According to chroniclers of their early years, the Knights Templar were founded in 1188 by Hughes de Payen, a vassal of the Count of Champagne. This occurred after they had presented themselves to Baldwin I, King of Jerusalem, whose older brother, Godfroi de Bouillon had led the crusaders to victory in the Holy Land almost twenty years previous. They proposed themselves as a order of fighting monks, who would protect the roadways for pious pilgrims journeying to Jerusalem. They were immediately given an entire wing of the royal palace as their headquarters - a wing that had been built upon the foundations of the Temple of Solomon. Thus they received their name: “the Knights of the Temple.”
For the next nine years they admitted no new members to their order - strange since the nine founding members hardly seem like they would have provided an adequate number of staff to protect all of the roads to the Holy Land. Furthermore, there is no evidence from contemporary chroniclers indicating that they even engaged in such activities. Guillame de Tyre, the chief chronicler of the age and an intimate associate of King Baldwin, doesn’t even mention them, causing the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail to suspect that he had been silenced by the royal muzzle to cover up for the Templars’ actual activities - excavating the Temple Mount. The authors speculate that when the Roman legions sacked the Temple in 70 A.D., they took only the most obvious loot, unwittingly leaving behind the most valuable treasure, chief among which would have been the Ark of the Covenant, and perhaps, the artifact which came to be known as the Holy Grail. This could have been secreted away by the Temple priests in any of the numerous tunnels known to exist beneath Solomon’s Stables on the Temple Mount - stables which the Templars made use of during their nine-year stay. This could have, in fact, been the purpose behind the foundation of their order - a mission based upon knowledge that had been passed down from Christ’s descendants to the Merovingians, and then on to the Templars’ founders. The main figures involved in the Templars’ foundation - King Baldwin, the Count of Champagne, Andre de Montbard, Hughes de Payen, Betrand de Blanchefort and Godfroi de Bouillon were all descendants of Merovingian blood, and if they had been in on the family secrets, that would explain why they willingly pledged themselves, their money, and in the king’s case, the royal quarters, to the cause. If they had been successful in their mission, it could explain how they acquired the capital with which they eventually created a vast empire.
During their first nine years they became famous throughout Europe as the selfless “Militia of Christ.” By 1127, most of the knights had returned to Europe, and in the following year, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Andre de Montbard’s uncle, published a pro-Templar tract entitled In Praise of the New Knighthood. At the Saint Bernard-inspired Council of Troyes, the Church officially recognized the Templars as a religious and military order dedicated to the defense of Christendom. Saint Bernard then assisted in drawing up their rules of conduct, based upon those of the Cistercian order of monks, another group upon whom Bernard had much influence. Templars were sworn to poverty and celibacy. They wore white mantels to symbolize their purity, emblazoned with the red cross pateé. And just as the Merovingians were forbidden to cut their hair, the Templars were likewise forbidden to cut their beards. The Templars’ reputation for bravery was well-earned. They were not allowed to retreat from battle unless the odds outweighed them three to one, and when they were captured they were obliged to fight to the death rather than beg for mercy or ransom. They were also pledged to secrecy about the orders workings, and were inducted with a strange initiation ceremony about which there were many rumors. A few years later, there was another interesting development in their rule. In 1139, a former student of Saint Bernard’s, Pope Innocent II, issued a papal bull stating that the Knights Templar would owe allegiance to none except the Pope himself, making them immune to the political whims of all authorities, both religious and secular.
As their fame grew, so did their ranks, and thus, their property holdings. The sons of European nobility swelled their membership, and the vast amounts of money and property donated by the new recruits swelled their territory and their coffers, for new recruits, as per their vow of poverty, were required to relinquish all property upon admittance to the order. Soon they stood at the helm of a huge, international empire over which they held complete independent sovereignty. During Christendom’s Second Crusade, the Templars accompanied France’s King Louis II into battle, and played a decisive role in preventing the war from becoming a total disaster. Over the next century, they secured their important role in international politics by utilizing their influence upon a number of kings, nobles, and ecclesiastic authorities. Many of these kings were financially indebted to the Templars, and some actually resided with them. The Grand Master of the Temple even stood by England’s King John as he signed the Magna Carta. At times, it appeared that the Templars possessed the power to make or break a monarch’s career according to their desire.
