Monday, February 16, 2015

The Templar Families and Sheep

My next guest blogger is a name familiar to anyone who studies the Templars. If you don’t already own it, get Alan’s book, Sheep: The Remarkable Story of the Humble Animal that Built the Modern World. It is a fascinating read.

While traveling through France with us on the season finale, we stopped at the Commanderie d’Arville. There we discussed how important these humble animals were to the Templars and the entire history of Europe.

I'm delighted that Alan agreed to author this blog post.

- Blog post by Alan Butler February 16th 2015 

The names mentioned by Steve in his fascinating blog are ones I have seen so often as I have travelled up and down Britain on my own research. Knowledge of the interconnectedness of the bloodlines that funded the rise and success of the Templars has always been lacking, which is why it is so important the researchers such as Steve are spending so much time and effort filling in the gaps.

As Steve said in his blog it was almost a revelation to me on the America Unearthed shoot in France to hear him mention the Counts of Champagne. So often we researchers feel ourselves to be in a minority of one and it is the true importance of this little band of historians Scott has brought together that we can shine the light of our own respective findings on the same subjects. Following Steve’s blog it was an email comment from another of our band, Bill Mann in Canada that put me in mind of a Templar symbol we saw often on the shoot in France and of something that drew these great families together.

I remember years ago, when my attention first turned towards the Counts of Champagne and I began to understand what an amazing part they and the nobles to whom they were related had played, not only in Templarism but also in terms of the gradual growth of the modern world. Something all these families had in common, once William of Normandy had settled land upon them after he became King of England in 1066 was the importance they placed upon sheep and the wool they produced.

Indeed, part of William of Normandy’s desire to ‘be’ King of England was because of its wealth, much of which had come, right back to Roman times from the raising of sheep. Britain generally is very suited to this animal and they still thrive on our moors and uplands. Those nobles who fought with William at Hastings were given vast land holdings and a large part of the wealth they drew from their English and eventually Scottish lands stemmed from large flocks of sheep.

The Counts of Champagne, through their association with the Cistercians and then also the Templars certainly did not invent sheep husbandry but they turned it into an art form. It is no coincidence that one of the main emblems of the Knights Templar was the device known as the Agnus Dei. From a Christian perspective Agnus Dei means the Lamb of God and of course in this context it referred to Jesus but I have always been sure that this picture of a lamb carrying a cross was much more than a religious symbol to the Knights Templar. It demonstrated in no uncertain terms where a great deal of Templar money came from.

At Cistercian Abbeys all over Europe, but especially in Britain and also on Templar farms, of which there were once many hundreds, countless thousands of sheep were bred on marginal land that was fitted for little else. Their wool was a yearly cash crop and after having been cleaned, spun and woven, often in Flanders, most of it found its way to a series of great markets that were deliberately set up by the Counts of Champagne. These were known as the Champagne Fairs. It was a win – win situation for everyone concerned. The Cistercian order of monks spread across Europe in record time, whilst the Templars eventually became a vast network, with fighting being only one strand of their raison d’etre.

All of this came as a gradual revelation to me in my first years of research but I eventually began to realise that what had happened represented something far more significant than a new departure in animal rearing. The very existence of wool, its importance and the high prices people were willing to pay for the best wool began to undermine the very foundations of feudal government in Europe. The wool trade was international. For example raw wool from Britain was worked into cloth in Flanders, after which some of it was sold via the Champagne Fairs to merchants in Italy. There the woollen cloth was improved, ornamented and made into rich garments, some of which found their way back, via the Champagne Fairs to Britain.

Quite quickly it became almost impossible for Kings to control events in the way they had once done. Economic power passed down from the monarchs and the great Lords to merchants and even those who were breeding the sheep. New wealth from wool bought luxury goods, books and education. A new internationalism developed to such an extent that the feudal genii could never be put back into its bottle. It is my absolute contention that this was no chance consequence and I firmly believe that the changes that began to take place in Europe and which eventually led to the Renaissance were deliberately engineered in the palaces of Champagne and other French regions as early as the middle of the 11th century.

