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Templars

Templars

The Knights Templars of the Temple of Solomon were a military order founded by Hugues de Payns of Burgundy and Godeffroi de St. Omer for the purpose of protecting pilgrims journeying to the Holy Land. They were soon joined by other knights; a religious chivalry speedily gathered around this nucleus. Baldwin I, king of Jerusalem, gave them as headquarters a portion of his palace, contiguous to a mosque that tradition asserted was part of the Temple of Solomon, and from this building they took their name.

One of the purposes of the society was to convert and render useful knights of evil living. So many of these entered the order as to bring it under the suspicion of the church, but there is every reason to believe that its founders were instigated by pious motives. The fact that they lived in a condition near poverty, notwithstanding the numerous rich gifts that were showered upon them, is the best evidence of their motivations.

They had properly constituted officials, a grand master, knights, chaplains, sergeants, craftsmen, sensechals, marshals, and commanders. The order had its own clergy, who like other clergy in orders were exempt from the jurisdiction of diocesan rule, and its chapters were held as a rule in secret. The dress of the brotherhood was a white cloak with a red cross for unmarried knights, and a black or brown cloak with a red cross for the others. The discipline was very strict and the food and clothing rough and not abundant.

By the middle of the twelfth century, the new order had firm footing in nearly all the Latin kingdoms of Christendom. Its power grew, and its organization became widespread. It formed a nucleus of the Christian effort against the paganism of the east. Its history may be said to be that of the Crusades. Moreover it became a great trading corporation, the greatest commercial agency between the east and west, and as such amassed immense wealth.

On the fall of the Latin kingdom in Palestine, the Templars were forced to withdraw from that country. Although they continued to harass the Saracen power, they made little headway against it, and in reality appeared to have undertaken commercial pursuits in preference to those of a more warlike character.

The Attack Upon the Templars

When the Temple was at the high point of its power, its success aroused the envy and avarice of Philip IV of France (1285-1314), who commenced a series of attacks upon it. Pope Clement V, who was devoted to Philip's interests, denounced the order for heresy and immorality and gave Philip his chance.

For several generations before this time, rumors had been circulating concerning the secret rites of the Templars, which were assisted by the very strict privacy of their meetings. They were usually held at daybreak with closely-guarded doors. It was alleged that the most horrible blasphemies and indecencies took place at these meetings, that the cross was trampled underfoot and spat upon, that an idol named Baphomet (Baphemetios, baptism of wisdom) was adored, or even that the devil in the shape of a black cat appeared. Other tales told of the roasting of children, and the smearing of the idol with their burning fat. And even wilder rumors spread through the uneducated populous.

A certain Esquian de Horian pretended to betray the "secret" of the Templars to Philip, and they were denounced to the Inquisition. Jacques de Molay, the grand master, who had been called from Cyprus to France, was arrested with 140 of his brethren in Paris and thrown into prison. A universal arrest of the Templars throughout France followed. The wretched knights were tortured en masse, as was usually the case, and confessed to the most grotesque crimes. The most damning confession of all was that of the grand master himself, who said that he had been guilty of denying Christ and spitting upon the cross, but repudiated all charges of immorality in indignant terms.

The process dragged on slowly for more than three years, in consequence of the jealousies that arose among those interested in its prosecution. The pope wished to bring it entirely under the jurisdiction of the church, and to have it decided at Rome. The king, on the other hand, mistrusting the pope, resolved on the destruction of the order so that none but himself should reap advantage from it. He decided it should be judged at Paris under his own personal influence.

The prosecution was directed by his ministers, Nogaret and Enguerrand de Marigny. The Templars asserted their innocence and demanded a fair trial, but they found few advocates who would undertake their defense. They were subjected to hardships and tortures, which forced many of them into confessions dictated to them by their persecutors.

During this interval, the pope's orders were carried into other countries, authorizing the arrest of the Templars and the seizure of their goods. Everywhere the same charges were brought against them. The same means of imprisonment and torture were used to procure their condemnation, although they were not subjected to the same severity as in France.

