the hands of actual scholars, the stated premise of this book could have
resulted in a work truly worthy of attention. First, the suggestion that Islamic
ideas and practices have influenced the creation of the Christian Military
Orders goes at least as far back as the 1840s (Jose Antonio Conde, Historia
de la Dominación de los Árabes en España, Barcelona, 1844) and continues
to be the subject of a lively discussion between historians to this day (cf. the
various articles in favor of that thesis by the Israeli Professor Dr. Elena
Lourie and her supporters, and those of the American Dr. Alan Forey and his
followers against it.)
the idea that modern Freemasonry is a direct descendant of the order of the
Temple via a group of Templars who took refuge in Scotland after the dissolution
of the order in 1307, is one that refuses to die in spite of lack of proven
evidence to that effect. Today, most bona fide historians either have declared
against it, or, at best, have emitted a verdict of “not proven”.[i]
any research that would have added new information to those well-trodden paths
would have been much welcome by those individuals who, like myself, are
passionately interested in the history of ideas. Unfortunately, it is clear that
the self-styled – and arguably false [ii]
– “HRH Prince Michael of Albany” and his collaborator, the film maker
Walid Amine Salhab, had a different agenda when they wrote their book.
is often the case with tendentious works, the authors start off from a few true
most of us in the West exhibit a serious lack of knowledge and understanding
about Islam, its principles, its history, and its development;
Islamic scholars, both through their own original works, as well as through the
preservation and transmission of a vast body of classical Greek and Asian
philosophical, mystical, mathematical, and scientific works, were one of the
conduits by which Western Europe became reacquainted with the knowledge that,
eventually, spurred its own Renaissance; and
the history of most religious organizations (the authors conveniently omit Islam
from their list) show numerous examples when some of their leaders, as the
flawed human beings they were (are?) engaged in narrow-minded, bigoted, and, at
times, downright cruel behavior.
From there on, “Albany” and Salhab proceed to weave a biased, sensationalist
and ultimately nasty web of half-truths, unproven facts and self-serving myth.
wading through a litany of anti-Jewish, anti-Israel and anti-Catholic diatribes
(just as the first of frequent examples, see The Knights Templar, p. 3)
and being subjected to the writers’ thorough disdain for any and all
professional historians – who, by the mere fact of disagreeing with them prove
their pigheadedness and incompetence – the reader is left with the familiar
and unsupported claims expounded by the prolific output of mutually-endorsing
writers such as Laurence Gardner, Lynn Picknett & Clive Prince, Tim
Wallace-Murphy & Marilyn Hopkins.
the phenomenal success of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code (USA, Doubleday,
2003), those claims have reached mega status. I wonder if Messrs. Michael
Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln had any idea of the unwanted progeny
they would engender with their 1982 best-seller Holy Blood, Holy Grail (England,
Jonathan Cape, 1982) ?
“Albany’s” and Salhab’s own words :
their bid to power [that of the Hasmonean
princes who had been displaced by Herod the Great (my parenthesis)]
culminated in a marriage, held at Cana, between a descendant of the royal house
of David, Jeshua ben Joseph, and a Hasmonean princess, Myriam of Migdal. Today,
they are better known as Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalen.
Knights Templar p. 7
this familiar, albeit completely unsupported statement, follows shortly after
they had stated :
Catholic Church (sic) promotes a history that is, to say the least, rather
edited. In fact, from the point of view of the proper historian, there is little
truth to the historicity of the Christian church as a whole.
Knights Templar p. 6
is calling the kettle black ?
first part of The Knights Templar is but a reiteration of, and
speculation upon, the meaning and implications of the “Rex Deus”
genealogy of the supposed descendants of Jesus and Mary Magdalen – which, of
course, includes one of the authors, “Michael of Albany” – interspersed
with a host of other startling claims, most of which are, again, neither
original nor substantiated, such as: Moses was actually the Pharaoh Akhenaten;
ancient Israel was located in the Western Arabian Peninsula, the Kabbalah is not
Jewish but Persian, Hugues de Payens (one of the co-founders of the Templars and
their first Grand Master) was an anti-Catholic crypto-Muslim, as was St. Bernard
de Clairvaux, together with the rest of the Cistercian-Templar hierarchy, and
the network of “Rex Deus” Royal families (descendants from Christ)
who supported him, etc., etc.
rest of the book deals with the stated – albeit, once again, unsupported –
connection between the Knights Templar and Freemasonry, and between Freemasonry
and the Royal House of Stewart, both before and after the so-called “Glorious
Revolution” of 1688 ousted them from the British throne and replaced them with
the House of Hannover.
those matters – which, again, during the last hundred years have been the
subject of numerous studies by a variety of serious historians, both Masonic and
non-Masonic – are disposed of with the same lack of
true scholarship the authors exhibited in the previous sections of their
book. (I’d be happy to provide a representative list of “errors” to anyone
who wishes to see it).[iii]
a technical standpoint – and this may not be the writers’ fault – the
edition of The Knights Templar in my hands contains some misnomers (i.e.
Aryan instead of Arrian in at least two occasions) and a barrage of
typographical errors and misspellings (the list is too long to include here).
conclusion : current events prove that we need works of serious scholarship,
books that adhere scrupulously to proven facts, books that will promote better
understanding between members of different cultures, ethnic groups, and
religious affiliations. Unfortunately, this is not one of them.
One Mason’s views.
Prince Michael of Albany” states that he is a Mason belonging to Edinburgh’s
“…Lodge Robert Burns 1781, of which I am a member.” (The Knights
Templar, p. 151.)
that is correct, and what the Scottish Sunday Mail asserted on July 23,
2006 (see note 2 below) – that due
to the “bogus” nature of his claims he was obligated to flee Scotland, and
his UK citizenship was revoked – is not, for his own good and for the good of
the Fraternity I beseech him to clear his name and reputation. However, if the Sunday
Mail statements are true, I believe that, regardless of the possible legal
ramifications that could derive from those facts, this flagrant breach of the
“Moral Law” all Masons are directed to obey would constitute sufficient
grounds to terminate his Masonic affiliation.
published views, though, are altogether another matter. Prejudice and bigotry
are not uncommon. Bad scholarship, regrettably, is not a crime. Therefore, one
of the inevitable consequences of living in a free and tolerant society, is that
every year we see the appearance of a number of biased, tendentious, and
selectively “researched” books.
is, then, up to each of us – exercising the same rights enjoyed by the authors
of those books – to buy them or not, to read them or not. Usually I don’t
waste my time reading or, much less, refuting any of them. However, when someone
who declares himself to be a Mason publishes views which, clearly, are contrary
to that most basic Masonic code of respect and tolerance for all religious
creeds and denominations, I feel compelled to doubt if “HRH Prince Michael of
Albany” is, indeed, a Mason. If he is one, I enjoin him to act like one.