Before October 1307
Following the Siege of Acre
16 years have passed since the stronghold of Acre fell to the hands of the Mamluks and the Templar order lost their last foothold in the Holy Land. This was a devastating blow to the order as they had managed to lose control of the Holy Land - possibly for good. The duty of their order was to protect the pilgrims of all faiths on the road to Jerusalem and defend the Holy Land from all invaders. With the city of Acre falling in 1291 to the overwhelming forces of Mamluks and their allies the order lost their influence in the Holy Land for the first time in over 100 years.With this crushing defeat the Holy Land was for the first time in over 100 years, out of Christian influence. There was an attempt to reclaim the city from their base on Acre, with the help of the Mongols, yet once again the Mamluks stopped them by taking the island from the Christian defenders, pushing the order even farther away from the Holy Land.
Hope in Europe
It was in this 16-year period of time that the Templar Order set up their military presence across Europe. Yet the Order did not see much, if any, action as they were prevented by the pope from fighting in unsanctioned battles and wars without the consent of either the ruling King or Papal Authority. However, they were not inactive nor did they hang their weapons and armor to live in peace.
The Templar Order built up a vast network of industry and trade networks across Western Europe. They also created an early form of banking that they first developed in the Holy Land which they were now able to use to a greater effect in Europe. This would grow their wealth and influence quickly to where they managed to rebuild their ranks with new recruits who were trained in the art of war and other skills needed to be an asset for the order.
They did this in preparation for the next crusade whenever it might be. The order prayed night and day that they may once again retake the Holy Land and avenge their defeat at Acre. Until that time the order stood ever vigilant awaiting the call for crusade.
Enter Pope Clement V
With the election of Pope Clement V the whole of Christianity would be effected by his actions for an entire century. It first began with him moving the Papal court from Rome to Avignon, ushering in the period known as the Avignon Papacy. He also desired to reclaim the Holy Land from the Saracens and allow the paths to Jerusalem made clear for Christian Pilgrims once more. However, with the lack of enthusiasm for another crusade from both the nobility and the common people, the pope tried to find another solution. One idea Pope Clement suggested to the leaders of all three Holy Orders (Knights Templars, Knights Hospitallers and Teutonic Order) was the idea of a single order that would have both the manpower and the influence to convince the Kings of Europe to join a new crusade, as well as fight as a single army.
All of the Grand Masters declined such a proposal as they feared losing their independence to a new Grand master that would not know how to run each of the independently-run orders, and none of them were keen on taking orders from the head of a rival order. However, each of them was in support of another crusade and was willing to pool their resources together to form a large army and reclaim the Holy Land for Christianity once more.
The Templars began gathering the money needed for the upcoming war by calling in all of their loans, as they had the most money out of the three Holy Orders. Many of the nobles of Europe who owed money to the Templars paid back their money, some begrudgingly, except for one - a king, who owed so much money to the Templar Order that his debt was equivalent to all the money owed by everyone in Europe who had taken a loan from the Templars. Philip IV of France was this King.
Enemy from Within
King Philip was known for borrowing large sums of money from the Templar Order that he wasted over the course of his reign. He spent the money on parties and his lavish lifestyle so much so that the previous pope, Boniface VIII, condemned his lifestyle. Instead of investing his money in areas that would have made him enough money to repay the Templars in full, he was now in debt and out of money. When he was approached time and time again by the Templars to repay the money owed to their order, his rage grew.
Fearing that the Templars would demand payment, in the form of land or royal heirlooms, Philip, with the help of his closest advisor, Guillaume de Nogaret, found a solution to France’s national debt. At first he tried to tax the clergy yet this caused him to become at odds with both the Templar Order and the Church of France. With the risk of open battle being a real threat to his throne, Nogaret offered him a solution that would allow him to expunge all of his debt to the Templars, and remove the threat to his throne once and for all.
On October of 1307, Friday the 13th, Philip IV of France with the confession of several “ex-Templars” claimed the Templar Order as a whole were heretics. There were charges of idol worship, homosexual acts, spitting and urinating on the cross, and even claims that the order did not believe in God.
The claims were serious on their own yet all of them aimed at a single order was damning. The Templar Grand master Jacques de Molay was quick to ready their legal defense bringing all of their lawyers and high ranking members to Paris to defend their orders from such accusations. This later proved to be his downfall as King Philip arrested all of the members in his presence as well as any Templar who was in the streets of Paris when this happened. The number of men that were arrested has been rumored to be in the hundreds; yet some of today’s order doubt that no more than 100 Templars were arrested in all of France, with only 200 more across Europe.
