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The Crudsades and Freemasonry
THE CRUSADES AND FREEMASONRY
Bro. Albert S. Hovan, P.D.D.G.M.
The Crusades have no relation to Freemasonry, even though there
are concordant bodies which base their rituals on the Crusades
and have taken the name of the original Crusaders, the Knights
Templar. Among the historic Crusaders there were in fact two
groups, first being The Religious Order of the Hospital of Saint
John of Jerusalem, and later the Order of the Knights Templar.
In the area of discipline and administration, both orders were
The Religious Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem
started with the establishment of a small hospital or hospice in
Jerusalem, to treat pilgrims visiting the holy city, early in the
6th century A.D. This hospice existed for 400 years until it was
destroyed by the Caliph Al Hakim. His method of converting
Christians to the Muslim faith was by the sword.
With the help of pious merchants the hospice was rebuilt. The
new hospital was served by a body of men who formed themselves
into a brotherhood pledged to if protect the poor, the infirm and
the stricken" this brotherhood was to become known as the
Religious Order of the Hospital of Saint John. It had been
established only a few years when the Turkomans occupied
Jerusalem and barred the pilgrims from the Holy Sepulchre and
treated them with great cruelty. This led to the beginning of
the Crusades and the recapture of the city on July 12, 1099.
Twenty years after the fall of Jerusalem a small group of knights
set themselves the task of defending the routes taken by the
pilgrims leading from Jaffa to Jerusalem. They formed themselves
into a new religious fraternity and, forsaking the world of
knightly chivalry ("...of which human favour and not Jesus Christ
was the cause"), they bound themselves to the rules of the
Benedictines. Initially they were known as the "poor fellow
soldiers of Jesus Christ", and in consequence of the service they
rendered to Christians, King Baldwyn II allocated them part of
the Royal Palace south of the Temple of the Lord and the large
courtyard between that and the former site of the Temple of King
Solomon. Thence forth the Order was known as the "Knighthood of
the Temple of King Solomon", or the "Knights Templar".
Hugh de Payens was chosen first Master of the Templars and in
1127 he journeyed to Europe and secured the support of
St.Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, who prepared a code of statutes
for the proper government and control of the military and
religious activities of the Templar Order. The Order prospered
and grew in strength and after confirmation of their statutes by
Papal Bull, they developed into a rich and widely known
It was wealth that brought the end of the Knights Templar. King
Phillip of France coveted the riches and land of the Knights
Templar, and to obtain them, he conducted a campaign of rumours
and accusations against Jacques de Molay who was the Grand
Master, and his officers. After a cruel inquisition, those who
had survived it so far, along with Jacques de Molay were burnt at
the stake and the Order was disbanded by the Pope after an
existence of less than 100 years.
The order of Saint John of Jerusalem prospered and grew. The
knights moved from Palestine to Cyprus, were chased out of Cyprus
and went to Rhodes. They were again beaten by the Turks and were
without a home until the Pope used his influence to persuade the
German emperor Charles V. to transfer the island of Malta to the
Order. There they remained until Malta was overrun by Napoleon.
The Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem was
disbanded in England by Henry VIII. 300 years later, Queen
Victoria restored it under the name of the "Most Venerable Order
of the Hospital of St.John of Jerusalem", of which Queen
Elizabeth 11 is the present Sovereign Head. The ideals nurtured
by the knights of old are as fresh today as then, for the men and
women of St.John's Ambulance Brigade, a foundation of the Order
which came into being in 1877, are indeed as dedicated to the
care of the sick and injured as were the Hospitallers of former
It was in Malta where many knights were initiated into
Freemasonry. In an endeavor to stop the spread of Freemasonry in
Malta, the Grand Master of the Order banned six knights from the
island but meetings were known to -have still taken place. Even
though the knights of St.John continued to patronize Masonry, no
proof exists that the Order was in any way connected with
No bibliography is available for this paper.
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