Crusaders, Templars and
Freemasonry was officially established and recognized in England in the 18th century but actually, the roots of the organization reach back to the Crusades in the 12th century. At the focal point of this old story is an order of crusaders called the Knights of the Temple or the Templars, for short.
No matter how much many people may believe that the Crusades were a product of Christian faith, they were basically wars undertaken for material gain. In a period when Europe was experiencing great poverty and misery, the comfort and wealth of the East, especially of the Muslim Middle East, attracted Europeans. This motivation took on a religious appearance decorated with the symbols of Christianity but actually the idea of the Crusades was born out of a desire for worldly gain. This was the reason for the sudden change among Christians from their former pacifist policies in earlier periods of their history to a tendency towards military aggression.
The initiator of the Crusades was Pope Urban II. He summoned the Council of Clermont in 1095 in which the former Christian doctrine of pacifism was changed. A holy war was announced that was to wrest the holy lands from the hands of the Muslims. Afterwards, a huge army of Crusaders was formed composed both of professional soldiers and tens of thousands of ordinary people.
Historians think that this venture of Urban II was prompted by his desire to eclipse the candidacy of a rival for the papacy. European kings, princes, aristocrats and others greeted the Pope's call with excitement but their intentions were basically worldly. "The French knights wanted more land. Italian merchants hoped to expand trade in Middle Eastern ports... Large numbers of poor people joined the expeditions simply to escape the hardships of their normal lives."1 Along the way, this greedy mass killed many Muslims and even Jews just hoping to find gold and jewels. The crusaders even cut open the stomachs of those they had killed to find gold and precious stones that the victims may have swallowed before they died. The material greed of the crusaders was so great that they did not hesitate to sack the Christian city of Constantinople (Istanbul) in the 6th Crusade during which they stripped off the gold leaf from the Christian frescoes in Hagia Sophia.
So, this band called Crusaders reached Jerusalem in 1099 after burning and looting many places and putting many Muslims to the sword. After a long siege of five weeks, the city fell and the Crusaders entered. As one historian put it, "They killed all the Saracens and the Turks they found... whether male of female.2 One of the Crusaders, Raymund of Aguiles, wrote these words in praise of this savagery:
Wonderful sights were to be seen. Some of our men (and this was more merciful) cut off the heads of their enemies; others shot them with arrows, so that they fell from the towers; others tortured them longer by casting them into the flames. Piles of heads, hands and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one's way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared to what happened at the Temple of Solomon, a place where religious services are normally chanted ... in the Temple and porch of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins.3
The Crusaders reached
Jerusalem in 1099 after
burning and looting
many places and putting
many Muslims to the
According to the same historical source, the number of Muslims pitilessly slaughtered was 40,000.4 The crusaders made Jerusalem their capital and founded a Latin Kingdom stretching from the borders of Palestine to Antioch.
Later, the crusaders began a struggle to hold their position in the Middle East. In order to sustain the state they had founded, they had to organize it. To do this, they established military orders, which had never existed before. Members of these orders came from Europe to Palestine and lived in a kind of monastery where they received military training to fight against Muslims.
One of these orders was different from the others. It underwent a change that would influence the course of history. This order was the Templars.
From the Templars to Freemasonry
The Templars, or, their full name, The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, was formed in 1118, that is 20 years after the crusaders took Jerusalem. The founders of the order were two Frenchmen, Hugh de Payens and Godfrey de St. Omer. At first there were 9 members but the order steadily grew. The reason that they called themselves after the temple of Solomon was that the place they chose as a base was the temple mount where this ruined temple had been located. At the same time, this place was where the Al-Aqsa Mosque stood.
The Templars had called themselves "poor soldiers", but within a short time they became wealthy. Christian pilgrims coming from Europe to Palestine were completely under the control of this order which became very rich on the money collected from the pilgrims. In addition, for the first time they set up a cheque-bond system similar to that of a bank. According to the BBC commentators, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, they established a kind of Medieval capitalism and led the way to modern banking by their management of interest.5
The Templars were the ones mainly responsible for the crusaders' attacks against and murder of Muslims. For this reason, the great Islamic commander Saladin, who defeated the crusaders' army in 1187 in the Battle of Hattin and afterwards rescued Jerusalem, put the Templars to death for the murders they had committed even though he had pardoned a large number of Christians. Although they lost Jerusalem and suffered heavy losses, the Templars continued to exist. And despite the continual diminution of the Christian presence in Palestine, they increased their power in Europe and, first in France, and then on other countries, they became a state within a state.
