Were Occitanian Templars also Cathar heretics?

Templars and Cathars were contemporaries. The Cathars were subdued during the Albigensian Crusade (1209–1229). This was a 20-year military campaign initiated by Pope Innocent III to eliminate heretical Catharism in the Languedoc region, in southern France. This Crusade was prosecuted primarily by the French crown. It promptly took on a political flavour, resulting in not only a significant reduction in the number of practising Cathars, but also a realignment of Languedoc with the French crown. 

The Templars had many settlements in the Occitanian region and in that way were closely connected to the local nobility and people. Many of those families were (at least in part) favourable to the Cathar movement. Read Jochem Schenk "Templar Families" on these family ties. At the same time, Templars and Cathers did not see everything the same way.

Templar devotion of Saint Blaise

"Among the devotional objects mentioned in the inventories (made during the trial investigations 1307-1312, TN) relics and reliquaries feature prominently. (...) One devotional trend that the Templars, especially in southern France, seem to have picked up was that of the fourth-century martyr St Blaise, bishop of Sebastia.

Contemporary Templar images on a medieval shrine

Contemporary images of the Knights Templar are rare, but there are some on the tomb of St Thomas of Cantilupe in Hereford Cathedral. Hereford Cathedral is the cathedral church of the Anglican Diocese of Hereford, England. 

The Templar banner

The name baucent, also spelled bausent, bauceant, baussant, beausseant, beauséant etc., in origin is the Old French term for a piebald horse, a horse that has a pattern of spots (white) on a pigmented background of hair. The name was later approximated to the French bien-séant, meaning "decorous, becoming". The name was also used as a battle cry by the Templars, À moi, beau sire ! Beauséant à la rescousse ! (French for "To me, good sire ! Beauséant to the rescue"). The word, however, is more commonly used for the war flag (vexillum belli) used by the Knights Templar in the 12th and 13th centuries.

The Hildegarde - Bernard of Clairvaux link

The religious mystic Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 17 September 1179) was a contemporary of the equally mystical Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 – 20 August 1153). They both lived a life of contemplation and religious service and shared their thoughts by letter. This blog presents one of those letters.

Medieval Templar libraries - product of necessity and circumstances

"The lists of books recorded in Templar inventories show that although many Templar communities possessed only very few books, some had amassed quite substantial libraries. (,,,) None of these book collections were exceptional and if compared with those of established monastic houses even the largest of them seem insignificant. But if one considers that most Templar communities consisted of less than ten professed brothers, of whom few were priests or, for that matter, literate, twenty or more books was a significant enough number to suggest a reasonable demand for, and intense usage of, (mostly liturgical) texts in some Templar houses.

Medical care in the Templar Order

The Knights Templar provided medical care, both for their own brothers as for people from outside the Order. Taking care of medical problems started with preventing illness to enter the Order in the first place. But when sickness came up, care was provided.

Jacques de Molay: Templar Grand Master and Mongol warlord?

The sudden arrest of the Templars (in 1307, TN), the conflicting stories about confessions, and the dramatic deaths by burning, generated many stories and legends about both the Order and its last Grand Master.

Secular Templar privileges, powers and immunities in the 12th century

In 1172 AD Pope Alexander’s famous bull, Omne datum optimum, confirming the previous privileges of the Templars, and conferring upon them additional powers and immunities, was published in England.

After the preamble and the first section on independance of the Templars in matters of the church, pope Alexander details their independance in worldy matters.

Medieval Templar devotion - a strong focus towards Mary

"Among the devotional objects mentioned in the inventories (made during the trial investigations 1307-1312, TN) relics and reliquaries feature prominently. Schenk has argued elsewhere that Templars hoarded True Cross relics, which were elemental to the order’s identity as an order of Christ and powerful reminders of the Templars’ roots and responsibilities in the Holy Land. The Virgin Mary was another Saint that was venerated throughout the Order. 

Medieval Templar liturgy: standardized or patchwork?

According to popular sources, Templar religious beliefs and hence also their liturgy, may have been non-orthodox and even heretical. Is there proof of that? 

