Whether stars of the Disney film National Treasure or pawns of modern day political and commercial propaganda, the Knights Templar have taken root as one of the world’s leading mystery groups. But what is the truth? Did they really have a great secret? Did they really hide treasure? Were they really guardians of the Holy Bloodline? Let’s take a look.
Originally supposedly a group of geekowear nine knights (debatable), taken from the ruling nobility in the region of France known as Champagne who collected themselves together in Jerusalem around 1118 AD and formed the now infamous Knights Templar. All of this cannot be totally proven from the texts – however it is repeated so often that it becomes true. In all likelihood they had been formed in France years before.
They were pledged, it is said, to commit their lives and work to a strict code of rules and on the face of it were simply ordained to ensure the safe passage of pilgrims to the Holy Land. The knights request this task of the first King Baldwin of Jerusalem, who refuses. He then dies supposedly under mysterious circumstances only to be replaced by Baldwin II who then almost immediately grants them this privilege. For the next nine (there’s that number again) years the knights excavate beneath the Temple of Solomon (which didn’t ever exist) in complete secrecy and the Grand Master returns to Europe, supposedly with secrets that have been hidden for hundreds of years. Very quickly the knights achieve a special dispensation from the Pope to allow them to charge interest on loans – indicating their swift path to wealth. Soon the great Cathedral building period arrives across Europe with the new found architectural “secrets” discovered by the crusaders. This new found knowledge may very well have come from some of the discoveries made by the Templars, especially when we consider that the man responsible for energizing the building program was none other than St. Bernard – the same Bernard who gave the Order of the Knights Templar their rules and who was related by blood to various members. The same St. Bernard indicated in the propaganda of the Arthurian and Grail literature.
The Templars grew in wealth and power. Their land holding and banking system made them one of the most powerful and feared groups in Europe. Virtually nobody could match their international strength. According to George F. Tull in Traces of the Templars they were also “well placed to obtain relics” as they held the respect of nobility and had many strategically placed premises across the Holy Land.
Near Loughton-on-Sea in England there are several Templar connected sites. The Temple here was “well provided with liturgical books, plate and vessels of silver, silver gilt, ivory and crystal, vestments, frontals and altar cloths. Among the relics kept there were two crosses containing fragments of the True Cross and a relic of the Holy Blood” whatever that might have been – it was not a bloodline. Tull also tells us of how some of these relics entered Britain, “Sometimes the ships returned with more specialized cargo, as when in 1247 Br. William de Sonnac, Master of the Temple in Jerusalem, sent a distinguished Knight Templar to bring to England and present to King Henry III ‘a portion of the Blood of our Lord, which He shed on the Cross for the salvation of the world, enclosed in a handsome crystalline vessel.’ The relic was authenticated under seal by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, the bishops, abbots and nobles of the Holy Land.” In Surrey the Templars held land known then as Temple Elfold with 192 acres of arable land. Here again in 1308 there was mention of a grail and a chalice. It is therefore obvious that part of the wealth of the Templars came from the propaganda tools of the medieval reliquary business, proving their astute business acumen and their ability to root out those tools. They were also incidental in spreading the cult of St. George, especially when we consider that they knew of his shrine in Lydda.
But in the early fourteenth century King Philip of France organized their downfall and the supposed secrets and wealth of the Templars disappears.
At their trials the Templars were not only accused of worshipping the sacred head, but also the veneration of the serpent. As Andrew Sinclair points out in The Secret Scroll, another Templar emblem was the foliated staff of Moses, the very same staff, which turned into a serpent and was itself emblematic of the serpent religious cult and healing.
The Rosslyn Missal, written by Irish monks in the twelfth century shows in itself Templar crosses with great dragons and sun discs. Upon the Secret Scroll itself is the symbol of the twelve tribes of Israel, the breastplate of Aaron (who’s serpent staff is said to be in the Ark) with twelve squares signifying the twelve tribes surmounted by a serpent. The serpent, ruling the tribes, “. . . the Serpent as a symbol obtained a prominent place in all the ancient initiations and religions. Among the Egyptians, it was s symbol of Divine Wisdom.” (The Secret Scroll, Andrew Sinclair, which of course has been dated by scholars to the 16th or even 18th century.) Many people believe that quite a few of the Templars and their secrets escaped to Scotland and the dawning of a new age of Freemasonry emerged in later years – thought to be directly from the Templars.
In the year 1314 King Edward of England invades Scotland, hoping to bring an end to the border battles. Meeting the Scottish army at Bannock Burn he is surprised by a force of well-trained men fighting for the Scots. The tide is turned and Scotland achieves independence, even if only for three years. The standard history has it that these well-trained men that turned the tide against the well-trained English army were nothing more than camp followers and servants. Many though, now believe that these were the famous knights Templar, who had taken root in Scotland and hidden away from Catholic tyranny. Strangely immediately after the battle Robert the Bruce, the new Scottish King, rewards the Sinclair family with lands near Edinburgh and Pentland. The very same lands associated with hundreds of Templar graves, sites, symbols and much more, such as Balantrodoch (Temple.)
An indication of the popular liking for the Templars is shown in the Peasant’s Revolt of Wylam Tyler in 1381 AD when a mob marched in protest of the oppressive taxes placed upon them. Strangely they did not harm the old Templar buildings, but instead turned their attentions on those of the Catholic Church. In one instance they actually carried things out of a Templar church in London to burn the items in the street, rather than damage the building. It may be that this uprising was a natural incident, or it may be that it was inspired by the actions of a hidden and now secret society of the Templars – hidden because of the new Catholic hatred towards them. If it is the case that the Templars did indeed inspire this revolt then, even though they were not successful, they tried again a hundred years later and forced the Reformation. It was around this period (15th Century) that the first records of Scottish and York Masonic meetings appear.