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Orders of the Temple

Last modified: 2013-12-07 by rob raeside
Keywords: discoveries | reconquer | calatrava | avis | order | bauceans | christian | spain | portuguese of temple | templar | order | saint | dominican | santiago | saint portugal |
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Order of the Temple

[Putative flag of the Templars]
Putative flag of the Templars
by António Martins, 19 February 1998

I have heard mention (how accurate, I don't know) of a cross like the St. George's cross, but with the upper two quarters black rather than white. Whether it was ever turned into a flag, or for that matter if it was ever truly used by the templars, I don't know.
James Dignan, 2 May 1997, 24 April 2004

[Putative BOA of the Templars]
Putative BOA of the Templars
by António Martins, 19 February 1998

A totally different cross was used by the Templars, at least in Portugal, consisting of the intersection of circumferences, in a pattern full of mystical hidden meanings. This cross can be seen in a number of contemporary chapels, churches and castles as well as in paper documents, ant it is a very often motif in central Portuguese (Beiras) municipal heraldry, usually in red on white.
António Martins, 19 February 1998

As a fortunate coincidence with Antonio's postings, I found a site in Portuguese, belonging to a Brazilian magazine (Super Interessante) I used to buy a few years ago. This issue of the electronic version is on the history of the discovering of Brazil and the stories behind it. Some very interesting stuff (on the Tordesillas treaty, the knowledge of Portuguese navigators at the time, and the religious orders of the Temple and of Christ), and some vex-stuff also: references to the symbols of both orders:
Jorge Candeias, 20 February 1998

[Symbol of the Templars]
from the website of the SUPER INTERESSANTE magazine

The seal of the Templars, featuring two knights in one horse with shields divided black over white.
Jorge Candeias, 20 February 1998

[Templar cross]
from the website of the SUPER INTERESSANTE magazine

The Cross of the Templars, a narrow and non-hollow Cross of Christ. Note that this cross and not the hollow variation currently in use was often used in the sails of the first Portuguese seafaring ships. The article says that when the Portuguese branch of the Templars turned into the Order of Christ, they kept their original symbols, so this symbol was the original symbol of the Order of Christ. The article also says that the Templar's cross was adopted in 1119 and was derived from the cross of the Copta Church.
Jorge Candeias, 20 February 1998

[Copta cross]
from the website of the SUPER INTERESSANTE magazine

The Copta cross, adopted by this sect (at the time) in the II sec.
Jorge Candeias, 20 February 1998

Order of Temple: Bauceans flag

[Bauceans flag]          [Bauceans flag with cross] by Ivan Sache

According to the site at the banner of the Templars was a 3:2 vertically divided black-white flag named the "Bauceans".
Ivan Sache, 25 April 2000

I usually see the Bauceans (many spellings) flag with a red cross over all - usually a templar cross, pattee, but sometimes also throughout. I'd sure like to have a definitive and authoritative light on this issue, including the supposed Portuguese templar cross.
António Martins, 27 April 2000

I've been mulling this over ever since I saw Ivan's posting and trying to check against other sources. It seems to me, given the nature of sources, that the most that can be said is that the Templars used a black-over-white flag. I've seen lots of depictions over the years that could be blazoned anywhere from "per fess sable and argent" to "argent a chief sable," as well as versions with a red cross surmounting the black and white field in some fashion, as others have noted.

It has also been my distinct impression that fixed proportions for flags are a relatively recent (18th-19th century) development, so citing proportions of 3:2 (or any other ratio) for the flag of an organization that was abolished in the 14th century seems a little risky. To be perfectly clear, none of this is intended as criticism of Ivan, who quite clearly said "according to the site..."

By the way, my French is not good enough to delve too deeply into the text on other pages of the site, but there seems to be an implication in it that the Masonic bodies and other modern groups using the name of the Templars actually have some legitimate relationship to the original order. If that's really what the site says, it's nonsense. As I understand it, there is a reasonable but not continuous link between the Templars and the Portuguese and Papal Orders of Christ and, a little less directly, with the Aragonese Order of Montesa, but not with the others.
Joe McMillan, 3 May 2000

Grand Larousse Illustré du XXe Siècle (1932) has an entry for Beaucéant (or Beauçant), which clearly refers to the same flag:
    Beaucéant (ou Beauçant).
    n.m. (du provençal, bausan, balzan). Etendard des anciens Templiers, mi-parti noir et blanc.

    n.m. (from provençal, bausan, with white stockings [horse]).   Standard of the ancient knights of Temple, divided black and white.

Two points deserve discussion:
    - The description refers to a flag divided black and white, but does not give the arrangement of the parts.
    - The etymology differs from the most often cited reference to 'beau séant', 'looking nice'. 
The word 'balzane' (from Italian, balza, border) is still used in French for a spot of white hairs on the lower part of the legs of a dark-coated horse. The adjective 'balzan' is used to describe such a horse. From the etymology, it seems evident that the flag was horizontally divided black over white, exactly like the leg of a horse with white stockings. However, the etymological reports given in Larousse, especially in the ancient editions, have to be considered with extreme caution. Robert would be a much more authoritative source, but has unfortunately no entry for 'bauceant'.
Ivan Sache, 7 November 2001

The beauseant or VAU CENT (= value hundred) is the long and thin standard with small penon of the Templars, not just as a sign of war, but of the almighty presence of Jesus Christ himself in his glory as a risen God on Easter Sunday morning. Its penon is a symbol of the holy and famous cornerstone of the temple
of Jerusalem. The whole area of the temple can be domed over by two imaginary domes 2 : 3 totally measuring 480 cubits - the famous Cloud of Jahweh. They form together a Pythagorean triangle with sides of 120, 160 and 200 cubits - the height = 96 cubits. This is the reason why the vaucent is divided in 2 : 3. On the top of the great Pythagorean triangle can be placed a cornerstone of equal size i.e. 3 : 4 : 5 cubits. You can "move" the vaucent 3 cubits to the front and 2 cubits backwards. If the vaucent is "in function" and is put 3 cubits to the front it raises at the same time its height to 100 cubits (100 - 96 = 4 cubits). In that way you will get the same remarkable proportions on the axes: 75 : 100 : 125 cubits. Just try it out and just make a sketch.

I searched the temple plan of Jerusalem for 12 years now according to the original sources (old Hebrew and old Greek) and I know now for certain, because it's all mathematic.
Albert Jansen, 14 July 2002

The flag or banner that you display, if turned 180 degrees, is the current banner of the Grand Priory of England and Wales, OSMRH (Knights Templar). It is a beauseant (top half black, bottom half white) surmounted by a Cross of St. George.
William Hearter, 21 January 2003

See also:

Portuguese templars

[Portuguese templars]
Possible flag of the Portuguese Order of the Temple
by Jorge Candeias

A couple of months ago, I found in a magazine an article on the activities of secret and semi-secret societies in Portugal. In this article, there was a photograph of an ordering of a new knight of the religious Order of the Templars (Ordem dos Templários), an order with a long history in Portugal. I was quite surprised to see it still existed. The interesting thing to us is that behind the person that was in charge of the ceremony (a priest?), there was a small flag, perhaps with about 40 cm of height. I'm sending separately a picture of this flag. The picture is probably not very accurate, since the flag was folded. Anyone knows more on this and if this flag is the flag of the Order?
Jorge Candeias, 1 Feb 1998

There is a very well known banner of the templar, it was regarded with the highest respect due to a relic and always kept near the Grand Maitre de l'Ordre. It was a black over white horizontal tricolour and it was named Bausséant or Bauceant, spelling being not fixed at these times.This banner was lost to the Saracens at the battle of "The Horns of Hattin" in Holy Land in 1187 if I recall correctly.
Philippe Bondurand, 2 Feb 1998

The double-barred red cross on white is taken from the patriarchal cross or cross of Lorraine. It is the current representative cross of the Supreme Military Order of the Temple of Jersusalem, alternately OSMTH (Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani). The Grand Master of the Order currently resides near Porto, Portugal.
William Hearter, 20 January 2003

Flag in the fortress of Jerez de los Caballeros (Badajoz Province, Spain)

[Templar flag in the Fortress of Jerez] by Aingeru Astui Zarraga

A variation of the flag of the Templar knights that flies in the Bloody Tower (or the Slaughter Tower) of the fortress of Jerez de los Caballeros (Badajoz-Spain). According to the legend, the last Templar knights were reduced in this place and executed in that tower.
Aingeru Astui Zarraga,18 September 2002

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