Sunday, May 19, 2019

Templar Biography: Guillaume de Chartres

The next Grand Master, Guillaume de Chartres, was known as a chronicler as he created the most in-depth, codified records for the Templar order. His governance was during the Fifth Crusade and was considered a violent tenure.

The son of Milo IV, Count of Bar-sur-Seine, Guillaume de Chartres was born around 1178 in the Champagne, like several of his predecessors. While his exact age is unknown, he joined the Templars at a very young age at the Preceptory of Sours, located near Chartres; one source states that he joined at the age of 16. Little is known about his journey through the order.

He was elected as the 14th Grand Master at the beginning of 1210 and, in the same year, assisted in the coronation of Jean de Brienne as King of Jerusalem (although Saladin controlled Jerusalem since 1187). During his reign, the Templars flourished in Spain where they achieved important victories against the Moors during "Reconquista". Just as in France, lords and noblemen flocked to the Templar order and donated lands to them.

In 1217, Jean de Brienne (King of Jerusalem), Andre II (King of Hungary), and Pelage (the pontifical legate) began a campaign against Egypt which started at Damiette (NE side of the Nile Delta). Guillaume de Chartres spoke against it, but was obligated to follow. The siege of Damiette lasted 18-months and unsuccessful due to conflicts between the King of Jerusalem and the Pontifical Legate. 

In an attempt to hold off Muslim reinforcements, Guillaume de Chartres led the Templars to battle. De Chartres died in front of Damiette on August 26, 1218, not from battle, but from a plague that had spread through the armies. He was succeeded by Peter de Montaigu.


References

1. Cobbold, D. (n.d.). Guillaume de Chartres. Retrieved from Project Beauceant: http://www.templiers.org/guillaume-chartres-eng.php 

2. Grand Masters. (n.d.). Retrieved from OSMTJ: http://www.theknightstemplar.org/1942-2/ 

3. Guillaume de Chartres. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guillaume_de_Chartres 

4. Moes, A. (2018, December 18). Guillaume de Chartres, 14th Templar Grand Master. Retrieved from Geni: https://www.geni.com/people/Guillaume-de-Chartres-14th-Templar-Grand-Master/6000000019310133197 

5. Muir, D. J. (2019). TEMPLARS Who were they? Where did the go? (Vol. 1). Lulu. 

6. Napier, G. (2014). Pocket A-Z of the Knights Templar: A Guide to Their History and Legacy. The History Press.


Saturday, May 11, 2019

SRICF in Idaho

Today was a banner day for the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis (SRICF) in Idaho, but before I jump in with the news, let me start at the beginning. In 2014 I was approached about joining the Wyoming College of the SRICF, but, due to my internship on the East Coast, I was not initiated into the First Order until January 17th, 2016 and advanced to the Second Order on January 14th, 2018.

In September of last year, the Grand Lodge AF&AM of Idaho officially recognized the SRICF as a concordant body. With that, the pieces started falling in line for the formation of a College in Idaho. In November, Jim Herndon and I attended the Annual Meeting of the High Council of the SRICF in Louisville, KY, and we received approval for starting a Rose Circle which is a "College Under Dispensation." The Supreme Magus required that we meet and confer a Grade from the First Order, so on March 2nd of this year, the Idaho Rose Circle convened for the first time and initiated two aspirants into the First Grade of the Society and elected to extend an invitation to two Masons. 

Today, the Idaho Rose Circle convened and we conferred upon three aspirants the First and Second Grades of the Society. At the March meeting, the Fratres elected to purchase stoles for the elected officers (Celebrant, Suffragan, and the Four Ancients). They arrived in time for this meeting; they were a welcome piece of regalia to the College and the initiatic environment.

The Chief Adept then presented, on behalf of the Most Worthy Supreme Magus, the Fratres with the College's charter and we are now IDAHO COLLEGE, SRICF. This College formed due to the efforts of Frater Jim Herndon, the Chief Adept of Idaho College and Jurisprudence Chairman of the High Council of the SRICF. He invited the first Idaho Fratres into the Society and gave us guidance along the way on how to best proceed with forming a College in Idaho. The Fratres exceeded expectations and have earned this charter from the High Council. Having been chartered, the Fratres approved the By-Laws and officially elected the officers for Idaho College. I am honored to have kept the confidence of the Fratres and they elected me as the first Celebrant.

After the meeting, the Fratres listened to a paper presented by one of our Ancients. Now it's time to get back home and get ready for my cousin's wedding tonight.




Sunday, April 21, 2019

Happy Easter

I hope everyone has a blessed and happy Easter. I am spending the day with my family.

