The reason for its importance to the question of Templar spirituality is immediately apparent the moment you enter the ancient building. The whole interior is painted, as most medieval churches and cathedrals were. But the Templars’ chosen decorations for this particular chapel were not saints, bible scenes, and the usual range of religious imagery. The surviving frescoes are a bizarre collection of stars and wheels, rolling around the walls and ceiling in some mysterious, unfathomable pattern. Interspersed among them are also grids and chequer-boards, painted with equal precision – but also with no apparent sense or meaning. There is nothing remotely Christian about it. The overall effect is calendrical and astrological, with a whiff of the Qabbalistic. It is like some strange hermetic temple, whose meaning is obscured to all except initiates.
The conclusion of the few experts in medieval art who have looked at the frescoes is that they are unlike anything else they have ever seen. They are "unknown esoteric decoration". Anyone studying the startling paintings quickly realises that they transcend the small French commune where they remain unnoticed, 850 years on. They demand answers. What did they mean to the Knights Templar? Why did they paint them so meticulously? And what prompted them to put them in their chapel, the building at the heart of their spiritual life, which they entered to pray in nine times a day?
We simply do not know the answers. But the chapel at Montsaunès is proof, in its own enigmatic way, that the religious life of the Templars was not as straightforward as we have perhaps come to believe.... The little-known chapel at Montsaunès reminds us that there is much we still do not know about the Templars, who increasingly baffle us the more we discover about them."
View this video on Montsaunès Chappel. Many more pictures of the frescos are presented here:
Text and illustration from a publication by Dominic Selwood on December 19th, 2013.
"A key area where historians focus their attention on the crusades is at the origin of the religious conflict between Islam and Christianity. This is problematic for two key reasons.
"Few scholars have approached the Knights Templar from the beginning, examining their creation in terms of where the order originates and why it was created. This makes this area largely unique and untouched, and the motivation of Bernard of Clairvaux’s (the founder of the Cistercian Order) for helping form the order has been largely overlooked.
|source (© antoine janssen)|
Gathering of Order of the Knights Templar
On Saturday September 4, 2011, 130 Knights of the Order of the Temple, men as well as women, gathered at Saint John's Cathedral (at Den Bosch, the Netherlands). It was the yearly meeting of the order, which this time took place in The Netherlands. At St John's mass was consecrated and during the Investiture 10 kandidates were knighted. There was a moment of contemplation and all present sang, in their own language, "Thine be the Glory". Afterwards the knights posed on the St. John's square for a ceremonial photograph.
Pope Innocent III founded the Order of the Templars in 1112. The Pope gave the first nine knights the name Knighthood of God". The purpose of the order was to protect pilgrims who were on their way to the Höly Land, now Israël. It was the time of the Crusaders. Den Bosch also has a local Commandery, as they say, that of St. Norbert.
"The Second Crusade (1145-49) had put a great deal of the Holy Land under European rule, but Saladin (Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub, 1138-1193) had re-conquered much of that territory, prompting several kings of Europe to agree to another crusade. The Third Crusade (1189-92) was unsuccessful in putting the Holy Land under Western European control. It did, however, open up a dialogue between the east and west in
"The crusades were originally meant to redeem Europe from its violent nature, not to extend that violence. In this way, the crusades were intended to be a military pilgrimage of penance for the men who participated, a way of channeling the evil of their violence into a godly purpose. It was this idea that Bernard latched onto when he aided in the forming of the Templar order.
The arrest warrant started with the phrase : "Dieu n'est pas content, nous avons des ennemis de la foi dans le Royaume" ["God is not pleased. We have enemies of the faith in the kingdom"].
Claims were made that during Templar admission ceremonies, recruits were forced to spit on the cross, deny Christ, and engage in indecent kissing. Brethren were also accused of worshiping idols, and the order was said to have encouraged homosexual practices. The Templars were charged with numerous other offences, financial corruption and fraud, and secrecy. Many of the accused confessed to these charges under torture, and these confessions, even though obtained under duress, caused a scandal in Paris.
