Templarios -



In the year 1118--nineteen years after the first crusade had ended with
the defeat of the Moslems,
the capture of Antioch and Jerusalem, and the
instalment of Godefroi de Bouillon as king of the latter city--a band of
nine French _gentilshommes_, led by Hugues de Payens and Godefroi de
Saint-Omer, formed themselves into an Order for the protection of
pilgrims to the Holy Sepulchre. Baldwin II, who at this moment succeeded
to the throne of Jerusalem, presented them with a house near the site of
the Temple of Solomon--hence the name of Knights Templar under which
they were to become famous. In 1128 the Order was sanctioned by the
Council of Troyes and by the Pope, and a rule was drawn up by St.
Bernard under which the Knights Templar were bound by the vows of
poverty, chastity, and obedience.

But although the Templars distinguished themselves by many deeds of
valour, the regulation that they were to live solely on alms led to
donations so enormous that, abandoning their vow of poverty, they spread
themselves over Europe, and by the end of the twelfth century had become
a rich and powerful body. The motto that the Order had inscribed upon
its banner, "_Non nobis, Domine, sed nomini tuo da gloriam_," was
likewise forgotten, for, their faith waxing cold, they gave themselves
up to pride and ostentation. Thus, as an eighteenth-century masonic
writer has expressed it:

The war, which for the greater number of warriors of good faith
proved the source of weariness, of losses and misfortunes, became
for them (the Templars) only the opportunity for booty and
aggrandizement, and if they distinguished themselves by a few
brilliant actions, their motive soon ceased to be a matter of doubt
when they were seen to enrich themselves even with the spoils of
the confederates, to increase their credit by the extent of the new
possessions they had acquired, to carry arrogance to the point of
rivalling crowned princes in pomp and grandeur, to refuse their aid
against the enemies of the faith, as the history of Saladin
testifies, and finally to ally themselves with that horrible and
sanguinary prince named the Old Man of the Mountain, Prince of the

The truth of the last accusation is, however, open to question. For a
time, at any rate, the Templars had been at war with the Assassins. When
in 1152 the Assassins murdered Raymond, Comte de Tripoli, the Templars
entered their territory and forced them to sign a treaty by which they
were to pay a yearly tribute of 12,000 gold pieces in expiation of the
crime. Some years later the Old Man of the Mountain sent an ambassador
to Amaury, King of Jerusalem, to tell him privately that if the Templars
would forgo the payment of this tribute he and his followers would
embrace the Christian faith. Amaury accepted, offering at the same time
to compensate the Templars, but some of the Knights assassinated the
ambassador before he could return to his master. When asked for
reparations the Grand Master threw the blame on an evil one-eyed Knight
named Gautier de Maisnil.[138]

It is evident, therefore, that the relations between the Templars and
the Assassins were at first far from amicable; nevertheless, it appears
probable that later on an understanding was brought about between them.
Both on this charge and on that of treachery towards the Christian
armies, Dr. Bussell's impartial view of the question may be quoted:

When in 1149 the Emperor Conrad III failed before Damascus, the
Templars were believed to have a secret understanding with the
garrison of that city; ... in 1154 they were said to have sold, for
60,000 gold pieces, a prince of Egypt who had wished to become a
Christian; he was taken home to suffer certain death at the hands
of his fanatical family. In 1166 Amaury, King of Jerusalem, hanged
twelve members of the Order for betraying a fortress to Nureddin.

And Dr. Bussell goes on to say that it cannot be disputed that they had
"long and important dealings" with the Assassins "and were therefore
suspected (not unfairly) of imbibing their precepts and following their

By the end of the thirteenth century the Templars had become suspect,
not only in the eyes of the clergy, but of the general public. "Amongst
the common people," one of their latest apologists admits, "vague
rumours circulated. They talked of the covetousness and want of scruple
of the Knights, of their passion for aggrandizement and their rapacity.
Their haughty insolence was proverbial. Drinking habits were attributed
to them; the saying was already in use 'to drink like a Templar.' The
old German word _Tempelhaus_ indicated a house of ill-fame."[140]

The same rumours had reached Clement V even before his accession to the
papal throne in 1305,[141] and in this same year he summoned the Grand
Master of the Order, Jacques du Molay, to return to France from the
island of Cyprus, where he was assembling fresh forces to avenge the
recent reverses of the Christian armies.

Du Molay arrived in France with sixty other Knights Templar and 150,000
gold florins, as well as a large quantity of silver that the Order had
amassed in the East.[142]

The Pope now set himself to make enquiries concerning the charges of
"unspeakable apostasy against God, detestable idolatry, execrable vice,
and many heresies" that had been "secretly intimated" to him. But, to
quote his own words:

Because it did not seem likely nor credible that men of such
religion who were believed often to shed their blood and frequently
expose their persons to the peril of death for Christ's name, and
who showed such great and many signs of devotion both in divine
offices as well as in fasts, as in other devotional observances,
should be so forgetful of their salvation as to do these things, we
were unwilling ... to give ear to this kind of insinuation ...
(_hujusmodi insinuacioni ac delacioni ipsorum ... aurem noluimus

The King of France, Philippe le Bel, who had hitherto been the friend of
the Templars, now became alarmed and urged the Pope to take action
against them; but before the Pope was able to find out more about the
matter, the King took the law into his own hands and had all the
Templars in France arrested on October 13, 1307. The following charges
were then brought against them by the Inquisitor for France before whom
they were examined:

1. The ceremony of initiation into their Order was accompanied by
insults to the Cross, the denial of Christ, and gross obscenities.

