Knights Templar: Gothic Architecture

Gothic Cathadral - PI

Design of Gothic Cathedral

Gregorio Papareschi, was appointed to the post of Pope Innocent II, in the year 1130, supported to the Papal throne by Bernard of Clairvaux.

Pope Innocent II

Pope Innocent II

Following his appointment, to the Papal throne, Pope Innocent II, approved the request made by the Knights Templar, granting them the right, to build and run their own churches.  Overnight the Templar’s became answerable to only one person; the Pope, and out of reach of most authorities.  They could hold their own court, impose taxes, and no longer did the church hold any pressure over them.  They were their own men, and becoming a powerful order.

They planned and developed their own style of buildings, one which was French Gothic by design.  This new style was born in 1134.

The Templar’s mentor and spiritual leader; St.Bernard of Clairvaux, showed his flair, and his designs were used for the building of the north tower at Chartres Cathedral.

Gothic architecture dates back to the 12th century, it was to be an exciting time in Medieval European history, with the development of a new style of buildings.  Many a knight had served in the Holy Land, on the Crusades, and many had been influenced by the buildings and engineering styles used.

Gothic architecture evolved over a 300 year period, with bright and airy interiors, pointed arches to emphasize light and soaring spaces, ribbed vaulting, flying buttresses, tall spires and gargoyles.

The early forms of Gothic architecture was predominately used for the building of cathedrals, and later used in the building of castles, palaces and bridges.

Gothic architecture first emerged in northern France around 1140.

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

The Gothic style of building was soon taken up by the English, and used in Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.

Gothic architecture in Medieval England was developed from Norman building styles, which related to buildings from 1200 – 1500.

Early English Style: 1200 – 1300

Decorated Style: 1300- 1400

Perpendicular Style: 1400 – 1500

Gothic churches and buildings were different to Normans, on their style and way of construction.

  • Stone blocks lined side by side was the choice of Normans, but Gothic buildings used many a shaped stone.
  • Hollow walls favoured by Normans, became solid under Gothic builds, thus they could handle far greater weight.
  • The use of pointed arches strengthened buildings, compared to Normans round arches.

Cathedral roofs were much larger, and buttresses were installed to take extra weight, alongside the nave and into the foundations.  These changes spread additional weight around the building, creating additional strength.

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Chartres Cathedral: The Labyrinth

Chartres Cathedral

Chartres Cathedral – France

As one gazes upon the beauty of the gothic styled Chartres Cathedral, built in 12th century France.  One asks what mysteries, what holy designs, will one find?

Located within, upon the stone floor, is an ancient styled Labyrinth, which would have been used by monks for contemplation.

Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth

Chartres Cathedral – Labyrinth

So what is a Labyrinth?

A Labyrinth is a path representing our spiritual journey, with many a twist or a turn, and the walker would find themselves, uncertain where the path was taking them, yet they were never lost.

The Labyrinth has the hand of God, gently guiding us, even though we feel lost or confused, we are being led forward.

As one walks the path to the centre, one walks the way of the world, asking as we walk step by step for God’s forgiveness, for our wrongdoings, and seeking to make amends for our acts.

Upon reaching the centre, it is for us to open ourselves to the love of God, before taking the path back, seeking to follow in the ways of Christ.

The walk of the Labyrinth, gives the walker a chance to seek out how to resolve problems in their lives.  Seeking guidance, times of personal bereavement, or just to walk hand in hand with God.

In its simplest form, a Labyrinth is a path of medication.  You just simply walk it, and allow the mind to be at peace, as the body takes over.

One could describe the Labyrinth, as having three paths:

  • Symbolic path of purgation.
  • Illumination, opening ourselves to the Divine in the centre.
  • Union, is our return path taking the benefits of what we have received, back into our lives.

During the time of the Crusades, Labyrinths were built to provide an alternative, as not everyone could make the pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  The centre of the Labyrinth represented the Holy City of Jerusalem, and became the substituted goal of the journey, for pilgrims.

Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth:

The Labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral, measures forty-two feet in diameter and was built between (1215-1235).  13th century churchmen instructed builders of Chartres, that numbers and symbols were to be used in its design.  The significance of which is drawn from Ancient Greek thoughts; Plato and St.Augustine reflections on the divine order of creation.

The path is laid out in eleven concentric circles intricately woven into a sacred geometric pattern.  It is then surrounded by twenty-eight semi-circular lunations per quadrant, creating a third of the year’s lunar calendar around the Labyrinth’s perimeter.

Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth 1

Labyrinth Design

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Ark of the Covenant

Ark of the Covenant

Ark of the Covenant

One of the most legendary objects in religious history, has to be the “Ark of the Covenant.”  Housed within a wooden box and overlaid with pure gold, containing the “Ten Commandments,” inscribed upon stone tablets.

  • It is believed the Ark, is responsible for bringing victory during battles.
  • Bestowing blessings upon worthy recipients.
  • Sending plagues down upon enemies.

The Ark of the Covenant, stand’s for God’s communion with Moses, when he led out the Israelites, to their own land.

King David conquered Jerusalem in 993 BC, and his son Solomon, built a temple to his God, between 958-951BC.  Solomon’s temple housed the Ark of the Covenant: A wooden casket covered in gold, holding the Ten Commandments, which God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai.

Jerusalem and the history of the Jewish people, play a significant part in their religion.  For it is written in their writings that Abraham would prove himself to God, by sacrificing his own son; Isaac.  God stepped in, and sent a Ram, for Isaac to use, for sacrificial purposes.

Solomon’s Temple was built by Phoenician craftsmen.  The inner walls lined in gold, with marble blocks and fine emeralds adorning the temple.

Rehoboam became King of Israel as successor to his father; King Solomon.  Shishak, the Egyptian king ransacked Solomon’s Temple in the fifth year of Rehoboam’s reign.

In 586 BC, the Babylonians completely destroyed Solomon’s Temple.

A second temple was built upon the site, between 535-515 BC.

Over the next 470 years, Persian rule gave way to the Greeks, then the Romans, with Herod the Great as its ruler.  In 20 BC Herod introduced courts and walls to Solomon’s second temple.

In 70 AD, Jews revolted against the Romans, and General Titus (Caesar) besieged the city and burnt the temple to the ground.

In the year 691, a shrine was built upon the site; “Dome of the Rock.”  By 715, the Al-Aqsa mosque was built alongside and destroyed by earthquakes over the next 300 years.  By 1035 a new mosque was constructed, and in 1118 became the headquarters of the Knights Templar (Holy Warriors) in the Holy Land.

The Knights Templar, dug deep tunnels underneath the Temple, as they sought out religious treasures and the fabled prize of all, “Ark of the Covenant,” one of the most important religious artefacts of all time.

Bas-Relief of the Ark

A bas-relief depicting the “Ark” can be found at Chartres Cathedral in France.  One has to ask, does the Ark of the Covenant, still remain within the Cathedral?

Claims were made by Louis Charpentier (20th century French author) that the original nine members of the Knights Templar, possibly discovered the “Ark” early on in the order’s history, whilst digging under Temple Mount.

A pillar, part of Chartres Cathedral, known as the Portal of the Initiates, features a carving of the Ark upon a wheeled cart.

What could this mean, and many historians have put forward their own interpretations:

The Templars discovered the Ark in Jerusalem, and moved it to France, coinciding with the construction of Chartres Cathedral.  When news of the Templar’s impending arrest in the 14th century leaked out, the Ark was moved from France to Scotland.

Louis Charpentier published: Les Mysteres de la Cathedrale de Chartres (The Mysteries of Chartres Cathedral) in France of 1966.

Knights Templar: Chartres Cathedral

Chartres Cathedral

Chartres Cathedral

Chartres Cathedral (Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres), a medieval Catholic cathedral, constructed in a Gothic style.  It stands in all its glory, dominating the skyline of the medieval French town of Chartres, some eighty kilometres south of Paris.

According to legend, in the year 100 BC, a druid shrine and a sacred spring to a virgin mother stood here, and as such a Christian church was built.  Legend or no legend, the remains of a sacred well exist in the cathedral to this day.

Chartres converted to Christianity in the 4th century evangelization of Gaul.  A bishop was installed at Carnotum by the 5th century, as such Chartres church changed status, becoming a cathedral.  The church would have been built of wood, and as such highly vulnerable to fire.

The Duke of Aquitaine sacked the cathedral in 743, and it was destroyed by the Danes in 858.

By royal decree, Pepin’s 8th century court had named the town as; “Chartres.”  In response to the church being dedicated to the Virgin Mary and receiving the title: “Church of St.Mary.”

With the acquisition of the Sancta Camisa (The tunic worn by the Virgin Mary at Christ’s birth) in the latter years of the 9th century, Chartres therefore received divine protection.  In 911 Rollo the Viking leader besieged Chartres.  Had it not been for Bishop Gantelme, who called for the Sancta Camisa, to be brought before the Viking warriors, Chartres might have been destroyed, as it was the Vikings fled!  Rollo converted to Christianity and took the title; Duke of Normandy, of the Norsemen province, granted to him by King Charles III of France.

