Wednesday, 23 September 2015


A brief survey of some of the imposter Orders
The Modern revivals of the Extinct Order of the Temple - it is not necessary to explore the early history of the great Crusader Order of the Temple in any detail. Founded in Jerusalem circa 1119-20 by two French noblemen it was confirmed by the three Papal Bulls Omne datum optimum (1139), Milites Templi (1144) and Militia Dei (1145) and was one of the dominant military powers of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. It is certain, however, that the Order was abolished "by an inviolable and perpetual decree" [1] in Pope Clement V's Bull Vox in excelso of March 22, 1312. Furthermore, following its dissolution, the Grand Master Jacques de Molay was burnt at the stake on March 18, 1314, unjustly accused of disgraceful crimes, and many of the knights were executed or imprisoned. Contemporary chroniclers concluded that the injustices inflicted on the Templars were revenged by the death of Pope Clement on April 20th, just one month after Molay's execution, and Philip IV of France, who had engineered their downfall, died before the end of the year.

That these events ended the Templars is well-attested; not one single document exists to support claims that it survived. To quote the eminent historian of Orders of Chivalry, Malcolm Barber, "Through the creation of their pseudo-histories, the Freemasons established a second indispensable element in the Templar image, that of the secret society .... it was during the 1760's that German masons introduced a specific Templar connection, claiming that the Order through its occupation of the Temple of Solomon, had been the repository of secret wisdom and magical powers, which James of Molay had handed down to his successor before his execution and of which the eighteenth century freemasons were the direct heirs". [2]

While several branches of international freemasonry still use the name "Order of the Temple" to describe their group, these bodies do not pretend to be Orders of Chivalry. Barber continues, "Lack of evidence has never been a serious problem for such writers, but nevertheless during the nineteenth century some felt a compulsion to consolidate these theories by the miraculous discovery of documents and objects which seemed to authenticate the Templar role. These included a list of Grand Masters of the Temple who had occupied the office since Molay's time; caskets, coins, and medallions supposedly held by the Templars .... and secret 'Rules'...... As most of these documents and objects did not have a provenance earlier than circa 1800 at best, it is not surprising that William of Nogaret and his men were unable to locate any of them at the time of the trial 500 years before". [3]

In the early nineteenth century an attempt to revive the Order of the Temple was made by Augustus, Duke of Sussex (a black sheep son of George III and notorious rake), Charles Tennyson d'Eyncourt (uncle of the poet, Alfred, Lord Tennyson) and Admiral Sir Sidney Smith, who had participated as a naval captain in the defense of Acre in 1799. According to a letter from Smith he was given a Templar cross purporting to have belonged to Richard I (who was never a Templar knight); this cross had supposedly been in the custody of the Greek Orthodox Archbishops ever since and later Smith's possession of it was sufficient for the French Masonic "Order of the Temple" to confer upon him the title of "Grand Prior of England". Smith was a romantic prepared to accept the most unlikely story and, joining with Tennyson d'Eyncourt, he handed over the title of Grand Prior to the Duke of Sussex. With Smith's death in 1840 and that of Sussex in 1843 Tennyson d'Eyncourt himself lost interest and resigned.

While various Templar groups flourished in the latter part of the century, they seem to have been largely independent of each other. The English branch languished until the various twentieth century revivals on the fringes of the chivalric world; the Temple is one of the most popular self-styled "Order" with less discriminating "collectors" of pseudo-chivalric honours.

Barber (Op. cit.) continues to dismiss the fantasies of Joseph von Hammer-Purstall (1818) and Jules Loiseleur (1872, reprinted 1975), ending his work "the Templar myths have therefore proved extremely durable and their contributions to the modern image of the real Templars arguably as powerful as that of their documented history...... The longevity of these myths perhaps, like Gnosticism, relates to their flexibility, for they have been used by both conservative and radical proponents of the conspiracy theory of history, by romantics imbued with nostalgia for a lost medieval past, by Freemasons seeking a colorful history to justify their penchant for quasi-religious ritual and play-acting, and by charlatans who seek profit in exploiting the gullible". Quoting from Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum, one of the characters, Belbo, when asked how he recognized a lunatic, responded. "For him, everything proves everything else. The lunatic is all idée fixé, and whatever he comes across confirms his lunacy. You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense, by his flashes of inspiration, and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars". [4]

