HOSPITALLERS OF THE AMERICAS
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This book is a chronicle of a relatively untold history of the modern world. From the crusades, to the reformation, to the Age of Exploration of the Americas, a series of pivotal events and developments that not only hinged on the orders of Knighthood, they created it. Were it not for the orders of knighthood, we would not be living in the world as we know it today.
I know of no other book, after fifteen years of research and direct exploration that has ‘connected the dots’ of these epic developments in history, reading like a history thriller of suspense and excitement. The meager stories we were all told in high school pale in comparison to the true historical events that shaped the world’s religions, trade, medicine, agriculture, commerce, and banking.
Having said that, there is another position that emerges from understanding how the Knights of Christendom changed the course of world history. The fervent desire of the Knights was to stand one’s ground on the Holy Land. The Medieval Latin word cruciata, meant "to mark with a cross," from Latin crux (genitive crucis) "cross." The figurative sense came to be known as a "campaign against a public evil." The mindset or paradigm or ‘gestalt,’ of the educated mind of medieval times was a platonic, ordered universe called the Great Chain of Being. From the emanation of God, variously assumed in the medieval mind: To Everything There is a Season, there is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven -- time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. (Ecclesiastes 3:1). That Christianity is a "Universal Religion," and is for people everywhere and in all times, is a statement that is Gnostic, or 'oneness with God', the original Christianity. But, the full extent of the truth of its universality was not realized by the majority, which tied the Crusades to evangelism, spreading the gospel of the word of the Lord. The Great Chain of Being implied that a "Universalism", as a belief that "All religions are equally true, good, and that they all equally will lead to the kingdom of heaven, or to God."
The power of this understanding changed the course of the world. Following the Apostles, Christianity would spread to all parts of the world. It would become an indigenous, cultural distinctiveness, apart from the pagan world. This world was not one of the liberal, rational mind which only emerged in the late middle ages. The mindset was very different and generally spiritual. As we have been indoctrinated by a modern mindset, a fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person's responses to and interpretations of situations, the medieval mind was actually more intuitive, religious, and gnostic, as a "believer in a mystical religious doctrine of spiritual knowledge."
Indigenous Peoples today have rights as distinct cultural groups or nations. Indigenous peoples are those groups especially protected in international or national legislation as having a set of specific rights based on their historical ties to a particular territory, and their cultural or historical distinctiveness from other populations. The legislation is based on the conclusion that certain indigenous people are vulnerable to exploitation, marginalization and oppression by nation states by politically dominant, different ethnic groups. We can all agree, that today’s world events and ‘liberalism’, has created politically dominant, different ethnic groups.
Today we witness outright attacks of Christians. The mounting persecution of Christians around the world has reached such a point that Pope Francis and other religious liberty advocates have already described the problem as a form of "genocide" affecting some 200 million Christians in more than 60 countries. As I have argued in our book HEALTH SOVEREIGNTY, Christendom was a territory that stretched from Europe, to the Levant, and later the Americas. The Church of the East became the largest block of people having historical distinctiveness that spread from the Levant to Africa to China, even including members of the Court of the Great Khan, and was the largest Church body for many centuries. The fact that Christians have been vulnerable to exploitation, marginalization and oppression by nation states including Rome before Constantine I in early Church history itself is a matter of history.
A special set of political rights in accordance with international law have been set forth by international organizations such as the United Nations, the International Labour Organization and the World Bank. The United Nations has issued a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 to guide member-state national policies to collective rights of indigenous people—such as culture, identity, language, and access to employment, health, education, and natural resources. Estimates put the total population of indigenous peoples from 220 million to 350 million. I can say, that extends to all people ‘christian.’
A defining characteristic for an indigenous group is that it has preserved traditional ways of living. The use of the understanding ‘peoples in association as indigenous’ is derived from the 19th century anthropological and ethnographic disciplines that Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines as "a body of persons that are united by a common culture, tradition, or sense of kinship, which typically have common language, institutions, and beliefs, and often constitute a politically organized group". The definition of a Church is a “body or organization of religious believers, as the whole body of Christians.” The definition of Catholic is “of, relating to, or forming the church universal: of, relating to, or forming the ancient undivided Christian church or a church claiming historical continuity from it.”
