Site hosted by Angelfire.com: Build your free website today!

The Knights Templar 

Templars or Knights Templar or Order of Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon Military religious order founded in Jerusalem 1119-20 to protect pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land. They played an important part in the Crusades of the 12th and 13th centuries. Innocent II placed them under direct papal authority 1139, and their international links allowed them to adapt to the 13th-century decline of the Crusader states by becoming Europe's bankers. The Templars' independence, power, and wealth, rather than their alleged heresy, probably motivated Philip IV of France, helped by the Avignon Pope Clement V, to suppress the order 1307-14. The order began as a group of French knights, led by Hugues de Payens. The 'Temple of Solomon' in their full name refers to the site of the Temple of Jerusalem, where they were given their original headquarters by King Baldwin II. Living under vows of poverty and chastity according to the rule of St Bernard of Clairvaux, the order comprised four ranks: servants, chaplains, sergeants, and knights, who wore white surcoats with red crosses.  The order's great wealth derived initially from pious gifts by European kings and nobles, later supplemented by their business activities. After suppression, their property was divided between their great rivals the Hospitallers and various secular rulers. There were three classes of Templars, first there were the knights. These knights were often drawn from the upper ranks of society. They wore white robes and formed the main fighting body of the Templars. The second class were the sergeants or mounted men-at-arms and they were drawn from the bourgeoisie. They did not have as complete armour as the knights, but they acted as squires, guards and stewards, and were addressed as "Brother". The remaining class were the Templar priests, who acted as chaplins and clerks. The entire Templar organization was headed by one man, the Grand Master. The Grand Master was the supreme head of the order and the commander-in-chief and answered only to the Pope. The Grand Master was served by two important officers, the seneschal and the marshal. The seneschal was his chief executive officer and the marshal was the military field commander. 

The Templar battle standard was a banner that consisted of a solid black square over a solid white square. The black represented the sinful life they had left behind and the white purity. It was called the Beauseant, which means "Be noble!" or "Be Glorious" in Medieval French. This vertical banner served as a rallying point for the heavily armoured templars in battle. The Templar knights dressed in magnificent armour and wore white robes with a plain red cross known as the patee, on their left breast. The Pope also decreed that they should wear another smaller cross on their left shoulder.

The Knights Templar served in Europe and the Holy Land for almost two hundred years and were not only soldiers, they also acted as emissaries and bankers. The Templars received lavish gifts both from knights who joined their ranks and from men wanting to increase their fame by demonstrating their largesse, to the point where the Templars set up a huge banking industry and were perhaps the richest single entity, next to the Church, at the point when they were brought down. 

In 1307, Philip the Fair of France issued orders to arrest all Templars and to confiscate their possessions, basing his orders on accusations of blasphemy, heresy, and illicit behaviour of the Templars. He claimed to pass the possessions on to the Church, but actually intended to fund his own campaigns of war with the treasure. The trial of the Templars took seven years because of the papacy, which also was fighting against Philip, was not very keen to dispel its most effective military wing. Under pain of torture, many knights and serving brothers admitted that the charges made against the Order were true. Finally, the Order was found by papal courts to be guilty of the accusations and it was dissolved, its possessions reclaimed, and two of its top men, Jacques de Molay the Grand Master and Geoffroi de Charnay, as well as fifty two other Templars were burned at stake in Paris in March 1314.

The Knights Hospitallers 

Perhaps one of the mostly closely guarded secrets of the history of the family and also of the lands they owned is their connection to a Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem and the Knights Templar. The land at Anglezarke was held of the Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem. The Templars' cross was red on white, that of the Hospitallers white on black. The Knights Hospitallers, also known as the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem used the Lamb and Flag as their heraldic symbol. It is also commonly known that the symbol was associated with John the Baptist, who referred to Jesus as "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." [John's Gospel chapter 1, verse 29] It should be noted that the Rivington and Anglezarke branches of the family have always recognised the symbol of the Mower and phrase Now Thus, Now Thus to mean to turn from being a farmer to their profession as a solider. The family are known to have fought in many military campaigns.

The Knights of the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, was an order of knights formed after the capture of Jerusalem in 1099. The leprosy and other serious diseases that the knights of the Orders of St John, of the Temple and of the Holy Sepulchre had caught during the campaign became a grave problem. The Hosiptallers were established out of this need to take care of the sick knights. The diseases in most patients progressed very slowly and because the hospitals required protection against the infidels as well as brigands and marauders, it was inevitable that the warrior patients of organization should convert the Order into a Knightly militia, as well as a brotherhood. For this reason the year 1098 AD has been considered the official birth date of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem as a chivalric order. The Hospitallers were the oldest Order of Chivalry in existence and the third oldest Order in Christendom.

They were recognized by the pope in 1113 and became the first military order of knights. The order provided hospitals and shelter for pilgrims on their way to the Holy Lands, but they also fielded powerful military units of knights who fought in most every battle of the Crusades. They were headed by a Grand Master and had a similar organizational structure as that of the Knights Templar. The knights of the Order wore a red surcoats, which bore a white cross. This was 'The white Cross of Peace on the blood-red field of War'.

Wherever there was fighting between Christians and infidels, knights of the Order rallied to the support of the Holy Cross. When St Jean d'Acre finally fell to the Mohammedans in 1291, the existence of the Order in the Holy Land ceased. Consequently they built up a naval force and seized the island of Rhodes, which they took from the Saracens in 1310. They formed an independent state on the site, building great wealth increased when Philip IV confiscated the estates of the Templars and turned many of them over to the orderís officers. The Order was expelled from the Island of Rhodes in 1522, but were granted the Island of Malta by order of the Pope, and it was here they enjoyed their finest moment in the Order's long history in 1565 they regained control of Malta from the Turks. The Order was the higher ranking part of the priory of Burscough. The Pilkington's were closely associated with Burscough priory and is most likely here that James Pilkington, later Bishop of England and his brothers were educated into the ways of the Church of Rome. Richard Pilkington, the father of James the future Bishop would have been a squire of this priory. Others  of his rnak were the sergeants or mounted men-at-arms. They did not have as complete armour as the knights, but they acted as squires, guards and stewards.. The remaining class were the Templar priests, who acted as chaplins and clerks. There is evidence that the Prior as part of the moves to confiscate the lands of the Burscough Priory was accused of relations with Alice Pilkington. The accusation was made to bring him down based on him not keeping his vow of celibacy.

Above: The Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem.