THE AUTONOMOUS GRAND PRIORY OF SCOTLAND
SCOTTISH KNIGHTS TEMPLAR
At its outset, the Order was a community of nine
French noblemen founded 1103 after preparations lasting since 1098. It
has been officially registered in 1118.
On Christmas Day, Hughes de Payen and eight other Knights together with Godfrey de St-Omer, Archambaud de Saint-Aignan, Payen de Montbidier and a Knight called Rossal or Roland swore an oath to live in poverty, purity and obedience in front of the Patriarch on the Holy Grave. They accepted the name “Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ.” King Baldwin II offered them a residence in Jerusalem in the so-called Solomon’s Stables of the Al-Aqsa mosque which reportedly stood on the site of the Solomon’s Temple. Therefore the Order became known as “Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon”.
Pope Honorius II granted Knights Templar white Cistercian mantle. At first, the Order joined Rule of St. Augustine. Abbot of Cistercian monastery in Clairvaux, St. Bernard, contributed significantly in the Order’s expansion and acceptance of the Rule at Troyen Council in 1129. He supported the Order and was author of the first Rule of the Order that started to manage the actions of the Order. He appointed 72 articles where he defined obligations and prohibitions concerning monks of that Order. Among basics belonged for example prohibition of meeting people who had been excommunicated from the Church, Obligation to wear the white mantle (demonstrating purity) and plain unadorned clothing, obligation to share one bowl together with another Brother of the Order, to eat in silence, to repent every Friday, to wake up with dawn, the prohibition of hunting (except for lions that often threatened pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem), to respect the hierarchy of the Order, to keep decency promise, prohibition of socializing with women and looking them in the face (this prohibition also implied on relatives- mothers and sisters), to avoid jugglers, actors and singers, the obligation to wear a short haircut, prohibition to wear soft shoes with a bent tip, the obligation to sleep in ones shirt and underwear and many others. At this time, there were three hundred Knights in the Order who had commanded approximately three thousand men. In 1129, Hughes de Payen met King David I in Scotland and was given land of Balantrodach. Then, the history of Templar Order in Scotland started to evolve.
Pope Eugene III granted the Order scarlet cross as their emblem. Knights Templar had been using several Order’s symbols, nevertheless the eight-pointed cross was older than the cross with blunt arms and had been used before the
Knights of the Order were excellent warriors. They tactically attacked as a closed group with the aim to divide enemy force into two groups and by this to bring confusion into its ranks.
Items that were found by the members of the Order under the original Solomon’s Temple ensured that the Order became a significant economical, political and military power that was not subjected virtually anyone and served only to the Pope. Knights built numerous and strong supra-national army. The Order owned Castles and lands throughout all Europe and Middle East. The Order also acted as an important international element of banking and had been making a great fortune on the Crusades and trading with the Holy Land, the money, however, were not owned by individuals but belonged to the Order. The knights had still been living their lives in a Christian spirit of purity and strength.
The Order built a Templar residence in Paris on the land donated by Louis VII in 1212. At this time, the original purpose of the order, i.e. protection of pilgrims, completely disappeared. The Order was devoted mainly to their economic activities. Temple in Paris was used as a great treasury and bank, large part of the royal treasure had been saved there in a tower built specially to this purpose. Also it served as a refuge for the persecuted; Philippe IV le Bel has used it himself during the riots in 1306.
Power and Wealth of the order provoked secular rulers. French King Philippe IV le Bel spoke against the Order in 1307 for the Templar Knights refused to contribute to his war costs. There were more than enough impulses to trumping up charges and intercession against this mighty power. The Order was rich and independent; it did not subject to any secular power or bishops and served only to the interests of Pope. Because it was lucrative to take over its properties, Philippe IV le Bel has decided to take advantage of the declining popularity of the Knights and to carry out the plan suggested by his counsellor Guillaume de Nogaret that lay in the gradual discrediting of the Order.
As the Order was closed to the outside world, it was natural that many secrets and speculations surrounded it. The King used them to charges that had been pressed unjustly. Templar Knights were for instance accused of heresy, disrespect for the Eucharist and sodomy. French king was trying to persuade the Pope to excommunicate Templar Order, but they refused despite considerable pressure, Boniface VIII as well as his successor Benedict XI. It was the following Pope Clement V who agreed on Philippe’s requirements against Templar Knights (alongside many other claims against the Church). It was this Pope who later on moved the papal site to Avignon (which wasn’t a part of France in that time; nevertheless Petrarch described the situation as “Babylonian captivity”).
Some of the Knights learned about the prepared attack against the Order and managed to escape arresting. Ships of the Order’s fleet sailed off and after the attack against the Order moved to Portuguese docks. Order’s treasure that had been quickly loaded and moved floated away with the flotilla. Large-scale arrests of the Templar was initiated in France in October 13, 1307 (“unlucky Friday, the 13th.") The Knights did not fight back with few exceptions and therefore 5000 Knights including the Grand Master Jacques de Molay were arrested. Other European rulers were ordered to arrest the Templar by the Pope as well, but the instruction only met with little response.
Pope Clement ordered examination of the charges pressed against the templar based on Bulla “Pastoralis Praeemenintia” on November 11, and ordered the templar in all countries to be arrested. His warrant has been sent to England, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Netherland, but not to the excommunicated King Robert the Bruce and therefore some of the Templar escaping from France found refuge in Scotland.
Arrested Templar Knights spent nearly year in prison, which lead many to confessing their guilt, others were broken by torture. Character of Jacques de Molay is interesting by his repeatedly changed confession and by his final refusal to defend the Order. The Process itself lasted for seven years during this time many Templar withdrew their initial confessions which however meant a death penalty for them. First 54 Brothers of the Order were burned in Paris May 11, 1310.
The Order of German Knights form the Eastern Mediterranean – Ordo Militaris Teutonicus Levantis (OMTL) has been founded by synthesis of a part of German Knights, Knights of St. John and Templar in 1311. The Templar Knights comprised approximately 70% of new Knights of this Order.
Most of the remaining Knights had been released after the official abolition of the Templar Order by Papal Bull Vox in Excelso in 1312; the only ones still imprisoned were the grand master and three other representatives of the Order. All the Order’s properties had been transferred to the Order of St. John of Jerusalem (Maltese Order of St. John) based on the Papal Bull “Ad Providam” the same year except for Spain, Portuguese and Scotland where the Templar Order continued together with the Order of St. John as the Order of St. John and the Temple.
1314-03-18 - burning of the Grand master of the Order
Brothers who sailed off with the flotilla took
shelter at the King of Scotland and were fighting in his
army under their Order’s flags. Consequently, leading representatives of the Order were sentenced to life imprisonment in March 18, 1314. After that, however, the Grand Master Jacques de Molay and Preceptor of Normandy Geoffroy de Charney denied all the accusations again and were publicly burned to death at King’s order at an island on the River Seine called Île de la Cité the same evening. Sources say that the Knights Templar had still been fighting alongside Robert Bruce in a battle of Bannockburn in June 24, 1314.
After the Church officially stood back from the Templar Order by the Bulla Wox in Excelso in 1312, all the estates of the Order were illegally given to the Order of St. John of Jerusalem (Maltese Order of St. John) based on the papal Bulla “Ad Providam” except for in Spain, Portuguese and Cyprus where Templar branches were turned into new Orders named: Ordo Militaris Teutonicus Levantis (Cyprus 1311), Ordo de Montesa (Spain 1317) and The Military Order of Christ (Portuguese 1317).
… continue here to the history of the Scottish Knights Templar Part 2
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