Knights Templar: Temple Church (Cornwall)

As one gazes across Cornwall’s Moors, an ancient land, a desolate land.  England’s Moors, remote outposts of the Templar’s, when the true wilderness still existed.  They made their mark here, though much of their presence has been erased by time, and knights lie in unmarked graves.

Temple Church its proper name is “Church of St. Catherine, built in a valley at the foothills of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall.  This tiny 12th century church, founded by the “Order of the Knights Templar.”  They who offered protection and hospitality to journeying pilgrims on route to Rome and onto the Holy Land.

Pilgrims journeyed from Wales and Ireland, taking the land crossing across Cornwall’s Moors, on route to the port of Fowey, and make their sea crossing to the continent.

Friday the 13th October 1307 was a bad date for the Templars, for King Philip IV of France and the then Pope Clement V ordered mass arrests of the Knights Templars in France and across Europe.  On the 11th May 1310, fifty-four Templars were burnt at the stake near Paris.  In March of 1314, Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Order of the Knights Templar and Geoffrey de Charney were burnt at the stake in Paris.

With the Order of the Knights Templar disbanded and their wealth and property passed to the Knights Hospitallers also known as the Order of St. John.  In 16th century Tudor England, King Henry VIII disbanded all religious houses during the “Dissolution of the Monasteries.”

Temple Church gained a dark reputation in 16th century England, it became known as a place where weddings were performed, without banns being read or marriage licences being granted.  These illicit elopements came to an end in 1744 when Temple Church/Church of St. Catherine came under episcopal jurisdiction.

In 1584, the writer John Norden described it as a lawless church, one with no rules: Suicide victims could be buried on consecrated land, a practice which was not permitted elsewhere in England.  It was not until 1823 a statute was passed making it legal for suicide victims to be buried on consecrated ground.

Knights Templar: 12th Century Almourol Castle Legend…

Early in the 12th century, the Lord of Almorolan was an Arab emir.  The emir’s daughter fell in love with a Christian knight.  She began sneaking him into the castle each and every knight, so they could spend time together.

The knight was just using the girl, and he opened the castle gates, so his fellow knights could gain access, without spilling blood, and capture the Castle.

Almorolan, and his heart-broken daughter embraced each other, and threw themselves from the castle’s parapets into the river below.

Knights Templar: Castle of Almourol – Haunting

The Donna Beatriz Legend:

Donna Beatriz, daughter of Dom Romiro, a 9th/10th century Visigoth warrior.  It is said he killed a Moorish woman and her daughter over a cup of water.  He took an eleven-year-old boy prisoner.  Dom Ramiro had no idea who this young boy was; the son of the woman he had murdered.  The boy became page to Dom Ramiro at Almourol, where he lived with his wife and daughter.

The boy wanted revenge for the murder of his mother.  With revenge in his heart, he poisoned Dom Ramiro’s wife, and watched over her, until she was dead.

Dom Ramiro was off fighting, and his daughter Beatrix and his page fell in love, as revenge turned to desire.

However, Dom Ramiro returned, bringing with him a fellow knight, to whom he had promised Beatriz’s hand in marriage.

The Moorish boy told Beatriz of her father’s cruelty, and admitted his murder of her mother.  She was not fazed by the events, and the young couple vanished, destination unknown.

Dom Ramiro died of remorse… It is said, each and every year, on the day of St. John.  Beatriz and the Moorish page would appear on the castle keep, which rises above the river.  It is here, they will renew their curse, which will hang over the castle until Judgement Day!

Knights Templar: Castle of Almourol

The Castle of Amourol; situated on an island in the middle of River Tagus.  Together with the castles of Tomar – Zezere – and Cardiga they formed the so-called Tagus Line.  The defensive line of fortifications along the river, controlled by the Knights Templar.

Little remains of the original structure, which consisted of three levels, which has under gone many alterations over the centuries.

The castle adopted the innovative design of the time; the watchtowers and keep, appearing in the 12th century after the Castle of Tomar, principle defensive redoubt of the Templars of Portugal.  The high walls were protected by nine circular watchtowers.  They have irregular shapes, due to uneven terrain.  Inside stone gates connect to different castle parts.

It is believed the castle was built on the site of a primitive castro lusitamo, and conquered by Romans during the 1st century BC.  Exact construction dates unknown, yet Castle Almourol existed prior to the beginning of the Kingdom of Portugal.  Rebuilt by Alans, Visigoths and Moors.  The castle was seized from the Moors in 1129, by Portuguese forces.  Alfonso Henriques the 1st King of Portugal gifted it to Hualdim Pais, Master of the Templars, and reconstruction commenced in 1171.

