From a religious point of view it is not easy to classify the early Stuart, except that they were Christians. However all the Christian Churches, at one time or the other, attacked them. It is only after that Charles II’ brother, King James VII (II), declared that he was a Catholic that the Stuart kings became openly linked to this Church. King James VII of the Stuart family was the most religious tolerant king in the history of Britain. He went as far as issuing on 4 April 1687 a written “Declaration of Conscience” giving religious freedom to his subjects. For this he was deposed by his government and replaced by William of Orange and his wife Mary. Mary was the daughter of King James VII and William was the son of Charles I’s daughter, Mary. In this way the throne remained somewhat within the Stuart family, but the Scots were not pleased with the loss of their dynastic king and a revolt known as the first Jacobite Rising started in 1689. It was led by Viscount Graham of Claverhouse, known as Bonnie Dundee, the Grand prior of the Knights Templars in Scotland. The King’s Army finally defeated them. A second Jacobite rising took place on 1745 under the leadership of “Bonnie Prince” Charles Edward Stuart. He was successful at first and was confirmed on the throne as Charles III on 24 September 1745. He also became the Grand Master of the Order of the Temple of Jerusalem. He was defeated by the English troops in Cullodem Moor near Inverness on 16 April 1746; with his death in 1788 it was, to all effects, the end of the Stuart dynasty.
In 1809 there was a dispute over sovereign loyalties between two sons of King George III. Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (Queen Victoria’s father), was a Freemason while his brother, Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, was a Knight Templar. Many of the Knights Templars were loyal to the Stuart. Edward tried to transfer their support to the House of Hanover but he failed. As a compromise he created a Templar branch within the existing Masonic structure under the protectorate of Kent. The masons followed the English York Rite of FreeMasonry while the chivalric Templars followed the Scottish Rite under the protectorate of Prince Edward James Stuart.
The exiled Stuart in France and Italy were involved in the growth and dissemination of FreeMasonry, more specifically of the Scottish rite that had higher degrees and held more mysteries than the other Masonic systems. One of the best known Mason of the Scottish Rite was Charles Edward’s cousin and mentor, the Comte de St Germain. The Stuart Rite was based on established rights and privileges, and on the wish to initiate its members into the true antiquity and pedigree of the Craft. In England the secrecy of the Lodges was used to plot against the Whig and the Hanoverian dynasty. The Jacobite societies and the Tory lodges merged together: secret service operatives working for the Whigs infiltrated them. Later on these English lodges moved away from politics to deal with allegorical problems and the code of brotherly love, faith, and charity. In Europe many scientifically-based intellectual traditional lodges are still alive.
Cardinal Henry’s documents related to the Stuart dynasty were sold in Rome in 1817 but soon the Catholic Church sent them to London to be kept hidden. In the same way the British Government also took the Stuart papers of the Abbé Waters. This enabled to exclude definitely Prince Edward James from the official historical records in Britain. This was not the case in continental Europe where enough evidences of his rights remain and, what is more, they are still available to historians. His successors are still actively engaged up to this day in social, political, military and sovereign affairs. (4)
In 1441 King James II Steward appointed William Sinclair to the post of Hereditary Patron and Protector of Scottish Masons. These were not Freemasons but operative, working stone masons, well learned in the application of mathematics and architectural geometry. William of St Clair (or, better, Sinclair from the late 14th century) founded Rosslyn Chapel in 1446; the construction was completed in 1486 by his son, Olivier. There are hundred of stone carvings in the walls and in the ceiling; they represent biblical scenes, Masonic symbols, and examples of Templar iconography. There are swords, compasses, trowels, squares and mauls with images of the Solomon’s Temple. In addition to the Jewish and esoteric carvings, there are many Christian messages carved in stone. There are also some traces of Islam and Pagan serpents, dragons, and woodland trees. The wild face of the Green Man, the symbol of the earth forces and the life-cycle, is to be found everywhere on the pillars and arches, together with fruits, herbs, leaves, spices, flowers, vines and the plants of the garden paradise. Every carving has a purpose, and each purpose relates to the next, creating a sense of magical harmony. Rosslyn is the ultimate Holy Grail Chapel, and the Knights Templars were the Guardians of the Grail Family. The name Saint-Clair means “Holy Light”. Moreover the esoteric female symbol (V) represents the “chalice” of life, whereas the male symbol (A) symbolises the “blade” of virility and, if conjoined (X), it indicates “Unity”. If the two symbols are indented, or engrailed, it means “Generation”. As a result, an engrailed cross means “Holy Generation”. In the Holy Grail imagery, as in graphic symbolism, the Messianic succession is denoted by the female Chalice accompanied by the male Blade. (4, page 297). Both at Rosslyn Chapel and on the Grail Knights tombs, carvings of these two emblems are frequent. They are portrayed as a tall chalice with in its bowl the Rosy Cross (with a fleur-de-lis design); this means that the vas-uterus contains the blood of Jesus. Alongside, the Blade is shown in the form of a sword
