Crusader Era History

This Course is an overview and primer for studies in the Christian Military Orders. The Crusades have been credited as the driving force that brought Western Europe out of the Dark, Middle Ages and condemned as the beginning of European imperialism in the Muslim Near East. Indeed, the legacy and mysteries of the Knights Templar is one of the most watched topics on documentaries.

But what really were the Crusades?

What were the forces that led to one of history's most protracted and legendary periods of conflict?
How did they affect the three great civilizations that participated in them? Byzantium, the Papacy of Rome, and Islam.
And, ultimately, what were the accomplishments that arose from this Era?

THE Crucial Chapter in the Story of Western Civilization

We  look at the "big picture" of the Crusades as an ongoing period of conflict involving Western Christendom (we would now call it Western Europe), the Byzantine Empire, and the Muslim world. From this perspective, you will study the complex but absorbing causes of the Crusades, which include the many political, cultural, and economic changes in Western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. It was a complex relationship of forces.

This course points out the Crusades in terms of the specific military campaigns, the eight "canonical" Crusades that took place from 1095 to 1291 proclaimed by the Military Orders to retake Jerusalem and the Holy Land from Muslim hands and return them to Christendom. You will consider the immediate circumstances the leaders, purposes, key battles, and degrees of success or failure surrounding these often-monumental expeditions.

This is a griping account on 18 hours of audio lectures of a misunderstood period in the minds of most people that lead to the renaissance and the Age of Exploration as the Crusades continued to the new world (covered in our other courses). It is the essential course of study before proceeding on the quest to understand the Saga of the Knights Templar and Hospitallers.

All this makes for quite a study and paints a whole new picture on European and western history. 2o clock hours of study.


The Templar Saga

I say "saga" because it genuinely is a long, involved story, accounts, and multiple series of incidents and epic turning points in world history.

The Order of the Knights Templar had its roots in the crusades, modeling themselves after the Knights of St. John Hospitaller. This order was originally founded to fight for Christianity, specifically the Church, but over time-as the Templars acquired immense power, adopted Eastern teachings, became more diversified in its membership, and established a capitalist system based on Europe's first bank, their order fell afoul of the Church and the intrepid King Louis of France.

Rumors circulating about the Templars led to years of investigations and finally inquisitions, revealing falsely that the order was blasphemous and that it performed black magic rituals, similar to today's satanic sects. The order was subsequently declared unlawful by a star court and only officially vindicated by the Church itself. The Knights' liquidation and arrest arose from a joint decision by the French King and a weak Pope. Some historians regard the Templars' trial and subsequent liquidation as one of the most significant social events of the Middle Ages. Due to the Order's vast land holdings and agricultural estates, upon closure of the Order, hundreds of farm lands went abandoned and what followed was mass starvation and ultimately the black plague which killed millions.

Ironically, the truly interesting part of the Knights Templar's Saga began only after the order was liquidated. According to the generally accepted view, the order went underground, developing a deep animosity for monotheistic religions and the Church in particular and, in the long-term, transmuted into the organizations known today as the Rosicrucians and Freemasonry. The Masons' metaphysical philosophy and involvement in revolutions and political movements is a consequence of their Templar ancestry.

In other words, the Knights Templars still survive in the present, under various names including that of Freemasonry. Those who reach the highest degrees of Masonry, many of whom are US Presidents, are granted Templar-inspired titles such as "Guardian of the Temple." In the United States, some lodges that convene under the name of the Knights Templar are affiliated with Masonry.

Masonry, on the other hand, continued the Templar traditions, albeit in a nonmilitary form, developed foremost a tradition of opposing dogmatic religion, as well as being actively charitable like the Shriners. All this will demonstrate that accepted historical facts, and especially current developments, are not always what they appear to be. Suffice it to say, nearly one thousand years later we are still learning more as the archives of the vatican have become available and more research has been done.

This course is a reading list of the best books on the subject to save the student a near lifetime of study, sifting through the more than one hundred books commonly available on amazon. There are really just a few core books that authenticate the history, the remaining of the books provide interesting readings and speculations should one become so enthralled.

PHILOSOPHY is a study, like religion, that seeks to understand the mysteries of existence and reality. It tries to discover the nature of truth and knowledge and to find what is of basic value and importance in life. It also examines the relationships between humanity and nature and between the individual and society. Philosophy arises out of man’s innate wonder, curiosity, the desire to know and understand life itself. Philosophy is thus a form of inquiry--a process of analysis, criticism, interpretation, and speculation.

