It is very likely that the Cathars heard about these monks from the mystics that came to them from all over the known world, most likely by way of the highly advanced Sultanate of Granada, the most progressive bastion in Islam, and a relatively short ride away across the Pyrenees. Way before the 10th century the Languedoc was already well known in mystical circles as a welcoming destination. Marco Polo was soon to change all that with his own trip down the old trade routes still in use from the time of the Roman Empire.
It is very possible that Buddhist monks would have come to the Languedoc after visiting Granada, a veritable metropolis compared to what the rest of Europe had to offer. There is a lot of common ground between Gnosticism and Buddhism. It makes sense that once the Cathars realized how close their practice was to Buddhism, that they wanted to explore all of Buddhism, and would have been fascinated to hear about the Shaolin monks.
Knights Templar History
This is most likely where the idea for the Templar Order came from, a concept that was already in gestation when the Cathar knights who founded the Templars arrived in the Holy Land during the First Crusade. Bernard of Clairvoux, wrote the Templar Rules and described their lives as Christian monks; in this respect they were much like their sister order, the Cistercians.
The warrior aspect of the Templars had to come from another source, the Buddhists in China. There is no other precedent, no other possible link. Like the Shaolin, the Templars learned that how one fights is more important than winning. All the accounts I read about the Templars in battle reflected this, and once I understood this basic tenet of their lives I felt I could tell their story. For The Templars Two Kings and a Pope I took cold facts out of the history books and gave them the proper perspective, the way I knew a Templar would think and act.
How did the Knights Templar fight? Actually, scant information is given in the most popular historical accounts. Piers Paul Read, who has sold more books than anyone else skips over the subject. So does Gordon Napier; both of whom have produced otherwise exemplary books. The assumption, implied and stated, is that Knights joined the Templars with whatever skill they brought with them and fought right away and somehow they made up the most formidable fighting force of the time.
This simply does not make sense. In fact, there was no comparison. Most Templar records were destroyed when the Turks invaded Cyprus in , consequently we have no historical account of Templar training. For lack of documentation, I studied other military organizations that showed similar abilities. I went as far back as the Roman gladiators, the samurai, and Chinese and Japanese warrior monks. All of these shared with the Templars not just similar skills but a similar outlook in life, and viewed combat as a spiritual quest yes, including the gladiators! Winning was not as important as how one fought.
Just as the Templars, they all went into battle expecting to die, believing that an honorable death was a goal they all should aspire to. Honor was paramount, so was loyalty and obedience. This was the case both for the often-fanatical rank-and file Templars, and for the inner core, the mystical Brotherhood. The training of those other warriors had surprising similarities and I figured that Templar training must have followed along similar lines. In the novel I describe how Templars were taught to fight blind by wearing a helmet with no eye slots. It was important for me to figure out every detail of Templar life, to produce an accurate description of who they were.
Weapons have a lot to do with battle tactics. The type of weapons the Templars used impacted how they would have trained and fought. All Templars used lance, sword, dagger, shield, and a suit of chain mail called a hauberk, that had plates of steel attached in mostly chest, back, shoulders and knees.
History of the Knights Templar - Wikipedia
Up to then suits of armor were too heavy for battle and were used exclusively for jousting. Templars did not use bow and arrows or crossbows; these were deemed cowardly, and were used by mercenaries they hired. In the Holy Land these were Syrian Turcopoles. New recruits had to forgo the use of favorite weapons, such as the calltrop, a multi-pointed missile thrown at small range, the mace, battle-ax, talchion or broadsword, and the flail, a baton with a chain and ball at one end.
Out in the world each feudal principality, be it a kingdom, earldom, county, or a duchy, had its own training practice depending with the castellan, seneschal, or marshall in charge of military training, but mostly dependent on the style of the knight doing the training.
by Charles G. Addison
In feudal Europe, to become a knight one apprenticed for years under a knight. Also, Europe had no standing army; knights served an apprenticeship with one lord, say a count, then serve with the overlord a duke, earl, or king for a time if the need arose. This all made for a variance of training, skill levels, tactics, and weapons used; and this is the diversity that Templar sergeants had to deal with, to mold one cohesive, well disciplined fighting body that would act in unison. A knight would come into the Templar Order as a squire-in-training, regardless whether he had already been dubbed a knight elsewhere.
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If he made the grade, he would be knighted within a year or two, depending on abilities. The training was very rigorous, judging by the discipline and skill shown in battle. This disparity of skill level was probably one of the reasons why Templars were forbidden from entering tournaments. A Knight Templar was the equivalent of a modern-day tank, and this is how he was used tactically. He charged into battle surrounded on either side by his sergeant and squire, who in turn were flanked by two mercenary bowmen. The knight broke the enemy ranks with his charge, and his men protected his flanks.
