Magna Carta & the Rule of Law from the Knights Templar The Templar Order as the Knightly Law-Givers of the First Civil Rights & Human Rights

Warrior Monks as the Knightly Law-Givers

Proprietary Research – This site presents new and original research, which is proprietary, from primary sources in the historical record. The numbered source references are the verifiable evidence of all relevant facts. The Templar Order now shares this with the general public for the first time, as part of its core mission of restoring venerable traditions as the pillars of civilization.

L (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.orgLess than 50 years before the Magna Carta, the basis for English Common Law itself was initially developed by substantial legal reforms implemented by King Henry II (1133-1189 AD), of the Templar dynastic House of Anjou. [1] These sweeping reforms of the royal Court system and its legal frameworks, backed by Knights Templar support, resulted in the very foundations of the Common Law system of jurisprudence.

When King Richard the Lionheart died in 1199 AD, he was succeeded by his brother King John (1166-1216 AD), who imposed excessive taxation on the English nobility, and confiscated and sold property of the Roman Catholic Church. These and other arbitrary abuses of power were mostly driven by the need to pay for failed foreign wars. By 1214 AD, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, called on the noblemen to demand a charter of liberties from the King of England.

Knights Templar Magna Carta of 1215 AD, original version, British Museum

Magna Carta of 1215 AD, original version, British Museum

This resulted in the first time in history that a statutory law was imposed upon a monarch by armed force, causing the landmark Magna Carta to be enacted in 1215 AD. Written in Roman Latin, its full title was Magna Carta Libertatum, literally the “Great Charter of Liberties”.

Historians generally consider the Magna Carta itself to be an “Angevin” charter, specifically meaning of the Royal House of Anjou, the line of titled Counts of Anjou dating back to 870 AD. The 13th century nobles of the House of Anjou involved with creating the Magna Carta dynastically descended directly from Count Fulk of Anjou, King of Jerusalem, who was one of the first 9 founding Knights Templar, and the royal patron backing the first two Grand Masters of the Templar Order.

The rebellious nobles, who were direct parties to the Magna Carta, are typically referred to in history books only generally as “Barons”. However, of those 25 English noblemen, 7 held the much higher title of Earl (Count), and 3 were heirs to an Earldom. Significantly, 3 of the parties to the charter were nobles of Hereford, a major stronghold of Knights Templar loyalists, and the region of the first Templar headquarters Commandery at Garway. More importantly, one of the key parties of great influence among all the noblemen was Brother Aymeric, the Master (Prior) of the Knights Templar for England.

The occasional references in history books to the Magna Carta being “forced” upon King John rarely emphasize the actual level of organized armed military force that was necessarily involved, in order to impose such restrictions upon a ruling monarch. The military nature of force was so substantial, that it is recorded in history as the “First Barons’ War” (1215-1217 AD). The primary and dominant organized armed force of militia in England which was independent from the Crown at that time was none other than the Knights Templar, the chivalric Order of the Temple of Solomon.

Knights Templar Impression of Seal of Robert Fitzwalter ca.1213-1219 AD, British Museum

Impression of Seal of Robert Fitzwalter ca.1213-1219 AD, British Museum

The rebellion of noblemen was led by Robert Fitzwalter, a Templar Knight who was given the chivalric title “Marshal of the Army of God and Holy Church” specifically for the mission of establishing the Magna Carta. Further confirming that Fitzwalter was a Templar is the fact that he later joined the Fifth Crusade. [2]

When King John persisted in refusing the demands of the noblemen, in January 1215 AD Fitzwalter together with a group of Knights of nobility, all suited in full Templar battle armour with formal regalia of the Order of the Temple of Solomon, held a key meeting with the King at Temple Church, the major headquarters Commandery of the Knights Templar Order in London. [3] [4]

Leading legal scholars in the UK justice system are well aware that “many of the key moments in the two years leading up to the sealing of the Charter took place [in Temple Church]”. For this reason, top lawyers of the English legal system regard Temple Church as “the cradle of the Common Law.[5]

The exercise of force to establish Magna Carta culminated in the breakthrough event of 17 May 1215 AD, when Fitzwalter stormed the City of London leading the “Army of God”, in the name of the Knights Templar Order. Since the Templars already enjoyed wide popular and political support in London, the King’s soldiers essentially opened the gates to the city and let them in without much resistance other than some attempts from the Tower of London. [6] Less than one month later on 15 June 1215 AD, the Knights obtained King John’s seal accepting and ratifying the Magna Carta at Runnymede.