The medieval Paris Temple reconstructed

A meticulous reconstruction of the Temple enclosure as it was at the end of the Middle Ages.

source: Youtube by Grez Productions

Relics of the Knights Templar - saints and veneration

Are there saints or angels that inspire you? There were for the Templars and Hospitallers.

"Particularly popular among the military orders were female martyr saints. Templar Peñíscola, for example, held some relics of Saint Margaret and Saint Mary Magdalene, among others.  Depictions of Saint Catherine also decorate the walls of many Templar churches, such as the ones in Metz (France) and Chwarszczany (Poland), where frescoes of the Holy Virgins, including Saint Catherine and Saint Barbara, originally commissioned by the Templars, were later refreshed by the Hospitallers in testament to their enduring popularity.

Relics of the Knights Templar - provenance and destination

"The relics of the early fourth-century martyr Saint Euphemia were allegedly taken by the Templars from Constantinople after the city was sacked in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade, first to Atlit (Château Pèlerin) in the Holy Land, then to Cyprus in 1291, and finally, with the Hospitallers, to Rhodes and Malta, before ending their days with Napoleon’s fleet at the Battle of the Nile in 1798.

It should be no surprise then that the military orders could amass substantial relic collections and so create highly visible cults. (...) In 1308 the Templar preceptory of Saint Eulalia (Aveyron, France) possessed no fewer than nine reliquaries containing a “wealth of relics,” (...)

Relics of the Knights Templar - character and objective

A serie of three blogs, quoting freely from Gerrard and Borowski (2017), considers the extensive collections of religious relics accumulated by the military orders in general and the Knights Templar in particular

"Singled out by Jacques de Molay as a significant component of his order’s religious heritage, the last grand master of the Templars claimed that he did not know of “any other Order in which the chapels and churches had better or more beautiful ornaments and reliquaries relating to the divine cult and in which the divine service was better performed by its priests and clerics, except for cathedral churches.” (...)

Templars in Art: The Ordination of Jacques de Molay

Ordination of Jacques de Molay in 1265 at the Beaune commandery by François Marius Granat (1775-1849), collection Calvet Museum, Avignon. source Wikimedia 

The Templar church at Chamberaud, Creuse, France

Perhaps founded in 1193, the Templar commandery of Chamberaud (Creuse, France) stood on the natural promontory of the present bourg (village center). The oldest proven date relating to the existence of the House of the Temple of Chamberaud dates back to around 1258. The annexes of Chamberaud at the time of the Templars were Fransèches, La Pouge, Lépinas and Montbut,

In 1312, the order of the Temple was dissolved: like all the goods of the Templars, the commandery of Chamberaud was transferred to the order of Saint John of Jerusalem. During the following period, this commandery was part of the Grand Priory of Auvergne. It had seven mills and two members who were Sous-Parsat and La Pouge. 

It seems that the commandery experienced a strong decline during the 15th and 16th centuries. The buildings began to fall into ruins between 1556 and 1617. The stones were largely reused in the construction of the village, as evidenced by some sculptures and coats of arms integrated into the buildings. The commandery slowly fell into disrepair. Only the chapel and a square tower remain. These were restored around 1990.

Watch our Chamberaud Templar Church Video on our YouTube channel.

Spiritual and physical war in the Middle Ages

"Despite the obvious difference between the Poor Knights of Christ and Bernard ’s Cistercian brothers (...) the intellectual continuity between these two organizations was considerable. Bernard viewed both as expressions of Christian ideals which provided a model for their contemporary peers.Cistercians were spiritual warriors, and the Templars were physical warriors fighting a fundamentally spiritual war.

OSMTH Easter Message 2020

Easter Message from the Grand Master and Grand Commander.

Brothers and Sisters,

As we near the end of Lent, and approach Easter Sunday, our World continues to struggle with the COVID- 19 pandemic. And we face other challenges, to name a few: inequality and bias, lack of water in many nations, continued wars with increased refugees and natural disasters. But, amidst this strife, we have hope and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ for a better life, and with our prayers through this to God the Father, we will be delivered from this strife. Isn’t it great though, that even in these most difficult of times, we have so much to be thankful for, again as blessing from God. We still must rejoice now and at all times of the year to show our Father how thankful we are for his Son, and all our other spiritual and material blessings, and the fact that we will overcome all adversity through Him. For all that we have, for all that we are, and for all we can be, we give Him the glory, now and forever.

