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Freemasons the Secret Seat of Power in America from George C. Marshall to OBAMA

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Who are the most dangerous members of the various secret societies skulking the earth, people with power to change our lives and direct the course of history? According to sources claiming inner knowledge of the group’s true purpose, they are Freemasons.
Masonic conspirators choose international leaders, launch wars, control currencies and infiltrate society, among other applications of their hidden powers, or so the tales propose.
When anyone questions this premise, conspiracy theorists trot out an impressive array of proof, beginning with a recital of influential men through history who were undeniably associated with Masonry, including many signers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Who holds higher positions in the American pantheon of heroes and great thinkers than Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Andrew Jackson? All were Freemasons. In fact, at least twenty-five U.S
Presidents and vice-presidents have been active and enthusiastic supporters of Masonry. Two of them—Harry Truman and Gerald Ford—could boast 33rd Degree status, the highest level of recognition within the organization.

Masons dominated Western politics and cultures for years. Among their members were U.S. presidents George Washington and Harry S. Truman, British prime minister Winston Churchill, and the elegant Duke Ellington.
It is a remarkable achievement, this elevation of a private club with secret rituals into an incubator of leaders, visionaries and intellectuals. On the face of it, the Masons appear to inspire men of exceptional talent far beyond that of any other organization ranging from the Boy Scouts to Rhodes scholars. What is it about their values and systems that breeds such overachievers?

To a few fanatic historians—almost all of them Masons—at the root of their achievements is a historic and inspirational link with the Knights Templar, who began as Defenders of the Christian Faith, became the bankers of medieval Europe, and succumbed to the machinations of a greedy king and a complicit us pope.

Once acclaimed and admired for chivalrous deeds and good works on behalf of Christianity, the Knights Templar safeguarded pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land and battled Islamic armies for control of Jerusalem. Genuine knights in an era when that title brought respect and admiration, they obeyed rules of chivalry and asceticism, dedicating their lives to the glory of God and the protection of Christian pilgrims.
That was the admirable side of the society.
The darker side hid rumors of associations between Templars and the Assassins, the replacement of Templar moral values with outright greed, a decline in commendable character traits and the pursuit of various obscene and blasphemous practices. These attributes are not a model for any high-profile organization seeking respect, let alone one that prides itself on providing world leaders and community benefits.
But dark complexity and suspicion provided the necessary intrigue and color for a later group whose original objective was to protect the secrets of tradesmen. Along the way, the Templars’ spiritual leader managed to be compared to, and perhaps even mistaken for, Christ himself.

The Templars were a product of the Crusades. And the Crusades, contrary to popular belief, were the result not of chivalrous intent or even a dedication to the Christian faith, but of feudalist obligation.
Historians, as is their manner, vacillate as much about the definition of feudalism as they do about its structure, and a few now reject the notion of a “feudalistic age.” Whatever title is hung upon it, Europeans living during the period between
AD 800 and 1300 experienced a way of life that bridged inchoate barbarianism and the roots of democracy. During this time, kings may have claimed wide authority over lands we now know as France, Germany, Britain, but the countryside was effectively ruled not by monarchs but by individual lords and barons. Dominating the lands encompassed by their estates, the lords dispensed justice, levied taxes and tolls, minted their own currency, and demanded military service from citizens occupying their lands.
Most lords, in fact, could field larger armies than could the king, who was often a figurehead ruler.
The social structure was many layered and clearly defined. Serfs represented the lowest level, performing basic labor and having no claim to any wealth they created. Vassals worked the land on behalf of the lord; knights, whose primary qualities included sufficient funds to own both a horse and armor, performed services on behalf of the lords; and the clergy administered spiritual assistance as required.
Lords, in turn, were considered vassals to more powerful rulers, and all were formally considered vassals to the king.
Feudal loyalty flowed in two directions. The citizens made an oath of loyalty to the lord, paid taxes imposed by him, and attended the court when summoned.
The lord’s In their early years, obligation included protecting the vassals Knights Templar were from intruders, an act that was admittedly identified with chastity, piety and bravery. Later, as much in the lord’s interests as in the their reputation grew less vassals’.

