Linking the Knights Templar to Freemasonry

KT LogoAs many of you are undoubtedly aware, there are several small-crafttheories regarding a possible physical relationship between Freemasonry and the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, commonly known as the Knights Templar.

 

Many modern scholars vehemently refuse to examine objectively the prospect of any connection between the two Orders, however, there is a significant handful of learned scholars whose hearts and imaginations have been stirred by the possibility and who keep tripping over little hints of evidence which keep the theories alive.

 

The purpose of this Blog is to acquaint you with a theory that could suggest a potential Link between Freemasonry and the ancient Knights Templar.  This Link is represented by the St Clair (Modern: Sinclair) family of Scotland and a small unfinished Collegiate  chapel, constructed and lying in a tiny hamlet just south of Edinburgh, named Rosslyn.

After the Dissolution

When Pope Clement V and King Philip of France affected the successful dissolution of the Templars on 13th October 1307ce, many knights escaped and some managed to take refuge in the highlands of Scotland. The Scots were currently embroiled in a struggle for sovereignty and against their neighbours, England.

robert-de-bruce

 

Their emerging leader, Robert De Bruce, was then under an order of excommunication issued by the Pope and was at war with Edward II of England and his allies.

Consequently, having nothing to loose, De Bruce gave his approval for the outlawed Templars to be sheltered and merged into the Knights Hospitallier or to take refuge in the Highlands of Scotland, thus enabling them to live out their lives.

 

Seven years later, in 1314ce, Sir Henry St. Clair, who was allegedly a member of the Knight Templar, and his two sons, William and Henry, took part in the famous Battle of Bannockburn where the Scots were able to preserve an independent Scotland for the King, Robert the Bruce.

 

An exciting and romantic legend links the Templars to the battle of Bannockburn. The legend tells us that Scots were outnumbered three to one and were struggling desperately against the forces of Edward II, losing men and ground rapidly, when there appeared on the horizon a well-equipped and obviously highly professional band of knights in full armor and mounted on heavy horses. the knights, although superbly equipped and obviously experienced in military battle tactics, bore no markings on their shields and carried no battle standards flying their colours.

 

These mysterious soldiers joined the battle on the side of King Robert the Bruce and quickly turned the tide in favour of the Scots who won the battle and freedom for Scotland. The knights then rode off over the horizon without making known their identities or from whence they came.

 

Many scholars believe these mysterious knights to be a contingent of the refugee and internationally outlawed Knights Templar that the King had permitted to take refuge in the highlands. Were they returning the favor while pledging loyalty to Scotland and King Robert the Bruce?  There is a Masonic degree based on this story.

 

Many sources tell us that years later, Sir Henry St. Clair was appointed the Hereditary Grand Master of all the Masonic guilds of Scotland by royal charter (the King of Scotland remains the Sovereign Grand master).

 

This Hereditary Grand mastership was to abide with the Sinclair family until 1736ce, when Sir Henry’s heir, Sir William St. Clair of Rosslyn resigned his stewardship of the Scottish Masons to affect the creation of the Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland. A body to which he was immediately elected the Grand Master.

Rosslyn Chapel

rosslyn_chapelIn 1440ce a mere 133 years (just two generations) after the suppression of the Templars by King Philip and Pope Clement, the Earl of Orkney, a descendant of Sir William St. Clair designed and began the project of building a church in the family seat of Rosslyn. His intention was to build a great sanctuary to the glory of God and the Templar tradition. It was to be constructed in the form of a cross with a lady Chapel and a high tower in the centre.

 

He imported the best stonemasons available, as well as tradesmen from the other guilds as necessary. The Master masons were paid a sum of 40 pounds per annum and the lesser skilled masons were paid 10 pounds. Simultaneously, he built the small hamlet of Rosslin to support and house his craftsmen during the project and see to their every need. The great sanctuary’s construction was never completed.

 

Through the centuries, St Clair’s unfinished sanctuary survived several invading armies and the brutalities of the Reformation as well as Scotland’s civil war of the mid-seventeenth century. It’s said that during this period, the armies of Oliver Cromwell occupied the areas in and around Edinburgh, including Rosslyn. Indicative of the disdain for which the Puritan church and Cromwell held divergent theological beliefs, after razing nearby Rosslyn castle, Cromwell stabled his invading troops horses and livestock in the chapel at Rosslyn.

 

There is a legend that says Cromwell recognizing the exoteric religious and Masonic symbolism and himself being a Brother, the unit’s commander was careful to preserve and protect the chapel and its artifacts during his troops occupation. Other religious structures and their icons did not fare as well during this turbulent time.

 

The Dirge of Rosabell is described in prose as our Brother Sir Walter Scott spoke of the ancient Barons of Rosslyn who were buried in the crypt of the chapel. His famous poem, The Lay of the Last Minstrel speaks of the ghosts and spirits of the honoured knights laid to rest in the ancient Gothic chapel’s crypt.

