Templar Galley Ship (Santa Maria III of Christopher Columbus in 1492 AD)

Templar Galley Ship (Santa Maria III of Christopher Columbus in 1492 AD)

N (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.orgNotwithstanding the “official narrative” of school textbook “history”, the Order of the Temple of Solomon was never dissolved nor extinguished any time after 1307 AD. Most of the central working assets, equipment, writings and records of the Knights Templar, and the majority of its Knights, Dames and supporters, successfully fled from France shortly before the infamous French Inquisition raid by King Philip IV.

As recorded in testimony of the Knight Jean de Châlon, the Templars had advance warning of the impending raid, and arranged a fleet of 18 galley ships to leave La Rochelle port, visibly leaving behind a couple ships to avoid raising suspicions of their escape [1]. This testimony during the trials specified that “Gerard de Villiers, the Paris Preceptor, had escaped with 50 horses and 18 ships.” [2]

The historical record leaves “no doubt” that the Templar Grand Mastery “was aware that the arrests were impending”, planned for 13 October 1307 AD. It is documented that “the arrest orders were dated 14 September, so at the most the Templars had four weeks’ advance notice. … With a depleted stockpile of workable assets, coinage, gold, jewels and other saleable goods, the Templars fled the area of immediate persecution before the hammer could fall.” [3]

It is known that “the very Rule of the Templar Order commanded the brothers to defend one another”, with a “duty to protect the order; at the cost of [one’s] own life if necessary.” For this reason, the Grand Master Jacques de Molay and a group of dedicated knights stayed behind, to avoid arousing suspicion, thus allowing the majority to escape to safety. “Only 620 Templar personnel are known to have been arrested in France” after the raids of 1307 AD. Historians “estimate that there were over 3,000 Templars” in France at that time, such that “over 2,000 fully armed and equipped Templar brothers, with their entire retinues of squires, servants, horses, baggage trains and camp followers” in fact did escape, and must have boarded the 18 ships that left the port of La Rochelle. [4]

Scholars generally agree that “the Templars managed to disperse most of their portable wealth before the King’s henchmen came to confiscate it. Indeed, the royal agents found monasteries that had in large part been abandoned… they found the ships had set sail”. Other smaller “Templar fleets in the south and north of France, Flanders, and Portugal also left port – and sailed into legend. … Also missing from the Templars’ strongholds were the documents and records” of the former empire of the Order. [5]

To provide for the infrastructure of the new form of the Order as an underground network, “with no more Holy wars to wage”, the Templars “fell back on their second career, finance and trade.” Naturally, “most of the Templar wealth was out in the field earning interest and revenue for the order… the money would be transferred to those branches still open and put to even greater use to recover the recent losses.” Also, besides the 18 ships that escaped from the port of La Rochelle in 1307 AD, “the vast majority of Templar ships, both merchant vessels and armed galleons… would surely have been doing what the Templars did best – plying the seas of the Mediterranean and Atlantic, earning money to keep the order financially sound.” [6]




Vatican "Chinon Parchment" of 1308 AD, by Pope Clement V, absolving the Knights Templar and restoring the Order to full communion

Vatican “Chinon Parchment” of 1308 AD, by Pope Clement V, absolving the Knights Templar and restoring the Order to full communion

K (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.orgKing Philip IV of France was excommunicated by a Papal Bull issued by Pope Boniface VIII in 1302 AD, as punishment for the King having asked the Pope to excommunicate the Knights Templar, who were loyal to and cherished by the Pope. In retaliation, Philip IV had Boniface kidnapped, causing the Pope to die “from shock”. The successor, Pope Benedict XI, also died suddenly, believed to have been assassinated by the French King.

With such overwhelming unlawful influence from King Philip, under duress, and under immediate threat of two Popes being very recently killed, the Vatican elected the King’s childhood friend Bertrand de Goth as “Pope Clement V”. In 1307 AD, the French King had the Templars arrested and brought before the Inquisitor of France by whom they were examined, all under torture.