It may sound a little over the top but it’s really no overstatement to say that much in our modern world is based on falsehood and fabrication. Whatever the answer the fact remains that a great deal has been unearthed which is completely at odds with conventional notions regarding the origins of what we know today as America and Europe.

The modernist ‘fake view’ of the Crusades is a badly interpreted and purported history. Jonathan Riley-Smith, a well respected crusader historian, writes that the Muslims “have developed mythistories... in which memories of genuine injuries have been embroidered, even re-created, long after the events concerned. The perception most modern Muslims have of the Crusades dates only from the end of the nineteenth century” (The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam, 1).

Templarism’s long history has become a tradition. When we look at the modern mystery schools we see a recurring theme within the rites of Freemasonry, Rosicursianism, and Templarism. Developing from this in America was the golden age of fraternalism, a period when membership in the fraternal societies in the United States grew at a very rapid pace in the 19th century and continuing into the early 20th. At its peak, it was estimated that as much as 40% of the adult population held membership in at least one fraternal order. Most of these fraternities were modeled after the ‘grand daddy’ of all the orders – Freemasonary, which included Masonic Templarism.

"Templarism" refers to this historical link, simulation, or association to the Knights Templar. In this sense it is a promotion of an idealized recreation of chivalry. The term is also used to describe a group longing to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, as Christopher Columbus sought on his first voyage to the New World. It can apply either to the historical Knights Templar or the Freemasons, or the practices of any Neo-Templar Order or priory. Several forms of Freemasonry in Europe which attempt to trace their histories to the Knights Templar are said to practice Templarism, as can be said of the North American concordant body, the York Rite of Freemasonry.

All this makes for quite a study and paints a whole new picture on European history.


Knighthood and Chivalry
These two terms are often confused and require to be distinguished. The term knighthood comes from the English word knight (from Old English cniht, boy, servant, cf. German Knecht) while chivalry comes from the French chevalerie, from chevalier or knight (Low Latin caballus for horse).

In modern English, chivalry means the ideals, virtues, or characteristics of knights. The phrases "orders of chivalry" and "orders of knighthood" have become essentially synonymous today. However, Knighthood dates back to the Roman Empire while Chivalry arose in the middle ages.

However, this active, Medical Order is the last such organization, carrying on the original works of  the Hospitallers of St. John (monastic medicine), and we wish to have it preserved for the benefit of future generations as well as serve a lasting legacy of a cultural movement that contributed significantly to the Renaissance of today’s modern medicine. Further, we declare monastic medicine as an 'intangible cultural heritage', a practice, representation, expression, knowledge, or skill, as well as the instruments, objects, artifacts, and cultural spaces that are considered by UNESCO to be part of a place's cultural heritage.

Our purpose here is to define, declare and to preserve the function and services of the rich and colorful history of The Orders of the Hospitallers as humanitarian, sovereign entities. Monastic Medicine was the principle practice of the Knights Hospitaller, today the oldest, surviving medical charity on record. Most all ‘doctors of medicine,’ today, are unaware of the fact that the medical implication of these duties has been founded by at least three traditions:

• the Hippocratic tradition of competent medical craftsmanship,

• the Samaritan tradition of helping one's neighbor in all circumstances, and

• the Knights' Hospitaller tradition of noble service.

 Legitimacy and continuance of an ancient Order can be established when “an Order maintains an ‘uncorrupted historical and traditional link’ with the original Order”. To that end, we are the Knights of St. John Hospitaller, of St. Christopher and Nevis, whose governor was Bailiff Grand Cross of the Knights of Malta. He governed the island of Saint Christopher from 1639 to his death in 1660, first under the Compagnie des Îles de l'Amérique and later under the Knights of Malta themselves. Poincy was the key figure in the Hospitaller colonization of the Americas.

This courses discusses all facets of Knighthood both ancient and modern. 10 clock hours.

