Knights Templar treasure: a primary source

templartreasure

Are you reasonably well read in modern Templar research? Then you probably have heard about 18 ships leaving the port of La Rochelle on the eve of the arrests in France. This story is supposed to be almost the only piece of evidence regarding the fate of the Order’s treasures and it comes from the records of the trials. Numerous books repeat this account as their authors struggle with the question of where the Templar fleet went from La Rochelle. I will give you examples from very different writers.

The most commonly touted escape route of the Knights has long been claimed to be the port city of La Rochelle, about 300 miles from Paris. During the trials, Jean de Chalon testified that Gerard de Villiers, Preceptor of the Paris temple, had fled the country with 50 horses and 18 ships. The Templars did indeed have ships, but again, surely someone on the king’s side, privy to the arrest order, would have noticed streams of Templars making their way to La Rochelle, as well as unusual activity on the docks around the Templar
ships. There is no record of such a mass exodus.

Christopher Hodapp, ‎Alice Von Kannon. The Templar Code For Dummies.

Although all this frustrated Philip, his greatest frustration was the disappearance of the treasure from the Paris Temple Bank. It had reportedly been loaded on a wagon train that raced for the port of La Rochelle. There the treasure was placed aboard the Templar fleet, again flying the skull and crossbones, from which it disappeared once more.

Steven Sora. Secret Societies of America’s Elite. From the Knights Templar to Skull and Bones.

If the Order knew what Philip’s plans were in advance, that might explain why the French king was unable to find the Order’s treasure (assuming it to have been actual, rather than metaphorical), which was said to have been smuggled out of the Paris Temple shortly before the arrests and taken by river to the Templars’ main naval base at La Rochelle. How many Templar ships sailed from La Rochelle in the autumn of 1307 is unknown – what they were carrying likewise – but one thing is known: the Templar fleet vanished utterly.

Sean Martin, The Knights Templar.

Somehow, however, the actual original account (which exists and is available in Latin) where this story comes from is never quoted. So, here is your chance to find out how second hand history happens. [click to continue…]

Templar sword letter opener

smallsword

I got this letter opener a few months ago. Works well in its primary capacity, but I think this image is the best use of this little sword so far. I actually saw it used on some other website, which I take as the highest form of flattery. The Bible in the image is my trusted Nova Vulgata, a Vatican edition from the early 1960s. The book is opened at the famous Non nobis, Domine, non nobis line.

A troubadour legend in Old Occitan

troubadourThis medieval story comes from a collection of Old Occitan Vida — “Lives” of famous and not so famous troubadour poets. It represents a particular genre popular in the very first well established secular literary culture since the fall of Rome. For the most part, troubadour poets were dedicated to ideals of courtly love, but their works also reflected events of the time, including the crusades. Although it is highly unlikely that this biography of Jaufres Rudels is rooted in reality, one can get (very incidently) a good idea of how respected the Knights Templar were during the 13th century, when this text was written. I am including a version in the original Old Occitan (taken from Revue historique, Volume 53, 1893). If you have any background in Romance languages you may be able to read a great deal of this text. It is actually used by William D. Paden in his “Introduction to Old Occitan.” This language survives today as Modern Occitan, a regional language in Southern France.

Jaufres Rudels de Blaia si fo mout gentils hom, princes de Blaia, et enamoret se de la comtessa de Tripol ses vezer, per lo gran bon qu’el n’auzi dir als pelegrins que vengron d’Antiochia, e fetz de lieis mains vers, ab bons sons, ab paubres motz. E per voluntat de lieis vezer el se crozet, e mes se en mar; e pres lo malautia en la nau, e fo condutz a Tripol en un alberc per mort. E fo fait a saber a la comtessa, et ella venc ad el al sien lieit, e pres lo entre sos braz. Et el saup qu’ella era la comtessa, si recobret lo vezer e l’auzir el flairar; e lauzet Dieu que l’avia la vida sostenguda tro qu’el l’agues vista. Et enaissi el mori entre sos braz; et ella lo fetz a gran honor sepellir en la maison del Temple. E pois en aquel dia ella si rendet monga per la dolor que ella ac de la mort de lui. [click to continue…]

The Strasbourg Manuscript and the Swedish Rite’s legend about the Templars’ treasures

deMolayThis Masonic legend, mostly told in the Swedish Rite lodges, is a curious variation of stories surrounding the final days of Jacques de Molay. The core of the legend is found in the so-called Strasbourg Manuscript, dating around 1760. The document is in French, although there are some indications that this was not the author’s native tongue. Carl Friedrich Eckleff (1723-1786), the originator of the Swedish Rite, is most likely connected to this document in some way. The manuscript is somewhat oddly entitled Deuxième Section, de la Maçonnerie parmi les Chrétiens (“Section 2, Masonry among the Christians”) and I will probably publish it as a curiosity at a later point. There are some additional later details for which I am mostly following Allgemeines Handbuch der Freimaurerei, by C. Lenning.

When Jacques de Molay became certain that his days were numbered, he arranged for his nephew, one count de Beaujeu, to visit him in prison. The Grandmaster had previously noted this young man as someone who could be trusted with the task of keeping the Order of the Knights Templar alive. De Molay instructed his nephew to go down to the crypt in which prior grandmasters of the Order were buried. There, underneath one of the coffins, de Beaujeu was to find a crystal box encased in silver and bring it back to the Grandmaster. The young man followed these directions and returned with the crystal box. De Molay was well pleased with his nephew’s loyalty and made him swear an oath, promising to do whatever it takes to preserve the Order until the day of the Last Judgement. It also turned out that the crystal box that had been retrieved from the crypt contained a precious relic, once given to the Knights Templar by King Baldwin of Jerusalem — the right index finger of John the Baptist. [click to continue…]