The Ciphers of the Cistercians

The medieval Cistercian numerals, or 'ciphers' in 19th-century parlance, were developed by the Cistercian monastic order in the early 13th century at about the time that Arabic numerals were introduced to northwestern Europe. They are more compact than Arabic or Roman numerals, with a single character able to indicate any integer from 1 to 9999. Is this cipher secret or occult?

The Origin of the Templars according to Walter Map ca 1190

Walter Map (Latin: Gualterius Mappus; French: Gautier Map; 1140 – c. 1210) was an English medieval  courtier and writer. Map claimed that he was a man of the Welsh Marches. He was probably born in Herefordshire. Map was a courtier of King Henry II of England, working as clerck in the royal household, and as itinerant justice and justice in Eyre. The King also sent him on missions to Louis VII of France and to Pope Alexander III. Map's studies and employment took him to several church services: canon and precentor of Lincoln, parson of Westbury-upon- Severn in Gloucestershire, prebendary of Mapesbury in the Willesden neighbourhood of London, and in later life (1197) Archdeacon of Oxford.

The Cistercian Order: incorporated instead of founded

Unlike what is generally thought, there was no Cistercian Order as a united entity for much of the twelfth Century. (...) Such a Cistercian Order was only invented in the third quarter of the twelfth century. That Order as we usually think of it, an administrative institution that united more than five hundred abbeys by 1215 (when its organization was held up by the Fourth Lateran Council as a model to be emulated), did not appear in 1119 or 1113 or 1098, the dates usually asserted, but much later. 

The 1074 call for Crusade by Pope Gregory VII

The 1095 speech by Pope Urban II delivered at Clermont Ferrand is well known. This speech aimed at arrousing the people to start a armed pilgrimage to deliver the Holy Land from the hands of the "pagans", that later became known as the First Crusade. Less well known is the speech with a similar purpose delivered in 1074, so about 20 years earlier, by Pope Gregory VII. In this speech the Pope suggested a military expedition to assist the Byzantine empire against the Seljuk Turks, following the defeat of the Byzantine army under Emperor Romanos IV Diogene by the Seljuk Turks at Manzikert in 1071. The very first call to crusade?

Pope Urban II: call to crusade at Clermont, November 27, 1095

On November 27, 1095, Pope Urban II delivered his speech at Clermont Ferrand, aimed at arrousing the people to start an armed pilgrimage to deliver the Holy Land from the hands of the "pagans", a pilgirmage that later became known as the First Crusade. Of this speech several quite different versions have been delivered to our time by primary sources. Below are the version of Fulcher of Chartres and the one of Robert the Monk. 

An earlier founding date of the Templar Order reconstructed

In his book Hugues de Payns en Orient (2019), François Gilet investigates many primary and other sources, after which he reaches a detailed renewed reconstruction of the founding years of the Knights Templar. Confronting all of the chronicles allows him to develop a synthesis of the beginnings of the Temple Order and to move the genesis of their predecessors, today called "proto-Templars", to the year 1115.

The Templar cavalry charge

"The nearest thing that we have to a cavalry manual is the The Rule of the Templars, which in its present form seems to date from the thirteenth century. In several Rules such as 148 - 168 it lays down painstakingly detailed instructions for military behaviour including the delivery of a charge, and this within the framework of monastic discipline. What does the Rule say?

Templar trials retold in a convincing historical novel

The Templar trials of 1307-1314 are well documented by their records which were investigated by many scientists. There are, for instance, Malcolm Barber's classic The Trial of the Templars (2006), Helen Nicholson's The Proceedings Against the Templars in the Britisch Isles (2011), and more recently Alain Demurger's The Persecution of the Knights Templar: Scandal, Torture, Trial (2015/2020). 

However accurate and descriptive these monumental scientific studies are, they focus mainly on the scientific facts, as they should. They are not intended to elaborate on how the people of the day, the Templars concerned in the first place, experienced, felt about and dealt with what happened. For this, historical fiction may come to the rescue, as far as it is sufficiently researched and based on historical data. A good example of such a novel is Non Nobis by Hanny Alders.

