Top 10 Interesting Facts About the Knights TemplarKnown as the Knights Templar, the Order of Solomon's Temple or simply the Templars, were a military order of knights and devout Christians during the medieval era who wore distinctive white mantles with a red cross.
They famously participated in the Crusades during which they forged a reputation, becoming known as highly skilled warriors. Let's learn some history and look at some facts about the Knights Templar.
After the Franks captured Jerusalem from the Fatimid Caliphate in the First Crusade in 1099 A.D., many Christians made pilgrimages to various sacred sites in the Holy Land. Although the city of Jerusalem was relatively secure under Christian control, the rest of Outremer was not. Bandits preyed upon these pilgrims, who were robbed of their belongings and routinely slaughtered, as they attempted to make the journey from the coastline at Jaffa through to the interior of the Holy Land. In 1119, the French knight Hugues de Payens approached King Baldwin II of Jerusalem and Warmund, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and proposed creating a monastic order for the protection of these pilgrims. King Baldwin and Patriarch Warmund agreed to the request and granted the Templars a headquarters in a wing of the royal palace on the Temple Mount in the captured Al-Aqsa Mosque, a place on which it is believed the Temple of Solomon once stood. The order relied on donations to survive and their emblem was of two ...more
The Knights Templar got their name from the Temple of Solomon. As previously mentioned, the noble knights' first base of operations was in Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is situated on the Temple Mount on which it is believed the Temple of Solomon mentioned in the Bible once stood. They took the name "The Poor Knights of the Temple of King Solomon", which later became abbreviated to "Knights Templar".
The Knights Templar were known as fierce warriors for two reasons. Firstly, because they were obviously well trained in the arts of combat, and secondly, they had strict rules on the battlefield. To ensure their courage held even as others broke, they were banned from leaving the battlefield while their banner still flew. They never retreat, surrender, or charge without being ordered to do so.
Although not many people would know those specific rules I think this is probably the best known thing about the Knights Templar and arguably crusaders in general.
Templars are so cool and fascinating.
Modeled after the Benedictine Rule, the Order's code of conduct was designed to keep the warrior-knights humble, chaste and, most of all, obedient. The Knights Templar swore an oath of poverty, chastity, and obedience and renounced the world, just as the Cistercians and monks did. Knights not only vowed to protect the weak but also vowed to guard the honor of all fellow knights. They weren't allowed to drink, gamble or swear. The knights could hold no property and receive no private letters. They also could not be married. Prayer was essential to their daily life, and the Templars expressed particular adoration for the Virgin Mary.
The ranks within the order were very simple: noble knights, sergeants, and chaplains. The noble knights are the ones who wore the famous white mantles to symbolize their purity and chastity. Only those from noble families whose fathers and grandfathers were knights could become a noble knight, unless they already were knighted. They were equipped as heavy cavalry with three or four horses and one or two squires. The sergeants were drawn from non-noble families and wore black or brown. They brought vital skills and trades from blacksmiths and builders, including administration of many of the order's European properties. During the Crusades, they fought alongside the knights as light cavalry with a single horse. Chaplains on the other hand were ordained priests who cared for the Templars' spiritual needs.
As you can probably guess, the Templars didn't become an official order of the Catholic Church overnight. It helped a lot that they had a powerful advocate in Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, a leading Church figure and the French abbot primarily responsible for the founding of the Cistercian Order of monks. Bernard put his weight behind them and wrote persuasively on their behalf in the letter "In Praise of the New Knighthood" and in 1129, at the Council of Troyes, he led a group of leading churchmen to officially approve and endorse the order on behalf of the church. Thanks to this blessing, the Templars became a favored charity throughout Europe and the Middle East, receiving money, land, businesses and noble-born sons from families who were eager to help with the fight in the Holy Land. In 1139, when Pope Innocent II's papal bull (a public decree) titled "Omne Datum Optimum" exempted the order from obedience to local laws. This meant that the Knights Templar could pass freely through ...more
Historians believe that the famous red cross the knights wear on their robes only became part of their outfit at the start of the second Crusade in 1147 when Pope Eugenius III, King Louis VII of France and others attended a meeting of the French Templars at their headquarters near Paris. The red symbolized martyrdom, since dying in combat during a Holy War was considered a great honor.
As the Order's influence grew all over Europe, they came to own many castles and outposts across the land. Originally, they stored the valuables of pilgrims, but the Templars eventually began offering loans. They also offered to store funds, valuables and documents, some of which could be used as collateral against loans. This banking system was very profitable for the Templars and is a big reason why they became so rich. You could say they were a private bank, and a very safe one at that.
Being exempt from paying taxes by the Pope certainly helped the Templars accumulate wealth, but one of the biggest reasons why they became so wealthy is because all the noble knights who joined their ranks often donated their lands and money to the order upon joining. They did that because they swore poverty and they couldn't have any wealth.
After the crusades and the end of the 13th century, the Templars slowly went into decline, for many reasons, including that they were a military force that could go across any border. King Philip IV of France especially didn't like them as they had a temple in Paris and on top of that they wanted to form their own state, similar to how the Teutonic Knights had founded Prussia. The Templars were eyeing a few locations in France which didn't sit well with it's royal highness, not to mention that they were exempt from paying taxes. Philip IV also borrowed money from the Templars which he used to pay for the debts he inherited from his father and to spend on frivolous things. He did not want to pay them back however and soon planned a coup against the Templars. At dawn on Friday, October 13, 1307, scores of French Templars were simultaneously arrested by agents of King Philip, later to be tortured into admitting heresy and other sacrilegious offenses in the Order, after that they were ...more
I read they were even accused of sexual misconduct and of spitting on the cross. The king really wanted them gone.
700 hundred years after their unjust downfall, documents from the trials were released to the public In September 2001, a document known as the Chinon Parchment dated 17–20 August 1308 was discovered in the Vatican Secret Archives by Barbara Frale, apparently after having been filed in the wrong place in 1628. It is a record of the trial of the Templars and shows that Clement absolved the Templars of all heresies in 1308 before formally disbanding the order in 1312.
That's comforting, at least they officially regained their good reputation. I think this document was misplaced intentionally.
One of the many inspirations for the Jedi order in George Lucas' cult classic Star Wars was the Knights Templars, among others like the samurai's bushido and the Shaolin Monks.
The last Grand Master of the Templar order was also the last victim of this unjust persecution. It is said that when he was being burned at the stake, de Molay cursed king Philip IV and his descendants for generations to come.
Templars were among the most skilled fighting units of the Crusades and were often the advance shock troops in key battles of the Crusades as the heavily armored knights on their warhorses would set out to charge at the enemy, ahead of the main army bodies, in an attempt to break opposition lines.
The noble knights who joined their ranks often donated their lands and money to the order upon joining, since they couldn't keep them due to their vows of poverty. The Templars often owned businesses on these lands as well as having their banks where they would store their donated money and handle loans.