History


 

Past Priors of the Priory of Saint Michael and
Saint George of New York City

 

  2007 - Chevalier W. Michael Margolin, GOTJ  
  2004 - 2007 Michael Harrison Charles, GOTJ   
  1996 - 2004 Edmund Voyer GCTJ, GMTJ  
  1994 - 1996 Robert  E. Gorman, GCTJ  
  1987 – 1994 Col. Harding Isaacson, GCTJ  
  1983 - 1987 Hamilton R. Wager, GCTJ   
  1980 – 1983 Edward A. Gillespie, GCTJ   
  1976 - 1980 Col. Robert L. Bentley GCTJ   
  1972 - 1976 Thomas Darlington GCTJ, GMTJ    
  1968 - 1972 F. Daniel Coleman, GCTJ, GMTJ   
  1964 - 1968 Eugene Gotterdam   

 



History of
the Order4


Chronology of
the Order

 

 

 

 

History of the Order

In 1095 when Pope Urban II issued the call for the First Crusade, the Western Christian World saw this as a defensive action. Since the early 8th century Europe had been under ceaseless attack from Islamic forces, beginning with the Iberian Peninsula. Not only was most of Christian Spain conquered, but Islamic armies penetrated into the heart of  France, only to be halted by Charles Martel in 732. Still, Islamic forces continued to threaten Europe, occupying Sicily, most of Southern Italy, and even besieging Rome in 846 and sacking St. Peter’s Basilica. Yet the First Crusade was not directed at Islam itself, but against the Seljuk Turks, who in their conquest of Palestine replaced the previous Arab tolerance of Christian pilgrims with intolerance and violence.

By the end of July, 1099 the First Crusade had achieved its objective of restoring the Holy Places to Christian control. It was one thing to conquer; now the challenge was to rule. Immediately two problems confronted the newly created Kingdom of Jerusalem, being one of the worse examples of feudal fragmentation. The vassals of the King of Jerusalem were carving out their own feudal estates and becoming more powerful than their suzerain. They were even engaging in conflict among themselves, often hindering efforts to counter any renewed threat from Islam. The second problem was the lack of a reliable fighting force to defend the conquest. Once the Crusade was finished, most of the surviving crusaders, having fulfilled their vows, returned home. The Knights Templar would provide the solution by becoming the first international standing army.

The opportunity came in 1118-19, when an idealistic band of knights led by Hugues de Payens offered their services to protect pilgrims in route to the Holy Places. Organizing themselves into a religious community, vows were made to the Latin Patriarch of  Jerusalem. Baldwin II, king of Jerusalem, provided them with quarters in what had been the al-Aqsa Mosque, thought to be part of Solomon’s Temple. They became known as the Poor Knights of Christ of the Temple of Solomon, or simply the Knights of the Temple. Perhaps it was the king, who saw in these Poor Knights of Christ, the opportunity to create a fighting force. This was reinforced when the counts of Anjou and Champaigne joined the Order.

Now events moved to Europe. If this humble group of knights was to become an effective military force, papal recognition, autonomy, and an economic foundation had to be acquired. Hugues de Payens himself went to Europe on a mission to gain support and recruit new members. More importantly the support of the outstanding church leader of the period was enlisted, Bernard, the Cistercian abbot of Clairvaux. In 1128-29 a Council was held at Troyes in Champaigne in which The Order of the Temple was recognized and provided with a Rule, drafted under Bernard’s guidance. Pope Honorius II approved the recognition, with Hugues de Payens becoming the first Master of the Temple. It was  Bernard de Clairvaux, who grasped the historical significance, when he wrote in De

laude novae militae (In Praise of a New Knighthood) that a new type of Order had been created, consisting of laymen who blended the knightly and monastic life. These soldier-monks would fight to protect Christian interests.

While Hugues de Payens had been the leader with a mission and a vision, an individual possessed of administrative talent was needed. That was Robert de Craon, who became Master of the Temple c 1136. By his death in 1149, a series of popes had granted  privileges that made the Templars an autonomous corporate body, answerable only to the papacy. Papal and royal exemptions allowed the Templars to become economically independent, financing their overseas military endeavors in great part from European donations of land and money. In the process the Templars fashioned the first European-wide system of international banking. Their convents, particularly in London and Paris became “clearing-houses” for the deposit, disbursement and transfer of funds. The system’s reliability for efficiency and honesty attracted church leaders and kings to entrust their funds and valuables to Templar security.

Their independence allowed the Templars to create an effective fighting force, a naval fleet, and a defensive system of fortresses in Palestine/Syria. Within the Iberian  Peninsula, Templars supported the Reconquista, led by the Spanish and Portuguese kings. At the height of their power in the 13th century the Order had around 7000 members, including knights, sergeants-at-arms, non-military-sergeants, brothers, and priests. Their network consisted of some 870 castles, preceptories and convents spread throughout most of Christian Europe, Palestine and Syria. They inspired both the Hospitallers and the Teutonic Knights to adopt military roles. The Templars served as a model for new military orders established by the rulers within the Iberian Peninsula, such as Calatrava in Castile and Santiago in Leon.

In 1146 Pope Eugenius III granted the Templars the privilege of wearing the Red Cross or Cross Patteé on their mantles as symbolic of their willingness to shed their blood.  Noted for their bravery, determination and discipline, much of the burden for the defense of the Crusader States fell upon them. Described as “lions in battle” thousands of Templars gave their lives as they won everlasting glory in such battles as Cresson, Hattin, La Forbie and Mansurah. Despite their  efforts  Jerusalem was lost to

Saladin in 1187. The Templars established themselves at Acre,  following the limited success of the Third Crusade. After the loss of Acre in 1291, the Templars, evacuating their last castles in Palestine/Syria, retreated to the island of Cyprus.

Now began the blame game. Who was responsible for the loss of the Crusader States? The Templars may have shared in the blame, due to ineffectual leadership and involvement in politics. But there were more important reasons, such as the failure to establish an effective political order in Palestine and the tendency of the great lords to become embroiled in political intrigue instead of defending the Kingdom against the common enemy. The arrival of new crusaders insisting upon pursuing the Holy War often upset the balance of power that had been achieved between the Christians and Moslems, thus encouraging a strong Islamic reaction. The problem of leadership was never solved. Even the kings made poor leaders of the Crusades, since their political distrust followed them to Palestine and they, too, had to return to their home kingdoms.