A typical formation consisted of thirty "lances" that is, each individual knight and his team. This was a squadron. Two squadrons made up a battle group, what later became known as a battalion. Shortly thereafter all the kings of Europe followed suit. How this came about is a long and convoluted story, purposely misconstrued, lied about, and obscured by the powers that be, but without doubt, a product of the most powerful king of its time, Philip IV of France.
Historians would say either it was greed that drove him, the quest for all the money and goods the Templars had accumulated in the previous two centuries; or a product of his fanatical catholic beliefs, his conviction that the Templars had become heretical, given to lascivious and dissolute practices involving homosexual sex, partying, and a luxurious life style. To accomplish this, Philip, his father and grandfather, had devised a plan that involved the destruction of the Templars and the conquest of England as the first two steps.
A preparatory step involved the placing on the papal throne a compliant French bishop they could control. This plan, and how the Brotherhood effectively thwarted it, is the centerpiece of my novel, The Templars, Two Kings and a Pope. In doing this, the Brotherhood consented to the apparent destruction of the Templars as part of a convoluted secret war they conducted against the French king.
A telling fact is that out of the 15, Templars of that time in Europe only 5, were captured or accounted for by the authorities. The rest simply disappeared. The most salient charges, against the Templars, what actually was used to convict them, were accusations of venerating a black cat, Bahomet, of homosexual practices, and of spitting on a cross and denying Christ. Like any other trumped up charges, if the prosecution finds any glimmer of truth in one, the rest, the most egregious, will be believed by association.
This is a ploy lawyers have been using since the time of Cicero. The Templars were guilty of prompting recruits of denying Christ and spitting on the Cross, but, as I describe in the novel, this was a test, one of several, to see if they would stand by their convictions. These types of tests were, and still are, common in military and para-military organizations where character traits are paramount.
Those who failed, spat on the Cross and denied Christ, were not made Knights Templar. These are the ones who came forth to testify during the Templar trials, the ones who never made it through Templar training and were still resentful. As for the two other accusations, they were simply ridiculous. Any Templar who engaged in any sexual activity was summarily imprisoned, and very likely thrown out of the Order. As for venerating Bahomet the black kitty, and the charge that this represented a conversion to Islam Muslims do not revere any objects or images; in fact this is a central tenet of their faith.
So how did the Templars decide to go along with a plan that called for the sacrifice of some of their brothers to be falsely accused, tortured, and burned at the stake? It was part of their culture, death and sacrifice for their brothers and Christ was what they had practiced for two hundred years. The trials of the Templars went on for over a decade. The only kingdom that refused to arrest and prosecute them was rebel-held Scotland, although their assets were supposedly passed on to other orders.
But in fact, Templars in that kingdom continued to live almost as normally as they had before. Small wonder, given that they were hard at work on behalf of rebel leader Robert de Bruce. For years before the arrest of the Templars, The Scot Robert de Bruce and his troops could make no headway against the superior English army, which held key castles. But inexplicably, in the fall of they started winning while eyewitnesses reported seeing Templars fighting with the rebels. At the same time, forest cantons in the Alps had declared their independence from Austria.
The mostly peasant infantry fought with great discipline, using long pikes against the cavalry with devastating results. Right about the time that the Templars were arrested and their financial practices shut down, Switzerland became a nation and took over the practice almost seamlessly. For years, Otto and the Brotherhood stood by as Edward I shamelessly tried to take over Scotland, betraying the trust placed on him by Scottish nobles to safeguard their kingdom and oversee the ascendancy of a rightful heir to their throne.
It started out with the suspicious deaths of all the Scottish royal family. The French king had plans to invade England, and wanted Edward weak and distracted. This is where the Brotherhood stepped in, by engineering a trap for the French king in Flanders. In a well-laid trap, they lured the French army into a craggy field ill suited for a cavalry charge. In Flanders, the rebel war lasted for a long time, always a drain on the French. Eventually they succeeded and became a nation, Belgium. The Brotherhood was well aware that the French plan to take over the Holy Roman Empire had a long precedent, and would continue on by French monarchs unless they stopped it once and for all.
They managed to stop Philip, and they succeeded in starting a new nation, Switzerland, secured the independence of Scotland, and continued with their harassment of the French in Flanders. Switzerland was the first democracy in Europe in 2, years. He proved to be motivated, determined and ruthless. They were brutally tortured and forced to confess to outrageously trumped-up charges including homosexuality, devil worship, heresy, financial corruption, fraud, spitting on the cross, idolatry, obscene kissing and the denial of Christ.
