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The History of the Knights Templar, by Charles G. Addison, [1842], at sacred-texts.com



The Knights Templars,





Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans; London



Title Page
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Scanned, proofed, and formatted at sacred-texts.com, May, 2006, by John Bruno Hare. This text is in the public domain in the United States because it was published prior to 1923.




Inner and Middle Temple



The Antient Church of the Knights Templars






The History of the Knights Templar, by Charles G. Addison, [1842], at sacred-texts.com

p. vii


THE extraordinary and romantic career of the Knights Templars, their exploits and their misfortunes, render their history a subject of peculiar interest.

Born during the first fervour of the Crusades, they were flattered and aggrandized as long as their great military power and religious fanaticism could be made available for the support of the Eastern church and the retention of the Holy Land, but when the crescent had ultimately triumphed over the cross, and the religio-military enthusiasm of Christendom had died away, they encountered the basest ingratitude in return for the services they had rendered to the christian faith, and were plundered, persecuted, and condemned to a cruel death, by those who ought in justice to have been their defenders and supporters. The memory of these holy warriors is embalmed in all our recollections of the wars of the cross; they were the bulwarks of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem during the short period of its existence, and were the last band of Europe’s host that contended for the possession of Palestine.

To the vows of the monk and the austere life of the convent,

p. viii

the Templars added the discipline of the camp, and the stern duties of the military life, joining

“The fine vocation of the sword and lance,
With the gross aims, and body-bending toil
Of a poor brotherhood, who walk the earth

The vulgar notion that the Templars were as wicked as they were fearless and brave, has not yet been entirely exploded; but it is hoped that the copious account of the proceedings against the order in this country, given in the ninth and tenth chapters of the ensuing volume, will tend to dispel many unfounded prejudices still entertained against the fraternity, and excite emotions of admiration for their constancy and courage, and of pity for their unmerited and cruel fate.

Matthew Paris, who wrote at St. Albans, concerning events in Palestine, tells us that the emulation between the Templars and Hospitaliers frequently broke out into open warfare to the great scandal and prejudice of Christendom, and that, in a pitched battle fought between them, the Templars were slain to a man. The solitary testimony of Matthew Paris, who was no friend to the two orders, is invalidated by the silence of contemporary historians, who wrote on the spot; and it is quite evident from the letters of the pope, addressed to the Hospitaliers, the year after the date of the alleged battle, that such an occurrence never could have taken place.

The accounts, even of the best of the antient writers, should not be adopted without examination, and a careful comparison with other sources of information. William of Tyre, for instance, tells us that Nassr-ed-deen, son of sultan Abbas, was taken prisoner by the Templars, and whilst in their hands became a convert to the Christian religion; that he had learned the rudiments

p. ix

of the Latin language, and earnestly sought to be baptized, but that the Templars were bribed with sixty thousand pieces of gold to surrender him to his enemies in Egypt, where certain death awaited him; and that they stood by to see him bound hand and foot with chains, and placed in an iron cage, to be conducted across the desert to Cairo. Now the Arabian historians of that period tell us that Nassr-ed-deen and his father murdered the caliph and threw his body into a well, and then fled with their retainers and treasure into Palestine; that the sister of the murdered caliph wrote immediately to the commandant at Gaza, which place was garrisoned by the Knights Templars, offering a handsome reward for the capture of the fugitives; that they were accordingly intercepted, and Nassr-ed-deen was sent to Cairo, where the female relations of the caliph caused his body to be cut into small pieces in the seraglio. The above act has constantly been made a matter of grave accusation against the Templars; but what a different complexion does the case assume on the testimony of the Arabian authorities!

It must be remembered that William archbishop of Tyre was hostile to the order on account of its vast powers and privileges, and carried his complaints to a general council of the church at Rome. He is abandoned, in everything that he says to the prejudice of the fraternity, by James of Vitry, bishop of Acre, a learned and most talented prelate, who wrote in Palestine subsequently to William of Tyre, and has copied largely from the history of the latter. The bishop of Acre speaks of the Templars in the highest terms, and declares that they were universally loved by all men for their piety and humility. “Nulli molesti erant!” says he, “sed ab omnibus propter humilitatem et religionem amabantur.”

The celebrated orientalist Von Hammer has recently brought forward various extraordinary and unfounded charges, destitute

p. x

of all authority, against the Templars; and Wilcke, who has written a German history of the order, seems to have imbibed all the vulgar prejudices against the fraternity. I might have added to the interest of the ensuing work, by making the Templars horrible and atrocious villains; but I have endeavoured to write a fair and impartial account of the order, not slavishly adopting everything I find detailed in antient writers, but such matters only as I believe, after a careful examination of the best authorities, to be true.

