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-The Robert the Bruce legend
-The d'Aumont Legend.
Stephen Dafoe
by V.W. Bro. Stephen Dafoe

We publish two excerpts from:
"The Compasses and the Cross"
a History of the Masonic Knights Templar.

A book written by Stephen Dafoe.

Stephen Dafoe is the author of several books on the Knights Templar and Freemasonry, including Nobly Born (Lewis) and The Knights Templar Revealed (Constable and Robinson). In addition, Dafoe was the publisher of Templar History Magazine from 2001 - 2006 and publisher of Masonic Magazine from 2005 - 2007.
Stephen has concentrated on more academic writing in recent years and his work has been published in The Scottish Rite Journal, Heredom, and Knight Templar Magazine (The official publication of the Grand Encampment of the United States) Dafoe has served the Sovereign Great Priory of Canada (Knights Templar) as Grand Historian from 2000 - 2002, The Grand chapter of Royal Arch Masons as Grand Pursuivant, Grand District Superintendent and Grand Historian. His most recent Masonic appointment was that of Grand Steward for the Grand Lodge of Alberta in 2007/2008.

The Robert the Bruce Legend


One of the most enduring myths associated with the Templars in Scotland is the notion that the Templars played a prominent role in the Battle of Bannockburn on 24 June 1314 – and the prominence of that date to Freemasons, being the Feast of St John the Baptist, certainly has played no little part in its continuance.

Bruno Gazzo Stephen Dafoe

Are or are not Freemasons the direct descendants of the Knights Templar?
Bruno V. Gazzo, Editor of PS Review of Freemasonry interviews Stephen Dafoe the author of 'The Compasses and the Cross' a History of the Masonic Knights Templar.


Bruno Gazzo (BG): Let me just congratulate you for this book because it makes a clean sweep of all the false myths about the origin of Masonic Knights Templar.
Can we say that 'The Compasses and the Cross' is the sequel of 'Nobly Born' where you wrote about the true story of the Templars of the old?


Stephen Dafoe (SD): Thank you, Brother Gazzo. I think that in many respects The Compasses and the Cross is a sequel to Nobly Born. In Nobly Born I tried to not only difuse the myths of the Templars of old, but also explain how the myths came about. For example the legend of de Molay cursing Philip IV and the Pope or the legend of digging under the Temple mount. In The Compasses and the Cross, I’ve taken the same approach with the Masonic Templar varient. Certainly, Lewis Masonic envisioned the two books as companions, as they have designed the books in the same illustrated style and large format. I’ve had as many comp;liments ont he layout of the book as the content.


BG: In this book you provide evidence of the falsity of several myths about Masonic Knights Templar that Freemasons themselves have argued over during the years. Could you tell our readers the “Masonic chicken and Templars egg” scenario in short?


SD: Certainly. I’ve noticed a growing belief over the past decade that the Knights Templar were the founding fathers of Freemasonry. We seem to go through periods where one origin theory is the flavour of the month over another, and today the Templars are that popular flavour. So, the chicken or egg scenario is the question: 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 one of the early chapters in the book I trace the Masonic origin story through the early writers like Anderson, Hutchins and others to see how the crusaders were handled with respect to the role they played in Freemasonry’s development. What we see emerging from that egg is a chicken without a sword. Quite simply the early writers make little to no mention of the crusaders; it is only later that the crusaders become the possessors of Masonic secrets at the time or the crusades and later still that the Templars are mentioned.


BG: Are or are not Freemasons the direct descendants of the Knights Templar?


SD: As much as we would like to believe that we are, as much as we may hold aloft our copies of John J. Robinson’s Born in Blood as proof, the simple fact remains that there is not sufficient evidence to support the idea that the Templars became Freemasons and plenty of evidence to show that they did not. Just as we can follow the development of a child into an adult, so too can we follow the development of Templar Masonry over the years.


BG: Who have been the main culprits of so many historical hoaxes?


