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The Legacy of a Templar Knight

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Photo: AH/OV

Shabana Chowdhury Ahmed, Belguim

The Knights Templar was a large organization of devout Christians during the medieval era. The Christian armies captured Jerusalem from the Muslim control in 1099 during the Crusade Wars. Groups of pilgrims from across Western Europe started visiting the Holy Land. Many of them were robbed and killed as they crossed through Muslim controlled territories during their journeys. As such to protect the pilgrims a French Knight Hugues de Payens created a military order along with eight relatives and acquaintances calling it the Poor Fellow – Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Soloman in 1118.

Later it became known as the Knights Templars. Members swore an oath of poverty, chastity and obedience. They built hospitals and food distribution houses for the poor. In the late 12th century Muslim armies retook Jerusalem and turned the tide of the Crusades. By 1303 the Knights Templars lost its foothold in the Muslim world. They returned to Paris. They had acquired vast fortunes, which became the envy of King Philip of France and the Pope of the Catholic Church, who sought the destruction of the Knights. They were arrested, brutally tortured until they confessed to false charges of devil worship and heresy. They were burned at the stakes.

Some Knights escaped the night before and fled to Portugal, where they were given protection by the Portuguese King. These Knights knew the locations of the treasures hidden by the Templars and brought them back to Portugal. They formed a new order and build hospitals and food houses for the poor. They shared the treasures among themselves.

Andre Du Bois a Templar Knight built a castle and grew grapes on his land in the countryside of Portugal. He made wine and sold the barrels of wine in the market. On one of his trips to the market he and his army came upon dead men lying on the road. They were robbed and murdered. Being a Christian Knight Andre Du Bois buried the dead men. As he and his army were leaving they heard someone crying in the bush nearby. Andre found a young woman hiding in the bush. He asked her who she was and to his surprise she answered in Latin that she was the daughter of the moor merchant, who saw riders coming towards them so he hid his daughter in the bush thus saving her life. Andre wrapped her in his cloak and assured her that no harm would come to her. They rode back to his castle. He took her to his chamber, where a fire was burning in the fireplace. He asked her name and how she spoke Latin. She replied that her name was Jasmine and she had learned Latin from a Catholic priest, whom her father saved from robbers and gave him shelter in their home. The priest taught her how to read and write Latin. When they left home on their journey the priest went on his way. Andre went to the fireplace and touched a red stone. A door opened near the fireplace. He took Jasmine and entered a room with a bed. It was a hiding place for Andre if enemies attacked the castle. He told her to stay hidden till he figured out what to do.

In the evening he opened the secret door and asked Jasmine to come into his chamber. She was greeted with a table full of food and drinks. He also gave her clothes. In the daytime Andre carried on with his routine work. In the evenings he enjoyed Jasmine’s company before she went back to the hidden room. He asked the advice of his fellow Knights as Jasmine had lost her father and had nowhere to go. His friends advised him to keep Jasmine hidden for the time being as it was not safe for her to be seen. The faithful servants kept the secret as well.

Andre became very fond of Jasmine and asked her to marry him. She said, she was a Muslim woman, who cannot marry a Catholic Knight. Andre had built a small chapel at the back of the castle, where the villagers could pray. He also appointed a priest to take care of the chapel. He now went to his priest and told him the whole story asking for advice. The priest advised him to ask Jasmine to accept Christianity, which would protect her and as his wife she will live in dignity as the mistress of his castle. Andre requested Jasmine to accept his faith in public but she can follow her faith in private. The priest named Jasmine Joanna and married her to Andre Du Bois.

Andre and Joanna travelled without fear. Joanna was loved by the villagers because of her kind and benevolent nature. She taught Latin to the village children, so they could have a better life than their parents. One day Joanna gave Andre the good news of her becoming a mother very soon. Happiness echoed in the corridors of the castle and the village. One night the midwife was summoned to the castle. She came and went to the chamber of Joanna. After a while an anxious Andre heard the cry of a baby. He rushed to his wife’s chamber and the midwife handed him his baby boy. The castle was filled with happiness but soon turned to sorrow as Joanna died shortly after childbirth.

After the burial of Joanna, Andre took the baby to his priest, who baptised the child as John Du Bois. John was given to the Mother Superior of a convent. He requested the Mother Superior to keep the child and educate him. He also left the deeds of his properties in his son’s name to be given to John, when he came of age. Andre never saw his son again. He died of grief soon after.

Time passed. Time changed. In the sixties Lucian a rich man of noble decent bought the castle, which was in ruins in the countryside of Portugal. He renovated it leaving the original structure but adding modern comforts. He opened his hotel and on the opening night his daughter Stephanie, who was a history student in the University of Lisbon came to attend the grand opening of the hotel. She was given a room with a fireplace. As she entered the room a sense of calm befell upon her. In the morning she wandered around the castle. At the back of the castle far from it she saw some men working. She moved towards them and saw a small chapel in ruins. The workmen were cleaning around the chapel. She entered the chapel and walked towards the altar. Her foot tripped over a protruding stone and she fell forward. She saw an emblem of two red roses. She told the workmen to remove the stone carefully and also the stones around it. Lights were brought and they saw a chamber underneath. When the stones were removed they saw a tomb of A Templar Knight and next to it was a smaller tomb.

Life is full of surprises and fate moves in strange ways. Was Stephanie the descendant of The Templar Knight?

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