The Destruction of the Order in France

At length, in the spring of 1316, the grand process was opened in Paris. An immense number of Templars, brought from all parts of the kingdom, underwent a public examination. A long act of accusation was read: they denied Christ (and sometimes they denied expressly all the saints) declaring that he was not God truly but a false prophet and that they had no hope of salvation through him; they always, at their initiation into the order, spat upon the cross, and trod it under foot (they did this especially on Good Friday); they worshiped a certain cat, which sometimes appeared to them in their congregation; they did not believe in any of the sacraments of the church; they took secret oaths which they were bound not to reveal; the brother who officiated at the reception of a new brother kissed the naked body of the latter, often in a very unbecoming manner; each different province of the order had its idol, which was a head, having sometimes three faces, and at others only one, or sometimes a human skull; they worshiped these idols in their chapters and congregations, believing that they had great power; they girt themselves with cords, with which these idols had been superstitiously touched; those who betrayed the secrets of their order, or were disobedient, were thrown into prison and often put to death; they held their chapters secretly and by night, and placed a watch to prevent them from any danger of interruption or discovery; and they believed the grand master alone had the power of absolving them from their sins.

The publication of these charges, and the agitation that had been deliberately fomented, created such horror throughout France that the Templars who died during the process were treated as condemned heretics. Burial in consecrated ground was refused to their remains.

A great number of knights agreed to the general points of the formula of initiation. It seems possible that they denied Christ and spat and trod upon the cross. The alleged words of the denial were "Je reney Deu" or "Je reney Jhesu," repeated thrice. Most of those who confessed having gone through this ceremony declared that they did it with repugnance and spat beside the cross, not on it. The reception took place in a secret room with closed doors; the candidate was compelled to take off part or (in rare instances) all of his garments, and then he was kissed on various parts of the body.

One of the knights examined, Guischard de Marzici, said he remembered the reception of Hugh de Marhaud, of the diocese of Lyons. He saw him being taken into a small room, which was closed up so that no one could see or hear what took place within. After some time, he was let out; he was very pale and looked as though he were troubled and amazed. In conjunction with these strange ceremonies, however, there were others that showed a reverence for the Christian church and its ordinances, a profound faith in Christ, and the consciousness that the partaker of them was entering into a holy vow.

The historian Jules Michelet (1798-1874), who carefully investigated the materials relating to the trial of the Templars, suggested an ingenious explanation for these anomalies. He imagined that the form of reception was borrowed from the figurative mysteries and rites of the early church. The candidate for admission into the order, according to this notion, was first presented as a sinner and renegade; in the example of St. Peter, he denied Christ. This denial was a sort of pantomime, in which the novice expressed his reprobate state by spitting on the cross. The candidate was then stripped of his profane clothing, received through the kiss of the order into a higher state of faith, and re-dressed with the garb of its holiness. Forms like these would be easily misunderstood in the Middle Ages and their original meaning soon forgotten.

Another charge in the accusation of the Templars seems to have been proved by the depositions of witnesses, namely the idol or head which they were said to have worshiped; the real character or meaning of which it was difficult to explain. Many Templars confessed to having seen this idol, but as they described it differently, it must be supposed that it was not in all cases represented under the same form. Some said it was a frightful head, with long beard and sparkling eyes; others said it was a man's skull; some described it as having three faces; some said it was of wood, and others of metal; one witness described it as a painting (tabula picta ) representing the image of a man (imago hominis ), and said that when it was shown to him, he was ordered to "adore Christ his creator."

According to some it was a gilt figure, either of wood or metal, while others described it as painted black and white. According to another deposition, the idol had four feet. The one belonging to the order at Paris was said to be a silver head with two faces and a beard. The novices of the order were told to regard this idol as their savior. Deodatus Jaffet, a knight from the south of France, deposed that the person who performed the ceremonies of reception showed him a head or idol. It appeared to have three faces. The person from the ceremonies said, "You must adore this as your savior, and the savior of the order of the Temple," and then Jaffet was made to worship the idol, saying, "Blessed be he who shall save my soul." Cettus Ragonis, a knight received at Rome in a chamber of the palace of the Lateran, gave a somewhat similar account.

Many other witnesses spoke of having seen these heads, which, however, were perhaps not shown to everybody. The greatest number of those who spoke on this subject said they had heard others speak of the head, but that they had never seen it themselves. Many of them declared their disbelief in its existence. A friar minor deposed in England that an English Templar had assured him the order had four principal idols: one at London in the sacristy of the Temple, another at Bristelham, a third at Brueria (Bruern in Lincolnshire), and a fourth beyond the Humber.

