Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Templars and the Cathars

Contrary to popular mythology, there is no historical connection between the Cathars and the Military Order known as the Knights Templar. According to H.J.A. Sire in his book The Knights of Malta, during the Albigensian Crusade the Templars usually fought on the side of the French king, while the Hospitallers usually fought on the side of the southern lords. The divisions were according to region rather than creed, as I try to show in The Night's Dark Shade. The following excerpt from The Da Vinci Hoax by Robert M. Price discusses the errors concerning the Templars:
Who were the Templar Knights? They were a monastic order, the Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon, founded between 1110 and 1120. Their sworn duty was to protect Christian pilgrims on their way to and from Jerusalem. Over the years, as ascetic and admired religious groups tend to do, they acquired considerable fortunes and clout, eventually founding the practice of modern banking, as they used their vast funds to bail out the crowned heads of Europe. Finally, in 1308, Philip the Fair, King of France, subjected the Templars to a ruthless inquisition, stripping them of their moneys, the real object of his covetous lust. What was the pretext of the persecution? It is difficult to tell, precisely as in the case of the so-called witches persecuted in Europe. We can never know the degree to which tortured wretches eagerly signed any crazy-sounding confession shoved in front of them. The beleaguered Templar Knights "confessed" to blasphemies including the worship of a goat-headed demon statue called Baphomet and kissing its anus, as well as ritual homosexuality, trampling the cross, and eliciting oracles from a still-living severed head! Actually, "Baphomet" is, contra Baigent and company, almost surely an Old French spelling of "Mahomet" or "Muhammad."4 This in turn means the accusations against the Templars reflect not actual Gnosticism or even diabolism, but garbled French beliefs about Islam. In just the same way, the medieval Song of Roland (verses 2580-2591) imagines Muslims as worshipping idols and devils including Mohammed, Termagant, and Apollo.5
The Templars became lionized in folklore and in esotericist belief as adepts who guarded heretical secret doctrines which they had discovered, perhaps in the form of rediscovered manuscripts, while resident in Jerusalem. Baigent, Leigh, Lincoln, and Brown, echoing groundless speculations of various nineteenth-century eccentrics (including Joseph Hammer, The Mystery of Baphomet Revealed), link the Templars with the French Cathars (or Albigensians) wiped out in the Albigensian Crusade in 1209. These Cathars were Gnostics who had rediscovered or reinvented something like ancient Manichean Gnosticism.6 Legend claimed that during the Catholic siege of the Cathar mountain fortress of Montsalvat, a few Cathars escaped with the group’s great treasure, perhaps the Grail itself. But any link between the Cathars and the Templars is, again, part of the latter-day syncretism of modern occultists trying to cobble together an appearance of antiquity for their own inventions.


Georgette said...

"But any link between the Cathars and the Templars is, again, part of the latter-day syncretism of modern occultists trying to cobble together an appearance of antiquity for their own inventions."

Makes sense, especially in the modern mythology of the Freemasons.

elena maria vidal said...


Mary Sharratt said...

I'm researching the Cathars for next novel and have been astonished at the misinformation about them online--if all a person did is read websites instead of scholarly books, they could end up with a very distorted picture. Dan Brown has a lot to answer for! :)

Michael said...

Georgette, your comment is based on a false premise. Freemasonry never claimed that any Cathar connection existed in the first place, nor in the tiny bit concerned or connected with this part of history.
Not sure where you get the ideas about "Modern day mythology" of the freemasons, but as one who belongs to the Ancient Craft and to Knights Templar, I assure you, Cathars have no part in Masonic legend. There is nothing in the body of speculative Masonic literature, even in the earlier, "romantic" fantasy period that would give such an indication. Where would one find it? In fiction of Michael Baigent and lately of Dan Brown perhaps. Simply put, these are not the best sources of information...
Gnostic and hermetic tradition that may be (or may not be) of interest to the modern day Freemasons entered into Europe from Arabic Orient through Venice and Spain, and when translated, influenced a number of renaissance thinkers, alchemists, etc., but this is quite a different story to tell.

elena maria vidal said...

Michael, you are completely misreading Georgette, who in this case does not merit your correction. She is merely stating that mythology exists about the Freemasons as it does about the Templars and the Cathars.