by James Seidel (12 Nov 94)
Knights Templar are members of the oldest and most powerful of the three Militant Orders. Because their headquarters was near the site of Solomon's Temple they were named Templars. By 11118AD the Order had been officially sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church and attracted many members, growing greatly in wealth. They were a very well organised Order, with wide ranging contacts - such as the Saracen Hashshashin assassins.
The Templars fought bravely for Christianity during the 2nd Crusade, but after Jerusalem was recaptured by the Turks, the Templars retreated to Cyprus. Once removed from Outremer, the Templars had no purpose for their existence - and the vultures closed in. The Templar inventions of banks, cheques and other methods of credit - designed to help finance their activities in the Holy Land - were used to hasten their demise. The Templars were not the first Militant Order to encounter the vampires, but they were the first to actively hunt them down on an organised basis. Their ruthless pursuit of the Kindred and their surprising success eventually prompted the children of Cain to organise themselves and plot to overthrow the Order. King Philip IV (a vampire puppet) tortured and killed many Templars and seized their properties and the dominated pope, Clement, disbanded the Order. But they were only fragmented, surviving through widely dispersed secret societies who have Lodges through the world.
Full Name: Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon
Archetype: The Templars are intellectual and business people with very high dress codes. Business tycoons and spies are counted among their ranks. Their combat equipment is the same as that of all knights - and no identifying marks are allowed. Their monastic and ceremonial robes are distinctive, with a red splayed cross (the Croix Patte) set on a white background. The Orders banner is a black sky on a white field - called Bauseant.
Headquarters: The Templars have been a fragmented force for more than 600 years, surviving as a fugitive and underground organisation. The revived Order's headquarters is in Scotland, at a mysterious castle and cathedral both known as Rosslyn.
Situated in the Scottish heartland, this mystical place is rumored to have contained many of the Templars secrets for centuries
Background: Templars are a suspicious and overly cautious group - reflecting the bitter experience of the early 14th century. Much importance is placed upon investigation and research techniques. The philosophy of "knowing one's enemy" succeeded in pulling-of the unconceivable in 1316 - disbanding a Militant Order subject to no earthly authority other than the pope's. The Templars have learnt their lesson well. Women are allowed to serve in non-combatant roles, after adopting the Nun's habit. Pressure for full acceptance of women within the Order is intense.
Character Creation: Templars are almost obsessed about understanding their enemy, so the Knowledge attributes are primary as are research skills. They usually have professional and highly educated concepts. Their demeanour tends to be intellectual, with good bureaucratic, investigative, linguistic, law and money skills. For background traits they usually have strong Contacts, Influence and Resources.
Weaknesses: Their quest for information on the blood of Cain often takes precedence over actually "removing" them. This often causes conflict with the Teutones who believe it is a Church Knight's primary responsibility to get rid of Kindred Corruption for humankind's greater good. The Templar's history also makes them overly cautious when it comes to dealings with the open public. Generally, the Templars believe that if the Militant Order's cannot do something themselves, then it should not be done at all.
Formed by as a nursing Order after the First Crusade,the Hospitallers were originally totally devoted to providing healing and respite to weary pilgrims. Raiding Infidels and contact with the Kindred soon changed that. The Hospitallers followed the Templars lead, and soon became devoted to the Militant defence of Christendom. However, the knights Hospitaller never forgot their origins and always maintained a hospital to care for the sick and destitute. The knights of St. John have a philosophy of healing, and all are trained in medicine. Succouring God's people is seen by the knights as their primary purpose for existence - and the only reason for their Militant Arm is to combat the Kindred "disease" at its source.
The Hospitallers were the only Order to survive the changing centuries intact, and thus enjoys the status of most senior Militant Order. They adapted their role from guardians of the Holy Land to that of forward raiders from Rhodes and bastion of the Mediterranean from Malta. During the past few centuries, they have often acted in concert with the Vatican's espionage arm.
Most people see them as wholly dedicated to charitable work, especially in world-wide ambulance and disaster relief services. .
Full Name: The Knights Hospitaller of St John, Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta
Appearance: The members of this Order are well dressed in public. Like most doctors, they believe in high standards of cleanliness and hygiene. The ceremonial uniform of the Hospitallers is a black robe emblazoned with an eight-pointed cross of white (the Maltese Cross). Occasionally, the most senior warrior-monks wear red robes with the white Maltese Cross.
Headquarters: Since being forcibly removed from their island home of Malta in the 1700s by Napoleon, the Hospitallers have had to be content with a small property near the Vatican in Rome. However, the knights have recently been allowed to return to their Valletta castle in strength - though the Maltese no longer accept them as rulers.
Background: Members of this Order are generally chosen from medical, science and priesthood backgrounds. An arm of the Hospitallers has been heavily involved in espionage for centuries, so experienced spies are also available.
This is the most traditional Order, placing great emphasis on religion and ceremony. As a result, women are only allowed to serve within the Order in a non-combatant manner.
Character Creation: Hospitallers are mainly from medical backgrounds. Social Attributes are generally primary, as are Knowledge Abilities. Normal background traits include Resources and Status. The Order is a very humane one, this Virtues such as conscience and humanity are usually high.
Weaknesses: The Hospitallers have a strong sense of justice. They will not have any dealings with people or creatures which they think are evil. This often puts them at odds with the Templars and Teutones. Their concern for the general populace often over-rides their immediate pursuit of the Kindred. If their is an accident or disaster involving many mortals, they will abandon a hunt to lend assistance.