The castle lost its role as the “Order of the Knights Templar” was dissolved, and it was abandoned and fell into ruins.

William Shakespeare: Freemason or Not?

William Shakespeare; considered by many to be one of England’s finest writers.

In Freemasonry, the number 3 is important, so is the letter T, which has three points, and the word for the number 3 begins with the letter T.   

William Shakespeare’s monument located in Westminster Abbey, emphasises the number 3.

  • Three line inscription at the top.
  • Three books in the middle.
  • Three heads at the bottom.

The inscription upon the monument was written by Alexander Pope (Poet) and an active Freemason at the time.

Royal Arch Emblems: The Triple Tau

The number three is important in Masonry, so is the letter ‘T’ which has three points, and the word for the number 3 begins with the letter T.  A Masonic symbol called the ‘Triple Tau’ is made up of three T’s.

The ‘Triple Tau’ has become one of the most important symbols associated with “Royal Arch Masonry.”

The Tau (T), is the 19th letter of the Greek alphabet.  In ancient times the (T) was referred to as the symbol of life, Theta the 8th letter of the Greek alphabet was the symbol of death.  The Tau being an old form of the cross, also known as St. Anthony’s Cross, in memory of the saint who was martyred on a cross of this shape.

In pagan times, a warrior returning honourably from battle, was permitted to attach a ‘T’ to his name.

It is believed, three Taus brought together form the Triple Tau.  It is also believed by bringing a T and H together means ‘Templum Hierosolyma’ or the ‘Temple of Jerusalem.’  Whilst Christians believe the symbol, is that of ‘Holiness supporting Trinity.’  Other meanings include “A key to the treasure.”  It is believed to be the place where precious things are concealed from prying eyes.

Mathematians deduced long ago, that five shapes;

Heaven     = Dodecahedron      = Pentagon Face

Fire             = Tetrahedron         = Triangle

Air               = Octahedron           = Triangle

Earth          = Hexahedron         = Square

Water        = Icosahedron           = Triangle

are the only shapes that can equally divide three-dimensional space, and stood on the pinnacle of ancient geometric and esoteric knowledge?

The Five Elements of The Seal of Solomon:

Visually five platonic shapes do not exist in the Seal of Solomon.  However, if we read it in a different way, the number of angles in the Triple Tau, and a multiple there of, is equal to combinations of triangles in the Seal of Solomon.  Therefore, we can conclude that the Triple Tau or Key, unlocks the Seal of Solomon, revealing five Platonic shapes.

There are 8 x 90 degree angles, which equal 720 degrees.

Christians in Greek or Roman used a Tau Cross.  The basis of a triple tau in early church history would mean the trinity of father, son, and holy spirit. A belief in the triune nature of godhead is common to many faiths and religions.

A triangle is a simple shape in geometry that has taken on a great spiritual significance and symbolism.  The equilateral triangle was revered by ancient nations as containing the greatest and most abstruse mysteries, and as a symbol of God, denoting a triad of intelligence, a triad of deity, a triune to God.  The equilateral triangle shows equality with its three triangles of the same degrees.  In one way, it best represents deity by its equality or perfection in design and proportion.

The triangle is a symbol of divine union, and an emblem of the mysterious triune, equally representing the attributes of deity, and his triune essence: omnipotence (all powerful), omnipresence (eternal) and omniscience (all knowing).

Knights Templar: Ireland

Let’s take Irish history back to the beginning of the 1100’s.  For it was at that time, Ireland was made up of around eighty small kingdoms, and ruled by the Gaels.  These Gaels were of Norse and Irish blood, which reflected Scandinavian blood lines within Irish society.

In the 1160’s life in Ireland was to change, with the arrival of an Anglo-Norman military force, taking up occupation, this threatened Ireland’s way of life, leading to many a dispute.

Diarmit, the King of Leinster was forced into exile in 1166, and turned to King Henry II for support.  Ireland had to wait three years, before England would land a military force on Irish soil.  So, it was in 1169, Richard de Clare landed at Bannow Bay, Wexford with a 600 strong Anglo-Norman army.  The Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland, took place between 1169-1171; short and effective.

After the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland, King Henry II of England, presented the Templars with properties for their Order, one of which was at Clontarf Castle, County Dublin.

The first evidence of the Templar Order in Ireland, is the witnessing of an “Irish Charter” by “Mathew the Templar” in 1177.  Yet it was to be another fifty years before the Knights Templar, would officially take up residence in Ireland, in September 1220.

Ireland was part of the Templar Province of England, having its own master, one who was an officer of the English Crown.

