Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Templar Biography: Armand de Périgord

Of the 22 Grand Masters of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, Armand de Périgord ruled from 1232 to 1244 and was associated with many failed battles, one of which resulted in his death at the Battle of La Forbie, or Battle of Harbiyah, near Gaza.

Armand de Périgord was born in the year 1178. He was a descendant of the Counts of Périgord and the Grand Master he succeeded, Pedro de Montaigu. He was in charge of the Province of Apulia and Sicily from 1205 to 1232 then was elected as the Templar Grand Master.

He planned several attacks against the Muslim forces, but these failed and it diminished the effectiveness of the order and the overall European control of the Holy Land. In one such incident, he lost over 80% of his troops when trying to take the town of Darbsâk (Hatay Province, Turkey) in 1236.

The Crusades were not as popular among the European monarchs and soon the various knighthoods started making peace with the Muslim leaders. Armand made treaty with the Sultan of Damascus and the Hospitalliers made treaty with the Sultan of Egypt. Templar-Damascus Treaty would prove to be a poor friendship, one that would cost them dearly.

The Kharismians, a people originating from Minor Asia, were pushed out of their homeland by the Mongols. These forces now allied with the Sultan of Egypt conquer Jerusalem. From there the Kharismians head towards Gaza. It was here that the Battle of La Forbie occurred. 


The Kharismians and Egyptians met an army composed of Templars, Hospitalliers, Damascene troops, and other Christian chivalric orders. The battle started on October 17th, 1244, and lasts for two days. This battle was costly (more than 30,000 died in this battle) and eventually the Damascene troops fled leaving the Christians alone. Around 30 Templars survived and it was here that Armand de Périgord was killed; there are some accounts that state he was captured and died in prison 3-years later having refused to be ransomed. The losses and aftermath of the Battle of La Forbie is seen as devastating as the Battle of Hattin as the Battle of La Forbie marked the collapse of Christian power in the region.

While not as famous as Jacques de Molay or Hugh de Payens, the rule of Armand de Périgord is an important lesson on poor leadership which cost the order dearly which would reduce the reputation of the order and add to the fire that would be soon befall the order.

References

1. Armand de Perigord. n.d. http://www.templiers.org/armandperigord-eng.php. 

2. Armand de Périgord. n.d. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armand_de_Périgord. 

3. Armand de Périgord. n.d. http://www.templiers.net/maitres/index.php?page=armand-de-perigord. 

4. Battle of La Forbie. n.d. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_La_Forbie. 

5. Grand Masters of the Knights Templar. n.d. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Masters_of_the_Knights_Templar. 

6. Jones, Chris. Battle of La Forbie (1244 AD). n.d. http://www.fanaticus.org/DBA/battles/laforbie.html. 

7. Lotan, Shlomo. The Battle of La Forbie (1244) and its Aftermath. June 6, 2013. http://www.medievalists.net/2013/06/06/the-battle-of-la-forbie-1244-and-its-aftermath/.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Happy Pi Day

"Probably no symbol in mathematics has evoked as much mystery, romanticism, misconception and human interest as the number pi"
William L. Schaaf
Today is Pi Day and I hope everyone enjoys it! Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th, or 3/14, in commemoration of the mathematical ratio known as Pi which is approximately 3.141592653. This year's Pi Day is particularly unique because 3/14/15 at 9:26:53am is a sequential time following the sequence of Pi. The first organizer of Pi Day was Larry Shaw who works at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, CA.

Pi, or π, is the sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet. Mathematically speaking, Pi is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter and this is constant for any size circle. While this ratio has been used for thousands of years, it wasn't until the 17th century that "π" was used as a symbol to represent it. Pi is an irrational number which means it is a real number with an infinite and non-repeating decimal.

No one knows for sure when the Pi ratio was first discovered, but from recorded history we see that the Egyptians and Babylonians were the first to search for and come close to 3.14 infinite sequence around 4,000 years ago. The Rhind Papyrus (ca. 1650 BC) states the following, "Cut off 1/9 of a diameter and construct a square upon the remainder; this has the same area as the circle." His equation would lead to roughly 3.16049. According to a Babylonian tablet (ca. 19th century BC), that culture used a calculation of 3.125. The ancient Chinese also had a similar formula, independently found a few hundred years later. The Old Testament also speaks in 1 Kings 7:23 of the ratio of the circle's circumference to it's diameter, but they just spoke of a 3:1 ratio.