The Order of Teutonic knights was founded in 1190 by German Crusaders in Palestine and were recognised by the Pope in 1199. Modelled after the knights Templars and the knights Hospitaller but restricted in membership to the German nobility, the new Order grew to become a major principality.
It is largely because the Teutones initially ignored warnings about the Kindred that they are so determined to wipe them out. Their ignorance cost the lives of many Teutonic Knights, and the Order is embarrassed it had to call for Hospitaller assistance during their Hungary campaigns against tribes lead by ancient Kindred.
In 1229 the Teutonic knights began a crusade to convert and pacify the pagan Slavs in Prussia. They crushed the native Slavs, who were often lead by vampires who had adopted for themselves demi-god status. Their merciless treatment of such evil earned them a reputation as vicious warriors.
The Teutonic Knights have become cynics, and believe direct conflict with the Kindred is the only means of eradicating evil quickly and efficiently. To this end, military training is paramount.
Full Name: The Sacred Order of the Teutonic Knights
Appearance: The members of this Order are usually muscular, reflecting their military mien. Battle dress is the same as all knights, though a Teutone may have a few more optional extras tacked on. Ceremonial dress is similar to that of the Templars, though their white robes are adorned with a simple black cross.
Headquarters: For several centuries, the most pure fragment of the Teutones have been serving in Vienna as a charity nursing Order. However, now that the Militant nature of the knights has been restored, they have managed to reacquire their ancient headquarters Marienburg Castle.
Background: It has an appearance to normal people as a semiclerical Order, devoted to charity work. But who ever heard of nurses who had the strength to bend iron bars? The Teutonic knights pick their members carefully from special police and military forces units from around the world. The knights are very secretive, rarely revealing their identity in public. This is the only Order to continue enforcing the ancient Rule of not maintaining family contacts. Their backgrounds are almost impossible to trace, their personal details well protected (even from fellow Teutones) and their fighting skills carefully honed.
Character Creation: Most knights Teutone come from military or police force backgrounds. Physical attributes are primary, as are fighting abilities. Their disposition is often one of short temper, eager to get into the fight. This is often misinterpreted by the Hospitallers and Templars as pure bloody mindedness. The other Orders do not appreciate the hatred and concern with which the Teutones consider the Kindred. Delays are frustrating to the Teutones, as are strategic long-term considerations. They've spend most of their lives training to fight, and they want to put that training to use.
Weaknesses: Teutones are not well known for their restraint or subtlety. They tend to be hard to get along with socially as they are often engrossed with their mission. They dislike trickery or subtle tactics, believing front-on confrontation to be the best approach. This will often lead them into dispute with the Hospitallers and Templars, and sometimes Teutones may ignore instructions from officers outside their own Order if they believe it is inappropriate or indirect.
"Go forward in safety, knights, and with undaunted souls drive off the enemies of the cross of Christ, certain that neither death nor life can separate you from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, repeating to yourselves in every peril : Whether we live or whether we die we are the Lord's"
- Bernard of Clairvaux, De laude novae militiae
The Knight's Templar had their origins in a small band of crusader knights who took upon themselves the task of keeping the Holy Land's roads safe and secure. Formed about 1115 by Hugh de Payens or Burgundy and eight other knights, the small band quickly won the favor of King Baldwin II of Jerusalem. After being granted the right to use part of the old Temple of Solomon as their headquarters, the Poor Knights of Christ began to be called Templars.
In 1118, the small band swore before the Patriarch of Jerusalem that they would uphold the monastic vows of poverty, obedience and chastity while protecting pilgrims en-route between Jerusalem, Jericho and the Jordan.
The number of knights grew rapidly, the concept of a devout group of warriors doing God's work in the Holy Land proving popular. With this increase in size, Hugh acted to have his knights recognised as an official monastic order with special rules for their combat role.
In 1124 Hugh travelled to Europe to muster support for his new band of warrior-monks. The Council of the Catholic Church at Troyes, and personal relative St Bernard of Clairvaux, approved the idea and compiled what was to become known as The Rule. The Pope's and Bernard's approval resulted in a flood of new entrants. When Hugh returned in 1130, 300 new members travelled with him.
The new Order was led by a Grand Master, Seneschal, Marshal, Commander and Preceptors (masters of provinces). Each province was divided into several preceptories, each with its own knight captain and a lieutenant. The Templars allowed subordinate members into the Order as sergeants, as well as "confrere knights" - knights who only served for a short term, were permitted to marry but had to bequeath half their estate to the Order upon their death.
Gifts of land and money also poured in. At the height of the Order's power it owned more than 9000 titles and manors throughout Europe and the Holy Land. It was this vast wealth that eventually led to the Order's downfall. The skills needed to keep track of such vast amounts of money tuned the Templars into the world's first international bank. It also attracted a lot of resentment.
By 1147, the Templars and the Hospitallers fielded about half of the total available forces in Outremer. About 80 Templars, leading 300 other knights, lead a cavalry charge in 1177 which smashed through Saladin's much larger army. The Moslems were routed, greatly enhancing the Order's prestige.
Their victories were tainted by several stupid defeats. In 1187, Grand Master Gerard de Ridefort led a force of 90 Templars and 40 others to charge 7000 Moslem cavalry. Only he and two other Templars escaped with their lives. But they regularly demonstrated their willingness to fight unto the bitter end. In 1243, at the loss of Jerusalem to the Moslems, only 36 Templars out of 300 survived. In 1250, 200 Templars died in the streets of Mansurah after their Grand Master had warned others of an impending ambush - but had been overruled.