This is the Easter message from the Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch of the Apostolic Johannite Church
Companions of the Sacred Flame, 
This night we gather in vigil, to commemorate the death and resurrection of Christ, recalling with it, the history of our spiritual path, seeing in it, our own journeys from life to death, and experiencing through it, the initiation from death to life.
Divine Beloved, out of the tomb of separation you have called us, to rise into the Kingdom of God. The ancient mysteries of sacrifice speak to our journey.
Incarnate in each one of us, the Sacred Flame is transfixed upon the cross of space and time, May we never fear to descend into our lowest reaches, like the Logos and the harrowing of hell, to reconcile the lower with the higher- that we may rise transformed in this very life, and in the fullness of time ascend into perfect union.
Easter Vigil of the Apostolic Johannite Church
My blessings, good wishes and prayers for all the Johannite Parishes, Narthexes, Missions, Oratories and Chapels, our solitary sisters and brothers who keep the flame burning in distant places, and all those who call the Apostolic Johannite Church home, deepening and sharing their journey here.
My thanks and gratitude on behalf of the Apostolic Johannite Church to the Johannite Bishops, Priests, Deacons and Seminarians, the Grand Master and Initiates of the Friary, the Prior, Oblates and Knights of the Order of the Temple and Saint John, and the Gnostic Wisdom Network team for all their hard work and dedication- not only to the people we work on behalf of, but also in their own spiritual paths and in their service to each other.
Blessings and good wishes also from the Apostolic Johannite Church to the many Churches and communities of good will, especially the Order of Ste. Esclarmonde, the Ecclesia Gnostica Mysteriorum, Ecclesia Gnostica, The Open Rite, Ekklesia Neoplatonismos Theourgia and the Liberal Catholic Union, as well as the many Martinist Orders and Lodges, our Masonic sisters and brothers, and also the many individual friends, family, laity and clergy of good will.
May the coming year find your work and paths rich and rewarding with fruitful challenge and blessing, and balanced with rest and reflection. Most of all, may your work be noble, your spirits be humble, and your hearts always full.
+ IOHANNES IV

Monday, April 15, 2019

Templar Biography: Robert de Sablé

The eleventh Grand Master of the Templars, Robert de Sablé, is one of the most infamous and ruled during the Third Crusade.

He was born sometime in 1150 AD in the Anjou region of France to Robert III de Sablé and Hersende d'Anthenaise, a respected military family. His holdings were on land around the River Sarthe valley. He would go onto marry Clemence de Mayenne who gave birth to Marguerite and Philippa. After he joined the Templars, his property passed to his daughter, Marguerite, who was married to William des Roches.

During the Revolt of 1173, Robert de Sablé supported Henry the Young King who attempt to depose his father Henry II. Robert would remain in favor though as Richard the Lionheart, Henry's brother, ascended the English throne. Robert de Sablé served as counselor to King Richard I, the Lionheart, of England from 1190 - 1193 and led King Richard's navy into the Mediterranean where he took part in several successive campaigns that recaptures many fortresses and cities along the Levantine Coast that had been lost to the Christians. One of the most notable events was the Battle of Arsuf which occurred on September 7, 1191, and it resulted in a major defeat and retreat of Saladin's forces.

After the death of the previous Grand Master, Gérard de Ridefort, at the Siege of Acre in 1189 AD, Robert de Sablé was elected as Grand Master in 1191. At the time of Ridefort's death, Robert de Sablé was not even a member of the Templar order. There was a delay in electing a new Grand Master as the Templar order wanted to avoid losing a Grand Master during battles so they amended the Rule concerning the role of the Grand Master. A year before the elections was held, de Sablé joined the order and King Richard urged the Templars to elect de Sablé.

After his election as Grand Master, Robert de Sablé purchased the island of Cyprus from King Richard for 25,000 pieces of silver and served as Lord of Cyprus until 1193 when he sold the island to Guy de Lusignan, the King of Jerusalem; Jerusalem had been captured by the Muslims after the Battle of Hattin.

Robert de Sablé died on September 23, 1193 in Arsuf, Israel, and was succeeded by Gilbert Horal. De Sablé left a lasting legacy with the Templar order so much so that he was featured in the 2007 game Assassin's Creed where he portrayed one of the main antagonists

References

1. Battle of Hattin. (n.d.). Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/event/Battle-of-Hattin 

2. Cobbold, D. (n.d.). Robert de Sable (11??-1193). Retrieved from Project Beauceant: http://www.templiers.org/robert-sable-eng.php 

3. Grand Masters. (n.d.). Retrieved from Ordre Souverain et Militaire du Temple de Jérusalem: http://www.theknightstemplar.org/1942-2/ 

4. Guy, King of Jerusalem. (n.d.). Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Guy-king-of-Jerusalem 

5. Knights Templar: Grand Masters. (2012, October 15). Retrieved from Crusader History: https://crusaderhistory.wordpress.com/2017/10/15/knights-templar-grand-masters/ 

6. Patin, Jr., J. F. (2019, January 22). Robert de Sablé, 11th Templar Grand Master. Retrieved from Geni: https://www.geni.com/people/Robert-de-Sabl%C3%A9-11th-Templar-Grand-Master/6000000008794612343


Saturday, April 13, 2019

Grand York Rite of Idaho

Well, it has been a busy three days; this weekend was the 2019 annual sessions of the Grand York Rite of Idaho in Burley, ID. As usual, Thursday was filled with conferring the chair and honorary degrees: Order of High Priesthood, Order of the Silver Trowel, Knights Preceptor, Order of the Sword of Bunker Hill, Knights of the York Cross of Honor, and Knight Commander of the Temple. I advanced in the appointed line with both Knights Preceptor and Order of the Sword of Bunker Hill. In Idaho Priory of the Knights of the York Cross of Honor, I was elected as Deputy Prior for the ensuing year. I then was one of three candidates that received the Knight Commander of the Temple, the second highest decoration awarded by the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar, USA.