There are various branches of the Templar revival, and so-called "Priories" scattered across the globe. One such, the "Priory of Saint Norbert", apparently including Illinois, Indiana and Missouri, recently held a rather pompous "investiture" and "Solemn Vespers" at Saint James's Cathedral in Chicago, on "October 26, A.D. 1996" (the A.D. just in case someone should suppose they had returned from the pre-Christian era!). Among the luminaries who apparently underwrote this affair were "Her Highness Princess Elisabeth" (of where, one might ask?), and a whole list of gentleman misusing the title of "Sir", including Viktor Foerster, Thomas Glaser, Arstotle Halikais, John Lopez, Ronald Mangun, Russel Parthun, Dr George Podlusky, Terence Quandt, Jerome Radecky, Edward Rosewall, Maj-Gen Richard Stearney, Rev Fr John Tilford, Col Raymond Timmer, Admiral Grant Hollett, "His Excellency" Rev James Parker, and others.

The Ancient and Noble Order of the Knights Templar: yet another organization claiming to be descended from the original knights Templars and perhaps associated with the above. The evident success of this body is demonstrated by their financial requirements - a "benefaction" of $10,000 US dollars on joining and $2500 US dollars thereafter (several times what is required of Knights of Malta, for example, but a substantial reduction from the previous requirement of 45,000 Swiss Francs and $25,000 Swiss Francs respectively). In addition to the ranks of Knight and Dame, this group also had a category of Knight or Dame Chamberlain (limited to 50 in any one year), and Knight or Dame "Savant" (whatever that means), limited to twenty in any one year and a maximum of fifty. There were also ranks of Knight or Dame Fellows and Knight or Dame Chancellors, limited to members of the "Chancellors Court of Benefactors". Knights Fellows are apparently hereditary, in perpetuity, descending through the male or female line with the right to "abdicate" the title in favor of an heir. Apparently this includes the "lawful" right to the titles of "Sir" or "Lady". According to a letter dated 7 October 1996 from "The Chancellor Savant" 40% of their income was to be devoted to charitable purposes (very much less than the amount so dedicated by the vast majority of recognized Orders of Chvialry). This body, in addition to its "Chancellor Savanta", a certain "Sir" Graham Renshaw-Heron, M. Jur, PhD, KST (Via dell Ariete 65, Colle Piuccio, 04016 Sabaudia, Italy; tel), has a "Chief Historian" the "learned Bishop the Reverend Dr Sir Paul Benedek" and a "Chief Archivist" "Dr Sir James Hannon"

This body, in asserting its legitimacy as the successor of the Templar Order, states (letter cited 7 October 1996): "our researchers have attempted to isolate and contact these various claimants [to be successors of the Templars], all but on proved fruitless. This one exception, however, after exhaustive efforts, was also, and most regrettably proven to belong to group of very kind and no doubt well-meaning people, having a common interest in history, overly fertile imaginations, but absolutely no basis of claim. There can never be and doubt, however, that many organizations do exist, and who believe they are either Templar or some other ancient survivor of some medieval Order of chivalry....." The letter goes on to dismiss all these organizations and their claims. The author of this letter claims that the Templars did not exist by Papal "instigation" but the King of Jerusalem - forgetting, of course, that (a) the King of Jerusalem was himself a Papal vassal, and (b) that in fact the Templars were constituted by Papal Bull, and their Rule approved by the Pope - and not by any act of the Kings of Jerusalem.

The subsequent reasoning for the alleged survival of the Order is so laughable in its convoluted reasoning (drawing a mysterious analogy with the discovery of the Cullinan diamond) that it is not worth repeating. This "Order" claims to have made donations to the underprivileged in Indonesia and India, without specifying precisely the objects or the amount of their charity. Apparently a "Dr Sir Carl Shapley" and a "Lady Virginia Lloyd-Thayer" are both presently in India working in the Order's interests, supervising a Templar project at the village of Bodhgaya, assisted by the "resident Charity Commissioner for India, Sir Nan Mohan Lal". The "Order" aspires, however, to admit at least 25,000 people, with a benefit to the Order of $250,000,000!!!, of which an anticipated $100,000,000 would be devoted to charitable and philanthropic endeavour. While one would indeed like to know who are the likely beneficiaries of this munificence, one might want to know even more who would get the remaining $150,000,000! This "Order" does not have a Grand Master, but the senior executive officer is apparently this same "Chancellor Savant" who occupies "a position of Constitutional authority similar to that enjoyed by the original medieval Grand Masters". The recipient of the kind letter of invitation to join this body was told that "make the moves that will put you among your true and noble peers, take the steps that will cause you to be legally known and addressed as Sir ........, and if you are married, your wife to be known and addressed with the honorific of 'Lady' ......and if you have an Heir, he or she will be lawfully entitled to be known and addressed as 'The Honorable', etc etc". The first investiture in the US was held scheduled for Thursday 27th March through Sunday 30th March, 1997. A web site associated with this "Order" could be found in the past at:

There was another large Templar site is at:
Sovereign Military Order of the Temple, Priory of Saint Michael and Saint George. It now has moved to  a more substantial web site combined with some other Templar "priories" at There is also a Priory of St James at 

Other self-styled Templar Orders, all reciting similar invented histories, include one at, another (British group) at while a rival British group describes itself as the only "officially recognised" Order (whatever that means - recognised by whom? Certainly not the UK government) . Their "official recognition" however is challenged by another UK group, also claiming the same "official" status - see

Then there is a Priory of St Louis the Crusader based in St Louis, Missouri, perhaps an unlikely place to find a colony of crusaders!
The Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani Ordo claims to be an "International Knighthood Order founded in 1118 in Jerusalem by Hugues de Payns, the last Statutes are published in the Official Gazette of the State of Brazil, on June 21 1956, Section I, page 12199-12200, and updated on december 27 1956, Section I, page 24718-24719." This facility does not confer any recognition by the Republic of Brazil of this body as an "Order of Chivalry".

"In Italy is approved by the Tribunale di Roma - Pretura di Frascati on January 18 1960, legalized by the Procura Generale della Repubblica - Corte d'Appello di Roma on January 19 1960 at n°840; approved by the Ministro degli Affari Esteri on January 19 1960, validated by the Brazilian State on March 22 1960." This likewise does not mean that the Order is recognized as an "order of Chivalry or Knighthood" in Italy, a status defined by a law of 1951 which emppowers the state to accord recognition to "non-National Orders". This category is the one into which the self-styled Templar Order would fall if it were considered an Order of Knighthood. It is not considered as such, however, except by the members and their associates who are sadly deluded in this regard.

The Grand Preceptory of Italy of this group maintains a web site at: This siteb discloses that the address of the Grand Preceptory is Via Luigi Ronzoni n°41 00151 Roma (ITALY) - tel. 0039-6-58203750 - fax 0039-6-535233. Its fictional successzion of "grand masters" after the execution of Molay names the following: 23 - Jean-Marc de Larmeny (1314-1324); 24 - Francesco Tommaso Teobald d'Alessandria (1324-1340); 25 - Arnaud de Braque (1340-1349); 26 - Jean de Clermont (1349-1357); 27 - Bertrand du Guesclin (1357-1380); 28 - Jean I, Count d'Armagnac (1381-1392); 29 - Bernard, Count d'Armagnac (1392-1419); 30 - Jean II, Count d'Armagnac (1419-1451); 31 - Jean de Croy (1451-1472); R - Bernard Imbault (1472-1478); 32 - Robert de Lenoncourt, Cardinal Arcibishop of Reims (1478-1497); 33 - Galeas de Salazar (1497-1516); 34 - Philippe de Chabot, Conte de Charny (1516-1544); 35 - Gaspard de Saulx et de Tavannes (1544-1574); 36 - Henry de Montmorency (1574-1615); 37 - Charles de Valois, Duc d'Angouleme (1616-1651); 38 - Jacques Rouxel de Grancey et de Medavy (1651-1681); 39 - Jacques-Henry de Durfort, Duc de Duras (1681-1705); 40 - H.M. (??) Prince Philippe, Duc d'Orleans (1705-1723); 41 - Prince Louis-Auguste de Bourbon, Duc de Maine (1724-1736); 42 - Prince Louis-Henry de Bourbon et de Conde (1737-1741); 43 - Prince Louis-Francois de Bourbon et de Conty (1741-1776); 44 - Louis-Hercules-Timoleon de Cosse (1776-1792); R - Claude-Mathieu Radix de Chevillon (1792-1804); 45 - Bernard-Raymond Fabre Palapatri di Spoleto (1804-1838); D' - Charles-Antoine-Gabriel Duc de Choiseul (1813-1813); D - Jules Guignes de Moreton et de Chabrillan (1836-1840); R - Sidney Smith, admiral of England (1838-1840); R - Jean Marie Raoul, magistral lieutenent (1840-1850); R - Narcisse de Valleray, magistral lieutenent (1850-1857); 46 - H.M. George V, King of Hannover (1857-1866); R - Angel Gabriel Maxim Vernois (1866-1873); 47 - H.M. Edward VII, Prince of Wales and King of England (1873-1910); D - Josephin Peladan (1892-1894); 48 - H.M. William II, Emperor of Germany (1910-1915); - "International Secretariat of the Templars" (1915-1920); - "Council of Regence" (1920-1935); R - Theodore Covias (1935-1938); D - Emil Clement Joseph Vandenberg (1935-1942); R - Gustave Joseph Jonckbloedt de Juge (1938-1945); - "Council of Regence" of the General Capitol of France (1945-1956); 49 - Prince Gabriel Jnellas Paleologo (1956-1987); 50 - Sebastiao Simoes de Lima (1988-1996); 51 - Prince Don Inellas Zaccaria (1996-).