David Appleby GCTJ
Grand Master
George MacLean GCTJ
Grand Commander

source OSMTH Facebook

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Scribal crusading as medieval propaganda

Propaganda is of all times. Today social media are used. In the times of the Crusades letters and travel reports were common, which were hand copied and distributed by monks.

Reading on Jerusalem and celebrating its first Crusader conquest in 1099 was recommended, as in doing so the the glory of the event and God's help therewith would be magnified. As such this monastic praise would enhance the glorious reverberations from the event itself and support the crusading movement. In this way the transmission and reception of First Crusade letters represented a form of “scribal crusading. ”

Diet of the Knights Templar: key to health and a long life

It is striking to note that many Templars lived a long life. Hugues de Payens, one of the founding fathers, died at the age of 66. Jacques the Molay, the last Grand Master, and Geoffrey de Charney, preceptor of Normandy, were executed at the age of 67 and 63, respectively. Official documents of the Vatican suggest that many of the Templars lived longer compared to other people of the Middle Ages, whose life expectancy was in average 25 to 40 years. At the time this exceptional longevity was attributed to a divine gift. However, the strict observance of specific lifestyle habits conferring beneficial effects, may explain the reasons for their greater life expectancy.

The Lament of the Templars

It was in May that I was knighted
In the Commandery of Montigny d'Allier
On this clear day my joy could not be compared
But to that of lovers who have their hearts filled

When I received the immaculate cloak from the Order
Marked with the red cross, on the embroidered shoulder
The Grand Master, here, deigned to speak to me
"Be faithful and ardent because you are Templar"

Relics of the Knights Templar - saints and veneration

Are there saints or angels that inspire you? There were for the Templars and Hospitallers.

"Particularly popular among the military orders were female martyr saints. Templar Peñíscola, for example, held some relics of Saint Margaret and Saint Mary Magdalene, among others.  Depictions of Saint Catherine also decorate the walls of many Templar churches, such as the ones in Metz (France) and Chwarszczany (Poland), where frescoes of the Holy Virgins, including Saint Catherine and Saint Barbara, originally commissioned by the Templars, were later refreshed by the Hospitallers in testament to their enduring popularity.

March 18, 2020, the 706th anniversary of the death of Jacques de Molay

On March 18, 2020 we commemorate the 706th anniversary of the death of the last official Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay.

De Molay, born in 1244 was put to death in Paris by the King of France on 18 March 1314. He was the 23rd and last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, leading the Order from 20 April 1292 until it was dissolved by order of Pope Clement V in 1307.

St Bernard's 1130 letter reworded for modern Templars

The Liber ad milites templi de laude novae militiae (Latin for 'Book to the Knights of the Temple, in praise of the new knighthood') was a work written by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 – August 20, 1153)  between 1120 and 1139. It appears to intend to boost the morale of the fledgling Knights Templar in Jerusalem. In the early 1120s, some of the first Templars were having doubts about the idea of an order of monks devoted to military combat in the Crusades, worrying about whether there was a genuine theological justification for monk-warriors.

Can this 12th century letter be still of value today, especially for modern Knights Templar? Robert S. Magnum thinks it can.

Beliefs of the Knights Templar: Baphomet or Christ?

Time and again the theory is put forward that the Knights Templar worshiped "Baphomet". This is a demonic entity who later became a symbol for Satanic worships. During the Inquisition of the Templars in the 14th century, the knights were accused of worshipping this figure.

The famous icon of Baphomet as a goat-headed idol, however, only emerged much later on. This icon quickly became a symbol of the occult, specifically as a representation of evil and the Devil.

Now what were the beliefs of the Knights Templar: Baphomet or Christ?

The Caynton Hall grotto - not a Templar feature!?

From time to time a news item dating from March 2017 surfaces again in the (social) media: the "news" of the discovery of a "700 year old Templar Cave" on the grounds of Caynton Hall, near Beckbury, Shropshire, England. At the time even the BBC claimed "an apparently ordinary rabbit's hole in a farmer's field leads to an underground sanctuary once said to be used by the Knights Templar - a medieval religious order that fought in the Crusades."

