The Templar Knight

The anti-mafia magistrate and a Templar plot

I reproduce below an article written a few years ago.  In the 1980s, Carlo Palermo was a brave, anti-mafia magistrate in Italy who resigned from the judiciary in the aftermath of a car bomb assassination attempt.   In the 1990s, he developed an interested in Templar related conspiracy stuff.  I reproduce an article word for word here from

The Fourth Templar Secret of Fatima
Former Magistrate Carlo Palermo
Says the Real Plot is… Venetian

Anti-Islamism takes on many guises. Certainly one of the oddest however is this : did you know there is a conspiracy by Islamic fundamentalist Templars, led by Venetian Nazis, who plan to kill the Pope, promote Liberation Theology in Latin America and push drugs, all of this for the sole purpose of restoring the glorious government of the Doges?This is what we discover reading the book Il quarto livello (“The Fourth Level”, Editori Riuniti, Rome, 1996) by former judge and former Italian Parliament member, Carlo Palermo, whom many know and admire as an adversary of corruption in very difficult times. Nothing we say here should be understood as a criticism of his Quixotic personality.

Palermo made the headlines some time ago when he gave an interview to the daily Il Giornale, accusing the “Templars and the Shiites” for an (accidental) fire in the chapel in Turin where the Holy Shroud is kept. Authoritative journalists have described Palermo’s book as the last word on the Mafia and on the mysterious bomb outrages of the 70’s and 80’s in Italy

Yet what he writes stands to history as does the hollow earth theory to geology.

“Why did Hutus and Tutsis massacre each other in Rwanda? Why did the peoples of former Yugoslavia do the same? Why is terror being spread today in Paris or in Beirut, in Algeria or in New York, in Islamabad, in Karachi or in Jerusalem ? […] Why are macabre mass suicides still being committed in Canada and in Switzerland, in the name of a religious cult which draws its inspiration from the old Templar Order ..? Why, on the threshold of the third millennium, has the Church not yet explained the third secret of Fatima to the faithful …? Why are we still unable to cast full light on the terrible bomb outrages which struck Italy during the 70’s and 80’s ..?” (pp. 4-5).

Well, I suppose that is a good question

The cover of the book helps the reader go guess the answer – against a black background, a bald knight Templar, with a long beard, rises up threateningly.

Palermo’s story starts with the International Bank of Credit and Commerce (IBCC), which had a large number of dubious account holders, and then crashed with the CIA investigating it.

Now, according to Palermo, the IBCC was established by a group of Pakistanis whom he calls “of Shiite confession, of Sufi creed” (p. 19).

The whole book rests on these six words, since they connect the dirty business at the IBCC with the whole world of what one might call “the occult”, plus Islam too.

According to Palermo, Sufism is “a sort of final cult” devoted to an “anti-scientific and anti-technological” struggle, and can be found “both in Islamic and in Catholic fundamentalism” (p. 19 ff.).

“The cult of the return to Mother Nature meets with special favour in the ascetic mysticism of Sufism”.

Let us pause a moment to say a few terribly obvious things. The various Sufi orders are closed groups within the Islamic world (not within the Catholic world) which attempt to reach certain mystical states through contemplation of the word of the Qur’an.

The founders may have been saints, but their heirs only too often have become countryside magicians. Nobody can actually call them “heretics” as long as they perform all their religious duties, but rumour often accuses them of transgressing the law of the common folk.

Devotion to saints, political passiveness, recourse to magical practices, the creation of an elite within a society like the Islamic one based on the equality of men before Allah – all of this has made Sufism largely hateful to just those fundamentalists Palermo associates them with.

Sufism, apart from some poems thanking Allah for rain (a masculine word in Arabic), certainly has no cult of “Mother Nature”. “Nature” in Arabic is expressed using a word meaning “moulded” or “printed”: it is no “mother”, but rather the sign that a unique and almighty divinity has impressed on the world. Of course some Westerners mix up the “Wise Men of the East” with their own smog problems, but that is another story.

“If we want to identify the sector where Sufi philosophy has penetrated most deeply, we must see how the international far Right has developed. And the greatest leader of the Right, Adolf Hitler, comes to mind at once” (p. 20).

