Knights Templar legends

Knights Templar legends

The secrecy around the powerful medieval Order of the Knights Templar, and the speed with which they suddenly disappeared over the space of a few years, has led to many different Knights Templar legends. These range from rumors about their association with the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant, to questions about their association with the Freemasons. Recent speculation about the Templars has further increased because of references to them in bestselling books such as "The Da Vinci Code" and films such as "Raiders of the Lost Ark"

Legendary headquarters

Many legends surround the location of the Templars' first headquarters on the Temple Mount, which had been assigned to them by King Baldwin II of Jerusalem. [Dent, JD. [ Baldwin II.] History Bookshop. Retrieved on 2007-07-17.] They were in operation there for 75 years.

The Temple Mount is sacred ground to Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and is believed to be the location of the ruins of Solomon's Temple, and the ancient resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. [McCall, Thomas S. Where is the Ark of the Covenant? Zola Levitt Ministries. Retrieved on 2007-07-17] Pseudo-historical books such as "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" claim that the Templars discovered documents hidden in the ruins of the Temple, "proving" that Jesus survived the Crucifixion or possibly "proving" Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and had children by her. Indeed, the supposition that the Templars must have found "something" under the Temple Mount lies at the heart of most Templar legends and pseudo-historical theories. There is no physical or documentary evidence, however, to support such a supposition. It is true that they are documented as having carried a piece of the True Cross into some battles, [Piers Paul Read, "The Templars", p. 159] but this was likely a portion of a timber that was discovered during the 4th century by Saint Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine. [Read, p. 27]


Other legends of modern invention say that the Holy Grail, or Sangreal, was found by the Order and taken to Scotland during the suppression of the order in 1307, and that it remains buried beneath Rosslyn Chapel. Other more recent "discoveries" say the Holy Grail was taken to Northern Spain, and protected by the Knights Templar there. ["The knights Templar in Spain"]

Some sources claim that the Templars discovered secrets of the Masons who had built the original and second temples at the Temple Mount, along with knowledge that the Ark had been moved to Ethiopia before the destruction of the first temple. [Hancock, G: "The Sign and The Seal: The Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant", Toronto: Doubleday, ISBN 0-671-86541-2] Allusion to this is made in engravings on the Cathedral at Chartres, great influence over the building of which was had by Bernard of Clairvaux, the Order's patron. Further links to both the search by the order for the Ark and to its discovery of ancient secrets of building are supposedly suggested by the existence of the monolithic Church of St. George in Lalibela, Ethiopia, which stands to this day but whose construction is incorrectly attributed to the Knights Templar.

Some scholars, such as Hugh J. Schonfield, and fringe researchers argue that the Knights Templar may have found the Copper Scroll treasure of the Qumran Essenes in the tunnels beneath the Temple Mount. They suggest that this might explain one of the charges of heresy which were later brought against the knights by the Medieval Inquisition.

Mysterious deaths of the Order's enemies

The last Grand Master of the Templar Order, Jacques de Molay, was burned at the stake in 1314, by order of King Philip IV of France, who had also pressured Pope Clement V to disband the Order. Legend has it that de Molay issued his dying curse against the King and Pope Clement V, saying that he would meet them before God before the year was out. Pope Clement died only a month later, and King Philip died later that year in a hunting accident.

Succession to the throne of France passed rapidly through Philip's sons. Louis X the Quarreller lasted for only two years, and died while still a teenager, leaving a pregnant wife who gave birth to the next king, John I the Posthumous, but the baby lived for only five days before succumbing, probably to poison. The throne then went to another of Philip IV's sons, Philip V the Tall, who was crowned at the age of 23, but died at 29. Since he had no sons, the throne then went to his brother, Charles IV the Fair, who himself died six years later without a male heir, and thereby ended the Capetian Dynasty.

Many believed that the dynasty had been cursed. A series of 20th century novels called "Les Rois Maudits" ("The Accursed Kings") expanded on this story.

