The Knights Templars was a religious military order whose secrets and wealth destroyed the organization. The order had several names, and the members had several titles. The Knights Templars started out as a small group of monks. Members had duties and certain lifestyles as Templars. The order rapidly spread across Europe. During the second crusade, the Templars fought for the Christian effort. After the second crusade the knights became very powerful and wealthy. The order was destroyed, yet it still lives on today. The Knights Templars were hidden in darkness and secrecy, and they will always remain a mystery.
The Holy Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon is the full name of the Order. Most paraphernalia refer to them as the Knights Templars. Some call the members just Templars, or warrior monks. The Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon is another name used. People back in the time of the crusade would have called them heroes.
After the first crusade two new military orders arose in Jerusalem. One, the Knights Hospitallers, or Knights of Saint John, whose task was to aid the wounded in Outremer, or the land across the sea. Saint John’s Ambulance Service derives from the Hospitaller legend. The second military order to arise was the Knights Templars, whose duty was to defend the pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land.
In 1118 Hugues de Payan and eight fellow knights went to Jerusalem and offered their services to the king, Baldwin 1. King Baldwin offered housing to the knights at the former mosque al-Aqsa, which was located on the site of King Solomon’s great temple. The order received its name from this fact. Templars took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to the Grand Master, or president. Each Templar wore a typical white robe with the red Maltese cross insignia. Chainmail armor was worn in battle. The Templars fought bravely against the Saracens, not leaving battle unless outnumbered three to one. The order received the blessing of the Pope in 1129, and the Templars soon got recognition as heroes.
With the Pope’s blessing, the Templars could now recruit members and raise money through donations. Donations came to the Templars in large amounts. The warrior monks were given wealth, jewels, and property. King Alfonso 1 of Argon gave the Templars one-third of his Spanish Empire on his deathbed. They owned land in France, Spain, England, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Austria, Hungary, and other places.
Men also went to the Templars to support their cause, and some in hopes of getting rich. The Knights Templars did have their critics though. Some felt they were unchristian, killing hundreds of people, including women and children. They held meetings in secret, which frightened some individuals. It was unknown what was held in their secret meetings.
The second crusade was underway and the Templars fought on the Christian side. Military and financial support was given on their behalf. They fought an Islamic fanatical group known as the Assasins. The Assasins showed no mercy, they killed more than the Templars. Slowly but surely the Christians began to loose territory. In 1187, at the battle of Hattin, 25,000 Christians were defeated by 60,000 Islamic troops led by Saladin. The moors recaptured Jerusalem and the Templars relocated. They went to Acre and eventually left Outremer all together. The remaining Templars fled to Limassol, where they created a new headquarters.
The Templars were no longer fighting, and they therefore sought a new task. The Templars owned houses all across the map, and they used that to their benefit. The Knights Templars became the first bankers. Travelers would deposit money at one Templar building, and travel, with a statement of deposit, to another city. They would then cash in their statement and receive the same amount of money at another
Templar structure at their final destination. This was a very safe method, because the traveler couldn’t get robbed. The Templars began to escort travelers on their fleets of ships. The Pope freed the Templars from loyalty to any ruler, from then on the order only answered to the Pope. The Templars became involved with politics. They served on royal committees and councils. The duties of a Templar split. In the east they remained fierce warriors defending Christianity, and in the west they became farmers, financiers, travel agents, and businessmen.
The order was rapidly gaining wealth and riches. This is believed to have led to their downfall. The Knights Templars were said to posses a great secret. This secret may have been practical knowledge, which if revealed could undermine Christianity. Some people believe that the Templars had some great relic. A piece of the true cross, the crown of thorns worn by Jesus, the shroud which Jesus was wrapped in his tomb, a piece of wood from a bath used by Jesus, a bronze bowl used to wash the feet of the disciples at the last supper, the head of John the Baptist, and the Holy Grail used in the last supper are all relics thought to be owned by the Templars. It is truly unknown whether or not the Templars had any of these artifacts. Maybe they had one, or two, possibly all, but nobody can be certain. With the amount of land and money that the Templars had, and the possible possessions of great relics, specifically the Holy Grail, people were bound to envy the order.
Philip IV of France, or Philip the Fair, was one person who wanted the wealth of the Templars. He was in debt to the Templars for a loan he had taken, and what better way to eliminate your debts than to eliminate the person you owe. Philip came up with false charges against the Templars; such as heresy and treason. He accused the order of devil worshipping, spitting on the cross, and worshipping decapitated heads. Pope Clement V, owing Philip for his position in the church, granted Philip permission to persecute the Templars. On Friday, October 13th 1307 a warrant of arrest of all the Templars was issued. In today’s society Friday the 13th is considered unlucky, and this is why. Many Templars were arrested, they did not resist, but that was only in the area of France. Knights Templars elsewhere had enough time to take their riches on their fleet of ships and sail away. Philip took Templar lands, buildings, and churches; but he couldn’t find the riches. The inquisition tortured the members in prison, killing hundreds, but there were no confessions. Jaques de Molay, the Grand Master, was arrested. He confessed to the monstrous charges to the inquisition. He was to confess in public, but in front of a large crowd he denounced all his confessions. He stated that he confessed only to escape torture. On March 18th, 1314, Jaques de Molay was burnt at the steak for heresy and treason. With his last words he cursed both Philip IV and Pope Clement V. Within a year both were dead. The Holy Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon was destroyed. Philip the Fair wanted the Templar wealth, and to avoid his debts.
The Templars are still said to be in existence today. The Templars that escaped capture probably went underground. The Templars are said to exist under a different name. Freemasonry today shows similarities of the Knights Templars. Christopher Columbus sailed the seas with the Templar insignia on his sails. The skull and crossbones of pirates is another Templar symbol. Lacking in supplies, they turned to theft of other ships for survival. It is a true mystery as to weather the Templars possessed great relics, but the conspiracy was the cause of their downfall.