Saturday, September 20, 2014

Installed as Grand Orator

Well, today ended the 147th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge AF&AM of Idaho, and the 2014-2015 officers, elected and appointed, were installed today. Brother G. Arthur Shoemaker now sits as the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Idaho and I look forward to next year. 

I have the pleasure of serving the Grand Lodge of Idaho as the Grand Orator. Art served as Worshipful Master of my Lodge in 2008 while I served as Senior Warden so I happily accepted the appointment when Art approached me this last Summer. As Grand Orator it is my duty to deliver an address at the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge on a Masonic topic as well as dedications and other times as designated by the Most Worshipful Grand Master. I look forward to serving in this capacity and serving the Brethren of Idaho.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Ancient City of Tyre

In Freemasonry, we learn a bit about the Biblical character Hiram, King of Tyre, or Hiram I, who was an ally of King David and King Solomon, and who was integral in the building of King Solomon's Temple. During Hiram's reign 10th century BC, the height of the kingdom of Tyre, improvements such as cisterns, ports, shipyards, temples, and palaces, were made to the island and made it a jewel in the Mediterranean region.

Tyre, also known in Arabic as Ṣūr, is located 83-km south of Beirut and is the fourth largest city in what is now Lebanon, and which was known for being the dominant city-state of the Phoenician Empire. The literal translation of Tyre is "rock" as the original location of Tyre was very rocky. According to statements made to Herodotus, the city of Tyre was founded around 2750 BC. Originally it was a heavily fortified island, but over the centuries it has been connected to the mainland. The city had many plazas and squares, but due to the space restrictions of the island, many of the buildings were built taller and were the skyscrapers of their time. The Tyrian Island had two harbors, one on the northern and southern sides of the island; these two harbors gave it maritime prominence in ancient days. The northern harbor is still in use today. Prior to Alexander the Great, Tyre was just an island and on the mainland, there was a community known as Ushu, but known as Palaetyrus, or Old Tyre, by the Greeks. This mainland city was primarily used for supplying the island as it sat at the foot of mountains and near the gorge of the ancient Leontes River, and they prospered as a result of the maritime wealth accumulated by Tyre.

Tyre has had a profound effect on the history of civilization. Tyre was a maritime power in the Mediterranean and was known as the "Queen of the Sea." Around 700 BC, Phoenician traders began to expand their trade. In turn, this expansion led the Tyre establishing colonies around the Mediterranean such as Carthage, and as far west as Spain. They traded first with wood, metals, salves, wine, and glass, but one of the trades it was known for, was its rare purple dyes which were used primarily by royalty as it was so costly. It was the purple dye that gave the Phoenicians their name as Phoenician means "purple people," originating from the Greek word "phoinios" meaning "purple." It is said that the alphabet into Greece was attributed to Cadmus of Tyre. The sister of Cadmus was named Europa and it is believed that the continent was named. It was their prowess on the seas and in trade that made them such a great match for King David and King Solomon, and the building of the Temple.

Tyre was continuously attacked by nation and empire; the Persians, the Romans, the Greeks, the Crusaders, and Arabs. The Phoenicians were defeated by Cyrus the Great and Tyre was created one of the four vassal kingdoms of the Empire. Under the Persians, the Tyre was known for furnishing ships. Alexander the Great attempted to lay siege, but was originally unsuccessful. He had to destroy Ushu to build a causeway to the island was he enabled to bring siege engines and scale the walls of Tyre. He was brutal to the people of Tyre; he executed many of the males who were of age to serve in the military, sold thousands to slavery, and razed the city to the ground. This brutality stems from the Tyrians killing an ambassador that Alexander has sent to them asking for a peace treaty. Alexander's primary goal was Egypt, but after the death of his ambassador, he had to set an example. Although the people received brutal treatment, the King, Azemilcus, or Azimilik, was spared. The city would eventually be rebuilt and they regained autonomy, but never to the prominence they once were and eventually, they would be enveloped by the Roman Empire.

