About the Book
The Knights Templar were victimized at the beginning of the fourteenth century by the manipulations and false information of the King of France; an act that ultimately led to their dissolution in 1312. However, the Order has also been victimised since that time by being the central characters in a wide range of speculative theories about the Order and just what happened to them in the years that followed.
Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the notion that the Templars were the founding fathers of Freemasonry. Over the years, the Templars have been involved in a Masonic chicken and egg scenario; did the rise and development of Freemasonry give birth to the Masonic Knights Templar or did the demise of the original Knights Templar give birth to Freemasonry itself?
In the Compasses and the Cross, Stephen Dafoe, the author of Nobly Born: An Illustrated History of the Knights Templar, traces the origins and evolution of the Masonic Knights Templar from its beginnings in the middle of the eighteenth century to its present form
Through the course of the book, Dafoe draws on his knowledge of the history of the original Order as well as that of the modern Masonic variant. Individual chapters will examine the various myths connecting the Templars and Freemasonry put forth by eighteenth and nineteenth century Freemasons including James Anderson, Andrew Michael Ramsay and Baron von Hund, as well as Scottish Freemasons such as William Alexander Lawrie and the Chevalier James Burnes.
In addition to separating historical fact from masonic tradition, Dafoe also chronicles the differences in Masonic Templarism as it exists in Britain and the Dominion with that of the United States.
From the Author
Fifteen years have now passed since I became a Freemason, and nine since I became a Templar. In that time, I have always striven to understand the philosophy and history of the Orders to which I belong. That said, there have been periods of time where I have accepted information presented to me on the history of the Templars and their connection to Freemasonry as willingly as I once accepted the stories presented on my family's black and white television set.
But I have not been alone in that acceptance. I have had the company of my Masonic brethren, both past and present, who have subscribed to the long-held belief that like the phoenix rising from the ashes Freemasonry also rose from the ruins of the destroyed Templar Order.
It is my hope that this book will help my fellow Masonic Brethren and Templar Fratres to let go of the myth once and for all.
If you really believe that the Templars are the founding fathers of Freemasonry or if you trust Chevalier Ramsay and what he asserts in his Oration, this book is not for you.
If you believe that the Templars played a prominent role in the Battle of Bannockburn (the Robert Bruce legend), and that the Templar Knights fled from France to Scotland disguised as operative Masons (the Pierre d'Aumont legend) , this book will disappoint you.
However if you are an honest student of Masonic Knights Templar history and try to understand the 'truth beyond the veil' on how, why and when Templar Masonry was born and developed, then you will be greatly indebted and grateful to this excellent book and to its author Stephen Dafoe.
So much in Freemasonry is explained to its members as 'the way we've always done it', as Chris Hodapp says in his Foreword to this book. But clearly is not so.
I totally agree with Dafoe when he underlines that: 'we Freemasons are funny a lot. Never content with simply being part of an organisation that has survived and thrived for three centuries, we are constantly searching for evidence that Masonic Craft must stem from some ancient source".
But we have made another mistake: instead of considering our ritual only as legends having a symbolic meaning, that is lessons to impart us moral values, we have firmly believed that what they told us was history. Once more is not so.
The book is divided in three main sections.
The first deals with the origin and rise of the Templars, the second section examines the myths on the origins of the Masonic Knights Templar Order and the third is devoted to the history of Templar Masonry in the United Kingdom, in the United States and in the Dominion.
There are also seven appendixes where the reader finds a Masonic Templar Chronology, the text of Ramsey's Oration and much more.
The book is well written, easy to read and well illustrated by drawings and pictures.
Bruno Virgilio Gazzo
editor, PS Review of Freemasonry