Napoleon’s Legacy to his Colonies

Introduction

chateau_lieu_salleSacre

Museum and National Estate of Versailles and Trianon. Jacques-Louis David, The Coronation of Napoleon, 1807. Dimensions: 10 metres wide by over 6 metres tall. In 1808 David was commissioned by American entrepreneurs to paint a full size replica, immediately after the release of the original. David painted it from memory and finished the work in 1822. In 1947 the replica was returned to France.

Napoleon is widely seen as a military genius and perhaps the most illustrious leader in world history. Of the 60 battles, Napoleon only lost seven (even these were lost in the final phase). The leading British historian Andrew Roberts, in his 926 pages biography Napoleon: A Life (2015), mentions the battles of Acre (1799), Aspern-Essling (1809), Leipzig (1813), La Rothière (1814), Laon (1814), Arcis-sur-Aube (1814), and Waterloo (1815). Often forgotten is the battle that Napoleon lost in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti). On 18 November 1803, the French army under the command of general Donatien-Marie-Joseph de Vimeur, vicomte de Rochambeau, and the rebel forces under Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a self-educated slave with no formal military training, collided at the battle of Vertières. The outcome was that Napoleon was driven out of Saint-Domingue and Dessalines led his country to independence. It is interesting to see what Napoleon’s legacy was.

Saint-Domingue’s sugar

Saint-Domingue was a French colony on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola from 1659 to 1804. The French had established themselves on the western portion of the islands of Hispaniola and Tortuga by 1659. The Treaty of Rijswijk (1697) formally ceded the western third of Hispaniola from Spain to France. The French then renamed it to Saint-Domingue. During the 18th century, the colony became France’s most lucrative New World possession. It exported sugar, coffee, cacao, indigo, and cotton, generated by an enslaved labor force. Around 1780 the majority of France’s investments were made in Saint-Domingue. In the 18th century, Saint-Domingue grew to be the richest sugar colony in the Caribbean.

Revolution in France

A plantation in the Caribbean was very labor intensive. It required about two or three slaves per hectare. Due to the importation of Africans the slave population soon outnumbered the free population. The slave population stood at 460,000 people, which was not only the largest of any island but represented close to half of the one million slaves then being held in all the Caribbean colonies (Klein: 33).

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The French colony of Saint Domingue had a substantial agricultural economy featuring sugar, coffee, indigo and tobacco. The island was a huge importer of African slaves, at one point comprising a third of the entire trade in the Western hemisphere, with approximately 685,000 men, women and children arriving brought into the colony during the 18th century. Duke University Haiti Lab https://sites.duke.edu/marronnagevoyages)

Conditions on sugar plantations were harsh. During the eight-month sugar harvest, slaves often worked continuously around the clock. Accidents caused by long hours and primitive machinery were horrible. In the big plantations, the slaves lived in barracks. Planters primarily wanted males for plantation work. There were few women as these were only needed for propagation. Families did not exist. The result was a kind of rebelliousness among the slaves which manifested itself in various ways. Planters reported revolts, poisonings, suicides, and other obstructive behavior. These men, women and children did not have a life or history of their own.

Slavery was ultimately abolished in all French colonies in 1848 by Victor Schœlcher, the famous French journalist and politician who was France’s greatest advocate of ending slavery. On 10 May 2001, the French Parliament adopted Law 2001-434, of which the first article reads: “The French Republic acknowledges that the Atlantic and Indian Ocean slave trade on the one hand and slavery on the other, perpetrated from the fifteenth century in the Americas, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and in Europe against African, Amerindian, Malagasy and Indian peoples constitute a crime against humanity.”

The start of the French Revolution in 1789 was the initiator of the Haitian Revolution of 1791. When the slaves first rebelled in August of 1791 they were not asking for emancipation, but only an additional day each week to cultivate their garden plots.

The French Revolution began in 1789 as a popular movement to reform the rule of Louis XVI. However, the movement became out of control and between 5 September 1793 and 27 July 1794 France was in the grip of a Reign of Terror. This period ended with the death of Robespierre. In the aftermath of the coup, the Committee of Public Safety lost its authority, the prisons were emptied, and the French Revolution became decidedly less radical. In October 1795, the National Convention (the third government of the French Revolution) used Napoleon Bonaparte and the army to crush riots. During the night of 4 October, over 300 royalist rebels were shot dead in front of the Church of Saint Roch. The rest had scattered and fled. Under the Directory that followed between 1795 and 1799 bourgeois values, corruption, and military failure returned. In 1799, the Directory was overthrown in a military coup led by Napoleon, who ruled France as First Consul and after 1804 as Emperor of the French.

Napoleon’s attitude towards slavery

In 1794, during the Terror period of the French Revolution, slavery in France’s colonies was abolished. However, this policy was not fully implemented. When unrest broke out in Saint-Domingue, Napoleon wanted to renew France’ commitment to emancipation, mainly because of political reasons. Napoleon stated that slavery had not been formally abolished, since the abolition had not been realized. His politics aimed at the return of the former French colonists. Napoleon believed they were better able to defend French interests against the British that the revolutionaries. Thus as First Consul, by a decree of May 20, 1802, Napoleon restored slavery and the slave trade in Martinique and other West Indian colonies. The law did not apply to Guadeloupe, Guyane or Saint-Domingue:

Le décret du 30 floréal An X [May 20, 1802]

AU NOM DU PEUPLE FRANÇAIS, BONAPARTE, premier Consul, PROCLAME loi de la République le décret suivant, rendu par le Corps législatif le 30 floréal an X, conformément à la proposition faite par le Gouvernement le 27 dudit mois, communiquée au Tribunat le même jour.

DÉCRET.

ART. I.er – Dans les colonies restituées à la France en exécution du traité d’Amiens, du 6 germinal an X [March 27, 1802], l’esclavage sera maintenu conformément aux lois et réglemens antérieurs à 1789.
ART. II. – Il en sera de même dans les autres colonies françaises au-delà du Cap de Bonne-Espérance.
ART. III. – La traite des noirs et leur importation dans lesdites colonies, auront lieu, conformément aux lois et réglemens existans avant ladite époque de 1789.
ART. IV. – Nonobstant toutes lois antérieures, le régime des colonies est soumis, pendant dix ans, aux réglemens qui seront faits par le Gouvernement.

Although Napoleon did not believe in the idea of racial equality, later in his life, his attitude towards the African slaves became more ethical. His change of attitude is reveled during his exile on St. Helena. During that time, Napoleon developed a friendship with an old slave called Toby. When Napoleon heard how Toby had been captured and enslaved, he reportedly expressed a wish to purchase him and send him back to his home country. His loyal friend, the French atlas maker and author Emmanuel-Augustin-Dieudonné-Joseph, comte de Las Cases (1766 – 1842) notes in his well-known memoirs (Las Cases 1823: 217):

Napoleon’s kindness of heart was also shown by his attitude toward the Malay slave, named Toby, who had care of the beautiful garden at The Briars. When no one was in it the garden was kept locked and the key was left in Toby’s hands. Toby and Napoleon speedily became friends, and the black man always spoke of the Emperor as “that good man, Bony.” He always placed the key of the garden where Napoleon could reach it under the wicket. The black man was original and entertaining, and so autocratic that no one at The Briars ever disputed his authority. His story was rather pathetic.

and (Las Cases 1823: 383):

What, after all, is this poor human machine? There is not one whose exterior form is like another, or whose internal organization resembles the rest. And it is by disregarding this truth that we are led to the commission of so many errors. Had Toby been a Brutus, he would have put himself to death; if an Aesop he would now, perhaps, have been the Governor’s adviser, if an ardent and zealous Christian, he would have borne his chains in the sight of God and blessed them. As for poor Toby, he endures his misfortunes very quietly: he stoops to his work and spends his days in innocent tranquility…. Certainly there is a wide step from poor Toby to a King Richard. And yet, the crime is not the less atrocious, for this man, after all, had his family, his happiness, and his liberty; and it was a horrible act of cruelty to bring him here to languish in the fetters of slavery.

Napoleon’s war in Saint-Domingue

Napoleon had an obvious personal relation with the colonies. In January 1796, Napoléon Bonaparte proposed to Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie and they married on 9 March 1796. She adopted the name “Josephine” that Napoleon had chosen for her. Josephine was born in Les Trois-Îlets, Martinique. She was a member of a wealthy white planters family that owned a sugarcane plantation, called Trois-Îlets. Josephine was the eldest daughter of Joseph-Gaspard Tascher (1735–1790), knight, Seigneur de la Pagerie, lieutenant of Troupes de Marine, and his wife, Rose-Claire des Vergers de Sannois (1736–1807). The latter’s maternal grandfather, Anthony Brown, may have been Irish. It cannot have been a coincidence that slavery was specifically re-established in Martinique.

toussaint

The Morgan Library and Museum. Joseph Ducreux (1735-1802), Portrait of a Gentleman (Toussaint Louverture?) ca. 1802, Black, brown and white chalks on gray-blue laid paper. 20 1/2 x 16 1/4 inches (521 x 413 mm). Estate of Mrs. Vincent Astor. http://www.themorgan.org

In 1791, the slaves and some free people of color in Saint-Domingue started a rebellion against French authority. In May 1791 the French revolutionary government granted citizenship to the wealthier mostly light-skinned free persons of color, the offspring of white French men and African women. Saint-Domingue’s European population however disregarded the law. One of the slaves’ main leaders was François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture, also known as Toussaint L’Ouverture or Toussaint Bréda. At first Toussaint allied with the Spaniards in Santo Domingo (the other half of the island of Hispaniola). The rebels became reconciled to French rule following the abolition of slavery in the colony in 1793, prompting Toussaint to switch sides to France. For some time, the island was quiet under Napoleonic rule. On 1 July 1801 Toussaint promulgated a Constitution, officially establishing his authority as governor general “for life” over the entire island of Hispaniola. Article 3 of his constitution states: “There cannot exist slaves [in Saint-Domingue], servitude is therein forever abolished. All men are born, live and die free and French.”. During this time, Napoleon met with refugee planters. They urged the restoration of slavery in Saint-Domingue, claiming it was essential to their profits.

Jefferson supplied Toussaint with arms, munitions and food. He was seen as the first line of defense against the French. He had already foreseen that Toussaint would put up considerable resistance, and anticipated on Napoleon’s failure in the West-Indies. It would prove to be one of the most important strategic choices in the development of the current United States.

On 25 March 1802 Napoleon signed the Treaty of Amiens. It turned out not be be more than a truce. The Treaty gave both sides a pause to reorganize. In 18 May 1803 the war was formally resumed. During this peace Napoleon made reestablishing France’s control over its colonial possessions a priority. In December 1801 he sent Charles-Victor-Emmanuel Leclerc (1772-1802) to the colony.

Meanwhile Toussaint enforced a hard regime on plantation laborers. By crushing a rebellion of the workers, he isolated himself and weakened his position. Leclerc landed at Cap-Français in February 1802 with warships and 40,000 soldiers. The French won several victories and after three months of heavy fighting regained control over the island. The revolutionary generals led a fanatic guerrilla war against the French troops and in a number of occasions were very successful. However, Toussaint faced a major setback when some of his generals joined Leclerc. Toussaint’s mixed strategies of total war and negotiation confused his generals who one after the other capitulated to Leclerc, beginning with Christophe. Finally Toussaint and later Dessalines surrendered.

Toussaint was forced to negotiate a peace. In May 1802 he was invited by the French general Jean Baptiste Brunet for a negotiation. His safety was guaranteed. On Napoleon’s secret orders Toussaint was immediately arrested and put on ship to France. He died in a prison cell in the French Alps of cold and hunger. It should be mentioned that Dessalines played a significant role in the arrest of Toussaint (Girard). Dessalines obtained 4000 francs and gifts in wine and liquor for him, his spouse and the officers involved (Girard). When in October 1802 it became apparent that the French intended to re-establish slavery, because they had done so on Guadeloupe, Toussaint’s former military allies, including Jean Jacques Dessalines, Alexandre Pétion and Henri Christophe, switched sides again and fought against the French. In the meanwhile disease took its toll on the French soldiers. The revolution was revitalized when Leclerc died of yellow fever in november 1802. The Haitian Revolution continued under the leadership of Dessalines, Pétion and Christophe.

After the death of Leclerc, Napoleon appointed the vicomte de Rochambeau (who fought with his father under George Washington in the American Revolutionary War) as Leclerc’s successor. His brutal racial warfare drove even more revolutionary leaders back to the rebel armies.

The revolutionary ideas spread

The situation in the Caribbean was chaotic. The situation in Europe was the direct cause, but the Haitian revolution contributed to uncertainty as well as illustrated by events that took place on the neighboring island of Curaçao.

Case Study: Curaçao

In September 1799, two French agents from Saint-Domingue, together with a Curaçao-resident French merchant, Jean Baptiste Tierce Cadet, were arrested for conspiring to overthrow Curaçao’s government and to liberate the slaves. They were deported without trial. Tierce Cadet was accused of being the local ringleader. He was accused of being part of a plan originating in Saint-Domingue: the liberation of the slaves in all the colonies in the Caribbean. Eight months after being deported from Curaçao, Tierce, en route to France, arrived in the Batavian Republic. He was travelling with an officer of the Batavian navy, Jan Hendrik Quast. Both men were arrested and questioned. The Batavian authorities intended to put Tierce on trial for trying for overthrowing the Curaçao government and plotting to liberate the slaves. However, it appeared very difficult to produce the necessary evidence against him (Klooster, 148-149).

Saint-Domingue becomes independent

The Battle of Vertières on 18 November 1803 was the final event that stood between slavery liberty in Saint-Domingue. It involved forces made up of former enslaved people on the one hand, and Napoleon’s French expeditionary forces on the other hand. Vertières is situated in the north-east, near the sea. By the end of October 1803, the revolutionary forces fighting the expeditionary troops were already in control over most of the island.

Haitian_Revolution

Haitians led by Jean-Jacques Dessalines and François Capois attacked a strong French-held fort of Vertières, near Cap François (in the north of Haiti) and won a decisive victory over French colonial army under General Comte de Rochambeau and forced him to capitulate the same night. http://thelouvertureproject.org/

The revolutionary troops attacked the remaining French soldiers at Vertières. After heavy fighting the battle ended when heavy rain with thunder and lightning drenched the battlefield. Under cover of the storm, Rochambeau pulled back from Vertières. At the Surrender of Cap Français, Rochambeau was forced to surrender to the English. He was to taken England as a prisoner on parole, where he remained interned for almost nine years.

Although the fighting in Saint-Domingue during the time of the revolution had horrible moments and both parties committed gruesome war crimes, one particular event in the battle of could be seen as a sign of respect by Rochambeau towards the revolutionaries.

“At 4 a.m. on Nov. 18, 1803, part of the forces began an attack on Breda, one of the outlying forts. Rochambeau surprised, left Cap and took a position with his honor guard on the entrenchments at the fort of Vertieres, between Breda and Cap. To take the objective specifically assigned to him, François Capois and his troops had to cross a bridge that was dominated by the fort at Vertières.
Capois, on horseback, and his men met a hail of fire as they advanced. Despite a bullet passing through his cap, Capois urged his men forward. Even a bullet which leveled his horse and another which again passed through his cap did not stop Capois from flourishing his saber and leading his men onward with his continuing cry of Forward! Observing this, Rochambeau’s guards applauded. Rochambeau caused the firing to be stopped and sent a hussar forward with compliments for Capois! Then the battle recommenced.” (Burton Sellers)

Shortly after the battle, the first declaration of independence was read in Fort-Dauphin on 29 November 1803. It was signed by Dessalines, Christophe and Clerveaux. They all had been generals under Leclerc little more than a year earlier. The declaration did not mention the current name “Haiti”, but still spoke of “Saint-Domingue”. The second Act of Independence was read by Dessalines on the Place d’Armes of Gonaïves on 1 January 1804. The act marked the beginning of independence what from that moment on would be known as the republic of Haiti. It marked the beginning of the end of slavery in the colonies.

Napoleon’s Legacy

Because Napoleon had failed to re-enslave Saint-Domingue he was missing the plantation revenues. As war with England was inevitable and he could not raise enough assets, Napoleon abandoned his colonial policy. France’ immense territory of Louisiana was sold to the United States on 30 April 1803 by means of the Louisiana Purchase Treaty. It was the birth of what now is considered the most powerful nation in the world, as Livingston made clear in his famous statement: “We have lived long, but this is the noblest work of our whole lives…From this day the United States take their place among the powers of the first rank.”

After the declaration of independence, Dessalines proclaimed himself Governor-General-for-life of Haiti. Between February and April 1804 he orchestrated the massacre of the white Haitian minority; between 3,000 and 5,000 people. On 2 September 1804, Dessaline proclaimed himself emperor under the name Jacques I of Haiti. He was crowned on 8 October 1804 (two months before Napoleon) with his wife Marie-Claire Heureuse Félicité at the Church of Champ-de-Mars, Le Cap by Pere Corneille Brelle, later His Grace Monseigneur the Archbishop of Haiti, Duke de l’Anse, and Grand Almoner to King Henry I. Jaques I Promulgated the Constitution of Haiti on 20 May 1805 (Buyers: 2017).

soulouque-coronation

Gustave d’Alaux describes the coronation of Faustin I in his book, Soulouque and his Empire: “His Imperial Majesty had the principal merchant of Port-au-Prince called one morning and commanded him to order immediately from Paris a costume, in every particular like that he admired in representing the ceremonies of Napoleon’s coronation. Faustin I besides ordered for himself a crown, one for the Empress, a sceptre, globe, hand-of-justice, throne, and all other accessories, all to be like those used in the coronation of Napoleon.”.

Former revolutionary Henry Christophe succeeded Emperor Jacques I I as provisional Head of State after his death on 17 October 1806. He was installed as Lord President and Generalissimo of the Land and Sea Forces of the State of Haiti with the style of His Serene Highness on 17 February 1807. Christophe was proclaimed as King of Haiti and assumed the style of His Majesty on 26 March 1811. He was Crowned by His Grace Monseigneur Corneille Brelle, Duke de l’Anse, Grand Almoner to the King and Archbishop of Haiti, at the Church of Champ-de-Mars, Le Cap-Henry, on 2 June 1811. Christophe was Grand Master and Founder of the Royal and Military Order of Saint Henry on 20 April 1811. He married at Cap Français on 15 July 1793, H.M. Queen Marie-Louise (b. at Bredou, Ouanaminthe on 8 May 1778; d. at Pisa, Italy, on 14 March 1851, bur. there at the Convent of the Capuchins). Christophe committed suicide at the Palace of Sans-Souci, Milot, on 8 October 1820, having had issue, three sons and two daughters. He was succeeded by another revolutionary general, Alexandre Sabès Pétion, who had as well been one of Haiti’s founding fathers (Buyers: 2017).

In 1825, France demanded Haiti compensate France for its loss of slaves and its slave colony. It threatened with a new invasion. In 1838, France agreed to a reduced amount of 90 million francs to be paid over a period of 30 years. In 1893 the final part of the principal was paid. By 1947 Haiti paid the modern equivalent of USD 21 billion (including interest) to France and American banks as “compensation” for being enslaved for centuries.

In 1849 the Napoleonic style was copied by Emperor Faustin I of Haiti who adopted the style of His Imperial Majesty. Faustin I was proclaimed emperor at the National Palace, Port-au-Prince, on 26 August 1849 and crowned at the renamed Imperial Palace on the same day. He was consecrated at the old Cathedral of Notre Dame de l’Assomption, Port-au-Prince, on 2 September 1849. The emperor promulgated a new Constitution on 20 September 1849 and was crowned at the Champ de Mars, Port-au-Prince, in the presence of the Vicar-General Monsignor Cessens according to Episcopalian (Franc-Catholique) rites, on 18 April 1852. Faustin was styled Chief Sovereign, Grand Master and Founder of the Imperial and Military Order of St Faustin and the Imperial Civil Order of the Legion of Honour 21 September 1849, and of the united Orders of Saint Mary Magdalen and Saint Anne 31 March 1856, all in three classes. Grand Protector of the Franc-Masonic Order 1850-1859. Patron Collège Faustin 1848-1859. He was founder of the Imperial Academy of Arts in 1856 (Buyers: 2017).

Literature

Alaux, Gustave D., Maxime Raybaud, and John H. Parkhill. Soulouque and his empire. From the French of Gustave dAlaux. Richmond: J.W. Randolph, 1861.

Burnard, Trevor G., and John D. Garrigus. The plantation machine: Atlantic capitalism in French Saint-Domingue and British Jamaica. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016.

Burton Sellers, W.F. “Heroes of Haiti.” Windows on Haiti: Heroes of Haiti. Accessed July 08, 2017. http://windowsonhaiti.com/windowsonhaiti/heroes.shtml.

Buyers, C. “HAITI – Royal Ark.” Accessed July 8, 2017. http://www.royalark.net/Haiti/haiti6.htm.  Website by Christopher Buyers on the genealogies of the Royal and ruling houses of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.

Cases, Emmanuel-Auguste-Dieudonné Las. Memorial de Sainte Hélène. Journal of the private life and conversations of the Emperor Napoleon at Saint Helena. Boston: Wells & Lilly, 1823.

Christophe, Henri, Thomas Clarkson, Earl Leslie Griggs, and Clifford H. Prator. Henry Christophe, a correspondence. New York: Greenwood Press, 1968.

Dwyer, Philip. Napoleon: the path to power, 1769 – 1799. London: Bloomsbury, 2008.

Dwyer, Philip G. Citizen emperor: Napoleon in power. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015.

Girard, Philippe R. Slaves who defeated napoleon: toussaint louverture and the haitian war of independence, 1801-1804. Tuscaloosa: Univ Of Alabama Press, 2014.

Klooster, Wim, and Gert Oostindie. Curaçao in the age of revolutions, 1795-1800. Leiden: Brill, 2014.

Klein, Herbert S. The Atlantic Slave Trade. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

“The Louverture Project.” Accessed July 08, 2017. http://thelouvertureproject.org. The Louverture Project (TLP) collects and promotes knowledge, analysis, and understanding of the Haitian revolution of 1791–1804.

Mentor, Gaétan. Dessalines: le̕sclave devenu empereur. Pétionville, Haïti: Impr. Le Natal, 2003.

Roberts, Andrew. Napoleon: a life. New York: Penguin, 2015.

Sloane, W. M. “Napoleons Plans for a Colonial System.” The American Historical Review 4, no. 3 (1899): 439.

Sortais, Georges. Important tableau par Louis David: “Le sacre de Napoléon”. S.l.: S.n., 1898.

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The legitimacy of the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem

Introduction

This weekend, I have had the pleasure of attending a very interesting lecture, given by a good friend, regarding the history of the Knights Templar (1119-1307). The lecture mentioned the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (OSMTH) as a modern successor of the ideology of this ancient and famous Order.

Detail of the Chinon Parchment, with details of the trail of the Knights Templar and the Pope's involvement (Vatican Museum secret archives library)

Detail of the Chinon Parchment, containing details of the trail of the Knights Templar and the Pope’s involvement (Vatican Museum secret archives library, reference number Archivum Arcis Armarium D 218. ASV, Archivum Arcis, Arm. D 217)

The original order of the Knights Templar was founded by Hugh de Payens, a French nobleman from the Champagne region, along with eight of his companions, in Jerusalem around 1119. In 1307, Philip IV of France arrested the Knights Templar on charges of blasphemy, idolatry, and sodomy. The investigation and trial into the alleged misdeeds of the Knights Templar took place in Rome between 1307 and 1312. On 18 March 1314 the Grandmaster and other knights of the Order were burned alive by order of King Philip. In September 2001, Barbara Frale, an Italian paleographer at the Vatican Secret Archives, found a copy of a document, known as the ‘Chinon Parchment’ in the Vatican Secret Archives. The document explicitly confirms that in 1308 Pope Clement V absolved Jacques de Molay and other leaders of the Order including Geoffroi de Charney and Hugues de Pairaud (Barbara Frale 2004, “The Chinon chart – Papal absolution to the last Templar, Master Jacques de Molay”, Journal of Medieval History 30 (2): 109–134). Another Chinon parchment dated 20 August 1308 addressed to Philip IV of France, stated that absolution had been granted to all those Templars that had confessed to heresy “and restored them to the Sacraments and to the unity of the Church” (Pierre Dupuy, Histoire de l’Ordre Militaire des Templiers Foppens, Brusselles 1751; Étienne Baluze, Vitae Paparum Avenionensis, 3 Volumes, Paris 1693. Nonetheless, the Pope suspended the order (see appendix 1, below for the details).

Wikipedia describes the OSMTH as follows:

The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, (Latin: Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani, OSMTH), is a self-styled order founded in 1945 by Antonio Campello Pinto de Sousa Fontes (1878-1960), claiming to be a continuation of the self-styled l’Ordre du Temple founded in France, 1705, officially reconstituted in 1804 by Bernard-Raymond Fabré-Palaprat, and recognized as an Order of Chivalry by its patron Napoleon Bonaparte in 1805; Fernando Campello Pinto Pereira de Sousa Fontes succeeded his father as the head of the order in 1960.

It is interesting to see to what extend the current OSMTH can be seen as a successor of the ideology of the ancient Templer Order.

Inspiration

An important personality regarding the revival of Templer history was Andrew Michael Ramsay. Raised a Calvinist, Ramsay converted to Catholicism in 1709. Leaving England for Holland in 1709, he soon moved to Cambrai (France) where he lived with the well-known mystical theologian, François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon (1651-1715), Archbishop of Cambrai.

Chevalier Andrew Michael Ramsay (1686–1743)

Chevalier Andrew Michael Ramsay (1686–1743)

In 1713 or 1714, Ramsay moved to Blois where he was employed as secretary to a co-founder of Quietism (a Christian philosophy), Madame Guyon. In 1716 Ramay moved to Paris, where he spent the rest of his life in and near that city (Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, pp. 280-315 vol 81 (1968). Much of Ramsay’s life is only known from Anecdotes de la vie de Messire André Michel de Ramsay a manuscript dictated by Ramsay, and now in the Bibliotèque Méjanes at Aix-en-Provence. Cited AQC, vol 81 (1968). Cf. Mackey’s Encyclopedia for a 1680 birth date).

It was in Paris where Ramsay met the Duc d’Orleans who admitted Ramsay as a member of the Royal and Military Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem. This entitled him to use the prefix of Chevalier. James, the Old Pretender, granted Ramsay a certificate of nobility in 1723. In 1728 he succeeded in having a diploma of nobility registered by the King of Arms in Edinburgh (Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, pp. 280-315 vol 81, 1968). In his famous  Oration of 1737, Ramsay suggested that Freemasons were closely connected to the Knights Templar (Gould’s History of Freemasonry – Vol. III, page 11, Compiled and Edited by R.’.W.’. Gary L. Heinmiller, Director, Onondaga & Oswego Masonic Districts Historical Societies):

At the time of the Crusades in Palestine many princes, lords and citizens associated themselves and vowed to restore the temple of the Christians in the Holy Land, to employ themselves in bringing back their architecture to its first institution. They agreed upon several ancient signs and symbolic words drawn from the well of religion in order to recognize themselves amongst the heathen and the Saracens. These signs and words were only communicated to those who promised solemnly, even sometimes at the foot of the altar, never to reveal them. This sacred promise was therefore not an execrable oath, as it has been called, but a respectable bond to unite Christians of all nationalities in one confraternity. Some time after our Order formed an intimate union with the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. From that time our Lodges took the name of Lodges of St. John. This union was made after the example set by the Israelites when they erected the second Temple who, whilst they handled the trowel and mortar with one hand, in the other held the sword and buckler.

Ramsay’s statements increased interest in Freemasonry. It also generated a strong desire among Masons to participate in orders with a knightly background. As a result, the Scottish Rite and York Rite branches of Freemasonry incorporated a number of knightly degrees. On 16 July 1782 a Masonic congress was held at Wilhelmsbad, near the city of Hanau in Hesse Cassel. The meeting was chaired by Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick, who was at that time the Grandmaster of the Order of the Strict Observance. The meeting lasted for thirty sessions. When the congress was finally closed it concluded that ‘Freemasonry was not essentially connected with Templarism, and that, contrary to the doctrine of the Rite of the Strict Observance, the Freemasons were not the successors of the Knights Templars.” The result of its finding was that very soon many of the other Templars degrees and orders died out (Eugen Lennhoff, Oskar Posner, Dieter A. Binder, Internationales Freimaurerlexikon. 5. überarbeitete und erweiterte Neuauflage der Ausgabe von 1932. Herbig, München 2006; Ferdinand Runkel, Geschichte der Freimaurerei. 3 Bände. Reprint von 1932, Edition Lempertz, Königswinter 2006, Bd. 1, S. 193 ff.). The current Masonic order of Knights Templar derives its name from the medieval Catholic Order. However, it does not claim any direct lineal descent from the original Templar order.

l’Ordre du Temple

These events have been the seeds for a second important rivival of the Templar Order. In 1804 Bernard-Raymond Fabré-Palaprat (29 May 1773 – 18 February 1838) founded the l’Ordre du Temple, The Order of the Temple (see the Manuel des Chevaliers de l’Ordre du Temple).