The idealism and moral inspiration of the First Crusade became tarnished and corrupted by greed for political power and wealth. Finally, there was the Islamic reaction that found effective leaders, such as Saladin, to lead the counter-attack to the European presence in the Middle East. In short, the odds were not only against the survival of the Crusader States but against the Templars as an enduring fighting force in the Middle East.

By the late 13th century questions were being raised about the effectiveness of the military orders, with proposals being made to unify them. The fall of Acre made the issue more pressing. While both the Hospitallers and the Teutonic Knights found new roles for themselves, the Templars lacked economic resources that were essential for any renewal of their military prowess due to the loss of lands in Palestine and Syria, the decline from patrons of gifts of land and money, the curtailing of their exemptions, and the impact of inflation. Recruitment became more difficult as the Templars became an aging Order. Moreover, the appearance of possessing great wealth became the kiss of death. Rulers, motivated by greed and jealousy, took advantage of the Templars’ loss of credibility and respect. Already in the early 14th century English kings had violated the temple of the Templars in London.

Ultimately the fate of the Templars would be decided within France. Philip IV, King of France made the move to challenge the continued existence of the Templars. Taking advantage of rumors of Templar corruption (no doubt exaggerated) and of a weak and compliant Pope, in 1307 Philip IV ordered the arrest of all Templars in France, including the Master of the Temple, Jacques de Molay. Pope Clement V ordered an investigation into the charges leveled against the Templars. Under immense political pressure the Pope ordered the arrest of all Templars within Christian Europe and the seizure of their property. In an attempt to resolve the Templar issue, Clement V convoked the Council of Vienne in 1312. The lack of credible incriminating evidence led the majority of the council fathers to conclude that the charges lacked merit. Then the Pope on his own  authority issued the Bull, Vox in excelso, dissolving the Order. Templars were to be pensioned off and their property turned over to the Hospitallers. The final act came on  March 18, 1314, when Philip IV ordered the execution by fire of Jacques de Molay and  Geoffroy de Charnay as relapsed heretics. Finding courage at the end, they both  vigorously denied the charges against the Order.

While the widespread Templar saga had come to an end, for a period of time Templar  tradition continued to survive within frontier areas of Christian Europe. After Templars  played a significant role in the Scottish victory at Bannockburn on June 24, 1314, Robert  the Bruce joined the Templars and Hospitallers into a new Order of the Temple and of St.  John. In the Iberian Peninsula, new military orders were formed under direct royal control. In Aragon King James II established the Order of Montesa, while in Portugal the  Order of Christ was created. Perhaps the last Templars were two men who had survived  the fall of Acre. About 1340 they were discovered, married with families, serving a  Sultan in Palestine. They were repatriated, provided with pensions, and received with  great honor by the papal court.

No historical evidence has surfaced to date that suggests the Templars survived as an  “underground” order after 1314, either on the continent of Europe or in Scotland. The last  Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, remained faithful to his Catholic Church, despite the papal suppression of the Order and persecution by the French Inquisition under the control of Philip IV. Providing for the secret survival of the Order would have required Jacques de Molay to repudiate the authority of the Church. Instead, remaining a faithful Catholic, he suffered a martyr’s death for his principles. Legends regarding such a secret survival, with hidden Grand Masters, appeared only in the 18th Century as part of continental and Scottish Freemasonry, and later to provide credibility for the Templar “restoration” in 1804.

The Order of the Temple had ended, but Templarism survived in a misty world of legend  and myth, due to the controversial ending of the Order and the heroic death of its leaders.   In the early 18th century Templarism re-appeared as part of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in  France, attracting members of the French nobility. In France this Templarism,  reminiscent of Philip II’s Spanish Armada against Protestant England, became a Crusade  to restore a Catholic Stuart king not only to Scotland, but also to England.

In 1736 Andrew Michael Ramsay, a Scottish Freemason and Catholic, delivered a speech to the Masonic Lodge in Paris, insisting that Freemasonry had begun in Palestine among the crusades, particularly the military orders. The result was a frenzy of new rituals, symbols, and myths based on the Crusades and the military orders. When the battle of Culloden in1746 ended any hope of a Stuart restoration, French Freemasonry began to develop its own identity.

Now a German noble and Freemason, the Baron Karl von Hund, revealed his belief that he had discovered a new form of Freemasonry, known as the Strict Observance, directly descendant from the Templars. It was based on Templar survival in the British Isles, particularly in Scotland. This myth of Templar survival became very popular among various Masonic lodges. Meanwhile continental lodges were being influenced by the rationalism of the Enlightenment with many members becoming supporters of revolutionary change directed against absolute monarchy and a social order based on birth and privilege. Then came the French Revolution in 1789, with its promise of a New Order founded on brotherhood, equality and liberty.

Out of the turmoil created by the Revolution, a “child of the Revolution”, Napoleon Bonaparte, rose to power, promising to spread the ideals of the Revolution to all of Europe. After conquering most of continental Europe, he had himself proclaimed Emperor. In that same year of 1804, a new form of Templarism appeared. A “restored”

Ordre du Temple evolved out of the Chevaliers de la Croix, a rather conservative Masonic lodge in Paris. The founders included Claude-Mathieu, Radix de Chevillon; a medical doctor, Ledru; and a chiropodist, Fabre-Palaprat, known as “a leading Masonic figure.” Fabre-Palaprat accepted the office of Grand Master.

At the same time two interesting documents surfaced. One was the Charter of Transmission, by which an alleged successor to de Molay, Jean M. Larmenius provided for the “secret” survival of the Knights Templars. This document, written in ciphers, also included in cipher the “signatures” ”of Grand Masters from Larmenius to Fabre-Palaprat. Conflicting Latin translations only appeared after 1804. The second document was the  Statutes of 1705, thought to have been written under the direction of Philip, the Duke of Orleans, whom the founders of 1804 claimed as a restorer of the Templars.

