Please welcome back for April 2013 Author of the Month, best-selling author, researcher, keynote speaker and photographer Freddy Silva. His new book First Templar Nation explores how the Knight Templarís created Europeís first Nation State. A fusion of rare sources and engaging storytelling, this provocative work uncovers a previously unwritten chapter in Templar history that places the intrepid knights in a previously unknown time and place.
©Freddy Silva, 2012. From the authorís new book First Templar Nation: How the Knights Templar created Europeís first nation-state.
Signed and numbered copies available direct from the author at www.invisibletemple.com
On Easter Sunday 1118 a new king of Jerusalem was chosen, Baudoin de Bourcq, cousin of the late king Godefroi de Bouillon. Like his former family members, he too had served on the First Crusade. Barely had Baudoin II gotten used to his newly appointed seat when he received a visit from Hugues de Payen and Godefroi de Saint-Omer, as though the two intrepid knights were presenting their credentials.
They may have received a less enthusiastic reception than from his predecessor, for Baudoin II was in desperate need of warrior knights above spiritual warriors. Nevertheless, whatever Hugues and Godefroi pitched the new king it sold him, and shortly after, a small, close-knit group of knights moved into premises on Temple Mount to became officially known as the Knights Templar.
But what if it could be shown that seven years earlier the Templars were already present and materially active in another land two thousand miles to the west, and through their intervention, this secret endeavour became their greatest accomplishment — the creation of Europe’s first independent nation-state?
It’s the close of the 11th century. Europe is a hodge-podge of counties, duchies and kingdoms. There is no France, no Spain; the German states are largely under the tutelage of the Holy Roman Empire. Around 1083 two cousins from the House of Burgundy — the noble knight Henri, and his distant but far more ambitious cousin Raimond — rode into northern Iberia from Dijon at the request of Alfonso VI, king of Castilla e León, Galicia e Portucale. Alfonso’s instruction to the knights was straightforward: recapture the parts of Galicia and Portucale that had been stolen by the Saracens and the Moors. Which the two would do admirably, both Burgundians earning a great reputation for services rendered over the course of eight years by re-conquering territory all the way south to the river Tejo, including the city of Lisbon.
As a token of appreciation, Henri — descendent of the Frankish kings in the male line, great grandson of King Robert I, son of Duke Henri of Burgundy — received the hand in marriage of Alfonso’s illegitimate daughter, along with a dowry of lands in Castilla.
News of the First Crusade soon reached Affonso, but with the king too occupied with his own campaign at home, he asked his new son-in-law to sail in his stead. In return, Henri was granted full governorship of the Atlantic port city of Porto Cale and its surrounding territory — the small county of Portucale — whereupon Henri changed his name, in Portuguese, to Count Dom Henrique.
Little did Dom Henrique know that his decision to sail to Palestine would mark a pivotal moment in the history of his newly-acquired land, for the people he’d meet in Jerusalem would one day shape the destiny of his small territory.
Dom Henrique set sail to Genoa  on the north Italian coast, joined forces with one of the Crusader armies, then continued with the fleet to the ancient port of Jaffa, disembarking 33 miles to the west of Jerusalem. His timing coincided with the arrival of the Crusading army, dusty from months of laborious march through the Levant. Count Dom Henrique’s adventure is rarely acknowledged in history, and yet his travels are asserted by a chronicler of the Cistercian Order. The Cistercian monks were consummate scribblers, and in one account they state that whilst in Palestine, Dom Henrique “venerated the Sacred Places,” and in return for his faithful assistance, a grateful king of Jerusalem — Godefroi de Bouillon — gave him custody of various holy relics, including the cloak of Mary Magdalene. A later account by a member of the Templar Order goes so far as to state that Dom Henrique “was known by Pope Urban II who named him as one of the twelve leaders of that sacred expedition.”
Dom Henrique made a second voyage to Jerusalem in 1103. This time it coincided with the arrival of two proto-Templars: Hugues de Payns and Count Hugh de Champagne. Originating from the same Duchy, it is likely that both Hugues and Dom Henrique got to know each other well over the next three years in Jerusalem, especially as both men shared the vision of a temporal new kingdom accountable only to God.