Out of this linear arrangement, subjected to the influence of Christianity, came the concept of chivalry. Vassals and knights, heeding the rights and property of their feudal lord, elevated the notion through terms such as “proud submission” and “dignified obedience” inspired, perhaps, by Biblical tales of Christ’s actions.
Phrased in this manner, behavior that appears to mirror a master–slave relationship was spun into something more reputable and uplifting. As contradictory as it may sound, individuals could elevate their status by lowering their position on behalf of some splendid goal. Popular literature suggests that the incentive for chivalrous behavior was romantic interest in an elegant lady who had stolen the knight’s heart, and to whom he pledged eternal reverence. In reality, a knight’s “proud submission” was made either to God or to the lord who controlled the knight’s destiny. The romantic aspect of chivalrous behavior, glorifying womanhood in a manner that combined worship of the Virgin with suppressed sexual desire, remains an inspirational source for much fiction but was basically a by-product of a deeper motivation.
Chivalric demands were rigid. Obligations were expected to be fulfilled, and vassals and knights accepted a sacred duty to defend by arms the honor and property of the class above themselves.

Since the pyramid structure of medieval society set Christ at the apex, lords, knights and vassals alike were equally obligated to defend His rights and honor.
With feudalism solidly established throughout Europe, lords and knights, accompanied by a retinue of servants, began the practice of making pilgrimages to Jerusalem as a means of expressing their Christian faith. Reviving a concept dating back to early Greeks, who trekked to Delphi in search of wisdom, European Christians began setting off on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, first in honor of Christ, later as a means of cleansing their sins, and later still in response to direct instructions from the pope.
Prominent early pilgrims in search of spotless souls included Frotmond of Brittany, who murdered his uncle and younger brother; and Fulk de Nerra, Count of Anjou, who burned his wife alive, which was evidence of serious marital discord and abuse even in those tumultuous pre-feminist times. Both men sought forgiveness with a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and both achieved success, albeit in contrasting measure.

After years spent wandering the shores of the Red Sea and searching the mountains of Armenia for relics of Noah’s Ark, Frotmond returned home swaddled in the warmth of forgiveness for murdering his relatives, and passed the remainder of his days in the convent of Redon. For his sins, Fulk de Nerra wandered the streets of Jerusalem accompanied by a retinue of servants who beat him with rods while he repeated the words, “Lord, have mercy on a faithless and perjured Christian, on a sinner wandering
far from his home.”
His apparent sincerity impressed the Muslims so much that they granted him entry into the room of the Sacred Tomb, normally forbidden to Christians, where he threw himself prostrate upon the bejeweled floor. While wailing for his wretched soul, de Nerra managed to detach and pocket a few precious stones from the site.
The examples set by Frotmond, de Nerra and others had their impact on devout Christians. Around AD 1050, making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land was considered a duty for every able Christian as a means of assuaging guilt and appeasing the wrath of God, and the Church began assigning a pilgrimage as a common means of penance. By 1075, pilgrimage trails had become as well defined and well traveled as trade routes.

The pilgrims’ trek, usually tracing the Adriatic coast before turning overland to Constantinople and across Asia Minor to Antioch, was neither more nor less dangerous than any other journey of similar length. Their established route, however, proved a factor in 1095 when Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus pleaded for Pope Urban II to help in defeating a group of Muslim tribes known as the Seljuk Turks. After seizing Anatolia, the Byzantine Empire’s richest province, the Seljuks occupied Antioch, Tripoli and finally Jerusalem.
Now, it seemed, they had their eye on Constantinople itself. If the pope could organize an army of dedicated Christians to assist Byzantine troops, Alexius suggested, together they could retake Antioch and restore Jerusalem itself to Christian rule.
The promise of Christian rule over the Holy Land, bolstered by expectations of wealth tapped from the Byzantine emperor’s own treasury, was enough to inspire Urban II to launch the first papacy-sanctioned holy war. Thus, almost two hundred years of horrific slaughter on both sides began with a goal as much mercenary as it was spiritual, and in 1096 the first of nine crusades set off, inspired by Urban’s cry Deus vult! (God wills it!)

