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Temple and the lodge.

The Temple And The Lodge

Authors: Michael Beigent and Richard Leigh London: Jonathan Cape. 1989. 306 pages

On Friday, October 13, 1307, the forces of King Philippe IV, with the backing of Pope Clement V, raided all the known properties of the Knights Templar throughout France. This order of warrior monks, formed in Jerusalem during the Crusades, had earned a reputation as formidable fighting men. Since the loss of the Holy Land, they had returned to France and become fabulously wealthy and influential, to the point where they were feared and envied by the Popes and the most powerful kings in Christendom. The properties, estates and mercantile interests owned by the Order were confiscated. Captured knights were tortured to extract confessions of heresy, and even more important, to attempt to determine the whereabouts of knights and wealth that had obviously escaped the net. Much of the treasure coveted by Philippe was never recovered, and many members of the Order were never heard from again. In The Temple and the Lodge authors Michael Beigent and Richard Leigh suggest that a substantial number of the outlawed and excommunicated knights escaped to Scotland, where they played a major role in the struggle for Scottish independence under Robert Bruce. It is in Scotland, in the generations that follow, that it is possible to find the earliest evidence for the emergence of the clandestine brotherhood known as the Freemasons.

Baigent and Leigh argue that it was the remnants of the Knights Templar that evolved into the Masonic Lodge as it exists today. They reconstruct the history of the Templars/Masons from the creation of the Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon in the Middle Ages to the influence of Freemasonry in America at the end of the American Revolution.

Part 4, (chapters 15-19), is of particular interest to members of the UELAC. It has been observed that the United Suites Constitution and the Republic it established are based on principles that are recognizably Masonic. It is also known that a significant proportion of the leaders and men on both sides in the American Revolution were Masons, or at least were influenced by Masonic thought.

Historians debate how much Freemasonry influenced the creation and early development of the new Republic. The authors do not argue for a `Masonic conspiracy', and acknowledge that known Masons on both sides represent a broad spectrum of political thought from the most radical to the most reactionary. Having said that, if one accepts the argument of the authors, the Masonic factor does help to explain what motivated the Rebels, and could be a major factor in accounting for why British commanders did not pursue their military objectives against the Rebels with the same enthusiasm they showed against other enemies. Many British officers were Freemasons, like many of their Continental counterparts. While not prepared to be overtly disloyal to their King, one can be persuaded that at the intellectual and philosophical level, they shared many of the same social and political ideals, through their shared Masonic brotherhood, that were; to inspire Colonial leaders to revolt, and would be incorporated into the United States Constitution. While it alone is not sufficient to account for the outcome of the American Revolution, Masonic influence may have been a significant factor, and one that is often ignored by historians.

Freemasons belong to a secret society, and pledge never to reveal its `secrets'. The Knights Templar, of course, had compelling reasons not to draw attention to themselves after being declared heretics; and even before that they carefully guarded the rituals and inner workings of the Order. Thus any attempt at investigation must by necessity involve a certain amount of speculation and conjecture, and some of the evidence is circumstantial. As far as possible, the authors seem to have based their theories and conclusions on careful consideration of what solid historical evidence is available. Their views are convincingly presented, intelligently argued, and are based on what appears to be an impressive body of research and historical detective work. Moreover, the book reads like a novel! Some of the ideas expressed will be seen as controversial by some, but they should at least be considered by anyone attempting to understand the dynamics of what was a very complex ideological struggle at many levels, and of course by anyone interested in the history and influence of the Masonic Lodge.

[Editor's Note: Freemasonry is a society with secrets, not a `secret society'. If Freemasonry were a secret society, we wouldn't know about it.]
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Publication:The Loyalist Gazette
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 1999
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