Holy Warriors

 Knight Templar

 Knights Templar

IT was in the exotic land of Outremer, the Land Beyond the Sea, that the Knights Templar were formed in 1118, when Hugo de Payens of Burgundy and Godfrey de Saint Adhemer, a Fleming, along with seven other 'Poor Knights of Christ' offered to guard the hazardous pilgrim route between the port of Jaffa and Jerusalem. Swearing an oath before the Patriarch of Jerusalem to observe strict monastic vows, they were granted quarters by Baudouin 1, King of Jerusalem, in a wing of the royal palace which stood on the site of what had been the Temple of Solomon.

Outremer, the Holy Land, had become the West's first colony in 1099, when Jerusalem, which had been held by the Moslems since AD 638, fell to crusading forces. This First Crusade had followed an appeal from Pope Urban 11 four years before to rescue the Holy Places so dear to Christendom from the Moslems.

From Spain, Provence, Aquitane, Scotland, England, Normandy, Britanny, France, Burgundy, Lombardy, Germany, and Lorraine, the knights of Christendom and their camp followers came, assured not only of spiritual, but also of material riches.

One group of Scottish mechanics that are reputed to have fought in the Crusades are said to have fought in Outremer under a blue banner. There is a tradition that when they returned to their own homeland they dedicated this banner to Saint Eloi, patron saint of the guilds of craft workmen, in Edinburgh, in the city's St Giles Church.

A group of Scottish mechanics are reputed to have fought in the Crusades under a blue banner

A group of Scottish mechanics are reputed to have fought in the Crusades under a blue banner

In 1482 the Scottish monarch James 111 presented the Edinburgh craft guilds with this 'Blue Blanket'. Freemasonic histories relate how the Blue Blanket was then carried in Freemasonic processions by Edinburgh's Lodge of Journeymen which survives today as the Scottish Masonic Lodge No. 8.

The First Crusade not only satisfied religious zeal, but also harnessed the restless energies of Western chivalry, in providing an outlet for warlike passions, which could otherwise have posed a threat to the established stability of Western Christendom.

Passion was certainly not lacking in the final attack launched against the Moslems who held Jerusalem. When the Holy City was stormed, the entire population of 70,000 men, women, and children, was put to the sword. Weeping with religious passion, the pious storm troopers of God then offered devout prayers at the Holy Sepulchre.

Bernard of Clairvaux

Bernard of Clairvaux

Nine years later, Latin Syria and the Crusader states, although colonised, at times verged on anarchy as frequent attacks were made on pilgrims not only by the Moslem foe, but roving bands of Frankish outlaws. Their formation at this period made the Knights Templar a 12th century form of police force.

It was not until ten years after their formation, however, that the Templars were to find a champion in the Cistercian monk Bernard of Clairvaux, later accorded the status of sainthood. Bernard was a nephew of the Count of Champagne, who in turn was a feudal lord of Hugo de Payens, one of the Templar founders. At a council held at Troyes, a Rule for the Templars was drawn up by Bernard, leading to their subsequent recognition by the Pope as a religious military order. By 1163, these original Poor Knights of Christ ‑ one of the symbols of their poverty was two knights sharing the same horse ‑had adopted the red indented cross pattee on their white mantles and declared by Papal Bull a Sovereign Order.

The sign of the Templars

The sign of the Templars

The Templar Rule drawn up by Bernard combined the virtues of monkly asceticism with prowess in arms. The Rule stipulated that in addition to engaging in regular military exercise, Templar brethren were required to crop their hair and grow a beard while they were forbidden to kiss even a sister or their mother.

When not on active service but living a monastic life in dormitories, brethren were required to eat in pairs to ensure the other did not weaken himself by fasting. To kill a fellow Christian entailed automatic expulsion from the Order while to die in battle conferred the status of martyr.

The Templar Seal depicting two Knights riding one horse

The Templar Seal depicting two Knights riding one horse

Obedience to the Order was strictly enforced. The fate of a Templar military commander in Ireland who was found guilty of disobedience, for example, was to be confined in a tiny cell in the main Templar preceptory in London. He was left to starve to death.

Comprised of knights, sergeants, serving brethren, and chaplains, the Templar hierarchy also included a number of confrere knights who, after donating half their property to the Order were allowed to marry if they so wished. Full members of the Order were required to donate all property to the Temple.

Rievaulx Abbey

Rievaulx Abbey, founded 1132 by monks sent by Bernard of Clairvaux, was the first Cistercian abbey in the north of England. In the mid-12thcentury it was the most important abbey in Britain and served as the centre for the monastic colonisation of the north of England and Scotland

As part of the recruitment drive for this order of military monks, Bernard of Clairvaux formulated De Laude Novae Militae (In Praise of the New Knighthood). Its effect was that the chivalry of Christendom clamoured to join, while the Order received huge donations in lands and rents. The ranks of the order were swelled in 1128 after a recruitment campaign throughout Europe by Hugo de Payens ‑ who so impressed the Scottish monarch David 1 that he declared he would make Templars guardians of his morals by night and day.

 

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The Templar Power -
Part I


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