Their political influence spread in direct proportion to their huge banking operation. In fact, the modern institution of banking, in which money can be deposited in one location and withdrawn in another, is a Templar invention, along with the “cheque”, likely named after the “chequerboard” pattern that was one of the Templars’ most well-recognized motifs. This made it possible for pilgrims and travelers to journey safely without fear of roadside robbers, and the cheques were unforgable, as they were written in sophisticated secret codes for which the Templars became known. Almost every king or queen in Europe banked with them, as well as a number of Muslim leaders whom they dealt with on a regular basis. As Holy Blood, Holy Grail puts it, “The Templars thus became the primary money changers of the age, and the Paris preceptory became the center of European finance.”
The Templars’ enterprises made them the conduits of new forms of art, science, and craft, new forms of thought and belief. They had access to new advances in agriculture, armaments, surveying, mapmaking, and navigation, and they were one of the first groups of people to employ the magnetic compass in their seafaring. They ran their own hospitals to treat wounded soldiers, and were at the forefront of modern medicine, bringing to the field a scientific point of view unusual among their contemporaries, including an unprecedented understanding of the principals of hygiene. They even made medical use of mold extracts, similar to the widespread use of penicillin as an antibiotic today. Their mastery of architectural principles, both ancient and modern, including the understanding of advanced mathematics, such as was used in the building of the Giza pyramid, for example, along with their patronage of the stonemasons’ guilds, led to the development of Gothic architecture.
They were equally influential in bringing new religious and philosophical ideas into vogue throughout Europe, including blends of Islamic, Judaic, and, for lack of a better term, “Gnostic” threads of thought, setting the stage for Europe’s cultural Renaissance, which followed the medieval era and incorporated these same themes. Their ambiguous relationship with the Saracen enemy in the Holy Land, with whom they maintained a respectful peace whenever possible, led to the incorporation of a number of these new thought systems and scientific techniques, for Arab culture was still, at that time, a high civilization. There were even rumors of a close relationship with the Order of the Assassins, called by some authorities the Islamic equivalent to the Knights Templar. Like the Templars, they took oaths of secrecy, conducted strange ceremonies, and were obliged to fight with the same fanatical bravery.
But when their relationship with the Muslims began to deteriorate, the Templars’ foothold in Jerusalem began to slip. King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem died in 1185. In the battle over the succession that resulted, the current Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Gerard de Ridefort, was said to have betrayed some oath made to the deceased king, initiating a near-civil war amongst the Europeans living in the Holy Land. He also managed to destroy the long-established truce between the Christians and the Saracens, and led the Christians into a battle at Hattin in 1187 that resulted in the end of their 100-year-long reign in Jerusalem. By 1291, almost the entire Holy Land was under Saracen control. The last Christian fortress, Acre, fell dramatically in May of that year.
The Templars set up new headquarters in Cyprus, but without the Holy Land to protect, or new territory to capture on behalf of Christendom, they lacked any clear-cut goals. The authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail suggest that at this point, the Knights Templar turned their attention towards a new ambition: creating their own independent European state. Other authors, such as Alan Butler and Stephen Dafoe, have suggested that Switzerland is a likely candidate for the planned Templar state, and even suggest that the Swiss nation is a direct result of this. Evidence they give includes the extensive Templar holdings that existed there, the Templar-style equilateral cross on their national flag, and the well-established role that Switzerland plays as the center of European finance. But the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail believe that the land which the Templars had picked to be the “New Jerusalem” was, in fact, the Languedoc region of Southern France - land of the Merovingian kings, whose descendants included the Templars’ founders. It was also the realm of the Cathar heretics, who, as it turned out, were closely associated with the Knights Templar as well.
It has been written that one of the Templars’ founders was a Cathar, and that their fourth Grand Master, Bertrand de Blanchefort, was from a “Cathar family.” So too were many of the order’s dignitaries. And although the Templars were officially neutral in regards to the Albigensian crusade, they did accept a number of Cathars into their ranks at that time, providing them with immunity from prosecution. They even allowed Cathar refugees to take shelter in their preceptories, and on some occasions did defend them militarily. According to Holy Blood, Holy Grail, “In the Languedoc, Temple officials were more frequently Cathar than Catholic”, and, “The Grand Master at the time... declared there was in fact only one true crusade - the crusade against the Saracens.”