Chivalry, or the chivalric code, is an informal, varying code of conduct developed between 1170 and 1220, but never decided on or summarized in a single document. It was associated with the medieval Christian institution of knighthood; knights' and gentlewomen's behaviours were governed by chivalrous social codes. The ideals of chivalry were popularized in medieval literature, especially the Matter of Britain and Matter of France, the former based on Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, written in the 1130s, which introduced the legend of King Arthur.[ All of these were taken as historically accurate until the beginnings of modern scholarship in the 19th century.

The code of chivalry that developed in medieval Europe had its roots in earlier centuries. It arose in the Holy Roman Empire from the idealisation of the cavalryman—involving military bravery, individual training, and service to others—especially in Francia, among horse soldiers in Charlemagne's cavalry. The term "chivalry" derives from the Old French term chevalerie, which can be translated as "horse soldiery".] Originally, the term referred only to horse-mounted men, from the French word for horse, cheval, but later it became associated with knightly ideals.

Over time, its meaning in Europe has been refined to emphasise more general social and moral virtues. The code of chivalry, as it stood by the Late Middle Ages, was a moral system which combined a warrior ethos, knightly piety, and courtly manners, all combining to establish a notion of honour and nobility.

Textbook for this Course

Diplomacy (from Latin diploma, meaning an official document, which in turn derives from the Greek δίπλωμα, meaning a folded paper/document) is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states. It usually refers to international diplomacy, the conduct of international relations through the intercession of professional diplomats with regard to issues of peace-making, trade, war, economics, culture, environment and human rights. International treaties are usually negotiated by diplomats prior to endorsement by national politicians. In an informal or social sense, diplomacy is the employment of tact to gain strategic advantage or to find mutually acceptable solutions to a common challenge, one set of tools being the phrasing of statements in a non-confrontational, or polite manner.

The scholarly discipline of diplomatics, dealing with the study of old documents, derives its name from the same source, but its modern meaning is quite distinct from the activity of diplomacy.
15 clock hour course
The sovereignty of God refers to the fact that all things are ultimately under one rule and control, and that nothing happens in this Universe without perfect direction. For the mind of man, anything more is simply incomprehensible.
The sovereignty of the Church was set out in early history and put into international law by the Dutch. Sphere sovereignty (Dutch: souvereiniteit in eigen kring), also known as differentiated responsibility, is the concept that each sphere (or sector) of life has its own distinct responsibilities and authority or competence, and stands equal to other spheres of life. Sphere sovereignty involves the idea of an all encompassing created order, designed and governed by God. This created order includes societal communities (such as those for purposes of education, worship, civil justice, agriculture, economy and labor, marriage and family, artistic expression, etc.), their historical development, and their abiding norms. The principle of sphere sovereignty seeks to affirm and respect creational boundaries, and historical differentiation.

Sphere sovereignty implies that no one area of life or societal community is sovereign over another. Each sphere has its own created integrity. Neo-Calvinists hold that since God created everything “after its own kind,” diversity must be acknowledged and appreciated. For instance, the different God-given norms for family life and economic life should be recognized, such that a family does not properly function like a business. Similarly, neither faith-institutions (e.g. churches) nor an institution of civil justice (i.e. the state) should seek totalitarian control, or any regulation of human activity outside their limited competence, respectively.

15 clock hours


Chivalry is part of Western, Christian culture found in literature of medieval times as a comprehensive code of etiquitte. While this code was never officially defined into law, a vast amount of literature and poetry described it for posterity. The Broad-Stone of Honour, Kenelm Henry Digby offered the following definition:
"Chivalry is only a name for that general spirit or state of mind which disposes men to heroic actions, and keeps them conversant with all that is beautiful and sublime in the intellectual and moral world."
This is truly one of the most significant moral questions we face now at the outset of the 21st century and one of the least considered, reflecting an increasingly dysfunctional culture and a chivalrous void in our mainstream corporate world. As Knights of Hope, we firmly believe that a large part of our social, political and domestic problems flow directly from man’s inability to fill the void of the few chivalrous. Its influence effects us all, shaping international business, local business, how we relate to one another and how we treat and regard the world around us.

A fraternal order is generally defined as an organization wherein a group of men, women or men and women are bound together for the purposes of advancing their educational, social or other benefits. Some of the well-known fraternal orders include the Knights of Columbus, the Freemasons and the Protective Order of Elks. Surprisingly, late nineteenth century statistics illustrate the massive proliferation of membership in America fraternal orders. In 1897, W.S. Hardwood, writing at the peak of the "Golden Age of Fraternity," observed that "a total adult male population of 19 million provided five and half million members to fraternal groups such as the Oddfellows (810,000 members), Freemasons (750,000), Knights of Pythias (475,000) Improved Order of Red Men (165,000), and hundreds of smaller orders." 