For motives of his own, Napoleon Bonaparte approved of this “restoration”, even allowing a grand ceremony in Paris, honoring de Molay and all other Templar martyrs. Napoleon, upon becoming Emperor, created a new nobility. Perhaps he saw these new Templars as serving as a counter-balance to the Masonic lodges, whom he distrusted due to their political radicalism. By1808, through successful recruitment the new Order had established Priories and Commanderies throughout most of the Grand Empire, including Italy and Switzerland. Ties to its Masonic origins were severed, with this Order of the Temple proclaiming its autonomy and adherence to “the Catholic Apostolic and Roman religion.”

This promising beginning was quickly dashed by Fabre-Palaprat When he revised the Statutes of 1705 to justify assuming absolute power, a schism erupted that lasted until  1814. When unity was finally restored, the Order once again prospered. When  constitutional monarchy was established in France, the Order supported the restored Bourbon King, Louis XVIII, and the king in return granted the Templars recognition. When Charles X attempted to restore royal absolutism, the Templars supported the revolt of 1830 and the return of constitutional monarchy.

Once again Fabre-Palaprat became the source of contention. Earlier he had formed the Johannite Church of the Primitive Christians, based on a spurious version of the Gospel of St. John, and the Levitikon, another document “discovered” by Fabre-Palaprat. When, in 1833, he attempted to impose his Johannite beliefs upon the Templars, the result was once more schism. One faction retained its chivalric traditions and obedience to the Catholic Church. The death of Fabre-Palaprat in 1838 provided another opportunity for unity. This attempt failed when the French palaprien Templars refused to accept the choice of Sir William Sidney-Smith, the British Grand Prior, as Grand Master. Within France, the palaprien Templars continued to choose Regents until they had faded from existence by 1870. Many Templar priories then became autonomous.

The Templar revival in the 20th century owed its existence to developments within the Grand Priory of Belgium, which had been founded under Fabre-Palaprat in 1825. Factional disputes between Catholic and Masonic members, along with European political developments, resulted in its disappearance. In 1932, several former members established a new Grand Priory, taking the name of The Sovereign and Military Order of

the Temple of Jerusalem. Hoping to re-establish this Order of the Temple as an international organization, a regency was formed. Emile-Isaac Vandenberg, as regent, devoted much of his energy to revitalizing Templar Priories across Europe, including France, Italy, Portugal and Switzerland. Such a promising development was cut short by the Second World War. Viewing the German occupation of Belgium as a danger to Templar survival, Vandenberg made a temporary transfer of the leadership and archives of the Order to the care of the Portuguese Grand Prior, Antonio Campello de Sousa Fontes. Once the war had ended, Vandenberg requested the return of the archives. Then de Sousa Fontes took advantage of the sudden death of Vandenberg to assume the title of Regent. Once more there was schism, with some Priories rejecting his leadership. In 1960

Fernando Campello de Sousa Fontes succeeded his father, taking the title of Prince Regent.

The history of the American Grand Priory began with the Grand Priory of Switzerland. By 1960 Anton Leuprecht, the Grand Prior of Switzerland, was receiving Americans into the Swiss Grand Priory. As more Americans became Templars, in 1962 Anton Leuprecht and several American Templars, including William Y. Pryor, initiated action to form an American Autonomous Grand Priory. It was decided to incorporate the American Grand Priory in the State of New Jersey. The seven founders signed the Corporate Charter on June 4. 1962. They were Crolian W. Edelen, William Y. Pryor, Herschel S. Murphy, Warren S. Hall, Jr., John D. Leet, Lawrence Stratton and George J. Deyo. The corporate documents were filed on June 13, 1962, with official recognition by the State of New Jersey taking place on June 29 of the same year. Crolian William Edelen became the first Grand Prior.

After the Prince Regent, de Sousa Fontes had recognized the American Grand Priory, in April of 1964 the Grand Prior of the USA asked Peter II, the former king of Yugoslavia, to become the Royal Patron of the American Grand Priory. Upon the King’s acceptance he was made a Knight Grand Cross. Peter II remained the American Royal Patron until his death on November 4, 1970.

In 1970 the Prince Regent convoked a Convent General of The Sovereign Military Order of The Temple of Jerusalem, with one session to meet in Chicago, Illinois, showing the growing importance of the American Grand Priory. At the Chicago Convent, it was decided that while the Catholic roots of the Order would be honored, the Order would be open to all Christian membership. Nearly 20 years later in 1990, the Prince Regent issued revised Statutes for the Order on his own authority, which allowed him to assume the title of Grand Master and to designate his successor. Once more dispute and division resulted, with Grand Priories re-affirming or revoking their ties to de Sousa Fontes.

Under the leadership of two American Grand Priors, Donald Roderick Perkins and his successor James J. Carey, the American Grand Priory assumed an important role in the international arena of Templar affairs, working towards healing the division among the Grand Priories, bringing about reform and resolving the divisive issue of the Prince Regent.

In the Fall of 1995 a Templar Grand Convent met in Salzburg, Austria. When the Prince Regent refused to recognize this Convent and to accept a compromise, offering him the title of Prince Regent Emeritus, a consensus was reached to withdraw recognition from his leadership. A Council of Grand Priors was formed to administer the Order, led by Col. Joseph Esposito, Grand Prior General of NATO. A second meeting was held at Salzburg in November of 1996 to approve revised statutes and consider candidates for Grand Master. This convent ended in dispute and division.

To retain some semblance of unity and to promote continued reform, the American Grand Priory led the effort to form an International Grand Council with Major General Sir Roy Redgrave, K.B.E., the British Grand Prior, as Grand Commander. This resulted in the creation of the North Atlantic Obedience of O.S.M.T.H., whose membership included Grand Priories from the United States, England-Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, Scandinavia and NATO. Since 1997 the goal of this organization has been to develop practical steps towards a confederation of Templar Grand Priories, allowing for the election of a Grand Master.

Meanwhile in 1997 the American Grand Priory found a new Royal Patron in Princess Elisabeth of Ysenberg und Büdingen, Princess of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. Since her appointment, Princess Elisabeth has played a significant role in the affairs not only of the American Grand Priory, but of the Atlantic Obedience of Grand Priories.

Copyright 2000, The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, Inc.
 