Even after its first enactment, the Magna Carta was repeatedly resisted by King John, and the Church also rolled back some of its provisions several times, as a compromise to increase its own influence over the King. Because of this, as well as disruptions from a small civil war against the nobles, the Magna Carta needed to be reissued and reasserted several times. This was accomplished primarily by the perseverance and backing of the House of Anjou.

Knights Templar William Marshall, effigy in Temple Church, London

William Marshall, effigy in Temple Church, London

King Henry III (1207-1272 AD) was a dynastic heir of the House of Anjou, a major Knights Templar nobility family which is virtually an institution of the Templar Order. When Henry III was 9 years old, the Angevins appointed William Marshall as his protector. The Marshall Protectorate repeatedly reissued the Magna Carta from 1216 to 1225 AD, finally installing it as the basis for all future government of England. [7]

William Marshall is revered by the modern English legal profession as “one of the central figures” of the Magna Carta, and “one of the ultimate saviours of the Great Charter”. He was hailed by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1219 AD as “the greatest Knight that ever lived.” One of the effigies of the most famous Knights Templar, which lay in Temple Church, is that of William Marshall. In the 1215 AD charter, his name is listed first among the non-clerical men noted as advising the King. When he re-issued the Magna Carta in 1216 AD and 1217 AD to ensure its survival, he placed his own seal in Temple Church itself, where he is buried, and where his effigy still remains almost 800 years later. [8]

In 1297 AD, King Edward I (of the Templar dynastic House of Anjou) enacted Confirmatio Cartarum (Confirmation of Charters), reaffirming the Magna Carta. In 1300 AD he enacted the supplemental Articuli Super Cartas (Articles Upon the Charters), consisting of 20 additional Articles providing for stronger and more effective enforcement of the Magna Carta. [9]

Under mounting pressure from King Philip IV of France, who sought to expand his abusive practices of increasingly aggressive exercise of power, Pope Clement V annulled Confirmatio Cartarum in 1305 AD. [10] While the Magna Carta may have technically remained in force, that action politically weakened and undermined practical enforcement of its Rule of Law provisions that would limit the King’s ambitions.

These historical facts provide a revealing context, exposing that the Magna Carta – which was promoted, established and maintained by the Knights Templar – was a major factor leading to the persecution of the Templar Order in 1307 AD, by King Philip IV of France. The Templar-backed reaffirmation of Magna Carta in 1297 AD, and issuance of new articles for its enforcement in 1300 AD, triggered a backlash pushed by the power-hungry French secular King in 1305 AD, blackmailing the Pope to annul the enforcement articles. Within a short two years thereafter, the King further coerced and abused the French Inquisition to persecute the Knights Templar with a full onslaught.

(The 2011 movie “Ironclad” compellingly portrayed the importance of Magna Carta as a central mission of the Order of the Temple of Solomon, and accurately expressed the level of dedication and sacrifice made by the Knights Templar, in their key role as the “law givers”, fighting to establish the Rule of Law.)

 

Magna Carta as the Basis for the Rule of Law & Human Rights

 

Knights Templar Magna Carta of 1225 AD, English Law version

Magna Carta of 1225 AD, English Law version

U (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.orgUnder the regency of King Henry III backed by Templar protection, the Magna Carta was formally entered into the body of statutory law of England, as of 1225 AD. This made the charter a core part of the most basic principles of jurisprudence, deeply embedded in the English Common Law, which has been the cornerstone of most national legal systems throughout Europe and most of the world. In fact, American colonial Courts considered Magna Carta to be the chief embodiment of Common Law in and of itself. [11]

The Magna Carta was the first charter in history to mandate specific guarantees of rights and privileges, as well as protections of freedom of the Church. This effectively set the legal precedent for a Bill of Rights to be enacted in all countries.

It was the first codified statute establishing that even the King is bound to observe the laws, prohibiting any claim to absolute rule by the monarchy. It was the first enactment of the principle of sovereignty of the Rule of Law itself, such that no ruler and no other government official can hold himself above the law.

The Magna Carta also laid the foundations of the principle of constitutional law internationally, as the basis for all civil rights. Many principles derived from its original provisions have been codified into modern United Nations conventions on human rights, which comprise the fundamental body of international law which is binding upon all countries. The modern Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 under the United Nations is based upon 18th century models for Bills of Rights, which were derived from the core principles of the Magna Carta.

The subsequent implementation of the Magna Carta also greatly influenced the development of political representation by a Parliament. Thus, the charter is also attributed with being the primary foundation of democracy itself, upon the basis of individual liberties against arbitrary authority.

