Clement: The Green Ship, Guest Post by Craig R. Hipkins

Normandy. The year 1161. King Henry ll sends the 14-year-old Clement, Count of la Haye on a secret mission. The young count and his friends travel in the wake of the mysterious mariner known as Sir Humphrey Rochford. Their destination? The legendary land of Vinland, known only from the Norse sagas. The journey is full of adventure and intrigue. Clement battles with a tyrannical Irish king and then finds his vessel attacked by a massive monster from the deep. The Green Ship sails to the sparse and barren land of Greenland where more trouble awaits.

The Knights Templar

My book, Clement: The Green Ship takes place in the year 1161. Henry II is king of England and the pope is Orlando of Sienna who took the name, Alexander III.  These two men were well known adversaries, particularly when it came to the problem of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury and the struggle between church and state. Henry must have been aware of a new brand of fighting soldier that had emerged from the Cistercian Order and almost certainly felt threatened by their loyalty to the pope.

The mid-12th century saw the rise of the Knights Templar. They were considered by many to be the best fighting men during the crusades. There are many legends that involve the Templars. Some of them are obviously apocryphal, but others ring of truth. One of the most popular legends to arise in the years that followed the Templar’s demise in the early 14th century is the story of the Templar Treasure. The Templars were able to accrue a massive amount of wealth and what happened to it after their persecution remains an enigma. They were known to be seafarers. It is said that the Portuguese and Spanish explorers of the 15th and 16th centuries owed a lot to the Templars, utilizing their nautical maps and technology. Where did the Templars gain all their wealth? That is the million-dollar question. Some say that they became rich from the silver mines in South America. They also had influence at a port in Bristol, England where ships were known to leave for the Grand Banks off Nova Scotia. Here, they could have amassed a vast amount of wealth, fishing for cod.

Evidence is lacking for a Templar colony ever planting roots in North or South America, however, the thought that they might have done so is tantalizing. The Newport Tower in Rhode Island is at least 350 years old. Some say that it is much older. Its construction resembles Østerlars church in Denmark which was built around 1160. There are other churches in Scotland and England that also resemble the Newport Tower. There is circumstantial evidence that the Templars arrived on Oak Island in Nova Scotia at some remote date in the past. Various artifacts, including coins, nails and even the planks of old wooden hulled ships have been found there, though it is possible that these items could have arrived at a much later date.

I have always found the mysteries of the Knights Templar fascinating and decided that Clement and his friends on the Green Ship needed to get involved in this mystery!

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Meet Craig R. Hipkins

Craig R. Hipkins grew up in Hubbardston Massachusetts. He is the author of medieval and gothic fiction. His novel, Adalbert is the sequel to Astrolabe written by his late twin brother Jay S. Hipkins (1968-2018)

He is an avid long-distance runner and enjoys astronomy in his spare time.

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