And here is how he proves this:
The SS “looked back” to the Prussian Empire.
The Prussian Empire was a “direct derivation of the state of the Teutonic Military Order”.
The Teutonic Order had absorbed “some members” of the suppressed Templar Order.
These members drew their inspiration “from Sufism”.
Therefore, “it is a fact that the SS state was a Sufi state”.

Conspiracy thinkers often employ the double somersault. Palermo gives us an elegant example of this. The first move: Himmler modelled the SS on the Jesuit Order. One would love to ask for at least a little evidence of this, but our acrobat is flying through the air towards his second move and should not be disturbed:

“A great deal of evidence shows that Ignatius of Loyola, before establishing his Order [the Jesuits], was initiated into the mystical secrets of the Shadliyya sect in Southern Spain and in the Maghreb, on a specific request by the aristocratic families of Venice”.

Now, it may well be that some unstated Venetian families sent a young Basque to study in the Maghreb so he could learn how to recite Qur’anic verses. It is also quite possible that Sai Baba manages to produce cow dung powder by just waving his robe. However, before taking either of such statements at its face value, I need to be convinced. And Palermo is as shy of sources as Sai Baba is of cameras (a note at the end of the book says that a certain Hermann Müller in 1898, in an unspecified “profound study”, discovered resemblances between the Jesuits and the Sufis).

But let us get back to the Templars. We are told that they were set up “according to the same guidelines as the Sufi order” of the Assassins (who were not Sufis).

Palermo literally believes in some rather weird statements that were tortured out of the Templars by the inquisitors who wanted to lay hands on their considerable riches: “as a Gnostic cult”, the Templars took up elements “drawn from Islamic doctrine (such as the adoration of the god Baphomet)”. So we finally know what Muslims do in the mosques: they worship Baphomet.

Thanks to the Templars, the Cathars too became a “Sufi movement”, the purpose being that of “freezing progress and blocking the development of the population at zero growth” (p. 22).

A this point, we meet the Thule Society, which supposedly inspired German National Socialism. Goodrick-Clarke, in The Occult Roots of Nazism (The Acquarian Press, Wellingborough, UK, 1985) says everything there is to say about this matter. There were some occultists among German nationalists, much as there are Keltic magicians among the followers of the Italian “Lega” or Cabalists among Zionist extremists. It is hard to say how much mysticism inspired certain political theses, and how much it simply justified them. It is true that the founder of the National Socialist Party, Dietrich Eckart, had belonged briefly to the Thule Society, which did indeed use at least an initiatory jargon. However this marginal world never interested Adolf Hitler. Whose notoriously rather unpleasant character prevented him from allowing others to tell him what to do even when this meant losing a quarter of a million soldiers at Stalingrad.

ome people imagine a bit more, like René Alleau, but of course quite properly, his works are not published by Editori Riuniti but by Edizioni Mediterranee (The Occult Origins of Nazism by Alleau came out in the same collection as The Medium’s Book, After Nostradamus and Prodigy Children and Reincarnation).
In any case, according to Palermo, in recent decades, there has been a trend towards “mystical Oriental cults” among the “far Right”, especially “in Germany.” A little mysticism (generally not “Eastern” at all) does exist in the Italian and French far Right, but there is much less in Germany, where nationalist paradigms prevail.

Actually, Sufism has mainly inspired bland groups of Theosophists or retired ’68 protesters who practice “Sufi meditation” (i.e., they whirl for a few minutes, just like we did when we were small). This kind of gymnastics is especially appreciated among former members of Left-wing groups (probably because it is a kind of circular march, reminiscent of protest parades).

Most Western neo-Sufi movements look back to Inayat Khan, an Indian who was a friend (but not a member) of the Theosophical Society. His daughter Nur worked for British intelligence; arrested by the Gestapo, she was shot in the head (Maria Chiara Bonazzi, “Niente sesso siamo spie”, La Stampa, 5.1.97). Even if the Theosophists had some racist fantasies (however their “Aryan race” included the Jews and even, albeit very far down, the Indians), as loyal subjects of the British crown during the war, they organised meditations to help the Allies win.

