BOOK REVIEWS FROM A CURIOUS MIND: I read a lot. Books and the data/stories contained within them are my oldest friends. My wife suggested in her wisdom that I should write up short summaries/observations on the books I've been reading, since people might be interested, so I did. 5+ years running. Comments are welcome, and if you dig the reviews, please share with other fellow readers.
Sometimes the truth is so murky that the lies overwhelm it
Murdered Magicians: The Templars and their Myth – Peter Partner (1982)
If there is one group of people in
history that have had the most fanciful stories told about them and their
influence, it is the Knights Templar.
Everything from Freemasonry to Illuminism to Satanism has been
attributed to them and claimed to be derived from them. The actual historical accounts of this order
are so few and so scrubbed by later theologians and church historians that to
find the truth one has to dig through a mountain of poorly researched and
ornately embellished writings hoping to eek out the small kernels of actual
fact. Mr. Partner spends the first half
of this book discussing the facts as can be deduced from church and Templar documents
and contemporary accounts, and the second half of the book discussing the many
ways the myth of the Templars was created a grew in the centuries after their
To begin, the Templar Knights were
one of two military orders of the Roman Catholic Church, the other being the
Order of the Hospitalers. The Templar
Knights were originally an order of what were then “middle-class” type people,
merchants, soldiers, etc., who joined the Order to do religious duty, much like
people join convents or monasteries.
They were frugal by decree, living only on what was supplied to them by
the local churches and benefactors, and using their arms to protect pilgrims
heading to the Holy Land. Over time,
they grew in influence and wealth and were used by the Catholic Church as an
armed force in the early Crusades to the Holy Land. After a while the Knights Templar began to
act as an independent arm of the Catholic Church, with all the bureaucracy expected
of that, and controlled many towns and cities in the Holy Land. With their increase in power and prestige
lords and kings sought to align themselves with them and therefore deeded many
properties, castles, and land holdings to the Order in exchange for protection
and military favors. Eventually the
Order became so prosperous and powerful that they began to draw the jealous eye
of the King of France, under whom they were supposed to serve, especially after
the Crusades were over and done with.
Leaders of religions always fight with leaders of nations for power and
this was no different.
Using every trick and lie that
governments and religions have always used against their perceived enemies,
they brought down the hammer on the Templar Knights. Torture was used to extract ridiculous
confessions. These included things like
renouncing Christ, forcing members to commit sodomy, requiring new members to
kiss the butthole of the brother who is initiating them, endless blasphemes
against the church, the denial of God’s divinity, black magic, witchcraft
etc. These were all base lies, but they
served to end the Order of the Knights Templar, especially after their leaders
were burned alive on November 22 in front of the public. Every bit of treasure and property that the
Templar knights had been granted was stolen by the French King and the Catholic
Church. The full might of the Catholic
Inquisition stomped the Templars into oblivion.
For some reason, it seems that churches heap their most virulent scorn
not upon pagans who do not believe as they do, but upon heretics, who believe
slightly differently than they do. It is
all about controlling the message, which is the priority of any cult. The same claims made against the Templars were
used to torture and destroy the church’s enemies for centuries.
Do not make enemies with deluded fools who think they are infallible. It never ends well.
This is the extent of the historical
facts of the Templars, but almost as soon as their end people started crafting
lies about them, demonizing them and their activities. The myth grew instantly. Several hundred years after this, when the
Middle Ages were seen very romantically, writers came claiming that the reason
the Templar Knights were destroyed was because they had renounced Christianity and
instead worshiped a false idol named “Baphomet.” This was developed into a lie saying they
were full on devil worshipers. Most
believe that “Baphomet” is a mangling of Mohammed, but instead of claiming that
the Templars were Muslims, the ignorant bastards of the 1700’s claimed they worshiped Satan himself, in the guise of Baphomet. The sad part is that Baphomet is actually the
Old French word for Mohammed. You figure
historians would not fall prey to such stupidity but they certainly do. It makes no sense to think that a group of
illiterate, devout soldiers would ever contemplate any of the evils that their
opponents claimed of them.
The myth of the Templars grew and grew
and became entangled with every single conspiracy you can imagine, as more and
more fanciful extrapolations were made over the centuries. Eventually the Knights Templar were supposed
to have discovered the Ark of the Covenant, discovered the bloodline of Jesus
and Mary Magdalene, hidden in secret for centuries controlling secret societies
from within, etc. etc. The bullshit just
grows and grows. It is cool to read such
a well-researched account of what is a very murky subject. All I know is that the Catholic Church seems
to be a pox on humanity and will turn on its own the moment there is something
to gain. Shit don’t change.