Historical Reprints History History of the Knights Templars

History of the Knights Templars

History of the Knights Templars
Catalog # SKU3721
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Charles G. Addison
ISBN 10: 0000000000
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$18.95
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Description

History of the
Knights Templars


The Temple Church
and the Temple

By
Charles G. Addison


The extraordinary and romantic career of the Knights Templars, their exploits and their misfortunes, render their history a subject of peculiar interest. Born during the first fervour of the Crusades, they were flattered and aggrandized as long as their great military power and religious fanaticism could be made available for the support of the Eastern church and the retention of the Holy Land, but when the crescent had ultimately triumphed over the cross, and the religio-military enthusiasm of Christendom had died away, they encountered the basest ingratitude in return for the services they had rendered to the christian faith, and were plundered, persecuted, and condemned to a cruel death, by those who ought in justice to have been their defenders and supporters.

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Excerpt:

The vulgar notion that the Templars were as wicked as they were fearless and brave, has not yet been entirely exploded; but it is hoped that the copious account of the proceedings against the order in this country, given in the ninth and tenth chapters of the ensuing volume, will tend to dispel many unfounded prejudices still entertained against the fraternity, and excite emotions of admiration for their constancy and courage, and of pity for their unmerited and cruel fate.

Matthew Paris, who wrote at St. Albans, concerning events in Palestine, tells us that the emulation between the Templars and Hospitallers frequently broke out into open warfare to the great scandal and prejudice of Christendom, and that, in a pitched battle fought between them, the Templars were slain to a man. The solitary testimony of Matthew Paris, who was no friend to the two orders, is invalidated by the silence of contemporary historians, who wrote on the spot; and it is quite evident from the letters of the pope, addressed to the Hospitallers, the year after the date of the alleged battle, that such an occurrence never could have taken place.

The accounts, even of the best of the antient writers, should not be adopted without examination, and a careful comparison with other sources of information. William of Tyre, for instance, tells us that Nassr-ed-deen, son of sultan Abbas, was taken prisoner by the Templars, and whilst in their hands became a convert to the Christian religion; that he had learned the rudiments of the Latin language, and earnestly sought to be baptized, but that the Templars were bribed with sixty thousand pieces of gold to surrender him to his enemies in Egypt, where certain death awaited him; and that they stood by to see him bound hand and foot with chains, and placed in an iron cage, to be conducted across the desert to Cairo. Now the Arabian historians of that period tell us that Nassr-ed-deen and his father murdered the caliph and threw his body into a well, and then fled with their retainers and treasure into Palestine; that the sister of the murdered caliph wrote immediately to the commandant at Gaza, which place was garrisoned by the Knights Templars, offering a handsome reward for the capture of the fugitives; that they were accordingly intercepted, and Nassr-ed-deen was sent to Cairo, where the female relations of the caliph caused his body to be cut into small pieces in the seraglio. The above act has constantly been made a matter of grave accusation against the Templars; but what a different complexion does the case assume on the testimony of the Arabian authorities!

It must be remembered that William archbishop of Tyre was hostile to the order on account of its vast powers and privileges, and carried his complaints to a general council of the church at Rome. He is abandoned, in everything that he says to the prejudice of the fraternity, by James of Vitry, bishop of Acre, a learned and most talented prelate, who wrote in Palestine subsequently to William of Tyre, and has copied largely from the history of the latter. The bishop of Acre speaks of the Templars in the highest terms, and declares that they were universally loved by all men for their piety and humility. "Nulli molesti erant!" says he, "sed ab omnibus propter humilitatem et religionem amabantur."

The celebrated orientalist Von Hammer has recently brought forward various extraordinary and unfounded charges, destitute of all authority, against the Templars; and Wilcke, who has written a German history of the order, seems to have imbibed all the vulgar prejudices against the fraternity. I might have added to the interest of the ensuing work, by making the Templars horrible and atrocious villains; but I have endeavoured to write a fair and impartial account of the order, not slavishly adopting everything I find detailed in antient writers, but such matters only as I believe, after a careful examination of the best authorities, to be true.

It is a subject of congratulation to us that we possess, in the Temple Church at London, the most beautiful and perfect memorial of the order of the Knights Templars now in existence. No one who has seen that building in its late dress of plaster and whitewash will recognize it when restored to its antient magnificence. This venerable structure was one of the chief ecclesiastical edifices of the Knights Templars in Europe, and stood next in rank to the Temple at Jerusalem. As I have performed the pilgrimage to the Holy City, and wandered amid the courts of the antient Temple of the Knights Templars on Mount Moriah, I could not but regard with more than ordinary interest the restoration by the societies of the Inner and the Middle Temple of their beautiful Temple Church.

The greatest zeal and energy have been displayed by them in that praiseworthy undertaking, and no expense has been spared to repair the ravages of time, and to bring back the structure to what it was in the time of the Templars.

Excerpt:

The extraordinary and romantic institution of the Knights Templars, those military friars who so strangely blended the character of the monk with that of the soldier, took its origin in the following manner:-

On the miraculous discovery of the Holy sepulchre by the Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine, about 298 years after the death of Christ, and the consequent erection, by command of the first christian emperor, of the magnificent church of the Resurrection, or, as it is now called, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, over the sacred monument, the tide of pilgrimage set in towards Jerusalem, and went on increasing in strength as Christianity gradually spread throughout Europe. On the surrender of the Holy City to the victorious Arabians, (A. D. 637,) the privileges and the security of the christian population were provided for in the following guarantee, given under the hand and seal of the Caliph Omar to Sophronius the Patriarch.