Friday morning started with the Public Opening and Joint Session of the Grand York Rite. After that was done, we then re-opened the Idaho Chapter of the Knights Preceptor to confer on 5 candidates who couldn't make it the day before. After lunch, the 116th Annual Conclave of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar reconvened where I was elected and installed as the Eminent Grand Junior Warden. We held the Divine Services and Holy Land Pilgrimage Dinner at the Burley Masonic Lodge. After dinner, I presided over the annual meeting of Tri-Valley College No.178 of the York Rite Sovereign College of North America. It was a good meeting and I passed the reigns to a very worthy Companion Knight.

Saturday brought the 86th Annual Assembly of the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of Idaho. I was honored to be elected and installed as the Right Illustrious Deputy Grand Master for the ensuing year. After lunch, it was my big moment as I presided over the 111th Annual Convocation of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Idaho. Everything ran smoothly and went off without a hitch. This past year was a very busy one. For work, I traveled roughly 70,000 sky miles and spent over 3-months in a hotel for work. For Freemasonry, I traveled roughly 11,000 miles excluding those Masonic activities that coincided with a work trip. I would like to thank the Companions of the Grand Chapter for electing me to this most honored position and for their support throughout the year. I would like to acknowledge Steven Hall, Most Illustrious Grand Master, and Larry Lathrop, Right Eminent Grand Commander, for their friendship and advice. I wish he were here now, but I remember and thank Most Excellent Companion Ronald G. Berto for appointing me to the Grand Line. I’d like to thank again my Installation Team: Most Excellent Companion Johnny Willis, Most Excellent Companion David Grindle, Most Excellent Companion Jim Herndon, and Most Excellent Companion Joe MacIntyre. I’d like to thank my Grand officers and Committees for putting up with me this year. Lastly, I’d like to acknowledge and thank Companions Jeremy Vaughn and E. Jeffrey Craig for all of their support and constant friendship during this last year. While I will miss serving as Most Excellent Grand High Priest, I am confident in the newly installed Grand High Priest and I look forward to some time off.

After a great banquet and fellowship, it is time for bed as there is still a meeting of Intermountain Chapel No.27 of the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon tomorrow morning before going back home.

Friday, April 5, 2019

The Blue Scare: England Edition - Part 1

As I mentioned in A Brief  History of Anti-Masonry, "far too many Masons, particularly we American Masons, have forgotten or don't necessarily know about anti-Masonry and the suppression of Masons." Sure we have the occasional vandalism, some conspiracy theorist on a website making absurd claims, and once in a while there is a real threat, but we American Masons have never had to face constant harassment or inquiry in the media or by government officials like the British Masons have; the closest thing we ever faced was a backlash in the 19th century after the Morgan Affair. Back in 2016, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, refused to force officers of the Metropolitan Police Department to declare if they were in the Freemasons or not. In response, anti-Masons were up in arms and a torrent of hatred and fear-mongering spread across the Internet and news media. This article is looking at the contemporary political anti-Masonry that started in the 1990s in England and which still exists today, just from the perspective of an American Mason. Part 1 will cover some of the notable individuals involved with anti-Masonry in England and Part 2 will look at specific events.

In 1952, an Anglican clergyman named Walton Hannah wrote "Darkness Visible: A Christian Appraisal of Freemasonry". In it, Hannah attempts to demonstrate that Freemasonry is incompatible with Christianity. This book would go on to be used by fanatics as a means to allow their harassment of Christian Masons. In 1983, Stephen Knight wrote an unfounded and scathing book called "The Brotherhood" which is claimed to be an "exposé of the secret world of the Freemasons." Then in 1989 came long Martin Short's book "Inside the Brotherhood" which can be seen as a sequel to Stephen Knight's book and which is laughably called an investigation into Freemasonry. The book supposedly exposed Freemasonry's nefarious deeds done with criminal elements, the police, the military, and charities. In reality, both books are founded upon tiny bits of truth and the rest is filled in with fiction and fabrication. This book merely took anti-Mason propaganda like the lies started with the Taxil Hoax and used them for political purposes. Short also used the death of Stephen Knight to further attack Freemasonry by claiming Freemasons had somehow caused the brain tumor to regrow in Knight's head. Even to this day, when something involving Freemasonry comes up on the news, the media turns to Short. Chris Hodapp sums it up nicely:
"When a report on Freemasonry gets ready to air something kind about the fraternity, the Beeb rings up Short for his "on the other hand" take on it, you know, in the interest of "balance." Interestingly, they don't bring in a Holocaust denier when running Auschwitz stories for the sake of balance and compelling reporting."
Now, it isn't fair to lay the blame on these authors as they are a symptom of anti-Masonry, not the cause although they helped spread the disease of Masonophobia which isn't just the fear of Freemasonry, but where someone actually acts in a manner that discriminates against masons, in particular at an official level. That being said, with the publication of these books, a new movement of anti-Masonic fervor started and led to members of the British government to propose laws that would require Freemasons in judicial and law enforcement system to declare their membership and be placed on a registry. One of the government officials who led this movement was named Jack Straw who serve as Home Secretary from 1997 to 2001. The Home Secretary is a senior official in the British Cabinet which oversees public services (police, fire, and rescue services), internal affairs, immigration and citizenship, MI5 (Security Service), and prisons and probation (now under the Secretary of Justice). The position of Home Secretary is extremely powerful and in the US that position is split up among several departments. Jack Straw was instrumental in enacting laws and policies that forced cops and members of the judiciary to disclose their Masonic membership. After months of investigation, Jack Straw found zero evidence of any wrongdoing by the fraternity, but still kept this intrusive policy on the books. This continued until 2009 when even Jack Straw admitted the policy was unreasonable to continue, but his decision came a few years after an important judicial case as well as a possible lawsuit from the United Grand Lodge of England. In 2007, the European Court on Human Rights made a judgment on the case "Grande Oriente D`Italia di Palazzo Giustiniani v. Italy (No. 2)." The Court found compulsory registries of Freemasons was a violation of Article 14 and Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights as Freemasons were being discriminated against and unjustifiably penalized. Some speculate that Mr. Straw's decision to reverse his archaic policies also had to do with a looming election that would possibly end the Labour Party's term in office.
"The review of the policy operating since 1998 has shown no evidence of impropriety or malpractice within the judiciary as a result of a judge being a freemason and in my judgment, therefore, it would be disproportionate to continue the collection or retention of this information."

