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Degrees of Chivalry

The religious and military orders of knighthood which existed in the Middle Ages, such as the Knights Templar and Knights of Malta, which were incorporated into the Masonic system and conferred as Masonic degrees, have been called Degrees of Chivalry. They are Christian in character, and seek to perpetuate in a symbolic form the idea on which the original Orders were founded. The Companion of the Red Cross, although conferred, in the United States of America, in a Commandery of Knights Templar, and as preliminary to that Degree, is not properly a Degree of chivalry.



Fessler was desirous of abolishing all the advanced Degrees, but being unable to obtain the consent of the Royal York Grand Lodge, he composed out of them a new system of five Degrees which he called Degrees of Knowledge, the German being the words Erkenntnis- Stufen, to each of which was annexed a form of initiation. "The Degrees of Knowledge," says Findel (History of Freemasonry, page 496), "consisted of a regular detailed course of instruction in each system of the Lodges, whether extinct or in full activity, and were to end with at complete critical remodelling of the history of Freemasonry, and of the Fraternity of Freemasons from the most ancient period down to our own day" (see Fessler, Rite of).

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