The Origin of Freemasonry: The Crusaders & Templars
by Harun Yahya
The common perception of the majority of
historians of Freemasonry is that the origin of the organization goes back
to the Crusades. In fact, though Masonry was only officially established
and recognized in England in the early eighteenth century, the roots of
the organization do reach back to the Crusades in the twelfth century. At
the center of this familiar tale is an order of crusaders called the
Knights Templar or the Templars.
No matter how much some may insist that the
Crusades were military expeditions carried out in the name of the
Christian faith, fundamentally, they were undertaken for material gain. In
a period when Europe was experiencing great poverty and misery, the
prosperity and wealth of the East, especially of the Muslim in the Middle
East, attracted the Europeans. This inclination took on a religious
facade, and was ornamented with the symbols of Christianity, though, in
actuality, the idea of the Crusades was born out of a desire for worldly
gain. This was the reason for the sudden change among Christians of Europe
from their former pacifist policies, in earlier periods of their history,
towards military aggression.
The founder of the Crusades was Pope Urban
II. He summoned the Council of Clermont, in 1095, in which the former
pacifist doctrine of the Christians was abandoned. A holy war was called
for, with the intent to wrest the holy lands from the hands of the
Muslims. Following the council, a huge army of Crusaders was formed,
composed both of professional soldiers, and tens of thousands of ordinary
Historians believe Urban II's venture was
prompted by his desire to thwart the candidacy of a rival to the papacy.
Furthermore, while European kings, princes, aristocrats and others greeted
the pope's call with excitement, their intentions were basically mundane.
As Donald Queller of The University of Illinois put it, "the French
knights wanted more land. Italian merchants hoped to expand trade in
Middle Eastern ports... Large numbers of poor people joined the
expeditions simply to escape the hardships of their normal lives." Along the way, this greedy mass slaughtered many Muslims, and
even Jews, in hopes of finding gold and jewels. The crusaders even cut
open the stomachs of those they had killed to find gold and precious
stones the victims may have swallowed before they died.
After a long and difficult journey, and
much plunder and slaughter of Muslims, this motley band called Crusaders
reached Jerusalem in 1099. When the city fell after a siege of nearly five
weeks, the Crusaders moved in. They carried out a level of savagery the
like of which the world has seldom seen. All Muslims and Jews in the city
were put to the sword. In the words of one historian,
"They killed all the Saracens and the Turks they found...
whether male or female."
In two days, the Crusader army killed some
40,000 Muslims in the most barbaric manner.4 The crusaders then made
Jerusalem their capital, and founded a Latin Kingdom stretching from the
borders of Palestine to Antioch.
Later, the crusaders initiated a struggle
to maintain their position in the Middle East. In order to sustain the
state they had founded, it was necessary to organize it. To this end, they
established military orders, the alike of which had never existed before.
Members of these orders came from Europe to Palestine, and lived in a type
of monastery where they received military training to fight against
Muslims. One of these orders, in particular, was different from the
others. It underwent a transformation that would influence the course of
history. This order was the Templars.
The Templars, or, their full name, The Poor
Fellow-Soldiers of Jesus Christ and the Temple of Solomon, was formed in
1118, that is, 20 years after the crusaders took Jerusalem. The founders
of the order were two French knights, Hugh de Payens and Godfrey de St.
Omer. At first there were 9 members, but the order steadily grew. The
reason they named themselves after the temple of Solomon was because the
place they had chosen as a base was the temple mount where this ruined
temple had been located. This same location was where the Dome of the Rock
(Qubbet as-Sakhrah) stood.
The Templars called themselves "poor
soldiers," but within a short time they became very wealthy. Christian
pilgrims, coming from Europe to Palestine, were under the complete control
of this order, and by whose money they became very rich.
It was the Templars who were mainly
responsible for the crusaders' attacks of and murder of Muslims. For this
reason, the great Islamic commander Saladin, who defeated the crusaders'
army in 1187, in the Battle of Hattin, and afterwards rescued Jerusalem,
put the Templars to death for the murders they had committed, even though
he had otherwise pardoned a large number of Christians. Although they lost
Jerusalem, and suffered heavy casualties, the Templars continued to exist.