But the Catholic crusade against heresy would soon be turned against the Templars themselves, and the Holy Inquisition, which had been formed to deal with the Cathar problem, would soon be torturing their knights. For by 1306, the Templars had made a most powerful enemy: King Philippe IV of France. He did not merely resent them because they owed no allegiance to him, being obliged solely to the Holy See, and constituted a military threat greater than his own armed forces. He also owed them a lot of money, which he could not afford to repay, but which he knew they held in great abundance. Furthermore, they had insulted him in the past by refusing him admittance to their ranks. Perhaps he had even heard about the treasure from Jerusalem that they supposedly possessed. Whichever the case, he had decided that he would do away with the Templars, not only in his own domains, but everywhere altogether. And the only other power he knew of that held the amount of international clout needed to execute the plan was the only power that held command over the Templars: the Papacy. But manipulating the Papacy was nothing new to King Philippe the Fair. He had already, as most historians will attest, played a guiding role in the kidnapping of Pope Boniface VIII and the poisoning of Pope Benedict XI. The current pope, Clement V, owed his very throne to Philippe, who had been responsible for his election. Even as the son of Ida de Blanchefort, from the same family as the Templars’ fourth Grand Master, Clement V still could not resist pressure from Philippe the Fair. Philippe wanted to persecute the Templars for heresy.
The drama which unfolded thereafter gave rise to numerous legends, including the superstition surrounding “Friday the 13th.” Philippe had drafted a list of charges, largely based on evidence gleaned from spies, and from a defected Templar who agreed to be a witness. He then issued secret orders to his seneschals throughout France, sealed, with instructions that they were to be opened at dawn on Friday, October 13, 1307, and implemented immediately. All Templars were to be arrested at once, and all of the order’s property seized.
Despite the trouble the king went through to keep the plan secret, the Templars still seemed to have received some sort of warning, for the vast majority of their wealth, along with whatever holy relics they presumably possessed, had already been spirited away into trusted hands far from the king’s reach. (Most of this could be achieved through their highly sophisticated network of banks.) The order’s current Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, had just had all of the order’s books burnt for no apparent reason. And one Templar who left the order had been told by the treasurer that this was a “wise” move, as danger for the order lurked around the corner. Also, a memo had been given to all of the Templar preceptories in France warning their members not to divulge any information to anyone about the order’s customs and rituals. The Templars who were arrested went without struggle, as if they had been instructed to submit.
However, not all Templars were arrested. It is known that a group of them, all closely associated with the treasurer, escaped, taking with them, presumably, all the wealth and treasure they could carry. According to the legends, the Templars loaded the loot onto wagons, which they then transported to the coast, where eighteen ships awaited them at the Templar naval base at La Rochelle. These ships vanished without a trace shortly before the arrests.
The fate of the arrested knights varied. All were interrogated, and many were tortured into confessing. The confessions, as well as the accusations, all revolved around similar themes. A list of charges drawn up by the Inquisition on August 12th, 1308 reads:
“Item, that in each province they had idols, namely heads.
Item, that they adored these idols.
Item, that they said that the head could save them.
Item, that it could make riches.
Item, that it could make the trees flower.
Item, that it made the land germinate.
Item, that they surrounded or touched each head of the aforesaid idol
with small cords, which they wore around themselves next to the shirt or the flesh.”
They were also accused, among other things, of homosexual rites, of baby sacrifice, of committing abortions, and of ritually trampling upon the Christian cross during their initiation ceremony. A widespread interpretation of this ritual, repeated often throughout the confessions, is that they were expressing their denial of the crucifixion, presumably because they had come across evidence that Christ did not die on the cross. This ritual could also have served as an introduction to a spiritual discipline that was older than Christianity. One aspirant, during the initiation ceremony, was supposedly told that he should not believe in Christ, but in a “higher God.” A crucifix was then displayed, and he was told, “Set not much faith in this, for it is far too young.” The accusations regarding this ritual, however, had been floating around the rumor mill since at least 1249.
The most widespread and consistent aspect of the confessions, however, involved the worship of a head, specifically an idol named “Baphomet.” Some said it was a man’s head, some a woman’s head, some said that it was bearded, some that it was made of glass or crystal, and some said that it had two faces. A popular tale held that it was the head of the Templar’s first Grand Master, Hughes de Payens, or that of John the Baptist. The latter seems a likely rumor to have been circulating amongst the Templars, for one of the theories surrounding the order is that they ascribed to the Johannite belief that John the Baptist was the true messiah, and Christ a false prophet. Some even said that Baphomet was not a mere head, but a demon, perhaps the Devil himself - half male, half-female, half-human, and half-beast. This was the source for the 19th century occultist Eliphas Levi’s well-known depiction of Baphomet, now incorporated into the Waite tarot deck as “the Devil.” This popular image, sometimes referred to as “the Sabbatic Goat”, was made to embody symbols of conflicting dualities. Thus the beast bears the breasts of a woman and the sex organs of a man. He is shown poised between the waxing and waning moon symbols with his right and left hands pointing up and down, respectively. Levi designed a sigil depicting an inverted pentagram with Baphomet’s goat face super-imposed onto it, and called it the “Goat of Mendes.” This symbol was later used by Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan.
