Monday, March 30, 2015

Templar Biography: Everard des Barres

The third Grand Master, Everard des Barres, was an interesting character to study. He is said to be a model Templar diplomatically, tactically, and in his piety. Everard was such a pious man and did not, it seems, enjoy the position of Grand Master as he abdicated the position in 1151 and became a Cistercian monk.

Everard des Barres was born circa 1113 in Meaux (around 45-km east-northeast of Paris), France. He entered the Templar Order sometime in his teens and advanced quickly through the ranks.

In 1143, he started serving as Preceptor of the Templars in France, until his election and ascension to the station of Grand Master in 1147 when Robert de Craon, the previous Grand Master, died. At taking over as Grand Master he convened, in Paris, a meeting of the General Chapter of the Templars at which King Louis VII of France, Pope Eugenius III, many Templar knights and sergeants, and other Christian dignitaries were in attendance. It's also around this time that Pope Eugenius III authorized the use of the Red Cross on the Templar uniform, but whether or not it occurred at this meeting it is not known.

Being Preceptor of France, Everard was close to Louis VII and when the king sent out for the Holy Land on the Second Crusade, Everard and a host of went along. Everard was sent ahead with other diplomats to treat the Byzantine Emperor, Manuel I Comnenus, and work out a contract to allow the Frankish army to pass through the Byzantine territory. Diplomacy was needed as both the Franks were as suspicious of the Byzantine Emperor as he was of them.

While passing through the passes of Pisidia in the Cadmus Mountains, located in southwest Turkey, Everard des Barres saved King Louis VII's life during a battle with the Seljuk Turks. King Louis was so impressed with the courage and discipline that he placed the Frankish army under Templar command whereupon he divided them up into units with a Templar knight overseeing them. Through the rest of their journey, they lost very few lives.

Once the Franks arrived in Antioch, King Louis requested a loan of 2,000 silver marks from the Templar Grand Master to help finance further military operations; he had spent nearly all of his funds getting his troops to the Holy Land. To find the monies needed, Everard traveled to Acre and from that point, the Templars started to become the bankers and treasurers for the kings and lords in the Holy Land and in Europe.

In 1148, Everard des Barres led his Templar knights along with King Louis and King Baldwin III on an unsuccessful siege of Damascus. King Baldwin wanted to use the newly arrived Frankish army to lay siege on Damascus. The siege would most likely have been successful, except politics got in the way. King Baldwin had promised to give the city over to the Thierry of Alsace, Count of Flanders. Many of the Christian lords withdrew their troops and the Crusader army fell apart. The Muslims took advantage of this and attacked Antioch. It took the city they beheaded Prince Raymond of Poitiers.

After the defeat at Damascus, Everard accompanied King Louis back to France. The Templar host was left back in the Middle East and his officers requested his return, but it never came. Then in April of 1151, Everard officially abdicated the office as Grand Master and became a Cistercian monk at Clairvaux. He died in the abbey at Clairvaux on November 12, 1174.

Everard des Barres set a mighty precedent as serving as a diplomat between monarchies as well as becoming a financier for them. This and their courage in battle started to catapult their reputation both in the Holy Land and in Western Europe. Becoming the treasury to the French crown would also sow the seeds that would lead to their downfall in 1307. Some say he became a monk to do penance for the failures of the Second Crusade and the lives lost as a result.


1. A Brief History of the Medieval Knights Templar. n.d.

2. Cobbold, David. Evrard des Barres. n.d.

3. Everard des Barres. n.d.

4. Evrard des Barrès. n.d.

5. Knox, Skip. Prince Raymond. n.d.

6. Martin, Sean. The Knights Templar. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 2004.

7. Napier, Gordon. Everard des Barres. n.d.

8. Newman, Sharan. The Real History Behind the Templars. New York: Penguin, 2007.

9. Strickland, Jeffrey. Knights of the Cross. Lulu Inc., 2012.

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 a treaty with the Sultan of Damascus and the Hospitallers made a 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, Hospitallers, 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 are 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 soon befall the order.


1. Armand de Perigord. n.d. 

2. Armand de Périgord. n.d.érigord. 

3. Armand de Périgord. n.d. 

4. Battle of La Forbie. n.d. 

5. Grand Masters of the Knights Templar. n.d. 

6. Jones, Chris. Battle of La Forbie (1244 AD). n.d. 

7. Lotan, Shlomo. The Battle of La Forbie (1244) and its Aftermath. June 6, 2013.

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 its 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 decimal. 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. Mathematicians 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.


1. A Brief History of Pi. n.d. 

2. Geometry. n.d. 

3. Learn About Pi. n.d. 

4. Pi. n.d. 

5. Pi Day. n.d. 

6. Purewal, Sarah J. A brief history of pi. March 13, 2013. 

7. What is Pi? n.d. 

8. Wilson, David. The History of Pi. 2000.

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 a radicalized version of Islam or death. This letter is now being used as a symbol of solidarity with those who are being oppressed.

The funds raised are split between the Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organization and the Knights of Columbus Christian Refugee Relief.

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 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 the 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 run 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 was 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 the ability to label him as a 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 Oultrejordain, 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.

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 the Kingdom and the King would call his troops. The Crusaders met at the Springs of Saffuriyah on the 27th of June and held a 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 through the blazing heat on the 2nd of July to face the Saracen army. The water went quickly, men and animals 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 was 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 the power of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem as well as the decline in power and prestige of the Knights Templar.


1. Battle of Hattin. n.d.

2. Battle of Ḥaṭṭīn. December 14, 2014.

3. Cobbold, David. Gerard de Ridefort. n.d.

4. Czech, Kenneth P. Third Crusade: Siege of Acre. June 12, 2006.

5. Dafoe, Stephen. The Battle Of Hattin – July 4th, 1187. March 31, 2010. 

6. de Tyre, Robert. Gerard de Ridefort - Martyr or Madman? n.d. 

7. Gerard de Ridefort. n.d. 

8. Hickman, Kennedy. The Crusades: Battle of Hattin. n.d. 

9. Siege of Acre. n.d.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Enter’d ’Prentices Song

By Mr. Matthew Birkhead


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.


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.


’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.


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.


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.


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