The caverns comprise an irregular series of neo-Romanesque ambulatories and chambers hollowed out of red sandstone, with carved archways, pillars, symbols and niches, apparently for candles. They are located about 250 metres west of Caynton Hall, beneath privately-owned woodland, within a disused stone quarry. One suggestion is that they were the result of quarrying during the mid-19th century and were then turned by the landowners, the Legge family, into a grotto or underground folly.

Templars and a new (or old?) Priory of Sion

TemplarsNow™ normally does not venture in the realm of pseudo-history. But recently, during one of our regular scans of the internet on Knights Templar related news, we hit a well groomed page on the "Templar Knights". Now that is our piece of cake, so we clicked on.

This page shows standard and generally acknowledged information on the Order's origin and demise. However, it is one of very many pages of an extensive and copyrighted website calling itself "the official website of the Priory of Sion - Ordre de la Rose-Croix Véritas O.D.L.R.C.V.", of Italian pedigree. An order that rings some bells.

Reliable Books on the Knights Templar

Books on the Knights Templar are quite common. Reliable books, without sensation and fantastic myths, and based on sound historical research are much less common. TemplarsNow™ is collecting those titles that merit the qualification "Reliable". Simply because they are based on profound scientific research.

This library will be ever expanding when reliable books are added. Sound scientific sources are most relevant for being selected, as are our own preferences based on experience.

Templars and the Black Madonnas

From 1100 A.D. to 1300 A.D., hundreds of Gothic Cathedrals were constructed all over Europe. These great Gothic cathedrals, such as the ones at Chartres, Paris, Salisbury, St.Denis, and Cluny were dedicated to Notre Dame, Our Lady. Our Lady is usually thought to be the Blessed Virgin Mary, but by some Mary Magdalene.

Most cathedrals were also home to Black Madonnas, of which about 400 to 500 are present in Europe, depending on how they are classified. There are at least 180 Vierges Noires in France, and there are hundreds of non-medieval copies as well.

Bernard of Clairvaux and architectural aesthetics

This video is a reflection on the importance of architectural aesthetics in the work of the great political and religious Cistercian reformer Bernard of Clairvaux. Starting point is his the criticism of the Cluniac Romanesque art in his Apology to William de Saint-Thierry. In this letter to his friend, Bernard exposes the danger that the representation of non-real subjects (monsters and other fantastic creatures) can represent in diverting the monks from the rational search for the divine.

Water power, a Templar tool for industrial development

This study presents information on the investment by the Militia of the Order of the Temple, towards the middle of the Xlle century, in an agro-industrial sector milling and cloth fabrication.

The decline of slavery in the medieval world led men to re-discover and spread a very ancient invention: the water mill. It is believed that the first water mills were known, in the countries of the East, in Greece and in the Roman Empire from the 1st century BC to the 9th century. The mills spread quickly in France. 

Godfrey of Boullion: founder of the proto-Knights Templar?

Several dates on the formation of the Knights Templar have been mentioned. These usually lie between 1118 and 1120, the latter coinciding with the Council of Nablus. But some dates are significantly earlier and are related to one of the leaders of the First Crusade, Godfrey of Boullion.

After conquering Jerusalem on June 15, 1099, Godfrey refused to become King of Jerusalem, instead choosing the title of Protector of the Holy Sepulcher. Some sources suggest that Godfrey was at least helpful to the foundation of the Order of the Temple or a precursor of that Order. It seems probable that Godfrey established an early Order in the Holy Land: the Order of the Holy Sepulcher.

The Templar fleet: mistery and fact

In many a conspiracy Templar tale the Templar fleet plays an important role in saving the "Templar Treasure" at the time of the demise of the Templar Order. But how important was this fleet, and did it play a major role in history?

The importance of the maritime activity of the Templars as well as the Hospitallers is difficult to define, even though it emerges progressively from reliable documents from the 1150s onwards.