On Friday the 13th October 1307, King Philip IV of France had members of the Knights Templar arrested on charges of heresy.  He even went a step further, putting pressure on the Pope, to have all Templars arrested across Europe on charges of heresy.

In Ireland, some thirty to forty Templars were arrested on charges of heresy, on the 2nd February 1308 and imprisoned in Dublin Castle, before being put on trial in 1310 at St.Patrick’s Castle.  The trial was conducted by Friar Richard Balybyn, minister of the Order of Dominicans in Ireland. Along with Friar Philip de Slane (Lecturer) and Friar Hugh St. Leger.

Forty one witnesses came forth, most from other religious orders, but none could furnish any concrete proof of guilt.

However, the Order of the Knights Templar were disbanded across Europe in 1312.  Their lands and possessions passed to the Order of the Hospitallers.

Around 1280, Irish resistance to the Anglo-Norman invaders grew, so much so, that the Scots stepped into help.  Edward Bruce the brother of King Robert of Scotland, led his army against English power houses in Ireland of 1315-1318.  Many an Irish Lord, sided with the Scots, to rid Ireland of the Anglo-Norman’s which led to the English frontier post at Athlone being destroyed.

The English Crown, struggled to retain its control over Ireland, after the Scots intervention.  By 1400 many a fortress had either been destroyed or was in the hands of Anglo-Irish Lords.

Some Templar Historical Builds:

Baldungan (County Dublin, South of Skerries) – Some church ruins with what seems to have been a ten-sided tower are believed to be the remnants of a Templar church.

Carrigogunnell Castle (County Limerick, near Clarina) – Parts are reputed to have been built by the order,

Clontarf Castle (County Dublin) – Belonged to the Knights Templar but the present castle has no connections left bar the location,

Dungeel (County Kerry, near Killorglin) – Ruins of a church and a castle reputed (and disputed) to have belonged to the Templars,

Graney (County Kildare, near Castledermot) – Reputed Templar-related ruins near the ruins of the Augustinian nunnery,

Kilberry (County Kildare) – A possible preceptory of the Knights Templar lies in ruins near the River Barrow,

Roosky (County Louth) – Part of the “priory” may have belonged to the Templars,

Strand (County Limerick) – Temple Strand has a church of almost certain Templar origin.

Templehouse Lake (County Sligo, near Ballymote) – Ruins of a house belonging to the Templars (which gave the name to the lake).

The Lord Protector and Rosslyn Chapel

According to the writings of Reverend Dyer, Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector of England reigned (1653-1658).  It is said he would roam the lands of England, with his Parliamentary army, during the English Civil War (1642-1649) causing much damage to papist churches.  Yet when he came across Rosslyn Chapel, not so much as a scratch was laid upon this building.  It is said Oliver Cromwell was a senior Freemason of high standard, and Rosslyn Chapel was a Masonic Shrine.

In 1650, General Monk’s forces utterly destroyed Rosslyn Castle, and yet again Rosslyn Chapel was left untouched.  Had the chapel been viewed as Catholic, it would surely have been destroyed, as it was Rosslyn Chapel was a shrine.

Numerous Masonic graves can be found in the graveyard, many sporting the symbol (pick and shovel) of the Royal Arch Degree, and the (skull and crossbones), the Templar symbol of resurrection.

The Crusades: Peter the Hermit

In the year 1072, some twenty years after the conquest of Jerusalem by the Turks.  Peter Gautier better known as Peter the Hermit, would receive penance for one’s sins, to receive absolution.

A toll paid by Peter at the gate to the Holy City of Jerusalem, was a heavy one; a single gold coin, equal to five Spanish dollars.

He wore a simple cloak, that of a hermit, made of coarse dark cloth.  As a pilgrim was forced to take vows of poverty, and exist on the alms of charitable gifts on their long route.

Peter had been a soldier in his youth, under Eustace de Bouillon, the father of Godfrey de Bouillon, one of the heroes of the Crusades.

Christianity spread westwards, pilgrimages were frequent to the Holy Land, as they desired to see the tomb of their Redeemer.  To tread upon the land of Mount Calvary, where their redeemer had been crucified.

The pilgrims to Jerusalem, were called the “Armies of the Lord.”

In 1035, a troop of pilgrims arrived from France, their destination the Holy City of Jerusalem, led by Robert the 6th Duke of Normandy, sometimes called “Robert the Devil.”  According to history, he poisoned, he murdered his own brother; Richard III of Normandy in 1028.  His son was William the Conqueror, King William I of England.