Deciding to take part in a crusade was a serious decision, even for the most devout of Christians. It meant at least two years of travel across rugged and often hostile country, although later crusades reduced the time by sailing eastward along the Mediterranean from Provence
Seeking food and shelter during the long journey from Europe to Palestine and back, pilgrims and crusaders had to deal with open hostility from both the Muslims and Greek Orthodox administrators. In response Gerard de Martignes established a hospital in Jerusalem to serve as a refuge. Consisting of twelve attached mansions, the facility included gardens and an impressive library. Soon local merchants created an adjoining marketplace to trade with the pilgrims, paying the hospital administrator two pieces of gold for the right to set up stalls.
This was too good for feudal entrepreneurs to ignore. When the flow of pilgrims swelled to an endless flood, a group of Italian traders from the Amalfi region established a second hospital near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, this one operated by Benedictine monks, with its own profitable marketplace. Soon the second facility began overflowing, promoting the monks to create yet another hospital, dedicating it to St. John the Compassionate.
The men of St. John the Compassionate elevated the concept to a new spiritual status. They devoted their lives to providing safety and comfort for pilgrims by treating their patients as their masters, creating a prototype for every charitable organization that followed them, although none matched their dedication and humility.
This practice, of course, reflected the true origins and goals of chivalry, attracting many knights who set aside their military objectives in favor of emulating the most charitable of Christ’s teachings.
Their military bearing and discipline were never wholly discarded, however. Among those they served, the knights were liberal and compassionate; among themselves, they were rigid and austere.
They pledged vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and their dress became a black mantle bearing a simple white cross on the breast. They were called the Sovereign
Military Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta, known simply as the Hospitaliers. Vows of poverty, chastity and obedience may have suited their obligations to chivalrous behavior (and, they no doubt anticipated, facilitated their entry into heaven), but they did little to protect the Hospitaliers from the dangers of attack by various factions in the Holy Land. With time, the Hospitaliers grew focused almost as much on their military actions in defense of their order as on their acts of benevolence. Most were armed knights, after all, noble of birth and adhering to the high standards of true chivalry.

They were also as human as anyone else, of that era or ours, and when powerful European duchies expressed admiration for the Hospitaliers by awarding them extensive lands in Europe, the members accepted the donations gladly. In addition to this source of income, they assumed the right to claim booty seized from defeated Muslim fighters, and by the time Gerard died in 1118 the Hospitaliers had acquired substantial assets from their patrons, and exceptional independence from Church authority.
What began as selfless dedication to the poor, injured and diseased had evolved into an organization more akin to a modern-day service club, whose well-heeled members were at least as interested in fraternal association and public status as they were in helping their neighbors.
The Hospitaliers may have been capable military men, but their raison d’être continued to be public service. Battling Muslims while fulfilling their obligations was proving a distraction from their primary goal, and others were needed to direct as much energy into fighting the enemy as the Hospitaliers were investing in caring for Christians.

It may be cynical to imply that the wealth accrued by the Hospitaliers as a result of their charitable services inspired their more celebrated brethren, but history suggests it played a role. In any case, a new society was formed within ten years of Gerard’s death. Comprised originally of nine knights led by Hugh de Payens, the followers claimed the same ascetic and pious characteristics that distinguished the original Hospitaliers.
This new group, however, focused on the hazards faced by pilgrims and Crusaders—by now the distinction was growing blurred and almost meaningless—during their trek to the Holy Land and their stay in Jerusalem.
The hazards arose from multiple threats. Egyptians and Turks resented passage and intrusion through their countries, Islamic residents of Jerusalem objected to the pilgrims’ presence, nomadic Arab tribes attacked and robbed the travelers, and Syrian
Christians expressed hostility towards the foreigners.
Much of the group’s early reputation for humility and valor was rooted in de Payens’ personality, described as “sweet-tempered, totally dedicated, and ruthless on behalf of the faith.”