Jack Straw, 2009
Jack Straw is a well-known face of anti-Masonry in England, but next to him I'd place Chris Mullin, member of the House of Commons and the Home Affairs Committee. In September 1998, Jill Knight wrote an article concerning the investigations ran by the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee on the allegations against Freemasonry. Lady Knight saw the investigations as pointless ("a wild goose chase" she called it) and that Chris Mullin had an unhealthy paranoia against Freemasonry and was convinced, prior to an investigation, that Freemasonry was a sinister organization. Her fears were confirmed by the fact that the committee chose Martin Short as its first witness rather than an unbiased witness. In the total of their investigation, they received 26-memoranda and 153 other documents. The Police Superintendents' Association, the Police Federation, individual Police officers, the Law Society, the Bar Council, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Association of Women Barristers, and even Freemasons testified before this committee. Most of whom provided no evidence that Freemasonry was maliciously influencing the justice system in England.

She concluded that the anti-Masonic testimony was based on perception, not fact. One such example came from ten Police officers claimed undue Masonic influence such suppression of serious criminal and disciplinary matters, promotion preferment, cheating in promotion examinations and the falsifying of blood test results of Freemasons charged with drunk driving offenses. However, with all of these allegations, none of them provided any evidence. During my second deployment to Iraq, I faced a similar situation. I was asked by Battalion Sergeant Major about Freemasonry. After my comments, he told me that soldiers have accused a Company Commander of giving preferential treatment to Freemasons. I responded by pointing out that nepotism is not a principle held by Freemasonry. Sometime later I found out that the soldiers making the accusation were simply trying to supplant their Company Commander and his authority by making allegations of Masonic impropriety.

While the investigation provided no evidence to warrant a compulsory registry, a majority of the committee members decided to recommend that members of law enforcement and the judicial system should be required to declare their membership in Freemasonry. So here we have an official investigation finding no wrongdoing on the part of the fraternity, but still being penalized due to nothing more than rumors and nebulous allegations; all of this would be turned into fuel for more allegations.

Chris Mullin went on to make, what seems to be a political faux pas, by disclosing the names of Freemasons in the West Midlands Police Force. Lady Knight notes that this police force was instrumental in investigating the Birmingham pub bombings of 1974 which left 22 people killed and around 70 injured. The bombings were still remembered in 1998. Chris Mullin was also the one who campaigned for the release of the convicted bombers stating that he knew the identity of the real bomber, but would not divulge the name. It is ironic that Mr. Mullin wouldn't disclose the name of a criminal, but enforced a policy that required innocent men to disclose their names for the crime of being a Mason.

Having covered some of the more infamous anti-Masons, Part 2 will cover anti-Masonic events such as the Church of England's stance on Freemasonry, further harassment of Masons in the British Police, and the British media constant assault on the fraternity.

References

1. Anti-Masonry. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Masonry 

2. Freemasonry, The Police and The Judiciary. (n.d.). Retrieved from Internet Lodge, UGLE: http://internet.lodge.org.uk/other-articles/96-library/otherarticles/243-freemasonry-the-police-and-the-judiciary 

3. Hodapp, C. (2009, November 05). Jack Straw Rescinds England's Anti-Masonic Judiciary Rule. Retrieved from Freemasons for Dummies: http://freemasonsfordummies.blogspot.com/2009/11/jack-straw-rescinds-englands-anti.html 

4. Judgments and Decisions. (n.d.). Retrieved from European Court of Human RIghts: https://www.echr.coe.int/Pages/home.aspx?p=home 

5. Lusher, A. (2016, September 27). Sadiq Khan refuses to make London police declare if they are Freemasons after Hillsborough questions raised. Retrieved from The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/masons-freemasons-freemasonry-in-the-police-corruption-cover-up-conspiracy-theories-united-grand-a7333116.html 

6. Masonophobia in current events. (2013, October 17). Retrieved from Freemasonry Facts: https://freemasonryfacts.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/masonophobia-in-current-events/ 

7. Pidd, H. (2009, November 5). Freemasons shake off ruling on judiciary. Retrieved from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/nov/05/freemasons-judges-magistrates-review-policy 

8. Suppression of Freemasonry. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suppression_of_Freemasonry

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Keystone Chapter Official Visit

Well, I've spent the last two nights in northern Idaho. It was a beautiful drive up with a mix of winter and spring scenes. Last night, I held another Aspirant's Circle for northern Idaho where I did two presentations on the SRICF and the Rosicrucian Manifestos.