Robert the 6th Duke of Normandy, left his illegitimate son William and his heir, under the protection of the then French King whilst he headed for Jerusalem in the Holy Land.  Little did he know, that he would never return to see William grow up and become Duke William and King of England, for he died of fever in Bithynia.

The Saracens did not expel the Christians, for their expeditions became a constant source of revenue, but they thought nothing of showering the priests with abuse.  The Persians sacked Jerusalem in AD614, then they attempted to destroy the Holy Sepulchre, but all they managed, burning down the temple erected over it.  In 637, Jerusalem fell into Saracen hands.

As Peter the Hermit neared Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives would rise up above the city wall.  Mount Calvary, upon which a temple to Jupiter and Bethlehem, where upon an altar to the heathen Adonis, had been placed on the very spot.  What lay around him, brought tears to his eyes; desolation, horror and misery.  Peter spoke out; “Jerusalem shall be set free by western warriors.”  As penance I will cross Europe, and speak out of the state of the church, urging them to rescue the grave of our Lord.

Peter with tears of joy spoke out, “God will look down on our afflictions!  He will soften the hearts of Europe’s princes towards us!  He will send them to rescue this Holy City.”  Peter’s zeal knew no bounds; and persuaded that heaven had charged him to avenge Christians, and vowed to return to the west, enlisting the sympathy of Europe for their eastern Brethren.

He left Palestine, crossing the sea bound for Italy, where upon he hastened to Rome and Pope Urban II.

The Holy Father, Pope Urban II welcomed him as a prophet, and sent him out to preach of the first Crusade to the people.  Wherever he went, whether it be a castle, wealthy land owners or even the village square, describing the hardship felt by these Christians in far off lands, the crowds listened.

In 1094, Peter the Hermit was one of those summoned by Pope Urban II to attend the council meeting at Clermont, France.  Peter described to those present, what he had witnessed with his own eyes, describing outrages committed by its infidel possessors against the faithful in Jerusalem.  How they were enslaved and degraded, and seen Christians in the Holy Land forced to purchase permission to worship at their Redeemer’s Tomb.  Peter’s gloomy face said it all, his difficulty in speaking, tears in his eyes, influenced those present.

Then the Pope rose to his feet and addressed those present… which included “Christians, hasten to help your brothers in the East, for they are being attacked.  Arm for the rescue of Jerusalem under your captain; Christ.  Wear his cross as your badge.  If you are killed your sins will be pardoned.”  Enthusiastic feelings were aroused by the Pope’s address and Peter’s eloquence did not fade away.

Thousand’s answered the call to take up arms.  Many were true Christians, who believed it was right to reclaim Jerusalem for the Christian World.  Other’s had committed sin in the past, and believed God might forgive them if they took part.  They had been told if they died in battle doing God’s work, they would go to heaven.  Other’s saw it as a way of getting rich quick, hoping to find treasures.  Before many months had passed, the ardour for war against the Saracens spread throughout Europe.

Departure of the First Crusade, took place in 1096, on the “Feast of the Assumption.”  The first force of Crusader’s was led by Peter the Hermit.  His army was known as the “Peoples Crusade” they who wore the emblem of a cross upon their shoulders.  They had no provisions, expecting to receive food, as they crossed one country to the next, or live off the land.

They left a wake of destruction in their path, as they crossed the Byzantine Empire.

Many a prince embraced the cause; Godfrey de Bouillon, Robert of Normandy, Edgar Atheling, Robert Earl of Flanders, Stephen de Blois, Raymond Count de Toulouse and Hugh of Vermandois.

Difficulties were seen in moving such a large number of foot soldiers as a single force; thus, they broke it down into separate forces, and all would meet up at Constantinople.  This great multitude assembled in Lorraine in spring 1096.  An army composed of thousands of foot soldiers, and a handful of knights.

Four armies departed for Byzantium in the August of 1096, led by Raymond of saint-Giles, Godfrey of Bouillon, Hugh of Vermandois and Bohemond of Taranto.

The feeling for this war was strong, and only the infirmed remained behind.  Warriors arrived from the Tiber to the Rhine, from the oceans to the Alps, and one cry alone was to be heard; Jerusalem! Jerusalem!

Along France’s main high roads, scarcely any armed bands were to be seen, except those bound for the Holy Land.  Camps were erected, prayers and hymns heard, altars erected for warriors to ask for a blessing on this military expedition.

Walter the Penniless, also known as Walter Sans Avoir, took part of Peter the Hermits army, whilst Peter and the bulk of his army took advantage of foods supplies on offer at Cologne.