"From Omar Ebno ' Alchitab to the inhabitants of Ælia."

"They shall be protected and secured both in their lives and fortunes, and their churches shall neither be pulled down nor made use of by any but themselves."1

Under the government of the Arabians, the pilgrimages continued steadily to increase; the old and the young, women and children, flocked in crowds to Jerusalem, and in the year 1064 the Holy Sepulchre was visited by an enthusiastic band of seven thousand pilgrims, headed by the Archbishop of Mentz and the Bishops of Utrecht, Bamberg, and Ratisbon. The year following, however, Jerusalem was conquered by the wild Turcomans. Three thousand of the citizens were indiscriminately massacred, and the hereditary command over the Holy City and territory was confided to the Emir Ortok, the chief of a savage pastoral tribe.

Under the iron yoke of these fierce Northern strangers, the Christians were fearfully oppressed; they were driven from their churches; divine worship was ridiculed and interrupted; and the patriarch of the Holy City was dragged by the hair of his head over the sacred pavement of the church of the Resurrection, and cast into a dungeon, to extort a ransom from the sympathy of his flock. The pilgrims who, through innumerable perils, had reached the gates of the Holy City, were plundered, imprisoned, and frequently massacred; an aureus, or piece of gold, was exacted as the price of admission to the holy sepulchre, and many, unable to pay the tax, were driven by the swords of the Turcomans from the very threshold of the object of all their hopes, the bourne of their long pilgrimage, and were compelled to retrace their weary steps in sorrow and anguish to their distant homes. The melancholy intelligence of the profanation of the holy places, and of the oppression and cruelty of the Turcomans, aroused the religious chivalry of Christendom; "a nerve was touched of exquisite feeling, and the sensation vibrated to the heart of Europe."

Then arose the wild enthusiasm of the crusades; men of all ranks, and even monks and priests, animated by the exhortations of the pope and the preachings of Peter the Hermit, flew to arms, and enthusiastically undertook "the pious and glorious enterprize" of rescuing the holy sepulchre of Christ from the foul abominations of the heathen.

When intelligence of the capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders (A. D. 1099) had been conveyed to Europe, the zeal of pilgrimage blazed forth with increased fierceness; it had gathered intensity from the interval of its suppression by the wild Turcomans, and promiscuous crowds of both sexes, old men and children, virgins and matrons, thinking the road then open and the journey practicable, successively pressed forwards towards the Holy City, with the passionate desire of contemplating the original monuments of the Redemption. The infidels had indeed been driven out of Jerusalem, but not out of Palestine. The lofty mountains bordering the sea-coast were infested by bold and warlike bands of fugitive Mussulmen, who maintained themselves in various impregnable castles and strongholds, from whence they issued forth upon the high-roads, cut off the communication between Jerusalem and the sea-ports, and revenged themselves for the loss of their habitations and property by the indiscriminate pillage of all travellers. The Bedouin horsemen, moreover, making rapid incursions from beyond the Jordan, frequently kept up a desultory and irregular warfare in the plains; and the pilgrims, consequently, whether they approached the Holy City by land or by sea, were alike exposed to almost daily hostility, to plunder, and to death.

To alleviate the dangers and distresses to which these pious enthusiasts were exposed, to guard the honour of the saintly virgins and matrons, and to protect the gray hairs of the venerable palmer, nine noble knights formed a holy brotherhood in arms, and entered into a solemn compact to aid one another in clearing the highways of infidels, and of robbers, and in protecting the pilgrims through the passes and defiles of the mountains to the Holy City. Warmed with the religious and military fervour of the day, and animated by the sacredness of the cause to which they had devoted their swords, they called themselves the Poor Fellow-soldiers of Jesus Christ. They renounced the world and its pleasures, and in the holy church of the Resurrection, in the presence of the patriarch of Jerusalem, they embraced vows of perpetual chastity, obedience, and poverty, after the manner of monks. Uniting in themselves the two most popular qualities of the age, devotion and valour, and exercising them in the most popular of all enterprises, the protection of the pilgrims and of the road to the holy sepulchre, they speedily acquired a vast reputation and a splendid renown.

At first, we are told, they had no church and no particular place of abode, but in the year of our Lord 1118, (nineteen years after the conquest of Jerusalem by the Crusaders,) they had rendered such good and acceptable service to the Christians, that Baldwin the Second, king of Jerusalem, granted them a place of habitation within the sacred inclosure of the Temple on Mount Moriah, amid those holy and magnificent structures, partly erected by the christian Emperor Justinian, and partly built by the Caliph Omar, which were then exhibited by the monks and priests of Jerusalem, whose restless zeal led them to practise on the credulity of the pilgrims, and to multiply relics and all objects likely to be sacred in their eyes, as the Temple of Solomon, whence the Poor Fellow-soldiers of Jesus Christ came thenceforth to be known by the name of "the Knighthood of the Temple of Solomon."

A few remarks in elucidation of the name Templars, or Knights of the Temple, may not be altogether unacceptable.

By the Mussulmen, the site of the great Jewish temple on Mount Moriah has always been regarded with peculiar veneration. Mahomet, in the first year of the publication of the Koran, directed his followers, when at prayer, to turn their faces towards it, and pilgrimages have constantly been made to the holy spot by devout Moslems. On the conquest of Jerusalem by the Arabians, it was the first care of the Caliph Omar to rebuild "the Temple of the Lord." Assisted by the principal chieftains of his army, the Commander of the Faithful undertook the pious office of clearing the ground with his own hands, and of tracing out the foundations of the magnificent mosque which now crowns with its dark and swelling dome the elevated summit of Mount Moriah.




396 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover


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