With Dom Henrique was another man of French parentage, Pedro Arnaldo da Rocha, born in Santarem (in what is today Portugal), whose family, the la Roche, were supporters of the burgeoning Cistercian Order. In time, the abbot of this order, Bernard de Clairvaux, would become the Templars’ main benefactor.
Young Pedro Arnaldo’s presence in Jerusalem was opportune, arriving as he did shortly after Godefroi de Bouillon installed members of the secretive Ordre de Sion in a rebuilt abbey on its namesake hill. To say he made a favorable impression on the monks is an understatement, because by 1116 Pedro Arnaldo resurfaces as a full member of the Ordre, his signature inscribed on an original document from the Abbey de Notre Dame du Mont de Sion, in which he is addressed in Latin as Prior Petrus Arnaldus.
Such a position imbued Pedro Arnaldo with immense political leverage. The abbey had established close ties with the knights and monks in the nearby church of the Holy Sepulcher right from the time both fraternities were installed by Godefroi de Bouillon. It therefore afforded the prior direct access to two individuals who’d been living there — Hugues de Payns and Godefroi de Saint-Omer, the nucleus of the Order of the Temple. That relationship was revealed on July 19, 1116, when a document signed by both Prior Arnaldus and Hugues de Payns declares “good relations are assured between the two Orders.” 
In the relationship between the Order of the Temple, the House of Burgundy, the Ordre de Sion and the incipient Portuguese kingdom, Arnoldo da Rocha would prove to be the lynchpin. He was Portuguese by birth, his friendship with Count Dom Henrique granted him favor within the Portuguese court, and through his family’s status, connections with the nobles and ecclesiasts in and around the Portuguese city of Braga, many of whom were of Burgundian heritage.
But Portuguese chroniclers give Prior Arnaldo even more credit. They cite him as a key founder of the Knights Templar in the county of Portugale, if not one of the original Templars in Jerusalem: “Arnaldo da Rocha, who was a Templar knight, was one of the first nine originators of this illustrious Order of the Temple in Jerusalem,”  wrote the historian Alexandre Ferreira in 1735, quoting a 17th century source, Manuel de Faria e Sousa. And Sousa would have been in an excellent position to state the facts, for not only did he study original source material in Braga, he was himself a Templar knight.
Prior Arnaldo da Rocha as one of the original Templars is both provocative and explosive, because it brings into sharp focus an unsettling proposition: were there really only nine original Templar knights? Or was this number merely a talisman, the kind of flourish employed by secret societies throughout that period? We may never know the truth for certain; however, an esteemed chronicler of the 17th century, the monk Bernardo de Brito, categorically states in the Cistercian chronicles that the original Templars consisted of “Hugues and Godefroi and nine other knights,” raising the original core group of proto-Templars to eleven.
Count Dom Henrique passed away in his adopted homeland in 1114. Back in Jerusalem, the Order of the Temple was still in its embryonic stage, yet accounts claim the Templars by this time were already present in Portugale: “After D. Affonso VI married his daughter to Count Dom Henrique, they [the Templars] always came to his aid, and did not stop doing so even after the death of his son.” An independent German source also states categorically that the proto-Templars forged a working relationship with Count Dom Henrique: “The acquisition of an important property, such as that of the castle of Souré, which was given to them [the Order of the Temple] by Count Henrique in 1111 proves that these knights had already rendered some services, and that he was convinced of their usefulness.” Such a donation places the proto-Templars firmly in the county of Portugale a full seven years before their official establishment on Temple Mount.
The donation of Souré gave the proto-Templars a foothold in Portugale a full seven years before their official existence. And it wasn’t the only documented property they were awarded in that period. Shortly before he passed away Dom Henrique signed another document providing them with a second property, a residence in the city of Braga. The property is described as being ‘beside a Templar hospital’, which would be the hospital for the poor founded by Archbishop Payo Mendes of Braga, “annexed to the main houses he had earlier donated to the Templars in the hermitage.” These acts of goodwill from the Archbishop seem unusual until one discovers Payo Mendes’ second — and secret — job was that of Prior of the Knights Hospitaller, a title the equivalent to Templar Grand Master.
But Payo Mendes had a third job. He was also mentor to Dom Henriques’ son, Afonso, and took him under his tutelage soon after the young prince’s father passed away.
