Various Templar Ships essay example

1,394 words
... n Paris and London. These two Temples offered a full range of financial services to the royal houses, including collecting taxes, controlling debts and administering pension funds. [Burman / Templars 87-88] The treasury of the King of France was kept safely within the vault of the Temple of Paris. [Sinclair 36] The Templars owned a great fleet of merchant ships with which to convey all manner of goods, e. g., pepper and cotton, as well as pilgrims, between Europe and the Holy Land.

People wanting to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but lacking the resources to do so, were allowed to assign rights to their houses and property, upon their death, to the Templars in exchange for passage on a Templar ship. To avoid accusations of usury, this procedure was legitimized by the papal bull Quantum Praedecessores, issued by Pope Eugenius II in 1145. [Burman / Templars 75-78] The Holy Land was divided into four Crusader States: Jerusalem, Antioch, Tripoli and Edessa. Shifting alliances, complicated by the plotting of independent Arab emirates, posed a complicated and often confusing backdrop for the Knights' military operations.

Their first action was in the northern sector of the Principality of Antioch. They captured the March of Amanus, which formed a natural barrier between the city of Amanus and Asia Minor. [Burman / Templars 50] The Knights Templar frequently fought side-by-side with their counter-parts, the Knights Hospital ler, another military order, founded to provide shelter to sick, wounded or destitute pilgrims. Together, these two warrior orders afforded the Holy Land a formidable fighting force. Although some histories allude to a deep and bitter rivalry between the two, it is more likely that they cooperated well during the battles, keeping any such pettiness for the monotonous weeks between actions. [Upton-Ward 6-7] The first military action of the Templars was in the northern sector of the Holy Land.

In 1131, they captured the March of Amanus in Antioch. It was a natural barrier between the city and Asia Minor, which afforded control of two roads into Antioch. The same year, King Full, Baldwin's successor, travelled to the site and granted ownership to the Templars. [Burman / Templars 52] Control of the various areas of the Holy Land see-sawed back and forth between the Crusaders and the Arabs, with neither side enjoying a decisive victory.

Then the balance of power began to change with the rise of the great Arab leader Salah-ad-Din Yusuf in-Aiyub, known to westerners as Saladin. Descended from a long line of military heroes, he was born in 1138 in Baalbek, Syria, where his father was military governor. He began to develop his warrior skills by accompanying his father and uncles on various campaigns. [Burman / Templars 98] Saladin's rise to power was rapid and successful.

His adherence to the orthodox Sunni faith caused him to initiate dramatic changes in his Shi-. Upon his ultimate rise to the position of Sultan, he declared a'jihad', or holy war, against the Crusaders. This intense re-focusing of the Moslem effort began a gradual shift in power. Christian strongholds fell in increasing numbers, creating a domino effect. By the middle of 1187, Saladin had captured Acre, Nablus, Jaffa, To ron, Sidon, Beirut and Ascalon. Jerusalem fell on 2 October, 1187.

[Burman / Templars 108] The fall of Jerusalem was a disaster from which the Crusades never recovered. Among Saladin's prisoners were the King of Jerusalem and Raynaldde Chatillon, commander of the fortress at Moab. After entertaining the two in his tent, Saladin had Raynaud killed. The King saw his fellow prisoner executed and thought he was surely next, but Saladin had him brought back into his tent and told him, 'It is not the habit of kings to kill kings.'s aladin's victory was complete. [Payne 223-4] In the disarray that followed, the orders began to disperse. TheHospitallers removed their headquarters, first to Rhodes and then to Malta; and, with the ultimate fall of Acre in 1291, the Templars lost their base of operations and relocated to Cyprus.

In effect, the orders had lost their original reason for existence. [Upton-Ward 9] As the Knights had their patrons, so had their enemies. In 1305, Philip IV of France, known as Philip the Fair, seized control of the Holy See and relocated the papacy to Avignon. From there, he initiated a series of papal decrees, ostensibly issues by Pope Clement V, a puppet pope under his absolute control.

Eyeing the vast fortunes and resources of the Templars, he conceived a plot of treachery against them. Since he also controlled the Inquisition in France, he had no difficulty leveling a whole laundry list of horrible, but absurd and largely unsupportable, crimes against the Knights. [Burman / Inquisition 95] The role of the Inquisition, under the auspices of Chief Inquisitor Guillaume of Paris, was to obtain confessions and conduct trials. On Friday the 13th of September, 1307, the warrant was issued for the arrest of the Knights and seizure of their property. Many of the Temples were 'tipped off'by the local sheriffs about the impending sweep, but Grand Master Jacques deMo lay and his associates were arrested in their bed clothes. The interrogations, aimed at soliciting evidence of any wrongdoing with which to prove the allegations against the order, dragged on for years.

Ultimately, the Grand Master, along with other high-ranking Templars, were executed by burning in March, 1314, on an island in the Seine. [Howarth 17] The years between the arrest of Templars and the order's final dissolution afforded plenty of time for knights on the lam to become absorbed by the underground. Knights in England were never pursued, due largely to a rift between the King and the Church, and many were thought to have participated in the war between Scotland and England, on the side of Robert the Bruce. [Robinson 150-51] The vast fleet of Templar merchant ships was never found. There is no record of the 18 Templar ships which had been based at La Rochelle on the French coast, nor any of the various Templar ships normally anchored in the Thames or other English seaports.

There is some speculation that the Barbary Pirates, who gained worldwide notoriety by plundering European shipping well into the 19th century, were founded by seagoing Templars with revenge on their minds. Many of the order's ships were galleys, which were particularly suited for piracy. [Robinson 165] One of the more mysterious tenets of the Freemasons can be found in the initiation of a Master Mason. The initiate is told his degree 'will make your brother to pirates and corsairs.

' [Robinson 165-66] In 1813, a merchant ship, captained by a Freemason, was captured and boarded by pirates. In desperation, the captain rendered the Grand Hailing Sign of Distress of a Master Mason. The pirate captain apparently recognized the secret sign and allowed the merchant ship to proceed unharmed. [Robinson 166] The destruction of the Knights Templar by Philip the Fair was due to what he saw as wealth, arrogance, greed and secrecy on the part of the order. Even Philip's lawyer admitted 'perhaps not all of them had sinned.

' It took more than suspicion of guilt to bring about the downfall of such a powerful entity as the Knights Templar. The final blow, however, was probably three-fold: a general unpopularity of the order among the European aristocracy, due in part to jealousy; a chronic shortage in the French treasury, despite heavy taxation; and Master de Molay's refusal to consider a merger of the Templars with the Hospitallers, as suggested by the Pope. The fact remains, however, that no evidence of heresy was ever found. [Burman / Templars 180] An order founded by nine knights in Jerusalem came to amass great wealth and power, which speaks well of their integrity and discretion. They became the 'shock troops' of the Holy See. When they lost their original mission of protecting pilgrims upon the fall of Jerusalem, their downfall became inevitable.

[Sinclair 37]


Burman, Edward. The Inquisition. New York: Dorset, 1984.
The Templars. Rochester, VT: Destiny, 1986.