Knights Templar

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The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (Latin: Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonici), commonly known as the Knights Templar, the Order of Solomon's Temple (French: Ordre du Temple or Templiers) or simply as Templars, were among the most wealthy and powerful of the Western Christian military orders and were among the most prominent actors of the Christian finance. The organisation existed for nearly two centuries during the Middle Ages.

Officially endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church around 1129, the Order became a favoured charity throughout Christendom and grew rapidly in membership and power. Templar knights, in their distinctive white mantles with a red cross, were among the most skilled fighting units of the Crusades. Non-combatant members of the Order managed a large economic infrastructure throughout Christendom, innovating financial techniques that were an early form of banking, and building fortifications across Europe and the Holy Land.

The Templars' existence was tied closely to the Crusades; when the Holy Land was lost, support for the Order faded. Rumours about the Templars' secret initiation ceremony created mistrust and King Philip IV of France, deeply in debt to the Order, took advantage of the situation. In 1307, many of the Order's members in France were arrested, tortured into giving false confessions, and then burned at the stake. Under pressure from King Philip, Pope Clement V disbanded the Order in 1312. The abrupt disappearance of a major part of the European infrastructure gave rise to speculation and legends, which have kept the "Templar" name alive into the modern day.

Some may have fled to other territories outside Papal control, such as excommunicated Scotland or to Switzerland. Templar organisations in Portugal simply changed their name, from Knights Templar to Knights of Christ.

In September 2001, a document known as the "Chinon Parchment" dated 17–20 August 1308 was discovered in the Vatican Secret Archives by Barbara Frale, apparently after having been filed in the wrong place in 1628. It is a record of the trial of the Templars and shows that Clement absolved the Templars of all heresies in 1308 before formally disbanding the Order in 1312, as did another Chinon Parchment dated 20 August 1308 addressed to Philip IV of France, also mentioning that all Templars that had confessed to heresy were "restored to the Sacraments and to the unity of the Church". This other Chinon Parchment has been well known to historians having been published by Étienne Baluze in 1693, and by Pierre Dupuy in 1751.

The current position of the Roman Catholic Church is that the medieval persecution of the Knights Templar was unjust, that nothing was inherently wrong with the Order or its Rule, and that Pope Clement was pressed into his actions by the magnitude of the public scandal and by the dominating influence of King Philip IV, who was Clement's relative.

There have even been claims that some of the Templars who made it to Scotland contributed to the Scots' victory at Bannockburn. This theory is usually deprecated on grounds of lack of evidence, by historians. The following timeline is said to be the history of the early Knights Templar.

In October 1307, the earliest fugitive KT could have come to Scotland/Argyle, taking part in Battle of Inverurie (24th December).

On 15th August 1308 they participated in the Battle of Brander Pass, when the MacDougall’s of Argyll were defeated.

Robert I’s first Parliament, held at St Andrews, in 1309, at which Phillip of France’s request that the Knights Templar in Scotland be arrested was discussed. The outcome is not known.

In 1314, the Knights Templar fought alongside Bruce at Bannockburn on 24th June, Midsummer's day, the Feast day of John the Baptist. Some reports say they fought under James Douglas. Bruce creates the Order of Heridom and the Brothers of the Rosy Cross. Later to be Kilwinning.

1314. Balentrodoch comes under the protection of The St. Clairs of Rosslyn. They hold lands in Argyllshire near Sadell Abbey. Part of the Templar Fleet becomes integrated into the Lords of the Isles and the Northern (Sinclair) Fleet. They hold lands in Argyllshire near Sadell Abbey.

1315. Bruce Protects the Order and the Temple keeps its land in Scotland, and the Templars land is administered but not owned by the Knights Hospitallers.

1320.The Signing of the Declaration of Arbroath. Which was strongly influenced by the Templar ideal. Sinclairs of Rosslyn are signatories. Which principally rids Scotland of serfdom.

1328. February, The treaty of Edinburgh is signed by the Scots and English Kings enshrining Scottish sovereignty. Later ratified by the Treaty of Northampton in October 1328.

1329. King Robert the Bruce dies and is buried in Dunfermline Abbey; Templar Ritual is used.

1330. A group of Scottish Knights and Templars under the commandership of Sir James Douglas take Bruces Heart to the Holy Land, but make a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella in Spain, and take part in the first great successful battle against the Moors at Teba, Calavatra, (this is where the name Braveheart comes from when Douglas throws the heart of Bruce in a silver casket forward into the Moorish lines, and calls "go Braveheart and we, your Knights will follow"). Only four Knights survive and return to Scotland out of twenty-two. Two Sinclairs of Rosslyn die with the Douglas. Hay who brought back both the heart of Bruce and Douglas. The name of the family becomes Lockhart.

1331. Henry de St Clair who fought at Bannockburn is buried at Rosslyn as Grand master of the Temple.

There is an apparent connection with Kilmun, in Argyll, where there is a Douglas mausoleum.



See also
  • The Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland


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    Last modified: Saturday, 18 March 2017