SD: I really feel that we Freemasons have been the biggest culprits. In selling the importance of our many degrees and ceremonies, be it Royal Arch, Crytic Rite, Knights Templar or Royal Order of Scotland, we’ve created traditional histories. The problem is many masons believed these traditional histories to be actual histories. Masonic and nonmasonic writers have then dug into this Masonic lore, intended to teach moral and philosophical lessons, and emerged with the basis of yet another speculative book ro “Shake the Masonc World to its Core (TM).” We Masons then buy these books to support our own beliefs and wishful thinking.


BG: Who really was the Chevalier Ramsey, this humble son of a Scottish baker?


SD: I think Ramsay was a man who was smart enough to know that the French would never go for Freemasonry in a big way if it stuck to the idea of descending from rough-handed stone masons. This is why pitched it from the crusader angle. He is a man whose name we Freemasons remember from an oration he may or may not have actually given. Of course that is Ramsay the Freemason. Ramsay the man is another story, which readers will find in the book.


BG: Was there a single, homogeneous Masonic Templarism or not?


SD: I spend the final three chapters of the book demonstrating how Masonic Templarism took on a different form wherever it went, although my focus was on the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. American Templary is more different than anywhere in the world and Canadian Templary is a weird amalgamation of American and British styles. So I’d have to say that Templarism is no more homogenous than Freemasonry is, although at its core, it strives to accomplish similar goals.


BG: Why have the Freemasons themselves constructed these false myths? Perhaps because the new bourgeois class was envious of great noble titles or rather because after the revision of the Constitutions of Anderson of 1738, they wanted to bring together Christian Freemasons under the same flag?


SD: Certainly the former point was the case in France, as I mentioned earlier with Ramsay’s Oration; however, we cannot rule out the desire for Christian fellowship within a Masonic setting. Now whether this was a direct result of Anderson’s revised constitutions, I am not certain. We see the early traces of Masonic Templary in the German lodges of von Hund’s day that had members adopting the names of French knights.  

As far as the interest in Masonic Templarism today, the motivation behind petitions is far more varied. Many men join because they want to be called Sir Knight, a title that is ridiculous outside the confines of a preceptory or commandery. I shudder whenever I receive a piece of mail address to Sir Knight Stephen Dafoe. Having said that, there are many who join the Masonic Templars to unite with other Christian Masons and I’m sure an equal number of non Christians who join because they are attracted by the co-called mystical practices of the Templars of old.


BG: In your opinion what is the level of Masonic education as it is imparted today in Lodges and Chapters?

I mean, are there still Masons who truly believe to be descendants of the Masonic Knights Templar because they are told so in Lodge or Chapter?


SD: The current ritual used in the UK is quite clear that there is no connection between the crusading Templars and the Masonic variant. Here in Canada, there was once a third historical lecture that expressed the same sentiments. In the United States there is also no official party line that claims the two are connected historically. However, popular books often overshadow party lines, and so we have a large number of Freemasons who hold to this notion no matter how many Compasses and the Cross hit the marketplace. We want to believe these stories, so we believe these stories. But, as I stress in the closing of the book, we no longer need to hang on to these claims. Masonic Templarism has survived and surpassed the noble order we chose to pay homage to.


BG: What is the future of the Masonic Knights Templar? I want to be a little bit unfair, but can a XXI Century Freemason be proud of belonging to an order historically ‘Built on sand’?


SD: I think the future of Masonic Templarism is grim, particularly in the United States. In the past five years they have lost roughly 32,000 members through demits and suspensions for non payment of dues. Men are joining these orders seeking to be a part of something that spans nearly a millennia, but are discovering a group of men dressed in civil wear uniforms. But it is more than the choice of garb because we are losing members here in Canada with more traditional attire. Once the Orders are conferred it is on to discussing bills and minutes. This isn’t why men desire to become Templars. Templarism should have a bright future because the ideals of chivalry have never been of greater need in society. Whether the Templars of old were truly chivalrous or not is of no consequence. If we are going to place the original Templars on a pedestal, then we owe it to their memory to try and at least reach for that position ourselves.


BG: Will there be a sequel to The Compasses and the Cross?


