vaults below the ruins of Herod's Temple. The contingent of Royal Engineers led by Lieutenant Charles Wilson conducted some excellent work under very adverse conditions and they could confirm that the chambers and passageways they found were often vaulted with keystone arches. They also confirmed that they were not the first visitors to the subterranean galleries when they came across Templar artifacts discarded some seven hundred and forty years previously. These consisted of part of a sword, a spur, part of a spear or lance, and a small Templar cross."
"When the crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099, they heard from such Jews as remained in the city that the Holy of Holies was right there in the Dome of the Rock. The crusaders mistakenly identified the Moslem Dome of the Rock with Solomon's Temple."
"In 1118, nine Knights Crusaders in the East, among whom were Geoffroi de Saint-Omer and Hughes de Payens, consecrated themselves to religion, and took an oath between the hands of the Patriarch of Constantinople, a See always secretly or openly hostile to that of Rome from the time of Photius. The avowed object of the Templars was to protect the Christians who came to visit the Holy Places: their secret object was the re-building of the Temple of Solomon on the model prophesied by Ezekiel."
"The real task of the nine knights was to carry out research in the area in order to obtain certain relics and manuscripts which contained the essence of the secret traditions of Judaism and ancient Egypt, some of which probably went back to the days of Moses...There is no doubt that [they] fulfilled this particular mission and that the knowledge obtained from their finds was taught in the oral tradition of the Order's...secret circles."
In the 1960's "Louis Charpentier...in two books not remarkable for the clarity of their ideas, claimed that the Templars were despatched to the Holy Land by St Bernard to fetch the Ark of the Temple of Solomon back to Europe. His evidence that they were successful in this enterprise is the building of the Gothic cathedrals of Europe, which the Templars financed partly with silver produced by the practice of alchemy, partly with more silver which (three centuries before Columbus) they imported from the Americas, and disembarked at La Rochelle!"
"...A number of Jewish and Islamic legends spoke of a sealed and secret passage beneath the Well of Souls leading into the bowels of the earth, where the Ark supposedly been concealed at the time of the destruction of Solomon's Temple - and where many believed that it rested still, guarded by spirits and demons."
It is "highly probable that Hugh de Payens and his backer the Count of Champagne could...have been motivated by a desire to find the Ark - and that they could have established the Templars, and taken control of the Temple Mount, in order to achieve this goal.
"We had recently discovered that a duplicate of the Qumranian copper scroll had been deposited in the 'Shith', or cave, directly beneath the altar of the Temple - that cave that was capped with the marble block with a ring at its center. Had it been this stone that the Templars lifted and descended to the vault below?"
(4) The Templar's Architectural Skills
"On the other side of the palace [i.e., the Al-Aqsa Mosque] the Templars have built a new house, whose height, length and breadth, and all its cellars and refectories, staircase and roof, are far beyond the custom of this land. Indeed its roof is so high that, if I were to mention how high it is, those who listen would hardly believe me."
"Clearly he had regarded the Templars' architectural skills as almost supernaturally advanced and had been particularly impressed by the soaring roofs and arches that they had built....Soaring roofs and arches had also been the distinguishing features of the Gothic architectural formula as expressed at Chartres and other French cathedrals in the twelfth century - cathedrals that...were regarded by some observers as 'scientifically...far beyond what can be allowed for in the knowledge of the epoch' [Louis Charpentier, The Mysteries of Chartres Cathedral]."
Geoffrey de St Omer "knew an elderly canon by the name of Lambert, who was a retired schoolmaster of the Chapter of Our Virgin in St Omer...who spend many years compiling an encyclopedia of human knowledge."
"And what if the Templars had shared these secrets with Saint Bernard in return for his enthusiastic backing of their order?"
St. Bernard, the patron of the Templars, "played a formative role in the evolution and dissemination of the Gothic architectural formula in its early days (he had been at the height of his powers in 1134 when the soaring north tower of Chartres cathedral had been built, and he had constantly stressed the principles of sacred geometry that had been put into practice in that tower and throughout the whole wonderful building)."
"In 1139, Pope Innocent II (whose candidacy, incidentally, had also been enthusiastically backed by Saint Bernard), granted the order a unique privilege - the right to build their own churches. This was a privilege that they subsequently exercised to the full: beautiful places of worship, often circular in plan like the Temple Church in London, became a hallmark of Templar activities."
"In a single century from 1170 no fewer than eighty cathedrals and almost five hundred abbeys were built in France alone, involving more masonry than was ever cut in ancient Egypt! These buildings were built to a startling new scale never seen before."
"The great effort of the Order was the transfer of funds and men to the east. They erected numerous building in the west - preceptories, churches, granges - for training and administration, but these were humble and utilitarian in nature, with a few exceptions. There was no standard form of Templar church: a very few, curricular or polygonal, recalled the shape either of the Dome of the Rock at Jerusalem (the 'Temple of God' of the Templar seal) or of the octagon of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher at Jerusalem. But most Templar churches were orthodox apsidal structures."