Over the centuries mathematicians would endeavor to find the most accurate formula and ratio, but the first man to make a serious impact on the calculation was Archimedes. Others in the past had focused on the area whereas focused on the perimeter. After Archimedes there were no real significant discoveries made in regards to Pi until the 16th century. Mathematicians such as Françlois Viéte and Adrianus Romanus started expanding Pi to several digits after the decimial. At the end of the 16th century, Ludolph Van Ceulen presented Pi with up to 20-digits and spent much of his life searching for Pi; by the time he died he had founded 35-digits. He is so remembered for his discoveries that the digits he discovered were engraved into his tombstone in Leyden.


In 1647, William Oughtred, an English mathematician, published "Clavis Mathematicae" and used "π" to represent the ratio. It wouldn't be until 1737 when Leonhard Euler, a Swiss mathematician, used it that it started being used more and more. Mathemeticians have continued to expand the digits of Pi, but with the advent of computers, Pi has been calculated to 10-trillion digits past its decimal point.


Thinking of Pi in Freemasonry, I am reminded of many lessons expressed in the Fellow Craft degree, particularly Geometry, "the first and the noblest of sciences", and also the lessons represented by the Square, Compasses, 24-in Gauge, and the Point within a Circle.

Now go and explore Pi by enjoying some pie.


Resources

1. A Brief History of Pi. n.d. http://www.exploratorium.edu/pi/history_of_pi/index.html. 

2. Geometry. n.d. http://www.masonicdictionary.com/geometry.html. 

3. Learn About Pi. n.d. http://www.piday.org/learn-about-pi/. 

4. Pi. n.d. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pi. 

5. Pi Day. n.d. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pi_Day. 

6. Purewal, Sarah J. A brief history of pi. March 13, 2013. http://www.techhive.com/article/191389/a-brief-history-of-pi.html. 

7. What is Pi? n.d. http://www.ilikepi.com/what-is-pi/. 

8. Wilson, David. The History of Pi. 2000. http://www.math.rutgers.edu/~cherlin/History/Papers2000/wilson.html.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Southeastern Michigan Ecumenical Relief Campaign

A campaign has been started to give aid to those affected by the horrible oppression of the terrorist group Dawlah al-Islāmīyah fil 'Irāq wa ash-Shām (DAESH) or commonly known as ISIL/ISIS in the Middle East. This originally started out as a fundraiser by the Southeastern Battalion of the Knights Templar of Michigan, but has since changed.

They are selling a "Mark of the Nazarene" lapel pin which has the letter ن or "nun" on it. ISIL uses this symbol to mark the properties of Christians in newly ISIL-controlled territories; Christians in these areas are being forced to choose between conversion to radicalized version of Islam or death. This letter is now being used as a symbol of solidarity with those who are being oppressed.


The lapel pins are going for $50 and can be bought here: The Southeastern Michigan Ecumenical Relief Campaign

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Templar Biography: Gerard de Ridefort

One of the more infamous Grand Masters was Gerard de Ridefort, who served as from 1185 to 1189 as the 10th Grand Master of the Templar order, and is remembered for allowing his pride to help in the downfall of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Gerard de Ridefort was born in Flanders around 1141. It is not exactly known when he arrived in the Holy Land, but what is known is that he was found in the service of Raymond III, Count of Tripoli. When Raymond refused to marry Gerard to Lady Lucia, a rich heiress, the friendship soured and sowed the seeds for future actions of Gerard.

He left the service of Raymond and turned to the Kingdom of Jerusalem. It was during this time that he joined the Templar order and by 1183 he sat as the Seneschal, or 2nd-in-command, of the Templars. By late 1184 or early 1185, Gerard was elected as Grand Master.