 

In 1787ce, our esteemed Brother Robert Burns, the recognized Poet laureate of Scotland and Masonry visited the chapel with a friend and artist, Alexander Nasmyth and implored him to paint his portrait while at Rosslyn.

Conclusion

The chapel that remains today, many scholars say, is probably one of the most remarkable examples of Gothic architecture in Scotland, not because of its design when viewed primarily from and architectural point of view, but because of the profusion of overt and esoteric design and symbolism shown in such abundance everywhere within the chapel.

 

When first viewed Rosslyn Chapel has an almost haunting quality exhibited not only in its Gothic spires and flying buttresses, but the chapel’s spiritual and ghostly esoteric qualities are manifested in the profuse and intricate carvings and hieroglyphics evidenced on the interior’s every square inch of masonry surface.

 

In this small cathedral, it’s a short and misty road from the present to the past. It’s a place where you enter into a world of “intellectual oblivion” expressed in design and stone by our spiritual Brothers of a different time. It is impossible, in this environment to deny that the genesis of our Order is shrouded in esoteria and rooted in the cryptic origins of contemplative man.

 

The ornate carvings and depictions in stone are almost overwhelming to everyone who views the chapel. But the abundant, half-hidden Templar and Masonic symbolism is profound and easily identified by the Initiated. There abounds hundreds of references to Christian parables, Biblical characters, the ancient Knights Templar, Freemasonry, and commentary on the religious-political climate of that time in our long past.

 

The chapel is a perfect exemplification of our sacred geometry and incorporates many easily recognized Masonic and Templar symbols in its architectural designs. The Apprentice Pillar with its attendant carvings, the Master’s Pillar, the hidden and much speculated upon contents of the subterranean crypt, the proliferation of Templar splayed and floriated crosses, obvious reference to the Masonic degrees, transparent references to Templarism, and so much more, can be found everywhere. There is a lintel at the east end of the south aisle bearing a familiar inscription in Latin which translates:

 

“Wine is strong, a King is stronger, women are even stronger, but Truth conquers all”

 

There is such a profusion of intricate carvings incorporated into the design and construction of every minute detail, that you can easily lose yourself for hours while just wandering.

 

To the best of my knowledge, Rosslyn Chapel represents the only place where such an obvious and overtly profuse collection of Masonic and Templar esoterica and symbolism is displayed together in a structure predating the traditional origins of the Craft.

 

Additionally, the founder and builder was documented as an heir to the heritage of the Knights of the temple as well as a Knight Templar himself. The dating of the construction of the chapel as well as its proximity to other known Templar and Masonic sites of pilgrimage leads me to the conclusion that Rosslyn Chapel is of significant importance to Masons and Knights Templar and may well be the common factor linking the respective orders.

The History of the Knights Templar

KT LogoThe Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (Latin: Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici), popularly known as the Knights Templar, was one of the most famous of the Christian military orders. It existed for about two centuries in the Middle Ages, created in the aftermath of the First Crusade of 1096 to ensure the safety of the large numbers of European Pilgrims who flowed toward Jerusalem after its conquest.

 

The Templars were an unusual order in that they were both monks and soldiers, making them in effect some of the earliest “warrior monks” in the Western world. Members of the Order played a key part in many battles of the Crusades, and the Order’s infrastructure innovated many financial techniques that could be considered the foundation of modern banking. The Order grew in membership and power throughout Europe, until it ran afoul of King Philip IV of France (Philip the Fair), who caused members in France to be tortured into confessions and burned at the stake. Under influence from King Philip, Pope Clement V then forcibly disbanded the order on Friday 13 October, 1307.

 

Organization 

 

The High Templars were organized as a monastic order, following a rule created for them by their patron, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, a member of the Cistercian Order. Each country had a Master of the Order for the Templars in that region, and all of them were subject to the Grand Master, appointed for life, who oversaw both the Order’s military efforts in the East, and their financial holdings in the West.

 

There were four divisions of brothers in the Templars:

 

  1. the knights, equipped as heavy cavalry (wore a white habit with red cross);
  2. the sergeants (serjens), equipped as light cavalry and drawn from a lower social class than the knights (wore a brown mantle);
  3. the serving brothers — the rural brothers (frères casaliers), who administered the property of the Order, and the frères de métiers, who performed menial tasks and trades;
  4. the chaplains, who were ordained priests and saw to the spiritual needs of the Order.

 

With the high demand for knights, there were also knights who signed up to the Order for a set period of time before returning to secular life, as well as the Fratres conjugati, who were married brothers. Both of these wore a black or brown mantle with a red cross to delineate them from the celibate lifetime members, and were not considered to be of the same status as the celibate brothers. It also appears that the serving brothers (frères casaliers and frères de métiers) were not separate from the sergeants, but rather that a sergeant who was a skilled tradesman or was unable to fight due to age or infirmity would perform these other functions. The majority of the Templars, including the knights and the Grand Masters, were both uneducated and illiterate (as were most knights of the day), having come not from the upper nobility but from more obscure families.