While Mendes groomed Afonso for his future role as first king of the Portuguese, the Templars continued to amass properties in and around Braga, and inevitably the city became their headquarters. As one Templar Master asserted: “De Domo Templi, quest est in Bracharensi Civitate,” ‘the home of the Temple, which is in the city of Braga’.
The rate at which they received properties on Portuguese soil far eclipsed donations given to the Order elsewhere in Europe, and particularly so around the end of 1125. In the late part of that year the Templars grew noticeably active on Temple Mount; several knights returned to Europe, as evidenced by the appearance at the Cistercian abbey in Clairvaux of two original Templars, André de Montbard and Brother Gondemare — the former being the uncle of Bernard de Clairvaux, and the latter a Cistercian monk from the Portuguese town of Gondemare, a few miles south of Braga. And they were by no means the only knights stirred into action by Hugues de Payns. On the Celtic pagan day of Beltane, May 2, 1125, the Templar Grand Master co-signed a document in which he and Prior Arnaldo of the Ordre de Sion once more established good relations between their respective brotherhoods, after which the prior also becomes noticeably absent from Mount Sion. Writing of this notable event, the chronicler Lucas de Santa Catarina states how “the Grand Master soon dispatched several knights with powers to establish the Portuguese crown. Four of the Knights were Dom Guilherme, who supervised the others, Dom Hugo Martiniense, Dom Gualdino Paes, and Dom Pedro Arnaldo. They had the title and the power of Procurators of the Temple, which they exercised in due course, as many writers agree, while the Order sought to establish a home, and proceed as planned.”  Joining them on the voyage to Portugale was a fifth Templar Procurator, Raimund Bernard.
No doubt Brother Gondemare and André de Montbard shared this explosive piece of news with Bernard de Clairvaux at his abbey in Champagne. And yet to the Cistercian abbot such a daring move would not have come as a surprise. Bernard may also have been contemplating the idea of establishing a temporal New Jerusalem, a model nation-state that would come to represent the epitome of his ideals, because back in 1119 Bernard also dispatched a delegation of monks from Clairvaux to the Portuguese county, domain of his late uncle Count Dom Henrique, to found a monastery. One of the eight monks was Brother Roland, one of the founder Templar knights.
Given these associations between the Cistercian monks and the core Templar brotherhood it can be argued that both the Templars and the Cistercians were working together toward the same end — not to mention the Ordre de Sion, for not only was their abbot now also a Templar Procurator, and Portuguese at that, but brothers Gondomare and Roland are also listed as members of the same order.
No sooner had the five Templar Procurators landed in Portugale late in 1125 when they received two major donations. The first was for a small town with an ancient sacred spring near Gondemare. The document reads, “I, Queen D. Tereja give to God and the Knights of the Temple of Solomon the village called Fonte Arcada…with all its rights and benefits, for the good of my soul.”  Meticulously written in pen and ink, it is signed, “I, Guilherme, Procurator of the Temple in this territory, receive this document.” But Guilherme Ricard was far more than that, for his name appears on a second grant — for half the estate of Villa-nova donated “to God, and the brotherhood of the Knights Templar.” — this time in Latin as Magister Donus Ricardus. This man is also the first Master of the Knights Templar in Portugale.
Two years later the Templars, with full support from Prior Arnaldo, helped establish Portugal’s independence,  with the late Count Dom Henriques’ son Afonso as prince of what would shortly become Europe’s first nation-state, Portugal.
Curiously, just as Godefroi de Bouillon and Baudoin II were said to be “greatly obligated” to the Ordre de Sion for their kingships of Jerusalem, so too was Afonso said to be “greatly obligated to members of the Order [of the Knights Templar].” This relationship between the Templars and Afonso became all too clear in 1129 when the king-in-waiting reissued the charter for the castle of Souré, which his father had earlier donated to the Templars in 1111. Afonso’s wording on the reconstituted charter to the Knights Templar evokes the passion of a young, focused man, referring to his new position as “only by the mercy of God, Prince of the Portuguese,” but also unequivocally revealing why he was so “greatly obligated” to the Order of the Temple: “I make this donation, not by force or by persuasion, but for the love of God, and for the good of my soul, and of my parents, and by the cordial love that I have for you, and because within your Brotherhood and in all your works I am a Brother.”
