Knights Templar

General Historic Information about the Knights Templar

The first mention of a secret Order is of one instigated in Florence and Venice, the Order of Altopascio, which was founded in 1056 before the first Crusade. Its emblem was that of the Tau cross which was based on the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This order had one branch in Leith, Scotland, which was built beside a monastery dedicated to St Anthony. They also built a chapel on Arthur's Seat, a hill on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

First mention of the Knights Templar is to be found in the chronicle written by Wilhelm von Tyros in the years between 1169 and 1184, seventy years after the first crusade. By this time Europeans had conquered Palestine and a kingdom had been established in the "Holy Land".

This chronicle states, that Hugues de Payens founded the order of the Knights Templar in 1118. Eight knights accompanied him on his journey to Jerusalem. When arriving at the palace of Balduin I, king of Jerusalem, the 9 knights declared their goal was to safeguard all roads and the protection of pilgrims coming to the Holy Land. King Balduin offered as residence one wing of the palace situated above the remains of the Temple of Solomon, thus the derivation of the name for the new order.

For nine years the nine knights did not allow any other members to join their order. There has been much speculation about the real reason for their stay in Jerusalem. Those who investigated further came to the conclusion that the Knights were in search of a hidden treasure and digging deep beneath the horse stables of King Solomon.

In 1127 all of them returned to Europe and in the following year, 1128 the Order was officially confirmed as the Militia Christi. Rules and regulations of the new Order were written under the influence and directives of Bernard de Clairvaux. Their rules were similar in spirit to those of the Cistercian Order of monks.

From 1128 the Order of the Knights Templar grew fast. Their activities and influence grew in proportion to their expansion all over Europe. Obviously they had incredible knowledge, which expressed itself in all of their successful ventures. They had learnt about Arab/Eastern philosophy and beliefs during their stay in Jerusalem.

In 1139 Pope Innocent II, a former Cistercian monk and pupil of Bernard de Clairvaux, published an edict announcing that Templars had no obligations to any Church or any worldly institution, but were answerable only to the Pope.

They had great knowledge of Sacred Geometry, which found its expression in Gothic Cathedrals, built throughout Europe on telluric ground and ancient sites of worship. Central to this sacred geometry was the octagon contained within a circle. They guarded the Dome of the Rock for 90 years. Islamic architects built it as eight equal walls holding up a golden dome. The number 8 was of great significance to the Templars and this shape appears in many of their buildings that are still in existence throughout Europe today.

The Knights Templar believed in the secret knowledge, the Gnosis of early Christianity and Oriental mysticism, that man could approach God directly without the intercession of the Church. Being true Gnostics, though supposedly part of the Roman Church, the Templars stood in complete contrast to the Church.

A lot of their spiritual knowledge, and ways of Initiation, is hewn into the stone of their buildings for those who have eyes that see. The most famous Templar building is that of the Cathedral in Chartres, France. It is the most perfect example of Gothic Architecture. (See for more information.)

The Templar Order developed into a State within States. They were not just a military might, but also a financial one. They owned large properties and their financial wealth empowered them to be influential in many ways. They developed a banking system, possessed their own merchant-fleets and developed trade routes throughout Europe and the Middle East; undertook diplomatic work and kept intimate contacts with Islamic and Jewish groups.

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