 

At any time, each knight had some ten people in support positions. Some brothers were devoted solely to banking (typically those with an education), as the Order was often trusted with the safekeeping of precious goods by participants in the Crusades; but the primary mission of the Knights Templar was warfare.

 

The Templars used their wealth to construct numerous fortifications throughout the Holy Land and were probably one of the best trained and disciplined fighting units of their day. They were also famous and easily recognized, with a white surcoat with distinct red cross emblazoned above the heart or on the chest, as seen in many portrayals of crusading knights.

 

Initiation into the Order was a profound commitment, and involved a secret ceremony. Few details of the rituals were known at the time, fueling the suspicions of medieval inquisitors, but initiates, at least in the early days of the Order, had to be of noble birth, of legitimate heritage, and had to be willing to sign over all of their wealth and goods to the Order. Further, joining the Order required vows of poverty, chastity, piety, and obedience. For the warriors of the Order, there was a cardinal rule of never surrendering. This fearless uncompromising nature of the Templars, along with excellent training and heavy armament, made them a feared and elite fighting force in medieval times.

 

History 

  

The order was founded around 1118 by French knights Hughes de Payens, a veteran of the First Crusade, and Geoffrey de St. Omer for the protection of pilgrims on the road from Jaffa and Jerusalem. At first, the order had only nine knights as members and relied on gifts and cast-offs. As a result, they were originally known as the Poor Knights of Christ. King Baldwin II of Jerusalem gave them a headquarters on the Temple Mount, above what was believed to be the ruins of the Temple of Solomon. It was from this location that the Order took its name of Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon.

 

The Order grew rapidly because of support from key church leaders such as Bernard de Clairvaux, and was exempt from all authority except that of the Pope. Because of this official sanction, the order received massive donations of money, land, and noble-born sons from families across Europe, who were encouraged to donate support as their way of assisting with the fight in the Holy Land. Templar Knights also fought alongside King Louis VII of France, King Richard I of England, and in battles in Spain and Portugal.

 

Though the primary mission of the Order was a military one, only a small percentage of its members were actually at the front lines, while many others were involved in developing a financial infrastructure to support the warrior branch. The Order also innovated ways of generating letters of credit for pilgrims who were journeying to the Holy Land, which involved pilgrims depositing their valuables with the Order before setting off on the journey. This may have been the first form of checking put into use. From this mixture of donations and shrewd business dealing during the 12th and 13th centuries the Order acquired large tracts of land both in Europe and the Middle East, built churches and castles, bought farms and vineyards, was involved in manufacturing, import and export, had its own fleet of ships, and for a time even owned the entire island of Cyprus.

 

After Jerusalem was lost to Saladin in 1187, the Crusades gradually wound down and European support for the Order began to falter. In the early 1300s, King Philip IV of France (also known as “Philip the Fair”) was in desperate need of money to continue his war with the English. He began by approaching the Templars’ Grand Master, Jacques De Molay, asking him to respond to allegations of malpractice. De Molay rejected the allegations out of hand. On Friday, October 13, 1307 (a date possibly linked to the origin of the Friday the 13th legend), Philip had all French Templars simultaneously arrested, charged with numerous heresies, and tortured by French authorities nominally under the Inquisition until they allegedly confessed. This action released Philip from his obligation to repay huge loans from the Templars and justified his looting of Templar treasuries. In 1312 due to public opinion and scandal, and under pressure from King Philip (who had been responsible for maneuvering Pope Clement V into the Vatican), Clement officially disbanded the Order at the Council of Vienne. Even though all their lands were supposed to be turned over to the Hospitallers, Philip retained a great deal of the Templar assets in France. Some other European leaders followed suit in an effort to reduce the amount of Church-owned lands and property. In 1314 three Templar leaders, including Grand Master Jacques De Molay, Hugh De Perault and Godfrey De Goneville were burned alive at the stake by French authorities after publicly renouncing any guilt.

 

Remaining Templars around Europe, having been arrested and tried under the Papal investigation (with virtually none convicted), were either absorbed into other military orders such as the Order of Christ and the Knights Hospitaller or contemplative Benedictine or Augustinian orders; returned to the secular life with pension; and in some cases possibly fled to other territories outside of Papal control such as England and excommunicated Scotland. But questions still remain as to what happened to the few hundreds of Templars across Europe, or to the fleet of Templar ships which, according to various works of fiction and nonfiction (including the alternative history work Holy Blood, Holy Grail) vanished from La Rochelle on October 13, 1307. Also, the extensive archive of the Templars, with detailed records of all of their business holdings and financial transactions, was never found, though it is unknown whether it was destroyed, or moved to another location, or ever existed in the first place.

 

In modern times, it is the Roman Catholic Church’s position that the persecution was unjust; that there was nothing inherently wrong with the Order or its Rule; and that the Pope at the time was severely pressured into suppressing them by the magnitude of the public scandal and the dominating influence of King Philip IV. In 2002, a copy of the Chinon Parchment was discovered by Dr. Frale in the Vatican Secret Archives. The parchment gave direct documented evidence and a new perspective on the Knights Templar and overturned some of the centuries-old myths and misconceptions that have grown around the Order.

