The Templar Order has gone by many names past and present. Originally the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonici), the name eventually simplified from the Order of Solomon's Temple (L'Ordre du Temple) to simply Knights Templar. Under the authority of the Order's 49th Grand Master General Antoine Zdrojewski, OSMTJ, i.e. Ordre Souverain et Militaire du Temple de Jérusalem (English var: The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem) became the formally recognised name of the modern Templar Order.
The Order's modern history
It is well documented that, following the murder of its 23rd Grand Master Jacques de Molay, the Templar Order was formally abolished by Papal decree in 1312. What is less commonly known is that the Order, although suppressed, was never destroyed. It simply became clandestine or operated under a different name.
Some 393 years later, in 1705, His Royal Highness Monsieur, Brother to Louis XIV, at the Castle of Versailles, attempted a formal restoration of the Order, by drafting new articles/regulations (statutes) of the Eastern Order (sometimes known as "petite restauration des templiers" ("Little restoration of the Templars")). However, as only Louis XIV held the authority to restore the Order, all current activities of the Templars had to be suppressed once more by the King's command.
The Order was to remain clandestine until the advent of the First Empire under which the Eastern Order; l'Ordre du Temple (The Order of the Temple) becoming once again legitimised by the Emperor on 4 November 1804. It was then that Dr. Bernard Raymond Fabre Palaprat was installed as the restored Templar Order's 46th Grand Master, much in part to the thanks of Archchancellor Jean-Jacques Regis de Cambaceres (President of the Council, Prince of France & Duke of Parma).
The statutes of 1705 became formally adopted and generally remain in force to this day with only minor amendments to the articles being drafted by General Chapter of the Order over the last 200+ years.
By 1892, Josephin Paladan was both Master of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood and Regent of the Order of the Temple. However, a highly sought-after man in the Parisian salons, Paladan's attentions had always been elsewhere. Leopold I (King of Belgium), however, held the work of the Order in great importance. King Leopold had, in fact, sent the Prince of Chimay, then the Nuncio of the Order, to the Pope to negotiate the possibility of renouncing the 1312 absolution of the Order but events of the French revolution in 1849 had unfortunately interrupted those negotiations. By 1932, Josephin Paladan subsequently agreed to let the governance of the Order be transferred to Brussels which saw the incorporation of the not-for-profit organisation "Association Belge des Chevaliers de L'Ordre Souverain et Militaire du Temple, a Bruxelles".
Due to the Nazi invasion of Belgium in May 1940, the Order choose to transfer it's archives to the neutral-country of Portugal in 1942. Sadly, the then Regent of the Order, Emile Clement Isaac - alias Vandenberg - was subsequently found drowned in his car in Antwerp; presumed murdered by the Nazis due to his Jewish origins.
At the end of the war, Portugal was requested to return the archives to Brussels. However, Antonio de Fontes, Prior of Portugal, refused to do so, self-proclaiming that he had become Regent of the Order following the archives transfer to Portugal. Later in 1960, Antonio de Fontes, now elderly, declared the transfer of Regency of the Order to his son; Fernando. However, as the Rules of the Order do not permit right of succession, general outcry amongst the Order ensued which led to the convocation of the General Assembly of Freemasons of 1970, of which General Antoine Zdrojewski became elected the official 49th Grand Master of the Order.
Fernando de Fontes, having not been officially recognised as Grand Master, returned to Portugal still refusing to return the archives or acknowledge the General Chapter's Decree. Likewise to his father, he also self-proclaimed himself as Regent of the Order. Thus a regrettable schism of the Order was formed and remains evident to this day.
On 24 January 1986, being of ill-health, Grand Master Zdrojewski notified Brother Michel Van Der Stock that he had nominated Minister Georges Lamirand (Mayor of Bourboule of 17 years) to be his successor. Brother Michel Van Der Stock went onto to become Seneschal of the Order; being appointed by the newly elected 50th Grand Master Lamirand in 1987. By 1994, Grand Master Lamirand had passed and the Order was subsequently governed by it's Seneschal; Michel Van Der Stock until formal elections were held at General Chapter at the bicentenary anniversary of the Order on 13 October 2004. Brother Michel Van Der Stock then became formally elected the 51st Grand Master of the Order and remains in office to this day.
No other organisation, other than this Order, has legitimacy to use the name Ordre Souverain et Militaire du Temple de Jérusalem regardless of motives or intention. Through lack of knowledge concerning the Order’s true history, other organisations do claim use of our name but operate without any real adherence to the Order’s rule.
In the true Order, no title is a given right and all rule is set centrally by the General Chapter.
There are no multiple finances managed (within each Priory) but only one which is managed by the General Chapter, encompassing the universality of the Knights Templar.