However, Palermo has by now laid the ground for anything: once the Basic Plot has been proven, any of its threads can be followed anywhere. Starting out from the IBCC, one can mention any ugly event involving the Near East, whether this refers to Iran or to its historical enemy Iraq, or to the Libyan fundamentalists Qaddhafi occasionally has put in gaol, or to Qaddhafi himself, who is sometimes called the greatest heretic before Salman Rushdie, as he allegedly denies the validity of all Islamic texts except for the Qur’an, and grants strict social equality to women.

But let us see what our judge discovered during his investigations on Qaddhafi.

Under Fascism, the “British espionage networks” appointed one Giuseppe Volpi, “the last Doge of Venice”, as governor of Libya, giving him the title of Count of Misurata. Volpi must have been quite elderly, since he had lost his job in Venice in 1797, whereas Fascism came to power in 1922. At least the history books I know mention no period of “British” domination in Libya until after 1945.

“The old Fascist secret police networks and the Libyan ones were virtually a single network, and Qaddhafi was ‘born’ out of them.” Now, Qaddhafi’s agent in Italy is supposed to be a certain Claudio Mutti, to whom Palermo devotes several pages.

It is hard for me, living in Italy, to say whether the founder of the IBCC was really a Sufi, but Claudio Mutti lives in nearby Parma and Michele Brambilla (Interrogatorio alle destre, Rizzoli, 1995) devotes several pages to him.


According to Palermo, Mutti is a “professor of Romanian language at the University of Bologna” (no such chair exists); founder “of the extremist organisation Black Order” (it is true that he was investigated; arrested because a magazine he edited had titles vaguely resembling the letters used for a leaflet of ‘Ordine Nero’, he was acquitted when it was discovered that they were actually entirely different); an intermediary between an Italian organisation called “Giovane Europa”, the Palestinians and Qaddhafi (“Giovane Europa” closed down before Qaddhafi came to power). There is more coming: Mutti is supposedly involved in the bomb outrages in Brescia and on a train (when the first took place, Mutti was in solitary confinement in a gaol in Bologna, during the second in a gaol in Milan, during investigations for which he was later acquitted).

Mutti however is also an expert on the world of the Gypsies (he is the author of an incredible Sinti-Parma Dialect dictionary) who for years has been publishing the kind of books you will never find in a bookstore. The Libyans must be very stingy, since they oblige their secret agent to support himself by working as a teacher. But above all, why, with fifty million Italians available, did they hire such an unusable person: Mutti is an extremist who prefers the losers to the winners of the Second World War, and above all he is a Muslim. More or less like being a strictly pro-Soviet black in the South of the USA forty years ago.

One of Palermo’s loveliest flights of fancy concerns the attempt to knife the Pope, carried out by a deranged individual at Fatima in Portugal in 1982. Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet, was married to Ali, founder during the 7th Century, of the Shi’a (and here we have the IBCC), and the name of the town of Marsala in Sicily supposedly comes from Ali (p. 134); Marsala is not far from Trapani where an attempt was made on the life of Palermo when he was an anti-Mafia judge; and the town of Fatima in Portugal was founded at the time of the Crusades, which brings us back to the Templars…
The man who made the attempt on the life of the Pope had briefly been a member of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP), a movement against Liberation Theology launched by an apocalyptic Brazilian professor who styled himself a “prophet”. Now I doubt that anyone in Italy has criticised TFP more thoroughly than we have done; and this gives us the right for once to criticise this peculiar Brazilian organisation.

TFP is pro-Pope and anti-Islam (as could be seen a few years ago, during the public recital of the rosary organised by Centro Lepanto, a TFP subsidiary, against the opening of a mosque in Rome some years ago). But Palermo needs to fit TFP into his personal plot, and he does so taking the longest possible route: the noble German family of the Thurn und Taxis, all of whom were “Venetian secret agents” (p. 126 ff.), is supposed to have belonged to the Thule Society; some of them were related by marriage to the Brazilian Braganza family, and a member of the Braganza family is supposed to be the “main supporter of Tfp”. “Even today, this association [Thule, the pre-Nazi one!] is a society of conspirators which extends throughout the world inside certain special cults like the Blue Army of Fatima and the one called Tradition, Family and Property (Tfp).” On p. 125, Palermo adds a new entry to the list of “Sufi heresies”, besides TFP: Liberation Theology, believe it or not.