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Chronology of the Order

(The following is based on the acknowledged and appreciated works of Chev. Robert J.  Kovarik, Ph.D., GOTJ) 

1095 Pope Urban II called the First Crusade at Clermont in France.

1099 Jerusalem taken by the First Crusade in July.

1100 The Hospitaller Order of St. John was founded by Gerard (Geraldus) the Hospitaller. St. John the Almoner was the patron of hospital work. Recognized by Pope Pascal II in 1113. Gerard died in 1120.

1118/19  Hugues de Payens and Godefroi de Saint-Omer formed a religious community to protect pilgrims. These nine knights, making their vows before the Latin  Patriarch of Jerusalem, Warmund of Picquigny, accepted the Augustinian Rule under the  guidance of the canons of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. As part of their profession,  it was agreed “that they should protect the roads and routes to the utmost of their ability  against the ambushes of thieves and attackers, especially in regard to the safety of  pilgrims.” (William, Archbishop of Tyre). Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, provided  quarters in part of his palace (the site of al-Aqsa Mosque) thought to be remains of  Solomon’s Temple. First known as The Poor Knights of Christ; they were later called  The Knights of the Temple (militia templi).

1120 Fulk V, count of Anjou joined the Order in the Holy Land as a lay associate.

1123 Raymond du Puy, the new Hospitaller master, began the transition of his Order from a charitable/care of pilgrims order into a partially military one. Only after the Third Crusade did it become a primarily military order.

1125 Hugues, Compte de Champaigne, after ceding his lands, joined the Order in the Holy Land.

1126 With a delegation of knights, Hugues de Payens traveled to France to recruit members and to seek support from the Cistercian abbot, Bernard de Clairvaux, in obtaining papal recognition and the creation of a “rule of life.”

1128 Hugues de Payens visited England and Scotland to seek recruits for the Order. By this date the Templars were actively supporting the King of Aragon, Alfonso I, “the Battler.”

1128/29 At the Council of Troyes The Order of the Temple was recognized and a Rule was approved  based on the Benedictine/Cistercian model. Known as The Latin Rule, it consisted of 76 articles. The white mantle of the Cistercians was adopted by the professed knights as symbolic of loyalty and purity of life. Pope Honorius II (1124-30) approved the recognition. Hugues de Payens was chosen as the first Master of the Temple (Magister Militae Templi). Magister Militum was the title for the commander-in-chief in the Western Roman Empire.

1130 Raymond-Berengar III, count of Barcelona and Provence, joined the Templars as a lay associate.

1130s Early in the thirties the Templars acquired castles and fortresses in northern Syria, such as Baghras (Gaston), Darbsak (Trapesak), La Roche de Roussel and La Roche Guillaume.

1136 By this date Bernard de Clairvaux wrote De Laude Novae Militae in which he described the Templars as “a new type of order in the Holy Places.” The Order was seen as a fusion of knightly and monastic life. The Order of St. Lazarus was founded with links to the Templars. At the death of Hugues de Payens, Robert de Craon (Burgundy) was chosen as the second Master of the Temple. As “the great administrator”, he recognized the need for papal support and freedom from local church authorities.

1139 Pope Innocent II (1130-43) in his bull, Omne datum optimum, brought the Templars under direct papal authority, providing them with privileges and exemptions that made them an autonomous corporate body, allowing them to secure an economic base for financing military activities in the Holy Land. They were to defend the Church against all enemies of the Cross.

1144 Pope Celestine II (1143-44) issued his bull, Milites Templi, adding more privileges. The Templars could now collect their own funds.

1145 Pope Eugenius III (1145-53) called the Second Crusade. He issued the bull, Militi Dei, allowing the Templars to have their own churches and clergy exempt from episcopal control. Subsequent popes would reissue these bulls, adding further privileges.

1146 Pope Eugenius III permitted the Templars to add the red cross (Patteé) on the left breast of their tunics and the shoulder of their mantles, symbolizing willingness to shed their blood and die for the Faith.

1160 Military orders, modeled on the Templars, were founded in the Spanish kingdoms, such as the orders of Alcantara, Calatrava and Santiago. Templars were supporting the rulers of Aragon, Leon and Castile in the Reconquista. Under Gualdim Pais, the first Templar Master in Portugal, the castle of Tomar was built. Templars played an active role in the expansion of the Kingdom of Portugal.

1163 The Retrais et establissements de Temple was added to the Rule, covering the conventual life, defining the hierarchical status, regulating the chapters, election of the Master, determining the penance and punishments for violations of the Rule and Statutes, and admission to the Order. Pope Alexander III (1158-81) recognized the amended Rule. The following motto was inscribed on the Templars black and white standard: Non nobis, Domine, non nobis sed nomini tuo da gloriam. The Order’s seal showed two knights on horseback with the inscription: Sigillum militum Christi. A French translation of the Rule became known as The French Ancient Rule. An Aragonese translation was known as The Catalan Rule. It required the Templars to swear fealty to the rulers of Aragon.

1187 Saladin defeated the Crusaders at the Battle of Hattin, resulting in the loss of Jerusalem. Over 200 Templars were killed. Pope Gregory VIII called the Third Crusade. The Hospitallers and Templars established themselves on the island of Cyprus. Templars developed a naval force.

1190 By the nineties the development of a network of Templar preceptories within Europe allowed them to become a major economic power with a reputation for providing reliable, honest and efficient financial services. The temples in London and Paris served as treasuries patronized by the rulers of England and France, as well as by the nobility. The Templars were pioneering international banking.

1191 The Port of Acre captured by the Third Crusade. It became the new Templar headquarters.

1198 The Teutonic Knights founded at Acre.

1228 The Templars supported the conquest of Majorca and Valencia in 1238 by Alfonso II, King of Aragon.

1244 The Templars suffered a serious defeat at the battle of La Forbie.

1250 The battle of Mansurah in Egypt was a disaster for Louis IX of France and the Templars.

1271 The Mamluk sultan of Egypt, Baibars, captured the major fortress of the Hospitallers at Chastel-Blanc, of the Templars at Krak du Chevalier, and of the Teutonic Knights at Montfort (Syria).

1274 At a church council in Lyon, France, a proposal to merge the Hospitallers and the Templars was discussed, revealing doubts about the future of the Christian presence in the Holy Land.

