Are There Any Knights Templar Buildings In The US Or Canada?

Are There Any Knights Templar Buildings In The US Or Canada?

The Knights Templar, a medieval Christian military order that existed from the 12th to the 14th centuries, was well known for their martial prowess and financial acumen. The order played a significant role in the Crusades, battling for control of the Holy Land. They established numerous fortifications, commanderies, and architectural wonders across Europe and the Middle East. But were their efforts also extended to the New World, specifically in the United States and Canada? This article aims to explore any traces of Knights Templar influence or presence in North America.

The Knights Templar: A Brief Overview

Founded in 1119, the Knights Templar was a Catholic military order renowned for their distinctive white mantles adorned with a red cross. Despite their modest beginnings, they grew into a powerhouse, accumulating vast wealth, land, and influence. Their holdings spread across Europe, from Iberia to Eastern Europe and across the Mediterranean.

Yet, the Templars met a tragic end in the early 14th century. Accused of heresy, blasphemy, and various other charges, the order was suppressed by Pope Clement V in 1312 under immense pressure from King Philip IV of France. Most Templar estates and properties were transferred to the Hospitallers, another crusading order.

The True Descendants of the Knights Templar

The notion of direct lineage or true descendants of the Knights Templar is a topic that captivates many. After the dissolution of the order by Pope Clement V in 1312, members of the Templar Order were absorbed into the Knights Hospitaller and other religious orders. However, these orders do not directly represent a continuous lineage or Templar descent.

From a spiritual and ideological perspective, some believe that certain organizations carry the Templar legacy. For instance, the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem describes itself as a Christian charitable organization inspired by the original Templars’ ideals, although there is no direct lineage.

Perhaps the most significant influence of Templar traditions can be seen in Freemasonry, particularly within the Masonic Knights Templar, a part of the York Rite of Freemasonry. This organization utilizes Templar symbols and conducts rituals based on Templar traditions. However, Freemasonry only adopted Templar themes several centuries after the original order’s disbandment, and the Masonic Knights Templar is not a direct descendant.

It’s important to clarify that many groups claiming to be “Templar” organizations are not recognized by mainstream historical or religious institutions. While they may embody the Templar spirit or adopt Templar symbolism, claims of direct descent from the original Knights Templar remain speculative and unproven. As of today, there are no universally accepted true descendants of the Knights Templar from a lineage or historical continuity perspective.

What Countries Were the Templars in?

The Knights Templar was a medieval Catholic military order founded in 1119 to protect Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land. Their influence rapidly expanded, and their presence can be traced to several countries across Europe and the Middle East.

In the Middle East, the Templars established their headquarters on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, giving them their name. They constructed fortresses in key strategic areas throughout the Holy Land, including in cities like Acre and Jaffa.

France played a significant role in Templar history. The Church officially endorsed the order at the Council of Troyes in 1129, which was held in Champagne, France. The Templars had substantial holdings nationwide, with their headquarters in Paris.

In England, the Templars also held considerable estates. The Temple Church in London, famous for its circular nave inspired by the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, was their English headquarters.

The order had a substantial presence in the Iberian Peninsula (modern-day Spain and Portugal) during the Reconquista, where they participated in military campaigns against the Moors and established significant commanderies.

In the Mediterranean, the Templars operated in Italy, Cyprus, and the island of Rhodes, and their influence reached as far as Hungary and Poland in Eastern Europe.

Despite their vast geographical presence, the Knights Templar’s influence was most heavily felt in the Crusades and Western Europe regions, where they held extensive properties and exercised considerable financial power.

Exploring Templar Presence in North America

Despite the Knights Templar’s influence and reach, no documented historical evidence exists that the order had ever crossed the Atlantic to reach North America. Columbus’ voyage in 1492, which is largely considered the starting point of sustained European contact with the Americas, occurred almost two centuries after the dissolution of the Knights Templar.

Yet, numerous theories, often associated with pseudo-history and speculative fiction, suggest that the Templars reached North America before Columbus. Proponents of these theories often point to certain architectural structures and symbols as evidence.

Templar Symbolism in North America

The Knights Templar’s rich symbolism is frequently recognized in various parts of North America, although its presence often leads to speculative interpretations rather than solid historical evidence of Templar activity. The red cross pattee on a white background, which was the Templar’s emblem, is one of the most recognized symbols.

Some proponents of the Templar presence in North America often cite the appearance of this and other medieval European symbols in pre-Columbian sites as evidence. These symbols, carved into stone or etched onto artifacts, are claimed to be “proof” of early Templar exploration. Still, these claims are often met with skepticism by mainstream historians and archaeologists who point out that such symbols were widely used across medieval Europe and their presence does not definitively prove Templar influence.

Beyond physical symbols, Templar symbolism is also present in a number of fraternal and charitable organizations in North America. The Masonic Knights Templar, part of the York Rite of Freemasonry, uses Templar symbolism extensively. Although this order has no direct historical continuity with the medieval Knights Templar, they have adopted and preserved Templar symbols in their rituals and regalia.

Furthermore, Templar symbolism permeates popular culture in North America. From movies and novels to video games, the iconic imagery of the knights in white mantles emblazoned with a red cross continues to captivate the imagination, often serving as a shorthand for notions of chivalry, secret knowledge, and hidden treasures.

