The Templar Knights, (or Knights Templar) were real people.
Although seeing the Da Vinci Code or Indiana Jones one might think of myth, from 1118 to 1314 they took it as their duty to protect Christians who wished to journey to the Holy Land.
Who They Were
The Knights Templar were Monks. Monks who could fight; something like Ninjas. They were extremely effective warriors.
They claimed to have possession of the Ark of the Covenant.
As portrayed in the Da Vinci Code, the Knights believed Jesus and Mary Magdalene had married and had children and after his crucifixion she had come with their children to France.
The children married into French Royalty and began the Merovingian line which
the Knights swore to protect at all costs.
The Templars created Inns all along the route to the Holy Land.
They created their own currency. This allowed travelors to deposit sums with them and using a letter of credit, (old fashioned credit card) which was accepted everywhere along the route they could travel without worry or fear.
A Pilgrim could leave France, travel though what is today Germany, on through the Slavic nations, down into the Middle East without having to worry about cash.
They would stay at Templar Inns, eat their fill, then travel on.
This encouraged travel and created many side businesses, i.e. running inns and stables, growing food, etc. and made the Templars very rich.
The Down Fall
By the year 1300 they were the most popular Religious Order. The most popular, and the strongest.
There were over Seven Thousand members of the the Knights Templars and they owned more than Nine Hundred castles.
They had a great deal of gold and treasures.
They had so much wealth they could make loans.
One of them was to the King of France.
Phillipe IV of France owed a great deal of money to the Knights Templar.
He did not wish to repay this money.
He decided that the Templars had become too powerful and he needed to destroy them.
Phillipe talked to the Pope. He emphasised the fact that as things were now, the Templars could overthrow both of them, unless they acted first.
As in those days the Pope was more a political figure, more of a King than a Monk.
As power was the most important item to both the King and Pope, they planned the destruction of the Knights Templar.
The Pope, who ought have aligned with his Monks, who were spreading his religion and making travel to the Holy Land safe, instead, controlled by money and power, aligned with the French King.
He actively participated in a plot against the Templars.
The Knights Templars were very much beloved, considered great heroes. They were considered perfect Warriors in the Service of Christ.
But the King owed money he didn't want to pay, and the Pope aligned with the French King.
Jacques de Molay, the Grand Master of the Knights, was invited to Paris by the Pope.
Taking it as an honour, he arrived in Paris and was instantly arrested.
Then, the French King dispatched his soldiers to capture all the Knights they could find at the various castles.
Over fifteen thousand of Molay's supporters were captured. Some did escape and it is believed some reached Switzerland.
It is uncertain how many eluded the French forces but there was a number.
In France, Molay and the Knights were charged with various offenses, including Sodomy.
The Trial and Execution
In 1314 Jacques de Molay was sentenced to life imprisonment.
This was due to his confession.
As he stood in the plaza, he suddenly proclaimed he had only made the confession because he was afraid of torture.
He claimed the Knights were guilty of no offence.
At this outburst, Jacques De Molay and his second , Geoffroy de Charnay, were
sentenced to execution. They were taken to the isle of Javiaux where they were
slow roasted over a fire and took a very long time to die.
The Knights Templars were dissolved.
Their property was taken by the Church, (the reason the Pope was so willing to align with the French King).
The King was freed of his debt.
Despite searches, the Ark, that it was claimed the Templars had, was never found.