 

Grand Masters

 

Starting with founder Hughes de Payens in 1118, the Order’s highest office was that of Grand Master, a position which was held for life, though considering the warrior nature of the Order, this could be a very short period of time. The Grand Master oversaw all of the operations of the Order, including both the military operations in the Holy Land and eastern Europe, and the financial and business dealings in the Order’s infrastructure of Western Europe. Grand Masters could also be active military commanders, though this was not always a wise choice, as seen by the fate of the defeated Grand Master Gérard de Ridefort, who ended up beheaded by Saladin in 1189 at the Siege of Acre. The last Grand Master was Jacques DeMolay.

 

Legends

 

The Knights Templar have become surrounded by legends concerning secrets and mysteries handed down to the select from ancient times. Most of these legends are connected with the long occupation by the order of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and speculation about what relics the Templars may have found there, such as the Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant, or fragments of the True Cross from the Crucifixion. And still more stories were started by fictional embellishments upon the Templar history, such as a treasure long hidden by the Templars. This idea has been used in two recent Hollywood movies, The Da Vinci Code and National Treasure. In the Indiana Jones film The Last Crusade, there was a rather more fantastical view of the history of the Templar. The idea has also been used in the graphic novel Rex Mundi (Dark Horse Comics) by Arvid Nelson, in novels by Steve Berry, The Templar Legacy, Raymond Khoury, The Last Templar, Jack Whyte, Knights of the Black and White, and even in a Donald Duck comic story by Don Rosa.

Other legends have grown around the suspected associations of the Templars. Many organizations claim traditions from the original Order especially in relation to anonymous charity and good deeds. Some of these organizations which claim (spuriously) to be associated with the Templars are still active within communities across the globe supporting humanistic causes such as hospitals and medical treatment centers for the less fortunate. Additionally, while not claiming any direct descent from Templar Jacques de Molay, the Order of DeMolay, a youth fraternity associated with the Freemasons, cite de Molay’s loyalty to his fellow Templars in the face of execution as a bedrock moral imperative.

The dissolution of the Templar order is well documented, and its remaining members after the destruction of the order in 1314 were absorbed into the Knights of the Hospital of Saint John, which continued as a minor military entity throughout the middle ages. However, the story of the Templars’ persecution has proved a tempting source for many organizations to use to enhance their own dignity, history, and mystery. There are a variety of claims to descendance from around the western world, none of whom are able to produce any evidence, or plausible theory explaining their descent.

Another legend originates around Switzerland, and associates the Knights Templar with the founding of the Swiss country.

 

Sources

 

Malcolm Barber, The New Knighthood: A History of the Order of the Temple. Cambridge University Press, 1994. ISBN 0-521-42041-5

Peter Partner, The Knights Templar and their Myth. Destiny Books; Reissue edition (1990). ISBN 0-89281-273-7

Frale, Barbara (2004). “The Chinon chart — Papal absolution to the last Templar, Master Jacques de Molay”. Journal of Medieval History 30 (2): 109–134. DOI:10.1016/j.jmedhist.2004.03.004.

The History Channel, Decoding the Past: The Templar Code documentary, 2005

George Smart, The Knights Templar: Chronology, Authorhouse, 2005. ISBN 1-4184-9889-0

Sean Martin, The Knights Templar: The History & Myths of the Legendary Military Order, 2005. ISBN 1-56025-645-1

Dr. Karen Ralls, The Templars and the Grail, Quest Books, 2003. ISBN 0-8356-0807-7

Alan Butler, Stephen Dafoe, The Warriors and the Bankers: A History of the Knights Templar from 1307 to the present, Templar Books, 1998. ISBN 0-9683567-2-9

Malcolm Barber, “Who Were the Knights Templar?”. Slate Magazine, 20 April 2006.

Brighton, Simon (2006-06-15). In Search of the Knights Templar: A Guide to the Sites in Britain (Hardback), London, England: Orion Publishing Group. ISBN 0-297-84433-4.

J M Upton-Ward, The Rule of the Templars: The French Text of the Rule of the Order of the Knights Templar. The Boydell Press, 1992. ISBN 0-85115-315-1

The Chinon Parchment – Were the Knights Templar Pardoned?

Rough translation of an obscure document that seems to demonstrate that the leaders of the Order of the Knights Templar were pardoned by papal investigators. For more information see the Wikipedia article

The text has also been published by Barbara Frale in Il papato e il processo ai templari : l’inedita assoluzione de Chinon alla luce della diplomatica pontificia. Le edizioni del Mulino. 2004 and on the In Rebus web site.

Investigation carried out
b
y the fathers commissioned by Pope Clement V
in the town of Chinon, diocese of Tours.