2. The adoration of an idol which was said to be the image of the
true God.

3. The omission of the words of consecration at Mass.

4. The right that the lay chiefs arrogated to themselves of giving

5. The authorization of unnatural vice.

To all these infamies a great number of the Knights, including Jacques
du Molay, confessed in almost precisely the same terms; at their
admission into the Order, they said, they had been shown the cross on
which was the figure of Christ, and had been asked whether they believed
in Him; when they answered yes, they were told in some cases that this
was wrong (_dixit sibi quod male credebat_),[144] because He was not
God, He was a false prophet (_quia falsus propheta erat, nec erat
Deus_).[145] Some added that they were then shown an idol or a bearded
head which they were told to worship[146]; one added that this was of
such "a terrible aspect that it seemed to him to be the face of some
devil, called in French _un maufé_, and that whenever he saw it he was
so overcome with fear that he could hardly look at it without fear and
trembling."[147] All who confessed declared that they had been ordered
to spit on the crucifix, and very many that they had received the
injunction to commit obscenities and to practise unnatural vice. Some
said that on their refusal to carry out these orders they had been
threatened with imprisonment, even perpetual imprisonment; a few said
they had actually been incarcerated[148]; one declared that he had been
terrorized, seized by the throat, and threatened with death.[149]

Since, however, a number of these confessions were made under torture,
it is more important to consider the evidence provided by the trial of
the Knights at the hands of the Pope, where this method was not

Now, at the time the Templars were arrested, Clement V., deeply
resenting the King's interference with an Order which existed entirely
under papal jurisdiction, wrote in the strongest terms of remonstrance
to Philippe le Bel urging their release, and even after their trial,
neither the confessions of the Knights nor the angry expostulations of
the King could persuade him to believe in their guilt.[150] But as the
scandal concerning the Templars was increasing, he consented to receive
in private audience "a certain Knight of the Order, of great nobility
and held by the said Order in no slight esteem," who testified to the
abominations that took place on the reception of the Brethren, the
spitting on the cross, and other things which were not lawful nor,
humanly speaking, decent.[151]

The Pope then decided to hold an examination of seventy-two French
Knights at Poictiers in order to discover whether the confessions made
by them before the Inquisitor at Paris could be substantiated, and at
this examination, conducted without torture or pressure of any kind in
the presence of the Pope himself, the witnesses declared on oath that
they would tell "the full and pure truth." They then made confessions
which were committed to writing in their presence, and these being
afterwards read aloud to them, they expressly and willingly approved
them (_perseverantes in illis eas expresse et sponte, prout recitate
fuerunt approbarunt_).[152]

Besides this, an examination of the Grand Master, Jacques du Molay, and
the Preceptors of the Order was held in the presence of "three Cardinals
and four public notaries and many other good men." These witnesses, says
the official report, "having sworn with their hands on the Gospel of
God" (_ad sancta dei evangelia ab iis corporaliter tacta_) that--

they would on all the aforesaid things speak the pure and full
truth, they, separately, freely, and spontaneously, without any
coercion and fear, deposed and confessed among other things, the
denial of Christ and spitting upon the cross when they were
received into the Order of the Temple. And some of them (deposed
and confessed) that under the same form, namely, with denial of
Christ and spitting on the cross, they had received many Brothers
into the Order. Some of them too confessed certain other horrible
and disgusting things on which we are silent.... Besides this, they
said and confessed that those things which are contained in the
confessions and depositions of heretical depravity which they made
lately before the Inquisitor (of Paris) were true.

Their confessions, being again committed to writing, were approved by
the witnesses, who then with bended knees and many tears asked for and
obtained absolution.[153]

The Pope, however, still refused to take action against the whole Order
merely because the Master and Brethren around him had "gravely sinned,"
and it was decided to hold a papal commission in Paris. The first
sitting took place in November 1309, when the Grand Master and 231
Knights were summoned before the pontifical commissioners. "This
enquiry," says Michelet, "was conducted slowly, with much consideration
and gentleness (_avec beaucoup de ménagement et de douceur_) by high
ecclesiastical dignitaries, an archbishop, several bishops, etc."[154]
But although a number of the Knights, including the Grand Master, now
retracted their admissions, some damning confessions were again

It is impossible within the scope of this book to follow the many trials
of the Templars that took place in different countries--in Italy, at
Ravenna, Pisa, Bologna, and Florence, where torture was not employed and
blasphemies were admitted,[155] or in Germany, where torture was
employed but no confessions were made and a verdict was given in favour
of the Order. A few details concerning the trial in England may,
however, be of interest.

It has generally been held that torture was not applied in England owing
to the humanity of Edward II, who at first absolutely refused to listen
to any accusations against the Order.[156] On December 10, 1307, he had
written to the Pope in these terms:

And because the said Master or Brethren constant in the purity of
the Catholic faith have been frequently commended by us, and by all
our kingdom, both in their life and morals, we are unable to
believe in suspicious stories of this kind until we know with
greater certainty about these things.

We, therefore, pity from our souls the suffering and losses of the
Sd. Master and brethren, which they suffer in consequence of such
infamy, and we supplicate most affectionately your Sanctity if it
please you, that considering with favour suited to the good
character of the Master and brethren, you may deem fit to meet with
more indulgence the detractions, calumnies and charges by certain
envious and evil disposed persons, who endeavour to turn their good
deeds into works of perverseness opposed to divine teaching; until
the said charges attributed to them shall have been brought legally
before you or your representatives here and more fully proved.[157]

Edward II also wrote in the same terms to the Kings of Portugal,
Castile, Aragon, and Sicily. But two years later, after Clement V had
himself heard the confessions of the Order, and a Papal Bull had been
issued declaring that "the unspeakable wickednesses and abominable
crimes of notorious heresy" had now "come to the knowledge of almost
everyone," Edward II was persuaded to arrest the Templars and order
their examination. According to Mr. Castle, whose interesting treatise
we quote here, the King would not allow torture to be employed, with the
result that the Knights denied all charges; but later, it is said, he
allowed himself to be overpersuaded, and "torture appears to have been
applied on one or two occasions,"[158] with the result that three
Knights confessed to all and were given absolution.[159] At Southwark,
however, "a considerable number of brethren" admitted that "they had
been strongly accused of the crimes of negation and spitting, they did
not say they were guilty but that they could not purge themselves ...
and therefore they abjured these and all other heresies."[160] Evidence
was also given against the Order by outside witnesses, and the same
stories of intimidation at the ceremony of reception were told.[161] At
any rate, the result of the investigation was not altogether
satisfactory, and the Templars were finally suppressed in England as
elsewhere by the Council of Vienne in 1312.