Tonight I did my last official visit as Most Excellent Grand High Priest of Idaho to Keystone Chapter No.29. I had originally planned to visit them last year, but with the death of my father, I had to reschedule. We learn in the Most Excellent Master degree that the Keystone finished and completed King Solomon's Temple so maybe it was fate that my final visitation was with Keystone Chapter No.29. Regardless, it was a pleasure to come to visit the Companions. I now have just over 2-weeks before I leave office and hand the reigns to my successor. I also picked up some regalia for Star Garnet Council No.560 of the Allied Masonic Degrees so this was a very fruitful trip.

Now I need to get some sleep before the long drive home tomorrow.


Monday, March 25, 2019

Timeline of the Templar: Introduction

Introduction

The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon also known as the Knights Templar were, in their day, one of the most prominent, wealthy, and powerful of military orders in Europe and were a model for other orders to follow. This series will cover the Knights Templar's legendary origins, their early years, their growth, their famous and infamous battles over the centuries, their tragic end at the hands of the French monarchy, and the continuation theories that have surrounded them. This year marks the 900th anniversary since the founding of this knighthood of warrior-monks.

In this article I will discuss the fall of the Roman Empire, the rise of Islam, Muslim control of the Holy Land, the spread of Islam, Muslim incursion into Byzantine land, the rise of the Holy Roman Empire, the split of Christianity: Roman Catholic versus Greek Orthodox, Byzantium's cry for help and Rome's response, the Crusader's journey to the Holy Land, the First Crusade, the founding of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, Hugh de Payen and the founding of the Knights Templar, St. Bernard of Clairvaux and the Cistercian Order, and the Templar origin stories. This article is the first part of a five-part series.


The Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire

By the time of the 5th century, the Roman Empire was plagued with poor and divided leadership, dwindling population, and, having expanded too much, couldn't protect its own borders. The Roman Empire declined to such a point that it would be besieged and then sacked by the Visigoth's in 410 AD.

Looking back at history, Diocletian had declared in 285 AD, that Maximian, a friend, would serve as "co-emperor" (or Augustus) with him to better control the vast empire which was still considered a single entity, not two. Each Emperor would have his own court, military, and administration. Below them were created two Caesars, which would be lesser Emperor's to the Augusti, and was a system referred to as the Tetrarchy (or Leadership of Four). This system would last only a few years until it was reunified under Constantine the Great, but then would be split again after the death of Constantine.

While it was claimed that this split would not divide the Empire, it did. The Latin, or Western, Empire (referred to as the Roman Empire) relied heavily on the Greek, or Eastern Empire (referred to as the Byzantine Empire), for trade and supplies so when it was divided the West did lose out on a great deal of the luxuries enjoyed in the Eastern province. In the Western Roman Empire, civil wars ensued, incursions on the borders of the Empire, and disease started weakening the Empire. Due to the shrinking population, the Roman armies started hiring barbarians as mercenaries who held no loyalty to the Empire, and by their treatment, they really didn't need to give any. The Empire became so dependent on them that their defenses were basically gone and Rome was ripe for the taking. Soon the fallen empire was constantly being invaded by Saxons, Britains, Franks, Vandals, Goths, and so forth. Rome was shattered into a thousand pieces. 
In the midst of this chaotic period of doom and gloom, there was a glue that kept much of Europe united, and that was Christianity.


While the Western Roman Empire crumbled and gave way to the Dark Ages, the Eastern Roman Empire continued to thrive. Zeno, Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, declared that the Empire would be united again under one Emperor and he attempted to negotiate with the invading Ostrogoths, but invasions and internal disputes prevented him and his successors from successfully reconquering the Western regions of the Empire. When Emperor Justinian I took the throne in 527 AD, he secured peace with the Persians in the East turned his attention to restoring Imperial control over the lost Western Roman Empire. By the time of Justinian's death in 565 AD, he had partially regained much of the lost territory and it is said that the Mediterranean Sea was again a "Roman Lake." Yet, while the Byzantine Emperor was attempting to expand the boundaries and ensure the future stability of the Empire, in Mecca a man was born that would change the geopolitics of the Middle East which would play a significant factor for the Crusades.



Justinian I, Emperor of the Byzantines from 525 AD to 565 AD, was one who made great attempts to restore the greatness of the Roman Empire. Through his ambition, the Byzantine pushed back the Ostrogoths and took back much of the territory of the former Roman Empire and made the Mediterranean a "Roman Lake" again for a short time. Under his reign, the Byzantine culture blossomed and flourished to include the building of the Hagia Sophia (meaning "Holy Wisdom") which is an architectural marvel and is said to have changed the face of architecture. This building would serve as a Patriarchal cathedral for the Greek Orthodox, an imperial mosque under the Ottoman Empire, and now currently as a museum.


The Rise of Islam

While the chaotic Western world was uniting under Christianity, Islam was taking root in the Middle East. The Muslim Prophet Muhammed was born in Mecca around 570 AD. Tradition says that he was a humble man who would often go to the surrounding mountains and recluse himself in caves for reflection. Though he was spent some time by himself, he wasn't a hermit, but by profession was a merchant and while on a trading trip it is said that he met a Christian monk named Bahira who said that Muhammed was going to chosen by God as one of His Prophets. At the age of 40, Muhammed, during one of his cave reflections, was said to have been visited by the Archangel Gabriel and received a revelation from God. Muhammed preached privately and converted only a few at first, but soon began to preach openly which was accepted in some places, but he met with fierce resistance. After many years of fighting, most of the Arabian peninsula had converted to Islam. In 632 AD, the Muslim Prophet Muhammed died in Medina. The Middle East had long been a region stuck between two empires and which were filled with many pagan religions and beliefs, but now the people of this region were united into a single religious polity that would reshape the future, even to the modern day.

