The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon also known as the Order of the Temple or Knights Templar was a religious order of warrior monks founded during the Crusades to protect pilgrims on the road to Jerusalem. The First Crusade began in 1096 and resulted in Europeans establishing a Kingdom of Jerusalem. In 1118 under Hugues de Payens and his relative Godfrey de Saint-Omer along with a few others, 8 or 10, founded the Knights Templar as a monastic order. Ten years later, in 1128, the order now rich and powerful was formally recognized by Pope Innocent II and placed under no earthly authority but his own. They became the most powerful order in Europe. Hugues de Payens was married to Katherine St. Clair whose family built the Rosslyn Chapel.
Men in the nobility donated land and money to the order in order to secure positions within it. Soon the Templars held important castles and land throughout Europe and the Holy Land. Because they had connections at both ends, they were able to loan money to the nobility and to transmit funds from Europe to the Holy Land and back. The Order became wealthy and powerful. Excellent fighters they were also sought as allies by European armies in the Near East.
Among their symbols were two poor knights riding the same horse and a red cross worn on a white tunic.
Some have speculated that the Templars were the military arm of a more shadowy order, the ‘Prieure de Sion’, and that the Prieure’s purpose was to locate the hidden treasure of the Temple, which had been concealed from the soldiers of the Roman emperor Titus, and use it to promote the order’s political and spiritual aims. Others have asserted that the Templar’s real purpose was to seek out, at the site of the temple, relics and manuscripts associated with the secret traditions of Judaism.
The Templars occupied the Temple Mount where Solomon’s Temple and the Second Temple had stood before. Their stables were below and they undertook numerous construction projects, many underground at the Temple. Legends have it that they were in search of Temple Treasures missing since Titus Vespasian sacked Jerusalem in A.D. 69 and the Ark of the Covenant missing since 586 B.C. when Babylon took the city. Possession of these powerful artifacts might account for the Templars sudden rise to wealth and power.
A secretive, armed military order sworn by oath to protect and serve each other and to be obedient to their Grand Master invites rumors. Their wealth and power invited jealousy and fear. The crowned heads of Europe, especially King Philip II in France, were deeply in debt to them. Stories circulated concerning their secret ceremonies and the origin of their wealth and military power. They were said to have found the Temple Treasures and the Lost Ark, to be practicing Eastern pagan religions and worshiping demons.
When the Crusades ended, they had no more military role but sought to renew the Crusades and they were still wealthy and powerful and Europe was still in debt to them. King Philip was in a position to pressure Pope Clement V, who was headquartered in France at Avignon, not in Rome. On Friday, October 13, 1307, a Papal order was issued ordering kings to round up the Templars within their borders on suspicion of heresy. They were tortured into confession. Many later recanted, even though this meant death. The punishment for continuing in their apostasy and demon worship – if they confessed, they could be forgiven; if not, they had to die.
The Pope’s order was executed in France. Templars confessed to all sorts of religious crimes, although no two confessions seemed to reflect the group worshiping the same demons or committing the same vile acts. Outside France, kings were slow to execute the order. Templars disappeared leaving their monasteries empty and taking with them their great wealth and their fleet of ships. Many fled to Scotland where Robert the Bruce, excommunicated for refusing to recognize Edward II of England as the King of Scotland, did not proscribe the order. Templars like Sir William Sinclair served at his side.
Where did they all go? No one knows for sure. But it is at about this time that the first indications appear that the Freemasons were organizing. Wat Tyler’s Rebellion in England is one such indication (tyler is a Masonic office) and Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland is another indicator, containing numerous symbols and hints linking Freemason to Templar and both to the New World before Columbus.