To a modern sensibility, the concept of being sweet-tempered and ruthless may appear contradictory, but to medieval observers they were perfectly compatible. A battle-hardened veteran of the First Crusade, de Payens took delight in recounting the number of Muslims he had slain without, apparently, souring his day-to-day charitable mood.
And why should he? The even more pious Bernard of Clairvaux had declared that the killing of Muslims was not homicide but malicide, the killing of evil. Thousands of dead Muslims in the Holy Land may have begged to differ, but their opinions were rarely sought.
So de Payens, single-minded to the exclusion of everything except the worship of God and the slaughter of Muslims, gathered men around him who committed themselves to protecting pilgrims from danger in the same manner that Gerard’s Hospitaliers were healing and feeding them. The new group, de Payens announced, would combine the qualities of ascetic monks and valiant warriors, living a life of chastity and piety, and employing their swords in the service of Christianity. To aid them in achieving this somewhat contradictory role, they chose as their patroness La Dolce Mère de Dieu (The Sweet Mother of God), and vowed to live according to
the canons of St. Augustine.
Baldwin II, then ruling as King of Jerusalem, was sufficiently impressed with the group’s character and goals to award them a corner of his palace for their living quarters, and an annual stipend to support their work. Access to their quarters was through a passageway adjoining the church and convent of the Temple, and so they anointed themselves as Soldiery of the Temple, or With time, the Templars impressed various noblemen who proffered the same kinds of financing arrangements as the
Hospitaliers enjoyed. When one French count announced that he would contribute thirty pounds of silver annually to support the Templars’ activities, others followed suit, and soon the nascent movement was awash in the kinds of riches it originally planned to reject.

To their credit, for the first several years of their existence the Templars resisted temptations to use their growing wealth for anything except the support and defense of pilgrims. Seven years after the group’s formation, Bernard of Clairvaux wrote of the Templars, They go and come at a sign from their Master. They live cheerfully and temperately together, without wives and children and, that nothing may be wanting for evangelical perfection, without property, in one house, endeavoring to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, so that one heart and one soul would appear to dwell in them all. They never sit idle or go gaping after news. When they are resting from warfare against the infidels, not to eat the bread of idleness they employ themselves in repairing their clothes and arms, or do something which the command of the Master or the common good enjoins.
No unseemly word or light mocking, no murmur or immoderate laughter, is let to pass unreproved
They avoid games of chess and tables; they are adverse to the chase and equally so to hawking, in which others so much delight.
They hate all jugglers and mountebanks, all wanton songs and plays, as vanities and follies of this world. They cut their hair in obedience to words of the apostle. . . . They are seldom ever washed; they are mostly to be seen with disordered hair and covered with dust, brown from their corselets and the heat of the sun. . . .
Thus they are in union strange, at the same time gentler than lambs and grimmer than lions, so that one may doubt whether to call them monks or knights. But both names suit them, for theirs is the mildness of the monk and the valor of the knight.

This was not exactly a life of beer and skittles. Even the Cistercian monks, who represented a model for the Templars, sought pleasure from life while managing to avoid the risk of death on the battlefield. Under these circumstances, only men of the highest character and most sincere virtue could endure a career as a Templar, but among ambitious and pious young men the call of chivalry was difficult to ignore. Impressive numbers of them sought membership in the Templars, swelling the ranks and raising the group’s profile among European nobility, who expressed their support by pledging money and land, and sometimes their own sons.
As membership in the Templars grew, a formal structure was imposed on the organization. Three classes were established: knights, who were men of noble families, neither married nor betrothed, and who bore no personal debt; chaplains, who were required to take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience; and serving brethren, men of wealth and talent who lacked the noble birth requirement of the knights. Eventually the brethren were divided into brethren-in-arms, who fought alongside the knights; and handicraft brethren, who performed menial chores of baking, smithing and caring for the animals, but were held in the lowest esteem within the order.
Both knights and chaplains were required to undergo a rigid initiation process and this practice, extending in modified form down to the present day, forms the root of the perception of Templars and their descendants as a secret society.
On the evening of a nominee’s reception into the order, he was inducted in the presence of other knights within a chapel.