In 1804 two French Freemasons, Philippe Ledru (1754-1832) and Bernard-Raymond Fabré-Palaprat (1775-1838) found the Order of the Temple (l’Ordre du Temple). Fabré-Palaprat was made its grandmaster. Fabré-Palaprat was the son of a surgeon in the Cahors, France. He studied at the diocesan seminary and was ordained a priest. He left the priesthood to study medicine. Fabré-Palaprat was awarded the Legion of Honour for his defence of Paris in 1814. He received the July Medal for his actions during the Three Glorious Days of the Revolution of 1830. Napoleon I, who viewed freemasonry favourably, allowed them to carry on their activities, including solemn processions in the streets of Paris with mantles and toques (see Malcolm Barber (ed): The military orders : fighting for the faith and caring for the sick Aldershot, Great Britain, 1994; Variorum and the Manuel des chevaliers de l’Ordre du Temple. Paris, 1817 (2d ed.: 1825); The manual of Palaprat’s French order). This Order was not a continuity of the Knights Templar, although Fabré-Palaprat fabricated the so-called Larmenius Charter. This document, started in Latin in 1324, listed 22 successive Grand Masters of the Knights Templar from 1324 to 1804, with Fabré-Palaprat’s name appearing last on the list.

Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith, GCB, GCTE, KmstkSO, FRS

Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith, GCB, GCTE, KmstkSO, FRS

In 1815, Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith, GCB, GCTE, KmstkSO, FRS (1764–1840) became associated with the French Order of the Temple. Smith was a British naval officer. Serving in the American and French revolutionary wars, he later rose to the rank of admiral. Napoleon Bonaparte said of him: “That man made me miss my destiny” (Thomas Pocock, “A Thirst for Glory: The Life of Admiral Sir Sidney Smith”, p.114, Pimlico 1998).

As admiral of the British navy Smith successfully defended Acre against Napoleon in 1799, and supposedly was given by the Greek archbishop a Templars’ cross (left in Acre by Richard Lionheart) in gratitude. This cross opened the doors for Sir Sydney who became a Templar and tried to create a branch of the Order in England, for which he was made Grand-Prior. His aim was to send the order to participate in the liberation and pacification of Greece and other areas under Ottoman control. He also tried to establish a base in Malta and taking over the old activities of the order of Saint-John (since Malta was then in the hands of the British). He managed to get Augustus-Frederick, Duke of Sussex (1773-1843) interested in the project. The duke of Sussex (6th son of George III) became Grand Prior of England. The duke was the Grand Master of the Premier Grand Lodge of England. In addition the English politician Charles Tennyson d’Eyncourt (uncle of the famous poet Alfred Tennyson) was attracted to the Order. On the death of Fabré-Palaprat, Smith became Regent of the order, but his subsequent death soon followed by that of the duke of Sussex dissipated the order in England. D’Eyncourt himself lost interest and resigned from the order in 1849 (see: François Velde, Heraldica, Revived and Recently Created Orders of Chivalry). The succession of the French branch of the Order is described by Serge Caillet in his important study: Trois siècles de résurgences templières:

Au tout début du XIXe siècle, en France, la légende templière commence à se répandre en marge de la franc-maçonnerie, dans le cadre d’un Ordre d’Orient et de la loge parisienne des chevaliers de la Croix, dirigée par un certain Dr Ledru, qui prétend détenir la succession magistrale du dernier Grand Maître secret de l’Ordre du Temple, le duc Timoléon de Cossé-Brissac (1734-1792) . Élu Grand Maître en 1804 [le 4 nov.], Bernard Raymond Fabré-Palaprat (1773-1838), un ancien séminariste devenu médecin, propage véritablement ce nouvel Ordre du Temple, sous le patronage de l’empereur Napoléon 1er, ce qui lui vaut d’attirer quelques personnages de renom. Fabré-Palaprat revendique en ligne directe la succession de Jacques de Molay, et, pour attester son lignage, produit même une charte, portant la signature de tous les Grands Maîtres depuis le Moyen Âge… C’est un faux, qui sera vite reconnu et dénoncé comme tel. Il n’empêche que l’Ordre eut en France sa période faste, ses notables, son clergé. (…) Peladan passe aussi pour avoir été Grand Maître, de 1892 à 1894 dit-on, de la lignée templière de Fabré-Palaprat. Je ne puis le garantir. (…) Le 19 janvier 1932, des Templiers de la lignée de Fabré-Palaprat (Joseph Cleeremans, Gustave Jonckbloedt et Théodore Covias) fondent à Bruxelles l’Ordre souverain et militaire du Temple, dont l’enregistrement paraît au Moniteur belge, le 20 janvier 1933. (…) En 1934, un Conseil de régence de ce qu’il reste de l’Ordre de Fabré-Palaprat place à sa tête Émile Vandenberg – avec un intermède par un certain Théodore Covias, de 1935 à 1942 – qui, le 23 décembre 1942, transmet ses pouvoirs au Portugais Antonio Campello Pinto de Sousa Fontes (1878-1960). En 1945, celui-ci fonde l’Ordre Souverain et Militaire du Temple de Jérusalem (OSMTJ), qui a son siège à Paris. L’OSMTJ s’est divisé en 1970, quand Fernando Campello Pinto de Sousa Fontes, fils d’Antonio Campello Pinto, a fondé l’Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani (OSMTH), qui a son siège à Porto. Nouvelle scission en 1996 quand naît  l’Ordre Suprême Militaire du Temple de Jérusalem, dont les membres souhaitent servir, tout comme les chevaliers des origines ont servi. La devise de l’ordre Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed Nomini Tuo da Gloriam est tirée du Psaume 115, verset 1 ‘Pas à nous, Seigneur, pas à nous, mais à Ton Nom seul donne la Gloire’

OSMTH

Caillet’s study shows that the OSMTH has its roots in 1804. The formal founding took place in Belgium in 1932 and was recorded in the Government Gazette in 1933. A Belgian priory was founded in 1815 by Albert-Francois marquis du Chasteler. After 1840, this Priory split into “Legitimate” and Masonic priories.