Friday the 13th

Many modern stories claim that when King Philip IV had many Templars simultaneously arrested on October 13, 1307, that started the legend of the unlucky Friday the 13th. However, closer examination shows that though the number 13 was indeed considered historically unlucky, the actual association of Friday and 13 seems to be an invention from the early 1900s. [cite web |url= |title="Friday the 13th |accessdate=2007-03-26 |] [cite web |url= |title="Why Friday the 13th is unlucky" |accessdate=2007-03-26 |]

Claims of descent and revival

rquote|right|The lunatic ... doesn't concern himself at all with logic; he works by short circuits. For him, everything proves everything else. The lunatic is all idée fixe, and whatever he comes across confirms his lunacy. You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense, by his flashes of inspiration, and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars.|Umberto Eco
"Foucault's Pendulum" [Umberto Eco, (1989) "Foucault's Pendulum", New York: Ballantine Books, pp. 57-8]
Some historians and authors have tried to draw a link from Freemasonry and its many branches to the Templars. This alleged link remains a point of debate. Degrees in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite such as the Knight of Saint Andrew, the Knight of Rose-Croix, and the 32nd Degree in Consistory make reference to a "Masonic Knights Templar" connection, but this is usually dismissed as being ceremonial and not historical fact.

John J. Robinson argues for the Templar-Masonic connection in his book " [ Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry] ", in which he alleges that some French Templars fled to Scotland after the suppression of the Order, fearing persecution from both Church and state. He claims they sought refuge with a lodge of Scottish stone masons within which they began to teach the virtues of chivalry and obedience, using the builders tools as a metaphor; and eventually they began taking in "speculative masons" (men of other professions) in order to ensure the continuation of the Order. According to Robinson, the Order existed in secret in this form until the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1717. An example of Templar-Masonic transitory symbolism can supposedly be found in Rosslyn Chapel owned by the first Earls of Rosslyn Sinclair a family with well documented ties to Scottish Freemasonry, however Rosslyn Chapel itself dates from at least 100 years after the suppression of the Templars.

The case is also made in Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh's book "The Temple and the Lodge".

However, historians Mark Oxbrow, Ian Robertson, [ [ "The Da Vinci Connection", Sunday Herald, 14 November 2004] ] Karen Ralls and Louise Yeoman [ [ "Historian attacks Rosslyn Chapel for 'cashing in on Da Vinci Code'",, 03-May-06] ] have each made it clear that the Sinclair family had no connection with the Mediaeval Knights Templar. The Sinclairs' testimony against the Knights at their 1309 trial is not consistent with any alleged support or membership. In "The Templars and the Grail" [Ralls, Karen, "The Templars and the Grail." Quest Books; 1st Quest edition (May 25, 2003), ISBN 0-8356-0807-7 (see p.110 - quoting "The Knights Templar in England" p.200-1)] Karen Ralls states that among some 50 who testified against the Templars were Henry and William Sinclair.

The Order of the Solar Temple is one infamous example of a "neo-Templar" group, founded in 1984, that claimed descent from the original Knights Templar; there are several other self-styled orders that also claim to be descended from, or revivals of, the Templar Order. One such organization is the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (SMOTJ), an ecumenical Christian society based on the traditions of the medieval Knights Templar and principles of chivalry. However, the order is not a genuine order of chivalry, having neither official state recognition nor a head of state as sovereign. SMOTJ was created in 1804 and is dedicated to the preservation of the holy sites in and around Jerusalem, charitable works, and antiquarian research. In 2001, the most prominent faction of the SMOTJ was recognized by the United Nations as a non-governmental organization.

Some people point out a few assumed similarities between Knights Templar and Switzerland. [ [ "Did The Templars Form Switzerland?: An Interview with Alan Butler"] ] This is mainly because of the similar flags, the Knights, a square cross flared at the ends, and the modern Flag of Switzerland, a square cross, without flared ends. Also, the Knights were known for their banking.

Ultimately, throughout history and to this day, various organizations have tried to claim links to the original Templar order. To date, none of these claims is historically verifiable nor widely accepted in academia.