Chinon, August 17-20, 1308

In the name of the Lord, amen. We, Berengar, by the mercy of God cardinal presbyter of SS. Nereus and Achileus, and Stephanus, cardinal presbyter of St. Ciriacus in Therminis, and Landolf, cardinal deacon of St. Angel, declare through this official statement directed to all who will read it that since our most holy father and lord Clement, by divine providence the supreme pontific of the holy Roman and universal church, after receiving the word of mouth and also clamorous reports from the illustrious king of France and prelates, dukes, counts, barons and other subjects of the said kingdom, both noblemen and commoners, along with some brothers, presbyters, knights, preceptors and servants of the Templar order, had initiated an inquiry into matters concerning the brothers, [questions of Catholic faith] and the Rule of the said Order, because of which it suffered public infamy, the very same lord Pope wishing and intending to know the pure, complete and uncompromised truth from the leaders of the said Order, namely brother Jacques de Molay, grandmaster of the Order of Knights Tempar, brother Raymbaud de Caron, preceptor the commandaries of Templar Knights in Outremer, brother Hugo de Pérraud, preceptor of France, brother Geoffroy de Gonneville, preceptor of Aquitania and Poitou, and Geoffroy of Charny, preceptor of Normandy, ordered and commissioned us specifically and by his verbally expressed will in order that we might with diligence examine the truth by questioning the grandmaster and the aforementioned preceptors – one by one and individually, having summoned notaries public and trustworthy witnesses.

And having acted according to the mandate and commissioned by the said Lord Supreme Pontific, we questioned the aforementioned grandmaster and the preceptors and examined them concerning the matters described above. Their words and confessions were written down exactly the way they are included here by the notaries whose names are listed below in the presence of witnesses listed below. We also ordered these things drawn up in this official form and validated by the protection of our seals.

In the year of our Lord 1308, the 6th indiction, on the 17th day of August, in the 3d year of the pontificate of the said Pope Clement V, brother Raymbaud de Caron, preceptor the commandaries of Templar Knights in Outremer, was brought in front of us, the aforementioned fathers, to the town of Chinon of the Tours diocese. With his hand on the Holy Gospel of the Lord he took an oath that he would speak pure and complete truth about himself as well individuals and brothers of the Order, and about the Order itself, concerning questions of Catholic faith and the Rule of the said Order, and also about five particular individuals and brothers of the Order. Diligently interrogated by us about the time and circumstances of his initiation in the order he said that it was been forty-thee years or thereabouts since he had been knighted and admitted into the Templar Order by brother Roncelin de Fos, at the time preceptor of Provence, in the town of Richarenchess, in the diocese of Carpentras or Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux, in the chapel of the local Templar commandery. During the ceremony the patron said nothing to the novice that was not proper, but after the admittance a servant-brother came up to him whose name he does not recall, for he has been dead for a long time. He took him aside holding a small cross under his cloak, and when all the brothers exited and they remained alone, that is this brother-servant and the speaker, this brother-servant showed this cross to the speaker who does not recall whether it bore the effigy of the crucifix or not, but believes however, that there was a crucifix either painted or carved. And this brother-servant told the speaker: “You must denounce this one.” And the speaker, not believing himself to be committing a sin, said: “And so, I denounce.” That brother-servant also told the speaker that he should preserve purity and chastity, but if he could not do so, it was better to be done secretly than publicly. The speaker also said that his denunciation did not come from the heart, but from the mouth. Then he said that the next day he revealed this to the bishop of Carpentras, his blood relative, who was present in the said place, and the bishop told him that he had acted wrongly and committed a sin. Then the interrogated confessed on this account to the same bishop and was assigned penances with he completed, according to him.

When asked about the sin of sodomy, he said that he never was a part of it neither performing or enduring, and that he never heard that knights Templar engaged in this sin, apart from those three knights who had been punished by perpetual incarceration in Castle Pilgrim. When asked whether the brothers of the said Order were received into the order in the same manner he was received into it, he replied that he did not know that, because he never initiated anyone himself and did not see anyone being accepted in the Order other than two or three brothers. Regarding them he did not know whether they denounced Christ or not. When he was asked about the names of these brothers he said that one had the name of Peter, but that he did not remember his family name. When he was asked how old he was when he was made brother of the said Order he replied that he was seventeen years of age or thereabouts. When he was asked about the spitting on the cross and about the worshipped head, he said that he knew nothing, adding that he had never heard any mention of that head until he heard the lord Pope Clement speak of it this past year. When he was asked about the practice of kissing, he replied that the aforementioned brother Roncelin kissed him on the mouth when he received him as a brother; he said that he knew nothing about other kisses. When he was asked whether he wanted to maintain what he had said during the confession, whether it was done according to the truth, and whether he had added anything untruthful or withheld anything that is truthful, he replied that he wanted to maintain what he had previously said in his confession, that it was truthful and that he neither added anything that was untruthful nor omitted anything that was truthful. When he was asked whether he had confessed due to a request, reward, gratitude, favor, fear, hatred or persuasion by someone else, or the use of force, or fear of impending torture, he replied that he did not.

