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 as 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 in 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 their 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.


1. Addison, Charles G. History of the Knights Templar. 1842. 

2. Battle at Montgisard. n.d. 

3. Crusades: Battle of Montgisard. n.d. 

4. Dafoe, Stephen. The Battle of Montgisard. June 5, 2010. 

5. de Tyre, Robert. Odo de St. Amand. n.d. 

6. Eudes de Saint-Amand. n.d. 

7. Odo de St Amand. n.d. 

8. Saint-Amand Lineage. n.d.

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 14, 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 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-MacĂ©, 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 Hospitaller 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 Hospitallers also caused Papal intervention, but often favor went to the Hospitallers 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 records, he is said to have died on November 12th, 1209, but there sources that list him as dying in 1208.


1. Cobbold, David. Philippe du Plessis. n.d. 

2. History of the Order. n.d. 

3. Phillipe de Plessis. n.d.

Sunday, February 1, 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.