1291 With the fall of Acre to the Mamluks, Cyprus became again the Templar military headquarters. The Templars evacuated the castles of Tortosa and of ‘Atlit, ending their presence in the Holy Land. The Templars lost not only their land base but their raison d’etre.

1292 Jacques de Molay became Master of the Temple.

1300 By now the Templars failed to justify their continued existence as a military order, and had no secondary mission as the Hospitallers did. They appeared to have given their economic interests the higher priority, allowing enemies jealous of their wealth and power to begin accusing them of corruption and blaming them for the loss of the Holy Land.

1305 Both Pierre Dubois and Ramon Lull recommended that the Hospitallers and Templars be fused into one military order.

1307 Already Edward I and Edward II had violated the temple of the Templars in London. Philip IV of France, heavily in debt, saw his opportunity. Rumors circulating of Templar corruption were turned into fact. In October Philip ordered the arrest of all Templars in France, turning them over to the Inquisition. Under pressure Pope Clement V (1305-14) agreed to an investigation. The bull, Pastoralis Praeeminentiae, ordered the arrest of the Templars in the Christian West.

1308 Under pressure from the pope, Edward II ordered the arrest of all Templars in England with their property coming under royal control. What remained of the property was turned over to the Hospitallers in 1323.

1311 Except in France and areas under French dominance the charges against the Templars were not substantiated. The crisis forced the pope to convoke a council.

1312 The Council of Vienne found that the charges against the Templars lacked merit. On his own authority Pope Clement V issued a bull, Vox in excelso on March 2, dissolving the Templar Order. A second bull, Ad proviendan, turned over Templar property to the Hospitallers, partly to pay pensions for ex-Templars. In Scotland the bull was not promulgated since the King, Robert the Bruce, was under excommunication. It would appear that Templars from France had fled to Scotland, some taking refuge with the Saint-Clairs of Rosslyn. Templar support seemed to have been crucial for the Scottish victory over the English at Bannockburn on June 24, 1314. The King fused the Templars with the Hospitallers into the Order of the Temple and of St. John. This Order was  suppressed by the Scottish Reformation Parliament in the 16th century.

1314 On the evening of March 18, Jacques de Molay and Geoffrey de Charnay, the Preceptor of Normandy, were burned to death on an island in the Seine. Both had recanted their previous confessions, which had been obtained under torture.

1317 Pope John XXII (1316-34) approved the request of King James II of Aragon to form a new military order, that of Montesa. Templar property in Aragon along with Hospitaller property in Valencia were turned over to this new Order. Since there were few Templars remaining, knights from the Order of Calatrava were asked to join Montesa. The first Master was a Calatrava knight.

1319 In Portugal Pope John XXII approved the request of King Deniz to organize Templar property and remaining members into a new military order: The Order of Christ. Unlike the Spanish military orders that became increasingly chivalric and under direct royal control after 1500, the Order of Christ continued its military role by supporting Portuguese expansion into Africa and Asia. Its most famous Grand Master was King Henry the Navigator.

1571 Templar archives in Cyprus, now in the possession of the Hospitallers, appeared to have been destroyed by the Ottoman Turks.

1660 The Order of Lazarus was restored in France by King Henry IV (1589-1610) as the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and of St. Lazarus; while in Italy the Pope made the duke of Savoy the hereditary Grand Master of a restored Order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus.

1715 Upon becoming Regent of France, Philip, the Duke of Orleans, involved himself in the military orders within France. His legitimate son became the Grand Master of the Order of Mount Carmel and Lazarus, while an illegitimate son became a Knight Hospitaller and Grand Prior of that Order in France. In 1314 the former Templar Temple in Paris had become the Hospitallers’ headquarters. The “restorers” of the Order of the Temple in 1804 will claim that the Templars had survived after 1314 with a line of secret Grand Masters leading to the Duke of Orleans, who seemingly ended the Templars hidden existence by holding a Convent General at Versailles that recognized the Duke as Grand Master and issued the Statutes of 1705.

1717 In London English Freemasonry began its institutional history with the combination of four small lodges into the Grand Lodge. Already a Scottish Rite Freemasonry had developed as more of a political force for the restoration of the Stuarts. Medieval Templar traditions had become part of various noble clans. By the 18th century such Templar traditions now infused with legend and myth became part of Scottish Freemasonry.

1730 Scottish Masonry began to spread to France as part of an exiled Jacobite political force. The Grand Masters of the early French lodges were Jacobite Scottish nobles. Members of the French aristocracy were attracted to this Freemasonry due to its nature as pro-Catholic/Stuart and anti-Hanoverian.

1736 Andrew Michael Ramsay, a Scottish Freemason and convert to Catholicism, who had been received as a knight (Chevalier) into the Order of Mount Carmel and Lazarus under the Duke of Orleans, delivered an Oration to the Masonic Lodge in Paris, claiming that Masonry had begun in the Holy Land among the crusades. Masonic lodges began to adopt rituals and symbols associated with the medieval military orders.

1742 A German noble, the Baron Karl Gotthelf von Hund, was received into the Scottish Masonic Rite while in Paris.

1745 After the failure of the rebellion led by the “Young Pretender” Bonnie Prince Charlie, Jacobite Freemasonry gradually died out in France. Adopting the more moderate approach of the Grand Lodge of England, French Freemasonry became more Deistic, advocating the ideals of the Enlightenment. This contributed to the papal condemnation of Freemasonry.

1750 Upon his return to Germany Karl von Hund claimed a “new” form of Freemasonry directly descendant from the Templars, who had continued the Order in Scotland after its suppression. Known as the Strict Observance, it brought much of the occult, the magical and the mystical into continental Freemasonry. To support his claims, he provided a list of alleged “secret Grand Masters”, beginning with Aumont and Wildgaf de Salm, who allegedly fled to the island of Mull in 1312, where they preserved “the secret beliefs” of the Templars.

1789 At the beginning of the French Revolution the National Assembly abolished “medieval” associations, including the military Order of Mount Carmel and Lazarus. In 1791 the more radical National Convention abolished the Hospitaller Grand Priory, confiscating the former Templar Temple in Paris, turning it into a prison. The most famous inmates would be the King of France, Louis XVI, and his family.