Any normal reader will be perplexed by certain expressions Palermo uses: his hatred for Venetians and for the “cult of Mother Nature”; the definition of Sufism, which arose towards the 9th century, as an “anti-scientific and anti-technological movement”; or the notion that “the essence of the philosophy and of the aims of the ‘families’ associated with the Thule Society was […] hatred for the Renaissance of Nicholas von Kues, Leonardo da Vinci and Raffaello”. Raffaello?.

The journalist Franco Fracassi recently published Il quarto Reich, “The Fourth Reich”, a similar conspiracy-theory pamphlet with as many mistakes but less mysticism.

Palermo and Fracassi are associated with the political Left. However an author on the Right, Maurizio Blondet, has created no less than three books, titled respectively Conspiracies I, Conspiracies Conspiracies II and Conspiracies III. S

The problem is not a “Right or Left” one. Conspiracy thinking is a universal mechanism which anyone can adopt, as long as it against “our” enemy.

I pass no judgement on the former magistrate’s political ideas (although the idea of having him as one’s judge is a bit worrying – what if one had a Venetian ancester?). However what I find interesting is how an occultist and irrational attitude which claims the Templars and/or Sufis secretly run the world can appear not only in Tarot card reading or among spoon benders, but can also turn up in such an apparently “serious” field as politics.

It is incredible but true… I have seen University professors and journalists trustingly read Carlo Palermo’s writings. And these writings were published by Editori Riuniti, which at least once used to be a serious publisher.

Miguel Martinez


P.S. This review was written several months ago. In the meantime, Palermo has come out with another book, Il Papa nel mirino: gli attentati al pontefice nel nome di Fatima, – “The Pope as a Target: Attempts on the Pope’s Life in the Name of Fatima” – always published by Editori Riuniti (Rome, 1998). This is practically a photocopy of the first book, and this should make everybody happy: Palermo and Editori Riuniti who sell twice as many copies with half the work, you who can save money on buying it, and me, who didn’t have to take the time to rewrite this review. The only interesting addition – in his new book, Palermo attacks “Moscow, theosophist, arrogant and violent”, guilty of the atheist October Revolution.




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Usury and the Knights Templar


The Knights Templar are often characterised as the first bankers in the world. To some it seems odd that Christian soldiers could have been involved in usury – lending and charging interest – when the church condemned this. We know for certain that they operated as a kind of bank using cheques and taking deposits.

Usury was a sin – so were the Templars sinners?

There is an awful lot of confusion about the Knights Templar and the way they operated as bankers and money lenders.  How could they have been involved in banking when usury was a divine sin?  What was their relationship with Jewish lenders?

The first thing to say is that in ancient and feudal societies, there was often a rather sniffy attitude towards earning a living through trade – and certainly through usury.  Charging interest on loans was seen as a form of theft or deception.  In the Koran, it’s described as the work of the devil.  Assuming various mistranslations of the Christian bible, it seems to be roundly condemned in both the Old and New Testament.

The Torah makes a distinction between interest deducted before the loan is handed over and interest deducted afterwards.  What is clear – as with so much of the Old Testament – is that many prohibitions applied within the Jewish community did not apply outside.

In other words, there was a loophole allowing interest to be charged to gentiles because…well….they’re gentiles.  But Jews could not charge other Jews interest.  However, the main reason that usury became associated with Jewish communities was that members of this religion were often barred from the professions and membership of the trade guilds – so they had to make a living somehow.

DISCOVER MORE: Why were Jews expelled from England?

The medieval economy was crying out for more usury!

For Christians – brought up with the stark image of Jesus driving the money lenders out of the Temple (a story that has been opened up to other interpretations by scholars in recent times) – there could be no usury, or so it seemed.

The thing was that medieval monarchs, barons, traders and pilgrims needed loans.  As the economy of the Middle Ages became more sophisticated, this ban on usury became an obstacle to growth and the easier movement of goods.   The whole economy could not rely solely on Jewish lenders for credit and so we see banking groups emerge in northern Italy and credit arrangements at trade fairs across Europe.

So, did the Templars practice usury?

And then there were the Templars.  A lot of their members came from aristocratic backgrounds and when they joined, they turned over their wealth to the order.  Or sympathetic lords made vast donations – including one ruler of Aragon who turned almost his entire kingdom over to the Order though that was whittled down a bit after his death.