No one else could be in attendance, nor could the candidate divulge when, where or even if the ceremony was taking place.
The procedure focused on warning the aspirant of the difficulties he was about to encounter, and demanding that he swear allegiance to the Templars’ purpose before God. Reading an account of the ceremony today suggests the initiation was a form of Middle Ages boot camp. When he wished to sleep, the candidate was told, he would be ordered to watch. When he wished to watch, he would be ordered to bed. When he wished to eat, he would be ordered to work. Could he agree to these conditions? Each demand was to be answered, clearly and loudly, with the response, “Yea, sir, with the help of God!” The initiate was to promise never to strike or wound a Christian; never to receive any service or attendance from a woman without the approval of his superiors; never to kiss a woman, even if she were his mother or sister; never to hold a child at the baptismal font or be a godfather; and never to abuse any innocent man or call him foul names, but always be courteous and polite.
Who could resist an order dedicated to such chivalrous behavior and high Christian principles? Not the Church. In 1146 Pope Eugenius III declared that Templar knights could wear a red cross on their white tunic (chosen in direct contrast with the Hospitaliers) in recognition of the martyrdom they faced, and that they were henceforth free of direct papal supervision, including the risk of excommunication. This generated an even greater flow of lands, castles and other assets into their treasury from impressed patrons.
There is no infinite resistance to perpetual temptation, and the seeds of the organization’s downfall were soon sown. Rumors spread that the Templars were engaged in extortion from the Assassins. The claim arose from the murder of Raymond, Comte de Tripoli, assumed to have been carried out by the Assassins.
In response, the Templars entered territory controlled by the Assassins, but instead of challenging the Assassins in battle they demanded a tribute of 12,000 gold pieces. While there is no record that the Assassins made any such payment, some time later they dispatched an envoy to Amaury, then King of Jerusalem, offering to convert to Christianity if the Templars would forego the tribute.
Clearly, some sort of accommodation had been reached.
Later, Templars intercepted Sultan Abbas of Egypt as he fled into the desert with his son, his harem and a goodly portion of stolen Egyptian treasures. After killing the Sultan and seizing the treasure, the Templars negotiated a deal with the Sultan’s enemies to return the son to Cairo in exchange for 60,000 gold pieces. This may have been business as usual for the times, except that the son had already agreed to convert to Christianity, which should have been enough justification to spare his life. Instead, when the Templars’ deal with the Egyptians closed, the son was placed in an iron cage and sent back to Egypt where, as he and the Templars knew, he faced death by protracted torture.
Incidents such as these marked the decline of the Templars from an ascetic order dedicated to the protection of the poor and helpless into an organization as focused on material gain as is any modern-day corporation. In fact, they set up an extensive banking system expressly to transfer money and treasures between Palestine and Europe, an action totally unrelated to their purported oaths of charity and poverty.
Their corruption did not end with money, and their change from strict asceticism to expansive materialism parallels any contemporary rags-to-riches tale. In place of modesty and humility, they grew haughty and rapacious, and they employed any deception at hand to build their impressive treasures to greater heights. In 1204, word spread throughout Palestine that an image of the Virgin near Damascus was issuing a juice or liquor from its breasts, and consuming the liquid was proving miraculous at removing sins from the souls of pious victims.
The location, unfortunately, was a fair distance from Jerusalem, along a road often raided by bandits. The Templars proposed a solution. They would risk making the journey to the image, milk it of the miraculous liquor, and bring it to the pilgrims—for a price, of course. Both the demand and the price, as might be expected, shot skyward, and the magic elixir generated substantial income for an organization launched on the basis of maintaining total poverty.
Not all of the Templar treasures could be spent on the poor or on battling Muslims. A good deal of it appears to have been invested in wine and other delights of the flesh. Soon “drink like a Templar” became a common phrase to describe someone with an excessive taste for the grape, and the Germanic language acquired a new description for a house of ill-fame: Tempelhaus.
With a life of ease and fulfillment, who wanted to wear hair shirts among Muslims in Palestine? Not the Templars, who appeared more interested in acquiring wealth than in defending the Christian faith
Their original brothers-in-arms, the Hospitaliers, had also shifted their values towards mercenary rather than spiritual incentives. They had also abandoned their emphasis on sacrifice and charity, becoming as effective on the battlefield as the Templars themselves. For several years both groups of knights sniped at each other until, in 1259, they engaged in a battle launched by the Templars reportedly in pursuit of their rival’s treasure.
More zealous (and perhaps more numerous), the Hospitaliers won, cutting to pieces every Templar who fell into their hands. Soon after, the Templars retreated to Europe where, after all, the money was.
By 1306, the Templars were nicely settled on Cyprus, close enough to Palestine to maintain the premise that they were still involved in their original mission, and far enough away from raiding Muslims to enjoy safely the benefits of their wealth. In that year Pope Clement V, who had assumed the papal throne only months before, decided to address rumors about the Templars engaging in “unspeakable apostasy against God, detestable idolatry, execrable vice, and many heresies.” He summoned the
Grand Master of the Templars, a charismatic man named Jacques de Molay, to Rome for an explanation.
De Molay, one of history’s most colorful figures, stood over six feet tall with an appearance and bearing that might have qualified him as a medieval show-biz celebrity. Born about 1240 in Burgundy of a minor noble family, de Molay joined the Templars at age twenty-five and served valiantly in Jerusalem for the next twenty years before being elected Grand Master at age fifty-five.
Arriving in Rome with sixty Knights Templar, de Molay also brought 150,000 gold florins, and substantial quantities of silver, all acquired by the Templars during their various forays in the Middle East. He left several days later with the papal equivalent of an apology, Clement explaining, “Because it did not seem likely or credible that men of such religion who . . . showed so much great and many signs of devotion both in divine offices as well as in fasts should be so forgetful of their salvation as to do these things, we are unwilling to give ear to this kind of insinuation.” De Molay may have departed Rome with Clement’s approval ringing in his ears, but he left behind the gold florins and silver.
Sensing a bribe, Philippe le Bel, the French king, grew outraged.
Once a supporter of the Templars, he now turned against them, partially in reaction to their flagrant lifestyle, and partially because of their growing power and wealth; he feared the former and lusted after the latter. The Templars, Philippe determined, were to be dissolved and their treasury, the bulk of it stored within Philippe’s domain, would be placed in the hands of the Crown. To achieve this, Philippe employed a device familiar to fans of contemporary crime stories: a jailhouse snitch.