In France more rigorous measures were adopted and fifty-four Knights who
had retracted their confessions were burnt at the stake as "relapsed
heretics" on May 12, 1310. Four years later, on March 14, 1314, the
Grand Master, Jacques du Molay, suffered the same fate.

Now, however much we must execrate the barbarity of this sentence--as
also the cruelties that had preceded it--- this is no reason why we
should admit the claim of the Order to noble martyrdom put forward by
the historians who have espoused their cause. The character of the
Templars is not rehabilitated by condemning the conduct of the King and
Pope. Yet this is the line of argument usually adopted by the defenders
of the Order. Thus the two main contentions on which they base their
defence are, firstly, that the confessions of the Knights were made
under torture, therefore they must be regarded as null and void; and,
secondly, that the whole affair was a plot concerted between the King
and Pope in order to obtain possession of the Templars' riches. Let us
examine these contentions in turn.

In the first place, as we have seen, all confessions were not made under
torture. No one, as far as I am aware, disputes Michelet's assertion
that the enquiry before the Papal Commission in Paris, at which a number
of Knights adhered to the statements they had made to the Pope, was
conducted without pressure of any kind. But further, the fact that
confessions are made under torture does not necessarily invalidate them
as evidence. Guy Fawkes also confessed under torture, yet it is never
suggested that the whole story of the Gunpowder Plot was a myth.
Torture, however much we may condemn it, has frequently proved the only
method for overcoming the intimidation exercised over the mind of a
conspirator; a man bound by the terrible obligations of a confederacy
and fearing the vengeance of his fellow-conspirators will not readily
yield to persuasion, but only to force. If, then, some of the Templars
were terrorized by torture, or even by the fear of torture, it must not
be forgotten that terrorism was exercised by both sides. Few will deny
that the Knights were bound by oaths of secrecy, so that on one hand
they were threatened with the vengeance of the Order if they betrayed
its secrets, and on the other faced with torture if they refused to
confess. Thus they found themselves between the devil and the deep sea.
It was therefore not a case of a mild and unoffending Order meeting
with brutal treatment at the hands of authority, but of the victims of a
terrible autocracy being delivered into the hands of another autocracy.

Moreover, do the confessions of the Knights appear to be the outcome of
pure imagination such as men under the influence of torture might
devise? It is certainly difficult to believe that the accounts of the
ceremony of initiation given in detail by men in different countries,
all closely resembling each other, yet related in different phraseology,
could be pure inventions. Had the victims been driven to invent they
would surely have contradicted each other, have cried out in their agony
that all kinds of wild and fantastic rites had taken place in order to
satisfy the demands of their interlocutors. But no, each appears to be
describing the same ceremony more or less completely, with
characteristic touches that indicate the personality of the speaker, and
in the main all the stories tally.

The further contention that the case against the Templars was
manufactured by the King and Pope with a view to obtaining their wealth
is entirely disproved by facts. The latest French historian of mediæval
France, whilst expressing disbelief in the guilt of the Templars,
characterizes this counter-accusation as "puerile." "Philippe le Bel,"
writes M. Funck-Brentano, "has never been understood; from the beginning
people have not been just to him. This young prince was one of the
greatest kings and the noblest characters that have appeared in

Without carrying appreciation so far, one must nevertheless accord to M.
Funck-Brentano's statement of facts the attention it merits. Philippe
has been blamed for debasing the coin of the realm; in reality he merely
ordered it to be mixed with alloy as a necessary measure after the war
with England,[163] precisely as own coinage was debased in consequence
of the recent war. This was done quite openly and the coinage was
restored at the earliest opportunity. Intensely national, his policy of
attacking the Lombards, exiling the Jews, and suppressing the Templars,
however regrettable the methods by which it was carried out, resulted in
immense benefits to France; M. Funck-Brentano has graphically described
the prosperity of the whole country during the early fourteenth
century--the increase of population, flourishing agriculture and
industry. "In Provence and Languedoc one meets swineherds who have
vineyards; simple cowherds who have town houses."[164]

The attitude of Philippe le Bel towards the Templars must be viewed in
this light--ruthless suppression of any body of people who interfered
with the prosperity of France. His action was not that of arbitrary
authority; he "proceeded," says M. Funck-Brentano, "by means of an
appeal to the people. In his name Nogaret (the Chancellor) spoke to the
Parisians in the garden of the Palace (October 13, 1307). Popular
assemblies were convoked all over France";[165] "the Parliament of
Tours, with hardly a dissentient vote, declared the Templars worthy of
death. The University of Paris gave the weight of their judgement as to
the fullness and authenticity of the confessions."[166] Even assuming
that these bodies were actuated by the same servility as that which has
been attributed to the Pope, how are we to explain the fact that the
trial of the Order aroused no opposition among the far from docile
people of Paris? If the Templars had indeed, as they professed, been
leading noble and upright lives, devoting themselves to the care of the
poor, one might surely expect their arrest to be followed by popular
risings. But there appears to have been no sign of this.