Thus not only did the Templars succeed in placing one of their own on the throne of what would soon become Europe’s first nation-state, Afonso was also the nephew of their main benefactor and spiritual compass, Bernard de Clairvaux.
And so the Templars and the Cistercians secured their own territory as far from papal interference as one could get in medieval Europe. The big question is, what were the Templars doing two thousand miles west of Jerusalem, years before they were officially sanctioned by Baudoin II? Much of the answer becomes evident if one takes a broader view that embraces the cultural and spiritual aspects of the inner brotherhood that constituted the nucleus of the Order and the age in which it manifested.
The period in which the Templars were born was characterized by an economy based on plunder and an overarching religious entity that tolerated nothing outside its strict Catholic dogma. Self-empowerment was denied, and worse, to connect spiritually with your god required doing so through an intermediary such as a priest or bishop. The alternative route to spiritual self-expression was through initiation into the Mysteries taught by Gnostic sects — groups such as the Cathars or Bogomils, and the teachings of their predecessors, the Essenes, the Nazorites, particularly their priestly messiah John the Baptist. Their rituals and beliefs are echoes of ancient Egyptian Mysteries schools whose central tenet was the enlightenment of the individual in this lifetime through an initiatory (and figurative) resurrection, otherwise known as the ritual of ‘raising the dead’.
The connection between these sects and the Knights Templar is that all of them consisted of an inner brotherhood which one could join only after a one-year period of observation. To them was entrusted the teachings of the Mysteries. Since its initiates were exposed to a knowledge that opened their vision and understanding of the Universe, they were considered enlightened or ‘risen’. By contrast, those who fell outside the teachings walked through life as though asleep, thus they were viewed as unaware or ‘dead’.
Not surprisingly, in the 12th century such a concept of self-awareness fell foul of the Catholic Church, who’d manufactured a monopoly on ‘resurrection’, particularly as its carefully selected canon was based on a literal, and thus erroneous interpretation of the principle of resurrection. Needless to say that any ‘pagan’ and ‘heretical’ sects who ‘raised the dead’ were systematically run underground or met a slow and gruesome death. (Incidentally, the original meaning of heretic is ‘someone in possession of the facts who is able to choose’.)
Shortly before their persecution, the Essenes buried scrolls outlining such practices under Temple Mount, with further copies secreted in caves at Qumram, where they would be discovered in 1947. Around 1120 the Templars unearthed the first set of scrolls after tunneling under Temple Mount. Godefroi de Saint-Omer, one of the original knights, brought them back to his namesake town to be decrypted by the scholar Lambert; other scrolls were handed to a Kabbalistic School in nearby Troyes who enjoyed the support of Bernard de Clairvaux and Count Hugh de Champagne.
Like the Essenes, the Knights Templar also consisted of two groups: an outer group who dealt with temporal matters, and an inner brotherhood who followed an initiatory Gnostic tradition of enlightenment and whose behavior and ideas were more akin to a ministerial college. Entry required a waiting period of one year, and vows made by incoming Templar recruits such as Arnold of Sournia unequivocally imply that admittance into this inner brotherhood held a promise of some considerable spiritual benefit: “I, wishing to come to the joys of Paradise, surrender my body and my soul to the Lord God…”
If it is indeed true the Templars followed a rite of spiritual practice based on Gnostic traditions — and by all accounts it did — they would similarly have conducted their initiations in secret underground chambers, much like the Essenes did under Temple Mount; Godefroi de Bouillon himself built a Chamber of Mysteries under the basilica of Mount Sion, above the chamber of initiation formerly used by the Essenes. In what amounts to a smoking gun, a document found in the possession of Templar Master Roncelyn de Fos called The Rule of the Elected Brothers, unequivocally states in Article 7, “Build in your houses meeting places that are large and hidden that can be accessed by underground tunnels so that the brothers can go to meetings without the risk of getting into trouble...In the houses of unelected Brothers, it is prohibited to conduct certain materials pertaining to the philosophical sciences, or the transmutation of base metals into gold and silver. This shall only be undertaken in secret and hidden places.”
