Is there any provable connection between the Knights Templar and the Freemasons?

I met a friend a science-fiction convention this weekend who insists that the medieval Knights Templar live on today as the Freemasons. It’s not the first time I’ve encountered this theory – it’s discussed in several books I’ve read, including The Hiram Key, by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas (Barnes & Noble Books, 1998); and The Temple and the Lodge, by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh (Arrow, 2000). I just wanted to know what the Doper community thinks of it. Unfortunately, CSICOP (the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal) does not appear to have any counterpart skeptical organization devoted to investigating/debunking exotic historical theories.

The idea is that after the Templars were dissolved by papal bull in 1312 (and thoroughly suppressed by the French King Philip the Fair, who confiscated all Templar property in France and had their Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, burned at the stake for heresy and witchcraft), some of them took refuge in Scotland and were sheltered by the king there. The organization maintained a kind of underground existence and eventually evolved into Freemasonry. This theory is, of course, bound up with a lot of other esoteric matters, such as ancient mystic knowledge from Egypt; the “Grail Blood” theory (Merovingian dynasty of the Franks = bloodline of Jesus Christ) and the Priory of Sion; the role of the Templars in creating modern fractional reserve banking; the role of the Templars in founding the Swiss Confederation; the Masonic symbolism of Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland; and the theory that a Templar fleet led by Henry Sinclair, Prince of Orkney, sailed to America (Oak Island in Nova Scotia, specifically) in 1397, and left buried treasure there, too – possibly even the Holy Grail! [insert your own Monty Python joke here]

Whether any Masons accept these theories, or any part of them, I do not know. On the other hand, there also are several non-Masonic organizations around today who claim to be the true Templars.

Here are some relevant links: – article, “Do the Templars Still Exist?” by William Dafoe. - article discussing existing “Templar” organization, the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem. – homepage of the SMOTJ (U.S.). – homepage of the SMOTJ (international). – article on the Militi Templi Scotia, a Scottish “Templar” organization – article on “Masonic Knights Templarism” – page of links about the Knights Templar – page of links about the Templars and related subjects – article on “The Search for the Holy Grail in Nova Scotia.” – website of Dagobert’s Revenge, a print/webzine devoted to the “Grail Blood” theory and related esoterica.

Have fun!

Well, yes, but no. The present-day Knights Templar is the highest degree in York Rite masonry. However, they freely state that there is no historical evidence to suggest a direct link between them and the ancient Knights Templar. As you may know, the junior version of the masons is called the Order of DeMolay. Again, the linkage is purely symbolic.

On this subject, I’m curious if anybody has any comments on John Robinson’s Born in Blood, which also examines a possible link between Freemasonry and the Knights Templar, but without the holy grail / Merovingian nonsense. I thought it provided some interesting evidence, and speculation on the Knights Templar / Freemasons being connected with the Wat Tyler rebellion, without degenerating into the grand conspiratorial secret society theories of a lot of works seeking to find a Mason-Templar connexion. It basically posits that the Knights Templar went underground in the British isles, and as time went on, gradually forgot their origins, so that by the 17th century they had become the fraternal organization they are today, and the only real traces left by the Templars are some linguistic evidence, certain features of the Masonic rituals, and the long-standing antipathy between the Masons and the Catholic Church.

The Grand Master was burned at the stake, was he not?
Pardon my hijack.

The OP mentions that, carni.


The only Masonic thing I know of is the Illuminati became Scottish Rite Masons.

The only Masonic thing I know of is the Illuminati became Scottish Rite Masons.

The only Masonic thing I know of is the Illuminati became Scottish Rite Masons.

sorry for the simulpost…I kept getting page not found and hitting refresh

Are you trying to say the Illuminati became Scottish Rite Masons?

IIRC Nikolas Tesla was a mason wasn’t he? :wink:

Just a small point. I just discovered that Jacques de Molay was burned beneath the bridge next to my flat in Paris. The sign says he dies March 13 and was burned over a slow fire (turned on a spit as opposed to tied to a stake).

I don’t know if I believe all the theories though. I have read the books lasted but haven’t read any counter-arguments yet.

I am reading “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” by Micheal Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln right now.

It has extensive research into the Knights Templar as well as a good bit of stuff on their connection with the Masons.

From what I have read, many Templars found refuge in Scotland after the inquisition, The force behind the Templars seems to have been the Priory of Sion. They acted as one organization until 1188, when for some reason they split.
According to this book there is quite a bit of relationship between the Masons and the Priory of Sion. Many Grandmasters of the Priory were masons.

The book is pretty good so far, if this stuff interests you you might want to check it out, i got it at Barnes and Noble this morning

Well, I’m sure that Holy Blood, Holy Grail is a “good read” (which accounts for its popularity). However, despite the periodic facts that are scattered through it, most of its thesis (and the bulk of its “history”) is simply hogwash.