At Christendom's final defeat in the Holy Land - the fall of Acre - the knights were forced to take refuge in their chapterhouse after the walls were breached. While negotiating a surrender treaty, the Moslems began slaughtering civilians sheltering within the Order's boundaries. True to their vows, the remaining Templars jumped to their defence. Later their surviving officer, the Knight Marshal, was treacherously beheaded while negotiating. After another week of fighting, the Templar remnants died along with 2000 Moslem attackers when their building collapsed upon them all.
By the time the Order was expelled from Outremer in 1291, the Templars were too deeply involved in banking to afford a new crusade. Despite a few unsuccessful raids, the Order had been reduced to a group bankers and money-lenders.
King Philip VI "The Fair" organised the downfall of the Order by planting infiltrators among the ranks - with a carefully organised plan for trumped-up charges of heresy. When one of these plants, renegade Templar Esquiu de Floyrian laid charges against the Order in 1305, it was the beginning of the end. Similar attacks were mounted in England and Spain, but the charges were thrown out as ridiculous.
Several years of legal wrangling followed, during which the Grand Master Jacques de Molay placed his faith in the Order's supposed invulnerability from all earthy authority and relied upon papal protection. Eventually charges were laid against all individual members of the Order - not the Order itself. Against this, the imprisoned and tortured Templars had no defence.
In 1312, the Order was dissolved.
The knights Hospitaller are an Order whose role and power are much more thoroughly documented - and tangible - than the Templars. This Militant Order is the Templars traditional rival. The knights Hospitaller of Saint John had a structure based on that of the Templars but had a greater focus on medical health.
The Order of Saint John originated with a hospital dedicated to Saint John in Jerusalem about 1070, - 30 years before the First Crusade - by a group of Italian merchants wanting to look after pilgrims. It appears to have been constituted as an Order about 1100, just after the First Crusade, when it took on its first Grand Master. The Hospitallers thus pre-dated the Templars, but they were solely dedicated toward medical work.
By 1126, however, about eight years after the Templars appeared publicly, the knights of Saint John had begun to assume an increasingly military character which would soon become more prominent than their hospital service. Interestingly, the Hospitallers may have had to adopt a militant arm because the Templars were not doing the job given to them - they were running around the Holy Land searching for Holy relics instead of protecting pilgrims.
The Hospitallers, along with the Templars and Teutones, became the major military and financial power in the Holy Land. This power spread throughout the Mediterranean.
Like the Templars, they became immensely wealthy. The Order developed into a vast military, ecclesiastic and administrative organisation with hundreds of knights, a standing army, numerous secondary services, a network of fortresses and enormous holdings of land across the Christian world. The Order remained true to its origins, maintaining well run hospitals staffed by its own surgeons.
In 1307, when the Templars had been charged with a catalogue of offences against Catholic orthodoxy, the Hospitallers managed to stay clean of any stigma. They retained the favor of the papacy. In England and elsewhere, ex Templar holdings were handed over to them - boosting their wealth.
After the fall of the Holy Land in 1291, the knights of Saint John retired to Cyprus. Then in 1309 they proceeded to establish their headquarters on the island of Rhodes, which they governed as their private principality. They remained here for two centuries, withstanding two major sieges by the Turks. In 1522, a third siege forced them to abandon the island and in 1530 they re- established themselves on Malta. In 1565, Malta was besieged by the Turks in an ambitious attempt to conquer the Mediterranean.
In an epic defence, 541 knights Hospitaller and sergeants along with 1500 standing soldiers and mercenaries repelled the repeated assaults of a historically verified 30,000 attackers. The historic defeat inflicted upon the Turks destroyed their invasion plans. Six years later, in 1571, the Order's Fleet, together with warships from Austria, Italy and Spain, won a decisive victory at the naval battle of Lepanto, shattering Turkish maritime power. The Hospitaller fleet was awarded disproportionate credit for sinkings.
In the late16th century they were still one of the supreme military and naval powers in the Christian world, with strength and financial resources comparable to most nations.
But the Protestant reformation had begun to shatter the strength of Catholic Europe, and the Order itself was split by changing beliefs. Chivalric behavior had become "quaint" and out dated, and Europe moved on to a new age of religious tolerance and mercantilism.
The knights were still on Malta in 1798, though only a shadow of what they were. Freemasonry had eroded their Catholic allegiances, and when Napoleon invaded the island on the way to Egypt, the knights offered no resistance. When Horatio Nelson recaptured the islands, the knights were able to re-establish an unofficial presence on their island again. In 1834, an official base was established in Rome.
Once again devoted to hospital and health work, the knights maintain their fortress in Malta but have no magisterial powers. Interestingly enough, it was seriously considered to hand Israel over to the knights after World War II.
In international law, the knights of Malta have status as an independent sovereign principality, with the option of a seat in the United Nations (which they have never enacted). Embassies can be found in African and Latin American countries with full diplomatic privileges.
The Teutonic knights are a German military and religious Order based on the Hospitallers and Templars. The youngest of the three militant Orders, the Teutonic knights were founded as a nursing unit in 1190 by German Merchants who were concerned about their disease-ridden compatriots among the Christian army camped outside Acre. After being granted land to build a hospital, and being granted Monastic status, the Teutones were somewhat surprised to be instructed by Pope Innocent III to become a Militant Order.
The militant arm was closely modelled on the knights Templar, and the hospital arm based on that of the knights of St John. Membership of the Teutones was not restricted to members of the German nobility. The only limits were to be a freeman and not to be in wedlock.
