Monday, October 13, 2014

October 13, 1307

At dawn on Friday, 13 October 1307 (a date sometimes spuriously linked with the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition) King Philip IV ordered de Molay and scores of other French Templars to be simultaneously arrested.

The arrest warrant started with the phrase : "Dieu n'est pas content, nous avons des ennemis de la foi dans le Royaume" ["God is not pleased. We have enemies of the faith in the kingdom"].
Claims were made that during Templar admission ceremonies, recruits were forced to spit on the cross, deny Christ, and engage in indecent kissing. Brethren were also accused of worshiping idols, and the order was said to have encouraged homosexual practices. The Templars were charged with numerous other offences, financial corruption and fraud, and secrecy. Many of the accused confessed to these charges under torture, and these confessions, even though obtained under duress, caused a scandal in Paris.

Relenting to Phillip's demands, Pope Clement then issued the papal bull Pastoralis Praeeminentiae on 22 November 1307, which instructed all Christian monarchs in Europe to arrest all Templars and seize their assets. Pope Clement called for papal hearings to determine the Templars' guilt or innocence, and once freed of the Inquisitors' torture, many Templars recanted their confessions. Some had sufficient legal experience to defend themselves in the trials, but in 1310 Philip blocked this attempt, using the previously forced confessions to have dozens of Templars burned at the stake in Paris.

Source: wikipedia

Friday, October 10, 2014

Hughes de Payens promotion tour - 1128-1129

In Turning the Templar Key, Robert Lomas summarizes the visit Hughes de Payens, the first grandmaster of the Knights Templar, payed to Europe.

Legend aside, Hugh did eventually venture out, with a view to whipping up practical support for his plans. In 1128 he went on a fund-rising trip to the West. He started in France. First he went to a wedding in Le Mans, and then on to meet the French King Henri I, who (Barber tells us) “received him with great honour and gave him great treasures, consisting of gold and silver.” Then Hugh went on to England and Scotland. 

His visit to England and Scotland took place in the summer of 1128 and ... he returned to Cassel in Flanders by mid September. where, together with Godfrey of Saint Omer, he received the grants of Thierry of Flanders and his vassals.

During his trip to Scotland, Hugh visited Roslin near Edinburgh, and was given land by Henri de St. Clair, Baron of Roslin, to build a Preceptory (Templar community house) in the Scottish village now known as Temple. This gift of land by a Scots laird to build support houses in the West for this radical new Order started a trend among the nobility of England. It would soon form the basis of a large commercial empire that would underpin the Order’s military campaigns in the East.

The climax of Hugh’s fund-raising tour was his appearance before the Council of Troyes in January 1129, at which his new Order was granted a Monastic rule to govern it. This (which came to be called “the Latin Rule”) was written by Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux (later St. Bernard) and consisted of seventy-two clauses. It was important for the fledgling Order, as it conferred legitimacy on it.

Early in 1129 Hugh returned to Jerusalem and led his Knights northward to try and take Damascus. The lack of logistic support during the long siege inspired him to think about how he could use the lands his Order had been given in the West to improve its fighting ability. He decided to set up a regular support network in western Europe to provide a steady flow of new Knights, money, food, clothing, and arms. In 1130 he sent one of his Brother founder-Knights, Payen de Montdidier, to England, where King Stephen granted him the right to build a whole string of new Preceptories.

source: Turning the Templar Key by Robert Lomas (2007) pp 44-45

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Muslim science in de Middle Ages

Jabir ibn Hayyan, "the father of Chemistry"
source Wikipedia
The crusades brought the European elite in contact not only with muslim warfare technology, but also with muslim science. What did the "Franks" encounter?

From the preservers and compilers of the learning of the ancient civilizations they had conquered in the early centuries of expansion, Muslim peoples - and the Jewish scholars who lived peacefully in Muslim lands - increasingly became creators and inventors in their own right. For several centuries, which spanned much of the period of Abbasid rule (750-1258 AD), Islamic civilization outstripped all others in scientific discoveries, devising new techniques of investigation, and in the innovation and dissemination of technology. Their many accomplishments in these areas include major corrections to the algebraic and geometric theories of the ancient Greeks and great advances in the use of the concepts of the sine, cosine, and tangent that are basic to trigonometry.

Among numerous discoveries in chemistry, two that were fundamental to all subsequent investigation were the creation of the objective experiment and al-Razi's scheme of classifying all material substances into three categories: animal, vegetable, and mineral. The sophistication of Muslim scientific techniques is indicated by the fact that in the 11th century al-Biruni was able to calculate the exact specific weight of 18 major minerals. This sophistication was also manifested in the astronomical instruments and observations made through the cooperation of Muslim scholars and skilled craftsmen.

Muslim technicians greatly improved devices, such as the astrolabe and armillary sphere, for measuring and mapping the position of celestial bodies. Muslim astronomers devised the names, which we still use today, of many of the constellations and individual stars. Their astronomical tables and maps of the stars were in great demand among scholars of other civilizations, including those of Europe and China.

As these breakthroughs suggest, much of the Muslims' work in scientific investigation had very practical applications. This practical bent was even more pronounced in a number of other fields. In medicine, for example, Muslim cities, such as Cairo, boasted some of the best hospitals in the world. Doctors and pharmacists had to follow a regular course of study and pass a formal exam before they were allowed to practice and Muslim scientists did important work on optics and bladder ailments.

Muslim traders and crafpsmen introduced into the Islamic world and Europe many basic machines and techniques - namely, paper making, silk weaving, and ceramic firing - that had been devised earlier in China. Muslim scholars made some of the world's best maps, which were envied and copied by geographers from Portugal to Poland.

Muslim travelers, such as Ibn Khaldun and al-Biruni, wrote ethnographic and historical accounts of the lands they visited, which remain to the present day some of our fullest and most accurate sources on these regions. The Arab dhow was one of the finest sailing vessels of its day, and its hull and sail design later greatly influenced the shipbuilders of Italy and Iberia who would pioneer European overseas exploration from the 13th century onward. As these achievements testify, despite continuing political instability, Islamic civilization remained vibrant, receptive, and highly creative through much of the era of Abbasid decline and the political fragmentation of the Muslim heartlands.

based on