Pure definitions make matters simple, not confusing. Denominations are simply defined as “a religious organization whose congregations are united in their adherence to its beliefs and practices,” but they are still part of the Church and Catholic faith by definition. We are all afforded “a set of specific rights based on their historical ties to a particular territory, and their cultural or historical distinctiveness from other populations.” That territory is planet earth, as the largest religion in the world.
Political organizations and nation states exercise their control over people by information first and foremost. They foster this by the media and mandatory ‘education’ in public schools. The intermediary of fairness and stability in populations is set by laws, statutes and regulations. Christians are indigenous peoples, we live within the Body of Christ on planet earth. Skewing, changing, omitting, or obfuscation of information is freedom of speech, respected by most nations. Failing control of the behavior of people results in police force and oppression.
Christians believe in universal goodness. We follow and respect the Ten Commandments. Christians believe that the Ten Commandments have divine authority and continue to be valid. Through Christian history, the Decalogue, a set of commandments which the Bible describes, has been considered a summary of God's law and standard of behavior, and has been central to Christian life, piety, and worship. There is no need for police force and our rights as indigenous people must be respected by all nation states.
Those of us as members of hospitaller orders can and should be proud of our heritage as fervent as our nationality. In fact, our nationality as we know it today hinged on the events by orders of knighthood reported in this book!
Columbus, The Apocalypse, the Knights, and the New Jerusalem
The original historic Knights Templar were a Christian military order, the Order of the Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, that officially existed from the 12th to 14th centuries to provide warriors and protectors in the Crusades, the legacy of which would extend to the Crusades to the Americas, an amazing revelation this book reports. The crusades of the Levant had a direct impact on the discovery of America. The Fourth Crusade which resulted in the sacking of Constantinople (1204) resulting in the fatal weakening of the Byzantine Empire became pivotal. With the eventual fall of Byzantium to the Ottoman Turks (1453) and the collapse of the Mongol Empire to the East, Europe's access to China and the Far East was lost with the disintegration of the Silk Road. These Templars were famous and wealthy in the late Middle Ages, but the Order was disbanded by King Philip IV of France, who took action against the Templars in order to avoid repaying his own financial debts by stealing their riches and burning many members at the stake. He accused them of heresy, ordered the arrest of all Templars within his realm in 1307, and had many of them burned at the stake. The Grand Master, Jaques de Molay, was burned at the stake after his arrest on Friday the 13th and under the inquisitors torture. The dramatic and supposedly rapid end of the Templars led to many stories and legends developing about them over the following centuries.
Since their papal dissolution following accusations of heresy in the 14th Century, the Knights Templar have been associated with some of the most mysterious and intriguing legends in history. A military order which sprang out of the famous Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, would set sail to Spain, Portugal, the Americas, and even Madagascar. As Portugal was the first country in Europe where the Templars settled (in 1128), it had been one of the last to preserve a remnant of that order and was reformed as the Knights of Christ whose cross can be found the ships of the conquistadors that settled colonies in Cuba, Hispaniola, Florida and other Caribbean islands.
The Templars had been granted lands in Scotland 100 years before by the great King David 1st. They were given about 100 properties from which they collected rents. Despite the trial of the Templars in Paris these lands were not seized by the Scottish government of Robert the Bruce as far as we know. Scotland’s link with the Templar mysteries is through Rosslyn Chapel in the village of Roslin near Edinburgh. Even though the chapel was built over a century after the formal suppression of the order, many believe that the ornate carvings in the chapel hold the key to the secrets of the Templars, and that Rosslyn may hold some of the Templars’ fabled treasure, said variously to include the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail, lost teachings of Jesus or even the mummified head of Christ.