As to the Pope, we have already seen that from the outset he had shown
himself extremely reluctant to condemn the Order, and no satisfactory
explanation is given of his change of attitude except that he wished to
please the King. As far as his own interests were concerned, it is
obvious that he could have nothing to gain by publishing to the world a
scandal that must inevitably bring opprobrium on the Church. His
lamentations to this effect in the famous Bull[167] clearly show that he
recognized this danger and therefore desired at all costs to clear the
accused Knights, if evidence could be obtained in their favour. It was
only when the Templars made damning admissions in his presence that he
was obliged to abandon their defence.[168] Yet we are told that he did
this out of base compliance with the wishes of Philippe le Bel.

Philippe le Bell is thus represented as the arch-villain of the whole
piece, through seven long years hounding down a blameless Order--from
whom up to the very moment of their arrest he had repeatedly received
loans of money--solely with the object of appropriating their wealth.
Yet after all we find that the property of the Templars was not
appropriated by the King, but was given by him to the Knights of St.
John of Jerusalem!

What was the fate of the Templars' goods? Philippe le Bel decided
that they should be handed over to the Hospitallers. Clement V
states that the Orders given by the King on this subject were
executed. Even the domain of the Temple in Paris ... up to the eve
of the Revolution was the property of the Knights of St. John of
Jerusalem. The royal treasury kept for itself certain sums for the
costs of the trial. These had been immense.[169]

These facts in no way daunt the antagonists of Philippe, who we are now
assured--again without any proof whatever--was overruled by the Pope in
this matter. But setting all morality aside, as a mere question of
policy, is it likely that the King would have deprived himself of his
most valuable financial supporters and gone to the immense trouble of
bringing them to trial without first assuring himself that he would
benefit by the affair? Would he, in other words, have killed the goose
that laid the golden eggs without any guarantee that the body of the
goose would remain in his possession? Again, if, as we are told, the
Pope suppressed the Order so as to please the King, why should he have
thwarted him over the whole purpose the King had in view? Might we not
expect indignant remonstrances from Philippe at thus being baulked of
the booty he had toiled so long to gain? But, on the contrary, we find
him completely in agreement with the Pope on this subject. In November
1309 Clement V distinctly stated that "Philippe the Illustrious, King of
France," to whom the facts concerning the Templars had been told, was
"not prompted by avarice since he desired to keep or appropriate for
himself no part of the property of the Templars, but liberally and
devotedly left them to us and the Church to be administered," etc.[170]

Thus the whole theory concerning the object for which the Templars were
suppressed falls to the ground--a theory which on examination is seen to
be built up entirely on the plan of imputing motives without any
justification in facts. The King acted from cupidity, the Pope from
servility, and the Templars confessed from fear of torture--on these
pure hypotheses defenders of the Order base their arguments.

The truth is, far more probably, that if the King had any additional
reason for suppressing the Templars it was not envy of their wealth but
fear of the immense power their wealth conferred; the Order dared even
to defy the King and to refuse to pay taxes. The Temple in fact
constituted an _imperium in imperio_ that threatened not only the royal
authority but the whole social system.[171] An important light is thrown
on the situation by M. Funck-Brentano in this passage:

As the Templars had houses in all countries, they practised the
financial operations of the international banks of our times; they
were acquainted with letters of change, orders payable at sight,
they instituted dividends and annuities on deposited capital,
advanced funds, lent on credit, controlled private accounts,
undertook to raise taxes for the lay and ecclesiastical

Through their proficiency in these matters--acquired very possibly from
the Jews of Alexandria whom they must have met in the East--the Templars
had become the "international financiers" and "international
capitalists" of their day; had they not been suppressed, all the evils
now denounced by Socialists as peculiar to the system they describe as
"Capitalism"--trusts, monopolies, and "corners"--would in all
probability have been inaugurated during the course of the fourteenth
century in a far worse form than at the present day, since no
legislation existed to protect the community at large. The feudal
system, as Marx and Engels perceived, was the principal obstacle to
exploitation by a financial autocracy.[173]

Moreover, it is by no means improbable that this order of things would
have been brought about by the violent overthrow of the French
monarchy--indeed, of all monarchies; the Templars, "those terrible
conspirators," says Eliphas Lévi, "threatened the whole world with an
immense revolution."[174]

Here perhaps we may find the reason why this band of dissolute and
rapacious nobles has enlisted the passionate sympathy of democratic
writers. For it will be noticed that these same writers who attribute
the King's condemnation of the Order to envy of their wealth never apply
this argument to the demagogues of the eighteenth century and suggest
that their accusations against the nobles of France were inspired by
cupidity, nor would they ever admit that any such motive may enter into
the diatribes against private owners of wealth to-day. The Templars thus
remain the only body of capitalists, with the exception of the Jews, to
be not only pardoned for their riches but exalted as noble victims of
prejudice and envy. Is it merely because the Templars were the enemies
of monarchy? Or is it that the world revolution, whilst attacking
private owners of property, has never been opposed to International
Finance, particularly when combined with anti-Christian tendencies?

It is the continued defence of the Templars which, to the present
writer, appears the most convincing evidence against them. For even if
one believes them innocent of the crimes laid to their charge, how is it
possible to admire them in their later stages? The fact that cannot be
denied is that they were false to their obligations; that they took the
vow of poverty and then grew not only rich but arrogant; that they took
the vow of chastity and became notoriously immoral.[175] Are all these
things then condoned because the Templars formed a link in the chain of
world revolution?

At this distance of time the guilt or innocence of the Templars will
probably never be conclusively established either way; on the mass of
conflicting evidence bequeathed to us by history no one can pronounce a
final judgement.

Without attempting to digmatize on the question, I would suggest that
the real truth may be that the Knights were both innocent and guilty,
that is to say, that a certain number were initiated into the secret
doctrine of the Order whilst the majority remained throughout in
ignorance. Thus according to the evidence of Stephen de Stapelbrugge, an
English Knight, "there were two modes of reception, one lawful and good
and the other contrary to the Faith."[176] This would account for the
fact that some of the accused declined to confess even under the
greatest pressure. These may really have known nothing of the real
doctrines of the Order, which were confided orally only to those whom
the superiors regarded as unlikely to be revolted by them. Such have
always been the methods of secret societies, from the Ismailis onward.

