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The Guilt of the Templars
Gershon Legman's attempt to condemn the Knights Templar of the heresies of usury, gnosticism and homosexuality were widely criticized by the academic press of the day. To be expected in any popular history of the Templars, frequent mention is made to Freemasonry. Dismissing as "folk myth" the theory "that the Templars actually survive as the Freemasons" [p. 12.] Legman provides numerous examples of the claim, for instance, quoting the 1927 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica":
"...according to Loiseleur, the later editors of Du Pay were Freemasons who, under false names, garbled the old material and inserted new in the interests of the supposed origin of their own order in that of the Templars." [p. 14.]
Legman, akin to most independent scholars, cannot leave any discovered reference — no matter how irrelevent to the main thesis — uncited. Unable to distinguish between Freemasonry and the opinions and views of individual Freemasons, and making the common mistake of treating Freemasonry as a monolithic oneness, passing unchanged through time and place, Legman makes constant reference to the strawman of a masonic belief in a Templar origin so that he can display the depth of his research, as the following excerpts illustrate.
"The attempted vindications of the Templars by Father Jeune in 1789 and by the French historian François Raynouard in 1813, at the time of the greatest publicity by the Freemasons of their purported descent from the Knights Templar, had, as their most important result, the accepting of their challange by, and the entrance into the controversy of, the great Austrian Orientalist, Baron Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall...." [p. 18.]
Legman discredits René Gilles who "goes on to explain how the Templars continued as the Freemasons (at a period long before the Freemasons had any demonstrable existence), and how, through these Freemason descendants, the Templars were also responsible for the French Revolution...." [p. 55.]
"...this 'Secret Rule' [of the Templars] is blatantly an early-nineteenth century Masonic fake." [p. 58;]
"It almost certainly dates from the great spurt of open Masonic insistence on their pretended descent from the Templars, after the solomn high mass celebrated in Paris in 1808, with Napoleon's permission, by a dissident or schismatic Masonic group under the pedicure-doctor Bernard Fabré-Palaprat...." [p. 59.] "Nor has it only been the Freemasons themselves who have attempted to prove the descent of their freethinking order from that of the Christ-denying Templars. Their enemies have also seen it as an angle of attack. In a little-known but quite remarkable anti-Masonic and anti-Semitic work of the 1890's, Le Diable au XIXe. siécle by 'Dr. Bataille'... one of the fabulous wood-engraved plates shows a purported Masonic initiation ceremony...." [p. 60.]
The anonymous author of the 'Secret Rule' published by Dr. Mertzdorff in 1877 is based on "later works known to the Freemasons, for the benefit of whose pretended descendance from the Templars the forgery was almost certainly execute." [p. 74.]
"René Gilles, in his violently apologetic Les Templiers, sont-ils coupables? (1957), basing himself upon the utterly bogus "Secret Rule" of the Templars,which as already noted, is an eighteenth-century Masonic forgery...." [p. 109.]
"The resumed descendance of the modern Freemasons from the Knights templar is best handled in John Charpentier's L'Ordre des Templiers (1945) pp. 211-22, discussing in particular the great effort made during the Napoleonic era, in the early nineteenth century, to pass off this apparentage as real." [p. 124.]
"In point of fact, no documentary proof of the existence of Freemasonry can be produced for whole centuries after 1314, but this proud genealogical fraud is still entertained by the Freemasons...." [p. 125]

The Guilt of the Templars, G. Legman.[Gershon Legman (1917-1999), Henry Charles Lea, Thomas Wright, George Witt, Sir James Tennent, Sir William Dugdale][pregatory note by Jacques Barzun] New York : Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, 1966. hc pp. xii 308 14 illust.. Unfavorably reviewed by William A. Chaney in Speculum, Volume 43 / Issue 01 / January 1968, pp 174-176. The Medieval Academy of America.


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