It is a subject of congratulation to us that we possess, in the Temple Church at London, the most beautiful and perfect memorial of the order of the Knights Templars now in existence. No one who has seen that building in its late dress of plaster and whitewash will recognize it when restored to its antient magnificence. This venerable structure was one of the chief ecclesiastical edifices of the Knights Templars in Europe, and stood next in rank to the Temple at Jerusalem. As I have performed the pilgrimage to the Holy City, and wandered amid the courts of the antient Temple of the Knights Templars on Mount Moriah, I could not but regard with more than ordinary interest the restoration by the societies of the Inner and the Middle Temple of their beautiful Temple Church.

The greatest zeal and energy have been displayed by them in that praiseworthy undertaking, and no expense has been spared to repair the ravages of time, and to bring back the structure to what it was in the time of the Templars.

In the summer I had the pleasure of accompanying one of the chief and most enthusiastic promoters of the restoration of the church (Mr. Burge, Q.C.) over the interesting fabric, and at his suggestion the present work was commenced. I am afraid that it will hardly answer his expectations, and am sorry that the interesting task has not been undertaken by an abler hand.

Temple, Nov. 17, 1841.

p. xi

P.S. Mr. Willement, who is preparing some exquisitely stained glass windows for the Temple Church, has just drawn my attention to the nineteenth volume of the “MEMOIR ES DE LA SOCIÉTÉ ROYALE DES ANTIQUAIRES DE FRANCE,” published last year. It contains a most curious and interesting account of the church of Brelevennez, in the department des Cotes-du-Nord, supposed to have formerly belonged to the order of the Temple, written by the Chevalier du FREMANVILLE. Amongst various curious devices, crosses, and symbols found upon the windows and the tombs of the church, is a copper medallion, which appears to have been suspended from the neck by a chain. This decoration consists of a small circle, within which are inscribed two equilateral triangles placed one upon the other, so as to form a six-pointed star. In the midst of the star is a second circle, containing within it the LAMB of the order of the Temple holding the banner in its fore-paw, similar to what we see on the antient seal of the order delineated in the title-page of this work. Mr. Willement has informed me that he has received an offer from a gentleman in Brittany to send over casts of the decorations and devices lately discovered in that church. He has kindly referred the letter to me for consideration, but I have not thought it advisable to delay the publication of the present work for the purpose of procuring them.

Mr. Willement has also drawn my attention to a very distinct impression of the reverse of the seal of the Temple described in page 106, whereon I read very plainly the interesting motto, “TESTIS SVM AGNI.

Next: Preface

The History of the Knights Templar, by Charles G. Addison, [1842], at sacred-texts.com 

p. xiii



Origin of the Templars–The pilgrimages to Jerusalem–The dangers to which pilgrims were exposed–The formation of the brotherhood of the poor fellow-soldiers of Jesus Christ to protect them–Their location in the Temple–A description of the Temple–Origin of the name Templars–Hugh de Payens chosen Master of the Temple–Is sent to Europe by King Baldwin–Is introduced to the Pope–The assembling of the Council of Troyes–The formation of a rule for the government of the Templars Page 1


Regula Pauperum Commilitonum Christi et Templi Salomonis.

The most curious parts of the rule displayed–The confirmation of the rule by the Pope–The visit of Hugh de Payens, the Master of the Temple, to England–His cordial reception–The foundation of the Order in this country–Lands and money granted to the Templars–Their popularity in Europe–The rapid increase of their fraternity–St. Bernard takes up the pen in their behalf–He displays their valour and piety 15

p. xiv


Hugh de Payens returns to Palestine–His death–Robert de Craon made Master–Success of the Infidels–The second Crusade–The Templars assume the Red Cross–Their gallant actions and high discipline–Lands, manors, and churches granted them in England–Bernard de Tremelay made Master–He is slain by the Infidels–Bertrand de Blanquefort made Master–He is taken prisoner, and sent in chains to Aleppo–The Pope writes letters in praise of the Templars–Their religious and military enthusiasm–Their war banner called Beauseant–The rise of the rival religio-military order of the Hospital of St. John 36


The contests between Saladin and the Templars–The vast privileges of the Templars–The publication of the bull, omne datum optimum–The Pope declares himself the immediate Bishop of the entire Order–The different classes of Templars–The knights–Priests–Serving brethren–The hired soldiers–The great officers of the Temple–Punishment of cowardice–The Master of the Temple is taken prisoner, and dies in a dungeon–Saladin’s great successes–The Christians purchase a truce–The Master of the Temple and the Patriarch Heraclius proceed to England for succour–The consecration of the TEMPLE CHURCH AT LONDON 60


The Temple at London–The vast possessions of the Templars in England–The territorial divisions of the order–The different preceptories in this country–The privileges conferred on the Templars by the kings of England–The Masters of the Temple at London–Their power and importance 81


The Patriarch Heraclius quarrels with the king of England–He returns to Palestine without succour–The disappointments and gloomy forebodings of the Templars–They prepare to resist Saladin–Their defeat and slaughter–

p. xv

[paragraph continues] The valiant deeds of the Marshal of the Temple–The fatal battle of Tiberias–The captivity of the Grand Master and the true Cross–The captive Templars are offered the Koran or death–They choose the latter, and are beheaded–The fall of Jerusalem–The Moslems take possession of the Temple–They purify it with rose-water, say prayers, and hear a sermon–The Templars retire to Antioch–Their letters to the king of England and the Master of the Temple at London–Their exploits at the siege of Acre 114