In 1185, the leper king, Baldwin IV, passed away and the sole authority passed to his nephew Baldwin V who was 8-years old at the time of his coronation, but the kingdom was ran by a regent, Raymond, the Count of Tripoli. The next year Baldwin V died and the succession came into question. There were two major contenders for the throne were Sibylla, Baldwin IV's sister supported by Guy de Lusignan and Isabella, Sibylla's younger half-sister, supported by Raymond III. The Grand Master de Ridefort sided with Guy de Lusignan, and in July of 1186 Guy and Sibylla were crowned King and Queen.

Raymond III's poor relationship with the monarchy gave Gerard de Ridefort ability to label him as coward and/or traitor which only gave Raymond the need to ally with Saladin. In reaction to crimes committed by Renaud de Chatillon, Lord of ##, and the refusal of the king to punish him, Saladin desired to enter into the Kingdom of Jerusalem to take care of Renaud himself. Raymond would only allow a small contingent to enter Galilee and only for a day. He informed the people and troops in the area to stay within their fortresses and avoid conflict. Learning of this Gerard de Ridefort sent some of his troops to defend Nazareth against the approaching Muslims. The battle would result in the slaughter of the Christian troops, with only a few survivors including Gerard de Ridefort.


Note that Lake Tiberias is today known as the Sea of Galilee

Small encounters and fights would eventually lead to one of the bloodier battles of the Crusades, the famous Battle of the Horns of Hattin. Eventually Saladin would invade into the Kingdom and the King would call his troops. The Crusaders met at the Springs of Saffuriyah on the 27th of June and held council. Many of the king's men advised the king to hold near a source of water and let Saladin come to them, allowing the heat to tire the enemy, which had occurred in previous battles against the Muslim forces.


Saladin had learned from past mistakes and did not move his forces from his water source so instead he sent part of his force up to Tiberias and take the fortress belonging to Count Raymond, who was away, but whose wife and family were still in the castle. Even though counseled against by Raymond, at the advice of the Templar Grand Master the Crusading Army set off across the arid terrain though the blazing heat on the 2nd of July to face the Saracen army. The water went quickly, men and animal succumbed to the heat of the day, and the forces were harassed by Saracen scouting parties.

The Crusaders made camped on a pair of hills known as the Horns of Hattin, but Saladin's forces kept up the harassment campaign throughout the night. On the morning of July 4th, Saladin ordered the surrounding brush be set of fire which sent a black smoke to flow into the already-parched Crusader camp. Then the battle started, it was a slaughter. Guy de Lusignan attempted to send his forces to take the springs near Hattin, but were repelled. The Crusading force was exhausted from the march plus they were dealing with desertion of their troops who refused to keep going forward. The infantry that did stay was defeated by the Muslim cavalry. Even the Knights Templar were defeated and those who were captured were beheaded, except for the Grand Master Gerard de Ridefort.

This victory made Saladin's force the dominant fighting force in the region and he continued through the kingdom using his noble captives as means to secure the surrender of castles and fortresses such as Acre; this would eventually lead to the fall of Jerusalem in July of 1187; this led to the Third Crusade which would start with the Siege of Acre. A few months later, Saladin released the Templar Grand Master and he took back the command of the Templar Order.


The Horns of Hattin had decimated the Templar order and the Crusading forces. They would begin to grow their forces again and we see in 1189 that the Grand Master led the Templars in a campaign to support the Siege of Acre, along with the King Guy de Lusignan and his army`. The Siege of Acre would last for two years and cost countless lives on both sides of the fight. On the 4th of October, 1189, Gerard de Ridefort died at the foot of Mount Toron near the walls of Acre. Some say he died during the battle against Saladin's forces and others say he was first captured then executed by Saladin.

The infamy of Gerard de Ridefort is a lesson against pride, the selfishness of personal advancement at the expense of others, the dangers of blind vengeance, and how arrogance or hubris can lead a man to commit acts of insanity. Gerard de Ridefort was instrumental in the decline of power of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem as well as the decline in power and prestige of the Knights Templar.

References

1. Battle of Hattin. n.d. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hattin.

2. Battle of Ḥaṭṭīn. December 14, 2014. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/256944/Battle-of-Hattin.

3. Cobbold, David. Gerard de Ridefort. n.d. http://www.templiers.org/gerardridefort-eng.php.

4. Czech, Kenneth P. Third Crusade: Siege of Acre. June 12, 2006. http://www.historynet.com/third-crusade-siege-of-acre.htm.