A former Templar named Squin de Flexian, imprisoned on charges of insurrection and facing a certain death sentence, learned of Philippe’s dislike of the organization. Calling his jailer, de Flexian announced that he had dire, dark secrets of the Templars to pass on to the king. This was enough to earn de Flexian a junket to Paris, where he rambled through a litany of charges against the Templars, including secret alliances with the Muslims, initiation rites that included spitting on the cross, impregnating women and murdering their newborn babies, and ceremonies involving various acts of debauchery and blasphemy. As expected, de Flexian’s tales entranced the monarch and his court, who could not hear enough of the fascinating details. Debauchery? Blasphemy? Alliances with the enemy? Secret ceremonies? What monarch could refuse to take action against these fiends, especially with several thousand gold florins, untold treasures of silver, and extensive lands and castles waiting to be seized?
On October 13, 1307,2 in an action worthy of a gifted military field commander, Templars were arrested in coordinated raids all across Europe, with the most brutal apprehensions occurring in France. Under torture many Templars, including de Molay, confessed to activities similar to those described by de Flexian (who was hanged for his troubles). For several years the imprisoned Templars tried to defend themselves against vile charges brought against them by the French king until, in 1313, the pope announced that the Templars were to be abolished. Depending on their rank, their admissions of guilt and their sincerity in rebuking their sins, members were either banished or set free, with the exception of de Molay and three of his closest confederates.
Brought before a papal tribunal on a stage in front of Notre Dame cathedral, the four Templars were about to be sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in prison when de Molay rose to speak.
In direct and inspirational language, the Templar Grand Master protested his innocence and decried the confessions made under torture, many incriminating other Templars. His adamant refusal to admit wrongdoing and his demand for an opportunity to plead
This fell on a Friday, giving rise to the superstition of unfortunate events occurring on Friday the thirteenth. his innocence to the pope was supported by the brother of the
Dauphin of Auvergne, one of the three other high-ranking Templars charged with similar crimes.
The tribunal was dumbfounded. They expected the Templars to receive their fate in silence and be grateful that their lives had been spared. The French king, upon hearing the news, was not dumbfounded at all. He was outraged, and demanded that the two Templars not only be burned at the stake, but that it be done slowly so that the men suffered as much agony as possible.
The following day, de Molay and Guy of Auvergne were trundled to the downstream point of the Île de la Cité, a site now known as the Square du Vert-Galant, one of the most attractive locations in all of Paris. Still declaring their innocence they were stripped naked and bound to posts. Then, in the words of one Templar scholar,