Official Order Disbandment
Despite the best efforts of Pope Clement V to convince Philip to release the Templars, he was threatened by the King with military action to allow him to continue his investigation of the order’s heresy. In actuality he was searching all of the Templar’s strongholds and castles in France in an attempt to gather money he believed they were hoarding in their castles but to his dismay all of their vaults were empty.For seven long years the Grand Master Molay pleaded his innocence as he, and all of his imprisoned subordinates, was tortured in an attempt to gain a confession. In 1312 Pope Clement tried to officially disband the Templar Order in an attempt to halt Philip's actions. It had the opposite effect and he ordered even worse acts of violence onto the Templars in an attempt for them to confess and to reveal where all of their treasure was hidden.
In one final act of violence Philip order that Grand Master Molay be executed. The date was set, and on March 18, 1314 in front of the Holy Notre Dame itself the Grand Master Jacques de Molay was burned alive. As the Grand master was burning alive he cursed both King Philip of France and Pope Clement, saying that they would meet him with God very soon. Either by divine will or chance of luck the pope would die a month later and King Philip would die in a hunting accident in late November of that same year.
Fleeing to Scotland
Fleeing From Europe (POD)
While many of the high ranking members of the Templar Order were being persecuted, the rest of the order were following several key instructions that were given to each order in an event such as this. (The original purpose for said orders was in the event of an overwhelming invasion by either the Mongols, or any of the Islamic Caliphates in which the armies of Europe could not hold back the endless hordes on their own.) Gathering up all of their wealth, (cleverly hiding it in bags of food, hidden wagon compartments and even in their weapons) each chapter set out on this journey.
Some Templars were forced to hire ships to travel to Scotland while others, who managed to meet in larger groups, used the Templar ships stationed in Northern France and Germany. Those who were unable to safely travel to Scotland sought refuge with the Knights Hospitaller where they would remain for the seven-year persecution.
As the Templars were fleeing across Europe many were forced to fight their way through roadblocks and large patrols of troops. These were minor skirmishes featuring small bands of a few dozen men. These battles were small in comparison to the many great battles of Medieval Europe. Many groups of Templars were victorious when fighting these battles, yet there were several instances of them being overwhelmed and dying to the last man.
Battle of the Highway
Yet out of all of these skirmishes there was one that occurred in Northern France that has been recorded and remembered as a great victory for the Templar Order in this dark time. This was the Battle of the Highway, it was fought between a force of over 400 French troops and a group of 250 Templars.
The two forces met each other on the road to Calais by chance, as they had no knowledge of one another due to the lack of scouts. The French force was marching south toward Paris, as they were ordered to pacify the city populace that had become restless and violent since the Templar persecutions had first begun. The Templars, on the other hand, were taking the same road North, fleeing the city as quickly as possible hoping to make it to the safety of Calais, where several of their ships were docked. They hoped they could escape long before the King's men could catch up to them.
The two forces met on the road near a small village three days North of Paris, it was just past midday when the two sides spotted one another. The French troops at first glance thought that they were a large caravan of tradesmen and merchants and continued to march in a column. The Templars on the other hand, believing they were been discovered immediately formed their battle lines in a two rank deep shield wall with archers and crossbow men on the flanks and the knights at the rear.
At this time the French troops who were already halfway to Templar positions began hastily forming their lines, yet many of them were disorganized with some not even wearing their armor. The only units that were somewhat prepared to fight were the hedge knights and most of them were not fully armored either who were quick to draw their swords and charge into battle.
It was at this point that the Templar archers began firing into the French ranks causing even more disorder. The infantry began advancing on the disorganized line quickly marching to hit their opponent's line before a proper defense could be mustered. All the while the Templar Knights quickly counter charged into the attacking French Knights who were quickly cut down in the initial attack. As this was happening the two infantry lines clashed with the better trained and better equipped Templars breaking the lines of the French footmen with ease.
The battle would continue going on for another half-hour with the French footmen taking heavy losses - many of them being cut down as they fled. The resulting victory left the French force to scatter to the winds telling tales of vengeful Templars roaming the French countryside seeking out the King's men to avenge their imprisoned brethren. These tales would later reach the ears of King Philip who ordered an entire army to search for the Templars, but by that time they were on their ships leaving France far behind.
The Pact of Bruce
After months of travel and avoiding the various lawmen and military troops searching for them, the majority of the order managed to arrive on the eastern coast of Aberdeen, Scotland, in early February of 1308. This army of Templars numbered just over 12,000 strong, out of the original 20,000, though there are many estimates that believe that only 8000 of them were fighting men. This was a great morale boost for the surviving Templars showing that their order would not be destroyed by a greedy King. They spent their time unloading the supplies and troops from their ships, licking their wounds and planning their next strategy.