In 1398, almost one hundred years before Columbus arrived in the New World, the Scottish prince Henry Sinclair, Earl of Orkney, sailed to what is today Nova Scotia, where his presence was recorded by Mi’kmaq Indian legends about Glooskap, according to author William F. Mann. This was the same Prince Henry Sinclair who offered refuge to the Knights Templar fleeing the persecution unleashed against the Order by French king Philip the Fair early in the fourteenth century. With evidence from archaeological sites, indigenous legend, and sacred geometry handed down by the Templar Order to the Freemasons, author William F. Mann has now rediscovered the site of the settlement established by Sinclair and his Templar followers in the New World.
Cristoforo Colombo of Genoa, whose uncle was a Knight of Christ, had access to the Vatican library which it is believed maps of the new world were passed onto him. The true motivation for Columbus's voyages to the Americas is very different from what is commonly assumed in the popular story books. Recent historical studies shows that he was inspired to find a western route to the Orient not only to obtain vast sums of gold and spices for the Spanish Crown but primarily to help a new crusade to take Jerusalem from the Muslims—a goal that sustained him until the day he died. Rather than an avaricious glory hunter, Columbus was a man of deep passion, patience, and religious conviction. He followed the Queen’s instructions to be patient and passionate with any contact with native Americans and islanders. He was neither a greedy imperialist nor a quixotic adventurer, as he has lately been depicted, but a man driven by an abiding religious passion.
Just two years after his birth, the sacking of Constantinople by the Ottomans barred Christians from the trade route to the East and the pilgrimage route to Jerusalem. The Portuguese were occupying the trade route down the coast of Africa, so a new route had to be found. The failure of multiple crusades to keep Jerusalem in Christian possession; the crises of the Black Plague; and the impending reformation and schisms in the Church; and the constant plights with the Moors occupying Spain provided Cristoforo Colombo the impetus to set sail for the New World. Columbus's belief that he was destined to play a decisive role in the retaking of Jerusalem was the force that drove him to petition the Spanish monarchy to fund his journey, even in the face of ridicule about his idea of sailing west to reach the East. In the drama of the four voyages, bringing the trials of ocean navigation vividly to life and showing Columbus for the master navigator that he was, was a man and of legacy. Judging Columbus from a contemporary perspective rather than from the values and practices of his own time, his motivations and his accomplishments; offers this more realistic perspective. In what would follow from his identification and sailing route to the Americas, more knights would follow, with Ponce de Leon establishing Florida and the Fountain of Youth; DeSoto a Knight of Santiago, would colonize Tampa and go on to explore Georgia, Alabama to the Mississippi river; Menedez de Aviles would colonize America’s oldest city, St. Augustine; Ovando of the Knights would colonize the Dominican Republic and establish the first hospital of the Americas; Hernán Cortés would influence Mexico; Vasco da Gama (1460 –1524), a Portuguese explorer and Knight of Christ; was the first European to reach India by sea, linking Europe and Asia for the first time by ocean route.
Columbus set forth on his voyage with the intention to deliver letters to the Grand Khan from Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, convert the Grand Khan to Christianity since many of his council of mongolians had already become Christians, convince the Grand Khan to give aid to an attack on Jerusalem, and to set up a trading post to trade for the gold and spices he had read about in Marco Polo's book. The stated purpose of that trade was to obtain enough gold to finance a crusade to retake Jerusalem from the Muslims as a prerequisite to rebuilding the temple for Christ's return before the end of the world. Because events of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries had heightened expectations of an imminent, decisive confrontation between good and evil, thus encouraging apocalyptic beliefs, the approaching end of the world and return of the Savior, his project was seen as eminently worthwhile by his contemporaries as well as the King and Queen.