The Templar Rule: its multiple origin and long development

The Primitive Rule of the Temple originated as result of the Troyes Council of January, 1129. During that council Hughes de Payens, the major founding member of the group of knights that from about 1119 lived in the former Al-Aqsa mosque on Table Montain, related an account of this group's foundation and history. What is known on the origin of the Rule and its development?

Martyrologies and legendaries: local roots of Medieval Templar communities

Among the books discovered in Templar churches (during the investigations following the Templar arrests of October 13, 1307; TN) were many psalters, legendaries, martyrologies, and antiphonals, but also books for different offices (officiaria) and breviaries. What is  their importance?

The Templar Rule and the prohibition of chess, or was it dice?...

Chess is a game of Arabic origin, that was well known and appreciated at all medieval courts, Muslim and Christian, in Al Andaluz and beyond. The prohibition of Templars playing chess attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux is not to be found in one of the 76 Primitive Rules designed on the results of the Troyes Council (January 1129). So what are the facts?

The masonic Templar link - myths and facts

Templar history has always been accompanied by myths, including with respect to a masonic link. How to distinguish myths from facts?

Knights Templar: council to Kings

For almost the entire duration of its presence in French lands, the Temple enjoyed good relations with royal power. What services did they provide to the wordly rulers?

Templar territorial organisation in the West

The purpose of the European Templar sites was to transfer significant amounts of resources to the East. Provisions, weapons, horses, and coinage formed an ensemble that Templar sources termed "responsio", from "to respond". What did the Temple do to organize this?

Templar chapel architecture in France

Chapels are today the most iconic remains of Templar buildings in France. Sometimes alone in their village or in the open countryside, they have long attracted the attention of art historians. The myth of the primacy of round churches which has only been documented for the Temple in Paris, Laon and perhaps Metz in France, has now been disproved. What was the common design of Templar chapels?

More Templar sites in the Allier department, Central France.

On internet much information on the Knights Templar (Templiers) in France is available. Many mix fact and imagination, myths and truths. Two sites are above question.

Project Beauceant ( is an extensive website (in French), with the main objective to set up a kind of encyclopedia on the Templar Order and a catalogue of diverse historical remnants that the presence of these men has left everywhere in Europe and the Middle-East. To do it, the Project is open to any person, professional or not, who wants to share his research and experiences on this topic. It also contains much information on Templar commanderies.  Regretfully many commanderies in the Centre of France seem to be missing. For these other sources have to be considered, such as the ones below. is another great website (in French) with a lot of information on the Knights Templar and the crusades. It includes very detailed descriptions of the French commanderies, in alphabetical order and per Département.

Mainly from this latter source TemplarsNow composed a new map containing all known and probable Templar sites in the Allier department according to To this were added sites mentioned on All sites were checked on other maps and aerial photographs and categorized, and indicated on the best possible geographical location.

The resulting map is shown below and can also be reached by this link. The work on the map continues, adding information from other sources. TemplarsNow acknowledges gratefully that this map could not have been made without the data from

Similar maps for (for now) 20 other French Departements can be found here.

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New Templar site maps of Cher and Indre Departments, France

Today the French departments Cher (18) and Indre (36) were added to the TemplarsNow maps project.

The aim of this project is to present earlier published information on commanderies on modern Google Maps as much as possible at the exact location. Sources are mainly the websites and, supplemented with information from Wikipedia and other sources on the web.

The location of all sites was checked using the Cassini maps as well as by scanning aerial photographs and maps for appropriate buildings, ruins or even toponyms. At this moment 19 departments have been processed in that way. More to follow.

TemplarsNow has earlier done a similar job for The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.

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Early Templars, mainly from the ranks of lower and middlinge nobility

All the donations received by the Temple added together constituted a significant value. Although the donations were extremely varied in nature, they usually were not cash money but most often lands, revenues from land, rents and rights on land or of taxes on trade, finance or crafts, which were essentially urban activities. Who were the donators?