The city of Tyre was captured by the Crusaders in 1124 and would become an important city in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. Tyre was the site for the Archbishop of Tyre, the most notable of whom was William of Tyre who is known for recording the history of the medieval Knights Templar. In 1291, Tyre was taken by the Mameluks and then became a part of the Ottoman Empire. This lasted until the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the establishment of the state of Lebanon in 1920. At the present day, Tyre covers a larger part of the island and has expanded along the causeway (expanded greatly since Alexander's time) toward the mainland. It is primarily composed of Shia Muslims, but has a small community of Sunnis as well as Christians. Along with fishing, tourism is a primary source of income. This ancient city has had an impact on the world that covers the histories of ancient empires, religious traditions, and even the legends of our ancient and honorable Fraternity.


1. Byers, G. (2010, January 26). The Biblical Cities of Tyre and Sidon. Retrieved from Associates for Biblical Research: 

2. Ellis, E. S., & Home, C. F. (1913). The Ancient City of Tyre. Retrieved from Public Bookshelf: 

3. List of kings of Tyre. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: 

4. Mark, J. J. (2009, September 2). Phoenicia. Retrieved from Ancient History Encyclopedia: 

5. Mark, J. J. (2009, September 2). Tyre. Retrieved from Ancient History Encyclopedia: 

6. Padfield, D. (1994). The Destruction Of Tyre. Retrieved from The Church of Christ: 

7. Phoenicians. (n.d.). Retrieved from Time Maps: 

8. Tyre. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia:,_Lebanon 

9. Tyre. (n.d.). Retrieved from Encyclopedia Brittanica: 

10. Tyre (Sour). (n.d.). Retrieved from Tyre City Webpage: 

11. Tyre, Lebanon. (n.d.). Retrieved from About:

Saturday, September 6, 2014

30th Birthday

Well, here's to 30 amazing years on this planet!!! I have a great family, I've traveled around the world, I've had the pleasure of serving in the military, I'm going through an amazing journey through Freemasonry, I'm in my final semester as an undergraduate at Boise State, and I look forward to what the future may bring to my life.

Now it's time to relax before going to dinner tonight with the family and then a night on the town with my friends.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Teutonic Knights

Another chivalric order that was established during the Crusades was the "Orden der Brüder vom Deutschen Haus St. Mariens in Jerusalem" or Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, or also known as the Teutonic Knights. This medieval order was primarily composed of German nobles and, similar in duty with the Templars and Hospitallers, it was established to aid Christians on their pilgrimages to the Holy Land and to establish hospitals, but in comparison to other knighthoods was relatively small.

Noblemen would serve as either Knights or Priests (thought nobility was not required for priests) while those of common lineage would compose the infantry or work as book-keepers or in the hospitals (this third class was often referred to as serving brothers). The knights took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Life as a knight was communal, they owned nothing personally and, in the keeping with their vows, the armor they donned in battle was plain and simple. The uniform of the knights was a white surcoat with a black cross (often a cross pattée) upon the left shoulder. The squires also used these same colors so they could be identified with the Teutonic Order. The motto of the Order was: "Helfen, Wehren, Heilen" or "Help, Defend, Heal". 


The members of the order assembled to form the "Generalkapitel," or General Chapter, which was often used to elect the new Grand Master met annually and usually was only attended by the higher officer. For the elections, the Großkomtur of the late Hochmeister set the date and location of the elections, and once assembled he nominated a knight to serve as first elector. If approved, the first elector then nominated a second elector. This process continued until eight knights, one priest, and four members of common lineage were selected. This committee would meet privately where the first elector would make nominations for Hochmeister and only a majority vote would result in a new Hochmeister. The decision would be taken before the Generalkapitel where priests would escort the new Hochmeister to the altar to take the oath of office all the while singing the hymn "Te deum laudamus."

The order was led by the "Hochmeister" or Grand Master who was still considered "first among equals" and who served for life or resignation. This position had to be chosen from the knight class only which meant that the Hochmeister was of noble birth. Until 1525, this position was elected by the Generalkapitel and until 1466 was also the Sovereign Prince of Prussia.