Relenting to Phillip's demands, Pope Clement then issued the papal bull Pastoralis Praeeminentiae on 22 November 1307, which instructed all Christian monarchs in Europe to arrest all Templars and seize their assets. Pope Clement called for papal hearings to determine the Templars' guilt or innocence, and once freed of the Inquisitors' torture, many Templars recanted their confessions. Some had sufficient legal experience to defend themselves in the trials, but in 1310 Philip blocked this attempt, using the previously forced confessions to have dozens of Templars burned at the stake in Paris.
The second half of the medieval period, which may be termed the later Middle Ages, consists of the High Middle Ages (ca. 1000-1300) and Late Middle Ages (ca. 1300-1500). The primary powers of the later Middle Ages were the Holy Roman Empire, France, and England. Paris was the cultural and scholarly heart of the period.The High Middle Ages (ca. 1000-1300) are distinguished by a vibrant economic and cultural recovery throughout Western Europe. Urbanism, agriculture, trade, and technological progress were all revived. The busiest medieval shipping routes lay in the Mediterranean (where trade links with eastern civilizations yielded luxury goods) and Baltic (where links with northern and eastern Europe yielded raw materials). The growing power of the West did not go unnoticed by the Byzantines, who called for aid against the Islamic Turkic powers to the east.
The Late Middle Ages (ca. 1300-1500), on the other hand, were stricken with famine, recession, and heightened conflict. These miseries were vastly compounded by the Black Death, which remains the deadliest disease outbreak in history. Arriving from Central Asia, the Black Death swept across the European continent, killing up to half its population in a matter of years.
The region known as the Low Countries is one of the main areas of
research on this blog. It spans roughly present-day Belgium and the
Netherlands. The medieval Low Countries featured several small, prosperous states, with economies based on manufacturing (chiefly textiles) and trade. The greatest was Flanders; others included Brabant and Luxembourg.
Following the splintering of the Frankish kingdom, this region remained largely independent throughout the later medieval period, despite being officially added to the territory of external powers on several occasions (most famously Burgundy, toward the end of the Middle Ages). Low Countries independence finally ended ca. 1500, when the region was firmly acquired by the Holy Roman Empire.
Text adapted from this source; illustration shows Map of the political situation in the Netherlands around 1350. source
When were the Orders of Hospitallers and Templars born? What was their original purpose and how did this develop. Medievalist Alain Demurger elaborates on the role of the soldiers of the Holy Land and their presence among the Crusaders, the Franks, the Christians of Outre Mer (the Orient) and the Muslims.
William of Tyre, in his Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum, gives a detailed account of the foundation of the Order of the Knights Templar. It goes as follows.
For a better understanding of the origin of the Medieval military Orders in general and the Knights templar in particular, it is necessary to understand the socio-economic system in the 9th to 12th century. What was it like?
The President of the Republic of Croatia, Ivo Josipović, received a delegation of dignitaries of the templar order O.S.M.T.H. who are participating in an international meeting of the Grand Magistral Council of the Order in Zagreb.
The Meeting assembled high-ranking representatives of the Order from over 20 countries of the world. Representatives of the Order informed the President of the Order’s rich history and operations in the world today. They made known to him endeavours and efforts for international peace, the Order’s humanitarian activities, as well as the promotion of intercultural and interreligious links and human rights. The Grand Master of the Order, General Patrick Rea, highlighted Croatia’s contribution in disseminating understanding and cooperation among peoples, which is one of the primary goals of the Order. President Josipović stressed the importance of building peace and bridges among peoples and cultures, and wished them success in their further work.
source text http://predsjednik.hr
Though little is known of his actual life and deeds except for his last years as Grand Master, he is the best known Templar, along with the Order's founder and first Grand Master, Hugues de Payens(1070–1136). Jacques de Molay's goal as Grand Master was to reform the Order, and adjust it to the situation in the Holy Land during the waning days of the Crusades.
As European support for the Crusades had dwindled, other forces were at work which sought to disband the Order and claim the wealth of the Templars as their own. King Philip IV of France, deeply in debt to the Templars, had De Molay and many other French Templars arrested in 1307 and tortured into making false confessions. When de Molay later retracted his confession, Philip had him executed by burning upon a scaffold on the Paris Ile des Juifs in the River Seine on 18 March 1314.
|Death-site plaque of Jaques de Molay on Isle des Juifs, Paris|