In the year 1020, Chartres Cathedral was burnt to the ground, on the eve of the “Festival of the Nativity of the Virgin.”  Bishop Fulbert took on the challenge to oversee the construction of a new cathedral.  Fulbert used his personal income to finance the new build, and received further funds from King Robert II, Dukes of Aquitaine and Normandy along with the Count of Chartres – Blois.

The architect was Beranger, who expanded remnants of the former crypt, creating a vaulted crypt built in the Romanesque style.

Bishop Fulbert died in 1028, before the completion of Chartres Cathedral in 1037, when it was consecrated by Bishop Thierry, Fulbert’s successor.

Fire over the year’s played its part leading to re-construction and changes in design.  In 1134 the Cathedral’s west end was damaged by fire, re-built in 1137 using the Romanesque  style.

On the 10th June 1194, flames engulfed the Cathedral.  The Sancta Camisa (Sacred Tunic) had been saved by two priests who entered the burning building, and took the relic down into the crypt for safety.

History tells us that nine knights discovered the Nasorean Scrolls, revealing a treasure far beyond their wildest dreams.  Yet it was a treasure that they could not or would not share with the world.

Stone Mason

Stone Mason

One of the roles of the Knights Templar; they were Master Stonemasons.  They designed and built formidable castles, chapels and cathedrals across Europe.  They introduced holy geometry into building of Gothic masterpieces such as Chartres Cathedral in France.

In many Gothic Cathedrals across Europe, one would find the names of master builders responsible for construction and design of these awesome projects.  They would cut their names into floors or walls, for they wanted future generations to know who they were.

When we stand back and look at the magnificent Chartres Gothic Cathedral, with its exquisite carvings standing proud for all to see and admire such works… one has to ask who these architects and builders were.

A mystery evolves before our very eyes:

Bas-Relief of the Ark

Knights Templar: Bas-Relief depicting the Ark

The Knights Templar sought the “Ark of the Covenant” (The Ark of the Covenant has to be one of the most important religious artefacts.  A wooden box overlaid with gold, containing the stone tablets, inscribed with the Ten Commandments), which was buried under Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem.  Cut into the stone of Chartres Cathedral is a Bas-Relief depicting the “Ark.”

French architect; Louis Charpentier claims that the Knights Templar built Chartres Cathedral as a repository for ancient wisdom.

The Templar’s were men of God, and as such they wouldn’t want their names cut into the stone of Chartres.

Chartres Cathedral a gothic styled building, emerging in 12th century France, a style which flourished in the latter part of the medieval period.  Gothic buildings contained pointed arches, large windows, clustered columns and soaring spires.  The main gothic portion of Chartres was built between (1194-1220).

Chartres Cathedral Interior

INTERNAL  As one enters the Cathedral, what catches your eyes first has to be the Nave; measuring 16.4 metres wide and 44 metres long.  The Nave is illuminated by two tiers of windows on either side, and by the Rose window of the western facade.  One can’t help but notice an unbroken view from the western end to the magnificent dome of the apse in the east.  Clustered columns rise to the high pointed arches of the ceiling, directing one’s view in the direction of the Clerestory windows in the apse.

The North Transept Portals illustrates the Old Testament and the Virgin Mary as precursors and preparations for Christ.  Themes about the glorification of Mary in the centre, with the incarnation of her son on the left and Old Testament prophecies on the right.

The Northern Portals tell about the time leading up to Christ’s incarnation and the west facade is about the events of his life and Passion.

The South Transept Portals address the time from Christ’s death until his Second Coming.  The central portal concentrates on the Last Judgement and the Apostles, the left portal on the lives of martyrs and the right on confessor saints.

Chartres - Choir Screen

Choir Screen

At the east end, an ambulatory wraps around the choir and sanctuary, vaulted and divided from the latter by a carved choir screen.  Erected in 16th century with sculptures added between 16th – 18th centuries.  The choir contains 200 sculptures in 41 scenes, depicting the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary.

Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth

The Labyrinth

The stone floor bears an ancient Labyrinth used by monks in time of contemplation.

One of the most distinctive features of Chartres Cathedral has to be the 176 stained glass windows:

Chartres - Rose Window

One of Three Rose Windows

The West Rose Window dates from the 13th century and its three lancet windows from 1150.  The rose window depicts the Last Judgement; Christ in Judgement surrounded by Four Evangelists and angels, with scenes of angels blowing trumpets, resurrection, judgement, heaven and hell.  The left lancet is the Passion and Resurrection Window; the middle lancet is the Incarnation Window; and the right lancet is the Jesse Window.

