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Jul 16, 2000

JAMES CITY — Historians have never doubted that the first English settlers to step ashore at Jamestown were heavily armed and armored. In dig after dig over the past few years, archaeologists exploring early 17th-century sites in southeastern Virginia have turned up unexpectedly large concentrations of rusty, badly fragmented military hardware, suggesting a culture that was far more warlike than previously imagined.

"The Virginia Company talked a lot about defense and it provided the colony with a lot of military supplies," says Jamestown historian Tom Davidson. The archaeological evidence is telling us that they really did supply the settlers."

Each male colonist was issued his own suit of armor. In the earliest years of James Fort, especially, the settlers were required to gather into a company of war every Saturday for military drills. And the equipment they had was so extensive that Capt. John Smith was able to make the following inventory of arms and armor just before he returned to England in 1609:

"24 peeces of ordnance [artillery], 300 muskets snaphaunces and fire lockes, shot powder and match sufficient; curats [cuirasses or body armor], pikes, swords, and morrions [helmets] more than men."

"We know that a great deal of chain mail was sent here". Several other types of military equipment - including such staff-mounted weapons as pikes, halberds, poleaxes and bills - remained popular in European warfare long after the Virginia colonists had abandoned them as too unwieldy for frontier fighting.

Far more effective were the settlers' daggers and swords, which could be deadly in close combat with the lightly armed Powhatans. Equally important was the snaphaunce musket, which the colonists favored over the cheaper, simpler, yet slower matchlock musket because of its superiority in fending off sudden Indian attacks.

Most of the earliest settlers buckled on the so-called "pikeman's suit" whenever they gathered for Smith's mandatory drills. Made up of a breastplate, a backplate, two tassets - or metal skirts - to protect the thighs, a gorget to protect the neck and a helmet for the head, this basic set of infantryman's armor was standard issue from the Virginia Company, Davidson says. Gauntlets and small, buckler-style shields sometimes joined the war chests of the colonists, too.

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An 1827 woodcut of The Temple Church

Crown seizure:

After the destruction and abolition of the Knights Templar in 1307, King Edward II took control of the Temple Church as a Crown possession. It was later given to the Knights Hospitaller.


Welcome to the prayerful and beautiful Temple Church. The medieval order, known for its roles in the Crusades and as one of the Middle Ages' most powerful and wealthy religious orders, lived, prayed, and worked here beginning in about 1185. Steeped in the history of Christendom, this country, and the whole Common Law World.  1162: the Round Church was built to be London's Jerusalem. 1214-19: Magna Carta was negotiated in the Temple, and its greatest hero was buried in the Church. 1584, 1776, 1787: from Sir Walter Raleigh's expeditions through the colonial constitutions to the American Declaration of Independence and Constitution, the Temple was the birthplace of American Law. And to this day the Church serves the legal colleges Inner and Middle Temple. (1)

(1) templechurch com

1559. Elizabeth Tudor, a Protestant, and daughter of Henry VIII is crowned Queen Elizabeth I at Westminster Abbey in London.

In 1540 the church became the property of the Crown once again when King Henry VIII abolished the Knights Hospitaller in England and confiscated their property.

A 1000 feet east of the Temple Church, on Fleet Street, in London, the spire from St. Brides Church towers in London's skyline. Elannor White and Ananaise Dare attend Church and are married here. Ananaise is listed as a Tiler and a bricklayer. "A Tiler examines the Masonic credentials of anyone wishing to enter the Lodge." Ananaise was also an investor in the 1587 Colony at Roanoke. Elannor White Dare and the other 16 female colonists were Poor Clare Templar Nuns. The Templars were of the Protistant faith. Queen Elizabeth I was of the Protistant faith, she Knighted Sir Walter Raleigh in 1585. He was then granted a royal patent to explore Virginia and the 1587 colony at Roanoke was born. The cross upon the chapel drawn on the Zuniga Map is the Knights Templar Cross. 

Photo courtesy of St. Brides Church

Interior of the church, as viewed from the nave looks east towards the altar.

And although a fort with three sides is easier to defend, The triangular shape of the James Fort represents the All-Seeing Eye of God, with a water well located in the center of the eye. The James Fort was a Masonic, Templar military base. The United States of America's foundation rests upon the ideals of the European Freemasons, and those ideals were then etched in stone in America by the Knights Templars.

The English Knights Templars went into hiding after King Edward ordered the seizure of members of the order in England on 8 January 1308, and the Templars were evidently still in hiding during the time of the 1587 Colony, and Jamestown. 

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