Therefore, while the infrastructure and institution of the Vatican Inquisition was used as the vehicle of persecution, all of it was conducted under duress and control of the secular French authorities.

Pope Clement V made all possible efforts to protect the Templars, at his own great risk, refusing to accept the charges and confessions against them. He deeply resented the King’s interference with an order which prominently operated under Papal jurisdiction, and wrote in the strongest terms to the King urging their release. [7]

The fact that the Templar persecution was driven solely by the French King Philip IV, and resisted by the Vatican, was confirmed at the time by a formal opinion of “theologians at the University of Paris”, who advised King Philip that he “was in violation of canonical law for ordering the arrest and examination of the Templars by the secular arm rather than by Holy Mother Church.” These scholars insisted that “judgment had to be rendered in ecclesiastical, not secular, courts.” [8]

The infamous raid and arrest of the Templars in France was executed on “Friday the Thirteenth” of October 1307 AD [9].  It is interesting to note, that this fact is the origin of the medieval and modern Christian superstition of the dangers of “Friday the Thirteenth” as a day of evil, because what the French King had done out of greed and jealously was seen even by the Vatican as motivated only by pure evil.

In 1308 AD, Pope Clement V issued the Chinon Parchment, which unequivocally absolved the Knights Templar and their Grand Master Jacques de Molay of all charges. The Chinon Papal Bull “extended the mercy of pardon from excommunication”, thereby “restoring to unity with the Church and reinstating to the communion of the faithful and the sacraments of the Church”. [10]

This Chinon Parchment from 1308 AD was rediscovered by the Vatican Secret Archives in 2001. (Another copy of the Chinon Parchment had been previously discovered during the Renaissance period, which was published in 1693 and 1751 AD, containing the same wording.)

In 1311 AD, the Council of Vienne held in Dauphine further ratified the Chinon Parchment, voting to continue the Vatican’s active support of the Templar Order.

Based upon the two official Vatican proclamations in 1308 and 1311 AD, both explicitly pardoning, absolving and reinstating the Templar Order to full communion with the Church, the Knights Templar continued to remain in good standing with the Vatican. However, the unrelenting persecution by King Philip IV persisted in placing the surviving Templars in danger, and increasingly escalated to dangerous pressure and threats against the Vatican itself.




Pope Clement V, issued the "Chinon Parchment" of 1308 AD, fully absolving the Knights Templar

Pope Clement V, issued the “Chinon Parchment” of 1308 AD, fully absolving the Knights Templar

I (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.orgIn 1312 AD, Pope Clement V issued the Papal Bull Vox in Excelso (“Voice From on High”), for final resolution of the status of the Knights Templar. This famous Papal Bull is typically claimed and widely believed to have “dissolved” the Order, and even proponents of Templarism describe it more softly, but still mistakenly, as having “suspended” the Order. The historical record, however, proves that in fact it merely “suppressed” the Templars, which is a very limited and purely political move.

Even Vatican scholars rarely cite the original text of the Papal Bull, instead referring to Vatican records which describe it being read aloud to the Council of Vienne. Those references routinely note that it was read under the overbearing presence of the French King Philip IV and his three sons. The official records state the following:

The Pope said that though he had no sufficient reasons for a formal condemnation of the Order, nevertheless, because of… the hatred borne them by the King of France, the scandalous nature of their trial, and the probable dilapidation of the Order’s property in every Christian land, he suppressed it by virtue of his sovereign power, and not by any definitive sentence.” [11]

Declaring that there were “no sufficient reasons”, and that it was “not by definitive sentence”, clearly emphasized that it had no real legal effect. All official statements consistently highlight (and thereby protest) the pressure and interference from the French King, indicating that the resulting Papal Bull would be necessarily null and void by the legal doctrine of “duress”.