Afterwards, this very brother Raymbaud standing on his knees with his hands folded asked for our forgiveness and mercy regarding the abovementioned deeds. And as he pleaded so, brother Raymbaud denounced in our presence the abovementioned heresy, as well as any other heresy. For the second time he took an oath with his hand upon the Holy Gospel of our Lord in that he will obey the teachings of the Church, that he will maintain, uphold and observe the Catholic faith which the Roman Church maintains, upholds and proclaims, as well as teaches and requires of others to observe it, and that he will live and die as a faithful Christian. After this oath, by the authority of lord Pope specifically granted to us for that purpose, we extended to this humbly asking brother Raymbaud, in a form accepted by the Church the mercy of absolution from the verdict of excommunication that had been incurred by the aforementioned deeds, restoring him to unity with the Church and reinstating him for communion of the faithful and sacraments of the Church.

Also, on the same day, brother knight Geoffroy of Charny, preceptor of commanderies of the Templar Order in Normandy, appearing personally in the previously described manner and form, in our presence, and in the presence of notaries, as well as witnesses, modestly swore with his hand on the Gospel of the Lord and was questioned about the manner of his reception into the said Order. He testified that it has well been forty years or thereabouts since he was accepted into the Order of Knights Templar by brother Amaury de la Roche, the preceptor of France in Étamps of the diocese of Sens, in the chapel of the local Templar commandery. Present at the ceremony were brother Jean le Franceys, preceptor of Pédenac, and nine, ten or so brothers of the said Order whom he all believed to be dead now. And then, once he had been accepted in the order and the cloak of the order had been placed on his shoulders, the brother who performed the ceremony took him aside within the same chapel and showed him a crucifix with an effigy of Christ, and told him that he should not believe in the Crucified, but should in fact denounce Him. Then the newly accepted brother at the demand of the said recipient denounced Him verbally, but not in his heart. Also, he said that at the time of his induction, the novice kissed the recipient on the mouth and in his chest through the garment as a sign of reverence.

When asked whether brothers of the Templar Order while being initiated into the order were accepted in the same manner that he was, he said that he did not know. He also said that he himself received one brother into the said Order through the same ceremony through which he himself was accepted. Afterwards he accepted many others without the denunciation described earlier and in good manner. He also said that he confessed about the denunciation of the cross which he had done during the ceremony of induction and about being forced to do so by the brother performing the ceremony, to the Patriarch of Jerusalem of the time, and was absolved by him.

When diligently questioned regarding the spitting on the cross, the practice of kissing, the vice of sodomy and the worshipped head, he replied that he knew nothing of it. Further interrogated, he said that he believed that other brothers had been accepted into the Order in the same manner that he was. He said however that he did not know that for sure since when these things took place the newly received were taken aside so that other brothers who were present in the building would neither see nor hear what went on with them. Asked about the age that he was in when accepted into the said Order, he replied that he was sixteen, seventeen or thereabouts.

When he was asked whether he had said these things due to a request, reward, gratitude, favor, fear, hatred or persuasion by someone else, or the use of force, or fear of impending torture, he replied that he did not. When he was asked whether he wanted to maintain what he had said during the confession, whether it was done according to the truth, and whether he had added anything untruthful or withheld anything that is truthful, he replied that he wanted to maintain what he had previously said in his confession during which he had only said what was true, that what he said was according to the truth and that he neither added anything that was untruthful nor omitted anything that was truthful.

After this, we concluded to extend the mercy of absolution for these acts to brother Geoffroy, who in the form and manner described above had denounced in our presence the described and any other heresy, and swore in person on the Lord’s Holy Gospel, and humbly asked for the mercy of absolution, restoring him to unity with the Church and reinstating him for communion of the faithful and sacraments of the Church.

On the same day, in our presence and the presence of notaries, as well as the witnesses listed below, brother Geoffroy de Gonneville personally appeared and was diligently questioned about the time and circumstances of his reception and about other matters described above. He replied that it has been twenty eight years or thereabouts since he was received as a brother of the Order of the Knights Templar by brother-knight Robert de Torville, preceptor of the commandaries of the Templar order in England , in the city of London , at the chapel of the local commandery. And this receptor, after bestowing the cloak of the Knights Templar upon the this newly received member, showed him the cross depicted in some book and said that he should denounce the one whose image was depicted on that cross. When the newly received did not want to do so, the receptor told him multiple times that he should do so. And since he completely refused to do it, the receptor, seeing his resistance, said to him: “Will you swear to me that if asked by any of the brothers you would say that you had made this denouncement, provided that I allow you not to make it?” And the newly received answered “yes”, and promised that if he was questioned by any of the brother of the said Order he would say that he had performed the said denouncement. And, as he said, he made no denouncement otherwise. He also said that the said receptor told him that she should spit on the described cross. When the newly received did not wish to do so, the receptor placed his own hand over the depiction of the cross and said: “At least spit on my hand!” And since the received feared that the receptor would remove his hand and some of this spit would get on the cross, he did not want to spit on the hand with the cross being near.