And, despite the continual diminution of the Christian presence in
Palestine, they increased their power in Europe and, first in France, and
then in other countries, became a state within a state.
Finally, in 1307, the French king Philip le
Bel decided to arrest the members of the order. Some of them managed to
escape but most of them were caught. Pope Clement V also joined the purge.
Following a long period of interrogation and trial, many of the Templars
admitted to heretical beliefs, that they had rejected the Christian faith
and insulted Jesus in their masses. Finally, the leaders of the Templars,
who were called "grand masters," beginning with the most important of
them, Jacques de Molay, were executed in 1314 by order of the Church and
the King. The majority of them were put into prison, and the order
dispersed and officially disappeared.
The trial of the Templars ended with the
termination of the order. But, although the order "officially" ceased to
exist, it did not actually disappear. During the sudden arrest in 1307,
some Templars escaped, managing to cover their tracks. According to a
thesis based on various historical documents, a significant number of them
took refuge in the only kingdom in Europe that did not recognize the
authority of the Catholic Church in the fourteenth century, Scotland.
There, they reorganized under the protection of the Scottish King, Robert
the Bruce. Some time later, they found a convenient method of disguise by
which to continue their clandestine existence: they infiltrated the most
important guild in the medieval British Isles—the wall builders' lodge, and eventually, they fully seized
control of these lodges.
The wall-builders' lodge changed its name,
at the beginning of the modern era, calling itself the "Masonic lodge."
The Scottish Rite is the oldest branch of Masonry, and dates back to the
beginning of the fourteenth century, to those Templars who took refuge in
Scotland. And, the names given to the highest degrees in Scottish Rite are
titles attributed centuries earlier to knights in the order of Templars.
These are still employed to this day.
In short, the Templars did not disappear,
but their philosophy, beliefs and rituals still persist under the guise of
Freemasonry. This thesis is supported by much historical evidence, and is
accepted today by a large number of Western historians, whether they are
Freemasons or not., (For detailed information see Harun Yahya, The New
The thesis that traces the roots of Masonry
to the Templars is often referred to in magazines published by Masons for
its own members. Freemasons are very accepting of the idea. One such
magazine is called Mimar Sinan (a publication of Turkish
Freemasons), which describes the relationship between the Order of the
Templars and Freemasonry in these words:
In 1312, when the French king, under
pressure from the Church, closed the Order of Templars and gave their
possessions to the Knights of St. John in Jerusalem, the activities of
the Templars did not cease. The great majority of the Templars took refuge
in Freemasonic lodges that were operating in Europe at that time. The
leader of the Templars, Mabeignac, with a few other members, found refuge
in Scotland under the guise of a wall builder under the name of Mac Benach.
The Scottish King, Robert the Bruce, welcomed them and allowed them to
exercise great influence over the Masonic lodges in Scotland. As a
result, Scottish lodges gained great importance from the point of view of
their craft and their ideas.
Today, Freemasons use the name Mac Benach
with respect. Scottish Masons, who inherited the Templars' heritage,
returned it to France many years later and established there the basis of
the rite known as the Scottish Rite." 
Finally, we say, it is clear that the roots
of Freemasonry stretch back to the Order of Templars, and that the Masons
have adopted the philosophy of this order. Masons themselves accept this.
(For further reading, see
"Global Freemasonry" by Harun
 World Book Encyclopedia,
"Crusades," Contributor: Donald E.
Queller, Ph.D., Prof. of History, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign,
World Book Inc., 1998
 Geste Francorum, or the Deeds of the Franks
and the Other Pilgrims to Jerusalem, trans. Rosalind Hill, London, 1962,
For this thesis
about Freemasonry, see. John J. Robinson,
"Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets
of Freemasonry", New York, M. Evans & Company, 1989
Ender Arkun, "Masonlarin
Dusunce Evrimine Katkisina Kisa Bir Bakis" (A Short Look at the
Contribution of Freemasonry to the Evolution of Thought), Mimar Sinan,
1990, No. 77, p.68
is a prominent Turkish intellectual.
relevant / Harun
Yahya's book (s) now: