How secret was the Templar admission ceremony? Evidence from the proceedings in the British Isles
By Helen J. Nicholson
Paper presented at the 47th International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo (2012)
Introduction: The eighty-eight charges against the Templars which were used as the basis of interrogations in the proceedings against the Templars in the British Isles, 1309 – 11, included the charge that admissions into the Order were secret, and that only brothers of the order were present.
Item xxxvj’ q[uo]d recepciones fratrum suo[rum] clamdestine fiebant.
Item xxxvij’ q[uo]d nullis presentib[us] nisi fratrib[us] dicti ordinis.
Outside the British Isles, there is some evidence that outsiders could attend Templar admission ceremonies. Often cited is the example of the German Templar, was arrested and interrogated within France, who stated that in Germany honest, respectable outsiders could attend. However, within the British Isles, all the Templars testified that only Templars attended receptiones, although some qualified their statements. But was this true? The evidence actually given by the Templars and non-Templars suggests that some of them had attended admission ceremonies before becoming full members of the Order.
I have argued in my introduction to the proceedings against the Templars in the British Isles that we cannot believe any of the evidence given by the Templars during the proceedings against them. The evidence I shall set out in this article may simply reinforce this conclusion. However, for those who still believe that some of the Templars’ testimonies may contain accurate information, this article will show that, in that case, the Templars’ admission ceremonies probably were not secret: even though the brothers in the British Isles claimed that they were.