Columbus did not intend to supplant the native peoples with Europeans or steal their lands; but later, faced with rebellions, he capitulated to the settlers' demands, and Isabella eventually approved land grants to them. He surely did not intend to commit genocide, of which he has been accused. He wanted to enlist the Grand Khan and his people on his side, not to destroy them. Nor was his intention to obtain slaves; there was no possibility of enslaving the people in the civilized, luxurious world of the Grand Khan. When he met the native people, he thought that they were attractive and intelligent and because they had no false pretense, he thought they were already natural Christians. "I believe that in the world there are no better people or a better land. They love their neighbors as themselves, and they have the sweetest speech in the world; and [they are] gentle and are always laughing" (Diario, p. 281).
There is no question about the terrible devastation and depopulation that was visited upon the native people due to disease and slaughter by other conquistadors who followed. Likewise the conquistadors suffered from yellow fever, malaria, and having contracted yaws and taking back syphilis to Europe. Atrocities often occurred when Columbus was not even there or was on board ship when his men disobeyed his explicit orders and went on rampages of which he continually complained. Columbus repeatedly asked for friars who would learn the native language and instruct the natives about the religion rather than assume they had become Christian simply by the act of baptism. Columbus was neither an angel nor a felon; he was a man of his time, and his grand ideas and goals were formed in that context of his ideals. An extraordinarily talented navigator and seaman, he was ill prepared to manage an unruly colony and was often disgusted by the behavior of his men. Deeply devout, he fervently believed in the Christian mission and felt he had an important role to play.
Just prior to the launch of Columbus’ adventures, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press with moveable wooden or metal letters in completed by 1440. This method of printing can be credited not only for a revolution in the production of books, but also for fostering rapid development in the sciences, arts and religion through the bulk transmission of texts which had previously only be scantily available and harbored by the monasteries. The Gutenberg press with its movable type printing brought down the price of printed materials and made such materials available for the masses on an unprecedented scale that would change the world.
In 1517 Martin Luther posted his "theses" at Wittenberg, a move that would challenge the Catholic Church’s hegemony over faith and fables. Luther also translated the Bible from Latin into German so that those who could read their own language might see how far the pope and his followers had strayed from Jesus' teaching. To accompany the text, he commissioned paintings and a series of double woodcuts from Lucas Cranach that juxtaposed the pope's actions with those of Jesus. One of the woodcuts showed Jesus kneeling as he washed the feet of a leper while the other showed the resplendent pope sitting on his throne while supplicants kneeled and kissed his feet. Clearly, the people of the times knew something was wrong with that picture.
Luther's translation of the Bible into the vernacular meant that the people themselves could interpret its meaning and no longer had to depend on their priests for interpretations. This led ultimately to the reformation and the fragmentation of the church into numerous denominations. The apocalyptic scenario, which has always been an integral theme in Christianity, receded into the background in the Catholic Church as it became more prominent and transformed, in a number of the Protestant churches. With the Puritans it made its second transatlantic crossing after Columbus and became firmly planted in the American landscape. Leaving what they saw as a corrupt world, the Puritans had crossed the ocean to establish a godly city, a "new Jerusalem" in New England. For the Puritans, Jerusalem became a metaphor, a symbol—a crusade to capture the ancient holy city was no longer necessary; they would build a new and better one for Christ's return.
Columbus's vision was transformed as his torch was transferred to American shores to the north being settled many by protestants while to the south remained mainly Catholic. America was to be the place of redemption, and the "city on a hill" would be a light unto the nations. This idea persisted even as it underwent secularization when Enlightenment ideas began to take hold of some of the influential thinkers in the new republic. The Enlightenment fostered the idea that human reason, rather than religion, was the source of authority. The belief that the new American nation has a divinely supported manifest destiny, sometimes referred to as American exceptionalism, not only legitimated its expansion westward and the suppression of the native peoples, but also ordained its global mission to spread the American way of life and its values around the world, sometimes at the point of a sword or gun. Despite the separation of church and state, mandated by the founding fathers, many Americans believed the United States was a God-supported, if not explicitly a Christian, nation. Since 1954, our Pledge of Allegiance has reminded us that we are "one nation under God"; presidents and jurists take their oaths on the Bible, and until recently, witnesses had to swear they were telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth "so help me God." Even our money proclaims "In God We Trust." The United States is supposed to be a secular country, but these examples show that is hardly a simple case.