The Order generally wore a white habit with a black cross. Each Chapterhouse of the Order numbered 12, after the number of disciples. Their leader was known as a Komtur - meaning bailiff. When a Grand Master died, all Komturs were gathered to elect 13 members, who, in turn, would elect a new Master. Other officers of the Grosskomtur (command) were the Ordensmarshall, the Tressler (treasurer), the Spittler (hospitaller) and the Trapier (quartermaster).
The Order never distinguished itself in the Holy Land. It fought no famous battles, nor did it initially enjoy the wealth of support given to the other Orders. It is partially because of this lack of support that it remained a purely Germanic movement- a fact that soon saw its interests turn closer to the Fatherland.
In 1216AD the order lost most of its knights and its Grand Master in action defending the Holy Land. While continuing their presence in Acre until the kingdom fell in the late 13th century, the Teutones increasingly focussed their strength on the Balkans. First, the Order assisted King Andrew of Hungary in the 1210s to evict the Kumans who were raiding Transylvania. However, the king reneged on rewarding the Teutones with their own principality in the district of Burzenland.
Fortunately, the Polish Duke Conrad of Masovia asked the Order for protection from the pagans on the borders of his country. By 1229AD, Pope Gregory IX instructed the Teutones to "convert" the Prusiskai - with any conquered land becoming their own with only nominal Church interference.
The Order was ruthless in its fight against the heathen tribes, with even small numbers of heavy cavalry being virtually invincible in the face of any enemy.
Any captured knights were tortured to death under pagan rites. But the Teutones were no more merciful. Every conquered man, woman and child was faced with conversion or death. The natives became the Order's serfs, controlled from a series of powerful fortresses. Eventually, their domain extended through the Balkans from Poland, through Lithuania to Sweden.
In the following 100 years they extended their domain which was held as a Papal fief, along the Baltic from the Gulf of Finland to the Pomeranian borders. The Teutones colonised the land with Germans and established a strong central government with a headquarters at Marienburg, Prussia.
Rebellions in the 1260s stretched the Order to the limit. After several Balkan castles and Acre fell in the late 13th century, the knights moved their headquarters to Venice. The lost ground in the Balkans was soon recaptured.
The Teutonic Knights governed their new land efficiently. Most colonists found it strange to have to answer in financial matters to monks who were not allowed to own anything, but this limited corruption and allowed business to operate effectively
During the early 1300s Inquisition, which saw the fall of the Templars, the Teutones were periodically subject to charges of cruelty and witchcraft - though their primary theatre of operations (Prussia and the Baltic Coast) placed them safely beyond the reach of any authority wanting to act against them. The rule of the Teutones was not an easy one. The 14th century was a series of continuous battles against the Lithuanians - up to 80 expeditions in all with up to seven in one year. The Teutones reached their peak of power and reputation during this period - budding some of the best military minds of the era.
Defeated by the Poles and Lithuanians at the Battle of Tannenberg in 1410, the Teutonic knights were forced in 1466 to cede West Prussia and Pomerelia to Poland and to move their headquarters to Konigsberg in East Prussia.
In 1525 their grand master, Albert of Brandenburg, converted to Lutheranism and made East Prussia a secular Polish fief. The Order remaining possessions in France and Germany were secularised by 1805.
The Teutonic image, as well as part of the Order itself, was hijacked by the Nazi party in World War II. The Order's Slavic Crusade was held up as an example of German superiority and used as an excuse for another attack on Russia. Many members of the SS styled themselves as knights of the Militant Order. The Order of Teutonic knights still exists in Austria as a semiclerical organisation devoted to charity work.
". . . it came into Sir William Sinclair's mind to build a house for Gods service, of most curious worke, the which, that it might be done with greater glory and splendor, he caused artificers to be brought from other regions and forraigne kingdomes. . . "
- Father Hay, On William St Clair and Rosslyn Chapel, 1722.
Among its original features were a series of auberges (inns), each representing areas of Europe from which conscripts were drawn such as Aragon, France, Germany, Provence, Castile, Italy and England.
On the northern coast of the island is the bay where St Paul was shipwrecked on his way to trial in Rome. The presence of the knights remains, with several structures and fortifications commemorating the areas religious significance.
But most prominent are the sea castle of Sant'Angelo, the fort of St Elmo and the walled suburb of Vittoriosa, embracing two prominentories which provided an easily defended natural harbor. All were part of what was to become the city of Valleta. The city was named after Grand Master Jean de la Valette, veteran of the siege of Rhodes and successful defender of Malta against the Ottoman Turks.
In the centre of the fortifications built to defend Grand Harbor is St Johns Cathedral, built by the Knights Hospitaller as the centre of their worship in 1578. The exterior of the Cathedral is austere, but inside is it is surprisingly extravagant. On the floors of one room are 375 marble tablets, each highly decorated and recording the deeds of the Order. This room is known as the mausoleum of chivalry.
The great hospital - containing one of the largest rooms in all Europe - is the highpoint of Hospitaller medical construction. The main ward is 185ft long by 35ft wide with ceilings of 31ft. Built in the 1570s, it still stands today. Strict standards of cleanliness and hygiene were enforced, long before this was generally accepted. Knights themselves tended the patients, using implements of silver to ensure hygiene, and the Order's surgeons were the best trained in all Europe.
The city was taken by Napoleon Bonaparte n 1798 without a fight. Reduced to a few scattered land holdings and a building in Rome, the Hospitallers sought solace in the origins of their Order, returning to the strictures of their Rule. In time, with the re-emergence of their power and prestige, their property within Valleta has been returned.