Baron von Hammer-Purgstall indicated that Gnosticism was the secret doctrine of the Temple. His important essay Mysterium Baphometis Revelatum (The Mystery of Baphomet Revealed) was published in vol. 6 of Fundgraben des Orients (Vienna, 1811). The suggestion of Baphomet being related to the rituals of Ophite and Gnostic heresies has some plausibility.

The confessions with regard to the mysterious cat were much rarer and more vague. Some Italian knights confessed that they had been present at a secret meeting of 12 knights held at Brindisi. There a grey cat suddenly appeared among them and they worshiped it. At Nismes, some Templars declared they had been present at a chapter at Montpellier at which the demon appeared to them in the form of a cat and promised them worldly prosperity. They added that they saw devils in the shape of women. An English knight, who was examined at London, deposed that in England they did not adore the cat or the idol to his knowledge, but he had heard it positively stated that they worshiped the cat and the idol in parts beyond the sea. English witnesses deposed to other acts of "idolatry."

Such accounts suggest the witchcraft accounts of the appearance of the devil at what were basically pagan rituals. Agnes Lovecote stated she had heard that at a chapter held in Dines-lee (Dynnesley, in Hertfordshire), the devil appeared to the Templars in a monstrous form. It had precious stones for eyes, which shone so bright that they illuminated the whole chapter; the brethren, in succession, kissed him on the posteriors and marked there the form of the cross. She was told that one young man, who refused to go through this ceremony, was thrown into a well, and a great stone was cast upon him.

Another witness, Robert de Folde, said he had heard that 20 years ago, in the same place, the devil came to the chapter once a year. He flew away with one of the knights, whom he took as a sort of tribute. Two others stated that certain Templars confessed to them that at a grand annual assembly in the county of York, the Templars worshiped a calf. All this is mere hearsay, but it shows the popular opinion of the conduct of the order.

A Templar examined in Paris, named Jacques de Treces, said he had been informed that at secret chapters held at midnight, a head appeared to the assembled brethren, and "had a private demon, by whose council he was wise and rich."

The wretched aim of King Philippe was successful. He seized the whole treasure of the temple in France and became rich. Those who ventured to speak in defense of the order were browbeaten and received little attention. Torture was employed to force confessions. Fifty-four Templars who refused to confess were carried to the windmill of St. Antoine, in the suburbs of Paris, and there burned. Many others, among whom was the grand master himself, were subsequently brought to the stake. After having lasted two or three years, the process ended in the condemnation and suppression of the order; its estates were given in some countries to the knights of St. John.

It was in France that the persecution was most cruel. In England, the order was suppressed, but no executions took place. Even in Italy, the severity of the judges was not everywhere the same. In Lombardy and Tuscany the Templars were condemned, while they were acquitted at Ravenna and Bologna. They were also pronounced innocent in Castile; in Arragon they were reduced by force only because they had attempted to resist by force of arms. In Spain and Portugal they only gave up their own order to be admitted into others. The pope was offended at the leniency shown towards Templars in England, Spain, and Germany. The Order of the Temple was finally dissolved and abolished, and its memory branded with disgrace.

Some of the knights were said to have remained together and formed secret societies. The result, however, was much the same everywhere. Convicted of heresy, sorcery, and many other abominations, many of the wretched Templars were punished with death by fire, imprisonment, and their goods reverted to the various crowned heads of Europe. Nearly all of these nobles followed the greedy example of Philip of France.

Jacques de Molay, the grand master, was brought out onto a scaffold erected in front of Notre Dame in Paris and asked to repeat his confession and receive a sentence of perpetual imprisonment. He flared into sudden anger and recanted all he had said, protesting his innocence; he was sentenced to burn. De Molay summoned the pope and the king with his dying breath; he waited to meet them before the bar of Heaven. Both of these dignitaries shortly afterwards died and it remained in the public mind that the outcome of the grand master's summons seemed to have proved his innocence.