However, the order would not have long to themselves, as they were greeted by King Robert the Bruce (Robert I of Scotland) less than a week after their arrival. Robert, who was wary at seeing the large Templar army on his recently liberated lands, welcomed them to his kingdom. Despite his uneasiness, Robert saw an opportunity that he could not pass by, he needed fighting men to help him reclaim Scotland from the English, and the Templar order was the solution to his problem.
Despite the death of the previous King of England boosting the morale of the Scottish people, Robert knew that without men he could not hope to hold back the larger English armies to the south. With the arrival of the Knights Templar he was given not only the fighting men, but a chance to force the English to recognize his authority as King of Scotland.
The Templars, with only a few senior members, were forced to negotiate quickly with the Scottish King. This would later be known as the Council of Seven, these men negotiated with King Robert and his court. Over a week of negotiating would go on until they finally came upon an agreement both sides could agree upon. The Templar Order would fight alongside Robert's army until the war had concluded with the English driven from Scottish lands. In return for fighting on behalf of the Scottish King, the Templar's would be allowed to ask for a parcel of land that they could call their own when the war was finished.
With no alternative, as they were seen as outlaws across Europe, the Council of Seven agreed to the terms of Robert the Bruce sealing the treaty in wax and blood. The Knights of the Temple would ride onto the field of battle once more for a cause that was just in their eyes and in the eyes of God.
When the negotiating was finished the Council of Seven appointed one of their own to be the leader of the Templar Army until an official election for the next Grand master could be held. The man appointed to position was a Turcopolier (Third-in-line Military Commander) William of Paris. He was an exceptional military man who had fought in the Holy Land prior to the loss of Acre, and he was well liked and respected by many in the order for his military genius. He took the role, knowing it would be a heavy burden throughout the war yet with a fire in his heart, and a will of steel he would lead the order to victory in this new war.
War for Scottish Independence
The Templar's Adversities
The War for Scottish Independence was already in its 12th year when the Templars arrived and their actions in the later years of the war were necessary for the Scottish victory. Commander William and King Robert planned multiple sieges across Scotland reclaiming several English-held castles and forts within the course of a few years. This crippled the English presence in Scotland where many of the armies were destroyed before they even managed to form. This was due in part to the constant raids on enemy supply lines and small bands of troops on their way to better strategic locations.
However, there would still be moments in the war when the Templar order would lose hope for a time. When they discovered that their order had been disbanded by Pope Clement many wept, believing that God had truly abandoned them once and for all, some Templars killed themselves after receiving this news as they felt there was no place for them in this world anymore. Another blow that caused Commander William to become detached and melancholic was when he received the news that Grand master Molay was burned at the stake as a heretic. These events were disheartening to the entire order as they were now on their own - abandoned by the entire world with no clear sign of regaining their honor on the mainland. Then pulling himself out of his depression Commander William gave a famous speech to his men that helped inspire them to continue fighting. He ordered them to take out their sorrow and anger on the English forces they fought, to fight for a new land they could call home and reclaim their honor with the sword. Only then could they all weep for the loss of their Grand master.
It was on June 23rd 1314, three months after the death of their Grand master, one of the greatest victories in both Scottish and Templar history was fought. South of Stirling Castle at a site called Bannockburn, two armies led by the respective kings of Scotland and England met. The English army was believed to have numbered between 14,000 to 25,000 men - all of them confident in a swift victory over the inferior force. The Scottish forces numbered between 5000 and 7000 men mainly armed with Pikes axes and swords with a few of them being armed with bows, and at the very most 500 horsemen. However, these men were not as well armored as the English Knights making them no match in a possible clash with the English knights. Thankfully the Scottish army was not alone as Commander William brought a force of Templars to face the English threat. Unfortunately most of his army was either gathering supplies from Iceland, fortifying captured Scottish castles, or healing at Edinburgh leaving him only 3000 men to fight alongside Robert.
Despite the lack of men the Scottish-Templar army had spent the year before the battle training the men in counter-cavalry tactics. This foresight in countering the shock force of the English army would be invaluable to their army as they knew that the death of the English Knights would be a great blow to the morale of the English making it easier for the Scottish and Templars to defeat them man to man.
When the two armies first met the Scottish were already holding a key defensive line outside of Stirling Castle. It was here that the first two cavalry formations attacked the thick line of pikemen only to be repelled with several men killed in the attack. However, a young knight, Henry de Bohun, who spotted King Robert commanding his men charged forward ready to Kill the Bruce and end the war then and there. Yet Robert saw this and charged forward as well, wielding a battle axe. As the two men met one another in combat Robert dodged Henry's lance and split the man's head in two, breaking his axe in the process. Following their leader into battle the Scots charged into the English driving them back to the far end of the field.