One major predecessor to the institution of representative Parliament, as an early medieval form of democracy, is the Grand Mastery of the Knights Templar, since the foundation of the Order of the Temple of Solomon in 1118 AD. The very concept of a Grand Mastery is that governance is not left to the Grand Master alone, but is balanced by a council of nobles, who in turn represent the general population of all Knights and Dames of the Order. The Grand Mastery has always been based upon the Arthurian “round table” principle, where all members are ensured full and equal participation in governance.

One early precedent for the practice of codified public law, as a medieval form of the Rule of Law subject to principles of Common Law, is the Temple Rule of Saint Bernard from 1129 AD. This is an earlier landmark charter, demonstrating the enactment of a communal law by consultation of a representative council, by which publicly disclosed rules of law serve to implement practices of “common law” justice.

Knights Templar Magna Carta of 1297 AD, final version

Magna Carta of 1297 AD, final version

The most famous provision of the Magna Carta is Article 29 of the 1297 AD version (originally “Clause 39” of the 1215 AD version), which established the most fundamental doctrines in jurisprudence of the right to private property, the right to a trial without delay (the basis for habeas corpus), the right to trial by one’s peers (the basis for a jury trial), and thus the absolute right of all citizens to due process of law, free from arbitrary fiat of the government.

This clause required that: “No free man shall be arrested or imprisoned, or dispossessed of his Freehold [property], or Liberties… or in any other way destroyed… nor [to] condemn him, except by the lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the law of the land.

The same clause also provides: “We will sell to no man, we will not deny or [delay] to any man, either Justice or Right.” This prohibits charging or accepting money for any favourable judgment (i.e. bribery or burdensome litigation fees), prevents lawsuits and motions from being arbitrarily dismissed on technicalities, and excludes stalling or delay tactics by defendants or the state.

The original “Clause 61” created a committee of 25 nobles who could overrule the King if he ever defied the rights in the charter, and could even seize his castles and property if they deemed necessary. This and many other provisions were not preserved in later versions. Nonetheless, this clause did establish the historical basis and legal precedent for the concept of “impeachment” of a Head of State by a Parliament.

The Lord Judge of the UK Inner Temple (Inn of Court) summarized: “Through [the Magna Carta], the Common Law has penetrated the world. The ideas derived from it have underpinned all the great declarations of human rights. It is a universal document, continuing to have universal impact.” Most importantly, it established “that the King himself was subject to the law, and that if he failed to abide by that understanding, he was not entitled to claim an obligation of loyalty. … To this day, all our rulers are subject to the law.[12]

 

Magna Carta as a Living Historical Mission in Modern Times

 

T (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.orgThe establishment and promotion of the Magna Carta was a priority project of the medieval Knights Templar, and an official mission of the Order of the Temple of Solomon. Therefore, the preservation and further advancement of constitutional rights, civil rights, human rights and the Rule of Law which flow from the Magna Carta, continues to be an essential living historical mission of the Templar Order in modern times.

The heritage of this primary mission of the Order, as a pillar of its core traditions, mandates that the Templar Order must maintain a dedicated focus on defending human rights and international law in the modern era. Faithful to this tradition, the key emphasis must be on guarding the basic rights and fundamental freedoms of humanity against the arbitrary abuse of power by modern governments and corrupt officials.

It is highly significant that in the 13th century, the Templar-led Magna Carta campaign to establish the first civil rights and principles of constitutional law arose by necessity, in response to increasing abuses of authority by the monarchy. During those times, abuses against rights were driven by the need to pay for failed foreign wars, as a result of pursuing a policy of aggressive imperialism. This led to confiscation of property and denial of rights, in violation of existing laws.

The solution given to the world by the Knights Templar, which improved civil liberties and the welfare of humanity for many following centuries, was the Magna Carta and its resulting human rights under a meaningful Rule of Law.

Modern times (from 20th to early 21st century) have witnessed relentless and escalating military aggression (both overt and covert by proxy mercenaries) promoted by dominant countries, in flagrant violation of international law. As a direct result, the modern governments which claim to represent “democracy” are also severely weakened by their own failed foreign wars, as a consequence of pursuing policies of neo-imperialism and neo-colonialism. This also led to escalating abuses of authority, deprivation of liberties and property without due process of law, and generally rampant violations of rights.

Humanity faces precisely the same problem in the modern era, for the same reasons, as the Templars faced under medieval monarchs. In modern times, exactly the same problem requires to reassert the same effective solution. The original Knights Templar are now needed once again, to defend, restore, promote and enforce all international laws on human rights, and to reclaim the Rule of Law itself for all of humanity.