The Templar motte at Richemont, Allier, France

One of the less well known Templar sites of the Allier Department, France, is the "motte" at Richemont (Municipality of Bizeneuille). What does this site look like?

Saint Bernard - hating and loving Knights

The Cistercian Order, and especially Clairvaux abbot Bernard (1091-1153), was essential in creating the Templar Order. His attitude towards knights was as dogmatic as his character, as is documented in his Vitae, the book that describes his life. What does the Vitae tell us about his views towards knights, his convictions and way of life?

Noble support of the early Templars: funds, hands and land

It was from France nobles that the Templars received their earliest support in terms of donations. The beginning of a huge real estate empire.

The langue d’oïl, the mother tongue of the Knights Templar

French lands have always had a privileged relationship with the Temple. But what tongue did the Templars speak?

Small rural commanderies: the heart of the Templar organisation

Templar commanderies, or preceptories, formed an interlocking network, despite significant regional differences. They housed brethren that belonged to three categories of members of the Order: knights, clerics, and sergeants, living together in the everyday life of the commandery. How was the commandery organized?

Were Occitanian Templars also Cathar heretics?

Templars and Cathars were contemporaries. The Cathars were subdued during the Albigensian Crusade (1209–1229). This was a 20-year military campaign initiated by Pope Innocent III to eliminate heretical Catharism in the Languedoc region, in southern France. What was the role of the Templars?

Templar devotion of Saint Blaise

"Among the devotional objects mentioned in the inventories (made during the trial investigations 1307-1312, TN) relics and reliquaries feature prominently. (...) One devotional trend that the Templars, especially in southern France, seem to have picked up was that of the fourth-century martyr St Blaise, bishop of Sebastia.

Contemporary Templar images on a medieval shrine?

Contemporary images of the Knights Templar are rare, but are said to occur on the tomb of St Thomas of Cantilupe in Hereford Cathedral. Hereford Cathedral is the cathedral church of the Anglican Diocese of Hereford, England. Truth or myth?

The Templar banner

The name baucent, also spelled bausent, bauceant, baussant, beausseant, beauséant etc., in origin is the Old French term for a piebald horse, a horse that has a pattern of spots (white) on a pigmented background of hair. The name was later approximated to the French bien-séant, meaning "decorous, becoming". 

The word, however, is more commonly used for the war flag (vexillum belli) used by the Knights Templar in the 12th and 13th centuries.

The Hildegarde - Bernard of Clairvaux link

The religious mystic Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 17 September 1179) was a contemporary of the equally mystical Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 – 20 August 1153). They both lived a life of contemplation and religious service and shared their thoughts by letter. This blog presents one of those letters.

Medieval Templar libraries - product of necessity and circumstances

"The lists of books recorded in Templar inventories show that although many Templar communities possessed only very few books, some had amassed quite substantial libraries. (...) None of these book collections were exceptional and if compared with those of established monastic houses even the largest of them seem insignificant. But were they?

Medical care in the Templar Order

The Knights Templar provided medical care, both for their own brothers as for people from outside the Order. Taking care of medical problems started with preventing illness to enter the Order in the first place. Concealing illness on entry was considered an offence, which could lead to expulsion. Leprosy and epilepsy are mentioned explicitely in the Rule as illnesses to be kept out of the Order. But when sickness came up, care was provided.

Jacques de Molay: the last Templar Grand Master and Mongol warlord?

The sudden arrest of the Templars (in 1307, TN), the conflicting stories about confessions, and the dramatic deaths by burning, generated many stories and legends about both the Order and its last Grand Master. One suggested that De Molay wanted to join forces with the Mongols. True or false?

Secular Templar privileges, powers and immunities in the 12th century

In 1172 AD Pope Alexander’s famous bull, Omne datum optimum, confirming the previous privileges of the Templars, and conferring upon them additional powers and immunities, was published in England.