Yet there was another idolatrous head found during the raid on the Templar’s Paris preceptory which presents an intriguing possibility about Baphomet. According to the written account, it was, “a great head of gilded silver, most beautiful, and consisting of the image of a woman. Inside were two head-bones wrapped in a cloth of white linen, with another red cloth around it. A label was attached, on which was written the legend “Caput 58 M.” Given the evidence that the Templars knew of and believed in the Grail family, descendants of Christ, and Mary Magdalen, it is theorized that this idol contains the relics of Magdalen herself. After all, as Boyd Rice has suggested, 5 +8 = 13, and M is the 13th letter of the alphabet, so “58M” could be a code signifying the name “Mary Magdalen.” However, there is another important detail to consider as well. The “M” was actually written as “?”, the astrological sign for “Virgo.” There is, as discussed in the articles “The Cutting of the Orm” and “Le Serpent Rouge Decoded”, a connection between the figure of Mary Magdalen and the figure of Virgo. There is also a connection between Mary Magdalen and the goddess Venus, or Isis.
As it turns out, Isis figures in to a popular legend regarding the origin of Baphomet. According to the tale, a Templar called “the Lord of Sidon” was in love with a young woman named Yse (possibly derived from “Isis”), who died suddenly. On the night of her burial, he dug up her body and copulated with it. Nine months later a voice “from the Void” told him to go back to the grave, where he would find his son. There he discovered a head resting on a pair of legbones (perhaps the origin of the Templar’s famous skull and crossbones symbol.) The voice told him that if he was careful to guard the head, it would be “the giver of all things.” He took it with him and for the rest of his days it protected him. Later on, the tale relates, the Templar order got a hold of it and incorporated it into their rituals.
Despite the severity of the charges leveled against them by the Papacy, most Templars were able to confess and go on with their lives. A number of them escaped persecution altogether. In England, for instance, King Edward IV (Philippe’s son-in-law) took a protective stance towards the Templars, only pursuing them under extreme duress from the Pope, and then after most of them had already escaped. Those that were arrested often received light sentences involving a few years of penance in a monastery - not unlike the life they were used to living anyway. Their lands were given to the Knights Hospitaller of Saint John, now known as the “Knights of Malta”, and the military wing of the Vatican. It was an order that reportedly had much in common with the Templars, perhaps even certain belief systems, and there is evidence that some of the escaped Templars simply joined this rival order.
Where did the escaped English Templars go to? Most likely, Scotland, which provided a haven for renegade Templars from all over Europe. Scotland was at war with England at the time, so pressure from King Edward would have been useless, and Scottish people at that time didn’t care much what the Pope thought of them either. Escaped Templars played an integral role in the history of Scotland, where the order was never officially dissolved. They are said to have fought by the side of Robert the Bruce during 1314’s Battle of Bannockburn. They purportedly survived in Scotland at least until 1689, when, during the Battle of Killiecrakie (part of a revolt against the deposition of Scottish Stuart king James II by William of Orange), an ancient Templar device was found on the body of John Claverhouse, Viscount of Dundee.
In the province of Lorraine, which was then part of Germany (and now part of France), the region’s duke
exonerated all Templars of heresy, instructing them to array themselves in the clothes of common people and blend
in with the populace. The Templars were openly defiant in both Germany and Spain, where they were proclaimed innocent
by their judges, and went on to live normal lives in other orders, such as the Teutonic Order, or the Knights
Hospitaller. In Portugal, the order itself was cleared of all charges, and merely had to change its name,
becoming the Knights of Christ.
This order was devoted specifically to sailing, and sponsored a number of
history’s most well-known explorers. Vasco de Gama was a member of the order, and Prince Henry the Navigator
(speculated as having been among the few to explore (albeit secretly) the New World prior to Christopher Columbus,
was a Grand Master. Most importantly, however, Christopher Columbus himself was the son-in-law of a Knight of
Christ, and may have used his relative’s maps to navigate his way to America, where his ships sailed under
flags bearing the order’s insignia, the red equilateral cross. The Templars also reputedly used their
influence in the Teutonic Order to exact a measure of revenge against the Catholic Church, when they decided
to support the Protestant Reformation of Martin Luther.