SD:  Anything is possible. I’ve had a pretty ambitious schedule over the past couple of years with the two books for Lewis and working with artist Bob Prodor on our Templar comic book series, the first issue of which was released this month. It’s called Outremer: The Saga of the Knights Templar and is available from Presently I’m taking a break from the Templars both past and present to write my book on the William Morgan affair. Although I’m best known for my Templar work, I’ve been obsessed with the Morgan story for many years now and after a four-part magazine series and 50,000 word paper in this year’s Heredom, I’m pleased to finally be able to tell the whole story. I do plan to be returning to the world of the Templars in a major way this spring, but am not at liberty to discuss the project just yet.  

But to get back to your original question, my agent has a proposal out presently that would classify as a third book in the Nobly Born / Compasses and the Cross series. We’re hoping to receive word on that this month.

Essentially the theory is that the Templars who escaped the persecutions of 1307 fled to Scotland and aligned themselves to Robert the Bruce, who was, at the time, excommunicated by the Catholic Church for the part he had played in the murder of John Comyn at Greyfriars Church in Dumfries. It was these immigrant Templars, who just a few short months after the execution of their Grand Master, assisted the Bruce in routing the English at Bannockburn. Although no credible historian has ever offered the slightest bit of evidence to support the idea, the myth prevails to this day and forms the traditional history of the Royal Order of Scotland – an order the tradition claims was created by the Bruce in gratitude for the Templars’ support during his struggles.


The Masonic writer Thory claimed that after the battle the Bruce created the Order of St Andrew of the Thistle. Later the Order of Heredom was added in recognition of the Scottish Masons who had formed a significant contingent in the battle.

However, the Order of Knights of St Andrew of the Thistle couldn’t have been created by Robert the Bruce in 1314, for it was started by James II more than a century later in 1440. 14 Nor is there any evidence to support the notion that the Templars ever formed a part of the Royal Order of Heredom. 15


As to the unlikelihood that the Templars took part in the Battle of Bannockburn, the matter was dealt with in my last book, Nobly Born, and in intricate detail in Robert Cooper’s excellent book, The Rosslyn Hoax.


However, a single important point here may help to shred the myth. While it is true that the Bruce had been excommunicated, the persecutions of 13 October 1307 were not brought on by the pope, but rather by the King of France. As such, the Bruce’s excommunicated status within the Catholic Church would afford the Templars no protection from the king.


It is worth noting that Anderson made mention of Robert the Bruce in his 1738 Constitutions, stating that the Bruce had employed the craft after the Battle of Bannockburn. 16 Although this seems to be the earliest Masonic reference to Robert the Bruce, the legend of the Templars involvement in the battle formed an integral part of the traditional history of the Royal Order of Scotland, formed sometime around 1741 – just a few years after Anderson’s reference and Ramsay’s Oration.



The d’Aumont Legend


Although the Bannockburn story plays a prominent role in the Templar Freemason mythos, the d’Aumont legend dwarfs it by comparison. This legend tells that Pierre d’Aumont, the

Preceptor of Auvergne, together with a number of knights fled from France to Scotland disguised as operative masons. On their arrival they created a new order to preserve the ancient traditions of their soon to be defunct Order. This new order, adopted the name Franc Maçons – Franc (meaning French and Free) and Maçons in homage to their disguise. Thus, the Franc Maçons became known as the free Masons when the new order later travelled to England. 17 Disregarding for a moment the silly notion presented in the theory as to the etymology of the term Freemasons, let us unravel the story of d’Aumont, who the theory claims was Preceptor of Auvergne. While it is true that the Preceptor of Auvergne fled the arrests of 13 October 1307, his name was certainly not Pierre d’Aumont; rather, it was Imbert Blanke. Sometime after crossing into England, Blanke was arrested and later went on to play a role in the Templar trials of that country by defending his English Brethren. 18 Although Blanke was accompanied by a number of brethren, the number of Templars that accompanied his mythical counterpart Pierre d’Aumont is suspiciously Masonic. For in addition to d’Aumont, we find two commanders and five knights. 19 On first reading, this arrangement may not seem like anything particularly noteworthy; however, the following phrase familiar to Freemasons may make things a little clearer:


‘Three rule a lodge, five hold a lodge and seven

or more make it perfect.’