After the preamble and the first section on independance of the Templars in matters of the church, pope Alexander details their independance in worldy matters.

Medieval Templar devotion - a strong focus towards Mary

"Among the devotional objects mentioned in the inventories (made during the trial investigations 1307-1312, TN) relics and reliquaries feature prominently. Schenk has argued elsewhere that Templars hoarded True Cross relics, which were elemental to the order’s identity as an order of Christ and powerful reminders of the Templars’ roots and responsibilities in the Holy Land. The Virgin Mary was another Saint that was venerated throughout the Order. 

Medieval Templar liturgy: standardized or patchwork?

According to popular sources, Templar religious beliefs and hence also their liturgy, may have been non-orthodox and even heretical. Is there proof of that? 

The medieval Paris Temple reconstructed

A meticulous reconstruction of the Temple enclosure as it was at the end of the Middle Ages.

source: Youtube by Grez Productions

Relics of the Knights Templar - saints and veneration

Saints or angels were an inspiration for Templars and Hospitallers. "Particularly popular among the military orders were female martyr saints. Templar Peñíscola, for example, held some relics of Saint Margaret and Saint Mary Magdalene, among others.  Depictions of Saint Catherine also decorate the walls of many Templar churches, such as the ones in Metz (France) and Chwarszczany (Poland). There frescoes of the Holy Virgins, including Saint Catherine and Saint Barbara, originally commissioned by the Templars, were later refreshed by the Hospitallers in testament to their enduring popularity.

Relics of the Knights Templar en route - provenance and destination

"The relics of the early fourth-century martyr Saint Euphemia were allegedly taken by the Templars from Constantinople after the city was sacked in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade, first to Atlit Castle (Château Pèlerin) in the Holy Land, then to Cyprus in 1291, and finally, with the Hospitallers, to Rhodes and Malta, before ending their days with Napoleon’s fleet at the Battle of the Nile in 1798.

It should be no surprise then that the military orders could amass substantial relic collections and so create highly visible cults. (...) In 1308 the Templar preceptory of Saint Eulalia (Aveyron, France) possessed no fewer than nine reliquaries containing a “wealth of relics,” (...)

Relics of the Knights Templar - character and objective

A serie of three blogs, quoting freely from Gerrard and Borowski (2017), considers the extensive collections of religious relics accumulated by the military orders in general and the Knights Templar in particular

"Singled out by Jacques de Molay as a significant component of his order’s religious heritage, the last grand master of the Templars claimed that he did not know of “any other Order in which the chapels and churches had better or more beautiful ornaments and reliquaries relating to the divine cult and in which the divine service was better performed by its priests and clerics, except for cathedral churches.” (...)

Templars in Art: The Ordination of Jacques de Molay

Ordination of Jacques de Molay in 1265 at the Beaune commandery by François Marius Granat (1775-1849), collection Calvet Museum, Avignon. source Wikimedia 

The Templar church at Chamberaud, Creuse, France

Perhaps founded in 1193, the Templar commandery of Chamberaud (Creuse, France) stood on the natural promontory of the present bourg (village center). The oldest proven date relating to the existence of the House of the Temple of Chamberaud dates back to around 1258. The annexes of Chamberaud at the time of the Templars were Fransèches, La Pouge, Lépinas and Montbut.

Spiritual and physical war in the Middle Ages

"Despite the obvious difference between the Poor Knights of Christ and Bernard ’s Cistercian brothers (...) the intellectual continuity between these two organizations was considerable. Bernard viewed both as expressions of Christian ideals which provided a model for their contemporary peers.Cistercians were spiritual warriors, and the Templars were physical warriors fighting a fundamentally spiritual war.

OSMTH Easter Message 2020

Easter Message from the Grand Master and Grand Commander.