This theory of a double doctrine is put forward by Loiseleur, who

If we consult the statutes of the Order of the Temple as they have
come down to us, we shall certainly discover there is nothing that
justifies the strange and abominable practices revealed at the
Inquiry. But ... besides the public rule, had not the Order another
one, whether traditional or written, authorizing or even
prescribing these practices--a secret rule, revealed only to the

Eliphas Lévi also exonerates the majority of the Templars from
complicity in either anti-monarchical or anti-religious designs:

These tendencies were enveloped in profound mystery and the Order
made an outward profession of the most perfect orthodoxy. The
Chiefs alone knew whither they were going; the rest followed

What, then, was the Templar heresy? On this point we find a variety of
opinions. According to Wilcke, Ranke, and Weber it was "the unitarian
deism of Islam"[179]; Lecouteulx de Canteleu thinks, however, it was
derived from heretical Islamic sources, and relates that whilst in
Palestine, one of the Knights, Guillaume de Montbard, was initiated by
the Old Man of the Mountain in a cave of Mount Lebanon.[180] That a
certain resemblance existed between the Templars and the Assassins has
been indicated by von Hammer,[181] and further emphasized by the
Freemason Clavel:

Oriental historians show us, at different periods, the Order of the
Templars maintaining intimate relations with that of the Assassins,
and they insist on the affinity that existed between the two
associations. They remark that they had adopted the same colours,
white and red; that they had the same organization, the same
hierarchy of degrees, those of fedavi, refik, and dai in one
corresponding to those of novice, professed, and knight in the
other; that both conspired for the ruin of the religions they
professed in public, and that finally both possessed numerous
castles, the former in Asia, the latter in Europe.[182]

But in spite of these outward resemblances it does not appear from the
confessions of the Knights that the secret doctrine of the Templars was
that of the Assassins or of any Ismaili sect by which, in accordance
with orthodox Islamism, Jesus was openly held up as a prophet, although,
secretly, indifference to all religion was inculcated. The Templars, as
far as can be discovered, were anti-Christian deists; Loiseleur
considers that their ideas were derived from Gnostic or Manichean
dualists--Cathari, Paulicians, or more particularly Bogomils, of which a
brief account must be given here.

The _Paulicians_, who flourished about the seventh century A.D., bore a
resemblance to the Cainites and Ophites in their detestation of the
Demiurgus and in the corruption of their morals. Later, in the ninth
century, the _Bogomils_, whose name signifies in Slavonic "friends of
God" and who had migrated from Northern Syria and Mesopotamia to the
Balkan Peninsula, particularly Thrace, appeared as a further development
of Manichean dualism. Their doctrine may be summarized thus:

God, the Supreme Father, has two sons, the elder Satanael, the younger
Jesus. To Satanael, who sat on the right hand of God, belonged the right
of governing the celestial world, but, filled with pride, he rebelled
against his Father and fell from Heaven. Then, aided by the companions
of his fall, he created the visible world, image of the celestial,
having like the other its sun, moon, and stars, and last he created man
and the serpent which became his minister. Later Christ came to earth in
order to show men the way to Heaven, but His death was ineffectual, for
even by descending into Hell He could not wrest the power from Satanael,
i.e. Satan.

This belief in the impotence of Christ and the necessity therefore for
placating Satan, not only "the Prince of this world," but its creator,
led to the further doctrine that Satan, being all-powerful, should be
adored. Nicetas Choniates, a Byzantine historian of the twelfth century,
described the followers of this cult as "Satanists," because
"considering Satan powerful they worshipped him lest he might do them
harm"; subsequently they were known as Luciferians, their doctrine (as
stated by Neuss and Vitoduranus) being that Lucifer was unjustly driven
out of Heaven, that one day he will ascend there again and be restored
to his former glory and power in the celestial world.

The Bogomils and Luciferians were thus closely akin, but whilst the
former divided their worship between God and His two sons, the latter
worshipped Lucifer only, regarding the material world as his work and
holding that by indulging the flesh they were propitiating their
Demon-Creator. It was said that a black cat, the symbol of Satan,
figured in their ceremonies as an object of worship, also that at their
horrible nocturnal orgies sacrifices of children were made and their
blood used for making the Eucharistic bread of the sect.[183]

Thus the Templars recognize at the same time a good god,
incommunicable to man and consequently without symbolic
representation, and a bad god, to whom they give the features of an
idol of fearful aspect.[184]

Their most fervent worship was addressed to this god of evil, who alone
could enrich them. "They said with the Luciferians: 'The elder son of
God, Satanael or Lucifer alone has a right to the homage of mortals;
Jesus his younger brother does not deserve this honour.'"[185]

Although we shall not find these ideas so clearly defined in the
confessions of the Knights, some colour is lent to this theory by those
who related that the reason given to them for not believing in Christ
was "that He was nothing, He was a false prophet and of no value, and
that they should believe in the Higher God of Heaven who could save
them."[186] According to Loiseleur, the idol they were taught to
worship, the bearded head known to history as Baphomet, represented "the
inferior god, organizer and dominator of the material world, author of
good and evil here below, him by whom evil was introduced into

The etymology of the word Baphomet is difficult to discover; Raynouard
says it originated with two witnesses heard at Carcassonne who spoke of
"Figura Baflometi," and suggests that it was a corruption of "Mohammed,"
whom the Inquisitors wished to make the Knights confess they were taught
to adore.[188] But this surmise with regard to the intentions of the
Inquisitors seems highly improbable, since they must have been well
aware that, as Wilcke points out, the Moslems forbid all idols.[189] For
this reason Wilcke concludes that the Mohammedanism of the Templars was
combined with Cabalism and that their idol was in reality the
_macroprosopos_, or head of the Ancient of Ancients, represented as an
old man with a long beard, or sometimes as three heads in one, which has
already been referred to under the name of the Long Face in the first
chapter of this book--a theory which would agree with Eliphas Lévi's
assertion that the Templars were "initiated into the mysterious
doctrines of the Cabala."[190] But Lévi goes on to define this teaching
under the name of Johannism. It is here that we reach a further theory
with regard to the secret doctrine of the Templars--- the most important
of all, since it emanates from masonic and neo-Templar sources thus
effectually disposing of the contention that the charge brought against
the Order of apostasy from the Catholic faith is solely the invention of
Catholic writers.