But essentially, the Temple was sitting on vast piles of land and bullion by the thirteenth century.  Their hundreds of thick walled preceptories were not just places of worship but banks as well.

READ: Was there Templar treasure hidden at Gisors in France?

Templar banking meant people could be more mobile

This sprawling network of preceptories across Europe and the Middle East allowed the Order to offer a way for people to become more mobile without fear of losing their wealth.  So, if you were a pilgrim going to Jerusalem or a crusader off to fight Saladin, you could deposit physical wealth and land deeds with the Order.  You could then withdrawals whenever you needed – subject to what could be described as bank charges.

The added bonus of dealing with the preceptories was that you knew you were leaving your money in a heavily guarded place.  Nobody was going to come and rob the place because it also housed the most fearsome knights in Christendom.  Rather like having a barracks inside your local branch of Citibank.

As I mentioned, there were banking groups emerging in Italy in the early Middle Ages and one of the families that would become major bankers would be the Medici.  This family would also provide great rulers like Lorenzo de Medici and…..popes.  So being involved in banking/usury would not be a barrier to advancement in the church.

Did the church turn a blind eye?

All of which leaves the question – why didn’t the church condemn the usurious activities of the Templars and other Christian money lenders?  One website I read this week suggested that the church “forgot” about the rule against charging interest.  This is nonsense.  What the church did – in its cynical and calculating way – was to suggest upper levels of interest that could be charged beyond which, the lender would be acting unethically.

Put another way – a great big ecclesiastical blind eye was turned towards the usury of the Temple.  So long as it facilitated the crusades called for by successive popes and greased the wheels of war and pilgrimage, nobody was going to complain.  The Order only came a cropper when a cash strapped French king decided he could no longer keep his greasy mitts off the Paris Temple that was renowned for sitting on more bullion than any other.

Madeira and the nail from the Crucifixion

This is a tale of the Knights Templar, a nail from the crucifixion and the holiday island of Madeira. It’ll stretch your credulity to breaking point. But I’ve done that a few times already so here goes!

The Knights Templar collected many sacred relics – bits of dead saints and items associated with the life of Jesus. Those relics linked to the death of Christ are called Passion relics and one of them, a nail driven through the flesh of Jesus, is claimed to be in modern Portugal.

A crucifixion nail once owned by the Knights Templar?

In 2010, a nail reputed to be from the crucifixion was found on the island of Ilheu da Pontinha in Portuguese owned Madeira. It was contained in an ornate box next to three skeletons and three swords, one with a religious symbol. The nail was smooth suggesting that it had been handled many times in the past.

The theory that emerged was that the Knights Templar had brought this sacred relic to Madeira and three of the order’s knights had been buried with it. It is true that the Templars had a significant base in Portugal with their headquarters in the town of Tomar.

Possibly not from the crucifixion or owned by the Templars

The Bad Archaeology website, which specialises in debunking what it says are false claims, pointed out that it’s very hard to date nails, most of which looked pretty much the same until the 19th century. It also pointed to the inconvenient fact that Madeira, located in the Atlantic some distance from Portugal, was discovered a hundred years after the Knights Templars were suppressed.

A prominent Portuguese archaeologist working at a major excavation on Madeira at the time the nail was discovered derided the claim that it came from the crucifixion. He said it dated to construction work in the 17th or 18th century.

Ilheu da Pontinha has a colourful reputation among the Portuguese as the tiny island has attempted to declare independence from the rest of Portugal in the recent past as this news report details:


The power of saints relics in the Middle Ages

For the Knights Templar – saints’ relics were very important.  And ordinary people invested a great deal of faith in the leg bone or skull of a dead holy person.  Various stories circulated at the time about the power of these relics.

Did holy relics have magical powers?

Two beggars had the misfortune to get a little too close to the relics of Saint Martin.  They were desperate not to be healed as nobody would ever give them money again.  And they certainly didn’t want to do an honest day’s work.

But the sweep of the crowd edging forward to touch the body of the saint caught them up and before they knew it, their blindness was cured.  The chronicler says the two men were hugely pissed off by this – rather like the character unwillingly healed in Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’.

