Who were the Knights Templar? Within two decades of the victory of the First Crusade (1095-1099), a group of knights led by Hugues (Hugh) de Payens offered themselves to the Patriarch of Jerusalem to serve as a military force.
This group, often said to be nine in number, had the mandate of protecting Christian pilgrims en route to the Holy Land.
Between AD 1118 and 1120, King Baldwin II granted the group quarters in a wing of the Royal Palace on the Temple Mount (the Al Aqsa Mosque).
It is generally accepted that for the first nine years, the Templars consisted of nine members. The Order faced difficulty recruiting members due to the lifestyle adopted.
In 1127, Cistercian abbot Bernard of Clairvaux wrote a rule of order for the Templars based on his own order’s conduct. Bernard’s letter, “De laude novae militae” (In praise of the new knighthood), attracted noble men to join the Templar Order.
Although Templars were not allowed personal ownership, the Order accepted gifts of land and valuables, using them for immediate wealth generation.
Despite losing more battles than they won, the Templars became the wealthiest Crusading Order, gaining favor from the Church and European monarchs.
The Order faced its downfall when Philip IV, known as Philip le Belle (the Fair), sought to destroy them out of greed.
Philip arrested the Templars in 1307, subjected them to torture, and extracted confessions that included trampling on the cross, homosexuality, and idolatry.
In 1312, Pope Clement V dissolved the Templars, even though they were not found guilty, due to the Order’s tarnished reputation.
On March 18th, 1314, the last Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, was burned at the stake after recanting his earlier confessions.
While the story of de Molay’s curse is legendary, both Pope Clement V and Philip IV died within a year.
Conclusion: The Knights Templar, formed to protect Christian pilgrims, rose to wealth and power before their tragic downfall orchestrated by King Philip IV.
TemplarHistory.com was started in the fall of 1997 by Stephen Dafoe, a Canadian author who has written several books on the Templars and related subjects.
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