The Freemasons have a recognized history from the period when the number of new cathedrals being built tapered off and the Europeam guild system was beginning to disintegrate. In order to keep their organization going, they began to invite “honorary” members from the nobility and merchant classes. These exclusive social clubs evolved into the Freemasonry association in the seventeenth century.

Wild tales of escaped Templars founding secret organizations with treasures hidden from the eyes of Philip are simply romantic fictions. Whether those tales were originally circulated by Masons attempting to give their own history some “romance” or by opponents of Freemasonry for some other purpose, I am not sure.

The first point is that The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail is junk. The ‘Priory of Sion’ documents are all obvious fakes and Philippe de Chérisey subsequently admitted that he had faked them. This however is a secondary issue to the whole Knights Templar/Freemasons question, as, on that point, Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln were just recycling an existing theory.

The Masonic claim that they are in some way connected to the Knights Templar can be traced back to the eighteenth century. It is tracing it back beyond then that is the problem. Indeed, tracing Freemasonry itself back before then is controversial. Masons themselves, of course, want to claim that their traditions stretch way back to antiquity. They would say that, wouldn’t they? Historians have been much more sceptical.

The leading academic expert on early Freemasonry is David Stevenson and his work has demolished the idea that it dates back much before the seventeenth century. In his two major books on the subject - The First Freemasons. Scotland’s Early Lodges and their Members (Aberdeen University Press, 1988) and The origins of Freemasonry : Scotland’s century, 1590-1710 (Cambridge University Press, 1988) - he showed that what we now think of as Freemasonry was largely invented by James VI’s Master of the Works, William Schaw, in Scotland at the very end of the sixteenth century. Schaw was able to draw on the earlier guild traditions of stonemasons, but the fact that stonemasons had surrounded their guild meetings with much mumbo-jumbo was simply because many trade guilds of that period did so as a way of creating a mystique about their meetings. Schaw then combined those traditions with heavy doses of the esoteric ideas fashionable in certain late-Renaissance intellectual circles. All this had nothing to do with the Knights Templar.

The Templars were only added to the Masonic mythos in the eighteenth century. A number of writers of that period had built up the image of the Templars as in some way mysterious and some Masons picked up on this to add an extra layer of exoticism to their own ‘traditions’. Most of the stories about the Templars in Scotland were then made up as a way of explaining why it was that there was such a strong link between Freemasonry and Scotland.

Working from the other end, modern historians of the Templars have been equally unimpressed by the idea that Templar influence survived their suppression. A good recent work on the Templars in the British Isles is Evelyn Lord’s The Knights Templar in Britain (Longmans, 2002), which discusses later ideas about the Templars in some detail. She is particularly good on the evidence, or rather, the lack of it, for the Templars in Scotland after the suppression. It has to be said that much of Lord’s book is rather dry and boring, but that’s because the Templars themselves were nowhere near as interesting as later generations wanted to believe that they had been.

I have been a Scottish Rite mason for 24 years. When I went through the degrees, I was taught that the Scottish Rite was formed in France by a group of homesick masonic Scots. It might just as rightly been called the French Rite! It happened when some Scots bigshots were banished from their home turf. (My knowledge of European history is sketchy at best.)

Enola Straight’s fanciful assertion about the Illuminati becoming the Scottish Rite is silliness. Nearly everything Illuminati is amusing nonsense. :stuck_out_tongue:

Unfortunately, I do believe we may never know what link, if any, the Masons may have had to the Knights Templar. When you’re dealing with secret societies, you have to realize that the public face of the society is a bit different than the “secret” face. I would be willing to bet that societies such as the Masons very freely dole out false information interspersed with factual information for the express purpose of confusing the masses who want to know the who, what, where, and when of the society.
IMHO, of course. :slight_smile:
But I have to admit…it’s pretty damn fun to let the mind wander around the ideas of conspiracies involving the Knights Templar, Freemasons and yes, even the Illuminati

The eighteenth-century origins of the Scottish Rite are surrounded by the usual mix of dodgy information, unsubstantiated tradition and lots of speculation. What however does seem to be agreed on is that the key figure was Andrew Michael Ramsay (1686-1743) a.k.a ‘Chevalier Ramsay’, a Scottish exile prominent in Jacobite circles in France. To this non-Mason, it seems clear that in introducing Freemasonry to France, Ramsay took the opportunity to embroider the tradition. The French didn’t know any better and were happy to fall for his more romantic version. YMMV. What is significant in the context of this thread is that Ramsay seems to have been the first person to mention any link with the Templars. There is no reason to believe that this claim is any more reliable than Ramsay’s other statements about the origins of Freemasonry.

Ah, they’re 1300s-style “Death Pyres.”