To understand anti-Masonic claims surrounding the Knights Templar, one must first understand that there are two separate matters in discussion:
The Templars - A VERY Brief Synopsis
The theory that Freemasonry originated in the Holy Land during the crusades and was instituted by the Knights Templar was initially advanced by one person!
Chevalier Ramsey was an extraordinary figure of his day. Born about 1680, he had a great literary reputation, was a tutor to royalty and ostensibly a Freemason although the details of his membership are somewhat obscure. In 1737, Ramsay, identified as 'Grand Orator' (although there was no such position in that Grand Lodge at that time), delivered a discourse before the Grand Lodge of France in which he set forth his theory of a connection from the Knights Templars of the past to the then-present Freemasonry in explicit terms. Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia says this:
Other writers, both Masons and non, have continued to attempt to make the same connection through this very day. It is one, however, with no provable basis, save conjecture." (Masonicinfo Note: A popular book is one by John J. Robinson "Born in Blood" on this very topic. Robinson was not a Freemason when he wrote but later became one based on what he had found after examining the claims of anti-Masons! You can find more information about this in our 'Books' area. It's a good read although certainly not definitive!)
Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia also adds, "This theory of Templar origin which, mythical as it is and wholly unsubstantiated by the authority of history, has exercised a vast influence in the fabrication of advanced Degrees and the invention of Continental Rites."
It should be understood that in the 17th through 19th centuries, proof of antiquity generated credibility. In this climate, it was only natural that Freemasonry - like many, many other organizations of its time - sought to 'create' such links, tenacious as they were. (A common claim of the day was that an organization could be linked to early Egypt, for example, and some went so far as to claim descent from the Garden of Eden!)
It was the mindset of the time. The further back a linkage was established (even if unsubstantiated by actual fact), the better. For this reason, all organizations created at that time claimed connections to Biblical days (or earlier!!!) so as to provide credibility for themselves and their members. This simple fact is often overlooked as anti-Masons today ignore the reality (as well as the term 'allegory') and use the convenient to condemn Freemasonry by saying that it claims direct ties to the building of King Solomon's Temple. The claims of antiquity were quite common at the time Freemasonry began - and, in fact, the earliest 'exposures' of Freemasonry and many other organizations sought to discredit such claims as a way of undermining the group itself.
In our current politically-correct climate, the Knights Templar - both of old and new stripe - are sometimes demonized by anti-Masons for several things including (but not limited to):
The true nature of the ancient Knights Templar may never be fully understood and the connection to Freemasonry will likely always remain unsubstantiated. Because of Chevalier Ramsay, however, it is now a part of Masonic heritage.
And further, in 2001 Templar historian and Vatican researcher was studying a document at the Vatican Secret Archives when she realized that she'd uncovered the long-rumored transcript that Pope Clement V had actually absolved the order of all charges of heresy. Her book is well worth reading.
For more resources:
We've also got reviews of several books related to the Knights Templar in our Book Review section. Two in particular are worthy of note:
If you're really fascinated by the Templars 'stuff', you really should check out Steven Dafoe's Templar History web site.
From time to time, we've received inquiries asking if we could suggest some purely fiction writing (beach stuff!) about the Templars. If you've got a Kindle or an iPhone (or you use the Amazon PC Reader - or Mac, or Blackberry, or whatever - which is really great!), you might want to try The Red Cross Of Gold I:. The Knight Of Death: A Templar Novel (Volume 1) which, at a couple of bucks isn't going to break the bank. Fair warning: you're liable to be hooked and will wind up buying the other dozen in the series. No, I'm not kidding! At the prices for these Kindle books, they're darn reasonable. Some parts I'd give an "R" rating so do be prepared for that. The first books in the series are also available in paperback and if you like one, you'll probably want all twenty-eight!!!!
A book that's received a lot of excellent reviews is Cabal of The Westford Knight: Templars at the Newport Tower. It's certainly one that you'll not want to put down and likely you'll find it quite intriguing - and at points, even plausible.
You may have seen a made-for-television movie based on the book The Last Templar and thought that it was pretty weak. In truth, the book is better but not by a heck of a lot. We've added it here just so you won't wonder - and we'd suggest that grabbing a used copy for a penny (plus $3.99 shipping) might be a better choice than buying new.
This should get you started at least.... Enjoy!
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