The Rule of St. Bernard
"Every brother who is professed in the Holy service should, through fear of the flames of Hell, give total obedience to the Master; for nothing is dearer to Jesus Christ than obedience, and if anything be commanded by the Master or by one to whom he has given his power, it should be done without demur as if it were a command from God . . . for you must give up your own free will."
"When the Knights Templar were founded in 1118-1119 in Jerusalem, it was a 'poor order' whose primary function was the protection of pilgrims along the main roads between the coast at Jaffa and the inland city of Jerusalem. But an important transformation took place when this nascent Order came under the patronage of St Bernard of Clairvaux, nephew of André de Montbard, one of the founding group of the Templars. Until his conversion at the age of twenty, St Bernard himself had been destined for a knightly career, and when he came to patronize the Knights Templar that Order was imbued with the ideals and convictions of the knightly class of Burgundy."
"It was Hugues of Champagne who donated the site of Clairvaux to Bernard, where he built his abbey and from whence he expanded his 'empire'. He became the official 'sponsor' of the Templars, and it was his influence that ensured papal recognition at the Council at Troyes, this being the capital of Hughes' land....It was a disciple of Bernard's, Pope Innocent II, (formerly a monk at Clairvaux) who freed the Templars from all allegiance to anyone except the Pope himself."
In 1128, Bernard of Clairvaux "was just twenty-eight years old when the Council of Troyes asked him to help create a Rule for the Templars. He did more than that. He became their most vocal champion, urging that they be supported with gifts of land and money and exhorting men of good family to cast off their sinful lives and take up the sword and the cross as Templar Knights."
"St Bernard, who took a strong liking to Hughes, recognized a means of channeling the feudal nobility's surplus energy which would convert 'criminals and godless, robbers, murderers and adulterers'. He promised Hughes that he would compile a rule and find recruits. 'They can fight the battle of the Lord and indeed be soldiers of Christ'. Military Christianity had found it real creator."
"Indeed, the knights of Christ fight the battles of their lord in safety, by no means fearing to have sinned in slaying the foe, nor fearing the peril of their own deaths, seeing that either dealing out death or dying, when for Christ's sake, contains nothing criminal but rather merits glorious reward. On this account, then: for Christ! hence Christ is attained. He who, forsooth! freely takes the death of his foe as an act of vengeance, the more willingly finds consolation in his status as a soldier of Christ. The soldier of Christ kills safely; he dies the more safely. He serves his own interests in dying, and Christ's interests in killing!"
Bernard "urged young men to take up the Templar sword, comparing the Templar's holy way of life, so pleasing to God, to the degenerate ways of the secular knights, whose lives were dedicated to vanity, adultery, looting, and stealing, with many sins to atone for. The dedication to Christ, to a life of chastity and prayer, to a life that might be sacrificed in battle against unbelievers, was enough penance to atone for any sin or any number of sins. On that basis, Bernard appeared to sceleratos et impius, raptores et homicidas, adulteros, 'the wicked and the ungodly, rapists and murderers, adulterers', to save their own souls by enlisting as Kings of the Temple. That guaranteed absolution was also a way out for those suffering under decrees of excommunication. The taking of the Templar oath would evidence submission to the Church, and the supreme penance of a lifetime at war for the True Cross would satisfy God's requirement for punishment of the contrite."
"The warriors are gentler than lambs and fiercer than lions, wedding the mildness of the monk with the valour of the knight, so that it is difficult to decide which to call them: men who adorn the Temple of Solomon with weapons instead of gems, with shields instead of crowns of gold, with saddles and bridles instead of candelabra: eager for victory -- not fame; for battle not for pomp; who abhor wasteful speech, unnecessary action, unmeasured laughter, gossip and chatter, as they despise all vain things: who, in spite of their being many, live in one house according to one rule, with one soul and one heart."
"Another pools of recruits was provided by the poor knights who lacked the funds to acquire horses, armor, and weapons. All of those things would be given to them upon their entry, along with personal attendants and servants. They were certain of adequate food and a place in which to live. Their self-respect, no matter how low it might have sunk, would be instantly restored....(A heavy war-horse cost roughly the equivalent of four hundred days' pay for a free laborer)."
"By the thirteenth century...an aspirant was required to be a knight, the son of a knight and his lady. Villein descent was a bar to entry as a knight; it was also a bar to the priesthood, so the Military Order was no exception. An excommunicated aspirant was to be brought first to the bishop and he could be received into the Order only if the bishop would absolve him. It seems from the Statues of the Order that recruiting went on among knights who had been found guilty of serious moral offenses, a well-known rule in the French version directs to Templars to frequent and recruit from gatherings of excommunicated knights. That the Latin version of the rule gives the directly opposite injunction, not to frequent such gatherings, probably shows the tension between the official clerical attitudes to the Order and the vernacular military culture which lay alongside it. Opinion was divided to the end; at the time of the trial and dissolution of the Order it was being said that it was a disgraceful thing that robbers worthy of death had been admitted to the Order."