Appointed by the Hochmeister, the Großgebietiger were high officers that filled the following offices: 
The Großkomtur who was the deputy of the Hochmeister and had supervision over the clergy; sometimes referred to as Preceptor
The Treßler or Treasurer
The Spitler who was responsible for all hospital affairs
The Trapier who was responsible for dressing and armament
The Marschall who was the chief of military affairs
There were also a variety of special offices that worked for the Hochmeister. The Kanzler, or Chancellor, of the Hochmeister and the Deutschmeister. The Chancellor took care of the keys and seals and was recording clerk of the GeneralkapitelThe order was given the right to mint their own currency in 1246 and the production was overseen by the Münzmeister, or master of the mint, of Thorn. The Pfundmeister, or customs master, of Danzig. The Generalprokurator represented the order at the Holy See. The Großschäffer was a trading representative with special authority.

The Teutonic Knights were divided into three national chapters: Prussia, Livland, and the territory of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. Each national chapter was led by a Landmeister which position was elected by the regional chapters. After 1309, the Landmeister of Prussia was also the Hochmeister. The Landmeister of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation was also known as the Deutschmeister, and after Prussia and Livland were lost became the Hochmeister. With the order spread throughout the Holy Roman Empire, there was also a regional structure with supervision being left to a Bailiwick. The administrative unit at the local level was known as a Kommende and was ruled by a Komtur (Commander)


The Teutonic Knights were formed and recognized by Pope Celestine III in 1192 in Acre. This order was started by merchants from Lübeck and Bremen who had set up a field hospital during the Siege of Acre. This hospital was needed as German knights and soldiers suffering from sickness or wounds were left unattended as most of them did not speak Latin or French. Eventually, a site within the walls of Acre was purchased. It was enlarged to include quarters for members, pilgrims, and soldiers.

By 1198 the order started to turn into military order which also started the position of Hochmeister or Grand Master. In 1209 the order dropped its hospital mission and became strictly a military order. The order was given land in present-day Germany and Italy, but also had property in Turkey and in the Levant (northeast of Acre). Most of the donations coming from the Holy Roman Empire. In 1214, Emperor Frederick I gave the position of Grand Master a spot in the imperial court and Frederick II exempted them from taxes and allowed the use of imperial lands.

Not as strong or popular as their Templar and Hospitaller orders, the Teutonic Knights were still known for their battle prowess. They moved most of their forces to Transylvania in 1211 to help defend the borders of the Kingdom of Hungary against the Kipchaks, a Turkic tribal confederation. This didn't last long and in 1225 these knights were expelled by force by King Andrew II of Hungary as it was alleged the knights were attempting to place themselves under Papal instead of Hungarian sovereignty.

In 1226, Konrad I, Duke of Masovia (northeast Poland) requested help from the order to protect the borders from the pagan Prussians who were accused of destroying crops, stealing cattle, razing towns, destroying convents, murder, and sacrificing victims to their pagan gods. In 1230, the Teutonic Knights took part in the Prussian Crusade which was a joint invasion of Prussia intended to Christianize the inhabitants of the area. The Holy Roman Emperor gave the order rights of conquest and possession of Prussia. The order erected a fortress at Thorn, or Toruń (birthplace of Nicolaus Copernicus) near the Vistula River and on a grove of oaks considered sacred by the pagan inhabitants.

The Teutonic Knights ruled Prussia as a sovereign monastic state (comparable to Knights Hospitallers in Rhodes and Malta). Fighting was fierce between the order and the native Prussians, but eventually, the fighting died down and the people started to assimilate to the culture, religion, and language perpetrated by the order. Eventually, Europeans (primarily Germanic, Flemish, or Dutch) started to emigrate to Prussia. In their conquest through the Baltic region, they defeated the Livonian Brothers of the Sword in 1237 at the Battle of Saule which resulted in the Livonian order being absorbed into the Teutonic Knights. During this time the order continued to conquer Prussian territory and even attempted to expand into the Russian Empire, but was repelled. The order then turned its focus to pagan Lithuania which was seen as equally brutal conflict as that in Prussia, but fighting in Lithuania would last for two centuries.