There is no doubt that this political power made European monarchs uncomfortable. But there was another aspect of the Templars that also made the clergy uneasy: the order had gradually broken its ties with Christian faith and while in Jerusalem, they adopted a number of strange mystical doctrines. There were also rumors that they were organizing strange rites to express these doctrines.
Finally, in 1307, the French king Philip the Fair and Pope Clement V jointly decided to arrest the members of the order. Some of them managed to escape but most of them were caught. Afterwards, a long period of interrogation and trial began and many of them admitted that they were actually heretical, that they had rejected the Christian faith and insulted Jesus in their masses. Finally, the leaders of the Templars who were called "grand masters", beginning with the most important of them, Jacques de Molay, were executed in 1314 by the order of the Church and the King. The majority of them were put into prison, the order dispersed and officially disappeared. But although the order "officially" ceased to exist, it did not mean that it had actually disappeared. During the main arrest in 1307, some Templars escaped and managed to cover their tracks. According to a thesis based on various historical documentation, a significant number of these escaped Templars took refuge in the single kingdom in Europe that did not recognize the authority of the Catholic Church in the 14th century—Scotland. There they reorganized under the protection of the Scottish king, Robert the Bruce. A while later, they found a good method of camouflage to allow them to continue their existence: they infiltrated the oldest guild in the medieval British Isles—the wall builders' lodge.6
The wall builders' lodge changed its name at the beginning of the modern era and called itself the "Masonic lodge". (The dictionary defines the term "mason" as a master wall builder.) The Scottish Rite is the oldest branch of Masonry and goes back to the beginning of the 14th century to those Templars who took refuge in Scotland. And the names given to the highest degrees in Scottish Rite are titles that were given to knights in the order of Templars centuries earlier. It is still the same today.
In short, the Templars did not disappear and their philosophy, beliefs and rituals still continue under the roof of Freemasonry. This thesis has many historical proofs and is accepted today by a large number of Western historians whether they are Freemasons or not.
The thesis that the roots of Freemasonry go back to the Templars is often pointed out in magazines published by Turkish Masonry for its own members. On this topic the Freemasons are very open. One of these magazines is called Mimar Sinan which describes the relationship between the Order of Templars and Masonry in these words:
In 1312, when the French king, under pressure from the Church, closed the Order of Templars and gave their possessions to the Knights of St. John, the activities of the Templars ceased. The great majority of the Templars took refuge in Masonic lodges that were operating in Europe at that time… Scottish Masons, who inherited the Templars' heritage, gave it back to France many years later and established there the basis of the rite known as the Scottish Rite.7
Again, the Mimar Sinan magazine gives much information about the relationship between the Templars and Freemasonry. In an article entitled "Templars and Freemasons", it says that "the rituals for the initiation ceremony of the Order of Templars are similar to those of present-day Masonry."8 According to the same article, "just as in Masonry, the members of the Order of Templars called each other 'brother'."9 Towards the end of the article we read,
The Order of Templars and the Masonic organization have influenced each other to a noticeable extent. Even the rituals of the corporations are so similar as to have been copied from the Templars… To summarize, as we said at the beginning of this essay, we can say that the starting point of Masonry's royal art and initiatic-esoteric line was the Templars and its end point is Freemasonry.10
The Impact of the Crusade
Philosophy to Our Day
It is clear that the roots of Masonry stretch back to the Order of Templars and the Masons have adopted the philosophy of this order, which was established by the Crusaders. While considering the impact of Crusaders to our day, we need to remember this point and the far-reaching influences of Masonry on the world. The aims of Masonry are explained by one of the most well-known Turkish Freemasons Selami Isindag in his book Masonluktan Esinlenmeler (Masonic Inspirations):
According to Freemasonry, it is necessary to rid people of a character inspired by metaphysical divine sources, and instead establish a character based on the love of man, which is free from relativity. In its basic ethical principles, Masonry considers the inclinations of man, his needs, satisfactions, the laws and order of social life, consciousness (conscience), freedom of speech and thought and finally, the entire plan of nature, and therefore aims to establish and develop values centered around man in all societies.11
This is the final purpose of Masonry: to eradicate religion and to establish a humanist and godless world where the concept of "man" will be held sacred; where people will deny God Who created them, and take themselves as "idols".
For this reason, it is essential to protect the society from this disaster by shattering the godless suggestions of Masonry and thus save the faith of people. What we have to do is tell people about the existence of God and the values of religion by supporting them with the facts revealed by science. When Muslims undertake this responsibility, by the will of God, this verse will come true: "Rather We hurl the truth against falsehood and it cuts right through it and it vanishes clean away!" (Qur'an, 21:18)
When this is realized, the representatives of the evil will "vanish clean away" and the 21st century will be the age of Islamic values rather than the evil's alliance as they presume.