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The Missing Templar Fleet of La Rochelle

Updated on October 20, 2017


When King Philip IV of France moved decisively against the previously untouchable and influential Knights Templar in the early fourteenth century, He hoped to remove all traces of a holy 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 within the known 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 the interests of the monarchs.

The Knights Templar were the protectors of the Christian pilgrims and they 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 that he owed the Knight Templar. This combined with the ill feeling due to the order's recent loss of land in Jerusalem, signaled the beginning of the end for the power of the Knight's Templar.




La Rochelle.

La Rochelle as it is today.
La Rochelle as it is today. | Source


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 royal houses throughout the continent of Europe. When the King of France moved to crush the Templar order, he did so only when Pope Clement V was at his weakest. The king also made sure that the Templar's were in no position to fight back, by acting out with a detailed plan.

Out of the great chaos of the Templar's demise. Many riches and artifacts of the ages are assumed to have gone missing and the disappearance of the vast Templar fleet at La Rochelle has made historians speculate upon what truly happened.


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." These loyal warriors were an order of Christian Knights who offered safe passage, financial facilities and security in the Holy Land. They often skirmished with those who followed the faith of Islam, be they soldiers of the local nobility or bandits keen to rob the pilgrims of all that they possessed. The Knight's Templar operated in the Holy Lands from the start of the twelfth century until the loss of all the Christian lands there.

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 worshipers used in their pilgrimage to the lands described in the Holy Bible. The Templar's were also used in the many crusades against the non-Christian forces which desired control of the Holy areas and important religious sites. The Holy land was vitally important to the Islamic,Christian and Jewish faiths.






A Knight Templar.
A Knight Templar. | Source

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 entirely possible. The Knight's Templar held large tracks of land and looked after the fortunes of Europe's wealthy elite. The Templar's at one stage owned the entire country of Cyprus and La Rochelle was a at the height of Templar power, a major port that they used frequently.

The Templar's would have received tax revenues and docking fees for the use of the facilities. The many merchants who operated in La Rochelle would have also paid an annual rent to the holy order. The Templar's with their individual pledge to have no worldly possessions, seemed to have amassed a large portfolio of riches which belonged to this holy 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 formidable legend. From the testimonials of the Templar Knight's extracted under torture, there was never any mention of these prized Christian relics residing within the holy order.

The Templar's were secretive and many of those Templar's tortured may not have known the whereabouts of those items, or they may have had no idea the items were in their care. The Templar's leader may have known the location, but even under torture they 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 many saints and other articles owned by martyrs to the cause of Christianity. Many of the holy relics that are still 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.



What do you believe?

Where did the treasure and fleet go?

See results

Hollywood Movies with Templar Legend and Influence.

  • National Treasure
  • Indiana Jones
  • The Da Vinci Code
  • Ironclad
  • 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.



Did Templar treasure sail away on a similar vessel to this?
Did Templar treasure sail away on a similar vessel to this? | Source

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 perhaps, all the Templar's would have moved was a few decent barrels of table wine. Other theorist argue that those wine barrels could have held a variety of valuable objects. The abundance of Templar and Holy Grail lore in Scotland, point to a great treasure moving from mainland Europe to safety in the north of the British Isles.

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? After a time, they may have moved 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 relics in a safe harbour 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 their 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 and was unprepared due to the chaos of the time. 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. In both these waters, it was common for ships to fall prey to Pirates. It was a fertile hunting ground and remained that way until the rise of the great colonial powers in the sixteenth century.



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.



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