When diligently questioned regarding the sin of sodomy, the worshipped head, about the practice of kissing and other things for which the brothers of the said order received a bad reputation, he said that he knew nothing. When asked whether other brothers of the Order were accepted into the Order in the same way as he was, he said that he believed that the same was done to others as it was done to him at the time of his described initiation.

When he was asked whether he had said these things due to a request, reward, gratitude, favor, fear, hatred or persuasion by someone else, or the use of force, or fear of impending torture, he replied that he did not. After this, we concluded to extend the mercy of absolution for these acts to brother Geoffroy de Goneville, who in the form and manner described above had denounced in our presence the described and any other heresy, and swore in person on the Lord’s Holy Gospel, and humbly asked for the mercy of absolution, restoring him to unity with the Church and reinstating him for communion of the faithful and sacraments of the Church.

Then on the nineteenth day of the month, in our presence, and in the presence of notaries and the same witnesses, brother Hugo de Pérraud, preceptor of Templar commanderies in France appeared personally and took an oath on the Holy Gospel of the Lord, placing his hand upon it in the manner described above. This brother Hugo, having sworn as indicated, and being diligently questioned said about the manner of his initiation that he was received in London at local Templar commandary, in its church. It was forty six years ago this past feast of St. Magdalene. He was inducted as a brother of the Order by brother Hubet de Perraud, his own father, a Visitator of the Templar commanderies in France andPoitou , who placed upon his shoulders the cloak of the said Order. This having been done, some brother of the said Order, by the name of John, who afterwards became preceptor of de La Muce, took him to a certain part of that chapel, showed him a cross with an effigy of Christ, and ordered him to denounce the One whose image was depicted there. He refused, as much as he could, according to him. Eventually, however, overcome by fear and menaces of brother John, he denounced the One whose image was depicted there only once. And although brother John multiple times demanded that he spit on that cross, he refused to do so.

When asked whether he had to kiss the receptor, he said that he did, only on the mouth.

When asked about the sin of sodomy, he replied that it was never imposed on him and he never committed it.

When asked whether he accepted others into the Order, he replied that he did many times, and that he accepted more people than any other living member of the Order.

When asked about the ceremony through which he accepted them, he said that after they were received and given the cloaks of the Order, he ordered them to denounce the crucifix and to kiss him at the bottom of the back, in the navel and then on the mouth. He also said that he imposed on them to abstain from partnership with women, and, if they were unable to restrain their lust, to join themselves with brothers of the Order.

He also said under oath that the aforementioned denunciation, which he performed during initiation, as well as other things described that he demanded from those received by him, was done in word only, and not in spirit. When asked why he felt pained and did not perform in spirit the things that he did, he replied that such were the statutes or rather traditions of the Order and that he always hoped that this error would be removed from the said Order.

When asked whether any of the members newly received by him refused to perform the described spitting and other dishonest things listed above, he replied that only few, and eventually all did as ordered. He also said that although he himself instructed brothers of the order whom he initiated to join with other brothers, nevertheless he never did that, nor heard that anyone else commit this sin, except for the two or three brothers in Outremer who were incarcerated for this in Castle Pilgrim.

When asked whether he knew if all brothers of the said Order were initiated in the same manner as he initiated others, he said that he did not know for sure about others, only about himself and those whom he initiated, because brothers are initiated in such secrecy that nothing can be known other than through those who are present. When asked whether he believed that they were all initiated in this manner, he said that he believed that the same ritual is used while initiating others as it was used in his case and as he himself administered when he received others.

When asked about the head of an idol that was reportedly worshiped by the Templars, he said that it was shown to him in Montpellier by brother Peter Alemandin, preceptor of that place, and that this head remained in possession of brother Peter.

When asked how old he was when accepted into the said Order, he replied that he heard his mother say that he was eighteen. He also said that previously he had confessed about these things in the presence of brother Guillaume of Paris, inquisitor of heretical actions, or his deputy. This confession was written down in the hand of the undersigning Amise d’Orleans and some other notaries public. He wishes to maintain that confession, just as it is, as well as maintain in the present confession that which is in concord with the previous one. And if there is anything additional in this confession in front of the Inquisitor or his deputy, as has been said above, he ratifies, approves and confirms it.

When he was asked whether he had confessed to these things due to a request, reward, gratitude, favor, fear, hatred or persuasion by someone else, or the use of force, or fear of impending torture, he replied that he did not. When he was asked whether he, after being apprehended, was submitted to any questioning or torture, he replied that he did not.

After this, we concluded to extend the mercy of absolution for these acts to brother Hugo, who in the form and manner described above had denounced in our presence the described and any other heresy, and swore in person on the Lord’s Holy Gospel, and humbly asked for the mercy of absolution, restoring him to unity with the Church and reinstating him to communion of the faithful and sacraments of the Church.

