THE MASON'S PERSPECTIVE
A Word From Robert L D Cooper
Curator of the Grand Lodge of Scotland Museum and Library.
Over the course of the last twenty years or so, a large number of books have been published which comment on Freemasonry and associated subjects. What is noticeable in respect of such books is that very few of them are written by Freemasons. This has created the curious situation whereby Freemasons are being 'educated' about Freemasonry by people who are not Freemasons! This most unusual situation arises for a number of reasons, not least because there is no central 'Masonic educational authority' (or any other central authority for that matter) that publishes, or oversees material produced about Freemasonry. Masonic authors have little choice therefore but to enter the world of commercial publishing, where the reading public has no guidance as to what is authoritative Masonic writing and what is not. Unfortunately, non-Masonic authors have along head-start over Masonic authors. This as perhaps due to the naive belief held by Freemasons that members of the public were not interested in an organisation of which they were not members. This belief was certainly widespread twenty years or more ago when non-Masons first began to write about Freemasonry. This belief is still commonly held.
Fortunately, this situation is beginning to change with the publication of some good quality writing by Freemasons about Freemasonry and subjects which have come to be associated with the modern Order. This process has become more apparent in the last few years, and this book, Nobly Born, is an example of that process. Although not a book about Freemasonry per se, it is about a subject with which many will be familiar -the Religious and Military Order of the Poor Soldiers of Christ and Solomon's Temple, more commonly known as the Knights Templar. The reason why many people who are interested in Freemasonry are also interested in this apparently completely unconnected subject is due, in the main, to the work of popular non-Masonic authors who have strongly and repeatedly claimed (and produced 'evidence') that there is at least a link, if not a direct lineal descent, from the medieval Order of Knights Templar, to modern Freemasonry. I have argued elsewhere, as a Freemason, quite the opposite of this claim and consider that this is also part of the new process of Freemasons writing work about the Order of which they are members.
Much of what has been written about the Knights Templar, and the alleged links with Freemasonry is wildly speculative and is not substantiated by credible evidence. Other less popular books are solidly based and a use verified source material. Here then lies the crux of this preface. Much speculative work on Freemasonry and the Knights Templar is easy to read and seems, at first glance, to be based on sound historical technique. Other work, although well written and well researched, is simply not as 'sexy' as the other type and so are not so appealing. How then is one to judge what is good and what is not so good? One way is to strike a balance between these two approaches is by providing a well written book with a light touch and Stephen Dafoe's work presented here is an excellent starting point for anyone (Freemason and non-Mason alike) interested in the medieval Order of Knights Templar.
There have been many books written about the Knights Templar in recent years. Unfortunately the vast majority of them are speculative and have perpetuated myths about the Templars that were created almost as soon as the Order ceased to exist. Please forget them, the most are rubbish.
On the contrary this book deals with the actual history of the Order derived largely from primary source materials. But Nobly Born is not only a book about the Knights Templar "tout court", it is a book about the world in which they existed and operated.
And what about the connection between Freemasons and Knights Templar? 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.
The final chapter of this book deals with this oax and widely explains why there are no connections beetwen the fall of the Templars and the origins of modern Freemasonry and how the Templarism was incorporated in some Masonic high degrees systems.
The book is enriched and well illustrated by original drawings, cartography and photos of Templar locations.
Bruno Virgilio Gazzo
editor, PS Review of FM