The King of Hungary, gave the first force permission to cross his lands, he never expected that this so-called religious army, would disgrace the Pope.  As they passed through Semlin, they stole food.  They went on to cause havoc in Belgrade, plundering the peasantry, and the Hungarians were forced to pick up arms and destroy them.  A force of sixty took shelter in the chapel and were burnt alive, others escaped death, through the Hungarian forests and onto Constantinople.

Peter the Hermit with his army of 40,000 men, women and children came upon the town, where fallen Christians had perished, witnessing a battlefield of flags and crosses.  Out of revenge every inhabitant was killed.

Peter the Hermit, a French Monk from Amiens preached upon the Mount of Olives, and shortly thereafter returned to Europe.  He founded the Augustinian Monastery; Church of the Holy Sepulchre in France.  Peter the Hermit died as their Prior in 1131.

Knights Templar: Rothley Preceptory

Following the First Crusade in the Holy Land, the Order of the Knights Templar was formed by nine French knights with Hugh de Payens as its Grand Master.

The members of the Order, retained their warrior status, whilst adopting vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.  The aim of the knights was to protect pilgrims on route to Jerusalem.  They wore a white mantle with a red cross.

In the year 1231, King Henry III of England was anxious, about what would happen to his body after death.  London Templars, bankers to the English king, agreed to take care of this matter.  The king granted the Templars with his own Manor of Rothley…  The Templars established a Preceptory at Rothley, aimed at controlling their interests as Lords of the Manor.  Rothley comprised of a hall, as its living quarters with an adjoining Chapel for devotions.

The beginning of the end of the Knights Templar came in 1291, with the loss of Acre, and their escape to the island of Cyprus.

The Order of the Knights Templar now had no role, whose only allegiance was to the Pope.  Yet the King of France, saw them as a threat to his kingdom.  In his eyes they had to be put down.

In 1307, King Philip IV of France, in defiance of the Pope issued orders for the arrest of all Templars in France, and in 1308 Edward II of England followed suit, arresting Templars on English soil, but under protest.  Templars were charged and tried on dubious charges and their leader, the Knights Templar Grand Master; James de Molay was burnt at the stake, in the shadow of the Eiffel tower.  The Pope abolished the Templar Order in 1312, transferring their possessions to the Knights of St.John of Jerusalem, also known as the Hospitallers.  A non-military order, established in Italy by Amalfi merchants who gave hospitality to pilgrims, and they brandished a white cross on a black robe.

For their kindness to sick and wounded during the First Crusade to the Holy Land, many a warrior bestowed to them; estates.  They were called the Knights of the Hospitallers, and had been established in England of 1100.  In 1313, they took possession of Templars belongings including the Preceptory at Rothley.

In 1351 manorial rights of Old Dalby, Rothley and Heather formed a Commandery under a Commander or Preceptor, who lived in Old Dalby and Rothley Temple, which was also the home of and run by the Hospitallers.

In 1291 the Knights of St.John were expelled from Palestine, and retired to Cyprus.  In 1309 they conquered Rhodes, and were driven out in 1522.  They held a base in Malta, and took the name; Knights of Malta.  In 1798 were driven out of Malta by Napoleon, and their Order was divided into different nationalities, called tongues.  In Paris of 1814, the dormant English Tongue was revived.  Their charter had been re-granted by Mary Tudor in 1557, in 1878 Queen Victoria granted them a new charter, bringing to them a new life; “Hospital of St.John of Jerusalem” in England.  To-day we know it better as the “St. John’s Ambulance Brigade.”

The knights of St.John held the Manor and Rothley from 1313-1540, when there possessions were lost to the crown, during the “Dissolution of the Monasteries.”  Humphrey Babington became lease holder in 1540, and in 1544 the lease passed to Thomas Babington.  From 1565-1845 Babingtons were the Lords of the Manor of Rothley.  It was during this time, much changed as alterations took place, turning the former temple – Preceptory into domestic use.

Images relating to Knights Temple Chapel:

Cross-Legged Templar effigy: In 1790 an effigy of a Templar was discovered in Rothley churchyard and re-sited within the church in 1829.  During the Church’s restoration of 1876, was placed in the crypt of the Knights Templar Chapel, under a shroud with a red cross.

Rothley Font:  A 17th century font, discovered in a farmhouse, was returned to the church during its restoration of 1895.

Roof Timbers:  The roof timbers consist of 13th and 15th century beams, and divided into four bays.

Heraldic Shield: An heraldic shield on marble disc, believed to be part of a Jacobean Tomb can be found within Rothley Church.

Rear Entrance:  Located near the rear entrance, one would find a Jacobean Reading desk.