Brothers and Sisters,

As we near the end of Lent, and approach Easter Sunday, our World continues to struggle with the COVID- 19 pandemic. And we face other challenges, to name a few: inequality and bias, lack of water in many nations, continued wars with increased refugees and natural disasters. But, amidst this strife, we have hope and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ for a better life, and with our prayers through this to God the Father, we will be delivered from this strife. Isn’t it great though, that even in these most difficult of times, we have so much to be thankful for, again as blessing from God. We still must rejoice now and at all times of the year to show our Father how thankful we are for his Son, and all our other spiritual and material blessings, and the fact that we will overcome all adversity through Him. For all that we have, for all that we are, and for all we can be, we give Him the glory, now and forever.

David Appleby GCTJ
Grand Master
George MacLean GCTJ
Grand Commander

source OSMTH Facebook

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Scribal crusading as medieval propaganda

Propaganda is of all times. Today social media are used. In the times of the Crusades letters and travel reports were common, which were hand copied and distributed by monks.

Reading on Jerusalem and celebrating its first Crusader conquest in 1099 was recommended, as in doing so the the glory of the event and God's help therewith would be magnified. As such this monastic praise would enhance the glorious reverberations from the event itself and support the crusading movement. In this way the transmission and reception of First Crusade letters represented a form of “scribal crusading. ”

Diet of the Knights Templar: key to health and a long life

It is striking to note that many Templars lived a long life. Hugues de Payens, one of the founding fathers, died at the age of 66. Jacques the Molay, the last Grand Master, and Geoffrey de Charney, preceptor of Normandy, were executed at the age of 67 and 63, respectively. Official documents of the Vatican suggest that many of the Templars lived longer compared to other people of the Middle Ages, whose life expectancy was in average 25 to 40 years. At the time this exceptional longevity was attributed to a divine gift. However, the strict observance of specific lifestyle habits conferring beneficial effects, may explain the reasons for their greater life expectancy.

The Lament of the Templars

It was in May that I was knighted
In the Commandery of Montigny d'Allier
On this clear day my joy could not be compared
But to that of lovers who have their hearts filled

When I received the immaculate cloak from the Order
Marked with the red cross, on the embroidered shoulder
The Grand Master, here, deigned to speak to me
"Be faithful and ardent because you are Templar"

Relics of the Knights Templar - saints and veneration

Saints or angels were an inspiration for Templars and Hospitallers. "Particularly popular among the military orders were female martyr saints. Templar Peñíscola, for example, held some relics of Saint Margaret and Saint Mary Magdalene, among others.  Depictions of Saint Catherine also decorate the walls of many Templar churches, such as the ones in Metz (France) and Chwarszczany (Poland). There frescoes of the Holy Virgins, including Saint Catherine and Saint Barbara, originally commissioned by the Templars, were later refreshed by the Hospitallers in testament to their enduring popularity.

March 18, 2020, the 706th anniversary of the death of Jacques de Molay

On March 18, 2020 we commemorate the 706th 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.

St Bernard's 1130 letter reworded for modern Templars

The Liber ad milites templi de laude novae militiae (Latin for 'Book to the Knights of the Temple, in praise of the new knighthood') was a work written by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 – August 20, 1153)  between 1120 and 1139. It appears to intend to boost the morale of the fledgling Knights Templar in Jerusalem. In the early 1120s, some of the first Templars were having doubts about the idea of an order of monks devoted to military combat in the Crusades, worrying about whether there was a genuine theological justification for monk-warriors.

Can this 12th century letter be still of value today, especially for modern Knights Templar? Robert S. Magnum thinks it can.

Beliefs of the Knights Templar: Baphomet or Christ?

Time and again the theory is put forward that the Knights Templar worshiped "Baphomet". This is a demonic entity who later became a symbol for Satanic worships. During the Inquisition of the Templars in the 14th century, the knights were accused of worshipping this figure.

The famous icon of Baphomet as a goat-headed idol, however, only emerged much later on. This icon quickly became a symbol of the occult, specifically as a representation of evil and the Devil.

Now what were the beliefs of the Knights Templar: Baphomet or Christ?