Dom Antonio Campelo Pinto de Sousa Fontes (30-03-1878 / 15-02-1960) 50° Magnus Magister et Princeps Regens 1942-1960

Dom Antonio Campelo Pinto de Sousa Fontes (1878-1960) 50° Magnus Magister et Princeps Regens 1942-1960

The Masonic Trinity of the Tower priory lasted until 1930, when it was abolished. In 1932 several former members established a new Grand Priory of Belgium, restored the Catholic tradition, and adopted the name   Knights of the Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple (Chevaliers de l’Ordre Souverain et Militaire du Temple). Shortly after, a move was made to restore the International Order with a Magisterial Council led by a regent. The second regent, Emile-Isaac Vandenberg was of jewish descent and used the name of his wife “Vandenberg” to protect himself from the Nazis. He played a key role is the further development of the Order. Vandenberg married on 21 November 1921, to Josefina Vandenberg and with his father-in-law and brother-in-law they founded the company of Vandenberg & Isaac, Furniture Manufacturers, based in Mechelen. Vandenberg was one of the eight founding members of the Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple in 1932, and succeeded Theodore Covias as Regent on 8 August, 1935. On 1 October 1935, he was elected 49th Grand Master of the Order although he occupied this post for only a relatively short time. In 1941 Germany invaded Belgium. On 23 December 1942, he issued a Decree transferring the office and the custody of the archive to Antonio de Sousa Fontes, Grand Prior of Portugal.  On 11 April 1943, the day after very heavy bombardments on Martsel, Vanderberg died when the car he was driving left the road and plunged into a small river called “Veste van Berchem,” near Antwerp, but, not being able to swim, he drowned. Vandenberg was buried at Mechelen. Unique documentation regarding his membership of the Order remains in the procession of his descendants.

Vandenberg’s main focus was to re-establish unity, in particular with priories in Italy, Portugal and Switzerland. The International Order became a confederation of Autonomous Grand Priories, known as OSMTH. To ensure Templar survival, Vandenberg made a temporary transfer of the archives to the care of the Portuguese Prior, Antonio Pinto de Sousa Fontes. It is often said that, once the war ended in 1945, de Sousa Fontes refused to return the archives. This cannot be the case, since Vandenberg died in 1943. After the sudden death of Vanderberg, de Sousa Fontes assumed the title of Regent. The International Order (OSMTH) became divided. Some Priories rejected De Sousa Fontes’ leadership. Two years later the Regent issued updated Statutes, in which he described the Order as being “traditionally Catholic, chivalric, cosmopolitan, independent and conservative.” In 1948 De Sousa Fontes designated his son, Dom Fernando de Sousa Fontes as his successor.

Crolian William Edelen (1920 - 2006)

Crolian William Edelen (1920 – 2006)

On 15 February 1960 De Sousa Fontes died. His son, Fernando de Sousa Fontes, succeeded him, assuming the title of Prince Regent. In the meantime, the Grand Prior of Switzerland, Anton Leuprecht, had been receiving Americans into the Swiss Grand Priory. As more Americans joined the Order, an American Grand Priory was formed. One of them was Crolian William Edelen. He was educated at the University of North Carolina, and was with Signal Intelligence in the India-Burma theatre of World War II. His actively pursued memberships numerous Orders. From 1966 until 1976, under the royal protection of the former King Peter II of Yugoslavia, he was Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta. As Emeritus remained a member of the Supreme Council. Formerly he had been Grand Prior of the U.S. Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, and held the Grand Cross from the autonomous Priory of Switzerland and from the Regent in Operto, Portugal. The Corporate Charter for the American Grand Priory was signed on 4 June 1962 by Edelen, William Y. Pryor, Herschel S. Murphy, Warren S. Hall, Jr., John D. Leet, Lawrence Stratton and George J. Deyo. The Grand Priory was incorporated in the State of New Jersey on 29 June. Edelen was chosen the first Grand Prior. The Prince Regent recognized the Autonomous Grand Priory of the United States (SMOTJ-GPUSA). In April 1964 the former king Peter II, became the Royal Patron of the American Grand Priory. He remained in this office until his death on 3 November 1970.

The International Order continued to have problems. In 1970 the De Sousa Fontes called together a Convent General of the Order to meet in three sessions: Paris, Chicago and Tomar, Portugal. Resolutions were passed that recognized the Order as “universal and not limited to any one nationality or Language”, and that the Order “shall be a Christian Order”. These efforts did not bring back unity to OSMTH.

Dom Fernando Pinto Pereira de Sousa Fontes, The Grand Master of the OSMTH

Dom Fernando Pinto Pereira de Sousa Fontes, The Grand Master of the OSMTH

With increasing opposition from European Grand Priories, De Sousa Fontes turned to the American Grand Priory, appointing members to the Grand Magistry. The situation remained calm until 1993 when de Fontes revised the Statutes so that he could become the “Grand Master”, a title his father previously assumed. Again the Prince Regent called a Convent General to meet in three sessions. At the first session in Santiago, Spain, the revised Statutes were presented, but no decisions were made. The final session held in London. In 1995, a proposed agenda, calling for basic reforms, was sent to De Sousa Fontes, now calling himself Grand Master. De Sousa Fontes cancelled the session. In reaction, the British Grand Prior, Major-General Sir Roy RedgraveKBE MC (16 September 1925 – 3 July 2011) called for an International Conclave, to explain his objections and concerns. At its meeting in June 1995 a list of reforms were drawn up to be presented to De Sousa Fontes. The Grand Priors agreed to meet in Salzburg, Austria on 3 November 1995 to receive the response. Besides the fate of De Sousa Fontes, during the Salzburg meetings, the future structure of the Order and its administration was discussed. On 2 November 2 1996, a document, known as the “Coordinated Statutes of the Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani” was adopted, stating the goals and structure of the Order as an international confederation of Autonomous Grand Priories. The separation from De Sousa Fontes was settled in New Orleans in 1999, where the Grand Magistral Council approved a previously drawn up Statement of Separation. A Grand Council of Grand Priors was formed to govern the Order, since the office of Grand Master was considered vacant (Source: personal notes from the archives of Sir Roy Redgrave – June 5, 2003). The current Order is therefore structured as a federation.

