Sunday, March 31, 2013

Templar Commanderies in the Champagne region

The interactive map shows the commanderies and the houses of the Order in the County of Champagne and Brie, France, in 1307. A brief note is provided for each location, and a photograph if the site still exists.

If the in-frame option does not work satisfactorily, follow this link.







Noli me Tangere


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Noli me Tangere by Fra Angelico source
 The Gospel According to John
  1:1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 1:2The same was in the beginning with God. 1:3All things were made through him. Without him was not anything made that has been made. 1:4In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 1:5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness hasn't overcome it. 1:6There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. 1:7The same came as a witness, that he might testify about the light, that all might believe through him. 1:8He was not the light, but was sent that he might testify about the light. 1:9The true light that enlightens everyone was coming into the world.   1:10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world didn't recognize him. 1:11He came to his own, and those who were his own didn't receive him. 1:12But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become God's children, to those who believe in his name: 1:13who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 1:14The Word became flesh, and lived among us. We saw his glory, such glory as of the one and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.

20:1Now on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went early, while it was still dark, to the tomb, and saw the stone taken away from the tomb. 20:2Therefore she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have laid him!" 20:3Therefore Peter and the other disciple went out, and they went toward the tomb. 20:4They both ran together. The other disciple outran Peter, and came to the tomb first. 20:5Stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths lying, yet he didn't enter in. 20:6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and entered into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying, 20:7and the cloth that had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but rolled up in a place by itself. 20:8So then the other disciple who came first to the tomb also entered in, and he saw and believed. 20:9For as yet they didn't know the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 20:10So the disciples went away again to their own homes.

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20:11But Mary was standing outside at the tomb weeping. So, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb, 20:12and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 20:13They told her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I don't know where they have laid him." 20:14When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, and didn't know that it was Jesus. 20:15Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?" She, supposing him to be the gardener, said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." 20:16Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him, "Rhabbouni!" which is to say, "Teacher!" 20:17Jesus said to her, "Don't touch me, for I haven't yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brothers, and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" 20:18Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had said these things to her.

source earlychristianwritings.com

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Troyes - the Knights Templar trade base

Roman roads network France source
The court of one of the founding fathers of the Knights Templar, Hugh I Earl of Champagne (c.1074–1125) stood at the olf city of Troyes. Troyes has been in existence since the Roman era, as Augustobona Tricassium. It stood at the hub of numerous highways, primarily the Via Agrippa. At the end of the ninth century, following depredations to the city by Normans, the counts of Champagne chose Troyes as their capital. It remained the capital of the Province of Champagne until the Revolution.

During the Middle Ages, Troyes was an important trading town, and gave its name to the troy unit of weight. The Champagne cloth fairs and the revival of long-distance trade and new extension of coinage and credit were the real engines that drove the medieval economy of Troyes. Troyes and Provins had been administrative centers in Charlemagne's empire that developed into the central towns of the County of Champagne and the Brie Champenoise Region.

source
The Champagne fairs were an annual cycle of trading fairs Champagne and Brie, regions in Northern France. From their origins in local agricultural and stock fairs, the Champagne fairs became an important engine in the reviving economic history of medieval Europe, "veritable nerve centers" serving as a premier market for textiles, leather, and spices. At their height, in the late 12th and the 13th century, the fairs linked the cloth-producing cities of the Low Countries with the Italian dyeing and exporting centers, with Genoa in the lead. The fairs, which were already well-organized at the start of the 12th century, were one of the earliest manifestations of a linked European economy, a characteristic of the High Middle Ages. From the later 12th century, the fairs, conveniently sited on ancient land routes and largely self-regulated through the development of the Lex mercatoria, the "merchant law", dominated the commercial and banking relations operating at the frontier region between the north and the Mediterranean.

A Medieval Market Street
(from the Gouvernement des Princes)
source
The towns provided huge warehouses, still to be seen at Provins. Furs and skins traveled in both directions, from Spain, Sicily, and North Africa in the south via Marseilles, and the highly-prized vair, rabbit, marten and other skins from the north. From the north also came woolens and linen cloth. From the Islamic south came silk, pepper and other spices, drugs, coinage and the new concepts of credit and bookkeeping. Goods converged from Spain, travelling along the well-established pilgrim route from Santiago de Compostela and from Germany. Once the cloth sales had been concluded, the reckoning of credit at the tables of Italian money-changers effected compensatory payments for goods, established future payments on credit, made loans to princes and lords, and settled bills of exchange (which were generally worded to expire at one of the Champagne fairs). Even after trade routes had shifted away from the north-south axis that depended on the Champagne commodities fairs, the fairs continued to function as an international clearing house for paper debts and credits, as they had built up a system of commercial law, regulated by private judges separate from the feudal social order and the requirements of scrupulously maintaining a "good name", prior to the third-party enforcement of legal codes by the nation-state.