There is every reason to believe there was some foundation for the charges of heresy made against the Templars. Their intimate connection with the East and the long establishment of the order had in all probability rendered their Christianity not quite so pure as that of Western Europe. Numerous treatises have been written for the purpose of proving or disproving the Temple heresy, to show that it followed the doctrines and rites of the Gnostic Ophites of Islam, that "Baphomet" was merely a corruption of "Mahomet," and it has been collated with various other eastern systems.

Hans Prutz furthered the view of the rejection of Christianity in his book Geheimlehre und Geheimstatutendes Tempelherren-Ordens (1879) in favor of a religion based on Gnostic dualism, and at once raised up a host of critics.

But many defenders of the order followed, and it was proved in numerous instances that the confessions wrung from the Templars were the result of extreme torture. In a number of cases they were acquitted in Castile, Aragon, Portugal, and in many German and Italian centers. It has also been shown that the answers of a number of the knights under torture were practically dictated to them. In England, out of 80 Templars examined, only four confessed to the charge of heresy, and of these, two were apostates.

The Templars were also the victims of their own arrogance and commercial success, which excited the avarice their enemies and the superstitious ignorance and hatred of their contemporaries. There has been a steady stream of writings on the Templars, especially in the last two centuries. Contemporary writers on the order have agreed that charges of witchcraft and homosexuality directed against the order were basically lies spread to hide Philip's motives.

Modern Templarism

It has been asserted that on the death of Jacques de Molay, a conspiracy was formed by the surviving Templars. The conspiracy had for its ends the destruction of papacy and the various kingdoms of Europe. This tradition was supposedly handed on through generations of initiates through such societies as the Illuminati and the Freemasons, who in the end brought about the French Revolution and the downfall of the French throne.

After the French Revolution, people claimed the Templar tradition and founded several neo-Templar organizations that spread through the French-speaking world. In 1805 a Frenchman, Bernard-Raymond Fabré-Palpret, founded a reconstituted Templar order with himself as the head. He also created a gnostic church to compete with Roman Catholicism and consecrated Ferdinand-Francois Chatel as the first bishop. After the death of Fabré-Palpret in 1838, the order split. It developed even more factions in every generation. At present more than 30 operate in France, Switzerland, Belgium, and Quebec. One of these neo-Templar groups, the Solar Temple, became the subject of interest when nearly 50 of its members were murdered in Switzerland in 1994. Apparently they were killed by their leaders, who then killed themselves.

A second neo-Templar tradition began in Germany in the 1890s with the founding of the OTO, the Ordo Templi Orientis (or Order of the Eastern Temple), which spread from Germany to German-speaking Switzerland and through Aleister Crowley to Great Britain and the United States.

Sources:

Campbell, G. The Knights Templars, Their Rise and Fall. London: Duckworth; New York: McBride, 1937.

Charpentier, John. L'Ordre des Templiers. Paris: La Colombe, 1945.

Lea, Henry Charles. A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages. 3 vols. London: Sampson, Low; New York: Harper & Bros., 1888. Reprint, New York: Citadel, 1954.

Lees, B. A. Records of the Templars in England in the Twelfth Century: The Inquest of 1185 with Illustrative Charters and Documents. Vol. 9 of British Academy Records of the Social and Economic History of England and Wales. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1935.

Legman, G. The Guilt of the Templars. New York: Basic Books, 1966.

Martin, Edward J. The Trail of the Templars. London: Allen & Unwin, 1928.

Michelet, Jules. Le Procès des Templiers. 2 vols. N.p., 1841-51.

Parker, Thomas W. The Knights Templars in England. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1963.

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Knights Templars (in medieval history)

Knights Templars (tĕm´plərz), in medieval history, members of the military and religious order of the Poor Knights of Christ, called the Knights of the Temple of Solomon from their house in Jerusalem.

Origins

Like the Knights Hospitalers and the Teutonic Knights, the Templars were formed during the Crusades. They originally had a purely military function. Founded when Hugh de Payens and eight other knights joined together c.1118 to protect pilgrims, the order grew rapidly. St. Bernard of Clairvaux drew up its rules, and it was recognized at the Council of Troyes (1128) and confirmed by Pope Honorius III.