By the operative key words “suppressed it by virtue of his sovereign power”, Pope Clement V revealed the true legal context ofVox in Excelso:

The Vatican was well aware that it had already granted the Templar Order full, permanent, irrevocable and independent sovereignty in its own right, specifically on the basis of its own ecclesiastical authority of the Templar Priesthood, in the Papal Bull Omne Datum Optimum of 1139 AD, reconfirmed by Milites Templi of 1144 AD and also Militia Dei in 1145 AD [12] [13]. Having no ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the Templar Priesthood, the Pope was limited to exercising “sovereign power”, solely in a governmental capacity. Under customary law and Canon law, the Pope also could not claim to assert any sovereignty over the Order’s autonomous legal status or existence.

By definition, the Pope could only exercise “his sovereign power” over his own institution, the Vatican itself. The only relevant power, within the confines of the Vatican’s own jurisdiction, was to simply cease its own active recognition of and direct cooperation with the Templar Order. Naturally, given the overwhelming socio-political influence of the Vatican, merely ceasing such support would thereby serve to “suppress” the Order, only by means of the practical and political effects which would follow.

Moreover, in 1312 AD it was abundantly clear that the French persecution had already effectively “suppressed” the Order de facto since 1307 AD, such that five years earlier the Order was already forced to survive only as an underground network. Accordingly, whatever declarations the Vatican could make were mere political posturing, solely to protect the Vatican itself from the relentless continuing aggression of the insatiable French King.

In the context of those clear limitations and qualifying statements, the original official text of Vox in Excelso specifically declared the following resolutions:

The Order, moreover, had a good and holy beginning; it won the approval of the Apostolic See. The Rule, which is holy, reasonable and just, had the deserved sanction of this Holy See. For all these reasons we were unwilling to lend our ears to the insinuation and accusation against the Templars… Then came the intervention of… Philip, the illustrious King of France.” [14]

This part reveals that the Temple Rule of Saint Bernard in 1128 AD, by its ratification at the Vatican Council of Troyes in 1129 AD, was considered an “approval” and “sanctioning” of the Order by additional Papal Patronage, separate from its own independent sovereignty. It confirms that the Rule itself remains “holy” and thus worthy of future use. It also admits the unlawful interference and duress by King Philip IV as the sole reason for issuing the Papal Bull.

Indeed, although legal process against the Order at this time does not permit its canonical condemnation as heretical by definitive sentence, the good name of the Order has been largely taken away by the heresies attributed to it.” [15]

This part admits that the disposition of the Papal Bull was not supported by legal process, and not permitted by Canon law, revealing it is legally void and invalid, and thus purely political. It again emphasizes that the sole reason for suppression was the persistent unlawful false defamation promoted by the French King, creating a purely political problem.

[We] suppress the Order by way of ordinance and provision of the Apostolic See, assigning the property to the use for which it was intended. … Therefore, with a sad heart, not by definitive sentence, but by apostolic provision and ordinance, we suppress… the Order of Templars, and its Rule, habit and name… and we entirely forbid that anyone from now on enter the Order… or presume to behave as a Templar.” [16]

This part is the core substance of what was actually decided. It clearly states that the Order was only “suppressed”, specifically “by way of ordinance and provision”, meaning merely politically, solely by administrative measures, and only by means of “assigning the property” of the Order.

To “forbid” joining the order or being seen as a Templar applied only to Clergy and followers under ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Vatican itself. This could not lawfully apply to independent cultural Templars nor to any others outside the Roman Catholic Church, and could not have any legal effect on the Order’s own rightful existence possessing its own sovereignty.

To “suppress” the “Rule” meant that the Vatican was rescinding only its own Papal Patronage of the Temple Rule, which was already unnecessary as it was superseded by full permanent Papal Protection granted by Omne Datum Optimum of 1139 AD. Nothing in any part of Vox in Excelso claimed to invalidate or revoke that prior Papal Bull, which by customary law and Canon law is irrevocable.

Proving conclusively that the grant of independent sovereignty in Omne Datum Optimum is absolutely irrevocable, that Papal Bull declares: “If anyone, with the knowledge of this our decree, rashly attempts to act against it… he shall lose the dignity of his power and honor” due to that “perpetrated injustice” [17]. This makes any claimed attempt to revoke the prior Bull legally null and void, as contrary to law and justice.  Furthermore, as the word “dignity” is a historical legal term meaning “official capacity”, this would also legally trigger involuntary abdication of any Pope who would ever attempt or presume to revoke it.