1804 A “restored” Ordre du Temple evolved out a Masonic lodge in Paris, that of the Chevaliers de la Croix, associated with the Grand Orient. Three members, Ledru, a medical doctor; de Courchamp, a notary; and de Saintot, appeared to have founded the Ordre du Temple. A noble, Claude-Mathieu, Radix de Chevillon (un homme de paille) provided a connection with the alleged last secret Grand Master, the Count of Cossé-Brissac, and a source for the Larmenius, Charter of Transmission, that purportedly proved the survival of the Templars after 1314. Chevillon also ennobled the three  founders and made them “Princes of the Order.” The Charter was written in ciphers, with Latin versions appearing only after 1804. The Statutes of 1705 were also discovered with spurious relics. Bernard-Raymond Fabré-Palaprat, a chiropodist and “a leading Masonic figure,” was included among the founders. When Chevillon refused to serve as Grand Master, Fabré-Palaprat accepted the office. He was the last to sign the Charter of Transmission using the ciphers. This “restoration” had the approval of the newly proclaimed Emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte. Distrustful of the anti-monarchical principles of Freemasonry, perhaps he saw this Order of the Temple as an alternative that would appeal to his newly created nobility and to his supporters. Noble members of the Masonic Lodge of St. Caroline were recruited.

1806 The Templar Order had developed its structure and organized itself as a chivalric, hospitable, tolerant, traditional and universal institution.

1808 The success of recruitment resulted in the establishment of Priories and Commanderies within the Grand Empire. Candidates that did not possess proof of nobility were ennobled. To further separate itself from its Masonic origins, the Order “professed the Catholic Apostolic and Roman religion.” Membership was refused to Protestants. The Order revealed its public existence at a grand ceremony at the Church of St. Paul, honoring Jacques de Molay and other martyrs of the Templars.

1812 By now Fabré-Palaprat with a certain Mauviel, the former Constitutional Bishop of Cayes in Haiti, had formed the Johannite Church of the Primitive Christians. It was based on an unorthodox version of the Gospel of St. John and the Levitikon, another document “discovered” by Fabré-Palaprat, who was then consecrated a bishop by Mauviel. Fabré-Palaprat now added the title of Sovereign Pontiff & Patriarch to that of Grand Master. This caused dissension within the Order. Fabré-Palaprat resigned as Grand Master on November 21 and conferred the Mastership on de Courchant. Regretting his resignation, Fabré-Palaprat politically maneuvered are turn as Grand Master by December 19. This resulted in the first schism, with the dissidents choosing Charles-Louis Le Peletier, count of Aunay, as Grand Master.

1814 In England, Admiral Sir William Sidney-Smith, who had fought in the naval war against Napoleon; the duke of Sussex, son of George III; and Charles Tennyson d’Eyncourt, uncle of the poet, formed an Order of the Temple. Fabré-Palaprat recognized Sir William Sidney-Smith as the Grand Prior of England. In France the restored Bourbon King, Louis XVIII gave the Templars his royal protection, fearing various groups opposed to the monarchy. This encouraged a reunion of the Order with the resignation of the Count of Aunay “for the good and peace of the order.” Sir William Sidney-Smith played an important role in this reconciliation.

1820 Sir Walter Scott wrote Ivanhoe. Along with The Talisman, this work contributed towards “disfiguring” the medieval Templars, portraying them as greedy, lecherous, tainted with heresyand subverting the crusades for their ends. His works influenced both the American and English view of the Templars.

1821 Fabré-Palaprat appointed the count of Chabrillan as Prior for the Grand Priory of Switzerland, founded in 1809.

1825 The Grand Priory of Belgium was founded July 18 in Paris by the Marquis Albert-Francoise du Chasteleer, a close friend of Fabré-Palaprat.

1830 French Templars supported the revolt against Charles X, who threatened the return of absolute monarchy. Templars also supported the Belgian revolt against Dutch control, resulting in the independence of Belgium in 1831.

1833 Fabré-Palaprat had begun to impose his Johannite beliefs on the Templars, demanding they accept his “new faith.” He was accused to revising the Statutes of 1705, giving himself absolute authority. The result was another schism. Various Grand Priories chose autonomy.

1837 In poor health Fabré-Palaprat retired to the south of France. Dissident Templars, seized the opportunity and established an Executive Commission, which convoked a Convent General.

1838 The death of Fabré-Palaprat in February opened the way for reform and the possible reunion of the two Templar factions. The Convent General formed a new Executive Commission. Since the Statues of 1705 had been “corrupted” under Fabré-Palaprat, the Convent General approved a new document, removing the Johannite influence and “renewed the knightly traditions and obedience to the Catholic Church.” The attempt to reunify the more orthodox and palaprien factions failed. When Sir William Sidney-Smith was chosen as Grand Master, the palaprien Templars refused to recognize him.

1840 Upon the death of Sir William Sidney-Smith it would appear that the Prince de Chimay assumed leadership of the orthodox Templars. In 1845 he went to Rome to request papal recognition. Pope Gregory XVI (1831-46) insisted that all Templars had to be Catholic. Talks continued until the Revolutions of 1848. The palaprien Templars chose a series of Regents from Fabré-Palaprat’s Lieutenant-Generals. Under Jean-Marie Raoul these Templars became inactive due to declining membership. Reacting to the confusion in France, a Magisterial Legation was formed in Brussels.

1853 By decree, Emperor Napoleon III recognized the Order of the Temple (palaprien) as a sovereign power with the right to wear its insignias and decorations within France.

1865 The Belgian Grand Priory split, with the Catholics forming the Priory of St. John d’Hiver and the palaprien Templars creating the Priory of the Trinity of the Tower, adopting the Strict Observant Freemasonry of Karl von Hund.

1866 A.G.M Vernois became the last Regent of the palaprien faction. In 1871 he deposited the records of the Order into the National Archives of France.

1868 Prosper Beechman of the Trinity of the Tower tried to restore an International Order despite serious divisions between the English, French and German Grand Priories. At a Chapter General he was recognized as the Guardian of the Grand Magisterium of the Order. The War of 1870 caused a rupture between the French and German Grand Priories.