In Poland, the knights took over the property in Chelmno Land (northern central Poland) as a base of their operations. From this, the knights were able to create the independent Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights. This caused friction with the Polish monarchs and with problems with succession land disputes erupted. War erupted between Poland and the order. In 1291, the order moved its headquarters to Venice after the loss of Acre and the last Western holds in the Holy Land.

In 1309 the Knights moved their headquarters to Marienburg and the Landmeister of Prussia was merged with that of the Hochmeister. Fighting continued until 1343 when the papacy ended the conflict with the Treaty of Kalisz which left Chelmno Land to the knights, but the Poles regained Kuyavia and the Lands of Dobrzyń.

While fighting in Lithuania continued, the order was also involved with ending piracy in the Baltic Sea. The Victual Brothers were stationed on island, but were besieged and conquered in 1398.

Troubles with Poland would be reignited after the Grand Duke Jogaila of Lithuania was baptized into Christianity and married Queen Jadwiga of Poland, and subsequently became King of Poland. By 1407, the order had the lands of Prussia, Pomerelia, Samogitia, Courland, Livonia, Estonia, Gotland, Dagö, Ösel, and the Neumark. The new Lithuanian-Polish alliance did not trust the order and in 1409 the "Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War" began. The Teutonic Knights were defeated in 1410 by a Polish-Lithuanian army at the Battle of Grunwald. An attempt was made to take Marienburg (headquarters of the order), but this failed due to strong resistance.

The First Peace of Thorn was signed in 1411 which allowed the Teutonic Knights to retain most of their land, but their reputation was damaged and their power began to dwindle while Poland and Lithuania rose in power. Infighting began and after a decade they began to lose lands. The knights fought against Poland again with the Polish–Teutonic War which lasted from 1431 to 1435. This war was a result of the alliance between the Teutonic order and Švitrigaila, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, who was waging a civil war against his brother King Jogaila of Poland. The Teutonic Knights invaded Poland, but were defeated. Poland allied with the Hussites to prevent Teutonic support of Švitrigaila. In 1435, Polish forces defeated and suppressed the rebellion, and the Teutonic Knights signed the Peace of Brześć Kujawski.

In the next few decades, Prussia began to fall apart. Starting in 1454, the Prussian gentry and burghers rose against the order in what is known as the Thirteen Years' War. The Prussian gentry and burghers were supported by Poland and in 1466, the Second Peace of Thorn was signed recognizing Poland's rights over western Prussia. 

The Order maintained eastern Prussia with Königsberg as its headquarters and capital. However they were no longer considered sovereign and independent, but vassals of the King of Poland. By the end of the 15th century, it lost its property in Sicily and influence with the Papacy. The order lost complete control of Prussia and was ousted after the Polish-Teutonic War (1519-1521).

The Protestant Reformation had a strong effect on the order and in 1522 the Grand Master Albert of Brandenburg converted to Lutheranism, resigned from the order, and became the Duke of Prussia (a vassal of Poland). Martin Luther held a negative view of the order and actually wrote a letter to the knights trying to convince them to break their vows as he said they were no use for God.

The order continued to lose its lands during the following century, but did maintain many of its holdings in Protestant regions of Germany and Livonia. The Livonian property was lost in 1561 when neighboring powers started partitioning off the territory during the Livonian War. The remainder of the property was in the Holy Roman Empire and restructured the order with a 3-tier system: commanderies, bailiwicks, and the general chapter. After the Peace of Augsburg in 1555, the order was open to Protestants, but most were Catholic.

On February 9, 1801, the Treaty of Lunéville signed the peace between France and Holy Roman Empire, the latter being defeated and which resulted in the Teutonic Knights, the loss of their lands and possessions on the left bank of the Rhine River. In 1809 Napoleon Bonaparte forced its dissolution and lost control over its holdings to Napoleon's allies. It continued to exist, but only as a ceremonial organization in Tyrol and Austria until it was banned by Hitler in 1938. It was re-established after the end of WWII. Today it continues to exist as a philanthropic order in Vienna, Austria, seeking to care for German-speaking communities in foreign lands which was the original mission of the order. There is a Protestant branch still in existence in Utrecht, a province of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.


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