Therefore, while Vox in Excelso did politically “suppress” the Order of the Temple of Solomon in practice, the Papal Bull did nothing to change the Order’s own inherent status of full legal legitimacy as a sovereign chivalric and religious institution in its own right.

Furthermore, while ostensibly “suppressing” the Templar Order, Vox in Excelso specifically upheld and reaffirmed its full pardon and absolution from the Chinon Parchment of 1308 AD, incorporating it by reference: “Through this decree, however, we do not wish to derogate from any processes made… in conformity with what we have ordained at other times.” [18]

The Chinon Parchment of 1308 AD had fully absolved the Knights Templar and their Grand Master of all charges, and granted the Order “pardon from excommunication”, also “restoring to unity with the Church and reinstating to the communion”. [19]

Upholding the Chinon Parchment was also again reaffirmed by the subsequent Papal Bull Considerantes of 1312 AD, which repeated: “We had no intention of derogating from the processes made… as we have ordained elsewhere.” Also referring to all Templars who were collectively pardoned and absolved in 1308 AD, it declared: “Thus those who have been legally acquitted… shall be supplied with the goods of the former Order whereby they can live as becomes their state.” [20]  This declaration also confirms that the Templars continued to retain their “state”, meaning their recognized and irrevocable official capacity, from the permanent independent sovereignty of the Order.

The medieval concept of “heresy”, and related accusatory practices which created the political necessity for suppression of the Templar Order, have been effectively eliminated in the modern era. The Vatican established the first Code of Canon Law in 1917, which was refined by the Second Ecumenical Council (“Vatican II”) in 1965, and updated in 1983. Several major improvements rendered Vox in Excelso obsolete, such that it can no longer prohibit Roman Catholics from joining the Order of the Temple of Solomon:

The recognition by Saint Augustine and Saint Jerome in 418 AD that ancient religion as “true religion, which already existed, began to be called Christian” [21], which “established anew the ancient Faith” within Catholicism [22], is now given force of Canon Law as the “common and constant opinion of learned authors” (Canon 19); Ancient “immemorial customs” from the Solomonic origins of Christianity and related “centennial customs” of the Templar Priesthood are incorporated into modern Catholicism (Canon 26), and cannot be revoked (Canon 28) as long as they are “reasonable” (Canon 24, §2); Freedom of liturgy and “the right to follow their own form of spiritual life” is required (Canon 214) [23].

The Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law of 1983 now prohibits all of the historical instruments of persecution which were used against the Knights Templar, including: Aggressive interference with disregard for rights and justice (Canon 287, §1); Defamation to “unlawfully harm good reputation” by inflammatory accusations (Canon 220); and Falsely or maliciously “denouncing” to “injure the good name of another” (Canon 1390, §2) [24].




"Libro de los Juegos" (1283 AD), Knights Templar paying Chess

“Libro de los Juegos” (1283 AD), Knights Templar paying Chess

S (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.orgStarting in 1312 AD, as the Vatican gave much of the Templar assets to the Knights of Malta (Hospitalliers), some Templars joined the Knights of Malta (founded in 1099 AD).  Most Templars joined the Order of the Holy Sepulchre under the Vatican (founded 1099 AD), the Order of Teutonic Knights of the Vatican (founded 1190 AD), and the Franciscan Order of the Vatican (founded 1221 AD). It is believed that other Templars joined King Robert the Bruce of Scotland (1314 AD) helping to win independence from Britain, becoming the Scottish Knights Templar.

King James II of Spain convinced the Vatican to allow the dynastic Order of Montesa to take over substantial Templar assets, and the Order of Montesa was given Vatican Patronage by the Pope (1317 AD), establishing the Order of Montesa based upon the Templars, many of whom joined that Order. In Portugal, the Knights Templar were cleared of all charges and merely changed the name to the “Knights of Christ” (1319 AD), keeping their assets. The last Grand Master of the Order of Montesa (before it merged with the Spanish Crown dynastic orders) was the brother of Francisco de Borja who founded the Jesuit Order of the Vatican (1534 AD), and thus many surviving Templar descendants later joined the Jesuits.

