Troyes - trading hub and Templar cradle

The court of one of the founding fathers of the Knights Templar, Hugues I Count of Champagne (c.1074–1130) stood at the old city of Troyes. Troyes has been in existence since the Roman era, as Augustobona Tricassium. It stood at the hub of numerous highways, primarily the Via Agrippa. Key to its international position.

At the end of the ninth century, following depredations to the city by Normans, the counts of Champagne chose Troyes as their capital. It remained the capital of the Province of Champagne until the Revolution. It developed to be a major trade center.

During the Middle Ages, Troyes was an important trading town, and gave its name to the troy unit of weight. The Champagne cloth fairs and the revival of long-distance trade and new extension of coinage and credit were the real engines that drove the medieval economy of Troyes. 

Before that, Troyes and Provins had been administrative centers in Charlemagne's empire that developed into the central towns of the County of Champagne and the Brie Champenoise Region.

The Champagne fairs were an annual cycle of trading fairs at Champagne and Brie, regions in Northern France. From their origins in local agricultural and stock fairs, the Champagne fairs became an important engine in the reviving economic history of medieval Europe.  "Veritable nerve centers" serving as a premier market for textiles, leather, and spices. At their height, in the late 12th and the 13th century, the fairs linked the cloth-producing cities of the Low Countries with the Italian dyeing and exporting centers, with Genoa in the lead. 

As such Troyes' geographic key position, the concentration of expertise on international trade, coinage and credit, all under the protection of the lords of the Earldom of the Champagne, was the ideal site for sparking, founding and harbouring the first "multinational enterprise" on trade and finance: the Knights Templar.

sources: wikipedia themes on Troyes and Champagne fairs; illustrations shows Roman roads network France source

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Agnus Dei - a papal and Templar symbol

During his inauguration on March 19, 2013 pope Francis used a papal staff or ferula which shows on the front of the cross in the center the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) and at the end of the limbs the four Evangelists. On the back of the cross are in the center Jesus with the monogram PX and at the end of the limbs the Fathers of the Eastern and Western Church Augustine and Ambrose, Athanasius and John Chrysostom.

Pope Francis, March 19, 2013 source abc-news templar seal source


In heraldry, a Lamb of God (or paschal lamb, or agnus Dei) is a lamb passant proper, with a halo or charged with a cross gules, and the dexter forelimb reflexed over a cross staff from which a pennon of St. George (Argent a cross gules) is flotant. The seals of the Masters of the Temple in England: of Aimery de St Maur, 1200, Robert of Sandford, 1241, Richard of Hastings, 1160–85, and William de la More, 1304, showed the agnus Dei. To drive home the point his counter-seal had the head of John the Baptist with the inscription 'I am the guarantor of the lamb'.

Pope Benedict XVI holds the same ferula with agnus Dei
in mass at St Peter's on New Year's Day 2011

Some of the seals of the English Templars were a semi-typical Pascal lamb bearing sometimes, not the flag of St George (or the cross), but the Beauseant, the battle banner of the order. The motto accompanying the seal reads TESTIS SUM AGNI, (not Agnus as is correct), meaning "I am a witness to the Lamb". The translation of the Latin word AGNI raises several areas of contention, however a similar word AGNITIO translates to "of the nature of the mind or wisdom". Note the missing of the word Dei.


The stone carving to the left of a paschal lamb, or Agnus Dei, is located in the west wall of the Templar chapel of St Michael's Church, Herefordshire, England. According to Brighton it is a symbol of St John the Baptist and a motif used by both the Medieval Templar and Hospitaller orders. This example carries both a staff and banner sporting Templar crosses. Image ©Simon Brighton.

This website (in German, use Google for translation) elaborates on the ferula or pope staff. It also shows in detail the ferula with crucifix, ordered by pope Paul VI in 1963 often used by popes Paul VI, John Paul II and occasionally pope Benedict XVI.

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Champagne, the Templar cradle

To understand the origin of the Knights Templar and the mechanisms that lead up to their birth, one should explore their place of origin. Standard historical belief places their origin in Jerusalem in the year 1118, 1119 or 1120. This, however, is not the case. The cradle of the Knights Templar stood at the court of the Count of Champagne in the French town of Troyes. The establishment of a fraternity at Jerusalem was just another step in a development that started years before.

Pope Francis - a Templar and interfaith link?

On 13 March 2013 (13-3-13) Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church elected Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, born Dec 17, 1936, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as the 266th pope.

Bergoglio chose to take the name Francis, referring to Saint Francis of Assisi. Francis, founder of the Franciscan Order. Saint Francis was born at Assisi in Umbria, in 1181 or 1182. He died there on 3 October, 1226.

699th Commemoration death of Jaques de Molay

On March 18, 2013 we commemorate the 699th anniversary of the death of the last official Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay. De Molay, born in 1244 was put to death in Paris by the King of France on 18 March 1314. He was the 23rd and last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, leading the Order from 20 April 1292 until it was dissolved by order of Pope Clement V in 1307.

Though little is known of his actual life and deeds except for his last years as Grand Master, he is the best known Templar, along with the Order's founder and first Grand Master, Hugues de Payens(1070–1136). Jacques de Molay's goal as Grand Master was to reform the Order, and adjust it to the situation in the Holy Land during the waning days of the Crusades. As European support for the Crusades had dwindled, other forces were at work which sought to disband the Order and claim the wealth of the Templars as their own. King Philip IV of France, deeply in debt to the Templars, had De Molay and many other French Templars arrested in 1307 and tortured into making false confessions. When de Molay later retracted his confession, Philip had him executed by burning upon a scaffold on the Paris Ile des Juifs in the River Seine on 18 March 1314.

Death-site plaque of Jaques de Molay on Isle des Juifs, Paris
source text and illustrations