In 1842 the Freemason Ragon related that the Templars learnt from the
"initiates of the East" a certain Judaic doctrine which was attributed
to St. John the Apostle; therefore "they renounced the religion of St.
Peter" and became Johannites.[191] Eliphas Lévi expresses the same

Now, these statements are apparently founded on a legend which was first
published early in the nineteenth century, when an association calling
itself the _Ordre du Temple_ and claiming direct descent from the
original Templar Order published two works, the _Manuel des Chevaliers
de l'Ordre du Temple_ in 1811, and the _Lévitikon_ in 1831, together
with a version of the Gospel of St. John differing from the Vulgate.
These books, which appear to have been printed only for private
circulation amongst the members and are now extremely rare, relate that
the Order of the Temple had never ceased to exist since the days of
Jacques du Molay, who appointed Jacques de Larménie his successor in
office, and from that time onwards a line of Grand Masters had succeeded
each other without a break up to the end of the eighteenth century, when
it ceased for a brief period but was reinstituted under a new Grand
Master, Fabré Palaprat, in 1804. Besides publishing the list of all
Grand Masters, known as the "Charter of Larmenius," said to have been
preserved in the secret archives of the Temple, these works also
reproduce another document drawn from the same repository describing the
origins of the Order. This manuscript, written in Greek on parchment,
dated 1154, purports to be partly taken from a fifth-century MS. and
relates that Hugues de Payens, first Grand Master of the Templars, was
initiated in 1118--that is to say, in the year the Order was
founded--into the religious doctrine of "the Primitive Christian Church"
by its Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch, Theoclet, sixtieth in direct
succession from St. John the Apostle. The history of the Primitive
Church is then given as follows:

Moses was initiated in Egypt. Profoundly versed in the physical,
theological, and metaphysical mysteries of the priests, he knew how
to profit by these so as to surmount the power of the Mages and
deliver his companions. Aaron, his brother, and the chiefs of the
Hebrews became the depositaries of his doctrine....

The Son of God afterwards appeared on the scene of the world.... He
was brought up at the school of Alexandria.... Imbued with a spirit
wholly divine, endowed with the most astounding qualities
(_dispositions_), he was able to reach all the degrees of Egyptian
initiation. On his return to Jerusalem, he presented himself before
the chiefs of the Synagogue.... Jesus Christ, directing the fruit
of his lofty meditations towards universal civilization and the
happiness of the world, rent the veil which concealed the truth
from the peoples. He preached the love of God, the love of one's
neighbour, and equality before the common Father of all men....

Jesus conferred evangelical initiation on his apostles and
disciples. He transmitted his spirit to them, divided them into
several orders after the practice of John, the beloved disciple,
the apostle of fraternal love, whom he had instituted Sovereign
Pontiff and Patriarch....

Here we have the whole Cabalistic legend of a secret doctrine descending
from Moses, of Christ as an Egyptian initiate and founder of a secret
order--a theory, of course, absolutely destructive of belief in His
divinity. The legend of the _Ordre du Temple_ goes on to say:

Up to about the year 1118 (i.e. the year the Order of the Temple
was founded) the mysteries and the hierarchic Order of the
initiation of Egypt, transmitted to the Jews by Moses, then to the
Christians by J.C., were religiously preserved by the successors of
St. John the Apostle. These mysteries and initiations, regenerated
by the evangelical initiation (or baptism), were a sacred trust
which the simplicity of the primitive and unchanging morality of
the _Brothers of the East_ had preserved from all adulteration....

The Christians, persecuted by the infidels, appreciating the
courage and piety of these brave crusaders, who, with the sword in
one hand and the cross in the other, flew to the defence of the
holy places, and, above all, doing striking justice to the virtues
and the ardent charity of Hugues de Payens, held it their duty to
confide to hands so pure the treasures of knowledge acquired
throughout so many centuries, sanctified by the cross, the dogma
and the morality of the Man-God. Hugues was invested with the
Apostolic Patriarchal power and placed in the legitimate order of
the successors of St. John the apostle or the evangelist.

Such is the origin of the foundation of the Order of the Temple and
of the fusion in this Order of the different kinds of initiation of
the Christians of the East designated under the title of Primitive
Christians or Johannites.

It will be seen at once that all this story is subtly subversive of true
Christianity, and that the appellation of Christians applied to the
Johannites is an imposture. Indeed Fabré Palaprat, Grand Master of the
_Ordre du Temple_ in 1804, who in his book on the Templars repeats the
story contained in the _Lévitikon and the Manuel des Chevaliers du
Temple_, whilst making the same profession of "primitive Christian"
doctrines descending from St. John through Theoclet and Hugues de Payens
to the Order over which he presides, goes on to say that the secret
doctrine of the Templars "was essentially contrary to the canons of the
Church of Rome and that it is principally to this fact that one must
attribute the persecution of which history has preserved the memory."[192]
The belief of the Primitive Christians, and consequently that the
Templars, with regard to the miracles of Christ is that He "did or may
have done extraordinary or miraculous things," and that since "God can
do things incomprehensible to human intelligence," the Primitive Church
venerates "all the acts of Christ as they are described in the Gospel,
whether it considers them as acts of human science or whether as acts of
divine power."[193] Belief in the divinity of Christ is thus left an
open question, and the same attitude is maintained towards the
Resurrection, of which the story is omitted in the Gospel of St. John
possessed by the Order. Fabré Palaprat further admits that the gravest
accusations brought against the Templars were founded on facts which he
attempts to explain away in the following manner:

The Templars having in 1307 carefully abstracted all the
manuscripts composing the secret archives of the Order from the
search made by authority, and these authentic manuscripts having
been preciously preserved since that period, we have to-day the
certainty that the Knights endured a great number of religious and
moral trials before reaching the different degrees of initiation:
thus, for example, the recipient might receive the injunction under
pain of death to trample on the crucifix or to worship an idol, but
if he yielded to the terror which they sought to inspire in him he
was declared unworthy of being admitted to the higher grades of the
Order. One can imagine in this way how beings, too feeble or too
immoral to endure the trials of initiation, may have accused the
Templars of giving themselves up to infamous practices and of
having superstitious beliefs.

It is certainly not surprising that an Order which gave such injunctions
as these, for whatever purpose, should have become the object of

Eliphas Lévi, who, like Ragon, accepts the statements of the _Ordre du
Temple_ concerning the "Johannite" origin of the Templars' secret
doctrine, is, however, not deceived by these professions of
Christianity, and boldly asserts that the Sovereign Pontiff Theoclet
initiated Hugues de Payens "into the mysteries and hopes of his
pretended Church, he lured him by the ideas of sacerdotal sovereignty
and supreme royalty, he indicated him finally as his successor. So the
Order of the Knights of the Temple was stained from its origin with
schism and conspiracy against Kings."[194] Further, Lévi relates that
the real story told to initiates concerning Christ was no other than the
infamous _Toledot Yeshu_ described in the first chapter of this book,
and which the Johannites dared to attribute to St. John.[195] This would
accord with the confession of the Catalonian Knight Templar, Galcerandus
de Teus, who stated that the form of absolution in the Order was: "I
pray God that He may pardon your sins as He pardoned St. Mary Magdalene
and the thief on the cross"; but the witness went on to explain:

By the thief of which the head of the Chapter speaks, is meant,
according to our statutes, that Jesus or Christ who was crucified
by the Jews because he was not God, and yet he said he was God and
the King of the Jews, which was an outrage to the true God who is
in Heaven. When Jesus, a few moments before his death, had his side
pierced by the lance of Longinus, he repented of having called
himself God and King of the Jews and he asked pardon of the true
God; then the true God pardoned him. It is thus that we apply to
the crucified Christ these words: "as God pardoned the thief on the

Raynouard, who quotes this deposition, stigmatizes it as "singular and
extravagant"; M. Matter agrees that it is doubtless extravagant, but
that "it merits attention. There was a whole system there, which was not
the invention of Galcerant."[197] Eliphas Lévi provides the clue to that
system and to the reason why Christ was described as a thief, by
indicating the Cabalistic legend wherein He was described as having
_stolen_ the sacred Name from the Holy of Holies. Elsewhere he explains
that the Johannites "made themselves out to be the only people initiated
into the true mysteries of the religion of the Saviour. They professed
to know the real history of Jesus Christ, and by adopting part of Jewish
traditions and the stories of the Talmud, they made out that the facts
related in the Gospels"--that is to say, the Gospels accepted by the
orthodox Church--"were only allegories of which St. John gives the

But it is time to pass from legend to facts. For the whole story of the
initiation of the Templars by the "Johannites" rests principally on the
documents produced by the Ordre du Temple in 1811. According to the
Abbés Grégoire and Münter the authenticity and antiquity of these
documents are beyond dispute. Grégoire, referring to the parchment
manuscript of the _Lévitikon_ and Gospel of St. John, says that
"Hellenists versed in paleography believe this manuscript to be of the
thirteenth century, others declare it to be earlier and to go back to
the eleventh century."[199] Matter, on the other hand, quoting Münter's
opinion that the manuscripts in the archives of the modern Templars date
from the thirteenth century, observes that this is all a tissue of
errors and that the critics, including the learned Professor Thilo of
Halle, have recognized that the manuscript in question, far from
belonging to the thirteenth century, dates from the beginning of the
eighteenth. From the arrangement of the chapters of the Gospel, M.
Matter arrives at the conclusion that it was intended to accompany the
ceremonies of some masonic or secret society.[200] We shall return to
this possibility in a later chapter.

The antiquity of the manuscript containing the history of the Templars
thus remains an open question on which no one can pronounce an opinion
without having seen the original. In order, then, to judge of the
probability of the story that this manuscript contained it is necessary
to consult the facts of history and to discover what proof can be found
that any such sect as the Johannites existed at the time of the Crusades
or earlier. Certainly none is known to have been called by this name or
by one resembling it before 1622, when some Portuguese monks reported
the existence of a sect whom they described as "Christians of St. John"
inhabiting the banks of the Euphrates. The appellation appears, however,
to have been wrongly applied by the monks, for the sectarians in
question, variously known as the Mandæans, Mandaites, Sabians,
Nazoreans, etc., called themselves Mandaï Iyahi, that is to say, the
disciples, or rather the wise men, of John, the word _mandaï_ being
derived from the Chaldean word _manda_, corresponding to the Greek word
[Greek: gnosis] or wisdom.[201] The multiplicity of names given to the
Mandæans arises apparently from the fact that in their dealings with
other communities they took the name of Sabians, whilst they called the
wise and learned amongst themselves Nazoreans.[202] The sect formerly
inhabited the banks of the Jordan, but was driven out by the Moslems,
who forced them to retire to Mesopotamia and Babylonia, where they
particularly affected the neighbourhood of rivers in order to be able to
carry out their peculiar baptismal rites.[203]

