Order of the Knights of Christ
A military order which sprang out of the famous Order of the Temple (see Knights Templars). As Portugal was the first country in Europe where the Templars settled (in 1128), so it has been the last to preserve any remnant of that order. The Portuguese Templars had contributed to the conquest of Algarve from the Moslems; they were still defending that conquest when their order was suppressed (1312) by Pope Clement V. King Diniz, who then ruled Portugal, regretted the loss of these useful auxiliaries all the more because, in the trial to which the order had been submitted everywhere throughout Christendom, the Templars of Portugal had been declared innocent by the ecclesiastical court of the Bishop of Lisbon. To fill their place, the king instituted a new order, under the name of Christi Militia (1317). He then obtained for this order the approbation of Pope John XXII, who, by a Bull (1319), gave these knights the rule of the Knights of Calatrava (see Calatrava, Military Order of) and put them under the control of the Cistercian Abbot of Alcobaca. Further, by another Bull (1323), the same pope authorized King Diniz to turn over to the new Order of Christ the Portuguese estates of the suppressed Templars, and, as many of the latter hastened to become Knights of Christ, it may fairly be said that the foundation of Dom Diniz was both in its personnel and in its territorial position a continuation in Portugal of the Order of the Temple. Seated first at Castro Marino, it was later (1357) definitively established in the monastery of Thomar, near Santarem.
By this time, however, Portugal had rid its soil of the Moslem, and it seemed that the Order of Christ must waste its strength in idleness, when Prince Henry, the Navigator, son of King João I, opened a new field for its usefulness by carrying the war against Islam into Africa. The conquest of Ceuta (1415) was the first step towards the formation of a great Portuguese empire beyond the seas. It may at present be taken as demonstrated, that the motive of this great enterprise was not mercenary, but religious, its aim being the conquest of Africa for Christ and His Faith. Nothing could have been more in accord with the spirit of the order, which, under Prince Henry himself as its grand master (1417-65), took up the plan with enthusiasm. This explains the extraordinary favours granted by the popes to the order — favours intended to encourage a work of evangelization. Martin V, by a Bull the text of which is lost, granted to Prince Henry, as Grand Master of the Order of Christ, the right of presentation to all ecclesiastical benefices to be founded beyond the seas, together with complete jurisdiction and the disposal of church revenues in those regions. Naturally, the clergy of these early foreign missions were recruited by preference from those priests who were members of the order, and in 1514, a Bull of Leo X confirmed to it the right of presentation to all bishoprics beyond the seas, from which a privilege afterwards arose the custom by which incumbents of such sees wear pectoral crosses of the form peculiar to the Order of Christ. After this campaign King Manoel of Portugal, in order to overcome the repugnance of the knights to remaining in African garrisons, established thirty new commanderies in the conquered territory. Leo X, in order to further increase the number of the order's establishments, granted an annual income of 20,000 cruzadas to be derived from Portuguese church property, and, as a result of all this material assistance, the total of seventy commanderies of the order at the beginning of Manoel's reign had become four hundred and fifty-four at its end, in 1521.
While these foreign expeditions kept alive the military spirit of the order, its religious discipline was declining. Pope Alexander VI, in 1492, commuted the vow of celibacy to that of conjugal chastity, alleging the prevalence among the knights of a concubinage to which regular marriage would be far preferable. The order was becoming less monastic and more secular, and was taking on more and more the character of a royal institution. After Prince Henry the Navigator, the grand mastership was always held by a royal prince; under Manoel it became definitively, with those of Aviz and Santiago, a prerogative of the crown; João III, Manoel's successor, instituted a special council (Mesa das Ordens) for the government of these orders in the king's name. Brother Antonius of Lisbon, in attempting a reform, succeeded in bringing about the complete annihilation of religious life among the knights of the order. The priests of the Order of Christ were compelled to resume conventual life at Thomar, the convent itself becoming a regular cloister with which the knights thenceforward maintained only a remote connection. This unwholesome change the young king, Dom Sebastian, tried to reverse (1574), but the glorious, though useless, death, in Africa, of the last of the crusaders (1578) prevented the accomplishment of his design. During the period of Spanish domination (1580-1640), another attempt to revive the monastic character of the whole order resulted in the statutes enacted by a general chapter, at Thomar in 1619, and promulgated by Philip IV of Spain, in 1627. The three vows were re-established, even for knights not living in houses of the order, though with certain mitigations, marriage, for instance, being permitted to those who could obtain a papal dispensation. The conditions of admission were noble birth and either two years' service in Africa or three years with the fleet, but commanderies could be held only by those who had served three years in Africa or five years with the fleet.