Knights Templar in Scotland

During the late 13th, early 14th century, England under King Edward I was at war with Scotland. In 1314 his son, Edward II, engaged the Scots at the Battle of Bannockburn. According to legend, the Scots won the battle largely due to the intervention of the Knights Templar on the side of their King Robert the Bruce. In reality, none of the contemporary or near contemporary accounts of the battle at Bannockburn mention the Knights Templar at all, and the excommunicated King Robert the Bruce had very good reason to have nothing to do with the Templars, since he was desperate to keep on the right side of the Pope and of the King of France. It is also worth noting that the Knights Templar had fought for Edward I at the battle of Falkirk in 1297. Militarily he managed very well without them from 1307-1314 and from 1314-1328 and the story could only be seen as a sop to English pride - the 'real' reason for their loss isn't because they were fighting against the Scots but against an elite force of knights.This legend is the basis for degrees in the invitational Masonic Order known as the Royal Order of Scotland. []

Discoverers of the New World

Though the Knights Templar were officially disbanded in the early 1300s, some believe that the Templars, who were known to possess a sizable fleet of ships, may have fled to the New World by following old Viking routes, making one of the pre-Columbian voyages to America.The History Channel, "The Templar Code", May 17, 2006] In Portugal, the Knights Templar did not disband, but simply changed their name to Knights of Christ. In 1492, this group provided the navigators for Christopher Columbus' journey, and the Order's cross was featured prominently on the sails of his ships.

Legendary associations with other Orders

Further speculation revolves around the Templar's association with other Orders. This matter is additionally confused because some Orders, such as the Freemasons, started adopting Templar symbols and traditions in the 1700s. ("See: Knights Templar (Freemason degree)") Another modern (but much smaller) order that claims Templar ancestry is the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem.

Revisionist historians and conspiracy theorists claim that the Knights Templar stored secret knowledge, linking them to myriad other subjects: the Rosicrucians, the Cathars, the Priory of Sion, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, the Hermetics, the Ebionites, the Rex Deus, lost relics or gospels of James the Just, Mary Magdalene or Jesus (such as a "Judas Testament"), King Solomon, Moses, and, ultimately, Hiram Abif and the mysteries of ancient Egypt. This, in turn, has contributed to the Knights Templar having several influences on popular culture.

kull and crossbones

A Masonic legend speaks of three Templars searching the site of Jacques de Molay's burning and finding only his skull and femurs. These they took with them and allegedly were used as the impetus to create the first Jolly Roger flag of Piracy, so that they would never forget.Fact|date=February 2007 This same symbol is used today by the Yale Skull and Bones society as well as the Bohemian Grove.

Rumored locations

Many locations claim various links with the Templars with varying degrees of reliability. One commonly-cited speculation has to do with a painting that was in the roof of a Templar building in Templecombe, England. Now on display in St Mary's Church in the village, some people believe that it is a Templar-commissioned image of either Christ or the disembodied head of John the Baptist.The History Channel, "Lost Worlds: Knights Templar", July 10, 2006 video documentary. Directed and written by Stuart Elliott]

The following is a list of some of the places that have been associated with the Knights Templar, either in fiction or legend, but which have not yet been proven to have a factual association.

* Well of Souls in Jerusalem
* Oak Island, Nova Scotia (fabled western outpost)
* Church at Laon in France
* Round Church of Lanleff in Brittany, France
* The castle of Barberà in Spain
* The castle of Ponferrada, a village in León, Spain
* Chapel Chwarszczany in Poland
* Bannockburn, site of the Battle of Bannockburn in Scotland
* Rosslyn Chapel and Orphir Church in Scotland
* Royston Cave, under the cross roads formed by the Icknield Way and Ermine Street
* Hertford, England [,2763,1382899,00.html the Guardian]
* Holy Sepulchre in Cambridge, England [ Round Church]
* St Sepulchre's in Northampton, England
* La chapelle saint-Georges d'Ydes in France
* Church of San Jacopo in Campo Corbolini, in Florence Italy
* Castle of Almourol, Portugal
* Temple Bruer, Lincolnshire
* The Trinity Church on Wall Street in New York City

ee also

*Larmenius Charter
*Westford Knight
*Royal Order of Scotland
*"Convento de Cristo"

Notes and references

External links

* [ The hidden treasure of the temple] About Templars : hidden treasures and a small village in the south of France : Rennes-le-Château.
* [ Templar History Magazine] Popular history of the Templars

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