Conclusions and recommendations

OSMTH’s charitable works are of great importance to society. Therefore, it is essential to preserve a solid foundation of this internationally operating organisation. Despite OSMTH’s general disclaimer that it does not claim a direct heritage to the medieval Knights Templar, its aims, symbols and rites are obviously patterned after the medieval Order. The OSMTH can therefore best be described as a commemorative order. Nevertheless, in spite of these official disclaimers, other neo-templar groups insist that they have direct Templar origins.

The OSMTH cannot be seen as a self-styled or pseudo-order, as its direct predecessor (the Order of the Temple) was approved by Napoleon Bonaparte, by imperial decree in 1807. On 13 June 1853, it was given recognition by Napoleon III.  In 1918, the Order was re-registered in France in accordance with French law. The Grandmaster De Sousa Fontes was the direct link with the Order that was founded by Fabré-Palaprat. In my opinion, it is therefore a legitimate commemorative order. Wikipedia’s description of the OSMTH is incorrect.

I recommend the following regarding the future development of the OSMTH.

  • OSMTH enjoys the Patronage of HH Princess zu Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg (princess consort to the current Head of the Ducal House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg) and the Religious Protection of His Beatitude the Most Blessed Theodosius, Metropolitan (ret.) of the United States and Canada. The OSMTH could as well seek the patronage of a member of the House of Bonaparte to confirm the continuity with the original Order of the Temple. The headship of this family is in dispute between Charles, Prince Napoléon, (1950) and his son Jean-Christophe, Prince Napoléon (1986). The only other male member of the family is Prince Jérôme Napoléon (1957). A descendant of Napoleon’s sister Caroline Bonaparte is the American actor and singer René Murat Auberjonois. There are also a number of descendants of Napoleon’s illegitimate, but recognized son Alexandre Colonna-Walewski from his relation with Marie Countess Walewski. DNA studies have also confirmed the existence of descendants (the Clovis family) of Lucien Bonaparte, who was detained at sea by the British when on his way into exile in America. His son, Lucien Louis-Lucien Bonaparte, was a comparative linguist and dialectologist, and was born in England;
  • Electing a Grandmaster is in accordance with the traditions of the Order. Try to find an honorary (or second) Grandmaster with historical connections to the OSMTH. Legitimate honorary Grandmasters sould be related to the persons mentioned in this article.
  • Adequately conserve the archives of the Order, by making a professional description of its content and then make sure the archives are stored in a solid public library, such as the Bibliothèque nationale de France (already containing important documents regarding the Order of the Temple) or the Library of Congress. Interesting documents can be found in city the archives Reims as well;
  • Use only one single website (instead of multiple local websites) to promote coherence and avoid confusion.

Appendix 1: Statement by the Vatican regarding the parchment of Chinon

THE PARCHMENT OF CHINON THE ABSOLUTION OF POPE CLEMENT V OF THE LEADING MEMBERS OF THE TEMPLAR ORDER

Chinon, Diocese of Tours, 1308 August 17th-20th

Original document formed by a large parchment folio (700x580mm), initially provided with the hanging seals of the three papal legates who formed the special Apostolic Commission ad inquirendum appointed by Clement V: Brenger Frdol, Cardinal Priest of the titular church of the Most Holy Nereus and Achilleus and nephew of the pope, tienne de Suisy, cardinal priest of St. Cyriac in Therminis, Landolfo Brancacci, cardinal deacon of St. Angelo. In a reasonable state, even though there are some big violaceous stains, caused by bacterial attack. An authentic copy was enclosed to the original document, which is still kept in the Secret Vatican Archives, with the reference number Archivum Arcis Armarium D 218. ASV, Archivum Arcis, Arm. D 217.

The document contains the absolution Pope Clement V gave to the Grand Master of the Temple, friar Jacques de Molay and to the other heads of the Order, after they had shown to be repented and asked to be forgiven by the Church; after the formal abjuration, which is compelling for all those who were even only suspected of heretical crimes, the leading members of the Templar Order are reinstated in the Catholic Communion and readmitted to receive the sacraments. The document, which belongs to the first phase of the trial against the Templars, when Pope Clement V was still convinced to be able to guarantee the survival of the military-religious order, meets the apostolic need to remove the shame of excommunication from the warrior friars, caused by their previous denial of Jesus Christ when tortured by the French Inquisitor. As several contemporary sources confirm, the pope ascertained that Templars were involved in some serious forms of immorality and he planned a radical reform of the order to subsequently merge it into one body with the other important military-religious order of the Hospitallers. The Act of Chinon, which absolves the Templars, but does not discharge them, was the assumption required to carry out the reform, but it remained dead letter. The French monarchy reacted by triggering a true blackmail mechanism, which then urged Clement V to reach the ambiguous compromise ratified during the Council of Vienne in 1312: unable to oppose himself to the will of the King of France, Phillip the Fair, who imposed the elimination of the Templars, the pope removed the order from the reality of that period, without condemning or abolishing it, but isolating it in a sort of hibernation, thanks to a clever device of the canon law. After explicitly declaring that the trial did not prove the charge of heresy, Clement V suspended the Templar Order by means of a non definitive sentence, imposed by the necessity to avoid a serious danger to the Church that banned them, under penalty of excommunication, to use such name or their distinctive symbols.

Appendix 2: Grandmasters OSMTH

1804-1839  Bernard Fabre-Palaprat (Order of the Temple)
1839-1840  Sir William Smith
1840-1850  Edward VII, King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India – George V., King of Hanover
1850  Narcisse Valleray (Regent)
1866  A.G.M. Vernois (Regent)
1892  Joséphin Péladan (Regent)
1894  Secretariat International des Templiers
1934  Conseil de Regence – Joseph Vandenberg (Ordo Supremus Miltaris Templi Heirosolimytani)
1935  Theodore Covias (Regent)
1935-1942  Emile Isaac (Vandenberg) (Regent)
1942-1960  Antonio de Sousa Fontes (Regent)
1960- 1999 Fernando de Sousa Fontes (Regent)

The current Grandmaster of the Order is Patrick E. Rea, Brigadier General – US Army (Ret.)