This list varies in the last two centuries the names claimed by most other pseudo Templar Orders, each of which claim their own peculiar succession in order to justify the pretensions of their own claimants (generally using fantasy titles). The majority of those named would never have even known that centuries later anyone was pretending that they had somehow been "grand masters" of a non-existent, fictional Order of Knighthood. It is absolutely certain that neither King George V of Hannover, nor King Edward VII of Great Britain, nor the Kaiser Wilhelm II, had anything to do with any such pseudo-Order. Although most of the people named were historical personages, the titles given them are generally given incorrectly (displaying the ignorance of those who compiled the list). It is equally certain that the claims of the two "princes" named as "grand masters" in the scond half of this century are self-assumed.

Mr Rocco Zingari, who apparently asked the Vatican (unsuccessfully) to approve his Order in 1994, has been appointed "Grand Preceptor" by "Prince" Paleologo. The address of the Order is Avenida Paulista, 453, conj. 132, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The most successful of the self-styled Templar Orders is that headed by "Count" Don Fernando Campello Pinto Pereira de Sousa Fontes  as "Grand Master", see  he claims to have succeeded his father, "Count" Antonio Campello Pinto Pereira de Sousa Fontes, who in turn had succeeded  Emile Joseph Isaac Vandenburg. No exoplanation is given as to the preceding Grand Masters, until the end of the 18th century when it is stated that "In 1776, the Duke de Cosse Brissac accepted the Grand Mastership of the Templar Order and remained in office until his execution in 1782 during the bloody French Revolution." The author of this site's ignorance of history is exposed in his dating of the French revolution - this particular Duke of Brissac, a famously irreverent libertine, was actually executed in  September 1792. That this "Order" claims to be disassociated from the Freemasons is particularly interestign as of course Brissac, and the Duke of Orléans, named as his predecessor, were notorious French Freemasons. This body, styled the "Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani", claims to be a Christian organization (despite its evident willingness to present a fictitious and invented history in its published history). On its web site the Order dedicates a paragraph to denouncing those who set up their own Templar Order independently of their own fantasy body, a case of the pot calling the kettle black and characteristic of the schisms that pervade so many of these bodies. The US members of this body have a web site at which they describe as the website of:"The Ancient Order of Knights Templar"... "a true (sic), legitimate 883-year-old Order of Knighthood!"

This body was run by a "Chevalier" Vincent G. Zubras, Jr., KGCTS, KGCTJ, Provincial Preceptor, OPCCTS, and had its headquarters at P.O. Box 600231, Dallas, Texas, 75360-0231, USA

Of course there is a Scottish "Grand Priory" since Rosslyn chapel is the site of many Templar fantasies, stimulated by the historical fiction of Dan Brown - see

Italy has a large and flourishing body of Templar "knights" - see and while France has grand priories of the larger Orders cited above, it also has a spin-off group inspired by the Templars -

The Swedish "Priory" of this so-called "Order" has a web site at, and the inclusion of a number of senior Swedish military officers (Sweden being a neutral country has few opportunities for its military to earn decorations for valor, so its officers are always hungry for more decorations) has enabled this body to obtain permission for its insignia to be worn on military uniform. The site is limited to password access. 

This group takes a harsh anti-Moslem stance with a popup advertisement on their first internet page asking if the visitor believes terrorists are entering the USA along with refugees.

One could find many other such fantasy groups by trawling the internet - the mass murdered Anders Behring Breivik claimed to be a knight Templar while a group of volunteer fighters opposing ISIL have also assumed the name and a version of the Templar badge.

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