An Historical Perspective of the 29th Degree (September, 2011)

posted May 23, 2015, 1:14 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite   [ updated May 23, 2015, 1:14 PM ]
by Mete Talimcioglu, 32°,MSA
Valley of New York City
One of the legends tells us when the Pictish King Angus faced a large invading army, he prayed for guidance. A white cloud in the form of a Saltire floated across the blue sky above him; whereby Angus won a decisive victory. He then proclaimed Andrew would be the Saint of his country. The historical fact is that following Robert Bruce’s victory at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, the Declaration of Arbroath officially named St. Andrew the Patron Saint of Scotland, and the Saltire became the national flag of Scotland in 1385.
Masonic scholars have long sought and often correlated the origin of the Craft with the Knights Templar (a.k.a., Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon) who presumably found refuge at Scotland after the dissolution of the Order by Pope Clement V on Friday, October 13, 1307. The first Scottish King, Robert I (a.k.a., Robert the Bruce) accepted the Templar warrior-monks in the ranks of his own army during his quarrel with the English. Historical records point that the Templar's assistance was vital in the victory of Bruce over the King of England, Edward II. Legend tells us Bruce has created an Order called the Order of St. Andrew of Scotland, shortly thereafter his victory.  
A more historically known and relatively recent Order of St. Andrew or the “Most Ancient Order of the Thistle” was established, reportedly on the ruins of an ancient Order, by James VII of Scotland in 1687. This Order was restricted to the King and Queen and sixteen others. The Order of the Thistle represents the highest honor in Scotland, and it is second only in precedence to the Order of the Garter. Order’s badge contains an engraving of the Patron Saint of Scotland. The breast plate consists of a silver Saltire with a pointed ray between each of the arms of the cross. At the centre is a gold medallion contained in an enameled representation of the thistle, surrounded by a green border on which the Order's motto is written in gold. The motto is 'Nemo me impune lacessit' (No one harms me with impunity).
The main character of the 29th Degree Drama among the chivalric Knights is Sire De Coucy, a French Knight who also held the title of the 1st Earl of Bedford due to his marriage to the English King Edward’s daughter Isabella Pantagenet. Upon his marriage, De Coucy was inducted into the Order of Garter. Sire De Coucy held various offices, such as Governor of Britanny, Grand Butler of France and Marshal of France. He was considered to be the most skilled and experienced of all the Knights of France. During his campaign in the Battle of Nicopolis, Sire De Coucy was taken prisoner by the Turks. He died of bubonic plague at age 56 on February 18, 1397 near Bursa (then Ottoman Capital) in Anatolia while participating in the last medieval crusade. His body was returned to France and buried at the Abbey of Villeneuve, near Soissons.
As for Sultan Yildirim Beyazid, he too could not escape his misfortune of being captured as a prisoner by Timur, the lame (a.k.a., Timurlenk), a Mongol warlord who galloped from the steppes of Asia with his Turkic Tatar army. In the Battle of Ankara on July 20, 1402, Beyazid was captured by Timur, and was subjected to constant degradation by being held in a cage, with which Timur carried as a trophy. History records that the Great Sultan died in that cage – some accounts claim he committed suicide – about a year after his capture.