On the second day of battle the Scots and Templars readied their battle lines and advanced in a tight knit formation toward the English position. At the urging of a Commander William both the Scots and Templars knelt and prayed to God. King Edward thought that they were praying to God for mercy from the English, this was quickly dashed when the Scot and Templar forces began advancing once more screaming and shouting terrifying the English army who was already in low morale. The English advanced as well yet their men were not as well trained and lacked any cohesion as a fighting force.
The majority of the battle was fought defensively countering the English attacks at every turn. However, when the English lines began to break on the right flank, the Templars began pushing through to the point where they had managed to attack the English center line. Fearing a rout Edward ordered his Welsh Long Bowmen to start firing into their ranks. However, anticipating this move, the Templar Knights and Scottish Light Cavalry charged into their lines and routed them before a single arrow was fired.
With the loss of their archers and the lack of knights to effectively counter the Templars, Edward fled with his personal guard. This resulted in an absolute rout that led to the death and capture of well over half the English army. It was a humiliating defeat that Edward would not recover from. For Robert, his claim to the Scottish throne was solidified, and any chance of Edward leading long extended campaigns into Scotland was over. He would never again raise as large an army that fought at Bannockburn, nor would many of his lords be willing to follow him into Scotland without extreme incentives.
Mounted men 500
Fate of the Templars
The Scottish victory would allow them to raid deep into Northern England and allow the Scots and Templars to invade Ireland where they went as far south as Dublin. For a majority of the remaining war, the Templars would gather supplies from Iceland and Norway - two nations that did not conduct Templar purges as the order was not stationed within their kingdoms. Several great raids and cities were captured and sacked by the Scots forcing the English kingdom to accept that they were losing the war.
Despite these victories Commander William was becoming further disheartened with each English castle taken. Instead of garrisoning an army to hold the positions or allowing Templar troops to use these fortresses as a temporary headquarters for their next offensive, almost all of them were either destroyed to the foundation or given to a Loyal Scottish noble. With the war's end coming closer with each passing day and each new fortress taken became rubble it seemed as if the Scottish King may in fact go back on his word.
When all hope seemed lost, Templars who were tasked with gathering supplies from Iceland, brought back several stories came of an old legend that told of a wild and untamed land to the West farther than Greenland. It inspired a few experienced knights to try to search for the new land following the instructions of the tales as written in the Vinlandic Sagas. However, Commander William and the Templar leader were against searching for fairy tales and legends, and they were threatened with severe punishment if they ever dared to try and find such a land. Despite these threats over 200 men followed Fredrick of Saxony, an idealistic Knight within the Templar Order, many of the men were young sergeants and old knights. They quickly commandeered two Templar ships under the guise of gathering supplies from Iceland and left under the cover of night leaving all who suspected their plot far behind.
Finding New Acre
Expedition of Two Ships
Following the directions the Vinlandic Sagas gave and using a sun compass to point them in the right direction, the Templars on their two vessels set off into the unknown. However, due to a miscalculation by the sailors, their vessel was knocked off the proper course, (this current would have taken them to OTL's Newfoundland, in Canada.) This sent the entire expedition off course by making them travel farther away from the coast which hampered their ability to calculate where they were supposed to land.
After a month and a half of travel they were beginning to run low on food and water in search of a land they started to believe was not there. With morale low and many prepared to return home as failures and take the punishment that was awaiting them in Scotland, they spotted it. Off in the far distance they saw huge clouds of smoke that darkened the sky. They found new land, and they had found people.
Meeting the Mohican Tribes
When the Templars arrived off the shores of this New World (OTL Long Island, New York) they were apprehensive, would they be able to speak with these strange new peoples? would they be friendly or would they attack the second they set foot on their land? All of them were afraid as they slowly made their way to the center of the village ever on guard in the event of an attack. The men of the tribe were also fearful of these new strangers as they wore strange clothing, wore strange symbols and wielded strange weaponry.
Yet, instead of the two sides fighting they came together and embraced each other in a spiritual brotherhood. They exchanged gifts and ate around the fire singing songs in honor of their new friendship, even if they could not speak each others language. Two months would pass and the Templars and the Mohecans began to speak each others language bridging another gap between the two peoples from opposite ends of the world.
Founding of New Acre
After two months the leader of the expedition Fredrick, of Saxony, made a great request of the Chieftain of the Mohecans. He told them of his desire for land that the Templar order could live on and use in peace with their new neighbors. He knew that there was land nearby on the island not currently in use, Fredrick and his men had brought treasure and goods with them that they were willing to trade to purchase the land that they and their brothers desperately wanted so that they might live in peace with their new neighbors.
This was a great request that the Chief and the council had to discuss among themselves as it was a life changing choice, for not only their people, but all the people's of the continent. Weeks passed as the tribesmen discussed the ramifications of allowing the Templars to stay. In the end it was decided that the Templars would be allowed to purchase some of the land on the Northern part of the island. This land was not used by the Manhattan and was fertile with plenty of game that they could hunt to provide for their order.