FIND OUT MORE: Was cannibalism practised in the crusades?

Several heads of John the Baptist

One story that shows how everybody was a sucker for a good relic in the Middle Ages was the claim by monks at the abbey of Saint Jean in Aquitaine, south west France, that they had discovered the head of John the Baptist.

This would have come as something of a surprise to a church in far off Antioch – modern Turkey – where they quite sure that the head of John the Baptist had been sitting above their altar for centuries.

But nothing was to stop the French monks who were a bit hazy on the small details of where and how they’d found this head so far from where it had been chopped off a thousand years before.   Needless to say plenty of French peasants began claiming that their ailments were cured by the head in their midst.  And as relics seem to need the company of other relics, John the Baptist was soon joined by the remains of Saint Eparchius.

Saint Eparchius brings dead criminals back to life!

Saint Eparchius had died in the sixth century and his good deeds in life had centered on rescuing condemned criminals.  Bit soft on crime you could say.  One man hung at the gallows was brought back to life by the saint whose head now joined John the Baptist.  The sky burned with fire when the two relics were put together.

Another relic that showed off its power was that of Saint Junianus whose bits and pieces were being transported in a sack by some monks and one night they stopped off at a village to sleep.  After they left, the villagers erected a wicker fence around the place where the relics had been set down.  Later that very day, an angry bull charged in to the fence and died instantly.

Holy relics for curing dysentery

Bishop Gregory of Tours, who was writing in the very early medieval period after the fall of the Roman Empire, was sure that Saint Martin – mentioned above – had cured him of all sorts of things.  One was a massive attack of dysentery that left him vomiting and on the toilet constantly.  His physician couldn’t cure him but lo and behold, some dust taken from Saint Martin’s tomb and mixed in to an elixir, did the trick.

Touching Saint Martin’s tomb also sorted out Gregory’s recurring headaches, removed a fishbone from his throat, cured what sounds like chickenpox or shingles and when his tongue swelled up, he took to licking part of the tomb.  Yuck!

Most incredibly to Gregory, a woman who had been beaten up and rendered speechless by a ghost (I’m not making this up!) recovered her speech and was able to tell Gregory all about what had happened after she visited Martin’s tomb.  I’m hoping she didn’t have to lick it as well.

Templar bankers – thwarting Robin Hood

Did the Knights Templar make it much harder for the likes of Robin Hood to rob from the rich and give to the poor?

READ MORE: Were the Templars the first bankers in history?

Impossible to rob the rich – thanks to the Templars

Using the smart financial system devised by the Templars, the rich no longer had to lug caskets of loot around with them. Instead, they lodged some money with the Temple in, say, London and withdrew it in Acre or Tripoli, hundreds of miles away.

How on earth could they do this in the Middle Ages? The theory is it all came down to the use of secret codes on chits, understood at the other end. As a result, a knight going off on crusade didn’t have to drag sacks of money around. Thieves waiting by the roadside would now find that the potential pickings were markedly reduced.

Like all bankers, the Templars charged an administration fee and interest but somehow managed to avoid the opprobrium of the church with regards to engaging in usury – an activity that had been largely confined to the Jewish community. The term ‘cheque’ it’s been argued refers to the chequered board on which Templars settled their accounts.

The Templars were also able to move huge amounts of money around. For example when the king of France was captured and ransomed during one of the crusades, the ransom was paid off by the Templars because their ships stationed offshore were crammed with gold to pay for the crusader wars.

What are the links between the Freemasons and the Knights Templar?

One of the most asked questions about the Knights Templar is whether they continued to exist long after their suppression through the Freemasons. Or put another way, are today’s Freemasons the inheritors of the white mantles of the Templars?


The linkage is difficult to prove but there’s no shortage of theories. One goes that after they were suppressed by Pope and the King of France, the Templars infiltrated stone mason guilds. These were then refashioned to embrace Templar ideals and rituals. In effect, the masons and Templars over time became one and the same thing.

Linking Freemasons to the Knights Templar

Freemasons came to full public view in 1717 with the foundation of the Grand Lodge of England.  The organisation’s website traces the history of the order back to the stone masons of the Middle Ages who built Europe’s great cathedrals and not to the Knights Templar. It doesn’t recognised the aforementioned merger of masons and Templars.