The Templar Cross in North American Gravestones: Fact or Fiction?

The Templar Cross, characterized by its short, equal-length arms that broaden at the ends, is a recognized symbol globally. It’s not uncommon to find this symbol on gravestones across North America, leading to a variety of interpretations and speculations about the Knights Templar’s presence in the New World.

Yet, the presence of the Templar Cross on a gravestone does not necessarily indicate any historical connection to the Knights Templar. In various forms, the Templar Cross was widely used across Europe during the medieval period and later represented Christianity more generally. As such, its appearance on gravestones in North America, where European Christian traditions heavily influenced culture and religious practice, is not surprising.

Another important consideration is the connection between Freemasonry and the Templar Cross. As discussed, the Masonic Knights Templar, a part of the York Rite of Freemasonry, has adopted Templar symbolism, including the cross. Gravestones bearing this symbol may belong to members of these Masonic organizations rather than indicating any historical presence of the Knights Templar.

Finally, the Templar Cross has become part of popular culture, symbolizing notions of chivalry, heroism, and mystery. Its use in movies, literature, and video games has increased recognition, leading to its adoption in various contexts, including gravestone iconography.

Therefore, while the presence of the Templar Cross on North American gravestones might kindle romantic notions of hidden Templar history, its use is more likely a reflection of broad Christian, Masonic, or cultural symbolism. Without corroborating historical evidence, claims linking these gravestones to the medieval Knights Templar remain speculative. The appearance of the Templar Cross in these contexts is more a testament to the enduring impact of the Templar legacy in our collective imagination than a trace of their historical presence in North America.

The Newport Tower: A Templar Fortress?

One of the most frequently cited structures in these discussions is the Newport Tower in Rhode Island, USA. This stone structure sometimes referred to as the ‘Old Stone Mill,’ has long been a subject of debate. Some argue it’s a remnant of a pre-Columbian, possibly Templar, presence in America.

Nvertheless, the consensus among mainstream historians and archaeologists is that early colonists likely built the Newport Tower in the 17th century. It is stylistically consistent with known European structures from that era.

The Westford Knight: A Templar Monument?

In Massachusetts, there’s an intriguing site known as the Westford Knight. Some believe it features a carving made by the Templars, representing a knight complete with a sword and shield. Those who support the Templar theory argue this could be evidence of their presence in North America.

However, again, most historians and archaeologists remain skeptical. Some attribute the Westford Knight to natural erosion or later vandalism rather than a medieval carving. Others argue it might be the work of 19th-century pranksters or a deliberate hoax.

Oak Island and the Templar Treasure

One of the most captivating Templar-related theories in Canada revolves around Oak Island, located in Nova Scotia. For centuries, this island has been associated with tales of buried treasure. Some theories suggest that the Knights Templar might have hidden treasures from the Holy Land, including the Holy Grail or the Ark of the Covenant, on Oak Island.

The mystery of Oak Island has been the subject of extensive exploration, including the popular TV show “The Curse of Oak Island.” Despite these investigations and the tantalizing tales, no solid evidence has been found to link the Knights Templar to Oak Island or any hidden treasure.

Nova Scotia and the Templar Treasure: Myth or Reality?

One of the most enduring legends connected to the Knights Templar in North America revolves around Oak Island, a small, wooded island off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. Rumors of a vast hidden treasure, possibly linked to the Templars, have fueled speculation and treasure hunting on the island for over two centuries.

The story of Oak Island’s Money Pit, a deep, booby-trapped shaft discovered in the late 18th century, is entwined with Templar lore. According to one theory, after the dissolution of the Templar Order in the early 14th century, surviving members fled to Scotland. They later embarked on a voyage to the New World, carrying their legendary treasure. They supposedly hid this treasure in the Money Pit on Oak Island, employing their renowned engineering skills to create an elaborate hiding place.

Fascinating as this theory might be, there is little to no concrete evidence linking the Knights Templar to Oak Island or any hidden treasure. The artifacts found on the island have not provided definitive proof of Templar presence. Most historians and archaeologists regard the Templar connection as pure speculation, part of the island’s folklore and mythology rather than its factual history.

Although the allure of a Templar treasure continues to captivate treasure hunters and the public, scholarly consensus leans towards skepticism. Without significant historical or archaeological evidence, the story of the Templars’ treasure in Nova Scotia remains firmly in the realm of myth and legend rather than established historical reality.

Masonic Influence and Templar Traditions

Another aspect worth considering is the Masonic order known as the Knights Templar, part of the York Rite of Freemasonry. This fraternal organization, which originated in the 18th century, adopted the Templar name and certain elements of Templar symbolism and ritual. The Freemasons established many lodges across the United States and Canada, which could account for some Templar-esque architectural features in these countries.

But it’s essential to differentiate between this Masonic order and the original medieval Knights Templar. The Masonic Knights Templar does not have historical continuity with the medieval order; rather, it draws inspiration from the Templars’ legendary status.

Final Thoughts 

While the mystery and romanticism surrounding the Knights Templar have fuelled various theories about their presence in North America, historical and archaeological evidence does not support these claims. However, the influence of the Knights Templar, preserved through groups like the Masonic order and popular culture, ensures their legendary status continues to inspire and captivate people worldwide, including in the United States and Canada.