With the negotiations over and both parties in agreement the Templars set out to the Northern point of the island where they started building New Acre. Fredrick ordered 100 of his men to stay behind and continue building the village while he and the remaining men returned to Scotland where they could bring the tales of this world to their brethren.
Exodus to the New World
Trials and Travels
When Fredrick and his men returned to Scotland they were arrested and brought before Commander William who was furious at the insubordination of these men. He was not pleased at the theft of two of the Templar's limited ships. Despite this, Fredrick and his men all attested their discovery of a new land far off into the west showing the furs, food, tools, and jewelry they gathered in their time in the New World.
After a month of deliberation the council and several specialists determined that Fredrick and his men did, in fact, journey to a New World as none of the items brought before the council had been seen by European eyes. The council and many of the low ranking members of the Templar Order, wanted to see this New World that was untouched by the sins that plagued Europe. This put pressure on Commander William who was still fighting with the Scottish in their war of Independence. However, when King Robert called a truce in 1320 that officially declared the Scottish free, William allowed a small expedition of 500 men of various roles to travel to New Acre under the orders to build up the small village into a respectful town for them to call home.
It would take eight years before the Scots were officially recognized as an independent nation in that time the Templar Order would transfer all of their men to New Acre where the village grew to a town and then a city. When 1328 arrived the Templar Order had less than 1000 men left in Scotland with many of them ready to leave at a moment's notice. Only 200 Templars stayed behind in Scotland to serve the house of Bruce and all other Scottish Kings to come after with their base being located under the guise of the House of Sinclair in Orkney Scotland.
Icelandic Explorers and Lost Souls Join
After the first Templar ships left for the New World the Icelandic peoples became intrigued by the number of ships heading west. When the sailors asked the few Templars of where they were traveling they were excited by the news. Many of the Icelandic peoples grew up on the Saga's of their forefathers who told the tales of a far off land in the west that was fertile and full of life. This inspired many of the poorer and adventurous Icelandic people to travel westward with the Templars to see this New World. When they arrived they were in awe of the vast amount of land ready to be tamed, completing the dream of the Norsemen who first voyaged to this rediscovered land once more. The Templars also brought along the sons who stood to gain no inheritance from their father's, while the families of tradesmen and farmers who had lost everything in the Scottish War for Independence, from both England and Scotland. The Templar nature of charity offered a hand to these lost souls who needed a new home and it would be these people who would help build up the Templar Order in the New World.
Expansion of New Acre
Sailors, Soldiers, Pilgrims, Sinners and Whores. These were the inhabitants of New Acre in 1329, people who sought out this new land to better themselves and start a new life, free of the shackles of their old one. The city of New Acre grew from a mere hundred men to a population of over 30,000 in less that a decade. The city was a bustling hub of people constantly at work everyone was able to find work no matter their trade. Fishermen found the waters surrounding the city full of fish and crabs, Merchants were able to build a guild that interacted with the Mohegan and other smaller tribes in exchange for furs, seeds and jewelry, Farmers where able to own larger plots of land that was parceled out equally and finally Smiths were constantly busy making weapons armor and tools for the entire community keeping the forges as many smiths at the time would say "We make swords for the Templars from sunrise until the sun sets." There are some who speculate though they have not confirmed, that this is where the quote "work from sun up to sun down" came from.
The Templars planned the construction of a large port to allow fishermen to transfer their haul after each day, while the engineers planed the construction of a keep to act as the base of the Templar's political power. In the mean time the Templars while unable to build any chapels, do to the lack of resources. As a way around this the clergy of the Order, Chaplains, gave mass across the city outside in the public markets giving citizens comfort in the New World, assuring the populace that God was with them.
For many living in the New World it appeared to be a paradise with no worries of war or famine. People were able to live a far better life under the Templar Order's Grand Master William (Formally Commander). They were able to hunt animals when they were low on food, they lived a far more prosperous life than what they had lived under any European lord as the Templars only required food, drink, weapons and clothing to survive. Life for a time was perfect in New Acre.
The First Tribal War
The peace was not to last unfortunately as the rapid expansion of the Templar's territory across the New World caused friction with new Native populations. At first it was just a few disagreements between the locals in the Molay River (The Hudson River in OTL) who wanted more metal weapons and tools in exchange for the furs the Templars needed for the harsh winters. This was merely the beginning of the two sides problems, as with the lack of iron being brought from Europe Templar Surveyors searched for it deep within hostile Native Territories. After months of searching for the substance they finally found a large vein of iron 40 km (25 mi) west from the mouth of the Molay River, (OTL Dover New Jersey). It housed one of the largest deposits of iron that the Templar Order needed, However, there was a tribe - the Delaware, who unlike the Mohicans were unwilling to befriend them, and were openly hostile toward them.