Such chambers exist below original Templar buildings in Portugal. One of these lies in the town of Sintra, fourteen miles west of Lisbon. In 1152 Afonso Henriques — by now first king of Portugal — donated the entire village to a man who would become the fourth Templar Master of Portugal, Gualdino Paes (one of the five knights sent by Hugues de Payens to “establish a Portuguese crown”), and he did so under unusual circumstances — in absentia, while Paes was in Palestine with the then Templar Grand Master André de Montbard (also allegedly head of the Ordre de Sion). Hundreds of years of earthquakes, neglect and time made their mark on the Templars’ properties in Sintra, but their original foundations remain and now serve modern day businesses, such as the Hotel Central and Café Paris. In 1970 a hypogeum or ritual chamber with access tunnels was discovered beneath said café, with a connecting passageway leading one way to the nearby Palace, and the other uphill towards the Templar castle.
Fifteen minutes’ walk from Sintra’s main square lies another property that right up to the Middle Ages was described as the Forest of Angels. Today it is the site of an extensive property owned by successive Masonic families dating to at least the early 18th century; in 1371 it was still in the possession of the Knights Templar. Its gardens can only be described as a deliberately designed ritual landscape. One of its many wonders is a labyrinth of tunnels dug into the solid bedrock of the mountainside, penetrating deep into the hill as though meant for initiates wishing to immerse themselves in the dark seclusion of the womb of the Earth Mother, much like Gnostic sects have done throughout history. One of these tunnels leads to a shaft sunk forty feet into the earth.
It is described in official brochures as a well, and yet a close examination shows it never did, nor is it capable of retaining water. It consists of five levels of unevenly stacked and undressed limestone blocks, here and there patched and repaired. Behind the blocks hide five low and narrow circular galleries, each accessed through claustrophobic spiral stairs set into the rough wall and in a measured style that suggests a later refurbishment. The top of the shaft is literally an eighteen-foot diameter hole, level with the ground and surrounded by a rough, dry-stone wall in the shape of a horseshoe. This entrance faces northeast and, like Stonehenge’s horseshoe of bluestones, it references the highest position of the light, the summer solstice sunrise, the esoteric reference to ancient wisdom and, coincidentally, the feast day of John the Baptist, to whom the Templars dedicated a disproportionate amount of churches in Portugal and elsewhere.
But by far the greatest evidence pointing to the Templars having followed mystical practices and rites of initiation of the Mysteries in Portugal appears in the town of Tomar. And the manner in which they inherited this property is nothing short of extraordinary.
Once Afonso Henriques secured the Portuguese nation-state with Templar assistance, he awarded what amounted to a third of his territory to the brotherhood, who in turn made good use of it by creating a kingdom within a kingdom. Its center was Tamarah (as it was then spelled), named for the daughter of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. The name means ‘palm tree’, so it similarly represents the symbol associated with the resurrected Egyptian god Osiris. Before they set about rebuilding the town, the Templars undertook a near pathological interest in re-erecting a dilapidated church, Santa Maria do Olival, which later became ‘mother of all Templar churches’. Indeed, all twenty-two Portuguese Templar Masters would be buried in this unimposing edifice. Clearly Tomar was a focal point of the Templar empire and served some undisclosed and unknown purpose in a larger plan. Indeed it was from here that their maritime empire grew after the Order’s supposed destruction in the 14th century, for in Portugal the Templars simply changed their name and continued business as usual.
From the church’s crypt there extended a partly-roofed tunnel, marked by a procession of air shafts above ground. The passage branched off in two directions, one towards the old Convent of Saint Erea, the other beneath the riverbed and toward the main plaza of Tomar where stands an unusual church dedicated to John the Baptist. From there it veers uphill to what became the Templar’s most famous building, the rotunda of Tomar.
Like the Abbey de Notre Dame du Mont Sion in Jerusalem, the rotunda stands prominently on a limestone hill overlooking the town. Around the periphery of the enigmatic building are symbols relating to esoteric practices; there is even the emblem of the mysterious Ordre de Sion, the cross and the rose. The rotunda is said to be a kind of ‘church’, yet never did it have an altar. Or for that matter a door. Entry into the original building was via a tunnel beneath the floor. During one visit to the town’s archives I came across an account of restoration work conducted in the 1940s describing how the exterior of the rotunda had been coated with reinforced concrete that hid or destroyed the entrance to what was described as a kind of crypt.