Rise to Power

The Templars received gifts of estates and money, and the organization soon became one of the most powerful in Europe. By combining monastic privilege with chivalrous adventure, they attracted many nobles. The order, organized under a grand master and general council, had its headquarters at Jerusalem. It was directly responsible only to the pope and thus was free from the control of the secular crusading leaders. As Crusaders the knights were important both in fighting the Muslims (notably at Gaza in 1244 and later at Damietta, during the Fifth Crusade) and in the internal struggles of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem (see Jerusalem, Latin Kingdom of). Although the Knights of the White Cross (the Hospitalers) were at first probably larger and richer, the Templars, who wore the red cross on a white ground, were greater warriors. In the later crusades the deadly rivalry of the three orders helped weaken the Crusaders' chances of success.

When Jerusalem fell to the Muslims (1187), the Templars operated from Acre; after its fall (1291) the order retreated to Cyprus. By that time the Templars had ceased to be primarily a fighting organization and had become the leading money handlers of Europe. From the beginning the knights aroused opposition because of their special privileges, their freedom from secular control, and their great military and financial strength. As their banking role increased—they served such kings as Henry II of England and Louis IX of France—and their landholdings grew, they aroused the hostility, fear, and jealousy of secular rulers and of the secular clergy as well.

Persecution and Destruction of the Templars

When the Crusades failed, the Hospitalers became a naval patrol in the East, but the Templars grew more worldly, more decadent, and more hated. In 1307, Philip IV of France, who needed money for his Flemish war and was unable to obtain it elsewhere, began a persecution of the Templars. With the aid of Pope Clement V, the king had members of the order arrested and their possessions confiscated. By 1308 the persecutions were in full process. The knights were put on trial and were tortured to extract confessions of sacrilegious practices. The pope at first opposed the trials but soon reversed his position, and at the Council of Vienne (1311–12) he dissolved the order by papal bull.

The Templars were completely destroyed by 1314. Much of their property, theoretically designated for the Hospitalers, was acquired by secular rulers. The leaders of the order, including the last grand master, Jacques de Molay, were tried by ecclesiastic judges and sentenced to life imprisonment, but after denouncing their confessions they were burned at the stake (1314) as lapsed heretics by civil authorities. It is impossible to evaluate fairly the Templars and their fate; the injustices of their final treatment have led some to consider them blameless, yet the charges against them were not entirely unfounded.

Bibliography

The literature on the Templars is vast. A defense of the order is C. G. Addison, The History of the Knights Templars (rev. ed. 1912). See also the studies by E. Simon (1959) and T. W. Parker (1963).

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Templars

TEMPLARS

German evangelical settlers in Palestine in the late nineteenth century.

The Temple Society (Tempelgesellschaft) was founded in the mid-nineteenth century in the Kingdom of Württemberg. Pietistic Evangelicals, the Templars criticized the church and decided at first to settle and found colonies and, later, to improve the land in Palestine as they awaited the imminent Kingdom of Heaven. They established a colony in Haifa in 1868 and brought modern European methods of agriculture. They also established the carriage trade from Jaffa to Jerusalem, exported wine, and established settlements in Jaffa, Haifa, Sarone (part of modern Tel Aviv), Jerusalem, Wilhelma, Galilen Bethlehem, and Waldheim. Individuals settled in Jerusalem and founded a German colony there that, although denied official support by the German government, numbered some 1,200 people by 1914.

Deported as enemy aliens by the British from 1917 to 1918, as German nationals they kept a low profile after they were permitted to return during the Palestine Mandate. Their religious fervor had decreased by the third generation and, as Germans, many were receptive to National Socialism, even though there was no official advocacy of support for the Nazi Party. Many sympathetic members were allowed to join the party; they also enlisted their children in the Nazi Youth and disseminated Nazi propaganda. With the outbreak of World War II, there were approximately 1,500 Germans of Templar origin who were interned, and afterward they were repatriated to Germany in exchange for Palestinians who had fallen into German hands. Some were deported to Australia. In 1948 their property was taken over by the Israeli government and placed under the Guardian of German Property; it was later taken into account during the negotiations over Nazi Holocaust reparations conducted by the World Jewish Congress and the West German government.

see also germany and the middle east; haifa; jaffa; jerusalem; west german reparations agreement.