The pretext for the war pretext for war occurred when a group of 20 Templars and 30 miners tried negotiating for the ability to mine the land as it was necessary for their survival. They tried trading jewelry, books, and metal tools and weapons for the access to the land. At first it seemed as if things were going well as the Delaware were intrigued by their gifts, then suddenly they attacked and killed eight men from the party while the Templars managed to kill almost twice as many of the Delaware party before retreating.
It is uncertain as to why the Delaware attacked but most historians believe that The Delaware felt threatened. The Delaware, at this time, controlled the vast amount of territory surrounding the Molay River and far to the south, they held on tho their land through strength and intimidation forcing the lesser tribes surrounding them to pay tribute to live in their territory. When they were approached by the Templars they were intrigued at first, but then they became threatened by their new technology and weapons, and attacked them in an attempt to gain their technology for their own. This attack led to the beginning of the first war that the Templar Order would fight in this New World testing them in more ways than one.
The Templars immediately called upon their fighting men for war. However, this would take three months as many members of the Order had not fought in years. The Order also knew nothing of their enemy's way of fighting and the land in which they were to fight. Yet many of the Order believed that they did not need to worry as they had faced the far better equipped and trained armies in the past and been victorious.
On June 1331 the Templars landed over 7000 men on the shores of the western bank of the Molay River, while the rest of the army was training and gathering new recruits. They marched into the Delaware territory ready to face this new foe. What the Templars had not anticipated was the lack of open fields and the thick forest that hindered their movement and restricted the use of their horses forcing many Knights to walk on foot.
Battle of the Creek
It would be three weeks before the Templars spotted any Delaware warriors yet they fled before the Templars could even fight them properly. It would take another two weeks before the Delaware made themselves known to the Templars. It was here that the Delaware would strike at the Templars as they were gathering water from a nearby creek.
The Templars number 6000 Sergeants and 1000 knights, while the Delaware numbered 12,000 warriors, armed with clubs, bows, spears, tomahawks, and knives. The Delaware ambushed the Templars at three different locations separating them into three different forces all along the river. Several Templars were surrounded and killed in the first few moments of the battle yet, when they managed to tighten their ranks and form shield walls and schiltroms (defensive shield circle made up of several layers of armed men) to hold back the initial attacks.
With the Delaware assault halted they pushed back and killing hundreds of them in their counter attack. Seeing no other alternative the Delaware began retreating in defeat. This was a great early victory with over 2000 Delaware lying dead while the Templars only suffered 500 casualties. However, as they were deep within enemy territory and running low on food, the Templars began their trek back to the Molay River where they would gather supplies and give their dead a proper burial.
The Retreat through Hell
Despite the Templar's high hopes after the battle of the Creek they soon found themselves ambushed by smaller parties of Delaware warriors shooting at them as they marched through the forest. This slowed their retreat to safety to a crawl as the entire army was forced to stop every time they were attacked by the Delaware. This resulted on over 700 more deaths at the hands of the Delaware over the course of three weeks, until the finally managed to arrive at the bay.
The Templar's new they needed a new method of fighting their hostile neighbors otherwise they would lose their entire army to raids every time they went to war in the wilderness. The military leaders decided to ask their Mohican allies for aid in their war with the Delaware. The Mohigan's not only agreed but they also helped train some of the Templars in how to counter the Delaware tactics used against them. This would take the better part of a year and by February of 1332 the Templars were ready to go to war once more.
The second offensive into the heartland of the Delaware nation was easier and faster than the previous year thanks in part to the Mohican's acting as scouts for their army. What more the army was divided into ten separate divisions, holding over 700 men each, allowing them to move faster through the wilderness. They were able to attack and raid several villages and forts all along the northern part of the Delaware Nation which crippled the fighting numbers of the Delaware as the Templars were able to use a hybrid tactic of hit and run tactics that managed to decimate their raiding parties.
The warriors of the Delaware tribes where unable to counter the use of mounted cavalry against their raids as they were run down with ease. They were also baffled by the armor worn by the Templars and how it was able to protect the wearer from almost all attacks. With several defeats and more land being captured by the Templars every day, the Delaware Chieftains reluctantly called for peace.
When the eight chieftains of the Delaware met with Grand Master William, in the fall of 1332, they were bitter with the sting of defeat hanging over them as the negotiations went on. The peace process took well over a month as the language barrier forced them to try and mark the territories that would now belong to Templar Order. There were tense moments throughout the entire proceedings with insults and brawls happening outside of the camp, thankfully there were no deaths.