The headquarters of the Teutonic Knights in East Prussia (now Poland), Marienburg castle was originally built in 1276 under Grand Master Winrich von Kniprode as a functional fortress, its strategic importance leading it to become the headquarters of the Teutones by 1309. As the knights extended their territories and brought peace to the area, the castle "sprawled" to became a magnificent hotel for visiting noblemen and knights who wanted to take part in the Order's campaigns.
Restored to full height during the 19th century, Allied bombing reduced it to ruins during World War II. The Polish Government has returned the castle to the Teutones as a means of restoring and maintaining the historic site.
Three miles south of Edinburgh and seven miles from the old Templar headquarters in Scotland, Balantrodoch, stands the village called Rosslyn.
Perched on the edge of a gorge above the town is Rosslyn Chapel - so heavily dripping with Gothic, Nordic and Celtic carvings that it appears to be part of something greater. That was the intention. Rosslyn Chapel was originally intended to be the Lady Chapel, part of a much larger structure intended to be the greatest Cathedral in Europe. A lack of funds and a need of attention elsewhere prevented the massive work from being completed.
The interior of the chapel, which had its foundations laid in 1446, is a riot of carved images and geometric patterns. Symbols which later found popularity among the Freemasons abound. It is a chapel full of Christian - and pagan - motifs. There are dozens of carvings showing the Green Man of Celtic mythology, his wild head poking through a wide variety of foliage. On some columns, North American aloe cactus is represented - even though the Chapel was built 40 years before Columbus (in a mission sponsored by the Knights of Christ - a Templar remnant) "discovered" America. Other profuse images include those of the Temple of Solomon and the Holy Grail.
The original, incomplete design is said to represent the highest achievement of Sacred Geometry - the domain of a secret society known as the Masons. The Apprentice Pillar, an ornate column in a wing of the chapel, is a central piece of Masonic myth. The apprentice that built the masterwork is said to have been killed by his Master - a recurring theme in Masonic theology. Above the west door of the chapel is a carved head of a young man - his head gashed on the right temple. Legend has it that this is the image of the slain apprentice.
The vaults of the cathedral contain the graves of each Baron of Rosslyn, all said to have been buried in their armor rather than a coffin.
Rosslyn Castle was destroyed in 1650 by General Monks. Only ruins now remain. Rosslyn Chapel was spared - and still stands as a monument to the philosophy of Gothic architecture.
The first Temple Church in London was built about 1128. It had a house, a garden, an orchard, a cemetery and a round church of Caen stone. It was protected by a ditch and mound of earth. By 1161 it had become too small and was replaced by a larger site on the north bank of the River Themes. This sight, to become known simply as "New Temple" was consecrated in 1185 by Heraclius, the patriarch of Jerusalem.
The distinctive, circular design building is now hidden among the structures of two Inns of Court and currently serves as the lawyer's chapel. Once again in the possession of the Templars, the traditional "crossing to the bar" by London's "barristers" is still permitted.
The Temple Church contains a choir 65ft by 100ft long. At its western end is the impressive circular structure, 65ft in diameter. This is the original 12th century portion of the building.
From the buildings about the Church, the knights administered an international financial and military network - the likes of which was not to be seen again until centuries later. The Church contains effigies of knights, though they are not all `Templars. At best, they were affiliates of the Order.
Round churches are very rare: only 10 are believed to have been built in England. The shape is based on that of the Church of the Holy Schepulchre - the Templars mother-house in Jerusalem.
Widely considered the architectural masterpiece of its time, Chartres Cathedral is also linked to another outstanding figure - that of St Bernard of Clairvaux. St Bernard had played a formative role in the evolution and dissemination of the Gothic architectural formula in his early days (it had been at the height of his powers in 1134 that the soaring tower of Chatres cathedral had been built).
It was he who constantly stressed the principle of Sacred Geometry which had been put into practice in the tower and throughout the wonderful building.
Bernard said "there must be no decoration, only proportion". But his eloquent sermons inspired artists to create new heights of leadlight ornamentation! It was this philosophy of harmony, proportion and balance that was the main influence on the Cathedral's architecture.
St Bernard said: "What is God. . . He is length, width, height and depth." Apparently St Bernard had a strong relationship with the Bishop of Chartres, Geoffrey, - "inspiring him with and uncommon enthusiasm for the Gothic formula and holding almost daily negotiations with the builders themselves."
Chartres had been an important Christian site since the sixth century and the central point for the cult of Madonna after being given responsibility for a veil said to have been worn by Mary when she gave birth to Jesus. In the 11th century the original church was burnt down - and its Romanesque replacement also severely damaged by fire. This shell was renewed as the first example of the ornate, upward striving style to become known as Gothic.
The north tower was completed by 1134, the south during the next two decades. The Cathedral is a vast construction, with so much sculpture on its external walls as to be confusing. Many say the sculptures contain many secrets - waiting to be decoded by those who understand "sacred geometry".
Remarkable stained glass windows, each depicting a biblical story, flood the enigmatic inner labyrinths with strange patterns of light. The tall flying buttresses which support the ceilings, pointed arches and columns all combine in an overwhelming sense of proportion and harmony.
The whole structure has been specifically designed to express religious messages - acting as a mystical "book of stone".
The region of Troyes, Champagne, France is of great significance to Church Knight tradition and history. The first King of Jerusalem came from here, as did most of the original nine Templars. St Bernard de Clairvaux was probably its most famous resident. The Templars were officially recognised at the Council of Troyes, and St Bernard began his campaign for the Second Crusade there. The Grail Legends originated from here in 1180 (Chretien de Troyes, Le Conte del Grall). The region is also strongly associated with the Celestial Chorus.
