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| | |-+  Origins of Corporate Domination : Knights Templar
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Author Topic: Origins of Corporate Domination : Knights Templar  (Read 6245 times)
Junior Member
Posts: 592

Higher Reasoning

« on: May 28, 2004, 10:10:33 AM »



The Templars used their immense wealth with skill and wisdom. Not only did they make substantial strategic investments in land and agricultural pursuits, but they also invested in basic industries which provided the essential ingredients for the massive expansion in building, both lay and ecclesiastical, which began to change the face of Europe. Using their own commercial insights as well as techniques which they adopted from their Muslim opponents in the east, they developed the concept of financial transfer by 'note of hand' into something like its modern equivalent, developed the bankers cheque and the pre-cursor of the credit card. This latter development arose from the financial needs created by the medieval equivalent of the 'package tour industry' - the pilgrimage trade. Whether to Rome, Jerusalem or Compostela, pilgrimage was a long, arduous and expensive enterprise for the pilgrim and a source of immense profit for the Church and innkeepers, ferrymen and others en route. The pilgrim would be wary of carrying large sums of money as he travelled, for fear of robbery, extortion or unforeseen accident. The answer was simple; seek out the master of the local Templar commanderie and deposit sufficient funds with him to cover the estimated cost of the return journey, including travel, accommodation and ancillary costs such as alms and gift-giving to the important ecclesiastical sites en route and at the final destination. In return for the financial deposit, the Templar treasurer would give the traveller a coded chit as a form of receipt and as a means of exchange. At each overnight stop, or where alms or offerings had to be given, the pilgrim would hand his chit to the local Templar representative who would pay any dues outstanding, re-code the chit accordingly and return it to its owner. When the pilgrimage was over and the weary traveller had returned home, he would present the chit to the Templar treasurer who had first issued it. Any balance of credit would be returned in cash, or if the pilgrim had overspent he would be presented with the appropriate bill. The entire pilgrimage trade policed by the Templars, who also acted as the bankers for this form of travel, bears a startling resemblance to the modern package tour industry. The modern equivalent of the Templar chit is, of course, the credit card.

Templar banking practise was not restricted to the pilgrimage trade, they also arranged safe transfer of funds for international and local trade, the Church and the State. In the medieval era it was forbidden for Christians to charge interest on loans and therefore money lending as a profession had been traditionally restricted to the Jews. This did little to enhance the reputation of the Jews as a racial group, which was already jeopardised by the persistent allegation that they were 'Christ killers'. The Knights Templar found a way around this restriction which allowed them to lend considerable sums of money at interest without being subjected to the charge of usury. It was quite permissible to charge rent for the leasing of a house or land, so the Templars used this principle in their money lending and charged 'rent' rather than interest for their services rendered. The rent was payable at the time the loan was granted and was added to the capital sum borrowed. By this euphemism the Templars avoided being brought before the courts on the un-Christian charge of usury. Templar wealth was such that their financial services were not only sought by the merchants and landowners of feudal Europe, but by the princes of the Church and State. They lent to bishops to finance church building programmes; to princes, kings and emperors to finance state works, building programmes, wars and crusades. Within the twin embrace of financial security and safe travel, Europe began to transform itself. Safe and effective trade over longer distances led to the accumulation of capital and the emergence of a newly prosperous merchant class, the urban bourgeoisie. The new-found wealth of the city merchants changed the balance of power still further in favour of the towns and cities. With the peace and tranquillity of the countryside now ensured by the activities of the Knights Templar the feudal lords began to lose the raison d'etre on which their power was based.

The Order of the Knights Templar, despite its relatively short life span, was the major instrument of transformative change in medieval Europe. The Templars brought many blessings of knowledge and technology from their Arab opponents in the Holy Land, that conferred immense benefits on the European population. The Gothic cathedrals that arose from their knowledge of sacred geometry still adorn the European landscape and form a permanent series of 'prayers in stone' that raise their spires skyward in silent supplication. When taken as a whole, rather than studied in isolation, the various activities of the Knights Templar are like a huge mosaic of individual pieces which together form a picture which accurately predicted the future. The order was not merely the medieval pre-cursor of the modern multi-national conglomerate but was in many respects an early embryonic form of the European Union. However, success, wealth and power stimulated jealousy and resentment, especially from those who were heavily in debt to the order.

Junior Member
Posts: 592

Higher Reasoning

« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2004, 10:11:54 AM »



The Templars were great builders. On their own estates they built and maintained fortified castles and farms, barns, outbuildings and mills as well as dormitory blocks, stables and workshops. Some Templar castles, particularly in southern Europe and the Holy Land, were built on defensive sites which posed incredible difficulties of construction.

The transformative effect of Templar activity upon European culture and commerce was remarkable and yet many modern Church historians still accuse the order of being formed of illiterate knights. The so-called 'illiterates' developed sophisticated and coded means of communication which transcended the linguistic barriers which otherwise would have fragmented and diffused the commercial impact of their activities. Among the principal items of their trading activities were those which we would describe in modern terms as 'technology and ideas'. The Templar communication network was the principal route by which knowledge of astronomy, mathematics, herbal medicine and healing skills made their way from the Holy Land to Europe. Among the technological advances brought back by the warrior knights were mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, the telescope and a financial instrument which they acquired from the Sufis of Islam, known as 'the note of hand'.