The North Rose Window and its five lancet windows were a gift from Queen Blanche of Castille in 1230.  The rose windows depicts the Glorification of the Virgin: Virgin and Child surrounded by doves and angels, then Old Testament Kings and Prophets.  Lancets from left to right: Melchizadek and King Saul, King David and Jeroboam, St.Anne and the infant Mary with the arms of the Royal House of France; King Solomon and Nebuchadezzar, Aaron and Pharaoh.

The South Rose Window and its five lancet windows date from the 1230’s.  The rose window depicts the Glorification of Christ; Christ blessing surrounded by Four Evangelists and angels, then the elders of the Apocalypse, the arms of Cathedral donors.  Lancets from left to right: Evangelist Luke over Prophet Jeremiah, Evangelist Mathew over Prophet Isaiah, Virgin and Child, Evangelist John over Prophet Ezekiel, Evangelist Mark over Prophet Daniel.

EXTERNAL  Chartres Cathedral, built from limestone is noticeable by its mis-matched western spires.  One is 105 metres and of Romanesque design and built in the 12th century, whilst the other is 113 metres high and built in the 16th century of gothic design.

This fine looking Gothic Cathedral, built in the cruciform style, with a long nave and short transepts to the north and south.  The east end is rounded, and has five semi-circular chapels connected to it.  The external measurements: 37 metres high, 130 metres long and 32-46 metres wide.

The high Nave is supported by double flying buttresses, anchored by colonnettes.  An extra row of single flying buttresses supported the apse at time of construction and a third row was added in the 14th century.

Friezes on the Capitals left to the central door depict scenes from the life of Mary.  The capitals on the left of the central portal depict Anne and Joachim struggling with infertility before the birth of Mary.  Right of the central door are friezes of scenes from the life of Christ.

The left-hand portal centres on the Ascension of Christ.  Christ stands on a cloud, supported by two angels.  Below this is a relief with four singing angels and the bottom lintel shows ten seated men holding scrolls and looking at Christ.  The archivolts are decorated with symbols of the zodiac and the labours of the months.

The right-hand portal, the tympanum bears scenes from the descent of Christ into the world, complemented by the Ascension on the other side.  The bottom register shows scenes from the life of the Virgin including the Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity and Annunciation to the shepherds.  In the middle register is the Presentation at the Temple.  In the upper level is the Virgin and Child enthroned between two censing angels.  The inner archivolt contains angels whilst the outer depicts seven liberal Arts and Zodiac signs; Pisces and Gemini.

Chartres Cathedral - West Front

West Front

The cathedral has three great facades, each equipped with three portals which open into the nave from the west and into transepts from north and south.

The sculptures on the west facade depict Christ’s ascension into heaven, his life saints and apostles.  Christ in the lap of Mary plus other scenes.  Below the religious figures are statues of Kings and Queens.

Reference Sources:
Universe of Stone by Philip Ball
The Sword and the Grail by Andrew Sinclair
Secret of the Knights Templar by S.J.Hodge
Encyclopedia of Angels by R.E.Guiley
The Hiram Key by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas

Wikipedia Images

Templar’s Destruction

Knight Templar Ships

Templar ships
loaded to the gills,
with knights and treasure
slipped anchor from; LaRochelle.

Templar’s arrested
some tortured, some burnt
charged with being
practicing heretics.

Templar treasure gone
enraged King Philip IV,
justice and revenge sought
Grand Master; burnt at stake.

Templar justice sought,
as King and Pope died
a slow agonizing death,
Templar justice avenged.

Knights Templar: Cathedral of the Pyrenees

cathedral-of-the-pyrenees

The village of Saint Betrand de Comminges has a long history dating back to 72BC, when the Roman colony of “Lugdunum Convernarum” was established by Pompey, a Roman General, with a population close to 30,000 people.

The city was destroyed by vandals in 408 AD and again in 585, when it suffered a similar fate, at the hands of Gontrand of Orleans, King of the Franks.

In 1073, Bertrand was nominated to the post of Bishop by Count Raymond IV of Toulouse, his cousin.  Ten years later, Bertrand became Bishop in 1083, and in 1218 was canonized, becoming Saint Bertrand.

cathedral-of-the-pyrenees-2

Cathedral of the Pyrenees

In 1083, Bishop Bertrand ordered that the Cathedral of the Pyrenees with its Romanesque cloisters be built upon a steep hill, some 1700 feet high.  This fine cathedral would dominate the valley, located between the Pyrenean peaks.

