Bernard, the Templars' mentor and spiritual leader. He felt it important that this construction symbolize in stone the cabbalistic approach and the esotericism that the Templars esteemed so highly.
As Graham Hancock wrote, St. Bernard, the patron of the Templars,. A medieval engraving showing Jerusalem at the time of the Templars Elsewhere in the same book, the author writes:. The entire edifice had been carefully and explicitly designed as a key to the deeper religious mysteries. Thus, for example, the architects and masons had made use of gematria an ancient Hebrew cipher that substitutes numbers for the letters of the alphabet to "spell out" obscure liturgical phrases in many of the key dimensions of the great building. Similarly the sculptors and glaziers-working usually to the instructions of the higher clergy-had carefully concealed complex messages about human nature, about the past, and about the prophetic meaning of the Scriptures in the thousands of different devices and designs that they had created.
Characteristic examples of Gothic architecture in some of Europe's cities For example, a tableau in the north porch depicts the removal, to some unstated destination, of the Ark of the Covenant-which is shown loaded upon an ox-cart. Clearly he had regarded the Templars' architectural skills as almost supernaturally advanced and had been particularly impressed by the soaring roofs and arches that they had built.
Soaring roofs and arches had also been the distinguishing features of the Gothic architectural formula as expressed at Chartres and other French cathedrals in the twelfth century-cathedrals that. The Battle of Hattin. Following the death of the Latin King Baldwin I in , Guy de Lusignan - who was known to be close to the Templars - succeeded to the throne in Palestine. Reynald de Chatillon , Prince of Antioch, became the new king's closest aide.
After fighting in the Second Crusade, Reynald had stayed behind in Palestine, where he became good friends with the Templars. Gold and silver swords belonging to Templars. Reynald's cruelty was well known in the Holy Land. On the 4th of July, the crusader armies fought their bloodiest battle at Hattin. The army numbered 20, infantry and a thousand mounted knights.
Assembling this army stretched to the limit the resources of towns along the border, leaving the others unprotected and vulnerable.
The battle ended with the virtual annihilation of the crusaders. Most lost their lives, and every survivor was captured. Among the prisoners of war were King Guy himself and the leading commanders of the Christian army. Drawing depicting the Templars' defeat at the Battle of Hattin According to the Templars' own records, Saladin, the great commander of the Muslim forces, was fair. Despite all the cruelty inflicted on Palestine's Muslim population over the previous years of Christian rule, the defeated forces were not ill-treated.
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While most Christians were pardoned, the Templars had been responsible for the savage attacks carried out on the Muslim population, and for this reason, Saladin had the Templars executed, along with the Grand Master of the order and Reynald de Chatillon , both known for their inhumane cruelty. King Guy was freed after only one year in captivity in the town of Nablus. After Saladin's victory at Hattin, he advanced with his army and proceeded to free Jerusalem.
Despite serious losses, the Templars survived their defeat in Palestine and along with other Christians, withdrew to Europe. Most headed for France where, thanks to their privileged status, they continued to increase their power and wealth. In time, they became the "state within the state" in many European countries. Acre, the crusaders' last stronghold in Palestine, was captured by the Muslim army in With this, the original justification for the Templars' existence-the protection of pilgrims in the Holy Land-disappeared as well.
Now the Templars could concentrate all their efforts on Europe, but needed a little time to adapt to this new situation. During this transitional period, they relied on the help of their friends in the royal houses of Europe, of whom the best-known was Richard the Lion-Hearted. His relationship with the Templars was such that he was regarded as an Honorary Knight Templar. Furthermore, Richard had sold to the Templars the Island of Cyprus, which was to become the temporary base of their order, while they strengthened their position in Europe to counteract their losses in Palestine.
In order to understand the links between Cyprus and the order, we need to examine the events that culminated in the 3rd Crusade. By July 4, , Jerusalem was conquered.
Guy de Lusignan was taken prisoner the same day to be freed a year later, after swearing an oath never to attack the Muslims again. Germany, France, and England made the joint decision to launch the 3rd Crusade in order to retake Jerusalem. But before proceeding to attack the Holy City, they considered it essential for their success to first capture a harbor, where they could land troops and supplies.