5. Dafoe, Stephen. The Battle Of Hattin – July 4th, 1187. March 31, 2010. http://blog.templarhistory.com/2010/03/the-battle-of-hattin-july-4th-1187/. 

6. de Tyre, Robert. Gerard de Ridefort - Martyr or Madman? n.d. http://detyre.tripod.com/Articles/GERARD2.html. 

7. Gerard de Ridefort. n.d. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerard_de_Ridefort. 

8. Hickman, Kennedy. The Crusades: Battle of Hattin. n.d. http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/battleswars10011200/p/battle-of-hattin.htm. 

9. Siege of Acre. n.d. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Acre_(1189-91).

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Enter’d ’Prentices Song

By Mr. Matthew Birkhead

I

COME, let us prepare, 
We Brothers that are Assembled on merry occasion;
Let’s drink, laugh, and sing;
Our Wine has a Spring:
Here’s a health to an Accepted MASON.


II

The World is in pain
Our Secrets to gain,
And still let them wonder and gaze on;
They ne'er can divine
The Word or the Sign
Of a Free and an Accepted MASON.


III

’Tis This, and ’tis That,
They cannot tell What,
Why so many GREAT MEN of the Nation
Should Aprons put on,
To make themselves one,
With a Free and an Accepted MASON.


IV

Great KINGS, DUKES, and LORDS,
Have laid by their Swords,
Our Myst’ry to put a good Grace on,
And ne’er been ashamed
To hear themselves nam’d
With a Free and an Accepted MASON.


V

Antiquity’s Pride,
We have on our side,
And it maketh men just in their Station:
There’s nought but what’s good
To be understood
By a Free and an Accepted MASON.


VI

Then join Hand in Hand,
T’each other firm stand,
Let’s be merry, and put a bright Face on:
What Mortal can boast
So NOBLE a TOAST,
As a Free and an Accepted MASON?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Templar Biography: Odo de St Amand

Known for his part in the Battle of Montgisard, Odo de St Amand served as the Order's eighth Grand Master.

Odo de St. Amand, also referred to as Eudes de St. Amand, was born of a noble family from Limousin, France around 1110 AD. He joined the Knights Templar in 1128. He became Grand Master after Phillipe de Milly resigned as Grand Master to become an Ambassador. He is remembered a strong and zealous leader which earned him both respect and displeasure.

He followed the Rule to a fault. In one incident in 1172, a Templar knight was accused of murdering an Ismaeli dignitary. King Amalric I, demanded that the Templar be turned over to him, but St. Amand refused, citing the Papal Bull which places the Templar order solely under the authority of the Pope. Some say that the Templar knight killed the dignitary on orders from the Grand Master.


He is also remembered for leading several victories, but the most notable is the Battle of Montgisard where the Templars defeated a superior size force of Saladin's Army. This battle occurred on November 25, 1177, located in Ramla (Israel southeast of Tel Aviv). This battle was between a Christian army of 375 knights, 80 Knights Templar, and several thousand infantry against Saladin's army of around 27,000 men. Saladin was taking advantage of the lack of Crusader forces in the area (as most of them were up north fighting) to march towards Jerusalem. King Baldwin IV, the leper king, dispatched what he could and to head them off. Saladin underestimated the king and allowed his army to become spread out over a large area. The two forces met at Montgisard near Ramla which caught Saladin by surprise and his troops were tired from their march from Egypt and looting. The Crusader forces charged and broke through the center routing Saladin's forces. Both sides lost many, but the Muslim forces lost over three-quarters of their troops; Saladin himself only survived by escaping on a camel.

Toward the end of his rule, St. Amand oversaw the construction of an impregnable fortress known as Chastellet near Jacob's Ford in Jordan. This fortress was located in an important place and effective with preventing Saladin's army from conquering Jerusalem in 1179.

After Saladin was defeated at the fortress, the Christians thought they could inflict further damage on Saladin so they launched an assault at the Battle of Marj Ayun (southern Lebanon). Unfortunately, Saladin had reorganized his forces and defeated the Christian Army, killing and capturing many. Among those captured was the Templar Grand Master, Odo de St. Amand. There were proposals of ransoming him, but he refused as it was against the Rule of the Order. In the next year, St. Amand died while still in jail, but no exact date is known. 