Bibliography

Carmel, Alex. "The German Settlers in Palestine and Their Relations with the Local Arab Population and the Jewish Community, 18681918." In Studies on Palestine during the Ottoman Empire, edited by Moshe Maʾoz. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1975.

Thalmann, Naftali. "Introducing Modern Agriculture into Nineteenth Century Palestine: The German Templers." In The Land that Became Israel: Studies in Historical Geography, edited by Ruth Kark. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990.

Yazbak, Mahmoud. "Templars as 'Proto-Zionists': The 'German Colony' in Late Ottoman Haifa." Journal of Palestine Studies xx, no. 112 (Summer 1999): 4045.

reeva s. simon
updated by michael r. fischbach

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Templars

Templars. Established in Jerusalem in 1118 as a small group of knights pledged to protect pilgrims journeying to the Holy Places. In 1128 they gained papal support and a rule, owing much to Cistercian custom, was compiled for them by St Bernard of Clairvaux. Until the fall of Acre (1291) they played an important, but not uncontroversial, role (with their rivals, the Hospitallers) in the defence of the crusading states.

Their first, and largest, house in England was established just outside the city of London and moved to a site (the ‘New Temple’) off Fleet Street in 1161. They attracted considerable land and cash grants, much of which was used for the order's needs in Palestine, and their estates were organized as preceptories. Their wealth (and ultimate military failure) led to accusations of heresy, particularly in France in 1307–8, where King Philip IV in association with Pope Clement V brought about the brutal demise of the order, finally suppressed in 1312. In England, as generally elsewhere, their property was ceded to the Hospitallers: many Templars were executed or imprisoned.

Brian Golding

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Templars

Templars or Knights Templar. The Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon. They were founded in 1118 by Hugh de Payens to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land. They resisted an attempt to merge them with the Hospitallers (known from 1530 as the Knights of Malta, founded to provide hospitality for pilgrims, but adding to this the care of the sick), but could not withstand an assault from the king of France (and the Inquisition), and they were suppressed in 1312.

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Knights Templar

Knights Templar Military religious order established in 1118, with headquarters in the supposed Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. With the Knights Hospitallers, the Templars protected routes to Jerusalem for Christians during the Crusades. The possessions of the Templars in France attracted the envious attention of King Philip IV, who urged Pope Clement V to abolish the order in 1312.

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templar

templar
A. member of an order of knights orig. occupying a building on or near the site of the Temple of Solomon at Jerusalem XIII;

B. barrister of the Inner or the Middle Temple, London XVI. — AN. templer, (O)F. templier — medL. templārius or templāris, f. templum TEMPLE1; see -AR.

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Templar

Templar a member of the Knights Templars.

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Knights Templars (in freemasonry)

Knights Templars: see Freemasonry.

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Templars

Templars: see Knights Templars.

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Templar

TemplarAllah, calla, Caracalla, Haller, inshallah, pallor, Valhalla, valour (US valor), Whyalla •gabbler, tabla •ambler, gambler, rambler, scrambler •Adler, saddler •handler •angler, dangler, strangler, wrangler •tackler • trampler • antler • dazzler •Carla, challah, Douala, gala, Guatemala, Gujranwala, impala, kabbala, Kampala, koala, La Scala, Lingala, Mahler, Marsala, masala, nyala, parlour (US parlor), Sinhala, snarler, tala, tambala, Uppsala •garbler • chandler • sparkler •sampler •a cappella, Arabella, Bella, bestseller, Capella, cellar, Cinderella, citronella, Clarabella, corella, Daniela, Della, dispeller, dweller, Ella, expeller, favela, fella, fellah, feller, Fenella, Floella, foreteller, Heller, impeller, interstellar, Keller, Louella, Mandela, mortadella, mozzarella, Nigella, novella, paella, panatella, patella, predella, propeller, queller, quinella, repeller, rosella, rubella, salmonella, Santiago de Compostela, seller, smeller, speller, Stella, stellar, tarantella, teller, umbrella, Viyella •Puebla •assembler, dissembler, trembler •medlar, pedlar •ländler •fin de siècle, Hekla •Kepler •exempla, exemplar, Templar •tesla, wrestler •embezzler • Rockefeller •knee-trembler • saltcellar •bookseller • storyteller

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Templar

Templar (ˈtɛmplə) tactical expert mission-planner (military computer)

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