Then one month from the day the Delaware surrendered the Templars walked away with several miles of land rich in resources, such as timber, furs and most importantly iron. The mine at the future sight of Novue Kerak, (New Kerak, OTL Dover, New Jersey), was full of iron that could be harvested for over a century and it would still have enough to give to the Templars. It was a great victory for the order and one that would not be forgotten by them or their enemies.
The Memories from the East
While the Templars were enjoying their victory in the New World, they would not have long to enjoy their peace as an old dark shadow loomed in the distance from Europe. War between England and France came closer and closer as the days passed, with royal families on both sides of the English Channel demanding their land rights be accepted. The king of France, Philip VI, was barely able to maintain control over his court and prevent the English from sweeping in and stealing his throne. Yet there was a way for him to rid himself of these problems attacking an old enemy that managed to escape his predecessor Philip IV, The Knights Templars.
However, since there had not been a Templar alive in Europe for over 30 years escaping to God knows where. Yet after receiving reports that there were men in Iceland who knew where the Templars had fled and traded with them frequently as they were far from the continent and Papal and French control. Philip sent several men to gather information from the Icelandic traders who were rumored to travel to a New World far to the west.
After months of gathering information from the Icelandic traders the French spies brought back several Icelandic sailors and trades men to the French court. It was here that they were given an ultimatum, tell King Philip where the Templar's were and transport a fleet to this New World, or face torture until they gave them the information he desired.
It is not known in the French or Templar records whether or not the sailor willingly gave up the information after the threat or if they died from torture, what is known is that they never did business with the Templar's ever again.
When Philip was satisfied with the multiple reports confirming where the Templars were located and how to arrive on their shores he commissioned a fleet of over 2000 ships of various sizes for the military expedition. The construction of the fleet would not be completed until four years later in 1337, with a total of 25,000 men were armed and supplied for the war that would be fought on the far end of the world.
It was at this time that King Edward III of England, son of Edward II, prepared for war with France that same year yet with his allies in the Holy Roman Empire and the Low Countries he was forced to simply raid the Flemish island town of Cadzan. This would force Philip to halt his attack upon the Templars and position his navy in a defensive blockade to protect the ports that could be used as a beachhead for the invading English.
This defensive action forced Edward III to rethink his invasion of the French mainland, waiting more than a year before another battle was fought at the battle of Arnemuiden, September 23rd 1338, which was the first official battle in which cannons were used on ships. This was a resounding French Victory in which the English Carracks armed with cannons and all their supplies being captured. This victory bolstered the moral of the French military to the point where King Philip believed he disheartened the English from any future attacks. He then quickly ordered his entire flotilla to attack the Templars and destroy the rogue order once and for all seeking to succeed where his Grandfather (Philip IV) had failed.
The French Invasion (Known by Some Contemporaries as the First French War)
By the Grace of God, or sheer luck, a single ship that finished trading in Iceland brought news of a Great French Flotilla traveling west. When Grand Master William received news of this invasion fleet he alerted the city and called all able bodies men to fight the French flotilla. Gathering all of the fighting men in the order as well as training the able bodied men from the colony they began their long preparation for the war to come.
Boys as young as 12 and men as old as 55 were taught to fight, using bows and spears, while the experienced Templars were reorganized and prepared for war. The forges quickly manufactured swords, axes, and armor while the women and children made arrows with stone points. The engineers worked for days endlessly making defensive structures for the city, while the boats and ships were commissioned for wartime use for the very first time.
New Acre had never seen this level of mobilization before, yet the city knew what to do as many were familiar with the dangers and horrors of war. Grand Master William despite his old age was not inactive in this time of war. He was at every war counsel and organized the entire fighting force into three armies consisting of 5000 men each. The fleet was made up of fishing boats and merchant ships totaling 80 in all with less than 300 sailors to man them.
Grand Master William knew that when the French fleet arrived they would besiege the city of New Acre leaving the entire army to starve until they breached the city walls. He would not allow this to happen as he positioned his navy of less that 80 ships on the other end of the island hidden away from city, where they could be used to raid and harass the enemy fleet once it surrounded the harbor.
He also positioned two of the three armies outside of the city hidden in the wilderness a few miles from the city walls, while the third army stayed within the city. This was a strategic move as most of the third army was made up of militia men and conscripts with only a few Templar sergeants.
The other two armies ranks were filled with experienced Knights and Sergeants men who fought against the English and the Delaware tribes. Their task was to attack the enemy from the rear as they besieged the city while the defenders within held off the assault.
Battle of New Acre
December 8th 1339, the French fleet was spotted off the coast of New Acre, it had been a treacherous journey with over two dozen ships lost on the way, yet the armada survived with well over 22,000 men. However, despite having superior numbers to the Templars, the French army soon faced several setbacks that delayed their advance to the city. When they first landed a blizzard started slowing down their advance toward the city. This delay allowed the Templars to enact their plan of defense with little worry of the French army arriving at the city before the main Templar army could position themselves in the forest.