While Odo de St. Amand was seen by some as stubborn and bull-headed, he was a strong leader whose victories gained them new recruits and gifts from European nobility; after the Battle of Montgisard, Renaud Mazoir II, Lord of Margat (now in Syria), donated half of the income of several of his cities to the Templar order. St. Amand's rule also played an important part in the historical record of the Order. King Amalric held a poor view of the order and was close to the Archbishop, Wiliam of Tyre, who is known as a leading historian of the Crusades and the Templar order. The Templars were seen as overstepping the privileges given to them by the Pope; as a contender for Patriarch of Jerusalem, William had a natural hatred for the hindrance of ecclesiastical authority and thus held no positive opinion of the Templars on this account as well.


References


1. Addison, Charles G. History of the Knights Templar. 1842. http://www.sacred-texts.com/sro/hkt/hkt06.htm. 

2. Battle at Montgisard. n.d. http://www.templiers.org/montgisard-eng.php. 

3. Crusades: Battle of Montgisard. n.d. http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/battleswars10011200/p/montgisard.htm. 

4. Dafoe, Stephen. The Battle of Montgisard. June 5, 2010. http://blog.templarhistory.com/2010/06/the-battle-of-montgisard/. 

5. de Tyre, Robert. Odo de St. Amand. n.d. http://detyre.tripod.com/Articles/ODO.html. 

6. Eudes de Saint-Amand. n.d. http://www.templiers.org/eudesstamand-eng.php. 

7. Odo de St Amand. n.d. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odo_de_St_Amand. 

8. Saint-Amand Lineage. n.d. http://www.fluckers.com/family/daspit/stamand1.html.

Monday, February 16, 2015

George Washington's First Inaugural Address

In honor of Brother and General George Washington's birthday, here is the First Inaugural Address which was given on April 14th, 1789 in New York:
Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:
Among the vicissitudes incident to life no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the 14th day of the present month.
On the one hand, I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love, from a retreat which I had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in my flattering hopes, with an immutable decision, as the asylum of my declining years—a retreat which was rendered every day more necessary as well as more dear to me by the addition of habit to inclination, and of frequent interruptions in my health to the gradual waste committed on it by time.
On the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with despondence one who (inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration) ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies. In this conflict of emotions all I dare aver is that it has been my faithful study to collect my duty from a just appreciation of every circumstance by which it might be affected. All I dare hope is that if, in executing this task, I have been too much swayed by a grateful remembrance of former instances, or by an affectionate sensibility to this transcendent proof of the confidence of my fellow-citizens, and have thence too little consulted my incapacity as well as disinclination for the weighty and untried cares before me, my error will be palliated by the motives which mislead me, and its consequences be judged by my country with some share of the partiality in which they originated.
Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free government can more auspiciously commence.
By the article establishing the executive department it is made the duty of the President “to recommend to your consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” The circumstances under which I now meet you will acquit me from entering into that subject further than to refer to the great constitutional charter under which you are assembled, and which, in defining your powers, designates the objects to which your attention is to be given. It will be more consistent with those circumstances, and far more congenial with the feelings which actuate me, to substitute, in place of a recommendation of particular measures, the tribute that is due to the talents, the rectitude, and the patriotism which adorn the characters selected to devise and adopt them. In these honorable qualifications I behold the surest pledges that as on one side no local prejudices or attachments, no separate views nor party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests, so, on another, that the foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens and command the respect of the world. I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my country can inspire, since there is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained; and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as 'deeply', as 'finally', staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.
Besides the ordinary objects submitted to your care, it will remain with your judgment to decide how far an exercise of the occasional power delegated by the fifth article of the Constitution is rendered expedient at the present juncture by the nature of objections which have been urged against the system, or by the degree of inquietude which has given birth to them. Instead of undertaking particular recommendations on this subject, in which I could be guided by no lights derived from official opportunities, I shall again give way to my entire confidence in your discernment and pursuit of the public good; for I assure myself that whilst you carefully avoid every alteration which might endanger the benefits of an united and effective government, or which ought to await the future lessons of experience, a reverence for the characteristic rights of freemen and a regard for the public harmony will sufficiently influence your deliberations on the question how far the former can be impregnably fortified or the latter be safely and advantageously promoted.
To the foregoing observations I have one to add, which will be most properly addressed to the House of Representatives. It concerns myself, and will therefore be as brief as possible. When I was first honored with a call into the service of my country, then on the eve of an arduous struggle for its liberties, the light in which I contemplated my duty required that I should renounce every pecuniary compensation. From this resolution I have in no instance departed; and being still under the impressions which produced it, I must decline as inapplicable to myself any share in the personal emoluments which may be indispensably included in a permanent provision for the executive department, and must accordingly pray that the pecuniary estimates for the station in which I am placed may during my continuance in it be limited to such actual expenditures as the public good may be thought to require.
Having thus imparted to you my sentiments as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign Parent of the Human Race in humble supplication that, since He has been pleased to favor the American people with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquillity, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of government for the security of their union and the advancement of their happiness, so His divine blessing may be equally 'conspicuous' in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Templar Biography: Phillipe de Plessis