1894 An International Secretariat of the Templars was formed in Brussels to exercise Magisterial authority.

1930 The Prior of the Trinity of the Tower, Emile Briffaut, proposed its abolition. Documents associated with the palaprien Templars were deposited in the Belgian archives.

1932 Nine former Templars of the Trinity of the Tower formed the Grand Priory of Belgium. At the first chapter it was decided to name the order: The Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem. A Grand Prior was chosen.

1933 The Belgian Grand Priory restored an international association of Templar Grand Priories. A Magisterial Council was formed with Theodore Covias as Regent.

1934 Emile-Isaac Vandenberg became Regent and Guardian of the Order. He devoted his energy and talent to revitalizing Templar Priories across Europe, including those of Italy and of Switzerland. 1942 Fearing the suppression of the Templars during the German occupation of Belgium in the Second World War, Vandenberg transferred the archives of the Order to the care of the Portuguese Grand Prior, Antonio Campello de Sousa Fontes. Vandenberg retained the Title and Office of Regent.

1945 At the war’s end, Vandenberg requested the return of the archives, but Antonio Campello de Sousa Fontes ignored the requests. When Vandenberg died suddenly, de Sousa Fontes assumed the title of Regent. While some Priories accepted his authority, others did not.

1947 Revised Statutes were issued by de Sousa Fontes. There is no record of them being approved by a Convent General.

1948 In an attempt to retain the Regency in his family without record of authority from a Convent General, de Sousa Fontes designated his son, Fernando Campello de Sousa Fontes, by a “Proces Verbal” as his successor.

1959 Some Templars separated from de Sousa Fontes’ authority.

1960 Fernando Campello de Sousa Fontes assumed the regency upon the death of his father, eventually styling himself Prince Regent. In the early 1960s, Anton Leuprecht, the Grand Prior of Switzerland and Mondial Chieftain of All Autonomous Grand Priories, invited Americans to join his Swiss Grand Priory.

1962 At the request of Anton Leuprecht, William Y. Pryor, with other American Knights Templar, initiated action to form an Autonomous American Grand Priory. In June corporate documents were filed in Newark, New Jersey. On June 29 the American Grand Priory was recognized under the laws of New Jersey as a corporate body. The self-styled Prince Regent, de Sousa Fontes, recognized the American Grand Priory under its first Grand Prior, Crolian William Edelen.

1964 His Majesty, Peter II, King of Yugoslavia living in exile, became the Royal Patron of the American Grand Priory.

1970 In 1969, de Sousa Fontes issued a Magistral Edict convoking a Convent General that would meet in three sessions. The first session met in Paris in September, 1970. During this meeting, it appears a schism took place. Grand Priors who had not accepted the de Sousa Fontes obedience formed a separate association, known as the Ordo Internationalis MilitiaeTempli. General Antoine Zdrojewski, the Prior General of Europe, was chosen as the Grand Master of this new alliance. DeSouza Fontes declared the session invalid.

1972 At the second session in Chicago, Illinois, various resolutions were approved. Resolution III stated that the Order was to be “universal and not limited to any one nationality or language,” though Latin was recognized as “the official language.” Resolution VI authorized a search for a member of a hereditary house to become Grand Master. The houses of Hohenzollern, Oldenburg, and Windsor were considered.

1973 At the third session, held in Tomar, Portugal, a Resolution was adopted that the Order “shall be a Christian Order. The word “Catholic” in the Statutes shall be replaced with CHRISTIAN.” The American Grand Prior, Gordon Malvern Fair Stick, was elected Lieutenant of the Order, and several other American Templars were elected to the Grand Magistral Council. General Zdrojewski reformed the statutes of the OIMT Confederation. Each member Grand Priory was recognized as autonomous.

1975 Upon becoming King of Spain, Juan Carlos authorized the restoration of the four Spanish orders: Alcantara, Calatrava, Montesa and Santiago, as Catholic, Chivalric and Royal. The Holy See granted the Crown the Grand Mastership and Perpetual Administration of these Spanish orders under their individual Priors.

1981 The Grand Priory of Scandinavia was formed, uniting the Priories of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

1982 An Autonomous Grand Priory of Scotland was recognized by Anton Leupreucht.

1987 The International Federative Alliance (IFA) was organized at the castle of Siguenza with the participation of the Grand Priories of England, France, Scandinavia, Scotland and Spain. The purpose was to “group all the autonomous Priories in the world to achieve unity, and under the Primitive Rule to proceed to the election of a universal Grand Master and Magisterial Council.”

1990 DeFontes issued revised Statutes. Article 11 allowed him to become Grand Master, if a Grand Master could not be elected with 903 days. The “Prince Regent” could also designate his successor. These revised Statutes were to be presented before a future Convent General.

1992 Maximos V Hakin, Patriarch of the Melkite Catholic Church, became the Religious Protector of the Grand Priories of Austria, England, German and NATO. King Carl Gustaf XI recognized the Templar Grand Priory of Sweden; King Harold recognized the Templar Grand Priory of Norway; and the President of Finland gave recognition to the Finnish Grand Priory.

1993 De Fontes, presented his revised Statutes to a Convent General in Santiago, Spain (Toja). They were neither considered, nor approved.

1995 In June at an International Conclave of Templars in London it was decided to hold a Grand Convent in Salzburg, Austria. DeFontes refused to authorize the meeting. At Salzburg I, recognition was withdrawn from de Fontes as head of the OSMTH. A Grand Council of Grand Priors was formed to administer the Order. The Statutes were to be revised and updated. Candidates for Grand Master were to be identified.

1996 In March the Grand Council of the OSMTH met in Paris. In order to promote unity among the Templars, a proposal was made to de Fontes, offering him the title Prince Regent Emeritus as an honorary position in the Order. The offer was rejected.

Salzburg II: In November a Grand Convent met to consider revised statues, candidates for Grand Master and recommendations for cooperation and eventual association with Priories that had not accepted or rejected the de Sousa Fontes obedience. When Dr. Werner Rind, the Secretary General, tried to impose his will upon the Grand Priors regarding the nature of the Order and insisted upon his candidate for Grand Master, the meeting ended. The Grand Priors, in order to preserve unity formed the International Grand Council with Sir Roy Redgrave, as Grand Commander. The Templar Order of Merit was created to recognize and honor both members and nonmembers who have performed significant service to humanity.