Punishments for the guilty ranged from excommunication and perpetual imprisonment to burning at the stake. The Templars were no more. Their legacy, however, endures in a number of ways. They are present in our architecture in the form of stunning buildings such as Temple Church in London, Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland and much of Acre in Israel.
They are present in our modern geo-political reality, as a crucial force that helped to shape the cultural friction that is often still seen today. And most pervasively, they are present in our myths, stories and legends. Dozens of modern-day pseudo-religious organisations claim heritage from the Templars as a way to enhance the mystique of their own image. They are the supposed forerunners of the Freemasons and the Illuminati. They are supposed to have discovered America in the late 14th century, years before Columbus.
He is thus doubly armed and need fear neither demons or men. Trip Historic is a community-based historic destinations site run by history enthusiasts who are passionate about the web. The Knights Templar - The Origins: A fascinating code of conduct known as the Templar Rule was written and in , Pope Innocent II issued a Papal Bull — Omne Datum Optimum — which gave the order unprecedented and extraordinary protections including not having to pay tithes or taxes and the retention of all spoils from Muslim conquests: Milwaukee Blacksmith In the town of Milwaukee, Kent Knapp and his three sons make their living in the 5,year-old craft of blacksmithing.
There's nothing left can't forge. The Templars took advantage of this low state of readiness to launch a surprise ambush directly against Saladin and his bodyguard, at Montgisard near Ramla.
Saladin's army was spread too thin to adequately defend themselves, and he and his forces were forced to fight a losing battle as they retreated back to the south, ending up with only a tenth of their original number. The battle was not the final one with Saladin, but it bought a year of peace for the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and the victory became a heroic legend. Another key tactic of the Templars was that of the "squadron charge". A small group of knights and their heavily armed warhorses would gather into a tight unit which would gallop full speed at the enemy lines, with a determination and force of will that made it clear that they would rather commit suicide than fall back.
This terrifying onslaught would frequently have the desired result of breaking a hole in the enemy lines, thereby giving the other Crusader forces an advantage. The Templars, though relatively small in number, routinely joined other armies in key battles. They would be the force that would ram through the enemy's front lines at the beginning of a battle, or the fighters that would protect the army from the rear.
Though initially an Order of poor monks, the official papal sanction made the Knights Templar a charity across Europe. Further resources came in when members joined the Order, as they had to take oaths of poverty , and therefore often donated large amounts of their original cash or property to the Order. Additional revenue came from business dealings. Since the monks themselves were sworn to poverty, but had the strength of a large and trusted international infrastructure behind them, nobles would occasionally use them as a kind of bank or power of attorney.
If a noble wished to join the Crusades, this might entail an absence of years from their home. So some nobles would place all of their wealth and businesses under the control of Templars, to safeguard it for them until their return. The Order's financial power became substantial, and the majority of the Order's infrastructure was devoted not to combat, but to economic pursuits. By , the Order's original mission of guarding pilgrims had changed into a mission of guarding their valuables through an innovative way of issuing letters of credit, an early precursor of modern banking. Pilgrims would visit a Templar house in their home country, depositing their deeds and valuables.
The Templars would then give them a letter which would describe their holdings. Modern scholars have stated that the letters were encrypted with a cipher alphabet based on a Maltese Cross ; however there is some disagreement on this, and it is possible that the code system was introduced later, and not something used by the medieval Templars themselves.
This kept the pilgrims safe since they were not carrying valuables, and further increased the power of the Templars. The Knights' involvement in banking grew over time into a new basis for money , as Templars became increasingly involved in banking activities. One indication of their powerful political connections is that the Templars' involvement in usury did not lead to more controversy within the Order and the church at large.
Officially the idea of lending money in return for interest was forbidden by the church, but the Order sidestepped this with clever loopholes, such as a stipulation that the Templars retained the rights to the production of mortgaged property. Or as one Templar researcher put it, "Since they weren't allowed to charge interest, they charged rent instead.
Their holdings were necessary to support their campaigns; in , a Burgundian noble required 3 square kilometres of estate to support himself as a knight, and by this had risen to The Order potentially supported up to 4, horses and pack animals at any given time, if provisions of the rule were followed; these horses had extremely high maintenance costs due to the heat in Outremer Crusader states at the Eastern Mediterranean , and had high mortality rates due to both disease and the Turkish bowmen strategy of aiming at a knight's horse rather than the knight himself.