 

The Ghost of Templar Legacy Defending Civil Liberties & Human Rights

 

Knights Templar Chancery Lane, institutional stone buildings

Chancery Lane, institutional stone buildings

T (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.orgThe central domain of the Knights Templar in London was the land surrounding the Temple Church, Chancery Lane and the Southampton buildings, all owned by the Knights of the Temple of Solomon. During the reign of Henry II (1154-1189 AD), the Knights moved headquarters from their “Old Temple” site at the Southampton Buildings (at the top of Chancery Lane at High Holborn) to their “New Temple” site of Temple Church (at the bottom of Chancery Lane at Fleet Street). Chancery Lane itself was created by the Knights Templar as a central access road for their complex of buildings in this special area. [13] [14]

From the 13th century, this “Temple” domain was already heavily populated by prominent lawyers, who lived and worked there as legal advisors to the Knights of the Templar Order. The Knights Templar were famously revered as the “law givers”, having established the Magna Carta of common law rights and the Rule of Law in 1215 AD, and ensured its permanent constitutional role within the legal system in 1225 AD.

The Inns of Court called Middle Temple and Inner Temple are both located surrounding the shared courtyard of Temple Church, at the bottom of Chancery Lane (Fleet Street), diagonally across the street from the Royal Courts of Justice.

 

Knights Templar, Inner Temple walkabout arches entrance (left) on Temple Church Courtyard

Inner Temple walkabout arches entrance (left) on Temple Church Courtyard

 

Knights Templar Rotunda of Temple Church London

The iconic rotunda (modeled after the Holy Sepulchre) of Temple Church, London

Those sites which are the remnants of the original Knights Templar, who used those sites exclusively for genuine knightly quests, dedicated to good and Holy causes such as the Magna Carta defending the Rule of Law, remain used only for good to this day.

Temple Church, the most famous 2nd Commandery of the original Knights Templar, featured in the 2006 movie “The Da Vinci Code”, is located at the bottom of Chancery Lane behind Fleet Street. It continues to be operated as a proper ecclesiastical Church, dedicated to genuine spiritual purposes.

Analysis of the Chancery Lane area indicates that the spirit of the original Knights does maintain its esoteric influence over their former domain, working within the hearts and minds of lawyers to insist upon upholding the Rule of Law for the people:

Inner Temple and Middle Temple Inns are both adjacent to the courtyard of Temple Church itself. Closest to the consecrated Holy Temple of the original Knights infused with their symbols, it is these two Inns of Court which are proven by the historical record to maintain the most defiant anti-establishment resistance in defense of civil rights.

Guy Fawkes Mask, from dissident tradition of Temple Inn of Court, associated with the Gunpowder Plot

Guy Fawkes Mask, from dissident tradition of Temple Inn of Court, associated with the Gunpowder Plot

For example, the famous Gunpowder Plot of Guy Fawkes, who attempted to blow up the Parliament in session, is directly linked to lawyers from both Inner Temple and Middle Temple Inns of Court:

The brothers Thomas and Robert Winter, who were admitted to Middle Temple in 1590 AD, were both tried alongside Guy Fawkes as co-conspirators and executed with him. Francis Tresham, a member of Inner Temple, was a key conspirator in the Guy Fawkes plot, whose message warning his brother-in-law not to attend Parliament on that day led to discovery of the plot. Tresham was exposed by Guy Fawkes under torture, and he died in prison in the Tower of London.

The famous mask is a stylized depiction of Guy Fawkes, traditionally used for his effigy, which was burned every year during the government-ordered “holiday” of Guy Fawkes Night. During the early decades of observing Guy Fawkes Night, the annual bonfire was burned at the Temple Gate (on Fleet Street) as the entrance to both Inner and Middle Temple Inns of Court, demonstrating their association with the gunpowder plot as centers of dissention. [15]

With the 2006 movie “V for Vendetta”, Guy Fawkes became a symbol for demanding civil rights against corrupt systemic abuses of government. His mask is now used as a trademark by the anti-globalist hacker activist group Anonymous, as well as Occupy Wall Street and other worldwide civil rights protest movements.

The Guy Fawkes commemorative poem was: “Remember, remember, the 5th of November, the gunpowder treason and plot. I can think of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.

Within the positive libertarian factions of the British Inns of Court, and in the halls of Inner Temple Inn, whose members include major civil rights leaders such as Mohandas Ghandi and Nelson Mandela, the resistance spirit of the ongoing fight for civil liberties and human rights will also “never be forgot”.

