Knights Templar

To understand anti-Masonic claims surrounding the Knights Templar, one must first understand that there are two separate matters in discussion:

bulletthe first involves Freemasonry's connection with the Knights Templar of the Crusades;
bulletthe second surrounds the Masonic organization which today is known as the Knights Templar.

The Templars - A VERY Brief Synopsis

The theory that Freemasonry originated in the Holy Land during the crusades and was instituted by the Knights Templar was initially advanced by one person

Chevalier Ramsey was an extraordinary figure of his day. Born about 1680, he had a great literary reputation, was a tutor to royalty and ostensibly a Freemason although the details of his membership are somewhat obscure. In 1737, Ramsay, identified as 'Grand Orator' (although there was no such position in that Grand Lodge at that time), delivered a discourse before the Grand Lodge of France in which he set forth his theory of a connection from the Knights Templars of the past to the then-present Freemasonry in explicit terms. Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia says this:

"Rejecting all references to the Traveling Architects from Como, to the Stone Masons of Germany, and the Operative Freemasons of England, he had sought a noble and chivalric origin for Freemasonry, which with him was not a confraternity founded on a system of architecture, but solely on the military prowess and religious enthusiasm of knighthood."

Other writers, both Masons and non, have continued to attempt to make the same connection through this very day. It is one, however, with no provable basis, save conjecture." (Masonicinfo Note: A popular book is one by John J. Robinson "Born in Blood" on this very topic. Robinson was not a Freemason when he wrote but later became one based on what he had found after examining the claims of anti-Masons! You can find more information about this in our 'Books' area. It's a good read although certainly not definitive!)

Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia also adds, "This theory of Templar origin which, mythical as it is and wholly unsubstantiated by the authority of history, has exercised a vast influence in the fabrication of advanced Degrees and the invention of Continental Rites."

Jacques DeMolay - Last Grand Master of the Knights TemplarIt should be understood that in the 17th through 19th centuries, proof of antiquity generated credibility. In this climate, it was only natural that Freemasonry - like many, many other organizations of its time - sought to 'create' such links, tenacious as they were. (A common claim of the day was that an organization could be linked to early Egypt, for example, and some went so far as to claim descent from the Garden of Eden!)

It was the mindset of the time. The further back a linkage was established (even if unsubstantiated by actual fact), the better. For this reason, all organizations created at that time claimed connections to Biblical days (or earlier!!!) so as to provide credibility for themselves and their members. This simple fact is often overlooked as anti-Masons today ignore the reality (as well as the term 'allegory') and use the convenient to condemn Freemasonry by saying that it claims direct ties to the building of King Solomon's Temple. The claims of antiquity were quite common at the time Freemasonry began - and, in fact, the earliest 'exposures' of Freemasonry and many other organizations sought to discredit such claims as a way of undermining the group itself.

In our current politically-correct climate, the Knights Templar - both of old and new stripe - are sometimes demonized by anti-Masons for several things including (but not limited to):

bulletthe death and destruction they caused in the Crusades (which of course ignores the fact that they fought to keep alive the Christianity which those anti-Masons now enjoy in a free society);
bulletsupposedly occult or pagan rituals (based either on hearsay from other anti-Masons or from anti-Templar material promulgated as the Catholic Church as it sought to bring the Templars 'to heel', fearing that their power and the respect in which they were held by the populace would ultimately bring down the Papacy);
bullet"confessions" made by Templars, given while being tortured (or the later 'revealed' confessions made public by the Inquisition);
bulletthe complete and total disappearance without a trace of the medieval organization (fueling speculation of conspiracy theories still rampant some 600+ years later and assuming that the organization had a huge membership unlike the reality of barely a couple of hundred!)
bulletthe requirement in the current Knights Templar organization that a member shall defend the Christian faith. This, in a delicious irony, is criticized by anti-Masons as being wrong. Apparently only THEY feel that they should provide such defense!

The true nature of the ancient Knights Templar may never be fully understood and the connection to Freemasonry will likely always remain unsubstantiated. Because of Chevalier Ramsay, however, it is now a part of Masonic heritage.

And further, in 2001 Templar historian and Vatican researcher was studying a document at the Vatican Secret Archives when she realized that she'd uncovered the long-rumored transcript that Pope Clement V had actually absolved the order of all charges of heresy. Her book is well worth reading.

For more resources:

We've also got reviews of several books related to the Knights Templar in our Book Review section. Two in particular are worthy of note:

  In an easy and understandable way, authors Chris Hodapp and Alice Von Kannon go through the long and often tortured history and myth of the Knights Templar. Unlike most history books, this one is bright, breezy, and will give you the facts without a lot of irrelevancies. The 'Dummies' series is known for making information accessible and they succeed with this work, written by a Mason who's spent considerable time looking at the many avenues of information (and disinformation) on this often confusing topic.

Steven Dafoe, whose website is mentioned above, is a long-time KT aficionado. His book, shown at your right, is thin but absolutely gorgeous. It is something that every Masonic Knight Templar would be thrilled to have or to receive as a gift. Full of information and luscious pictures, it also examines the differences between the United States and the Canadian Masonic Knights Templar. Your Knight will enjoy this work for sure!

If you're looking for books about the Knights Templar, these are two excellent choices!

 

If you're really fascinated by the Templars 'stuff', you really should check out Steven Dafoe's Templar History web site.

Templar fiction

From time to time, we've received inquiries asking if we could suggest some purely fiction writing (beach stuff!) about the Templars. If you've got a Kindle or an iPhone (or you use the Amazon PC Reader - or Mac, or Blackberry, or whatever - which is really great!), you might want to try The Red Cross Of Gold I:. The Knight Of Death: A Templar Novel (Volume 1) which, at a couple of bucks isn't going to break the bank. Fair warning: you're liable to be hooked and will wind up buying the other dozen in the series. No, I'm not kidding! At the prices for these Kindle books, they're darn reasonable. Some parts I'd give an "R" rating so do be prepared for that. The first books in the series are also available in paperback and if you like one, you'll probably want all twenty-eight!!!!

A book that's received a lot of excellent reviews is Cabal of The Westford Knight: Templars at the Newport Tower. It's certainly one that you'll not want to put down and likely you'll find it quite intriguing - and at points, even plausible.

You may have seen a made-for-television movie based on the book The Last Templar and thought that it was pretty weak. In truth, the book is better but not by a heck of a lot. We've added it here just so you won't wonder - and we'd suggest that grabbing a used copy for a penny (plus $3.99 shipping) might be a better choice than buying new.

This should get you started at least.... Enjoy!

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