Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Templar Treasure

Some revisions of Templar history focused on the rumour that Jacques de Molay organized the removal of the Templars’ treasure before his execution and arranged for it to be concealed in hollow pillars at a Templar site. The idea that treasure was hidden from Philip le Bel has also proved a tenacious motif in Templar legend, including the one localized at Rennes-le-Château. Yet another revivalist, George Frederick Johnson, who claimed to be a Scottish nobleman, suggested that the escaping Templars had fled to Scotland. The Masonic myth of the murdered architect of Solomon’s temple, Hiram the first mason, became fused with the execution of de Molay, initializing yet another strand to the legend in, for example, traditions surrounding the Apprentice pillar in Rosslyn Chapel. In Germany the Templar revival was closely linked to the occult, to stories of lost treasure and to the idea that shadowy Grand Masters who succeeded de Molay were pulling the strings in European plots to overthrow heads of state. Other suggestions linked the Templars to the disgraced Illuminati, a group of radical intellectuals based in Bohemia during the latter part of the eighteenth century, which gave the supposed conspiracy a sinister political as well as an occult dimension.
The secret history of Rosslyn started with a few knights who supposedly escaped before the mass arrests of the Templars in France. These knights fled in Templar ships with a vast treasure that included a secret talisman excavated while they were based at the site of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. Some of these escaping Templars sought shelter with Robert the Bruce and their timely intervention at the Battle of Bannockburn (1314) ensured Robert’s victory and Scotland’s independence from England. However, the grateful Scottish monarch could not support the Templars openly, since by this time the order had been suppressed. He therefore created the Order of Freemasons as a cover for the fugitive Templar Knights who had aided him in his decisive battle against the English king. A century later, the Sinclair family, who were, according to this secret history, the covert Grand Masters of the Templars and the Freemasons, built Rosslyn Chapel, supposedly to house the Templar treasure. The carvings provide a key to this secret history and to the treasure’s hiding place. Other evidence for links between Templars and Masons are found in a document known as the Kirkwall Scroll and in various gravestones scattered in churchyards throughout Scotland. Based on this alternative view of history, carvings in Rosslyn have been identified with historical figures, such as Robert the Bruce and Masonic heroes such as Hiram, King Solomon’s master-builder.

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