Just how all these places, people and events are linked is unknown - though highly suspicious. (It is the subject of the first campaign I am designing - JS)
"Their praiseworthy state and their memorable holiness of life attract us; they suffer heavy and unbearable labors and expenses for the extension of the faith, and have made themselves into an unbreakable wall to defend the faith against pestilential enemies of Christ"
- Chronicler Froissart, 1328, in Knights, Andrea Hopkins.
ST BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX The most influential spiritual leader of the early 1100s was a humble monk, living in a rugged monastery of his own creation near the town of Clairvaux in southern France. Bernard of Clairvaux also happened to the be nephew of Andre de Montbard, one of the founding members of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Jerusalem (Templars).
Bernard was a slightly built man with a short brown beard. In 1126, then aged 36, Bernard appeared as frail as that of an old man. He had a chronic gastric disorder that kept him perpetually weak. Yet through this physical frailty shone a spiritual strength that caused even Popes and Kings to seek his advice.
Legend has it that before his birth, his mother dreamed that she bore a barking dog within her. A monk interpreted the dream as meaning her child would be a healer and watch-dog of the Church.
By the age of 21, Bernard had joined the monastery of Citeaux - persuading 29 others to take the vow with him and four of his five brothers. His youngest brother joined him later.
By the time Bernard was 35, the austere Citeaux monastery had grown to include three daughter-houses. Bernard was abbot of a monastery he had built-up from nothing, in an isolated valley called Absinth.
His faith was simple, direct and uncompromising. Many of his letters survive, giving a clear picture of a man totally devoted to his faith, but with love and compassion. His letters and sermons saw his reputation as a visionary spread quickly and far.
Even before 10 years as abbot had passed, Bernard had been called upon to resolve international disputes, chastise kings, advise those who asked and inspire the population to piety.
Bernard slept little, and ate minimally because of his condition. Anything less than complete worship was, to him, a waste of time. He feared no mans anger and was eminently practical in his decisions.
King Baldwin sent Montbard and Gondemare of the Templars to petition St Bernard's support for a new Militant Order. Bernard leapt upon the idea, convincing the Pope and the Holy Council of the Church Knights merit. On January 13, 1128, St Bernard addressed the assembly at Troyes cathedral - presenting the Rule of the Knights Templar which was to defend the Holy Land for almost 200 years.
St Bernard was forced by Pope Eugenius III to throw much of his reputation and status into raising the disastrous Second Crusade. He did this, despite failing health and great reluctance. After Christendom's defeat, he returned to his monastery where he composed a series of sermons which have since become literary classics.
He died at Clairvaux in 1153. By the time of his death, his monastery at Clairvaux had grown to include more than 160 affiliated daughter-houses.
HUGH DE PAYENS OF BURGUNDY On the death of King Baldwin in 1118, a small group of knights - veterans of the First Crusade - banded together to defend travellers and pilgrims on the roads to Jerusalem. Among the nine knights were Hugh de Payns (their leader from the lower nobility of Champagne), Geoffre de St Omer, Payen de Montdidier, Archambaud de St-Agnan, Andre de Montbard, Geoffrey Bisol, Rossal and Gondemare. The ninth member's identity is unknown. These knights had spent nearly half their lives in the east and were dedicated to securing it for Christendom.
Under the new king, Baldwin II, Hugh de Payns obtained for his new Poor knights of Christ accommodation near the Dome of the Rock - the supposed site of the Temple of Solomon. But before long they obtained a new name - the Knights of the Temple of Solomon, or simply: the Knights Templar.
In 1125, the knights received official recognition from Baldwin II who granted his new friend Hugh de Payns the title Master and Count of the Temple. By now the knights resources were increasing - no small part the cause of Hugh's negotiations with the landed gentry. In 1127 Hugh travelled from Syria to Europe (including England) in a surprisingly successful quest for funds and support.
Hugh also convinced Baldwin to write a letter of commendation to St Bernard of Clairvaux, exhorting the knights abilities and cause. The letter also called for papal recognition as an independent monastic Order - Hugh de Payns' ultimate dream.
Hugh was St Bernard's cousin, and seems to have shared his vision for a greater Christendom founded in practicality. When Hugh de Payns attended the papal court for the proclamation of the Knights monastic status, he found his cousin to be a enthusiastic supporter of his cause with a wealth of ideas for its foundation.
The idea of uniting the callings of worship and warrior turned out to be master-stroke of medieval-world public relations. In short time the knights were a recognised religious Order with gifts of land, money and service flooding in. Christendom saw the Templars as the vessel through which the boundaries of the Church could be strengthened and extended - and controlling the fighting spirit of the growing knightly class.
Hugh died in 1136 - aged about 66 - two years before his Order received the highest status on earth - being removed from the yolk of all authority other than the pope himself. Hugh had a dream - and lived to see it fulfilled
JACQUES DE MOLAY On the banks of the river Doubs, near one of the Templars oldest commanderies - Temple-les-Dole, is the small hamlet of Molay. Here, about 1244, Jacques de Molay - who was to become the last Grand Master of the Order - was born.
De Molay was elected 23rd and final Grand Master in a heated contest immediately after the Order was thrown out of the Holy Land. The political division evident in the elections probably contributed toward the Orders eventual downfall.
With the morale of the Order at an all-time low, its resources stretched and ranks thinned by battle, Jacques travelled to France for negotiations with Philip IV. Originally lead to expect support, this move led the Order into a carefully laid trap - contrived to remove its international power and gain its wealth for the French crown.