It was then I came across an oral account by an elderly resident of Valado dos Frades who recalled an incident around the end of the 19th century. “It was said in old times that master masons and carpenters were hired from the town to work on the maintenance of the castle of Thomar. This was many generations ago. It was the habit of one of these masters to return home and register the alterations made inside the castle, because these would continue until much of what was old would be made unrecognizable or made to disappear. One of the things that riled him the most was the disfiguration of the beautiful and intriguing Arab pathway that the old monks of the Temple used in their ceremonies and led directly to the basement of the Temple church [the rotunda].”
Even in those days the brothers living in the convent used to share, from memory, stories with the masons of how Gualdino Paes brought back from the Holy Land the plans of the Holy Sepulcher that were to be used for the construction of the rotunda. Master Gualdino also ordered a pathway leading to it to be constructed in the Arabic style, and that both were used not just for religious ceremonies but also for the investiture of new knights. The monks also spoke of the Templar Master returning from the Holy Land with many scrolls. He kept them safely in a room excavated out of the rock, which was to the right of its main entrance and had a doorway the monks
referred to as the ‘gate to the underworld’. This doorway rested on very old stonework upon whose uprights the Templars carved dragons, and on the supported lintel, a kind of winged serpent.
Tradition states that an old Jew was the only person permitted to enter the cave to work on the translation of the scrolls. Later this man spoke of the results of his labour and how several volumes of manuscripts had been translated into Latin. “Much later, the stonework was dismantled and everything was patched, including much of the Arab pathway, which was never seen again.” The master mason left a descriptive record of the construction work performed at the rotunda and the castle of Tomar, but the whereabouts of the book was forgotten. “Then in 1936 the parish priest of Valado found an old book behind the altar of the chapel of S. Sebastian that may have belonged to the master mason, but the priest threw it into a fire. Nevertheless, the stories have long since spread through oral tradition.”
During recent attempts to beautify the perimeter of the castle of Tomar and its rotunda, an area was cleared around the original Almedina gate. A chunk of the pathway that once accessed the gate from the outside has been eroded or destroyed, revealing a doorway into a cave. The lintel stone is still in place, and indeed a kind of winged serpent is carved upon it, flanked by the heads of two dragons. The two uprights that would have constituted the body of each dragon are missing. However, a drawing made in 1918 shows the engravings still in their entirety, accompanied by a description of which parts of the Arab pathway were visible inside the subterranean passages and led to the chamber beneath the rotunda.
The Knights Templar in Portugal may very well have continued the initiatory practice of ‘raising the dead’, just like the Essenes in Jerusalem. But it appears they took other secrets to Portugal. During interrogation by the Inquisition, a Templar knight cryptically stated: “There exists in the Order a law so extraordinary on which such a secret should be kept, that any knight would prefer his head cut off rather than reveal it.”  This statement has single-handedly caused a flurry of speculation as to what secret the Templars were privy to. Were they only following a rediscovered secret doctrine of initiation or was there something else?
One well-studied route revolves around the protection of a holy bloodline, championed very convincingly by the authors of Holy Blood Holy Grail. During my own research to discover why the Templars chose the future land of Portugal as their main center of activity — a fact which has remained largely under the radar until I wrote First Templar Nation — it seemed to me that whatever they were doing was to be done as far from Rome as possible. This secret was said to require protection from papal interference, and the Portuguese would have been tolerant of such a policy because traditionally they paid lip service to papal authority.
If you recall, the Templars did not work by themselves. To all intents and purposes they were an extension of the Cistercian Order and its abbot Bernard de Clairvaux, and a number of its key knights were Cistercian monks. A goodly number were also high ranking members of the Ordre de Sion, particularly its prior, the Portuguese Pedro Arnaldo da Rocha, who is twice documented having a working relationship with the Templar Grand Master Hugues de Payns, as well as being the coordinator of events that led up to and beyond the establishment of Portugal as an independent nation-state.
One of the declared aims of the Ordre de Sion was the reinstatement of a holy bloodline upon the throne of Jerusalem, if not the throne of a European state. This royal bloodline descended from the House of Troy, through the line of King David, and into the Merovingian dynasty of central, medieval Europe. The Ordre de Sion accomplished the first objective when it seated the Merovingian Godefroi de Bouillon upon the throne of Jerusalem following the re-conquest of the city.