1997 Princess Elisabeth of Ysenburg und Büdingen, Princess of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, Duchess of Schleswig-Holstein, Stormam, Ditmars and Oldenburg, became the Royal Protector of The Grand Priory of the United States. The International Grand Council met in Alexandria, Virginia

1998 The Grand Magistral of the OSMTH met in Turku, Finland, July 3-4. Sir Roy Redgrave was elected as the interim Grand Master for a term of 18 months. RADM James J. Carey was elected as the Grand Commander for a term of three years.

1999 For the SMOTJ to be recognized by the United Nations as a non-governing organization, the Order was registered as an international agency in Switzerland to give the Order greater influence over international charitable and humanitarian endeavors. The search for international unity continues, while promoting the basic tenets of the Order: Christianity, chivalry, and charity.

Notes from the Author:

In the development of this Chronology, the author had to reconcile material, often contradictory and inconsistent, from various sources, including the following:

1. A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry (1970) has good background on not only Freemasonry but on the “New Templarism” of Fabré-Palaprat.

2. Two French sources provided in depth information on the 19th century Order of the Temple and on Fabré-Palaprat. Maillard de Chambure, Règle et Statuts Secret des Templiers (1840); Steenackers, Histoire des Ordres de Chevalerie...en France (1867).

3. A more scholarly approach is found in The New Knighthood: A History of the Order of the Temple (1992) by Malcolm Barber. He not only traces the history of the medieval Templars but deals with the myths and legends that developed after the death of de Molay. Another of his publications is The Trial of the Templars.

4. Lt. Col. Gayre of Gayre & Nigg, whose sympathies are with the Knights of Malta, includes a chapter on modern Templarism in his The Knightly Twilight-A Glimpse of the Chivalric and Nobiliary Underworld. Of interest are the two conflicting lists of Grand Masters. He compares the de Sousa Fonteslist with that of Guillermo de Grau-Moctezuma Rife, that is based on the survival of the Order in Catalonia and the midi of France after 1314 as the Order of the Occident. Pope Clement V had suppressed only the

Order of the Orient. In 1959 Prince Guillermo de Grau-Moctezuma Rife used the list of Grand Masters associated with the Order of the Occident to justify his Templarism

5. Stephen Howarth in The Knights Templar (1982) offers a more popular history. Some of his theories can be questioned, such as that of the mysterious “idol” which the Templars were accused of worshipping. He identifies it as the Shroud of Turin.

6. Andre J. Paraschi in his Restauracao da ordem do templo (1993) argued that there has been no legitimate Templar Order since 1312. He concluded that the Templars orders of the present are false and illegitimate. He created his own Templar Order associated with Eastern Orthodoxy, making himself Grand Master. He claimed the recognition of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria. Both the Patriarch and Paraschi are deceased. As for Grau-Moctezuma Rige, he has fled to Andorra to avoided being arrested in Spain for issuing fraudulent patents of nobility.

7. Desmond Seward’s The Monks of War (1972) provides good background on the other orders. Chapter 16, “Heirs of the Military Orders” details the history of various orders form the 17th century, including the Knights of St. John, the Order of Lazarus, the Teutonic Knights and the Spanish orders.

8. J.M. Upton-Ward in The Rule of the Templars (1992) gives a translation with commentary of The Primitive Rule dating from 1129 and The Hierarchical Statutes from around 1165.

9. Of further importance is the Statues of 1705, including the Charter of Transmission (1995) complied and translated by Dame Martha Kona and Dame Grace Lynn of the Chicago Priory of St. Norbert. The copy acquired from the National Archives in Paris probably dates from the restored document of 1838. The de Sousa Fontes statues of 1947 and 1990 are included with the results of the Chapter General meeting in Chicago.

10. An article entitle The “Charta Transmissionis” of Larmenius by Fred J. W. Crowe in the Ars Quatuor Coronatorum (XXIV/1911) offers a detail examination of the Larmenius Charter. Since the Charter was in cyphers, he provides his Latin translation contrasting it with the early 19th century Latin versions. A report from The Rennes le Chateau Research Group, located in London, concluded that The Charter dates from the 18th century, because its language “is very much that of early Freemasonry....and this document was an attempt to separate this Templar revival from the developing Freemasonry.” This was part of a report sent to Chev. James McGrath, Grand Prior of the Scottish Knight Templars in 1997.

11. According to the Levitikon John the Baptist was the founder of the Johannite Secret Church. An uninterrupted line of Grand Pontiffs succeeded him. In 1118 the Grand Pontiff, Theocletes, initiated Hugues de Payens into the mysteries of the church, thus creating a secret order within the Templars. Every Templar Grand Master was also an hidden Johannite Grand Pontiff, including Fabré-Palaprat, who claimed such succession for himself.

12. Materials from the Grand Priory of Belgium added considerable light on the events of the 1930’s and 1940’s regarding the modern Templar Order. Additional materials  recently received from Chev. Patrick E. Rea, Prior of St. Norbert’s, were helpful  regarding the development of various European Grand Priories and the IFA.

13. “The First Eight Years of the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, Inc. in the U.S.A.” by William Y. Pryor (Grand Prior of the American Grand Priory from 1965-1968), dated August 10, 1970, provided helpful information on the development of the American Grand Priory.

14. This more recent title provides an interesting French view. René Lachaud, Templiers; Chevaliers d’Orient et d’Occident. (St-Jean-de-Braye, France, 1997) There is no consistent list of alleged Grand Masters or Regents after 1314, and particularly after the Fabré-Palaprat “restoration” in 1804. There exists a wealth of books and articles on the Templars, but the question remains: how much of Templar history is bogus and make-believe? The challenge for the modern Templars is to separate fact from fiction, history from myth. Indeed no small task. Through this November 2, 1998 Chronology revision, I am making my small contribution. For as Eco writes in Foucaults’ Pendulum (1988) “The Templars have something to do with everything.”

Copyright, 2000 The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, Inc.


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The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem
Priory of St. Michael and St. George