Back in the days when I was co-operating with Canadian writer Stephen Dafoe we coined the term ‘Templar Inc’ because we began to see a vast international company, the huge assets of which were constantly being used to foster more trade and to create new opportunities. Medieval kings did not understand how such a system worked, which made it all the more annoying for the French King Phillip IV when after 1307 he never found the vast chests of Templar gold he had expected.

In their day the Templars were responsible to no authority other than that of the Pope, and since even the Pope was invariably in their debt, they had every opportunity to change the world in which they lived and operated. But none of this would have been remotely possible were it not for the sheep that in the form of the Agnus Dei they kept as their major symbol throughout their existence.

This is of course a very short version of a long and fascinating story, because it was the sheep that as good as built the modern world, long after the days of those Medieval Lords. It might come as a surprise to some readers of this blog to learn that the sheep also had a very significant part to play in the founding of a free United States. Much is made of tea taxes as a spur to revolution but far more important was the fact that farmers in the American colonies were prohibiting from breeding better sheep and were prevented from importing new bloodstock from Europe on pain of lengthy imprisonment. To men such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who were farmers themselves, this was an intolerable situation and a major stepping stone on the path to the Declaration of Independence.

If any of the readers of this blog happen to be in London any time soon, they might want to take themselves to the Temple district. This is now a great centre for legal training, though of course the original Templar Church can still be seen there. Even today, over seven hundred years after the Knights Templer were ‘supposed’ to have been destroyed, the sheep of the Agnus Dei can still be seen looking down from practically every building – as if those white-mantled knights with their illustrious family names never went away at all.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

St. Clair Sinclair DNA and the Templars

My friend, Steve St. Clair, was very excited about showing me Saint Martin des Champs in Paris. He, Alan Butler, Janet and I had many talks about why this was so important to him. In fact, he had a Power Point show with him when we met up at Troyes to educate us about why we had to include St Martin des Champs in the episode. So we did.

The connections Steve found at Saint Martin des Champs prove without any doubt that the Sinclair / St. Clair family of Herdmanston were closely connected to, and in several cases, directly descended from important Templar families.

Today, I’d like turn this space over to guest blogger Steve to explain his research. _________________________________________________

Saint Martin des Champs, Paris

Merovingian burial, Saint Martin des Chanps

The chequy armorial at Tomar Portugal, 
reminiscent of Warenne or Vaux of county Norfolk, England.

We saw several other sites besides the ones you saw on the season finale.
This is a painting at Saint-Sulpice, Paris.

First, thanks Scott for the opportunity to be a guest blogger here. Looking at the pics you’ve put up of our trip to France, I have to wonder why we didn’t include our wives in the season finale. The episodes would have been much better looking! Anita and I had great trip and a lot of fun hanging out with you, Janet, Alan Butler, and of course Maria & Andy and the wonderful crew from Committee Films.

I remember the night in the hotel’s small bar when we were all quite tired - none more than Alan who had flown over that day and had quite a drive to meet us. I pulled out my computer to show you guys a presentation about what I was finding regarding the priory of Saint Martin des Champs. Near the end, I mentioned that my greatest interest was the Counts of Champagne because it was becoming clear to me that they were connected to the Saint-Clair family. Alan, tired as he was, lit up, “The Counts of Champagne were the money behind the Templars!”

Over the course of the next couple days, Alan wasn’t feeling very well (the weather was pretty miserable), so I drove his rental car with him in the passenger seat. We had a lot of time to chat in-depth about the importance of the Counts of Champagne, the Champagne Fairs, and much more. It has been collaborations like these over the past many years that has made my own research into the DNA and history of the Saint-Clair family much more accurate, interesting, and engaging.

Many of the angry skeptics, who take pot shots at the show from the peanut gallery, don’t seem to realize how such shows are made. After commercials, each episode of America Unearthed is 44 minutes. That doesn’t leave a ton of time to go into extreme detail about the research being shown. An example is my work on Saint Martin des Champs. It took me 16 months to research and write the 6,000 word paper now on my Sinclair DNA website at this link –

That recent website post at St Clair Sinclair DNA Research is generating quite a bit of interest, both from those who welcome it, and those who are upset by my claims.