This article is the first in a series of articles on notable figures associated with the medieval Knights Templar. The first seven will be on certain Grand Masters of the order and notable events surrounding their government of the Templars.

Serving as head of the entire international Order the Grand Master exercised supreme authority and only answered to the Pope. The Grand Master was an elected position and the Knight elected would serve for life, although that was not always a long amount of time as many Grand Masters lost their lives in battle which shows that he oversaw military operations as well as the administrative operations. The Grand Master led the Templar Order into battle which, such as in this case, made this position very hazardous and sometimes a Grand Master's tenure was very short.

Phillipe de Plessis served as the 13th Grand Master of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon which occurred during the 4th Crusade. He is remembered for assisting in upholding the treaty between the Sultan Saladin and King Richard I of England, and it was during this time the Templar order reached its height of power in Europe.


He was born of an old noble family in 1165 in the fortress of Plessis-Macé, Anjou, France (8-miles NE of Angers). Being the younger son, at the age of 24, he left his family, sold his property, and took part in the 3rd Crusade, but didn't join the Order until he arrived in Palestine where he was impressed by the discipline and fortitude demonstrated by the knights in battle. 

The relationship between the Knights Hospitallier became tense and the Templars would have been expelled from Germany if it had not been for the intervention of the Pope, although this friendship of Pope Innocent III would be shaken. He acted more as a diplomat, than a military leader, not only between Saladin and Richard, but also worked with other chivalric orders in setting peace treaties with Muslim leaders. In 1208, Phillipe suggested that the Teutonic and Hospitallier knights make peace with the new Ayyubid Sultan, Malek-Adel. This suggestion was condemned by the Pope to the point he threatened to charge the Templars with apostasy. The tense relationship with the Hospitalliers also caused Papal intervention, but often favor went to the Hospitalliers which caused further animosity.

Due to little fighting being done during the 4th Crusade, the reign of Phillipe de Plessis is remembered for the Templar order reaching the climax of its reputation and power as recruits from all over were pouring in and many gifts such as tracts of land were given by the nobility of Europe.


According to surviving record, he is said to have died on November 12th, 1209, but there sources that list him as dying in 1208.


References

1. Cobbold, David. Philippe du Plessis. n.d. http://www.templiers.org/philippeplessis-eng.php. 

2. History of the Order. n.d. http://www.templars.org.uk/public/history/p_history_6_glossary.htm. 

3. Phillipe de Plessis. n.d. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phillipe_de_Plessis.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Templar Song

From the Masonic Manual compiled and arranged by Robert Macoy:


As, when the weary trav'ler gains
The height of some commanding hill,
His heart revives, if o'er the plains
He seees his home, though distant still.

So, when the christian pilgrim views
By faith his mansion in the skies,
The sight his fainting strength renews,
And wings his speed to reach the prize.

The hope of heaven his spirit cheers;
No more he grieves for sorrows past;
Nor any future conflict fear,
So he may safe arrive at last.

