- Religion and Philosophy»
- The Role of Religion in History & Society
The missing Templar fleet of La Rochelle
When the French King Philip IV moved against the previously untouchable and influential Knights Templar in the early Fourteenth Century he hoped to remove all traces of the order that he believed to be full of heretics and the ungodly. Only the power of a mighty King could have hoped to achieve such an act, the Templar's were one of the most powerful organizations of the Christian world. They were answerable only to the authority of the Pope and did not have to pay taxes or pay attention to national boundaries or interests.
The Knights Templar were the protectors of the Christian pilgrims and were the first organization that could rival the power of ancient Kingdoms. It is likely the French King wanted to disband the Order due to the sums of money he owed the Knight Templar's, this combined with ill feeling due to the Order's recent loss of land in the Jerusalem signaled the beginning of the end for the Knight's Templar.
The Templar's had the resources and the infrastructure to maintain the growth and dominance of the Catholic faith for centuries. But their lofty position put them at odds with the growing powers of the King's and Queen's of Europe. When the King moved to crush the Templar order, he moved when Pope Clement V was at his weakest and the Templar's were unable to fight back. Out of the chaos of the Templar's demise, many riches of the ages are assumed to have gone missing and the disappearance of the Templar fleet at La Rochelle has deepened the mystery.
Who were the Knight's Templar
The Knight's Templar or to give them their full title " The poor fellow soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon " were an order of Christian Knights who offered safe passage, financial facilities and security in the Holy Land from the start of the Twelfth century until the loss of the Holy lands. Only a small number of the Knight's Templar were fighting soldiers, the rest of the order were essential to the logistical tasks needed in securing the safety of Pilgrims in the Holy land.
The Order helped to protect the routes that the Christian worshiper's used in their pilgrimage to the Biblical lands. The Templar's were also used in the many Crusades against the non-Christian forces which desired control of the Holy area's. The Holy land was vitally important to the Islamic,Christian and Jewish faiths.
- Lost Treasure Ships of the British Isles.
Underneath the waves of the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Lay the sunken wrecks that carried the wealth of Empire back to the European homelands of the Continental powers.
What riches did the Templar's posess
The possessions which the Knights Templar held in their care is open to much debate, and as no written records remain speculation has verged upon the improbable to the slightly possible. The Knight's Templar held large tracks of land and looked after the fortunes of Europe's elite. The Templar's at one stage owned the entire country of Cyprus and La Rochelle was a major Templar port.
The Templar's would have received tax revenues and docking fee's for the use of the facilities, the merchant's would have also paid an annual rent to the order. The Templar's with their individual pledge to have no worldly possessions, seemed to have amassed a large portfolio of riches as an Order.
After the Order was disbanded the Templar's became the subject of much speculation, fabrication and embellishment of their legend. The stories of discovering the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant were a direct result of the Templar's secrecy and legacy. From the testimonials of the Templar Knight's extracted under torture, there was never any mention of these prized Christian relics residing within the Order.
The Templar's were secretive and many of those Templar's tortured may not have known the whereabouts of those items, or had no idea the items were in their care. The Templar's leader may have known the location, but even under torture he may have refused to divulge such secret information.
From various writings across the same time period, we know that at some stage in the Templar's brief history they possessed what they believe to be part of the True Cross. The True Cross was part of the wooden structure used to slowly execute Jesus Christ, we know that the Muslim forces under the command of Saladin captured the relic and ransomed it back to the Templar's in the late Twelfth Century.
The Knight's Templar were a religious organization and there are written records that describe the Knight's possessing other religious relics such as the Clothes of Holy men, The Bones of Saint's and other articles owned by Christian martyrs. Many of the Holy relics kept in the ancient Christian Churches of Europe may have been trusted to or loaned to them by the Knight's Templar before the Order fell from grace.
Hollywood Movies with Templar legend and influence.
- National Treasure
- Indiana Jones
- The Da Vinci Code
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail
- Arn the Knight's Templar
What fleet did the Templar's have
According to various reports the common belief was that the Templar fleet amounted to no more than half a dozen ships at best. We must also consider that the Templar's were secretive and they could have bought mighty vessels and leased them out to private merchants. The official figure for the Templar fleet at La Rochelle at the time of the Templar's demise was a measly couple of short distance cargo ships.
Given previously mentioned wealth the Order had at their disposal, the Templar's could have chartered a number of vessels to serve their needs. If the Templar's wanted to transport the treasures of antiquity away from mainland Europe, they had the means and the organizational skills to do so. After all the Order had many contacts and trading links across the known world, the Templar's had organized passage to the Holy land on many occasions so large scale voyages were no logistical problem.
Where did the fleet go?
The general held belief is that the Templar fleet of La Rochelle went to Scotland, but the fleet which traveled to Great Britain was not a massive Armada. Those who believe the remaining Templar's fled to Scotland speculate that only a few ships made it to the area as the ships used were not designed for long distance transport and the Templar's limped away with very little wealth on board.
At the time La Rochelle was used by the Templar's for the Import and Export of Wine, so all the Templar's would have moved was a few decent barrel's of table Wine. Other theorist argue that Wine barrel's can hold a variety of objects and the abundance of Templar and Grail lore in Scotland point to a great treasure moving from mainland Europe to Scotland.
The Chapel of Rosslyn has been mentioned in a few works of fiction containing the Holy Grail, the most recent and well known account to mention the theory is Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. Could those who escaped the demise of the Templar's have settled in the area were the Chapel is located, before moving the treasures on using their secretive network?
Another interesting theory is that the Fleet of La Rochelle headed off to Cyprus and hid the remaining relic's in safe harbour's until new vessels could be secured. These new ships then set sail for the Holy land and were buried away from the greed of the European powers. Of course it is very difficult to prove such acts occurred, but we know that Cyprus was once owned by the Knight's Templar and they may have had powerful friends on the Island who could help keep the Fleet and it's treasures safe.
A more likely outcome for the Templar fleet of La Rochelle is that it was sunk in the English Channel before it could head towards Scotland or Cyprus. The English Channel is a very treacherous stretch of water, with heavy currents and erratic weather conditions. If the Fleet set sail in bad weather a number of events could have sank the unreliable vessels that the Templar's had in La Rochelle. The ships could have been attacked by Pirates in the Mediterranean or the English Channel, the water's of Europe were the hunting grounds of Pirates until the rise of the great colonial powers in the Sixteenth century.
Where did the treasure and fleet go?
- The Riches of the Spanish Main
The Spanish Empire used the wealth of the old Aztec Empire to transport great amounts of gold and silver back to the Old World.
- Britains Viking Treasure Hoard
The local folklore spoke of massive Viking treasure. And in the 1840s the Cuerdale hoard was found by a group of workmen repairing the embankment of the river. After discovery it was quickly recovered by the landowner's bailiffs.
- British Folklore- Buried Treasure
The British Isles was a wealth of both mythical and historical treasure buried in the ground or lost in the sea that surrounds it.
The treasure of the Templar's is a treasure that has no written account, but continues to fascinate people to this very day. Hollywood continues to make movies with this treasure as a central theme, writer's still use the Templar's secrecy as a major part of their plot and the mystery of ancient treasures keeps the attention of the everyday general public.
The thought of history's secrets waiting to be uncovered awakens the curiosity of many. What if the Ark of the Covenant was with the treasure, what information would the scrolls of Alexandra's library hold. Maybe they had the bone's of a Saint or the diary of an Apostle. The contents of these missing ships could contain so much information or absolutely nothing.