Tuesday, May 20, 2008


is the title of Chapter 8 in Hirschman and Yates' book WHEN SCOTLAND WAS JEWISH.

The authors write:

Men from several Scottish (and English and French) Jewish families enlisted in the ranks of the Knights Templar, including Bruces, Douglases and Sinclairs. Countless others were involved in the administration of the Templar wealth....Each knight took a vow of chastity and poverty, yet the order itself, was permited to accumulate communal property of unlimited magnitude. (p. 132)

Pope Alexander in 1171 issued a bull granting the Templars exemption from prosecution in any religious or civil court of law in return for their support in winning back Jerusalem. The order was now not only fantastically wealthy, but free of any external control over its activities. The only law members were bound by was that of the Master Templar. By this time also a large part of the Templar force was composed of horsemen called Turcopoles, of Turkish, Syrian and Palestinian descent. These were mercenaries who followed a Middle Eastern lifestyle; they were not Christian, but Moslem or Jewish. Further, the Templars themselves had started to become morally corrupt. (p. 133)

The authors present a list of Templar properties, given by Place-Name, Province, Type. There are 27 castles on the list, plus a number of cities (including Safed where Kabbalah was nourished), temples, many houses, and other property. The locations of these properties include Palestine, Tripoli, Sicily, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Germany, France, Flanders, and England. There were also "several preceptories in Scotland and Ireland, which were dependent on the Temple at London. (pp. 133-136)

They were, in a sense, "the first multinational corporation--one over which no court or tribunal had jurisdiction." (p. 137)

The papacy in Rome was similarly corrupt and decadent....Powerful Roman families selected popes who would do their bidding; often those chosen were not only mentally incompetent, but also sexually perverted. Some died violent deaths, strangled or stabbed by their bodyguards....Priories and bishopricks were usually controlled by powerful local families, who placed their younger sons, or illegitimate sons, into holy offices....

Templar Kights developed a congenial living arrangement with the Muslim "foes."
(p. 138)

By 1250, the Templars had become a largely secret and closed society. Their initiation rites were hidden from view...The majority of persons associated with the order were now estate managers, laborers and international traders and bankers. Even criminals were permitted to join, if they brought some skill or resource of value. In addition, the order had become the primary banking enterprise in the European world....

[I]n Spain...Muslims were allowed to use Temple estates as places of worship....By 1250 there were an estimated 7,000 fully initiated Templars, with a corresponding number of associates and dependents that was seven or eight times as large.
(p. 139)

Remarkably, also by 1250, the Templars had altered their religious creed. Though established initially as Christian soldiers, they now read from the Book of Judges in the Hebrew Bible, or Torah, and had formed a new identity binding themselves to the ancient Israelites....By 1290 the Europeans had lost the Holy Land to the Muslims...many of the remaining European inhabitants, exhausted by the corruption of Christianity, converted to Islam....

In October 1307 C.E., King Philip of France, who had expelled the kingdom's Jews the year before in order to confiscate their possessions, turned his attention to the French Templars. In collaboration with the Pope, he ordered all French Templars arrested, tried for heresy, and executed; he then promptly appropriated their immense wealth and holdings in France. Some of the members of the French Temple became aware of Philip's plan and escaped with a large portion of their treasure. At the same time, a Muslim colony in southern Italy was evicted by Philip's brother King Charles II and appears to have formed something akin to an alliance with the fleeing French Templars and traveled with them to Christendom.
(p. 140)

The French Templar treasure, loaded upon 18 galleys, made its way to Scotland, reportedly to the Isle of Mull. From here, the Templars and their treasure took refuge with the St. Clair family at Rosslyn Castle. Nearby Rosslyn Chapel, built in the 1400s, was, and is, the edifice filled with images and icons drawn from three faiths--Christianity, Judaism and Islam. It contains ample testimony to the "sacred geometry" of the Jewish Cabala... (p. 142)

The chapter contains a lot of information--too much for a single blog. I'll take it up again next time.

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