The Hospitallers used boats which they rent from the Italian maritime republics. But, from 1160 on, it seems certain that they had their own ships, to transport either pilgrims to the Holy Land (treaty of 1166 between Narbonne and Genoa), or cardinals from Rome to Messina. In 1197 Queen Constance of Sicily granted the Order of the Hospital exemption of any tax for the transport of pilgrims and crusaders.

The Templars had a fleet at least from the beginning of the 13th century. They used it for the transport of troops and mechandise during the 5th Crusade (1217-1221). When, in 1233, the five viscounts of Marseille granted to the Temple and the Hospital the right to load two ships per year for the Orient, it seems that such a privilege existed already before 1213, as proven by the confirmations made Pope Honorius III and Frederic II in 1216.

During the 7th Crusade (1248-1254), brothers of both Orders served as intermediaries between the envoys of King Louis IX (1215-1270) preparing the royal expedition, and Genoese shipowners. The Temple dealt with Alphonse de Poitiers for the transport of the contingent of the Count for the 8th Crusade (1270). Both Orders obtained from Charles 1st of Anjou export licenses for food to the Orient on its own boats: 77 licences in 20 years for the Temple, but only seventeen for the Hospital.

Despite everything, at the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th Century, the fleets of the military orders remained modest. The Hospital had only naves, and no galleys before 1291. They did not participate in the evacuation of Acre (May 18. 1291). In 1306, the Hospital was forced to call on the Genoese corsair Vignolo de Vignoli, but the two galleys which he then held were insufficient for ensuring the brothers' journey to Rhodes and the conquest of that island.  

The Temple, which had organized transports from southern Italy to Cyprus and had assisted in the evacuation of survivors of Acre, does not seem to have had more than about 10 ships. In 1312 these were attributed to the Hospital when the order was dissolved. Therefore a major role for a substantial, self owned "Templar fleet" at the time of the Order's collapse is improbable at most. 

source: Michel Balard (2009) Introduction to "The Military Orders at Sea" (translation from French by TN). illustration templar ship, fresque in trhe Templar Chappel, Cressac, Charente, France, source

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Maritime Templar activities in southern France

From the 1110s for the Hospital, two decades later for the Temple, the commanderies invested in the cities and in particular their port, fluvial or maritime, of coastal Provence. The presence of the Orders is best documented in cities such as Marseille, Saint-Gilles, Arles and Avignon.

This documentation reflects above all the image of the Orders being landowners, deeply attached to the land. In addition exploitation of aquatic resources, such as fisheries and salt farms, becomes clear, both self-consumption of religious communities and for sale.

In later years transport of pilgrims, men and equipment on ships chartered by military orders was certainly the most lucrative activity for crusading ports like Saint-Gilles and Aigues-Mortes. From the 1230s onwards the rich archives of the city of Marseille highlight the close ties that the merchants there had developed with the two Orders and the activity of the one dozen ships that these Orders maintained in the port.

Source this paper. Illustration Templar sites in South France source 

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5 Great forces transforming the medieval Church

"The second half of the eleventh century was a particularly decisive time in the history of the church. To mention only three of the more important developments, the popes emerged as the leaders of an international reform movement in western Europe; they became involved in a dispute with the empire whose effects were to be long-lasting; and they directed the military efforts of Christendom against Islam, most notably in the First Crusade.

The papal reform movement, the investiture contest, and the crusades went far beyond any previous precedents for papal activity, and were to have a profound impact upon the future history of the church. Behind them lay one of the most remarkable features of this period: the influence of monasticism.

In general it has been rare for a monk to become pope, but from 1073 to 1118 the chair of St Peter was continuously occupied by men with monastic training, and monastie advisers were prominent in the formulation of papal policy. Monasticism was itself in turmoil, fot while existing abbeys were expanding rapidly many new ones were being founded and challenges to traditional ideals were being vigorously expressed. Yet monasticisrn was only one (although a very important) element in an international movement for the reform of the church and redefinition of the place of the laity within it. Behind these developments were major changes in society.

A new structure of lordship was emerging, along with a money economy and urban communities. Closely related with these social changes was a great expansion of learning, the first stages in the
movement which was to produce the distinctive medieval contribution to European Scholarship.

