Simplistic in its design, but unique with its many meanings, the Beauceant was and is the standard of the Knights Templar. The Beauceant consisted of a black section above a white one. Note that some say it was hung from a perpendicular pole near the top of the vertical one so that both of the colors could be seen without any wind while the picture to the right shows it as if there was some wind animating it.
The etymology of "Beauceant" is not known, an unknown pilgrim around the 12th or 13th century, while visiting Jerusalem, stated:
when they go to war, a standard of two colors called 'balzaus' is borne before them.John J. Robinson, author of Born in Blood, believed that 'beau' meant 'beautiful', and in medieval times it is said to have translated as 'glorious' or 'magnificent'. So in a battle cry 'beauceant' could mean 'be noble' or 'be glorious'.
The Beauceant is composed of two colors and divided between two sections of equal width; the upper half of this standard is black, the lower half white. These colors hold some strong symbolic representation, and I am immediately reminded of the 1st Degree Lecture where it talks about the Mosaic Pavement on the ground floor of King Solomon's Temple where we are told:
The mosaic pavement is a representation of the ground floor of King Solomon's Temple and is emblematic of human life, checkered with good and evil.The colors of the Beauceant also remind us to be good and true to our friends and terrify the enemies of Christ. The black section can also depict the sins of the secular world that the Templar knights had chosen to leave while the second section was white depicting the purity that the order offered them, a sort of transformation of darkness to light.
To symbolize duality through the colors of black and white is quite ancient as most cultures see white and black as symbolic of good and evil. It has also been used as a comparison between the physical and spiritual world, male and female, and the sky and the earth.
The Beauceant was a rallying point during battles so they could easily regroup when separated. Knights were also not allowed to retreat or stop fighting while the Beauceant was flying.
As the Beauceant was such an important symbol that the Marshall would select a group of Templars to protect it, to be led by the Confanonier, or Standard Bearer. The Standard Bearer is still an officer in the modern Masonic Templars and whose duty it is to protect the Standards of our Order. Historically the duties of the Standard Bearer included being the paymaster and ensuring the equipment (to include the horses) was kept in working order. It should be noted that although he was referred to as the Standard Bearer he never carried the banner, but led the procession which carried and protected it.
The standard and its bearer are even relevant in today's military. In the Fall of 2003, I was a Private First Class (PFC), I was assigned as appointed as the Standard, or rather Guidon, Bearer of my Company. As such I was supposed to be one of the most knowledgeable in Drill & Ceremony and protect the banner. The First Sergeant (1SG) was considered to be the Keeper of the Guidon and can be compared to the Marshall of the medieval Templars. I had the honor of being the Bearer while we deployed and took part in the change of command ceremony where I handed off the Guidon to the 1SG who passed it to the outgoing Commander who handed it to the Brigade Commanding officer who passed it to the incoming Commander, back to the 1SG, and finally back to me, accepting it under the Command. This personal experience has given me a great appreciation for the office of Standard Bearer as well as the Standard itself.
The jewel of the Standard Bearer (to the right) in the Masonic Knights Templar is a Plumb surmounted by the banner of the Order.
The plumb is one of the earliest and simplest instruments used in construction, the plumb and its line was an essential tool of the stone mason...to insure perpendicularity and right angles to that surface. And so it is that this tool was taken from the operative mason to the speculative mason as a symbol of the best of conduct, unequivocal uprightness, and constant integrity required to build a spiritual temple reflective of the best of one’s efforts.
A symbolic meaning of the Standard Bearer’s jewel then, might be that as Masonic Templars engaged in the struggle between good and evil (represented by the banner), our conduct and integrity must be such as to stand the test of the Great Architect’s plumb.
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