The website cites evidence of people becoming Freemasons throughout the seventeenth century such as a gentleman called Elias Ashmole in 1643. Then in the eighteenth century, grand lodges were formed in England, Ireland and Scotland and the order grew significantly to include top politicians and establishment figures. But as its lodges spread throughout government and business, the conspiracy theories proliferated.


Many Freemasons see the Templar link as symbolic

From the eighteenth century to the present day, there were Freemasons happy to state that their rituals and organisation were directly descended from the Templars. Equally, there have always been Freemasons irritated by these claims. However, the creation of an occult mythology around masonic activity was largely created by Freemasons and not their detractors.

The prominent eighteenth century Freemason Baron Karl Gotthelf von Hund was forever hammering home the link between masonry and the Templars. The baron founded The Rite of Strict Observance within Freemasonry, as series of degrees through which members would pass including the degree of “knight”.

The Templar link to the Freemasons emerges 300 years ago

Michael Haag details in his book The Templars that a crusader connection was first expounded by Andrew Michael Ramsay, a Jacobite who headed up the French Grand Lodge around 1737. He said in a speech that the crusaders had wanted to create a global spiritual confraternity. While attempting to rebuild the Temple of Solomon, he believed they had developed secret signs and rituals to protect themselves from Saracen infiltration.

When the crusades collapsed, these spiritual crusaders left the Holy Land and returned to their European homes setting up the first Freemason lodges. But these were neglected over time and the secrets forgotten. Only in Scotland was the flame kept burning.

Persistence talk of Templar and Freemason links

The authors of The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail in 1982 wrote about the alleged flight of Knights Templar to Scotland when the order was suppressed by the King of France in 1307, repeating an old claim that they participated in the Battle of Bannockburn against the English.

They claimed to have discovered “what seemed to be” a Templar graveyard in Argyllshire with 13th century Templar gravestones and eighteenth century Masonic gravestones. The authors asserted that the later stones had mixed motifs suggesting a fusion at some point between the Templars and Freemasons.


The alleged link between Freemasonry and the Templars has often been used to damage the reputation of masons. Stephen Knight authored The Brotherhood in the early 1980s claiming a link to the Templars and arguing that Freemasons were running the United Kingdom. Knight had also written a book on Jack the Ripper claiming that his murders were part of a conspiracy involving masons and the Royal Family. If that sound familiar, it’s because it influenced the later work From Hell by Alan Moore.

John Robinson’s 1989 book Born in Blood claimed that Knights Templar fleeing arrest and torture in England and Scotland formed a secret society of mutual protection that eventually revealed itself as the Freemasons. The symbols and rituals we associate with the masons in fact dated back to the Templars. He credited this secret society with the Protestant Reformation and included among its members the first US President George Washington.

Shriners – the fez wearing Freemasons

Logo of the Shriners of North America

I’ve always associated the Shriners with Laurel and Hardy in the movie where they have to go to a convention and they’re both wearing a fez.

That might have been a Shriner convention because that’s the required headwear for this society within the Freemason order.  With nearly half a million members in the United States, they are little known outside the US and, correct if I’m wrong, claim a kind of bond/link/influence from the Knights Templar.

Founded in the 1870s by two Freemasons who were watching some kind of theatrical Arabesque in New York after a masonic gathering at the Knickerbocker Cottage (a favourite Masonic haunt of the time) and decided to form an exotic sounding organisation called the Ancient Arabian Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (AAONMS – not the catchiest acronym ever).

Members are allocated to Shrine Centers – or Temples – and engage in a distinct set of rituals which includes using the Arabic greeting for ‘hello’ to each other.

As an accepted society within the Masons, you have to be a fully fledged Freemason – and a Master Mason at that – to be able to join.  It’s not possible to be a Shriner and not a Mason.  This is like a subset within the Masons – not a venn diagram overlap.  Officers within the Shriners are called a ‘Divan’ and the top dog is called a ‘Potentate’ assisted by a ‘Chief Rabban’.

As I say, they’re completely invisible on the European side of the Atlantic but in north America, expect to see them on parades in dinky cars and replete with the fez when they meet for their Imperial Council Session.