O Lord, on thee our hopes we stay,
To lead us on to thine abode;
Assur'd thy love will far o'erpay
The hardest labors of the road.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

An Auspicious Day

Today marks an important day in history. This afternoon the Province of the United States of America was dissolved and the the Grand Master's Council in England constituted Ye Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon USA was constituted in Reston, VA.

The following officers were installed to lead the newly established Grand Council:

Most Worthy Grand Master: Sir André of Byron
Grand Prior: Sir Reese of Bexar, KH
Protector of Canterbury: Sir Michael of Seasalter, KH
Grand Marshal: Sir Matthew of Philadelphia, KC
Grand Treasurer: Sir Fred of Mount Pleasant
Assistant Grand Treasurer: Sir William of Seattle
Grand Registrar: Sir Joe of Gloucestershire
Grand Secretary: Sir Ernest "Randy" of Lavalette
Grand Historian: Sir John of Groveport
Deputy Grand Marshal: Sir Joseph of Toftingall
Grand Almoner: Sir David of Monroe 
Grand Warden of Regalia: Sir Christopher of Brenham
Grand Sword Bearer: Sir Jackie of Virginia Beach
Deputy Grand Secretary: Sir Jack of Booneville
Grand Banner Bearer: Sir Allen of Randolph
Assistant Grand Marshal: Sir James of Midlothian
Assistant Grand Marshal: Sir Aaron of Muhlenberg
Assistant Grand Marshal: Sir Quentin of Lake Placid
Assistant Grand Secretary: Sir James of Arlington
Grand Herald: Sir Edward of Belle Vernon
Grand Organist: Sir Jerry of Glenside
Grand Doorkeeper: TBA 
Grand Cellarer: Sir Palmer of Barre
Grand Cellarer: Sir Bernard of Houston
Grand Cellarer: Sir Emmett of Lizella
Grand Cellarer: Sir Louis of Edinburgh
Grand Cellarer: Sir Robert of Sparta
Grand Cellarer: Sir Ronald of Ruston
Grand Sentry: Sir Haigh of Belfast
Grand Repreſentative: Sir Leslie of Wealas-ieg, KC
The history of the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon in the US, dates back to October 1999 when a large group of Mason, under the leadership of Reese Harrison, went to England and were initiated. At the 2000 Masonic Week, Pilgrim Chapel #11 and Trinity Chapel #12 were constituted, and for 4-years were the only two Chapels in the US. 

In 2004, Tahoma Chapel #30 was constituted which allowed for the creation of the Province of the United States of America which occurred on the September 11th, 2005. Sir André of Byron was installed as the Right Worthy Grand Preceptor and Sir Reese of Bexar was installed as the Provincial Grand Prior. Over the last 10-years the Province of the United States of America has grown from three to twenty-three Chapels.


By 2014 the Province of the United States of America had grown large enough to separate and create its own Grand Master's Council. The Grand Master, Sir André of Byron, has stated that due to English roots, "we will continue to maintain all of the flavor of our English foundation. We will have the same rules for office holders and honors as we now have under the English Constitution."


Today started with the meeting of Trinity Chapel #12 then the Sir Melvyn of Wud Plumpton, Grand Master from England, then established two new Chapels. After a Festive Board, the Grand Master's Council reconvened where he invested Sir André of Byron and Sir Reese of Bexar with Knights Humilitas, the highest honor in the order. Sir André of Byron was then installed as Most Worthy Grand Master of the United States of America and Sir Reese of Bexar was installed as the Most Eminent Grand Prior. It was then Sir André's duty to install some of his officers and then invest Sir Matthew of Philadelphia with the honor of Knight Caritas. The Grand Masters, Grand Priors, and Grand Secretaries of both Grand Councils signed an accord which laid the foundation for the growth and recognition of each other. The Knights present then approved the constitution and ritual of the order.


Consecration of the two Chapels

Consecration of the two Chapels

Consecration of the two Chapels

Investiture of the Knight Humilitas

Investiture of the Knight Humilitas

Investiture of the Knight Humilitas

Knight Humilitas


Sir André taking the oath of office

The Baton and Ring of the Most Worthy Grand Master
  
Sir Reese taking his oath of office

The signing of the concord

Knight Caritas


Sir André giving his remarks before closing