The degree of Jacques competence is difficult to understand. Generally he is recognised as not being an especially intelligent man - but rather as narrow minded, critical, intolerant and conservative minded.
Upon returning the European commanderies of the Order, he strictly enforced The Rule which had become lax in these peaceful lands.
One major mistake was to deny King Philip IV honorary membership of the Order - yet another factor the King would hold in grudge. Perhaps worse, de Molay requested the French Crown repay its already overdue debt.
But the apparent surprise with which arrests were made on members of the Order may not have actually been the case. De Molay apparently had sufficient warning to remove much of the Templar's treasury from Paris and send it with the Orders entire fleet to an unknown destination. Only 500 members of the Order were arrested in all France, suggesting many others may have escaped. Many tomes of Templar records also disappeared.
Jacques de Molay and the senior commanders of the Order were arrested. After 12 days of torture, he and his officers made a full confession to the Paris university.
Later, de Molay is said to have been "astounded" when his confession was read back to him. When a cardinal envoy from pope Clement IV arrived, he and his officers revoked their confession - sparking six years of violent debate.
During this time de Molay proved to be a poor leader. He refused to answer questions of the French Inquisition - insisting the Templars were only responsible to the pope and that no earthly king held power over him.
His illiteracy and lack of legal knowledge forced him to rely upon member knights to pose a defence. One by one, these "learned knights" disappeared - killed or removed by Philip's followers. After the Order had been dissolved, Jacques de Molay and his officers were given one more chance to confess their heresy - and to serve their lives in a penitent monastery. Several knights took up the option, but de Molay and Geoffrey de Charney asserted their innocence and that of the Order.
They were dragged in chains to slow and agonising deaths, burnt at the stake.
It is said that, from the flames of his pyre, de Molay cursed pope Clement and Philip to eternal damnation - beseeching Christ himself to prove the Orders innocence.
Clement died 40 days later. Philip died within six months. The Capetian dynasty, which had ruled France for more than three centuries, endured only 14 more years.
BROTHER GERARD OF AMALFI Even before the First Crusade, Christian pilgrims were regular visitors of the Holy places in Jerusalem. About 1080 a small hospice was built and run by a group of Benedictine monks to provide a place of rest and succour for the steady stream of devoted travellers.
The hospital was established by a small group of merchants from an Italian shipping city known as Amalfi. Brother Gerard was also from this city, and it was he who dedicated the hospice to St John.
During the siege of Jerusalem, Brother Gerard was one of a very few Christians that were not expelled from the city. Rather, he stayed in the city to treat the civilian wounded - and covertly supplied the Crusading army with bread.
Whatever the true form of his assistance was, Brother Gerard became highly regarded by the Christian leaders - in particular Godfrey of Bouillon who became the first ruler of Jerusalem. Godfrey gifted the hospice some land for revenue, and his example was soon taken up by other supporters.
There is no doubt Brother Gerard was a good and noble man - but he was also eminently practical and a good organiser.
In 1113 Gerard rejected the Benedictine for that of St Augustine. Seven years before his death, the Papacy granted the hospice status as a fully independent monastic Order. By this time, the Hospitallers held large properties in France, Spain and Italy - each country benefiting from the Order's medical knowledge.
By the time he died in 1120, Gerard had laid the firm foundations of the Hospitallers that was to survive 800 years. His epitaph says: "Here lies Gerard, the most humble man in the East and servant of the poor. He was hospitable to all strangers, a gentle man with a courageous heart. One can judge within these walls just how good he was. Provident and active in every way, he stretched out his arms to many lands in order to obtain whatever was needed to feed his people."
DIEUDONNE DE GOZON In 1311, two years after the Hospitallers successfully occupied Rhodes, trouble emerged in a valley below Mt St Stephen. In the only recorded incidence of its kind, a "dragon" was preying upon the local peasantry - particularly young maidens - and wreaking havoc among livestock.
Several knights at one time or another had given battle to the "dragon", but all had lost their lives. Grand Master Fulk de Villaret gave the order that the creature was to be left alone, not wanting to loose any more promising young warriors.
However, a young knight from Provence called Dieudonne de Gozon was determined to rid Rhodes of the menace. He had a model of the creature made from the descriptions of peasants and trained his dogs to attack it. Once ready, Dieudonne rode to the valley alone and without permission. While the "dragon" was being attacked on all sides by the dogs, Dieudonne approached the creature and slew it.
He was dismissed from the Order for direct disobedience of a Grand Master's. However, great public outcry forced the Grand Master to reinstate him. From then on, Hospitaller records referred to him as "The Dragon Slayer".
Assisted by his popular acclaim among both the Rhodes population and the knights themselves, Dieudonne de Gozon was elected Grand Master in 1346.
HERMAN VON SALZA The Teutones did not remain a nursing order for long. Within nine years of their establishment in 1190, Pope Innocent had granted the new organisation full recognition as a Militant Order. The first Grand Master was Herman von Salza, elected to the position in 1210. By this time he had already risen to positions of prominence, most notably as ministeriale at the court of Emperor Henry Vi and his son, Frederick II.
Contemporary sources attribute him with unflinching loyalty, stable judgement and political good sense. He became a close personal friend of Frederick II and was often forced to act as a mediary between the Holy Roman Emperor and the Papacy - which he managed to do without loosing the respect of either. The Order flourished under his leadership. In 1220 the Teutones boasted 12 houses in Palestine, Greece, Italy and Germany and could field some 600 military brethren. By the 1270s there were some 2000 members of the Order. He won the support of the Cistercian monks, and together both Orders represented the pillars of missionary work in the north-east, Von Salza survived a disastrous defeat in 1216 in which the second-in-command and most of the Order's militant monks were killed.