As such Troyes' geographic key position, the concentration of expertise on international trade, coinage and credit, all under the protection of the lords of the Earldom of the Champagne, was the ideal site for sparking, founding and harbouring the first "multinational enterprise" on trade and finance: the Knights Templar.
source
sources: wikipedia themes on Troyes and Champagne fairs

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Agnus Dei - a papal and Templar symbol

During his inauguration on March 19, 2013 pope Francis used a papal staff or ferula which shows on the front of the cross in the center the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) and at the end of the limbs the four Evangelists. On the back of the cross are in the center Jesus with the monogram PX and at the end of the limbs the Fathers of the Eastern and Western Church Augustine and Ambrose, Athanasius and John Chrysostom.

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Pope Francis, March 19, 2013 source abc-news templar seal source

source



In heraldry, a Lamb of God (or paschal lamb, or agnus Dei) is a lamb passant proper, with a halo or charged with a cross gules, and the dexter forelimb reflexed over a cross staff from which a pennon of St. George (Argent a cross gules) is flotant. The seals of the Masters of the Temple in England: of Aimery de St Maur, 1200, Robert of Sandford, 1241, Richard of Hastings, 1160–85, and William de la More, 1304, showed the agnus Dei. To drive home the point his counter-seal had the head of John the Baptist with the inscription 'I am the guarantor of the lamb'.

Pope Benedict XVI holds the same ferula with agnus Dei
in mass at St Peter's on New Year's Day 2011

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Some of the seals of the English Templars were a semi-typical Pascal lamb bearing sometimes, not the flag of St George (or the cross), but the Beauseant, the battle banner of the order. The motto accompanying the seal reads TESTIS SUM AGNI, (not Agnus as is correct), meaning "I am a witness to the Lamb". The translation of the Latin word AGNI raises several areas of contention, however a similar word AGNITIO translates to "of the nature of the mind or wisdom". Note the missing of the word Dei.


source

The stone carving to the left of a paschal lamb, or Agnus Dei, is located in the west wall of the Templar chapel of St Michael's Church, Herefordshire, England. According to Brighton it is a symbol of St John the Baptist and a motif used by both the Medieval Templar and Hospitaller orders. This example carries both a staff and banner sporting Templar crosses. Image ©Simon Brighton.






This website (in German, use Google for translation) elaborates on the ferula or pope staff. It also shows in detail the ferula with crucifix, ordered by pope Paul VI in 1963 often used by popes Paul VI, John Paul II and occasionally pope Benedict XVI.

based on wikipedia.org

Monday, March 18, 2013

Champagne, the Templar cradle

To understand the origin of the Knights Templar and the mechanisms that lead up to their birth, one should explore their place of origin. Standard historical belief places their origin in Jerusalem in the year 1118, 1119 or 1120. This, however, is not the case. The cradle of the Knights Templar stood at the court of the Earl of Champagne in the French town of Troye. The establishment of a fraternity at Jerusalem was just another step in a development that started decennia before.

The court of the Earl of Champagne (in French, Comte de Champagne and his Earldom is indicated as Comté  de Champagne) was strongly related to the reformed Benedictine monasteries of Molesme founded in 1075 by Robert of Molesme.

The major offspring of Molesme Abbey was the reformed Benedictin (or Cistercian) monastary of Citeaux, founded in 1098 by a group of Molesme monks under the leadership of abbott Robert of Molesme, who also became the first abbott of Citeaux, Alberic of Cîteaux, who later became the second abbot, and Stephen Harding, who later became the third abbot.

Bernard of Citeaux was a monk of Cîteaux Abbey, which he left to found Clairvaux Abbey in 1115, of which he was the first abbot. His influence in the Cistercian order and beyond is of prime importance. He reaffirmed the importance of strict observance to the Rule of St. Benedict. He also was the protector and even spiritual leader of the Knights Templar.