Islam was established along major trade routes which allowed it to spread quickly to other regions of the world. Following the death of the Muslim Prophet, the Muslim world would be led by a series of Caliphs (an Islamic leader) who greatly expanded the boundaries of Islam and these burgeoning Caliphates. These Caliphates were able to start conquering lands disputed between the Byzantines and the Persians as both of those powers were weakened by the continuous warring with each other. By the time the Rashidun Caliphate ended in 661 AD, nearly the entire Middle East and much of Persia was under Islamic rule. Under the Umayyad Caliphate, Islam began to spread to North Africa. The Byzantines owned many cities along North Africa, but by the end of the 7th century the Umayyad Caliphate had conquered and taken over this region to include several islands in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. It's astounding to see the rapid spread of Islam. Not all of it was through conquest; for example, Syrians and Egyptians were much more willing to convert and submit to Islam as they felt alienated by the Byzantines who were constantly attempting to impose their religious beliefs onto them. Some converted simply because it was financially convenient and they didn't want to go through the imposition of being taxed as a non-Muslim (as Jews and Christian were). 


Muslims had captured Jerusalem in 638 AD. The Patriarch of Jerusalem, Sophronius, agreed to surrender the city to only the Caliph himself. 
In a city dominated by Christians and Jews, the Muslim rulers constructed the Dome of the Rock as a counterbalance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Dome of the Rock is the oldest existing Islamic monument in the world and for most still the greatest. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was spared destruction until 1099 when the Fatimid Caliph had over 2,000 churches destroyed throughout the empire to include the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but it was later rebuilt. To this point, no serious conflict had arisen between Christianity and Islam as both religions had flourished in different parts of the world, but soon that would all change.


The Rise of the Holy Roman Empire

Not satisfied with their recent conquests in the Middle East and North Africa, the Caliphate crossed the Straits of Gibraltar. The Muslim invaders moved into the Iberian peninsula (now Spain) and destroyed the Visigothic kingdom and established the independent Emirate of Cordova. Seeing the Franks as an easy target and soon an army of 50,000 led by General Abdul Rahman al-Rafiki crossed the Pyrenees into France. Initially, the Muslims were successful in their conquest and at the River Garonne, it is said that only God knows how many Franks were slain. The Muslim invaders would have continued had it not been for the leadership of Charles Martel who was able to amass an army and stop the Islamic expansion.

The Battle of Tours occurred on October 10th, 732, between the Frankish army (between 15,000 and 75,000)  led by Charles Martel and the Islamic army (between 60,000 and 400,000) led by General Abdul Rahman al-Rafiki. This battle resulted in a major defeat and retreat of the Islamic army, the death of Abdul Rahman, and the preserving Christianity as the controlling faith in Europe. From this battle, Charles Martel earned the nickname "Charles the Hammer" who continued to push Islamic forces from France over the years. Charles Martel was a brilliant tactician and leader which allowed him to repel armies of superior numbers and weaponry. The armored cavalry was born out of these battles which would form the backbone of Western warfare for the next several centuries. His son and grandson, Charlemagne, helped fortify the border between Spain and France that would assist in the Reconquista of Spain later on. While the expansion of Islam didn't take hold in Europe outside of the Iberian peninsula, Islam was the controlling religion in Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch (three former Christian Patriarchates). The Mediterranean Sea would be the dividing line for most of the territories controlled by the two religions.



Charlemagne
After the death of his father, Pepin, Charlemagne ascended the Frankish throne as King in 768 AD. Charlemagne further expanded what his father and grandfather had done; by 774 AD, Charlemagne had removed the Lombards from power and took the title of King of Italy. On Christmas Day in 800 AD in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne as Emperor, the first one recognized since the fall of the Roman Empire. Charlemagne's reign is noted for his expansion of the Carolingian Empire, the support of the Christian religion, and intellectual growth. Due to his efforts to unite Europe under a single power, Charlemagne is known as the "Father of Europe." Charlemagne held the position of Emperor until his death in 814 AD. His successors would keep the title until 924 AD when the last of the Carolingian dynasty died. Otto I would revive the title in 962 AD when he was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope John XII, which some claim is the founding date of the Holy Roman Empire and not 800 AD with Charlemagne. While the rise of Imperial power in Western Europe. Otto is remembered for his strengthening and solidifying of the Germans states. The establishment of an Emperor by the Pope would play a role in the Great Schism of 1054.


The Great Schism

Also called the "East-West Schism", this event is dated to when Pope Leo IX and Patriarch Michael I of Constantinople excommunicated each other. The primary cause of this schism was the dispute over the authority of the Bishop of Rome, today is known as the Pope

Since the earliest days of organized Christianity, there were three special positions recognized: the Bishop of Rome, the Bishop of Alexandria, and the Bishop of Antioch. Two more were added later on and confirmed at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, they were the Bishop of Constantinople and the Bishop of Jerusalem. These five Bishops were also called Patriarchs. These five Bishops were said to hold authority and precedence over their fellow bishops in the Catholic Church with the Bishop of Rome being first among equals as he is said to be the successor of St. Peter. 