The facts are the facts. At some point, the pundits must come out with legitimate evidence to dispute my claims, or slink away with their tails between their legs. The beauty of DNA is that it doesn’t lie. People who have something to gain can attempt to bend the truth, but the data itself is brutally visible.

I’ve seen several people in our own DNA study attempt to use their results to make terribly weak claims. Yet the science of DNA always wins out, much like Scott’s research into artifacts like the Kensington Runestone and the Tucson Lead Artifacts.

Stones and DNA are both factual, scientific evidence. As Scott said in part 1 of the season finale, the fakes reveal themselves quickly, but the legitimate ones just won’t go away.

In this blog post, I want to talk about the evidence that just won’t go away in the St Clair Sinclair DNA study

Several years ago after extensive reading of medieval benefaction records to priories and abbeys, I realized that the medievalists I most admired were skirting around something. They seemed to be heavily focused on medieval people with different surnames who were donating land and money to the same abbeys. But they seemed reluctant to make too many definitive claims.

For instance, a particular abbey called Savigny in France. It was one of only a couple abbeys I have found to which the St. Clairs directly donated lands. Yet, notice the other families also donating land there:
  • Vilers (a brother of Norman St. Clairs.) 
  • Montfort (tenant and likely related to St. Clairs.) 
  • Creon (Templar family.)
  • Meulan (major land holder and likely related to St. Clair.) 
  • D’Albini (descendants of the Honour of Belvoir and to which the St. Clairs married into. Directly related to the Counts of Champagne.) 
  • Mandeville (Geoffrey de Mandeville, made a Knight Templar on his deathbed and founder of the Temple Church in London, the single most important Templar building in England.) 
  • Vaux (married into the d’Albini family. I’m directly related to the de Vaux) 
  • Bisset (witnessed the grant of land to the Sinclairs of Rosslyn and showing up in the DNA SNP matches of our Exeter Lineage.)

The clues above are why I’m so obsessed by these names. But not just because of their benefaction to abbeys and priories.

People changed their names at the drop of a hat in medieval times – move to new land, take your second name from that new land. Eventually these names stuck.

The names changed, but the DNA did not

Richard de Vilers was a brother of Haimo and William de St. Clair in about the year 1120. Those brothers gave the land of Richard de Vilers to Savigny, with the permission of Stephen count of Mortain. (Savigny was an unusually important Cistercian Abbey in the diocese of Avranches, France.) Hubert of Saint-Clair was a tenant of the count of Mortain in Somerset.
They were all related. Their surnames were not yet fixed.
So now, if you were to find two people alive today with the same DNA, yet one’s name is Vilers, and the other is St. Clair…guess what…they both descend from the same medieval family.

Finding people closely allied in medieval records
Finding two people alive today with those same two surnames
who match closely in DNA SNPs
Both are descendants of the medieval people.

This is precisely what I’ve found

But these weren’t just any connections. The Saint-Clairs of Herdmanston have connections to those at the very top of the founding of the Order of the Temple.

And it became very clear by doing detailed research into which families were giving gifts to the priory of Saint Martin des Champs in Paris. But that’s only one religious house. There are many others that I’m digging into.

We’re not just talking about DNA SNP matches:
  1. Particular families alive today are in the DNA SNP matches of the Herdmanston family. That’s SNP matches. They share paternal blood with particular families. It is irrefutable. 
  2. Those particular families fit the narrative of the Saint-Clair family. What do I mean by that? I mean if you go back and study the actual records of the Saint-Clair family, then you will understand that you must show some of these same particular families in your DNA SNP matches to make any claim of connecting to the narrative of that particular Saint-Clair family story. 
  3. The particular families who fit into the narrative of our Saint-Clair family story in medieval records of land, benefaction, and/or marriage? 
  • Mandeville
  • Wishart
  • Strathern
  • Bisset
  • Moreville
  • Redver
  • Viller
  • Warenne 
  • Vaux
  • Ashley
  • Urtaico
  • Mortimer 
  • Etc.
As Scott said about particular ancient carvings, they keep hanging around impossible to disprove. DNA SNPs combined with medieval document connections are very much like that.

Scott, Janet, and Alan, I’m delighted we got to chase the Templars through France. And I think we’re just getting started.

Steve St. Clair