The map shows the C(omté) de Champagne in northeastern France in 1180. The map illustrates also that in those days the French kingdom was more or less a fiction. The "domaine royal" of the Capetians "kings" was limited to the regions around Paris, Bourges and Sens. The great majority of French territory was part of Aquitaine, the Duchy of Normandy, the Duchy of Brittany, the Comté of Champagne, the Duchy of Burgundy, and other territories. In principle, the lords of these lands being vassals owed homage to the French king for their possession, but in reality the king in Paris had little control over these lands.

The area around the lower Seine, ceded to Scandinavian invaders as the Duchy of Normandy in 911, became a source of particular concern when Duke William I of Normandy ("William the Conquereor") took possession of the kingdom of England in the Norman Conquest of 1066, making himself and his heirs the French King's equal outside France (where he was still nominally subject to the Crown). After several succession disputes, the English-Norman Plantagenets in effect ruled the western half of France (in red shades on the map) by 1180, being as a greater power than the French throne. The third rather independant County was that of the Counts of Toulouse in the south, with as capital Toulouse.

In a series of blogs TemplarsNow will explore in detail the events related to the origin of the Knights Templar at Champagne during the last decade of the 11th century and the first decades of the 12th century.

source wikipedia

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pope Francis - a Templar and interfaith link

source newsinfo.inquirer.net
On 13 March 2013 (13-3-13) Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church elected Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, born Dec 17, 1936, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as the 266th pope.

Bergoglio chose to take the name Francis, referring to Saint Francis of Assisi. Francis, founder of the Franciscan Order. Saint Francis was born at Assisi in Umbria, in 1181 or 1182. He died there on 3 October, 1226.

Francis of Assisi was a contemporary of the crusading Knights Templar, which at the time of his life was a metaphor of the novea militiae. At the time of Francis' youth the crusading forces had just lost Jerusalem to the muslim forces of Saladin (October 1187). This triggered the Third Crusade (1187-1192), led by Richard de Lionheart, who, instead of retaking Jerusalem, negotiated a treaty with Saladin. The treaty allowed mecrhants to trade and unarmed Christian pilgrims to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem, while it remained under Muslim control.

Although the son of a wealthy merchant, Francis of Assisi's family encouraged him to seek his fortune as a soldier. Handsome, gallant and courteous, he soon became a favorite among the nobles of Assisi. He fought in many battles as a knight of Count Walter of Brienne. Yet, even during this stage of his life, Francis had an uncommon sympathy for the poor and the meek. While still in his twenties, this knight Francis was inspired by a holy vision to abandon his worldly life for one of religious contemplation. He relinquished his inheritance and entered the cloth. In 1208, he founded the Franciscan Order. In the spring of 1219, Francis journeyed to the Holy Land and was present at the siege of Damietta.

Pope Innocent III declared a new crusade to begin commence in 1217. The majority of the crusaders came from Germany, Flanders, and Frisia, along with a large army from Hungary. The crusaders laid seige to Damietta in Egypt on May 27, 1218. They began their siege and despite resistance from the unprepared sultan Al-Adil, the tower outside the city was taken on August 25. However, the Franch army could not gain Damietta itself. During the continuing siege in the ensuing months diseases killed many of the crusaders. The local Muslim commander Al-Adil also died and was succeeded by Sultan Ayyubid Al-Kamil. Meanwhile, Pope Honorius III sent Pelagius of Albano to lead the crusade in 1219. Sultan Al-Kamil tried to negotiate peace with the crusaders. He offered to trade Damietta for Jerusalem, but Pelagius would not accept these offers. After hearing this Count William I of Holland left the crusade and sailed home.

In August or September 1219, Francis of Assisi arrived in the crusader camp. He gave a sermon to the crusading army, including the Knights Templar contingent. The ongoing siege of the city of Damietta and the negotiations thereon Francis sought an opportunity to meet the Sultan Al-Kamil face to face in an attempt to convert him to the Christian faith. Francis sought permission to go to the Sultan from the Papal Legate who was hesitant to grant permission since Al-Kamil had reportedly stated that "anyone who brought him the head of a Christian should be awarded with Byzantine gold pieces". Eventually when confronted with the insistence and persistence of Francis, the Papal legate allowed Francis and one companion, Brother Illuminato, to go into the Muslim camp.