The Shriners Hospitals for Children have a budget of over three quarters of a billion dollars and were originally set up during the polio epidemics of the early twentieth century.  They now cater for a range of childhood disorders.

There is no real link to the Knights Templar of old but through the Masons, a link to the existing Knights Templar of the Masonic variety.

Da Vinci Code – new manuscript found

Reuters reports today that a manuscript has been found in Nantes, France in a public library written by Leonardo Da Vinci in secret code from right to left.  There seems to be no doubt that it was written by his hand.

A journalist discovered the document which was part of a donation made to the library in 1872 by a rich chap called Pierre-Antoine Labouchere.  This is the second major find in this collection.  Two years ago, a manuscript by Mozart was unearthed among all these papers.  Labouchere seems to have hoovered up a random assortment of stuff in his life.

Last French king imprisoned in Templar fortress

It was a French king who destroyed the Knights Templar – King Philip the Fair – when he had the knights arrested en masse in 1307. But could the Templars have got their revenge over 450 years later when the last French king was imprisoned in the Temple fortress in Paris after a revolution overthrew the monarchy.

Templar revenge against the French king

Louis XVI and his family were imprisoned in the aftermath of the 1789 French revolution. Louis was a direct successor to King Philip. So, not surprisingly, some have seen this as a kind of revenge meted against the French royals by the Templars.

Some Templar commentators even think that the knights had continued to exist down the centuries despite the trials and executions carried out by Philip. It’s even asserted that when King Louis was eventually guillotined to death in front of a vast crowd in January 1793, somebody leaped forward and yelled: “Now, Jacques de Molay you are avenged!”

That was a reference to the last Templar grand master who was burned to death not far from Notre Dame cathedral in 1314.  If one takes this theory of Templar revenge seriously, then another fact might support it.

French king imprisoned in the Paris Temple

The Templars constructed a huge fortress in the middle of Paris for their headquarters. It once dominated what is now the Marais district. Incredibly, the fortress survived the extinction of the Knights Templar and still stood strong at the time of the French revolution.

Behind its thick walls, the knights had once stored vast amounts of bullion. One story has it that during a riot in Paris against currency devaluation, King Philip was forced to seek refuge at the Paris Temple. While there, his eyes feasted on all this Templar gold. And, the theory runs, this set him on a course of crushing the knights and stealing their wealth.

It’s perhaps fitting or even ironic that King Louis XVI also visited the Temple but this time as a prisoner. How the ghosts of those tortured and executed by his ancestor must have laughed at this pathetic spectacle. He was joined at the Temple by Marie Antoinette, his unpopular wife – who would also lose her head on the guillotine.

Louis and Marie Antoinette couldn’t stop scheming to reclaim their throne from the Republican revolutionaries and even conspired with foreign powers. This led to their eventual bloody downfall. After a period of Republican chaos, a man called Napoleon Bonaparte declared himself Emperor of France.

Napoleon demolished the Templar fortress in the first decade of the nineteenth century – it took quite a while apparently to take the thing down.  He was worried that Bourbon royalists loyal to Louis would converge there regarding it as a kind of pilgrimage site.  That was the last thing he was prepared to tolerate and so in went the wreckers.

How will Anti-Christ react to Christ’s arrival?

Anti-Christ part two (see my previous blog post)

So, we established that in the Middle Ages – the Templars and many others believed in the stories of Anti-Christ, though these varied and his physical appearance ranges from looking a lot like Jesus to being a hairy oblong creature with iron teeth.

What most stories agreed on was that Anti-Christ would rule mankind but be toppled by Christ who would slay him.  First question then is – how would Anti-Christ react when he first saw Jesus appear to take back his kingdom.  One medieval chronicler was pretty blunt about it – try and work out the old English meaning:

For crist com sal be sa bright / That thoru that mikel lorde light / Him sal of stand so mikel awe / That all the filthes of his maugh / Sal breste out atte his fondament / For drede of crist he sal be shent / Sua sal he peris al be-shetin / Bath with drede and soru beten

Bathed with the dread of his own sh*t – basically.  You have to remember that the medieval mind was pretty direct about bodily functions and so it wouldn’t have come as a huge surprise for a Christian to be told that when Christ comes, Anti-Christ’s bowels will loosen.