Revenge was something that was definitely on the minds of escaped Templars, especially in regards to what happened to their last known Grand Master, Jacques de Molay. Although he had confessed to the charges, he later repudiated them, claiming that the confession had been made during torture, and was therefore not valid. He was thus consigned, in March of 1314, to be slow-roasted upon an open fire in a public square. Before he died, de Molay is said to have called on both Pope Clement and King Philippe to join him in death within a year. Clement died of dysentery within a month, and about eight months later, Philippe died of unknown causes. This, of, course, lent credence to the rumors that the Templars were adept at witchcraft.
The revenge did not end there. In 1789, the dying curse of de Molay re-emerged in the actions of French Freemasons, heirs to the traditions (and perhaps the secrets) of the Knights Templar. These Freemasons were responsible for orchestrating the French Revolution against both the Catholic Church, and the current political state. King Philippe’s descendant, Louis XVI, was beheaded before a cheering crowd. As the king’s head rolled off the guillotine, a man reportedly leapt onto the scaffold and flung Louis’ blood all over the crowd, shouting “Jacques de Molay, thou art avenged!”
In many other ways, too, the Templars lived on. As mentioned, their secrets and traditions were taken up by the Order of Freemasons, a secret society, derived partially from medieval stonemasons’ guilds, which has included many of Europe’s, England’s and America’s most influential political figures from the 17th to the 19th centuries. They have largely been given credit for both the French Revolution and the American Revolution, and are thought by many to constitute an international conspiracy that continues to this day. The Freemasons do indeed seem to have embraced ideas that would tend to be associated with the Templars, including “secrets” regarding Solomon’s Temple, the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail, and alternative interpretations of both the Old and New Testament, embracing a lot of so-called “apocryphal” legends. They also use a number of the same symbols that the Templars used, including the skull and crossbones, the equilateral cross, and the double-barred Cross of Lorraine. And of course, the Freemasons’ approach in general tends to be “occult” and “Gnostic”, just like the Templars, derived from secrets that have purportedly been passed down from ancient Egypt and even earlier, just as the Templar wisdom is said to have been derived. The Freemasons even have entire degrees dedicated to the mythos of the Knights Templar.
Through the aforementioned stonemasons’ guilds, which eventually evolved into Masonic lodges, the Templars communicated to the world the secrets they’d learned from their excavations of Solomon’s Temple - secrets involving sacred geometry and architecture. This resulted in the stunning array of Gothic cathedrals that sprung up across Europe during the Middle Ages and immediately afterward. These cathedrals are like music expressed in architecture, based upon the principle of the Golden Mean, nature’s most perfect mathematical proportion. Within the dimensions of the cathedrals were contained, so they say, the ancient secrets of alchemy, and by the looks of them one can easily imagine that to be true.
Because of their renowned esoteric wisdom, the legend of the Templars has been utilized by a number of other occult groups throughout the centuries. The Rosicrucian Order, an influential element of the Renaissance soon to be discussed, based its own mysteries upon theirs, as did the “Order of New Templars”, a neo-pagan white supremacist organization that played a part in the rise of the Third Reich, before being obliterated by that Reich’s ironic anti-occult efforts. Even the inner order of the S.S., known as the Black Sun, was patterned after the Templars. Other, more innocuous occult figures have embraced the teachings of the Templars as well, such as H.P. Blavatsky and Rudolf Steiner. Then, of course, there are the numerous neo-Templar orders that proliferate throughout the Western world, mostly social clubs for middle-aged men, all of whom claim a direct pedigree derived from the original order. Without a doubt, the legend of the Templars will live on to seed the fertile plain of the human imagination well into the 21st century.
The Templar Conspiracy
For a number of reasons, several books, including Holy Blood, Holy Grail, have suggested that a conspiracy has contrived to distort the historical facts regarding the Knights Templar, and indeed, that the creation of the Templars themselves was the result of a conspiracy. One of the facts that seems to have been distorted is the date of the Templars’ foundation: 1118. If the historians are correct, the Templars started in that year with nine knights, and did not add to their membership for another nine years. But it is known that by 1126 they had added four new members, so either the date of their foundation is wrong, or the bit about them admitting no new members for nine years is wrong. If the last piece of information is correct, then they would have actually been founded in 1111 or 1112. And there just so happens to be much evidence supporting that. For instance, in 1114, the Count of Champagne is known to have received a letter from the Bishop of Chartres regarding his intention to join “The militia of Christ”, a nickname for the Templar order. Clearly, then, the existence of the Templars was already well-established.