In Britain and, later on in their exile, the Stuart Kings were at the forefront of the Scottish Rite Freemasonry, which was based on very ancient and arcane knowledge, and Universal Law. Their background was largely inspired by the Templar experience. It was under Charles I and Charles II that the Invisible College of the Royal Society emerged to be later on at the base of many discoveries. (4)
It is well documented that many Templars settled in Scotland after their arrest in France in 1307. The church of Kilmartin, near Loch Awe in Argyll, contains many Templar graves and carvings of Templar figures, as well as many Masonic graves. More Templar and old Masonic graves can be found in many other Scottish churchyards. The connection between the Templars and Scotland exists since Hugues de Payens married Catherine de St Clair whose family built the first Templar preceptory outside the Holy Land. At the beginning of the fourteenth century there were many Templar estates in Scotland.
At the battle of Roslin in 1303, the local Templars led by a St Clair helped the Scot to defeat the English. In 1307, after Robert de Bruce became King of Scotland, the Templar fleet landed in Argyll in the Firth of Forth. Their choice of sanctuary was certainly influenced by the fact that the Pope had excommunicated Bruce, and by the known link of the St Clair family with Rosslyn. Here at least the Pope could not get at them. They also knew that they would be well accepted by the Scots, and by Sir William St Clair, the Grand Master of the Scottish Templars, in their war with England. The Pope cleared Robert de Bruce from excommunication in 1328 and the Scottish Templars had to go in hiding.
A secret Order was required to save the Templar rites and thinking and this was done through the St Clair family and centred on Rosslyn. Among the numerous carvings of the Rosslyn chapel are those of American maize and aloe cactus unknown in Europe. Some people believe that they prove that the Scottish Templars went to America before 1400. In addition there are fourteen pillars, twelve identical in form and two beautiful ones at the Eastern end of the chapel. The left-hand pillar is known as the Mason’s Pillar while the right-hand one is called the Apprentice Pillar. The left, or Mason’s pillar, is the priestly pillar called Jachin by the Masons and Tsedeq by the Nasoreans while the right one, or “Apprentice’s Pillar”, is the kingly pillar known as Boaz and represents the power of mishpat. There is also a direct reference to Hiram Abif in the angle where the south and west walls meet. Here we have a head with a gash on the right temple like Seqenenre Tao the true King of Egypt, or Hiram Abif, and on the opposite side of the west wall there is the head of the man who killed him.
The local legend says that one is the head of a murdered apprentice, and the opposite head is that of his master who murdered him. This Master stonemason went to Rome in search of inspiration for the design of the “kingly pillar” and during his absence the apprentice designed, and built, the pillar that can still be seen to day. As it was much better than anything he could have done, the jealous Master stonemason killed the apprentice. This is, of course, nothing more than a local legend since we know that the design and construction of the chapel was done by William St Clair himself until his death in 1484, two years before the chapel was completed.
In fact Rosslyn Chapel was not really a chapel, and certainly not a Christian one. It has no altar and, to use it, the religious have to put a table in the middle, as there is no room in the East where the pillars are. Williams St Clair, the first elected Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, had his children baptised there. The church, and King James VI, did not like it, as it was not an official place of worship. The chapel was re-consecrated in 1862, as it was not clear if it had been consecrated before.
The symbols in the chapel are Egyptian, Celtic, Jewish, Templar, and Masonic and the only Christians signs are Victorian (stained glass windows, baptistery, and statue of the Madonna and child). Even the crucifixion scenes on the North wall represent the torture of the Templar Grand master, Jacques de Molay; there is also a carving showing the Turin Shroud with the face of de Molay well visible. Even after its completion it was not used as a chapel, as the St Clair family used another one in the castle.