Richard Cœur de Lion joins the Templars before Acre–The city surrenders, and the Templars establish the chief house of their order within it–Cœur de Lion takes up his abode with them–He sells to them the island of Cyprus–The Templars form the van of his army–Their foraging expeditions and great exploits–Cœur de Lion quits the Holy Land in the disguise of a Knight Templar–The Templars build the Pilgrim’s Castle in Palestine–The state of the order in England–King John resides in the Temple at London–The barons come to him at that place, and demand MAGNA CHARTA–The exploits of the Templars in Egypt–The letters of the Grand Master to the Master of the Temple at London–The Templars reconquer Jerusalem 141


The conquest of Jerusalem by the Carizmians–The slaughter of the Templars, and the death of the Grand Master–The exploits of the Templars in Egypt–King Louis of France visits the Templars in Palestine-He assists them in putting the country into a defensible state–Henry IL, king of England, visits the Temple at Paris–The magnificent hospitality of the Templars in England and France–Benocdar, sultan of Egypt, invades Palestine–He defeats the Templars, takes their strong fortresses, and decapitates six hundred of their brethren–The Grand Master comes to England for succour–The renewal of the war–The fall of Acre, and the final extinction of the Templars in Palestine 165

p. xvi


The downfall of the Templars–The cause thereof–The Grand Master comes to Europe at the request of the Pope–He is imprisoned, with all the Templars in France, by command of king Philip–They are put to the torture, and confessions of the guilt of heresy and idolatry are extracted from them–Edward II. king of England stands up in defence of the Templars, but afterwards persecutes them at the instance of the Pope–The imprisonment of the Master of the Temple and all his brethren in England–Their examination upon eighty-seven horrible and ridiculous articles of accusation before foreign inquisitors appointed by the Pope–A council of the church assembles at London to pass sentence upon them–The curious evidence adduced as to the mode of admission into the order, and of the customs and observances of the fraternity. 193


The Templars in France revoke their rack-extorted confessions–They are tried as relapsed heretics, and burnt at the stake–The progress of the inquiry in England–The curious evidence adduced as to the mode of holding the chapters of the order–As to the penance enjoined therein, and the absolution pronounced by the Master–The Templars draw up a written defence, which they present to the ecclesiastical council–They are placed in separate dungeons, and put to the torture–Two serving brethren and a chaplain of the order then make confessions–Many other Templars acknowledge themselves guilty of heresy in respect of their belief in the religious authority of their Master–They make their recantations, and are reconciled to the church before the south door of Saint Paul’s cathedral–The order of the Temple is abolished by the Pope–The last of the Masters of the Temple in England dies in the Tower–The disposal of the property of the order–Observations on the downfall of the Templars. 239



The restoration of the Temple Church–The beauty and magnificence of the venerable building–The various styles of architecture displayed in it–The

p. xvii

discoveries made during the recent restoration–The sacrarium–The marble piscina–The sacramental niches–The penitential cell–The ancient Chapel of St. Anne–Historical matters connected with the Temple Church–The holy relics anciently preserved therein–The interesting monumental remains 289



THE MONUMENTS OF THE CRUSADERS–The tomb and effigy of Sir Geoffrey de Magnaville, earl of Essex, and constable of the Tower–His life and death, and famous exploits–Of William Marshall, earl of Pembroke, Protector of England–Of the Lord de Ross–Of William and Gilbert Marshall, earls of Pembroke–Of William Plantagenet, fifth son of Henry the Third–The anxious desire manifested by king Henry the Third, queen Eleanor, and various persons of rank, to be buried in the Temple Church 309



Antiquities in the Temple–The history of the place subsequent to the dissolution of the order of the Knights Templars–The establishment of a society of lawyers in the Temple–The antiquity of this society–Its connexion with the antient society of the Knights Templars–An order of knights and serving brethren established in the law–The degree of frere serjen, or frater serviens, borrowed from the antient Templars–The modern Templars divide themselves into the two societies of the Inner and Middle Temple 342



The Temple Garden–The erection of new buildings in the Temple–The dissolution of the order of the Hospital of Saint John–The law societies become lessees of the crown–The erection of the magnificent Middle Temple Hall–The conversion of the old hall into chambers–The grant of the inheritance

p. xviii

of the Temple to the two law societies–Their magnificent present to his Majesty–Their antient orders and customs, and antient hospitality–Their grand entertainments–Reader’s feasts–Grand Christmasses and Bevels–The fox-hunt in the hall–The dispute with the Lord Mayor–The quarrel with the custos of the Temple Church 373


In note, page 6, for infinitus, read infinitis.
29, for carrissime, read carissime.
42, for Angli, read Anglia.
79, for promptia, read promptior.
79, for principos, read principes.
80, for Patriarchs, read patriarcham.


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