This count of Champagne seems to have been at the center of the social circle that created the Templars. One-third of the nine knights who founded the Temple were vassals of the Count of Champagne, including Hughes de Payen, their first Grand Master. When the Count himself finally joined in 1124, he was therefore, in a reversal of traditional authority roles, pledging allegiance to one of his own vassals. There are other strange inter-connections as well. The Count also demonstrated his patronage to the Templars’ sister order, the Cistercian Monks of Saint Bernard, when in 1115 he donated the land onto which Saint Bernard’s Abbey of Clairvaux was built. Saint Bernard was also the nephew of one of the Templars’ original nine knights: Andre de Montbard. The court of Champagne, located in Troyes, was furthermore the center of a number of activities with which the Templars were also associated. It was a center of cabalistic studies throughout the Middle Ages, the birthplace of the earliest versions of the Grail romances, and the site of some of the Templars’ most important holdings.
The authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail indicate that this conspiracy centered around the treasure of Solomon’s Temple - a treasure that probably included the so-called “Holy Grail”, and that this conspiracy was primarily composed of descendants of the Grail family, the Merovingians - people who may have been in possession of hereditary secrets regarding the location of the treasure, which must have been the main purpose behind creating the Templars. It was also the reason why King Baldwin II gave them quarters on the Temple Mount, and why they kept so few members for the first nine years - so that it would be easier to protect the secret. The suggestion seems to be that the conspiracy officially began in 1104, during a meeting between the Count of Champagne and a number of nobles from the Brienne, Chaumont, and Joinville families, as well as the “liege lord” of Andre de Montbard. It was immediately after this that the Count of Champagne left on his first trip to the Holy Land. He made another such trip in 1114, apparently desiring to join the Templars, who were already in existence. Upon his return, he donated that land to the Cistercian order mentioned previously. Following that, the empires of both the Templars and the Cistercians expanded exponentially. The authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail theorized that a conspiracy had been behind the formation and rapid growth of both orders, and that this conspiracy in fact constituted a third order in itself.
This third order, they surmised, seems to have been preoccupied with the Languedoc region of Southern France, where Rennes-le-Chateau is located - and around the Templar preceptory in nearby Bezu. Templar activities in this region came to a head at around 1153 with Bertrand de Blanchefort, whose ancestral home was located in that region. The authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail describe Blanchefort as “the most significant of all Templar Grand Masters”, and as a protegé of Andre de Montbard. Under Blanchefort’s leadership they became highly-trained and organized, as well as a force to be reckoned with in European finance and politics. It was Blanchefort who donated to them the lands near Rennes-le-Chateau and Bezu upon which they built their preceptories. And in 1156, under Blanchefort’s direction, a group of Germans were imported into the region by the Templars, purportedly to work in the region’s numerous gold mines. As Holy Blood, Holy Grail states, “These workers were supposedly subjected to a rigid, virtually military discipline. They were forbidden to fraternize in any way with the local population, and were kept strictly segregated from the surrounding community.” But what was all of this secrecy actually for - especially since the gold mines that they were supposedly working had been emptied by Roman miners during the previous millennium? According to Cesar d’Arcons, an engineer hired to write up a report on the region’s mineral deposits some time later, these Templar-employed German miners were not actually mining anything, but were excavating a subterranean crypt.
Whatever it was for which they were digging, they continued to take great pains to preserve the secret for many decades. By the end of the next century, the Templars had been invited by the lord of Bezu and Rennes-le-Chateau to dispatch a special contingent of Templars from Rousillon to Bezu, where they built a lookout post at the top of the mountain. No one knows why, however, since the pilgrim routes that ran through the area were already adequately protected. But as the locals will tell you, even unto this day, the Templars were actually there to guard a treasure - one clearly connected with what those German miners had been doing nearly a century earlier.
It is curious to note, with this in mind, that for reasons unspecified, the Templars stationed at Bezu and Rennes-le-Chateau were the only ones in France who went completely unpersecuted during the raid of 1307. Obviously, these knights had something up their sleeves that rendered them untouchable - a secret of some sort. And this secret was undoubtedly shared by that third, hidden order of which we previously spoke. That order is called the Priory of Sion.
1 For a number of years, most of Portugal’s early kings were Grand Masters of this order.