Early documents, which may have a high myth character, all agree that upon arrival Francis and Illuminato were treated very roughly by the Muslim soldiers. One account states that they were insulted and beaten yet showed no fear even when threatened with torture and death. They kept repeating to their captors the word for "SULTAN" (which lack of other language seems odd because at the time fluency in Arab was common in crusader circles) and were eventually dragged before him. Francis and Illuminato informed the Sultan that they were messengers sent from God. An early writing purports to contain the essence of their first words to the Sultan: "If you do not wish to believe we will commend your soul to God because we declare that if you die while holding to your law you will be lost; God will not accept your soul. For this reason we have come to you." They added that they would demonstrate the truth of Christianity to al-Kamil and his imams.





The Sultan was captivated by the sincerity of the men's concern for his eternal salvation. Al-Kamil willingly listened to Francis and permitted them great liberty in their preaching. The Sultan told his imams that beheading Francis and Illuminato would be an unjust recompense for their efforts, since they had arrived with the praiseworthy intention of seeking his personal salvation. He said to Francis: "I am going to go counter to what my religious advisors demand and will not cut off your heads. You have risked your own lives in order to save my soul." The Franciscans were the guests of the Sultan for many days. During that time the Sultan made certain that the men's wounds were taken care of. They left without converting the Sultan, but some sources insist that in 1238 Al-Kamil was baptised on his deathbed.

In the meantime, by November 5, 1219, the crusaders had worn out the sultan's forces, and were finally able to occupy the city of Damietta itself. The sultan withdrew to al-Mansourah, a fortress further up the Nile. After this there was little action until 1221, when al-Kamil offered peace again, but was again refused. The Crusaders marched out towards Cairo, but al-Kamil simply opened the dams and allowed the Nile to flood, and finally the Crusaders accepted an eight-year peace. Al-Kamil retook Damietta in September 1221.

In the following years there was a power struggle between Al-Kamil and his brother al-Mu'azzam, and al-Kamil was willing to accept a peace with emperor and King of Sicily Frederick II, who was planning the Sixth Crusade. Al-Mu'azzam died in 1227, eliminating the need for a peace, but Frederick had already arrived. After al-Mu'azzam's death, al-Kamil and his other brother al-Ashraf Khalil negotiated a treaty giving all of Palestine (including Transjordan) to al-Kamil and Syria to al-Ashraf. In February 1229 al-Kamil negotiated a ten-year peace with Frederick II and returned Jerusalem and other holy sites to the Crusader kingdom.

The treaty of 1229 is unique in the history of the Crusades. By diplomacy alone and without major military confrontation, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and a corridor running to the sea were ceded to the kingdom of Jerusalem. Exception was made for the Temple area, the Dome of the Rock, and the Aqsa Mosque, which the Muslims retained. Moreover, all current Muslim residents of the city would retain their homes and property. They would also have their own city officials to administer a separate justice system and safeguard their religious interests. The walls of Jerusalem, which had already been destroyed, were not rebuilt, and the peace was to last for 10 years.
Perhaps this remarkable peace was a late offspring of the visit of Francis to Al-Kamil in 1219.

sources main source text and several pages on Wikipedia 


699th Commemoration death of Jaques de Molay

On March 18, 2013 we commemorate the 699th anniversary of the death of the last official Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay. De Molay, born in 1244 was put to death in Paris by the King of France on 18 March 1314. He was the 23rd and last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, leading the Order from 20 April 1292 until it was dissolved by order of Pope Clement V in 1307.

Though little is known of his actual life and deeds except for his last years as Grand Master, he is the best known Templar, along with the Order's founder and first Grand Master, Hugues de Payens(1070–1136). Jacques de Molay's goal as Grand Master was to reform the Order, and adjust it to the situation in the Holy Land during the waning days of the Crusades. As European support for the Crusades had dwindled, other forces were at work which sought to disband the Order and claim the wealth of the Templars as their own. King Philip IV of France, deeply in debt to the Templars, had De Molay and many other French Templars arrested in 1307 and tortured into making false confessions. When de Molay later retracted his confession, Philip had him executed by burning upon a scaffold on the Paris Ile des Juifs in the River Seine on 18 March 1314.

Death-site plaque of Jaques de Molay on Isle des Juifs, Paris
source text and illustrations wikipedia.org