The 12th century Knights Templar of Portugal (directly continued as the “Order of Christ” in 1319 AD) helped establish the Rosicrucian Order ca. 1407 AD, apparently named after the trademark Templar Red Cross (thus “Rose-Cross”). This is evidenced by the Portuguese Templar headquarters “Convent of the Order of Christ” featuring three artifacts of a rose at the center of a cross in the initiation room, dated ca. 1530 AD [25] [26]. This establishes that many surviving Templars joined the Rosicrucians from 1407-1530 AD.

Some later cultural Templars (possibly including some descendants) joined a select few “revival” Orders which began in 1804 AD with subsequent offshoot Orders. These self-styled Orders mostly derived from a movement initiated by Napoleon Bonaparte I, relying on nobility patronage from his grandson Napoleon III, with no connection to the actual Templar Order. Napoleon I was inspired by his archaeological expeditions in Egypt and related review of certain documents from the Vatican Secret Archives (which he stole by brute military force), which included the earlier discovered copy of the Chinon Parchment absolving the Knights Templar.

Many surviving hereditary descendants of titled Knights and Dames of the original Order continued over generations, in unbroken lines of succession. Since knighthood is only sometimes hereditary, and in any case must still be earned or retained only by merit and dedication, many highly skilled scholars, historians, and various professionals studied and mastered the arts, sciences, history and traditions of the Templar Order and the Templar Priesthood, actively preserving them over the centuries.

In this way, successive generations of both hereditary and non-hereditary initiatory Templars effectively continued the Order’s traditional activities, preserved its knowledge and heritage, and pursued its historical missions. All of this was maintained as ongoing operations, generally under the umbrella of the alternative Vatican Orders, and even under some of the later “revival” Orders.

Through this strategy, hereditary and cultural Templars independently continued to dramatically influence the development of Western Europe, as evidenced by signature Templar advancements and relics in Switzerland and Edinburgh Scotland. The Knights Templar had successfully survived, and indeed thrived, as an underground network, for centuries and into the present day.

That history resulted in the survival of authentic lines of both initiatory succession and doctrinal succession from the original Templar Order. This preserved the collective heritage, driving the continuation of the movement of “cultural Templarism” worldwide. As a result, the underground network developed a leadership of university historians, archaeologists, and international lawyers advancing cultural Templarism, which survived to later reconnect the movement with the founding sources of authority from the original Grand Mastery.




King Fulk d'Anjou of Jerusalem (ca.1090-1143 AD), founding nobility patron and Knight of the original Grand Mastery of the Knights Templar

King Fulk d’Anjou of Jerusalem (ca.1090-1143 AD), founding nobility patron and Knight of the original Grand Mastery of the Knights Templar

T (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.orgThe historical Order of the Temple of Solomon was founded under the Royal Patronage of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, initially granted in 1118 AD [27] [28] [29], officially confirmed in 1119 AD [30] [31], and again reconfirmed and formalized at the Council of Nablus in 1120 AD [32], as the founding and primary source of authority for its original Grand Mastery [33].

King Fulk of Jerusalem (Count d’Anjou) was a prominent figure in the Order of the Temple of Solomon since its inception in 1118 AD. He supported its first and second Grand Masters for 25 years, served as a co-founding Knight Templar on its Grand Mastery for 23 years, and carried the founding Royal Patronage of the Order for the last 12 years of that period. [34] [35]

It is that original founding authority of the Grand Mastery which would be passed on to dynastic successors of the Royal line of King Fulk into the modern era. Vatican experts note that “the Kingdom of Jerusalem [was] a feudal kingdom transmissible through women”, such that succession of the Royal line of King Fulk legitimately passes through female lines [36]. This helped to ensure that the Fulk line would survive into the modern era, to become available to support the future restoration of Magistral Succession of the Templar Order.