Secularization that was part of the Enlightenment did, however, change ideas about religion: religion was no longer supposed to have a public, political role, but was relegated to the private, personal realm. As a result, the courts generally and rarely rule on religious matters. Not only that, there was a recognition that there are many religions and each was to be tolerated and respected. Because religion was a personal matter, a person could choose his or her religion or even choose not to have one at all. These views, however, are not accepted by many Americans who continue to insist that there is only one, true faith and want this to be a Christian nation. In Everson v. Board of Education (1947), Justice Hugo Black wrote: "In the words of Thomas Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect a wall of separation between church and state."
The discovery of America by Columbus gave the western nations vast opportunities for conquest, trade, and colonization, but the two great powers of Spain and England, were foremost in this revolution. Although both nations had a similar background of Christian western culture, their systems of colonization were rooted in different religious and political philosophies, and that the state of their medical practices in those two countries varied according to their development. Historical analysis indicates that the transfer of western medicine, surgery, and nature cure into America during the centuries of colonial administration was influenced more by religious and educational factors than by the political factors. That medicine was the development of monastic medicine, surgery, folk medicine, and nature cure than by any other is historical fact. In time, both cultures would also learn aspects of native American Indian medicine.
A striking characteristic of the Spanish Americas are the numerous expeditions undertaken during the colonial period aimed at enlarging the knowledge of natural resources by the friars. Historians seldom appreciate the fact that one of the motives for Columbus's voyages was the Spanish need to secure the medicinal spices and oriental drugs so as to avoid dependence on the Venetians for items of high importance in the preservation of the food and health of the Spanish armies. The conquistadors and their writers described the New World not only as the sources of gold and precious stones, but also as the land of the marvelous Balsam to cure wounds, the cathartic Jalap root and the exotic Coca leaf. These three were well known to the Indians as also were the anthelmintic properties of Chenopodia, and the anti-dysenteric action of Ipecac.
Until Columbus, the only beans known in the Old World were soybeans and some uncommon species. Other types of bean widely used today—shell, string, kidney, lima, and pea beans—were cultivated by indigenous peoples of the Americas. Such products as tobacco, corn, cassava, and most species of bean were unknown in Europe before the voyages of Columbus. As the early explorers encountered these exotic items in the Americas, they brought them to Europe and Africa, where they eventually revolutionized eating habits worldwide.
The Spaniards introduced chocolate to Europe where it quickly became an exotic luxury. In 1657 a London store began selling chocolate and started a lasting trend. What is known in the U.S. today as corn is actually maize, or was sometimes called Indian corn. In England, "corn" meant wheat, while in Scotland and Ireland it referred to oats. Indians cultivated several varieties of corn—white, yellow, red, blue, sweet corn, popcorn, and corn to make corn meal. Corn is a mixture of several types of wild grasses.
From its origins among the Inca of the Andes Mountains, potato cultivation spread through wide areas of the Americas, where it was often a staple crop. The Spanish introduced it to Europe. The English first began to grow potatoes on a large scale. English settlers brought the potato with them to North America after 1600, thus reintroducing it to the New World. In Europe, the potato became a staple in many areas. Failure of the Irish potato crop in the mid-1800s prompted a massive migration to the Americas.
Suffice it to say, the religious Orders of the Knights ‘discovered’ and settled the Americas. They were both military and hospitaller Orders. On every ship, Columbus brought physicians. From St. Augustine, Tampa, Hispaniola, and Cuba, they were settled by the Knights of Santiago who had established earlier five hospitals in Spain. The mandate of the Council of Nicea (325 AD) held that hospitals should be established in every colony and that was part of the mission of the conquistadors as well as the pursuit of medical spices and herbs. Thus, the title of this book: THE HOSPITALLERS OF THE AMERICAS.