In this sense, d’Aumont and the two commanders play a parallel in the myth to the Master and his two wardens, while the five knights represent the five masons who hold a lodge. Combined, the group form the seven or more who make it perfect. While this theory could easily be used to provide evidence of a Templar Freemason connection, it is my belief that the reverse is true and that von Hund’s d’Aumont legend was carefully crafted to bear a Masonic symbolism. Although the above scenario is speculation on the part of the author, it is not out of the realm of possibilities, for later Masonic traditions connected Masonic symbolism to Templar themes.


In his short work The Templar Orders in Freemasonry, Arthur Edward Waite spoke of a ritual he had discovered called Le Chevalier du Temple, which he believed had been created sometime between 1768 and 1789. 20 Although the high degrees in Freemasonry were certainly in operation by this time, the Chevalier du Temple operated within the three Craft degrees. What is particularly unique about this ritual is that it does not paint a Templar perpetuation theory; rather, a number of surviving knights assembled and created Freemasonry to preserve the chivalry that had previously existed in their persecuted Order. The traditional history of the Order claimed that the originators of the secret combine required a period of seven years from its members to ensure that they were worthy. Three were spent as Apprentices, two as Fellowcraft and the final two as Master Masons. The obligation was taken in front of a black tomb representing that of the martyred de Molay. The lessons of the first degree related to the Canons of the Holy Sepulchre, the second to the Hospitallers of St John. The third degree, as would be expected, referred to the Templars, but particularly to the martyrdom of Jacques de Molay, who is the substitute for Hiram Abif. In the final degree, the part of the three ruffians is replaced with Clement V, Philip IV and the Prior of Montfaucon, the latter of whom had betrayed the Order to the king. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Master Mason Degree was the dual representation of the letters J.B.M., which Freemasons will recognise as the initials of the two pillars and the Master’s word. However, in the rituals of the Chevalier du Temple, the letters stood for the initials of Jacques Burgundus Molay. 21


Sadly, there is little information on this interesting Templar twist on the Craft rituals outside of the information provided by Waite. Given its late date, it certainly could not have been among the earliest and the lack of information on the Order would seem to indicate that its traditional history never gained the popularity of the d’Aumont legend.


It was Mackey’s belief that the Templar Freemason theories originated with Ramsay’s Oration, which, in turn, gave rise to the d’Aumont theory of Templar perpetuation. Let us then close this brief interlude on some of those theories with the words of Mackey on the matter:


‘The Chevalier Ramsay was the real author of the doctrine of the Templar origin of Freemasonry, and to him we are really indebted (if the debt have any value) for the D’Aumont legend. The source whence it sprang is tolerably satisfactory evidence of its fictitious character.


The inventive genius of Ramsay, as exhibited in the fabrications of high degrees and Masonic legends, is well known. Nor, unfortunately for his reputation, can it be doubted that in the composition of his legends he cared but little for the support of history. If his genius, his learning, and his zeal had been consecrated, not to the formation of new Masonic systems, but to a profound investigation of the true origin of the Institution, viewed only from an authentic historical point, it is impossible to say what incalculable benefit would have been delved from his researches. The unproductive desert, which for three-fourths of a century spread over the continent, bearing no fruit except fanciful theories, absurd systems, and unnecessary degrees, would have been occupied in all probability by a race of Masonic scholars whose researches would have been directed to the creation of a genuine history, and much of the labours of our modern iconoclasts would have been spared.


‘The Masonic scholars of that long period, which began with Ramsay and has hardly yet wholly terminated, assumed for the most part rather the role of poets than of historians. They did not remember the wise saying of Cervantes that the poet may say or sing, not as things have been, but as they ought to have been, while the historian must write of them as they really were, and not as he thinks they ought to have been. And hence we have a mass of traditional rubbish, in which there is a great deal of falsehood with very little truth.


‘Of this rubbish is the Legend of Peter d’Aumont and his resuscitation of the Order of Knights Templars in Scotland. Without a particle of historical evidence for its support, it has nevertheless exerted a powerful influence on the Masonic organisation of even the present day. We find its effects looming out in the most important rites and giving a Templar form to many of the high degrees. And it cannot be doubted that the incorporation of Templarism into the modern Masonic system is mainly to be attributed to ideas suggested by this D’Aumont legend.’

Read our Book-Review: 'The Compasses and the Cross'

Buy the book: Lewis Masonic

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