As one enters the cathedral, located on the outer left wall, a relic, a crocodile to ward off evil spirits, brought back from the Holy Land by a pilgrim.

Three men through history are responsible for the construction of this fine cathedral, which dominates the valley:

12th century – St.Bertrand de I’Isle

14th century – Bertrand de Got; Pope Clement V

16th century – Jean de Mauleon

The first phase of the construction: The porch, displays twelve apostles, surmounted by the Adoration of the Magi, presenting gifts to the Virgin Mary, with an image of Bertrand in the background.

Numerous pillars depict the Green Men.  Columns are decorated with foliage, plants and leaves similar in design, to those found in Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland.  Rosslyn has three enigmatic pillars, whilst here we have two enormous pillars, with a circumference of 11.45 metres.

cathedral-cloisters-of-the-pyrenees

Cathedral Cloisters

On the cathedral’s south wall, the cloisters are located, open to the Pyrenees, a place of prayer for the monks.

The second phase of the construction: Bertrand de Got was Bishop of Comminges from 1295-1299 and in 1304 Archbishop of Bordeaux.  In 1305 elected to the post of Pope Clement V.  Bertrand de Got, was the first in a line of pope’s through history, to be crowned with a papal tiara.  A stone from the Pope’s tiara was lost, as he himself stumbled, as a wall collapsed during the parade, killing some bystanders.

In 1307 he sided with King Philip IV of France, calling for the arrest of the Knight’s Templar, and in 1312 officially abolished the order in Vienne.  In 1314 Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Knight’s Templar was burnt at the stake on charges of heresy in Paris.  Molay vowed his accusers would follow him to their death, within a year.

Bertrand de Got’s proposed extension and gothic embellishments to the cathedral were completed by 1350, under the guide of Hugues de Castillon.

The mother of Pope Clement V was Ida de Blanchefort, related to Bertrand de Blanchefort.  Grand Master of the Knight’s Templar 1156-1169.  Who would have believed that a grand master descendant, would abolish the Knight’s Templar.

Any secrets found in St.Bertrand de Comminges, would only be known to Pope Clement V, as he had served in the cathedral.

pope-clement-v

Pope Clement V

Bertrand de Got, became Pope Clement V.  In 1306, the Chateau de Duras, was taken over by the de Got family.  Pope Clement’s nephew was Bertrand de Got, and he was partly responsible in over seeing the expansion of the chateau into a fortress; 3,000 square metres in size with eight round towers.

It is said, it had been built to defend the valley and its food production.  On the other hand, did the fortress have something of considerable value hidden within… the money came from the Knight’s Templar, so could there be a link to the Holy Land relics?

In 1430, Bishop Pierre de Foix, built a grand mausoleum for relics of Saint Bertrand.

pyrenees-choir-stalls

Choir Stalls

The third phase of the construction: Located within the cathedral, the 16th century choir stalls, known as a wooden church within a stone church made from oak and walnut, of Renaissance style and inaugurated for Christmas 1535.  A series of sixty-six stalls, depict characters from the bible, the brainchild of Jean de Mauleon.

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Crusader: Godfrey de Bouillon

godfrey-of-bouillon

Godfrey de Bouillon

Godfrey de Bouillon, born in 1060 to parents Eustace II, Count of Boulogne and Ida, daughter of Godfrey III, Duke of Lower Lorraine at Boulogne-sur-Mer.

Godfrey de Bouillon, was one of the first European nobles, to answer the call, and arm thyself, departing on the First Crusade in August of 1096, to the Holy Land, with a force of 10,000 knights and 30,000 foot soldiers.

Godfrey de Bouillon along with Tancred de Hauntville achieved victory at the Siege of Antioch (October 1097-June1098).

On the morning of the 15th July, Godfrey and Tancred, stood side by side; they being among the first Christian warriors, to mount the ramparts, leading to the capture of Jerusalem.

On the 22nd July 1099, Godfrey de Bouillon was elected to the post of; King of Jerusalem.  He declared to the people of Jerusalem, that he would never wear the gold crown, in a city where his lord and master, wore a crown of thorns.

On the 12th August 1099, Godfrey took on the mighty Muslim army at Ascalon, and were victorious.

On the 18th July 1100, Godfrey de Bouillon died.

Dagobert of Pisa, head of the church in Jerusalem, claimed he should be the new King.

Baldwin of Edessa, Godfrey’s brother arrived in Jerusalem with a force of hardened warriors to claim the throne by right of heritage, and was crowned King of Jerusalem on the 25th December 1100.

Wikipedia Image