"Have I not been obedient to the Rule? The Rule is the bones of my body, it runs from my feet to my head, and it is in my arms; these fingers,,,The Rule is my marrow. Am I not also garbed in the Rule,for it tells me what I wear. The Rule is within me and about me. It is my hand when I fight and tells me what my weapons are. Within and Without."
(2) Initation Rites
"The admission of postulants took place at weekly chapters. If a majority of the brethren agreed, the candidate was brought into the chapter to be examined by two or three senior brothers. If his answers were satisfactory, which meant that he was a free man, noble, fit and of legitimate birth, he was brought before the master..."
"The initiation ceremony, over which great secrecy prevailed, took place almost invariably in a copy of the rotunda of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Many Templar churches and chapels were build round with this in mind, and in their center, as at the Templar Vera Cruz Church of Segovia in Spain, there was often an actual model of the tomb of Christ, in the form of a two-storied structure with steps leading up. At some stage the special ceremony was devised for initiated members of the order whereby they were given a momentary glimpse of the supreme vision of God attainable on earth, before which they prostrated themselves in adoration."
"Knights were initiated into the temple in a secret ceremony held at night in the guarded chapter house. The great prior would ask the assembled knights several times if they had any objections to admitting the novice to the order. Hearing none, he reviewed the rules of the order and asked whether the novice had a wife and family, debts or disease, and if he owed allegiance to any other master. Having answered in the negative, the novice knelt, asking to become a 'servant and slave' of the temple and swearing obedience by God and the Virgin Mary. "
"During the ritual of admission to the Order, reference was made to the immortality of God and so to the intactness of the Son of God. John of Cassanhas, Templar Preceptor of Noggarda, tells how the leader of an admission ritual declares, 'Believe thou in God, who has not died and will never die.'"
"Ecce quam bonum et quam jocundum habitare fratres in unum - Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.
According to George Sassoon (co-author of the Manna Machine, this psalm refers to a ritual relating to the mana machine, a high tech device which purportedly fed the ancient Israelites during their exodus from Egypt. Imbued with mysterious powers, it was venerated as the Ark of the Covenant.
Based on the Cistercian rule, "first came the three basic monastic vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. Chastity took count of both sexes. No Templar was to kiss or touch any woman, not even his mother or sister. Even conversation with any woman was discouraged, and often forbidden. Templars wore sheepskin drawers that were never to be removed. (The Rule ordered that Templars should never bathe, so the ban of the removal of drawers was seen as support for the prohibition of sexual activity.) No Templar was to allow anyone, especially another Templar, to see his naked body. In their dormitories, lamps burned all night to keep away the darkness that might permit or encourage homosexual practices, a constant concern in all-male societies, including monasteries."
"An emphasis on silence, even to the extent of using signs in the refectory, came from the same source, while the simplicity of Cistercian altar furnishings was paralleled by the plainest weapons and saddlery possible, with no trace of gold or silver....Religious services alternated with military exercises. there were two main meals, both eaten in silence with sacred reading from a French translation of the Bible, special emphasis being placed on the Books of Joshua and the Maccabees. All found inspiration in the ferocious exploits of Judas, his brothers and their war-bands, in reconquering the Holy Land from cruel infidels. Brethren ate in pairs to see that the other did not weaken himself by fasting. Wine was served with every meal and meat three times a week; their mortification was the rigors of war. Each knight was allowed three horses but with the symbolic exception of the lion, hawking and hunting were forbidden. He had to crop his hair and grow a beard....His Master was not merely a commanding officer, but an abbot. For the first time in Christian history soldiers would live as monks."
The shield of the Templars was exactly that of Sir Galahad, the Christianized Grail Hero - a pure white background emblazoned with a large red cross.
"The Templars' emblem was a horse carrying two knights, a symbol of poverty and brotherhood. Bernard clearly viewed his rough-hewed band more favorably than he did rich secular knights, noting that Templars were seen 'rarely washed, their beards bushy, sweaty and dusty, stained by their harness and the heat'. The Knights Templars wore white mantels emblazoned with a red cross and rode to battle behind a white and black banner called the Beauseant, after the piebald horsed favored by the order's founders. The same word became their battle cry."
"Instant obedience to his superiors was required of every Templar, and since the order was responsible to on one but the pope, it essentially created its own system of punishments, up to the death penalty, for disobedience....Templars were allowed no privacy, and if a Templar received a letter it had to be read out loud in the presence of a master or chaplain."
"A Cistercian thinks of cutting down a tree as prayer, given the right conditions, and the Templar had a similar attitude towards a Moslem. In St Bernard's words 'killing for Christ' was 'malecide not homicide', the extermination of injustice rather than the unjust, and therefor desirable; indeed 'to kill a pagan is to win glory for it gives glory to Christ'....Death in battle meant consecration as a martyr, a road traveled by 20,000 Templars, knights and sergeants in two hundred years of war."