As Grand Master, Von Salza did not see the Order's main role as being in the Holy Land - though the mother-house remained in Acre until it fell to the Mameluks. Rather, much of the Orders resources were committed to fighting pagans in Hungary and Transylvania.
Bitterly disappointed when King Andrew of Hungary reneged his promise of granting the Teutones land, Van Salza ambitiously decided to carve out the Order's own principality from among the pagan Prussians.
Van Salza was not willing to undertake such a campaign without the support of the papacy and guarantees that they would retain any land they captured. Once this support was provided, the Teutone's own great Crusade began.
In 1226 the Emperor Frederick II honored the Order by making the Hochmeister (Grand Master) and all his successors princes of the German Empire - with the right to display the Imperial Eagle on their arms. When Frederick was crowned king of Jerusalem in 1229, it was the Teutones which provided the guard of honor in the Holy Sepulchre.
The Teutones cleared the Baltic coast, driving their enemies into the wilderness, destroying heathen shrines, subduing and converting the natives at the point of their swords. It was at the height of this action, in 1239, that Von Salza died.
KING PHILIP IV - "THE FAIR" Philip IV was a king who believed his own propaganda. He was convinced his word was the word of God - that he was the absolute authority both in spiritual and earthly matters. But he was a very private and aloof man. He never revealed his inner thoughts or desires to anyone. Such was his wall of silence that one contemporary wrote of him: "He is neither a man nor a beast: he is a statue."
What is known is that he was a very handsome man of high intelligence. His apparent lack of humanity may also have been a deliberate ploy to emphasise his "divine" nature. He demonstrated repeatedly that he understood the basics of human psychology and motivation.
His advisers were among the most cunning and devious men in France - men whom Philip recognised would get the job done for their own motives, as well as his own.
Philip's need for cash prompted him to tax the Church - a move that was strongly resisted by Pope Bonaface VIII. After nine years of diplomatic conflict, Boniface attempted to excommunicate Philip. The king replied by accusing the Pope of sodomy, sorcery, heresy, simony and blasphemy - and had him kidnapped, fighting the small Hospitaller and Templar bodyguard.
The people of Anagni prevented French success, freeing the Pope and offering him protection. But the 86-year-old Pope died a month later.
Benedict XI, Boniface's successor, was equally as stern against Philip. He died shortly after his ascension - a surprising and sudden onset of agonising internal pains.
In 1305, Philip applied to become a member of the Knights Templar upon the death of wife. But the Templars refused him - the secrecy of the Chapter not revealing the reason, even to Philip. About this time Philip suddenly began to support the merger of the Hospitallers and Templars into a single Order, presided over by a new position - "Bellator Rex", or warrior king. The idea was never accepted.
In November 1305, Philip gave Clement IV support in his election for the papacy.
Continued economic strife within France prompted Philip to grab money from the Jews. In a carefully pre-planned surprise action, every Jew in France was arrested, their money and property confiscated for the crown.
About the same time, Philip had twelve of his men accepted into the Order - one for each of the Templars 12 French preceptories. Clement called the Hospitaller and Templar Grand Masters to France to discuss a new crusade. The Hospitaller Grand Master declined, but Jacques de Molay responded. The trap was set, ready to be sprung at Philip's command.
Philip's masquerade continued right to the end. The morning after giving de Molay and some senior knights the honor of acting as pall-bearers at the funeral of his sister-in-law, Philip had them all arrested - denouncing them as heretics, blasphemers, usurers, traitors, sodomites and idolaters.
POPE CLEMENT IV The ascension of Clement IV (Bertrand de Got) to the papacy was an ill-omened one. After his coronation, He rode in procession through Lyons, with King Philip IV of France, the kings brother and another duke. As they rode, King Philip noticed a wall collapsing and reined in his horse. The wall collapsed upon the procession, narrowly missing the king. Clement was thrown from his horse, though unharmed. The duke was not so lucky, he received mortal injuries. Philip's brother, Prince Charles of Valois was also seriously injured. That Philip played a major role in Clement's election is not doubted. The extent of his influence is not known - though Clement certainly owed him "favors".
Clement, as bishop of Bordeaux, was known as a weak and greedy man, honor-bound and averse to responsibility. He hid behind his comprehensive training in Roman and Canon law. It is recorded that Clement caved in on several of Philip's demands - appointing numerous French cardinals, revoking Philip's crusader vow and rescinding the move to place France under Church edict. He resisted Philip's desire for the absolution of an excommunicated friend and the posthumous trial of Boniface.
When Philip told Clement of his plans to accuse the Templars, the pope was apparently astonished and incredulous. Clement's order for a full papal investigation may have been intended to prove such accusations ridiculous - only to be hijacked by Philip's puppet cardinals that Clement had himself appointed. Clement's confusion and uncertainty was probably the single greatest cause of the success of Philip's accusations. While initially publicly declaring his support for the Templars, he failed to act. Frightened to resist openly (remembering previously poisoned and kidnapped popes), he took a path of resistance - causing delaying and legal hurdles, but nothing definite. Finally, he was left with no choice but to dissolve the Order, or loose all credibility.
Clement died one month after Jacques de Molay and Geoffrey de Charney were burnt at the stake. Both he and Philip had been cursed from the flames - a curse that proved lethal.