It would take five days for the French army to arrive at the city walls and it would take another two weeks before they were able to build their siege engines. In that time the Templars hiding in the forest would raid the enemy camp at night and stealing food, clothing and tools. This went on for over a week forcing the French army to rush their preparations for the siege making only six ladders, one siege tower and an uncovered battering ram to attack the city.
The first assault ended in disaster for the French as the tower got stuck in the ice and snow, while the men manning the ram were easily shot at by the defenders who fired all manner of arrows and stones onto the men using the ram. The ladders fared better, yet their assault was ineffective as their men could not storm the walls effectively resulting in a loss of manpower with the Templar defenders holding strong.
The second assault happened three days later this time with a covered ram and eight ladders while a path through the snow was being cleared for the tower. The ram was able to reach the door with little difficulty, while the ladder crews were forced to take losses for the hail of arrows firing down upon them from the defenders. By the end of the second day the army was repelled once more but the Templar defenders suffered heavy losses as a result of the second attack.
The third attack would come one week later when the French army managed to bring ashore four cannons onto the land and finish the construction of two catapults. With these siege weapons alongside the numerous towers and rams the French were eager to crush the Templars.
The attack began midday on January 6th 1340 with the booming sound of gunpowder being ignited. A fiery barrage of fire and stone collided with the walls sending debris and men flying in the first blast. Three more barrages would follow damaging the defenses of the city greatly nearly causing a breach in several places along the wall. When the siege weapons became silent the French army began their assault with every siege engine still functioning toward the walls.
When the French just arrived at the walls the trap was sprung. The Templar armies that had hidden in the forest attacked the army charging into their enemies ranks giving them no chance to retaliate. The knights on their steeds attacked the armies already at the walls while the foot soldiers and dismounted knights and sergeants captured the siege weapons and attacked from the rear and right flank of their position. This left the French left flank the only means of escaping the onslaught from the holy warriors decimating their forces.
The French army began retreating then it turned into a route, with men dropping their weapons in a desperate attempt to run faster. Many of the French commanders were slain in this attack some who tried surrendering found themselves cut down as they fell to their knees. No mercy was given to the French army with over 6000 French troops laying dead.
The French in a panic boarded only three-fourths of their entire fleet was used to flee north traveling over a week to the safety of Vineland (OTL Newfoundland). The Templars quickly captured the remaining ships, a total of 246 vessels of various sizes, while the other ships were burned or damaged beyond repair by the French, and blockaded the channel preventing access to the city of New Acre via the sea.
The Templars would enjoy their victory for a brief while gathering up the weapons and armor from the bodies that littered the fields outside of Acre. The greatest gain the Templars received from the gathering were the cannons and catapults. These weapons would increase the military might of the Templar Order in the New World immensely as Grand Master William and all of his commanders agreed that these weapons were necessary for the defense of all of their holdings across the New World. It would turn the tide of war in their favor as they knew the French and Hostile tribes would not be able to take the Templar castles without suffering heavy losses in their assaults.
The Vineland Campaign
The French forces that arrived in Vineland gathered their forces and counted their dead shocked and in awe that they were defeated by the Templar Order. They did the best they could in the unfamiliar environment healing their wounded and repairing the ships with the local lumber. At the southern most tip of the island the French forces began the construction of a crude fort that would be used as a temporary base of operations for their army until they could return home. It also served as a deterrent to the local natives who began harassing the soldiers who strayed far from the main army's encampment.
With the lack of food and supplies necessary to survive on the island as they were the French generals sent 30 ships back to France to aid them in their dire situation. Despite their call for help they were left unanswered by the King of France, the reason for this was due the war with the English who had invaded and was making great strides inward. The 30 ships were immediately commandeered by the King and the men were sent to the front in a futile attempt to stop the English from capturing all of the nation.
Meanwhile, in New Acre, Grand Master William was preparing an invasion force to attack the weakened French army after learning they were only a few days travel north from their city, by sea. Using the ships captured from the French fleet to transport the army to the large island. Within a month the Templars began their attack on the island transporting over 6000 men to attack the battered French army.
As the Templars made their way to the island a storm blew them off course forcing them to land on the west side of the island a full weeks journey away from their landing point. What's worse - the snowy weather and hostile natives made the journey even longer with attrition nipping at the heels of the Templar army with each day they marched.
Despite all of the setbacks the Templars managed to make their way the French encampment and what they saw was pitiful. The French soldiers were starving and dying from diseases, while corpses were lying out in the open with a light amount of snow covering their fallen forms. The fort had been dismantled almost immediately after it had been completed due to the lack to fire wood.
When the French army spotted the Templars they ran toward them - not to attack their enemies - but to ask for mercy through their chattering teeth.