Such a holy bloodline was considered a great treasure, and given the brief longevity of kings of Jerusalem in this era, it is possible the Ordre de Sion planned to elect another Merovingian, this time in the relatively safe territory of Portugal — someone who could be groomed and protected by the Templars and their successors. Perhaps. There is a surviving document held in the Cistercian archives of Portugal which outlines the rites of succession of Templar Masters in Portugal, in which the swearing of allegiance by every new Master unambiguously declares a vow “to protect the bloodline of David.” Such a blatant line item would hardly be featured unless there was someone very important to protect, not just by the Templar order, but by the heads of their two supporting brotherhoods.
But by far the biggest secret placed by the Templars in Portugal lies in their association with the Grail, or Graal.
Although perceived as many things, ultimately the Graal describes the journey of a hero-knight whose soul is transfigured by knowledge of the highest provenance, whereupon he experiences a spiritual awakening and, in a manner of speaking, this knowledge brings him immortality. Essentially, the Grail is the search for the highest spiritual potential within oneself. In medieval Europe such ideas were dangerous to the Church, which maintained power by portraying itself as God’s intermediary. The Templars would put a stop to that by offering anyone the chance to experience this revelation, and this perhaps the single-most reason why both rich and ley people donated all their worldly goods to them.
As a Templar knight, Afonso Henrques would have been privy to the Templars’ plans, particularly if they secreted an object of great importance in the land he awarded them — one third of the kingdom of Portugal, to be exact. In the charter the king issued to the brotherhood he added a symbol with the anagram PORTUG-R-AL. In Portuguese this reads ‘through you, the Grail.’ So the Grail, or an aspect of it, may have been placed in Tomar, particularly when one considers the town’s name is also a metaphor. In Portuguese it means ‘to drink, to imbibe’, and in esoteric circles, an initiate of the Mysteries has to ‘drink’ the knowledge if it is to be understood. The successful candidate would then complete an initiation, by spending the night in an underground chamber, to be awoken by an adept in the morning and lifted from their figurative grave. At that moment they were said to be ‘risen’. This initiation is still preserved in the Third Degree of Freemasonry.
The crypt under the enigmatic rotunda above Tomar would have served a perfect initiation chamber. Interestingly, if you trace a line through the rotunda down to the Templar church of John the Baptist, the line passes through two pillars with a dragon and a green man, and ends 2000 miles away in the church of Notre Dame du Mont Sion in Jerusalem. If you then take the three prime Templar sites in Jerusalem — Mount Sion, the Holy Sepulcher and Solomon’s stables (where they resided) — this perfect triangle bisects and ends in Egypt, specifically in the underground chamber called the Osirion, which is similarly associated with the oldest resurrection myths of Osiris.
So we are presented with an intriguing possibility: did the Templars place an aspect of the Graal in Tomar? And all these centuries, while we’ve focused on their exploits in Jerusalem and France (and to some degree in Britain), like the myth of nine knights protecting a pilgrim trail, the stories have served as a smokescreen that distracted our gaze away from for their main accomplishments taking place in a small country they created in western Europe.
It is an incredible coincidence that just as the Templars are erecting their mysterious rotunda in Tomar, the Graal writer Cretien de Troyes begins writing his famous opus. In the original story, the Graal is described as a salver. One has to wonder, then, why the Portuguese called the rotunda, charola. Because the name literally translates as ‘a salver’.
This article is based on extracts from First Templar Nation and is thereby protected by international copyright law. Copying, posting, printing or transmission of this article, in part of whole, without prior written permission from the publisher, is strictly prohibited.
For over fifteen years Freddy Silva has been an author, and independent researcher of ancient systems of knowledge, alternative history and earth mysteries. He has been a permanent feature in the international lecture circuit since 2003, with notable keynote presentations at the International Science and Consciousness Conference, the International Society For The Study Of Subtle Energies & Energy Medicine, and the Association for Research and Enlightenment. He has also appeared numerous times on national and international radio shows. His other published works include The Divine Blueprint: Temples, Places, and the Global Plan to Shape the Human Soul; and Secrets In The Fields: The Science and Mysticism of Crop Circles, a critically acclaimed international bestseller on this controversial topic. He is also a documentary film-maker, with the titles Stairways To Heaven: The Practical Magic of Sacred Space, and Templemaking. He contributes regularly to several magazines, and conducts tours in Britain, Malta and Egypt.
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