While the Knights Templar held Royal Patronage as a chivalric Order from 1118 AD, the Vatican did not give its additional Ecclesiastical Patronage until 11 years later with the Temple Rule of 1129 AD [37]. When the Vatican suspended its chivalric patronage of the Templars in 1312 AD, the Order automatically legally reverted to its prior founding patronage from the Kings of Jerusalem, which was never rescinded nor terminated.

However, separate from the issue of patronage, the Vatican Papal Bull Omne Datum Optimum (1139 AD) also granted the Order the superseding status of permanent and irrevocable Sovereign Protection [38], as a sovereign non-territorial Principality of statehood in its own right [39] [40]. Therefore, the historical Royal Patronage of the King Fulk line is secondary and not necessary for legitimacy of the Templar Order, although survival of that Royal line did serve to support the reconnection of the surviving Order to its original Grand Mastery, thereby enhancing direct Magistral Succession.




T (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.orgThe Order of the Temple of Solomon was founded, and rose to power, primarily based on the Ancient Priesthood of Solomon which was sought by the Cistercians, which the first Knights recovered from the historical Temple of Solomon [41] [42] [43] [44] [45] [46]. Vatican records witnessed the Templar Order exercising its recognized ecclesiastical authority, as Templar Chaplains had exclusive authority to perform all sacraments within the Order [47]. The Templar Priesthood carries the most ancient origins and direct foundations of the 12th century Independent Church Movement, which created the 19th century Old Catholic Movement and related Reformed Catholic Movement, and the resulting 20th century Liberal Catholic Movement.

In 1139 AD, Pope Innocent II issued the Papal Bull Omne Datum Optimum (“Every Good Gift”), recognizing the inherent ecclesiastical authority of the Templar Priesthood as the basis for permanent independent sovereignty [48], as a non-territorial Principality of statehood [49] [50]. This made the Ancient Priesthood of Solomon the primary source of sovereign authority for the original Grand Mastery of the Templar Order. It also set a precedent for ecclesiastical autonomy, which led to the beginning of the Independent Church Movement only 6 years later in 1145 AD, confirmed by the Vatican’s Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 AD [51].

From 1307 AD, after the French persecution, the underground network of surviving Knights Templar mostly preserved their Ancient Priesthood of Solomon through the Independent Church Movement. Initiatory and doctrinal succession of the ancient Templar Priesthood thus survived over the centuries, supported by Independent Bishops within the larger movement of cultural Templarism.

In 1520 AD, Pope Leo X issued the Papal Bull Debitum Pastoralis (“Pastoral Duty”), confirming the right of Independent Bishops to perform Episcopal consecrations without a Papal mandate. This strengthened the continuous transmission of “Templar Lines” of direct Apostolic Succession from the 1st century Essenes, Gnostic Apostles and Holy See of Antioch, 6th century Celtic Christianity, the 11th century Cathars, and the 12th century Ancient Priesthood of Solomon of the Knights Templar. All such “Templar” Apostolic lines passed through multiple Vatican Bishops and Popes throughout history.

In 2000, the Vatican issued the Papal Bull Dominus Iesus (“Lord Jesus”), which officially recognizes the legitimacy of the Independent Church Movement, including the derivative Old Catholicism and Reformed Catholicism, and the resulting Liberal Catholicism [52]. This stimulated the restoration and revitalization of the Templar Priesthood of Solomon, carrying the original denomination of Ancient Catholicism, by the surviving movement of cultural Templarism.

That history resulted in the survival of authentic lines of both initiatory succession and doctrinal succession from the original Ancient Priesthood of Solomon, as a founding source of authority for the original Grand Mastery. It also provided supporting lines of Apostolic Succession to enhance the survival of the Templar Priesthood in full canonical legitimacy. As a result, the underground network of cultural Templarism developed a select body of Episcopal Clergy, supported by archaeologists for restoration and preservation. In this way, the Templar Priesthood survived into the modern era, remaining in a position to fully restore direct Magistral Succession of the Order of the Temple of Solomon from 1118 AD.