The Knights Templar was the most powerful Christian military order established in the 1119 and endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church in 1129.
Early knights of the order were meant to protect pilgrims to Jerusalem while later, the order became actively involved in Crusades and its knights were considered among the most fearless crusaders.
Knights Templar reached immense power, prestige and influence.
In 14th century, King Philip of IV of France forced the disbanding of the order, had its members arrested, tortured, and many of them killed.
The modern movement of Freemasonry claims to trace its origins back to the Knights Templars.
Freemasonry and Knights Templar
The modern order of Freemasonry claims to trace its origins back to the Knights Templar.
However, this claim was first made by Chevalier Ramsay, one of the members of the Freemason order, in 1737.
Consequently, many parts of the Templar philosophy and symbolism were incorporated into the Masonic rituals and practices.
The Masonic sources claim that when the Knights Templar were disbanded, many of them went into hiding with the hidden treasure and wisdom they found at the Temple of Solomon. Later, this knowledge was transmitted to the early founders of Freemasonry.
Historically, no evidence has been found of a link between Knights Templar and Freemasonry.
Thousands of pilgrims began to visit the Holy Land but were often intercepted and killed, by bandits on the way.
A French knight, with the permission of the King of Jerusalem, created the Knights Templar in 1119, with the aim of protecting these pilgrims.
In 1129, the Catholic Church also endorsed the Order, immensely expanding its influence in the Christian lands.
The first headquarters of the Order were located at the Temple Mount, at what was believed to be the site of the Temple of Solomon.
The Rise of the Order
Following its promulgation in 1119, the Order remained fairly humble until it was endorsed by the Church.
This led to vast grants and donations being given to the Order and the organization was joined by many noble-born persons who wanted to share in the fights of the Holy Crusades.
In the 12th century, the Knights Templar became one of the most formidable Christian units in battles of the Crusades, playing a decisive role in many battles against Saladin’s troops.
The Order became immensely wealthy, possessing vast lands, numerous buildings and comprising of a large number of members.
Decline and Disbanding
By the 12th century, the Christian world had decisively lost the Holy Land to the Muslims.
Since the Knights Templar was originally established with the aim of protecting pilgrims to the Holy Land, its purpose of existence as such came to an end. But the Order continued to exist until the beginning of the 13th century.
It was exempt from local laws of different lands and operated under its own rules and regulations.
In the 13th century, King Philip IV of France, being in a large debt of the Order, forced his cousin Pope Clement V to create false charges against the Order and disband it.
Members of the order were arrested, tortured and many of them murdered.
Many members fled to excommunicated lands such as Scotland where, later Freemason sources claimed, the Order continued to exist.
Origins of Freemasonry
Various theories exist regarding the origin of freemasonry.
It has been claimed that the freemasons were skilled medieval masons who distinguished themselves from lay masons.
To that purpose, they established their own lodges, banded together and formed the basis of an organisation.
As to the connection with Knights Templar, it is fairly established that many members of the Knights Templar escaped to Scotland following the persecution of the Order.
In the 15th century, Rosslyn Chapel was built in Scotland. This chapel is considered the vital link between Knights Templar and Freemasonry, although this claim has not been substantiated by any historical proof.
Rosslyn Chapel and the link between two Orders
Rosslyn chapel was constructed in the middle of the 15th century and is noted for the intricate and beautiful masonic work done on its interior.
The chapel is known for its exceptionally well-carved pillars and extensive symbolic carvings all over the building.
It has been claimed that the chapel was commissioned by descendants of the original members of the Knights Templar.
And at the construction of the chapel, these members came into contact with the early Freemasons. Thus, a link was established between the two orders and the wisdom of Knights Templar was imparted to Freemasons. There is no definitive proof to show that there exists any link between the two.
It has been claimed that a hereditary link exists between William Sinclair and the first Grand Master of the Knights Templar. Sinclair commissioned the construction of the Rosslyn Chapel.
The work inside the chapel, referring to many non-Christian symbols and motifs, has been regarded as the part of the secret wisdom of the Knights Templar.
But all of these are conjectures which may possibly be true, but are not substantiated by any facts.
Modern-day Freemasonry Knights Templar
Today, Knights Templar is a chivalric order which comprises of only Christian Freemason initiates.
It has a structure, and degree system, of its own and is unique to the larger Freemason movement in many ways.
Freemasonry Knights Templar Summary
Since at least 1737, claims of a link between Knights Templar and Freemasonry have existed.
Many of these claims are based on the fact that many Knights Templar escaped to Scotland after the persecution of the order in the 13th century and later rumored to be the ones who constructed Rosslyn Chapel.
It has been argued that Rosslyn Chapel marks the very point where Knights Templar and the modern Freemason forged a connection.