Rosslyn chapel, a true copy of Herod’s Temple, is also a replica of the Holy of Holies. It looks more like a post-Templar shrine built to hide the scrolls found in Jerusalem by the Templars. These scrolls were probably more important that those found in the Dead Sea caves. They certainly dealt with the story of the Nasorean struggle, the story of Jesus Christ, the secret ceremony of resurrecting the living, and the importance of building the human spirit as though it was a temple. They must have included the lost Gospel of “Q”, the source used by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to write their gospels. There is a good probability that they are still below the floor of the chapel and, if so, the reason and purpose of the creation of Freemasonry is available.
Modern Freemasons believe that their organisation descends from the ritual practices of the medieval guilds of stonemasons. However, according to another theory, it was speculative Masons (Templars) who adopted operative masons (stone masons), and initiated them to lower level secrets concerning Solomon’s Temple. The stone masons were happy to be accepted in such an organisation, and to be told some of the secrets of Rosslyn, although they did not know anything about the treasure to be housed there.
The construction of the Rosslyn chapel in the mid-fifteenth century is sometime thought as the starting date of Freemasonry. This is confirmed by the fact that the St Clair family of Rosslyn became the hereditary Grand Masters of the Craft Guilds and Orders of Scotland. Later they held the post of Master of Masons of Scotland until the late eighteenth century. The steps leading to the crypt situated in the South-East are well used. Halfway down there is a door leading to a lower chamber with a fireplace and a chimney. Next to the fireplace there is a sculpture of a man carrying a key. At first glance he looks like St Peter but, as the handle of the key is a perfect square, it is obviously a Masonic symbol. This was the entrance to the scroll vaults accessible only to the St Clair and their fellow “resurrected” Masons, and the key is the “Hiram key”. Later on the vaults were sealed off. It is in this crypt that the stonemasons received their wages, and where they were initiated and sworn to secrecy. It is believed that some knights Templar were buried in the scroll vaults.
Rosslyn survived all the church destruction that occurred in British history. In particular Cromwell destroyed as many Catholic churches as he could but, being a Freemason, he did not touch it, as he knew what it was a Masonic shrine. On the other hand the St Clairs (or Sinclair) were on the royalist side, and General Monk destroyed their castle in 1650 while Rosslyn chapel was left alone again. In Temple, near Rosslyn, there are the ruins of the reconstructed Templar Headquarters in Scotland. In the graveyard there are many old Masonic graves, many with the Royal Arch Degree symbol. One of the more recent is from 1621 and, like many others it show the pick and shovel of the Royal Arch, as well as the skull and cross bones, the Templar symbol of resurrection and their battle flag. This shows that the Royal Arch Freemasons existed at least a hundred years before the official foundation of Freemasonry in London in 1717. The Royal Arch ritual tells, of course, the story of the Templar discovery of the scrolls in the ruins of Herod’s Temple. If only for this reason, it must date from before Rosslyn and Mark Freemasonry and before the Craft Second Degree that is linked to the Mark Degree. The Royal Arch Masons of the end of the fifteenth must have been Templar descendants. All that is required now is to open the vaults below Rosslyn chapel and to investigate their content, because the Nasorean scrolls are most probably still there.
The principal pillars in the east of the building form a Triple Tau, the badge of the Royal Arch Freemasonry. Triple Tau, as defined in the ritual of this Masonic grade, means different things: “the Temple of Jerusalem”, “a key to a treasure”, “a place where a precious thing is concealed”, and “The precious thing itself”. William de St Clair arranged the pillars of the Masonic shrine in this symbolic way to show to those who can see it that it represents the Temple of Jerusalem, and that a treasure in concealed in it. The meaning of the seal of Solomon, or Star of David (a double triangle within a circle of gold), in the Royal Arch Degree is “Nothing is wanting but the Key” and “If thou canst comprehend these things, thou knowest enough” as it is written on their badge. The pillars at Rosslyn form an exact Seal of Solomon. All this confirms that the design of the chapel was not casual, but that it symbolically indicates that a treasure is hidden bellow, in the vaults. William St Clair explained the meaning of the symbols to the Royal Arch Degree after the completion of the chapel to provide the clue for a future discovery of “the Key” to the treasure. (8)