With the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the continuation of the Eastern Byzantine Empire, the Bishops of Rome focused more on Western Europe and communication with their four Eastern counterparts dwindled. Eastern Christianity and the Byzantine Empire spoke Greek rather than Latin so the growing divide was not just geopolitical, but also linguistic and cultural. 


The bickering between these five Patriarchs led to an exchange of excommunications in 1054 by Leo IX in Rome and Michael I in Constantinople, and the official separation of the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox churches. 
While this schism officially occurred in 1054, this schism had been growing for decades. These excommunications would last until 1965 when Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I presided over simultaneous ceremonies that revoked the excommunication decrees.



Byzantium's Cry for Help

The Seljuk Turks, a group of nomadic Turkish warriors from Central Asia, during the conquests of Persia and the Middle East, had embraced Islam. It is said they came out of what would be now northern Iran and conquered Persia before moving west. They captured Baghdad in 1055, Jerusalem in 1070, and then started invading into Anatolia (Turkey) into the territory of the Byzantine empire. 

In 1071, the Seljuk Turks defeated the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert which led 
to the capture of Byzantine Emperor, Romanus IV Diogenes, and laid the way for further invasions into Byzantine territory
Control of the entire peninsula didn't happen overnight. It took over 20-years for the Turks to fully control the entire Anatolian peninsula, but they didn't hold it for long. The Seljuks didn't just attack the Byzantine's either. They also fought against the Fatimid Caliphate out of Egypt and eventually captured Jerusalem in 1077; the Seljuk Turks were Sunni Muslim and the Fatimids were Shia Muslim. This event is considered the catalyst for the crusades as during Fatimid control, Christians could still go on pilgrimages to Jerusalem, but under Seljuk rule, Christians were prevented from entering Jerusalem and completing their pilgrimage.




Romanus's successor and stepson, Emperor Michael VII Ducas, sought the aid of Pope Gregory VII, who considered leading a military expedition to drive back the Turks, recover the Holy Sepulchre, and restore Christian unity following the de facto breach that had occurred with Eastern Christendom in 1054. Pope Gregory VII greatly desired to restore the relationship between the Latin and Greek Christians, but due to his conflicts with Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor, he was deposed and died in exile. The papacy of Victor III was short and soon Pope Urban II would be elected as the Vicar of Christ in 1088. It is important to note that around 1090, St. Bernard of Clairvaux was born in southeastern France.

During this time, the Byzantine Empire had passed to the hands of Alexios I Komnenos, who still sought help from the West, sent a plea to Pope Urban II in 1095. Since Michael VII's plea, the Seljuk Turks had also captured the city of Antioch (1084) and Nicaea (1092); two famous ecumenical councils had been held in these cities centuries before.


In November of 1095, Pope Urban II convened the Council of Clermont in southern France. This council was attended by more than just clergy, but also by the nobility, knights, and common folk alike. In western Europe, there had been so much infighting that Pope Urban II saw a way to establish peace and order as well as recapture the Holy Land under Christian rule. He, therefore, urged the masses to unite in defense of their fellow Eastern Christians and to move on the Holy Land. The Pope also promised plenary indulgence to those who would undertake this journey.



The Crusades Begin

The first of the crusader armies left France around mid-August of 1096 and headed for Constantinople. It is thought that the Emperor Alexios was expecting a small contingent of knights to assist in defeating the Seljuk Turks,  but instead, a massive Western European host arrives at the steps of Constantinople. This host was really four armies composed of French, Normans, and Germans, each with their own commanders but the most notable was the Duke Godfrey de Boullion. Alexios met with the leaders, but not wanting a restless army around his city sent the armies into Anatolia with the order that the land they conquered would be returned to the Byzantine Empire. In June of 1097, Nicaea was captured and return to Byzantine control followed by a victory at Dorylaeum.

When the Crusaders asked help from the Emperor Alexios, he balked at their request. The crusaders considered this a breaking of the promise between each other and they would no longer return the land to the Byzantines. In June of 1099, the city of Antioch was retaken and controlled by the Normans. In July of 1099, the crusading armies arrived at and surrounded Jerusalem; the Fatimid Caliphate had retaken Jerusalem from the Seljuk Turks in the summer of 1098. On July 15th, 1099, some were able to get over the walls and open up the main gate allowing in the main force. In the Tower of David, the Fatimid governor surrendered and was escorted from the city.


What followed was a massacre of Muslim, Jew, and Christian inhabitant alike. Then the m
osques to include the Dome of the Rock were all converted to Christian churches. Even though much of the Holy Land was still under Muslim control, once Jerusalem was taken many of the crusaders started for home as they saw their goal had been achieved. Two weeks after Jerusalem fell to the crusaders, Pope Urban II died and Paschal II took over the papacy.


In the wake of the crusade, four Christian states were established in the captured territories: the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, the Principality of Antioch, the County of Edessa, and the County of Tripoli. The geopolitics was very complex as now the region was filled with Fatimid Muslims, Seljuk Turks, Byzantines, and the new crusader kingdom. The need for a strong defense of these new Christian states gave rise to the variety of religious orders of knighthood. These Christian states would begin to flourish and eventually, they expanded their control of the coastal cities and into what is now Syria, Jordan, Sinai, Lebanon, and Egypt.


The Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem came about after a council was held on July 22, 1099, to select a king. There were two primary contenders for the position: Raymond IV of Toulouse and Godfrey de Bouillon. Raymond was the wealthier and more powerful of the two, but, upon being asked, refused the title of king. The council turned to Godfrey who did not refuse and thus became the first King. Godfrey would expand his kingdom by capturing more and more cities such as Jaffa (Tel Aviv today), Galilee, and Haifa. Much of the day to day running of Jerusalem had been turned over to the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Daimbert of Pisa, who sought to establish a theocratic government that would fall under the Papacy. Godfrey's reign was successful but short. He died in 1100 AD from an illness and the crown passed to his brother, Baldwin. Baldwin took the title of "King of the Latins of Jerusalem" and set the foundation of a secular state rather than a theocratic one.

Baldwin continued the expansion of the Latin Kingdom, capturing Acre, Beirut, and Sidon. He also fought back against the Fatimids who were attempting to recapture their lost land. While Godfrey was the first king, many say it was Baldwin I who established the true kingdom into a solid feudal state.

Baldwin I died without an heir in 1118 while on a campaign against the Fatimids. The crown was offered to his brother Eustace, but he turned it down. The crown passed to Baldwin de le Bourg, most likely a cousin, who was afterward known as Baldwin II and would play a very important role in the establishment of the Knights Templar.



The Formation of the Knights Templar


As was mentioned in the article on Hugh de Payensit is impossible to say whether or not Hugh de Payens took part in the First Crusade. It is known that Hugh de Payens traveled back and forth between France and Jerusalem several times. in 1114, he, along with a contingent of knights, entered the service of the Holy Sepulchre Canon to defend and protect pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem. Eventually, he and a number of other knights would form a new order and approach King Baldwin II.

This order was recognized by King Baldwin II and the Patriarch of Jerusalem at the Council of Nablus in 1120. Both of them donated lands to the knights; of the most importance, King Baldwin II gave the knights the residence within stables at King Solomon's Temple from which they took the name "
Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon" or Knights Templar.



Conclusion


This article I briefly discussed the fall of the Roman Empire, the continuation of the Byzantine Empire, the rise and expansion of the Islamic faith, the Holy Roman Empire, the Great Schism, the conflicts of Islam and Christianity, the First Crusade, and the formation of the Knights Templar. Part 2 will cover the rest of the 12th century, Part 3 the 13th century, Part 4 the 14th century and suppression of the Knights Templar, and Part 5 will go over the many myths and theories of the Knights Templar after their dissolution.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Feast Day of the Holy Archangel Gabriel

In the Apostolic Johannite Church, today is the Feast Day for Archangel Gabriel whose name translates as "God is my strength" or "Power of God" or "Might of God." This archangel is associated with the element of Water, the cardinal direction of West, the color blue, and the number nine.

Gabriel is considered the Messenger of God and is the angel who delivers prophecies or explains visions. Gabriel is also considered the Master or Ruler of the Waters. He is said to be the "first adorer of the Divine Word." It is interesting to note that Gabriel is not referred to as an archangel in the Old or New Testaments. It is in the Book of Enoch where this title is bestowed upon him.

Gabriel appears in the Book of Daniel to explain the vision of the horned ram as portending the destruction of the Persian Empire as well as prophesying the coming of Christ. He foretold the coming of the Precursor, St. John the Baptist, Zechariah (an important figure to Johannite communities). It was Gabriel who appeared to Mary Theotokos and informed her that she would be giving birth to the Son of God; an event known as the Annunciation which is practiced on March 25th. He is also assumed to be the Angel who appeared to Joseph (Christ's stepfather), the three magi, and who supported Christ in the garden. Of the Four Archangels, Gabriel is considered the most responsive to human prayer

Gabriel is often depicted in blue robes and holding a chalice. Being the Messenger of God, Gabriel is also seen with a horn or trumpet. He can also be depicted carrying a lily, a scroll, or a shining lantern. He is most often depicted in artwork of the Annunciation. Being the angel of the waters, Gabriel can also be depicted with the moon.

 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Tarot Card of the Month: The Emperor

The Tarot card for March and the last of this series is the Emperor. The Emperor is also referred to as The Father or Patriarch in other Tarot decks. The Emperor is the Fifth of the Major Arcana in Tarot. It is associated with the planet Mars, the element of fire, and Aries in the zodiac.

The Emperor represents masculine power, structure, rules, and stability. The Emperor is a true pioneer and trailblazer who uses logic rather than intuition. This Tarot card is about self-control and discipline. As Mars energizes other planets in astrology, the Emperor establishes a firm foundation for the other Tarot cards.

This card is depicts the Emperor as an elderly man with a long white beard dressed in armor, red robes, and a crown. The Emperor is seated on a stone throne with four rams heads carved into it. In his left hand is an orb and in his right is an Ankh. Behind him is a barren landscape.

The Emperor's garb symbolizes that he is a leader and high social status. His white hair is representative of his wisdom and experience. The throne symbolizes authority and power. This theme is continued by the four rams heads; the Ram is also a symbol for Aries which is the astrological sign for this card. The number four is used as it is a number for stability. The orb is a common symbol for monarchs and rulers while the Ankh symbolizes life. The barren landscape symbolizes the discipline of the Emperor.