The Knights Templar
This time in history is one of the most fascinating and the Knights are the most intriguing characters in this era of war. Most mystery surrounds them and are there powers still in effect today. They have been a great source of entertainment and creating stories of great depth and intrigue... they also live on in the freemasons, a group known for it's secretive practices.
Who Were the Knights Templar?
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon... that's the full name of The Knights Templar (not as cool nor does it roll off the tongue). The offical duty of the Knights was to keep pilgrams safe as they traveled to Jerusalem (a Christian Holy Site and Jewish and Muslim... hey it's a nice city).
They were well-respected and was actually endorsed by the Catholic Church when it was first formed. Renowned fighters who were some of the best in the Crusaders Armies but they also had non-combatant members. These members did a lot with the economy of the Christian world... they also made great innovations such as a early form of banking.
The year was 1099 the first crusade had just successfully captured Jerusalem. Pilgrams were flocking from all over Christendom (that's the fancy word for Europe) to visit the newly captured holy city.
One problem defenseless -> pilgrims + long trip = bandits galore. In 1119 two vets of the crusade Hugues de Payens and his relative Godfrey de Saint-Omer proposed an order to protect the pilgrims. The King of Jerusalem agreed and gave the the Temple Mount as a meeting place (dying pilgrims isn't the best for business).
This is where they got the name The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (makes sense now doesn't it!). At the beginning it was not all glorious for the Knights... they only had 9 members and survived solely on donations.
But don't feel bad for our Knights, one of the Knights had a nephew Saint Bernard of Clairvaux who was a high ranking official. He spoke well of the knights and before you know it they got endorsed by The Church! With this endorsement they became one of Europe's favorite charities... they didn't just get money either land, businesses, and noble-born sons eager for battle.
Something else that was huge was the something called Omne Datum Optimum. It was a law that exempted the Templar from local laws, they could pass freely past borders and did not have to pay taxes. They were under no power expect that of the Pope's...
Things are look pretty good for our Knights... but all of that is about to change.
In the mid - 1100's the crusades weren't going so well for the crusaders. Muslims were starting to unite under strong leaders like Saladin (I might have to do a lens on him). While the Muslims were uniting the Christians were squabbling amongst themselves weakening their position.
The Knight's Templar were at odds with two other orders named, the Knights Hospitaller and the Teutonic Knights. When Jerusalem had been captured by Muslims for the final time, The Knights had to move up north to the city of Acre for the next century. Finally in 1302 they had lost all footing in the Holy Land.
With the Holy Land in the hands of the enemy the Knights mission was less important. They started to lose support from their charitable contribution's from people. But through their 200 year existence that had developed a network of Templar houses and business' throughout Europe. Almost everyone had contact with the Knight's network everyday.
They were still freely able to cross borders. And with no clear mission and a standing army that made some people uncomfortable. To add to that the Knights want to create their own monastic state, just as the Teutonic Knights had done in Prussia, and the Knights Hospitaller were doing with Rhodes.
1305 a new pope named Pope Clement V wrote both the Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay and the Hospitaller Grand Master Fulk de Villaret, suggesting that they combine. They resisted at first but finally they gave in and the pope invited to France to discus it further. The Templar leader arrived first. While waiting for Fulk they disscuesed vasiuos charges brought against the Templar. They were generally known to be false but still the pope asked the King of France for help in the investigation.
Not a very good or fair move on the pope's part. The King of France (Philip IV) was deeply indebted to the Templar and used his new found position to his advantage. On Friday October 13, 1307. The King ordered a mass arresting of all French Templars and charged them with various heresies. The Knights were tortured until they confessed to these false crimes.
After this whole upheavel Philip pushed for more action. The pope delivered a crushing blow when he issued Pastoralis Praeeminentiae, which instructed all Christian monarchs in Europe to arrest all Templars and seize their assets.
The Knights on Amazon
Great many legends and conspiracies have been told of these Knights. Are they true? Probably not, but it's fun to imagine so, right?
In the Da Vinci Code, you have the knights guarding the secrets of Jesus' Family... and while I've never read the book, the movie was very well acted and directed. Most of Dan Brown's work revolves around Templar's and the freemasons (a group linked to the Templar)... I would definitely recommend checking out his work.
Apart from the films based on Brown's work, you have classics like National Treasure and Indiana Jones... like most things involving those secretive knights, they are hiding things ;). But we all love the idea of secret societies and trying to discover them to make the power of the world switch back to the rightful balance... but I digress.
One of my favorite stories, is the one set in the Assassin's Creed universe... I know I show my age but I really wish it could be made into a movie so the older generation could experience it. Here's the Wikipedia page, that should give you some of the details of the story... and if you feel up for it, play the game!
Jerusalem (At the time of the Crusades)
Templars on Youtube
- Medicine of the Templars
History:The Medicine of the Templars
- Templar History
A site full of interesting facts about the templar.
- The History of the Knights Templar
Read about the Templars on this very interesting site...
- List of Knights Templar
Lists some of the knights who were involved in the Templar.
- Places of The Knights Templar
These are places associated with the Templar...
- Knights Templar Legends
They have many legends... here are a few of them.