A price was fixed at , bezants then gold currency of Byzantium , and de Sable made a down payment of 40, bezants. This sum, available so soon after the defeat at Hattin, is enough to illustrate the order's financial strength. In , Acre fell to the Muslim army. As the Christian presence in Palestine came to an end, the Templars moved on.
Some settled in Cyprus, later to serve as their temporary base in the Mediterranean. The Templars had been hoping to acquire a kingdom, such as the Teutonic Knights had won for themselves in northern Europe, except they wanted theirs in center of Europe-preferably in France. In Europe, under the guidance of their Master based in France, the rest of the Templars carried on their usual activities, with an unequalled degree of freedom.
The Grand Master enjoyed a status on a par with kings; the Templars owned land in most countries of Christendom, from Denmark to Italy. A massive warrior army formed the basis of their political power.
Because all the ruling houses of Europe were indebted to the Templars, they feared that their future was threatened. The throne of England was seriously indebted to the order. King John had emptied the coffers of the treasury between and in order to finance his military operations; and Henry III, likewise, borrowed heavily from the Knights Templar. The situation in France was such that the Templars offices in Paris housed their own treasury as well as the state's and the treasurer of the order was also the treasurer of the King.
The Royal household's finances were thus under the control of the Templars and dependent on them. Decadence and Its Unmasking. Even though their original purpose-protecting European pilgrims-had ceased to exist, they kept on strengthening their power base, increasing their number of soldiers and amassing ever greater fortunes.
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But from this date onward, events began to turn against the Templars. While their numbers and their wealth were on the rise, their greed, arrogance and tyranny increased accordingly. By now, the Knights Templar had grown apart from the Catholic Church's teachings, beliefs, and practices. In general, no longer did any European have anything to say in their favor. In France, expressions like "to drink like a Templar" were common and widespread.
In Germany, " Tempelhaus " meant whorehouse , and if anyone acted in an unacceptably arrogant way, he was said "to be proud as a Templar. Richard the Lion-Hearted had a close relationship with the Templars. Despite his glorious title of "Lionheart," he was a cruel and merciless ruler. When he and his crusader army reached Palestine, they came to Acre, which had then been besieged for two years by the last remaining Christian army in Palestine. Facing the crusaders was Saladin's army which, despite many attempts, hadn't managed to break the siege and relieve the 3, Muslims inside the Acre castle.
With the arrival of Richard the Lion-Hearted, Acre's already weakened resistance was weakened further. In the end, on July 12th, , Acre fell. This was the crusaders' first victory after their defeat at the Battle of Hattin. Richard demanded a huge sum as ransom for the lives of his 3, captives. Saladin agreed, but could not raise the requested sum at once, so installments were agreed upon. Some had already been paid when one was delayed. On August 20th Richard, who had grown tired of sitting and waiting, decided to slaughter all 3, Muslim prisoners. His soldiers placed the block on the front walls of the castle and, one by one, beheaded all of the 3, It took them three whole days.
On the right, this act of barbarism is depicted from a Christian perspective. The kingdoms of Europe, especially France, were angered by the Templars' political intrigues and shadowy designs. After having plenty of opportunity to get acquainted with them, people started to realize that their order was not comprised of genuinely religious knights.
Finally in , Philip the Fair, King of France, and Pope Clement V realized that the Templars were seeking to change not only Europe's religious landscape, but its political balance as well. In October , they moved in on the Templars, with the view of liquidating this decadent, treacherous order. Modest missionaries, fighting for Christianity-this was how the Templars presented themselves to the ordinary people. Undeservedly, they were perceived to be saints of great virtue, mentors of Christianity, devoted to aiding the poor and the needy.
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It's amazing that they managed to create such a positive image while leading lives contrary to Christian teachings and, on the way acquiring status and wealth through donations, trade, banking and even looting. The few who discovered their true identity did not dare to speak out against this powerful order. Philip, King of France, feared the dangers their financial strength could create for him.
It was high time to unmask the Templars. As a Masonic writer of the 18th century explains:.