The Templars were great builders. On their own estates they built and maintained fortified castles and farms, barns, outbuildings and mills as well as dormitory blocks, stables and workshops. Some Templar castles, particularly in southern Europe and the Holy Land, were built on defensive sites which posed incredible difficulties of construction. They were particularly renowned for building strategically situated castles with water gates on coasts and rivers. The classic round Templar church, founded on octagonal geometry and supposedly based on the design of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, became such a distinctive feature of Templar construction that it became almost diagnostic of their activity or involvement. This type of building formed only a small part of their church construction programme, albeit of very special and cabalistic significance. The vast majority of Templar churches, especially those in the southern regions of Europe, are small, undecorated, rectangular structures often with apsidal ends.

According to many scholars, including the ecclesiastical historian Fred Gettings, the Templars were openly involved in the financing and construction of the Gothic cathedrals. The sudden flowering of the Gothic style of architecture, which enabled cathedrals to be built of far greater height with more windows, brought about a new era in church design and art that allowed larger naves and greater spaces, uncluttered by pillars, to be created within church buildings. It is no coincidence that this architectural form, which cannot be explained as an evolutionary development from the Romanesque style that preceded it, arose after the knights returned from their excavations in Jerusalem.

While many of the great cathedrals were heavily influenced by Templar thinking, geometry and design, one above all others is a hymn to their direct involvement and belief, the Cathedral of Chartres. Constructed with almost unbelievable speed, Chartres Cathedral is portrayed by the Church as the product of co-operative effort by the townspeople, financed by the pilgrim trade. This totally fails to explain the massive and immediate input of financial resources that must have been necessary in order to pay for the quarrying and transport of the stone and the enormous expenditure on the vast numbers of stonemasons, sculptors and other craftsmen who would have been employed to complete such a vast and complex edifice at such speed. It is highly doubtful if the proceeds of the pilgrimage to Chartres over the period of its construction would have paid for the creation and installation of the stained-glass windows, much less for the construction and decoration of the entire building. The only source of finance in Europe at that time which could have produced the resources necessary was the Order of the Knights Templar.

In England, craftsmen who work in stone are known as stonemasons. In France they are known collectively as members of the Compannonage who, in the twelfth century, were broadly divided into three groups. These fulfilled separate functions under the umbrella of the same craft: the Children of Father Soubise were responsible for the construction of ecclesiastical buildings in the Romanesque style; the Children of Maitre Jacques were also known as Les Compagnons Passant and one of their primary functions was the art of bridge building. The craftmasons who built the Gothic cathedrals were known as the Children of Solomon, named after King Solomon who, according to the scriptures, commissioned the first temple in Jerusalem. This branch of the Compannonage were instructed in the art of sacred geometry by Cistercian monks and it was the Knights Templar who, acting with the agreement of Bernard of Clairvaux, gave a 'rule' to the Children of Solomon in March 1145, which laid down the conditions required for living and working. The preface to his rule contains words which have been intimately associated with the Knights Templar ever since:

We the Knights of Christ and of the Temple follow the destiny that prepares us to die for Christ. We have the wish to give this rule of living, of work and of honour to the constructors of churches so that Christianity can spread throughout the earth not so that our name should be remembered, Oh Lord, but that Your Name should live. [our emphasis]

Another major cause of criticism was the orders` wealth. Clearly the orders did have considerable assets, but arguably they needed them to support their military activities in the East. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries there two schools of thought on this question. One, expressed by William of Tyre in particular, was that the military orders` extensive possessions had made them proud, and this was why they had become defiant of royal and episcopal authority and caused so much disruption in the Holy Land rather than protecting it. Walter Map and Guiot of Provins (a poet who became a Cluniac monk) thought that the Hospitallers` wealth had caused them to lose their charity and become proud. Generally, the complaint was that good religious orders should not be so wealthy. The other school of thought was that although the military orders were obviously extremely wealthy, for everyone knew how extensive their possessions were and that they paid no tithe or tax (or so people believed) they must be using their resources very inefficiently, because they were always claiming to be poor. Matthew Paris expressed this opinion most forcibly in around 1245:
The Templars and Hospitallers... receive so much income from the whole of Christendom, and, only for defending the Holy Land, swallow down such great revenues as if they sink them into the gulf of the abyss....(Chronica Majora, 3, pp. 177-8).

Richard Mepham, dean of Lincoln, summed up the general royal attitude to the order`s wealth at the second council of Lyons in 1274. This council had been convened by Pope Gregory X to plan a great crusade for the relief of the Holy Land. Richard Mepham claimed to speak for many kings and princes. He stated that the military orders already had extensive possessions. If these were turned into cash, they would be enough for the defence of the Holy Land, and there was no need for the pope to ask for still more money.

Following the loss of Acre in 1291, Pope Nicholas IV summoned church councils in every province, to advise on how the Holy Land could be recovered (Registres, nos. 7626, 7628, 6794, 7381). In 1292 the archbishop of Canterbury wrote to the pope to report on the decision of the council at London:

The properties of the Templars and Hospitallers were originally conferred on them by the generosity of kings and princes and others for the defence of the said land in pious devotion, and it is truly believed that many thousands of strong men could be permanently stationed in the Holy Land and suitably supported from them... The common assertion is that these incomes will suffice to recover the Holy Land and preserve it against the enemy`s attack, so long as Christ`s warriors hold themselves humbly and devotedly towards God... (Councils and Synods, 2 part 2, p. 1112).

The archbishop believed that the military orders had not been using their wealth effectively in the defence of the Holy Land. It had also made them proud, so that God allowed them to be defeated. This brings us to accusations that the orders had failed to live up to their religious vocation, because they were proud, greedy and quarrelsome.

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