The ethereal call of the “ghost of the Knights Templar” has continued to be an irresistible influence and relentless inspiration to the Inns of Court adjacent to the Order’s former Commandery:

Inner Temple Inn of Court, Hare Court

Inner Temple Inn of Court, Hare Court

Both the Inner Temple and Middle Temple Inns faithfully preserved and protected Temple Church throughout the 17th century, ensuring it was attended by sufficient clergy. The Treasurer of Inner Temple in 1898 AD explained that both Inns regarded Temple Church as a cultural centre and focal point of the moral aspirations of their societies, “the one object for whose care and preservation all were concerned, upon which all looked with love and veneration”. This inspired the deeply ingrained sense of unity, by which they joined in resistance against interference by the monarchy, to promote their independence. [16]

According to historians of the Inns of Court, “in the later 17th century… Chancery Lane became a focus for those attracted by political intrigue and dissent,” and a center for anti-establishment political dissidents to develop “systemized political organization”. [17]

The heritage and legacy of the Knights Templar has thus continued to serve as a motivating inspiration to many of the highest ranking British lawyers, who remain dedicated to civil liberties, opposing various anti-humanitarian agendas of the modern era.

 

© COPYRIGHT NOTICE – Copying whole sections or pages is prohibited, and subject to civil and criminal liabilities by law.  Smaller parts can be used only with Attribution Credit and a Link to this website.  Please see Legal and Attribution information in the Footer (bottom of this page).

 

Academic Source References for this Topic

Full Public Evidence Proving All Facts – All facts in these materials are abundantly proven publicly, directly from primary sources of the historical record and authoritative scholarship, presented as verifiable academic source references, in hundreds of numbered footnotes, consisting of conclusive evidence provided for the world to see.

Color Coded Quotes Indicating Sources – Quotes directly from verifiable sources are color coded, for convenience of visual reference, as follows:  Brown quotes indicate historical sources; Blue quotes indicate scholarly sources; Purple quotes indicate Canon law sources; Red quotes indicate Royal sources.

[1] Paul Brand, Henry II and the Creation of the English Common Law, in Christopher Harper-Bill & Nicholas Vincent, Henry II: New Interpretations, Woodbridge UK, Boydell Press (2007), p.216.

[2] Hugh Chisholm, “Fitzwalter, Robert” in Encyclopedia Britannica (1911), 11th Edition, Cambridge University Press, p.449.

[3] T.F. Tout, “Fitzwalter, Robert” in Leslie Stephen, Dictionary of National Biography (1889), London, Smith Elder & Co., p.226.

[4] Gabriel Ronay, The Tartar Khan’s Englishman, London, Cassel (1978), pp.38-40.

[5] Lord Judge Master of the Temple, The Greatest Knight, in The Inner Temple Yearbook: 2013-2014, Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, pp.14-15.

[6] T.F. Tout, “Fitzwalter, Robert” in Leslie Stephen, Dictionary of National Biography (1889), London, Smith Elder & Co., p.226.

[7] Danny Danziger & John Gillingham, 1215: The Year of Magna Carta, Hodder & Stoughton (2003), p.271.

[8] Lord Judge Master of the Temple, The Greatest Knight, in The Inner Temple Yearbook: 2013-2014, Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, pp.12-15.

[9] William B. Robinson & Ronald H. Fritze, Historical Dictionary of Late Medieval England: 1272-1485, Greenwood Press (2002), “Articuli Super Cartas” at pp.34-35.

[10] Sophia Menache, Clement V, Cambridge University Press (2002), p.253.

[11] H.D. Hazeltine, “The Influence of Magna Carta on American Constitutional Development in Malden”, in Henry Elliot, Magna Carta Commemoration Essays (1917), p.194.

[12] Lord Judge Master of the Temple, The Greatest Knight, in The Inner Temple Yearbook: 2013-2014, Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, p.14.

[13] John Baker, Inner Temple History, Inner Temple (2009), Introduction, Part 1.

[14] James Campbell, The Map of Early Modern London: Chancery Lane, University of Victoria (2009).

[15] F.A. Inderwick, Q.C., A Calendar of the Inner Temple Records, Volume II, Chiswick Press, Chancery Lane, London (1898), Introduction: xii.

[16] F.A. Inderwick, Q.C., A Calendar of the Inner Temple Records, Volume II, Chiswick Press, Chancery Lane, London (1898), Introduction, cxxx.

[17] Celia Pilkington, Saints and Rebels, in The Inner Temple Yearbook: 2013-2014, Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, p.23.