The flames were first applied to their feet, then to their more vital parts. The fetid smell of their burning flesh infected the surrounding air, and added to their torments; yet still they persevered in their declarations [of innocence]. At length, death terminated their misery. Spectators shed tears at the view of their constancy, and during the night their ashes were gathered up to be preserved as relics.

The Templars’ treasury was seized by Philippe, who claimed the majority of the prize to cover expenses incurred in trying and executing its members. The leftover amount he distributed to the Hospitaliers and King Edward II of England, who had somewhat reluctantly agreed to banish Templars from his own realm.
Legend has it that de Molay, while being tied to the stake for his execution, predicted that Pope Clement would follow him within forty days and the king would join them all within a year. If so, he was correct. Clement died of colic the following month and, while his body was lying in state, a fire swept through the Jacques  de  Molay church and consumed most of his corpse. A died a martyr’s death and helped elevate the his horse and broke his neck

In another, more contemporary incident, de Molay has been identified as the figure imprinted on the mysterious Shroud of Turin. First displayed in 1357, the shroud was claimed to have been recovered from Constantinople by crusaders who sacked the city in 1307. The apparent imprint of a bearded figure on the material was attributed to Christ, suggesting the shroud had been used to wrap his body after it had been removed from the cross. Carbon dating, however, revealed that the shroud material dated only as far back as the late thirteenth century, initiating new speculation that de Molay had been wrapped in the material following one of his torture sessions during his years of imprisonment. The size and appearance of the image on the shroud could as easily be de Molay’s as anyone’s, adding to the mystique of de Molay’s martyrdom.
The actions of Philippe, Edward and other rulers who were persuaded to follow the French lead failed to annihilate the Templars, and remnants of the society retained the organization’s structure in a deeply clandestine manner lest they share the same fate as de Molay and Guy of Auvergne.
Secret activities that had been conducted under de Molay’s leadership were enhanced and sanctified. A few sources claim that documents prepared by de Molay shortly before his death appointed Bertrand du Guesclin to succeed him as Templars
Grand Master, and the leadership position was filled over time by a succession of prominent French citizens, including several princes of the house of Bourbon.
More enduring, especially among French citizens, has been a suspicion that Philippe failed to seize all the Templars’ treasures.
Stories have abounded for centuries that immense troves of gold and jewels lay waiting for someone to locate them.
One tale concerns pretty Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh, whose intricate stone carvings are claimed by some to be a secret code understood only by Templars and Freemasons. When deciphered, the code supposedly identifies the location of the Holy Grail and the Templars’ fortune, both hidden nearby. The chapel’s link to the Templars is questionable, because it was built 170 years after the death of de Molay, yet the story persists in spite of the fact that extensive investigation and excavation have revealed nothing remotely of value or interest around or beneath the chapel.

Another legend suggests that much of the Templars’ wealth was buried on Oak Island, in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Nova Scotia.

Tales of Templar treasure may be rampant, but real-life Templars today are not—except, perhaps, via a lineage extending down to modern-day Freemasons. Masons have been of two minds about the linkage with Templars. On one hand, the idea of Masons as direct descendants of the martyred Templars adds an aura of mystique and grandeur to the organization; whatever their faults, the Templars’ image has benefited from the burnishing of time, and they are now widely viewed as noble knights sacrificed to a larcenous king and a perfidious pope. On the other hand, no direct historical association can be found between the Templars and Masons—which, of course, has not prevented widespread speculation and garish fable from connecting the two. 


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