There can be no doubt that the doctrines of the Mandæans do resemble the
description of the Johannite heresy as given by Eliphas Lévi, though not
by the _Ordre du Temple_, in that the Mandæans professed to be the
disciples of St. John--the Baptist, however, not the Apostle--but were
at the same time the enemies of Jesus Christ. According to the Mandæans'
_Book of John_ (Sidra d'Yahya), Yahya, that is to say, St. John,
baptized myriads of men during forty years in the Jordan. By a
mistake--or in response to a written mandate from heaven saying,
"Yahya, baptize the liar in the Jordan"--he baptized the false prophet
Yishu Meshiha (the Messiah Jesus), son of the devil Ruha Kadishta.[204]
The same idea is found in another book of the sect, called the "Book of
Adam," which represents Jesus as the perverter of St. John's doctrine
and the disseminator of iniquity and perfidy throughout the world.[205]
The resemblance between all this and the legends of the Talmud, the
Cabala, and the Toledot Yeshu is at once apparent; moreover, the
Mandæans claim for the "Book of Adam" the same origin as the Jews
claimed for the Cabala, namely, that it was delivered to Adam by God
through the hands of the angel Razael.[206] This book, known to scholars
as the _Codex Nasaræus_, is described by Münter as "a sort of mosaic
without order, without method, where one finds mentioned Noah, Abraham,
Moses, Solomon, the Temple of Jerusalem, St. John the Baptist, Jesus
Christ, the Christians, and Mohammed." M. Matter, whilst denying any
proof of the Templar succession from the Mandæans, nevertheless gives
good reason for believing that the sect itself existed from the first
centuries of the Christian era and that its books dated from the eighth
century[207]; further that these Mandæans or Nazoreans--not to be
confounded with the pre-Christian Nazarites or Christian Nazarenes--were
Jews who revered St. John the Baptist as the prophet of ancient Mosaism,
but regarded Jesus Christ as a false Messiah sent by the powers of
darkness.[208] Modern Jewish opinion confirms this affirmation of Judaic
inspiration and agrees with Matter in describing the Mandæans as
Gnostics: "Their sacred books are in an Aramaic dialect, which has close
affinities with that of the Talmud of Babylon." The Jewish influence is
distinctly visible in the Mandæan religion. "It is essentially of the
type of ancient Gnosticism, traces of which are found in the Talmud, the
Midrash, and in a modified form the later Cabala."[209]

It may then be regarded as certain that a sect existed long before the
time of the Crusades corresponding to the description of the Johannites
given by Eliphas Lévi in that it was Cabalistic, anti-Christian, yet
professedly founded on the doctrines of one of the St. Johns. Whether it
was by this sect that the Templars were indoctrinated must remain an
open question. M. Matter objects that the evidence lacking to such a
conclusion lies in the fact that the Templars expressed no particular
reverence for St. John; but Loiseleur asserts that the Templars did
prefer the Gospel of St. John to that of the other evangelists, and that
modern masonic lodges claiming descent from the Templars possess a
special version of this Gospel said to have been copied from the
original on Mount Athos.[210] It is also said that "Baphomets" were
preserved in the masonic lodges of Hungary, where a debased form of
Masonry, known as Johannite Masonry, survives to this day. If the
Templar heresy was that of the Johannites, the head in question might
possibly represent that of John the Baptist, which would accord with the
theory that the word Baphomet was derived from Greek words signifying
baptism of wisdom. This would, moreover, not be incompatible with
Loiseleur's theory of an affinity between the Templars and the Bogomils,
for the Bogomils also possessed their own version of the Gospel of St.
John, which they placed on the heads of their neophytes during the
ceremony of initiation,[211] giving as the reason for the 'I peculiar
veneration they professed for its author that they regarded St. John as
the servant of the Jewish God Satanael.[212] Eliphas Lévi even goes so
far as to accuse the Templars of following the occult practices of the
Luciferians, who carried the doctrines of the Bogomils to the point of
paying homage to the powers of darkness:

Let us declare for the edification of the vulgar ... and for the
greater glory of the Church which has persecuted the Templars,
burned the magicians and excommunicated the Free-Masons, etc., let
us say boldly and loudly, that all the initiates of the occult
sciences ... have adored, do and will always adore that which is
signified by this frightful symbol [the Sabbatic goat].[213] Yes,
in our profound conviction, the Grand Masters of the Order of the
Templars adored Baphomet and caused him to be adored by their

It will be seen, then, that the accusation of heresy brought against the
Templars does not emanate solely from the Catholic Church, but also from
the secret societies. Even our Freemasons, who, for reasons I shall show
later, have generally defended the Order, are now willing to admit that
there was a very real case against them. Thus Dr. Ranking, who has
devoted many years of study to the question, has arrived at the
conclusion that Johannism is the real clue to the Templar heresy. In a
very interesting paper published in the masonic journal _Ars Quatuor
Coronatorum_, he observes that "the record of the Templars in Palestine
is one long tale of intrigue and treachery on the part of the Order,"
and finally:

That from the very commencement of Christianity there has been
transmitted through the centuries a body of doctrine incompatible
with Christianity in the various official Churches....

That the bodies teaching these doctrines professed to do so on the
authority of St. John, to whom, as they claimed, the true secrets
had been committed by the Founder of Christianity.

That during the Middle Ages the main support of the Gnostic bodies
and the main repository of this knowledge was the Society of the

What is the explanation of this choice of St. John for the propagation
of anti-Christian doctrines which we shall find continuing up to the
present day? What else than the method of perversion which in its
extreme form becomes Satanism, and consists in always selecting the most
sacred things for the purpose of desecration? Precisely then because the
Gospel of St. John is the one of all the four which most insists on the
divinity of Christ, the occult anti-Christian sects have habitually made
it the basis of their rites.