To account for what drove Americans to join these societies, one must analyze the practical as well as symbolic opportunities they offered. As a study of the incorporation of fraternal orders, this course will deal with fraternal orders as a means to acquire social benefits in a rapidly expanding industrialized society--which in time lead to its downfall.

Fraternal Orders can be traced back to the legacy and traditions of the Christian Military Orders. Effectively, we could say they were born due to:
1. The abrupt dissolution of the Knights Templar, and
2. the birth of the 'lodges' which started in the halls of the Knights of St. John and other clandestine locations prior to the infamous and tragic French revolution.

Surprisingly, it was the lodges which were in part responsible for the renaissance and the migration to the Americas, as it was places and forums where free thinkers could meet and have open discussions. Many founders of the United States were open freemasons, effectively the granddaddy of the Lodges. But in the America's, many new fraternities started, including the Knights of Pythias, recognized by Congress and Abraham Lincoln, and some that would become today's largest insurance companies and unions. Thus, the fraternities continue, albeit under different names and structures; and a few, that remain secret.

Survey of the Christian Military Orders that arose with the Crusades. The original military orders were the Knights Templar, the Knights Hospitaller and the Teutonic Knights. They arose in the Middle Ages in association with the Crusades, their members being dedicated to the protection of pilgrims and the defence of the Crusader states. They are the predecessors of the secular chivalric orders.

Most members of military orders were laymen who took religious vows, such as of poverty, chastity, and obedience, according to monastic ideals. The orders owned houses called commanderies all across Europe and had a hierarchical structure of leadership with the grand master as headmaster.

The Knights Templar, the largest and most influential of the military orders, was suppressed in the early fourteenth century; only a handful of orders were established and recognized afterwards. However, some persisted longer in their original functions, such as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and the Order of Saint John, the respective Catholic and Reformed successors of the Knights Hospitaller. Those military orders that survive today have evolved into purely honorific or ceremonial orders or else into charitable foundations.


The Military Orders in Crusader History

An Video/audio course on the Hospitallers, Knights of St. John, the first order to receive the Crusade of 1099 and grow another one thousand years. 
The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem (Latin: Ordo Fratrum Hospitalis Sancti Ioannis Hierosolymitani), commonly known as the Knights Hospitaller (or Hospitaler) and the Order of Saint John, was a medieval and early modern Catholic military order. It was headquartered in the Kingdom of Jerusalem until 1291, on the island of Rhodes from 1310 until 1522, in Malta from 1530 until 1798 and at Saint Petersburg from 1799 until 1801. Today several organizations continue the Hospitaller tradition, most importantly the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. the Venerable Order of St. John (England), the Heritable Order of St. John of Malta, and the Sacred Medical Order of St. John of St. Christopher & Nevis.

The Hospitallers arose in the early 11th century, at the time of the great monastic reformation, as a group of individuals associated with an Amalfitan hospital in the Muristan district of Jerusalem, dedicated to John the Baptist and founded around 1023 by Gerard Thom to provide care for sick, poor or injured pilgrims coming to the Holy Land. Some scholars, however, consider that the Amalfitan order and hospital were different from Gerard Thom's order and its hospital.

After the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 during the First Crusade, the organisation became a military religious order under its own papal charter, charged with the care and defence of the Holy Land. Following the conquest of the Holy Land by Islamic forces, the knights operated from Rhodes, over which they were sovereign, and later from Malta, where they administered a vassal state under the Spanish viceroy of Sicily. The Hospitallers were the smallest group to briefly colonise parts of the Americas: they acquired four Caribbean islands in the mid-17th century, which they turned over to France in the 1660s.

The knights became divided during the Protestant Reformation, when rich commanderies of the order in northern Germany and the Netherlands became Protestant and largely separated from the Roman Catholic main stem, remaining separate to this day, although ecumenical relations between the descendant chivalric orders are amicable. The order was suppressed in England, Denmark, as well as in some other parts of northern Europe, and it was further damaged by Napoleon's capture of Malta in 1798, following which it became dispersed throughout Europe.