There were thus five great forces transforming the history of the church: papal revival, monastic renewal, international reform, social change, and the growth of learning. It is not easy to define their
niutual influence, or even to determine their chronological priority, since change necessarily took place over a long period, and at very different speeds in different parts of Europe."

source: The Papal Monarchy: The Western Church from 1050 to 1250 by Colin Morri; Illustration Myers, Philip Van Ness (1905), A medieval king investing a bishop with the symbols of office, source

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900 Years Council of Nablus, January 16, 1120 - synod, parliament and Templar kick-off

Very soon after the First Crusade, European troops began to return to their homelands, having fulfilled their promise to liberate the Holy Land. This put extra strain on the remainders, who faced continued challenges ranging from locusts plagues to repeated Saracen incursions.

To face up to these challenges, the Council of Nablus was convened. This council of ecclesiastic and secular lords of the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem was held on January 16, 1120. It was convened by Warmund, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and King Baldwin II of Jerusalem.

The council established twenty-five canons (decrees) dealing with both religious and secular affairs. As such it provided the first written laws for the kingdom. Therefore it can be considered both a parliament and an ecclesiastical synod.

The Nablus Council was probably also where Hugues de Payens obtained permission from King Baldwin II of Jerusalem and Warmund, Patriarch of Jerusalem to found the Knights Templar. But direct reference to the Templars as such or their recognition as a group is missing in the decrees. There is only mention that "Achardus, prior of the Temple of the Lord", was present. This probably pertains to Achardus de Aroasia, "prior Templi Domini" (Vita S. Joh., episcopus Morinorum; AA.SS.: in the 12th century, January 27). 

Another source mentions: "1120 - Jan. 14 – Sept. 13 (Jan. 16. Nablus?). King Baldwin II leases part of his palace in Jerusalem (the Temple of Solomon) to the Templars." This would support that by in 1120 giving the proto-Templars a proper headquarters at the Temple compound, the King did -possibly at Nablus- arrange the kick-off of the Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonici, later known as the Knights Templar.

The full text of the Nablus Canons, of which at present only one copy remains in the Vatican Library (MS Vat. Lat. 1345), is quoted below (source):

Here begins the Council of Nablus

In the 1120th year of the Incarnation of the Lord - after, as our sins demand, the country of Jerusalem was devastated by many calamities and for four years it was laid waste, with its crops consumed by locusts and its walls by frequent Saracen assaults and plots, and with so many of its pilgrims and citizens murdered - a man of dove-like innocence and a pupil of humility, the patriarch Warmund, and a son of good fortune, Baldwin, the second King of the Latins of Jerusalem, readying to meet the danger threatening the citizens with prayers of piety and works of justice, prodded by Divine Inspiration to raise up the Church and fix firm the country, entered into counsel with the prelates of the Church and the leading men of the kingdom in the second year of his reign and of his patriarchate, on the 17th Kalends of February [January 16],  at the city of Nablus of Samaria. And, as the need of the land demanded, for the correction of the fallen people, they established the decrees which we have written below.

The Concept of Martyrdom in the Order of the Knights Templar

"Martyrdom in the Order of the Knights Templar must be understood as an extremely multilayered and versatile concept. It sometimes reveals itself openly, for example in the works of Bernard of  Clairvaux or the carefully constructed stories of Templars suffering martyrdom prior to being received into heaven. Some-times, however, the concept’s influence is more difficult to discern, for example in the area of liturgy or the members’ personal experience. Thus, alternative ways of uncovering the concept need to be found. A key to this might be the “special importance [of] the motifs of the Lamb, the military sign, and the crown of victory,” (...)

In any case, a core assumption with regard to martyrdom is Christ’s sacrifice for humanity. To the Templars, this was the central point of reference and the legitimization of their military and liturgical activities."

Source: - Embracing Death, Celebrating Life: Reflections on the Concept of Martyrdom in the Order of the Knights Templar; Illustration Miniature of the Battle of Cresson Bibliothèque Nationale FR. 5594 Fol. 197, Sebastian Mamerot, Les Passages fait Outremer, vers 1490 Wikipedia, Public Domain

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