Then on the twentieth day of the month, in our presence, and in the presence of notaries and the same witnesses, brother-knight Jacques de Molay, grandmaster of  the Order of Knights Templar appeared personally and having sworn in the form and manner indicated above, and having been diligently questioned, said it has been forty-two years or thereabouts since he was received as a brother of the said Order by brother-knight Hubert de Pérraud, at the time Visitator of France and Poitou, in Beune, diocese of Autun, in the chapel of the local Templar commandery of that place.

Concerning the way of his initiation into the Order, he said that having given him the cloak the receptor showed to him <the cross> and told him that he should denounce the God whose image was depicted on that cross, and that he should spit on the cross. Which he did, although he did not spit on the cross, by near it, according to his words. He also said that performed this denunciation in words, not in spirit. Regarding the sin of sodomy, the worshipped head and the practice of illicit kisses, he, diligently questioned, said that he knew nothing of that.

When he was asked whether he had confessed to these things due to a request, reward, gratitude, favor, fear, hatred or persuasion by someone else, or the use of force, or fear of impending torture, he replied that he did not. When he was asked whether he, after being apprehended, was submitted to any questioning or torture, he replied that he did not.

After this, we concluded to extend the mercy of absolution for these acts to brother Jaques de Molay, the grandmaster of the said order, who in the form and manner described above had denounced in our presence the described and any other heresy, and swore in person on the Lord’s Holy Gospel, and humbly asked for the mercy of absolution, restoring him to unity with the Church and reinstating him to communion of the faithful and sacraments of the Church.

On the same twentieth day of the month, in our presence, and in the presence of notaries and the same witnesses, brother Geoffroy de Gonneville freely and willingly ratified, approved and confirmed his signed confession that was read to him in his native tongue, and gave assurances that he intended to stand by and maintain both this confession and the confession he made on a different occasion in front of the Inquisitor or inquisitors regarding the aforementioned heretic transgressions, in as much as it was in concordance with the confession made in front of us, the notaries and the aforementioned witnesses; and that if there is something extra contained in the confession made in front of the Inquisitor and inquisitors, as it was said earlier, he ratifies, approves and confirms that.

On the same twentieth day of the month, in our presence, and in the presence of notaries and the same witnesses, brother-preceptor Hugo de Perraud in a similar way freely and willingly ratified, approved and confirmed his signed confession that was read to him in his native tongue.

We ordered Robert de Condet, cleric of the diocese of Soissons, a notary by apostolic power, who was among us together with notaries and witnesses listed below, to record and make public as evidence these confessions, as well as each and every thing described above that occurred in front of us, the notaries and the witnesses, and also everything done by us, exactly as it is shown above, and to validate it by attaching our seal.

This was done on the year, indiction, month, day, pontificate and the place indicated above, in our presence and the presence of Umberto Vercellani, Nicolo Nicolai de Benvenuto and the aforementioned Robert de Condet, and also master Amise d’Orleans le Ratif, notaries public by the apostolic power, as well as pious and distinguished brother Raymond, abbot of the Benedictine monastery of St. Theofred, Annecy diocese, master Berard de Boiano, archdeacon of Troia, Raoul de Boset, confessor and canon from Paris, and Pierre de Soire, overseer of Saint-Gaugery in Cambresis, who were gathered specifically as witnesses.

And I, Robert de Condet, cleric of the diocese of Soissons, notary by apostolic power, observed with other notaries and witnesses each and every thing described above that occurred in the presence of the aforementioned reverend fathers lords cardinal presbyters, myself and other notaries and witnesses, as well as what was done by their lordships. On the orders from their lordships the cardinal presbyters, I made this record, and put in the official form, and sealed it with my seal, having been asked to do so.

And also I, Umberto Vercellani, cleric of Béziers, notary by apostolic power, observed with other notaries and witnesses each and every thing described above that occurred in the presence of the aforementioned lords cardinal presbyters, as well as what was done by their lordships cardinal presbyters just as it is shown above in fuller detail. On the orders from these cardinal presbyters, for further assurance, I wrote underneath this record and sealed it with my seal.

And also I, Nicolo Nicolai di Benevento, notary by apostolic decree, observed with other aforementioned notaries and witnesses each and every thing described above that occurred in the presence of the aforementioned lords cardinal presbyters, as well as what was done by their lordships just as it is shown above in fuller detail. On the orders from these cardinal presbyters, for further assurance, I wrote underneath this record and sealed it with my seal.

And also I, Arnulphe d’Orléans called le Ratif, notary by the power of the Holy Roman Church, observed with other aforementioned notaries and witnesses confessions, depositions and other each and every thing described above that occurred in the presence of the aforementioned reverend fathers lords cardinal presbyters, as well as what was done by their lordships just as it is shown above in fuller detail. On the orders from these cardinal presbyters, as a testimony of truth, I wrote underneath this record and sealed it with my seal, having been asked to do so.