In addition, the high mortality rates of the knights in the East regularly ninety percent in battle, not including wounded resulted in extremely high campaign costs due to the need to recruit and train more knights. In , at the battle of La Forbie, where only thirty-three of knights survived, it is estimated the financial loss was equivalent to one-ninth of the entire Capetian yearly revenue.
The Templars' political connections and awareness of the essentially urban and commercial nature of the Outremer communities led the Order to a position of significant power , both in Europe and the Holy Land. Their success attracted the concern of many other orders, with the two most powerful rivals being the Knights Hospitaller and the Teutonic Knights. Various nobles also had concerns about the Templars as well, both for financial reasons, and nervousness about an independent army that was able to move freely through all borders. The long-famed military acumen of the Templars began to stumble in the s.
On July 4, , came the disastrous Battle of the Horns of Hattin , a turning point in the Crusades. It again involved Saladin, who had been beaten back by the Templars in in the legendary Battle of Montgisard near Tiberias , but this time Saladin was better prepared. Further, the Grand Master of the Templars was involved in this battle, Gerard de Ridefort , who had just achieved that lifetime position a few years earlier.
He was not known as a good military strategist, and made some deadly errors, such as venturing out with his force of 80 knights without adequate supplies or water, across the arid hill country of Galilee. The Templars were overcome by the heat within a day, and then surrounded and massacred by Saladin's army. Within months Saladin captured Jerusalem.
But in the early s, in a remarkably short and powerfully effective campaign, Richard the Lionheart, King of England and leader of the Third Crusade, together with his allies the Templars, delivered a series of powerful blows against Saladin and recovered much of Christian territory. In name and number the revived Crusader states were as before, but their outlines were diminished. There was the Kingdom of Jerusalem, though its capital was at Acre, which the Templars made their new headquarters.
To the north was the County of Tripoli. But the Muslims retained control of the Syrian coast around Latakia for some time, and so the Principality of Antioch further to the north was now no longer contiguous to the other Crusader states. Nevertheless, the Third Crusade, in which Richard relied heavily on the Templars, had saved the Holy Land for the Christians and went a long way towards restoring Frankish fortunes. In this he was abetted by the military orders, whose great castles stood like islands of Frankish power amid the Muslim torrent.
More than ever the Crusader states were relying on the military orders in their castles and on the field of battle, and the power of the orders grew. In fact at no point in their history would the Templars be more powerful than in the century to come.
Who Were the Knights Templar?
But after the Siege of Acre in , the Templars were forced to relocate their headquarters to the island of Cyprus. Jacques de Molay , who was to be the last of the Order's Grand Masters, took office around One of his first tasks was to tour across Europe, to raise support for the Order and try to organise another Crusade. Charles II of Naples and Edward I also pledged varying types of support, either continuing to exempt the Templars from taxes, or pledging future support towards building a new army. In or , the military orders the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller and their leaders, including Jacques de Molay , Otton de Grandson and the Great Master of the Hospitallers, briefly campaigned in Armenia, in order to fight off an invasion by the Mamluks.
They were not successful and soon the fortress of Roche-Guillaume in the Belen Pass , the last Templar stronghold in Antioch, was lost to the Muslims. In , the Templars, along with the Knights Hospitaller and forces from Cyprus attempted to retake the coastal city of Tortosa. They were able to take the island of Arwad , near Tortosa, but lost it soon after. With the loss of Arwad, the Crusaders had lost their last foothold in the Holy Land.
Though they still had a base of operations in Cyprus, and controlled considerable financial resources, the Order of the Templars became an Order without a clear purpose or support, but which still had enormous financial power. This unstable situation contributed to their downfall. King Philip had other reasons to mistrust the Templars, as the organization had declared its desire to form its own state, similar to how the Teutonic Knights had founded Prussia. The Templars' preferred location for this was in the Languedoc of southeastern France, [ citation needed ] but they had also made a plan for the island of Cyprus.
In , the Templars had supported a coup on that island, which had forced King Henry II of Cyprus to abdicate his throne in favor of his brother, Amalric of Tyre. This probably made Philip particularly uneasy, since just a few years earlier he had inherited land in the region of Champagne, France , which was the Templars' headquarters.
The Templars were already a "state within a state", were institutionally wealthy, paid no taxes, and had a large standing army which by papal decree could move freely through all European borders. However, this army no longer had a presence in the Holy Land, leaving it with no battlefield. These factors, plus the fact that Philip had inherited an impoverished kingdom from his father and was already deeply in debt to the Templars, were probably what led to his actions. It seems that, with the "discovery" and repression of the "Templars' heresy," the Capetian monarchy claimed for itself the mystic foundations of the papal theocracy.