Knights Templar: Portugal

Tomar - Portugal

Scotland appears to have been Freemasonic homeland; Portugal on the other hand represented the Templar’s commercial base, a source of revenue and headquarters.  Portugal is a country that had been founded by the Templar’s.

In 1128, the order of the Knights Templar settled in Portugal, and gradually took over the country’s military and commercial strength.

In that same year Teresa of Portugal endowed upon the knights, the region of Fonte Arcada, granting them many privileges.  In return the Templar’s supported her expansion of her then weak country.

In 1160, a Knights Templar castle was constructed in Tomar, and became the orders headquarters in Portugal.

King Alfonso of Portugal corresponded with Saint Bernard, welcoming his monastic order with open arms.  Monasteries and churches sprung up across the land, along with estates under Cistercian control.

In 1294, the initiative of the Templar’s, led to the signing of the “Treaty of Windsor,” between England and Portugal, and aimed at bestowing military power on both countries.

The anti-Templar movement which had grown in France had little effect in Portugal.

The order of the Knights Templar had been officially dissolved by Pope Clement V in 1312, and its knights, servants and monks considered outlaws.

King Denis of Portugal exonerated the Templar’s and with pressure and opposition to the order from France, came up with a plan which would be of benefit to both parties; King and Templar’s.

A plan was conceived; the order of the Knights Templar would disappear and be re-established under a new name affiliated to the Portuguese monarchy.  Templar assets could not fall into church hands, and they could continue to exist.

So it was the order of the “Knights Templar” faded into the distant past, and rose again as the “Order of Christ.”

The former Knights Templar now known as the Order of Christ could continue carrying out their illegal activities under the protection of the King of Portugal, no longer abiding by church rules.

Templar’s found a more liberal environment in Spain and Portugal under the Order of Christ, and the order received its official recognition in 1319 by Pope John XII, out of his desire to win the Templar’s back to the church.

The church was unwilling to lose the Templar’s who represented a major military, financial and logistical power.

In 1415, Prince Henry the navigator led his forces, in the conquest of Ceuta, in a creation of a Portuguese empire, which stretched out far beyond their coastline.  In 1417 he became Grand Master of the Order of Christ until 1460, undertaking works of evangelism for the Pope and Church.  Henry went on to colonise the Azores and Madeira islands, building two gothic cloisters in the Convent of Tomar during his time as grand master.

By 1492, the order was suffering from declining membership, based on its rules of poverty – chastity – obedience, and things had to change for survival.  Pope Alexander VI commuted vows of celibacy to conjugal chastity, and was withdrawn in 1496.  Poverty was withdrawn in 1505 by order of Pope Julius II.

The order was showing signs of becoming less monastic and more secular.  Brother Antonius of Lisbon, attempted a reform, which brought an end to a religious life among its knights.  Under these changes, the order became an organisation.  Its aim was to achieve commercial and political success, and to redraft the laws of the church in a manner compatible with capitalism.

It was about this time, a new society without religious image, but serving the same function was created.  This new organization had its roots in England, and had taken the name; Freemasonry.  Freemasons represented a most influential power which would survive to the present day.

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