The last attempt at a reform of the order was that of the Queen Donna Maria, made with the approbation of Pius VI (1789). This, the most important of all the schemes of reformation designed for the order's benefit, made the convent of Thomar once more the headquarters of the whole order, and instead of the conventual prior, who, since 1551, had been elected by his bretheren for a term of three years, there was a grand prior of the order, acknowledged by all classes and invested with all the privileges and the whole jurisdiction formerly granted by the popes. The sovereign, however, remained grand master, and the last Grand Priors of the Order of Christ, as official subordinates of the Crown, did not fail to enter into the political entanglements of the nineteenth century. The last of all, Furtado de Mendoca, was identified with the Miguelist party in the troubles of 1829-32, and it was in the general confiscation of monastic property following the defeat of Dom Miguel that the convent of Thomar and four hundred and fifty commanderies were lost. The King of Portugal is still officially "Grand Master of the Order of Our Lord Jesus Christ", and as such confers titular membership in the order, with the decoration of the crimson cross charged with another, smaller, cross of white.
The Order of Christ, as a papal decoration, or order of merit, is also a historical survival of the right, anciently reserved to the Holy See, of admitting new members into the Portuguese order.About the Order
The Portugese Order of Knights of Christ, as I understand, originates from the Portugese priory of the Templars, which simply changed its name when the order was suppressed by Pope Clement, and everyone pretended not to notice that his “new” order just happened to have all the same members.
Will Linden, 11 May 1997
Historische Fahnen [neu32] tells us
Following the dissolution of the Order of the Templars on instigation of the King of France in 1312, King Dionysius of Portugal in 1319 used their possesions to found the Order of Christ, which also took over the order’s symbol.
In 1494 the right to conquer the new world was divided between Portugal and Spain. In America the division placed Brazil in the Portuguese Zone, where the introduction of Christianity was primarily due to the Order of Christ, whose Cross Brazil bore in its arms until 1889.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 18 Apr 2002
The Treaty of Tordesillas (7 June 1494) placed the limit 370 leagues west of Cape Verde islands. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Tordesillas meridian is ca. 48°30’W.
Ivan Sache, 19 Apr 2002, and Santiago Dotor, 23 Apr 2002
This Order had a major role in the early seafaring expeditions, its red on white pointy patent hollow cross being ultimately the symbol of the portuguese expansion — a symbol that outlived the Order itself and its very original meaning.
António Martins, 19 Feb 1998 The Templars were an international military order, formed during the crusades. From their formation in 1118 they grew in power and riches until their downfall in 1307, when King Philip arrested all the Templars in France.
The Templars were granted lands in Portugal in 1127, and established their headquarters in Tomar in 1169. They played an active role in fighting the Moors in Portugal, and when the Templars were dissolved, King Dinis preserved their holdings by forming the Order of Christ. See The Templars in Portugal for more detail.
For more information on the Templars, have a look at the following sites:
Mysteries of the Templars has an interesting collection of information, mainly on the downfall and subsequent semi-legendary influence of the Templars.
The Knights Templar in Britain is a nice collection including pictures of some Templar sites.
Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem
There is an interesting present-day Christian order, which considers itself to be a continuation of the original Templar order:
"The Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem dates, in its present form, from 1804, when it announced itself publicly and was officially acknowledged by various other institutions. It claims a much older pedigree, however. According to its own assertions, Jacques de Molay, last Grand Master of the Templars, left, on his execution in 1314, a charter designating his successor. Although officially dissolved by the Papacy, the Templars, acting on this charter, are said to have perpetuated themselves through the centuries.
The Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (SMOTJ)The Templars were founded in Jerusalem in 1118 by the French Knights Hughes de Payens and Geoffroy de Saint-Omer. Their first rule was composed in 1127 by St Bernard of Clairvaux, and was sanctioned in the following year at the Council of Troyes. In the same year Raimundo Bernado, thought to have been French or a Catalan, visited the Iberian Peninsula in order to recruit members and obtain financial aid for the order. Teresa, Regent of Portucale, made a gift of the town of Fonte Arcada, and in 1128 added the castle of Soure and its lands to this donation, in exchange for an undertaking from the Templars to conquer territory from the Moors. About the Templars
Theresa, wife of Henrique
TCT p. 2
Growth in the time of Afonso IIn 1143, after protracted negotiations between Raymond Berenguer IV (the Count of Barcelona and a Templar) and the Grand-master of the Templars, Roberto de Craon, the order's mission on the peninsula was defined. In 1145, when Hugo Martonio (known as Hugo Martins in Portuguese) was master of the temple in Portugal, Fernao Mendes, brother-in-law of Afonso Henriques, and his wife the Infanta Sancha Henriques, donated the castle of Longroiva. The knights aided Afonso Henriques in his conquest of Santarem in 1147, and by way of recompense, the king granted them ecclesiastical authority over the lands liberated from the Moors. King Afonso I (Afonso Henriques)
(Berenguer - MoW p.145)
In 1159, when Gualdim Pais was master of the Templars in Portugal, they were given the castle of Ceras near Tomar, with lands stretching from the Mondego to the Tagus along the Zezere. As Ceras castle was in ruins, Gualdim decided to build a new fortification in Tomar, and work began on March 1, 1160. In the same year, the town came into being. Gualdim Pais
In 1165, the templars were given the territories of Idanha and Monsanto. In 1169 they were granted one third of all lands they conquered south of the Tagus, and their ownership of the castles of Cardiga, Foz do Zezere and Tomar was confirmed. A year later the defensive line along the Tagus was strengthened with the construction of Almourol castle. TCT p.3
Seige in the time of Sancho IOn July 13, 1190 the King of Morocco lay seige to the Templars in Tomar. This test of strength confirmed the Templar's military prowess and established them as an indispensable presence in the defense of northern Portugal. King Sancho I
TCT p.3 TCT p.10
Gualdim Pais, Master of the Temple in Portugal, died in 1195 after a reign of 50 years. MoW p.153, note 10.
The time of Afonso IIIn 1214, when Pedro Alvites was master of the Templars in Portugal, Afonso II granted them the lands of Cardosa, thus laying the foundation for what is now the city of Castelo Branco. The Templars fought at the battle of Alçacar do Sal in 1217. King Afonso II
TCT p.3 MoW p.161
The time of Sancho II
King Sancho II
Decline in the time of Afonso IIIThe royal favour shown to the Templars diminished during the reign of Afonso III. King Afonso III
Downfall in the time of King DinisThe downfall of the Templars came in France, where King Philip ordered the arrest of all Templars on the first black Friday - October 13, 1307. They were accused of various repellent crimes including heresy, although it seems likely that Philip simply wanted to remove a powerful political and financial force in his Kingdom. About the Templars
In Portugal, King Dinis did not believe the accusations. In 1308 Pope Clement V issued the bull Regnas in Coelis, ordering Dinis to investigate the templars in Portugal. Dinis developed a joint policy with Castile, and in 1310, in Salamanca, the Templars were declared innocent on Iberian territory. In 1312, Clement issued the bull Vox in excelso, suppressing the order, and declaring that the Hospitallers should inherit its goods. But Dinis argued that the knights had simply been granted perpetual use of lands which actually belonged to the crown (inquisitions of 1314), and founded a new order, the Order of Christ, which was granted the holdings of the Portuguese Templars. go to these excellent websites for revelation about the jesuit vatican , new world order http://www.avenueoflight.com mysterybabylon-watch.blogspot.com/.