Brief Templar History

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The order called Knights of the Temple, Knights Templar, or Poor Knights of Christ of the Temple of Solomon, later to be known as Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, traces its tradition and history to the year 1118. Founded by Hugues de Payens, Geoffroy de Saint-Omer, André de Montbard, Gondemare, Godefroy, Roral, Geoffroy de Bissol, Payen de Montdidier and Archambaud de Saint-Agnan, all of whom were chevaliers of France who had served under Godefroy de Bouillon, the Order was created in the early days of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, when the crusaders controlled only a few strongholds. Pilgrims depended upon the Knights to provide a means for their safe passage through the Holy Land. The Knights consecrated themselves to the protection of Christian pilgrims and the defense of the Holy Land against barbarian aggressors, accepting monastic vows under the Patriarch Garimond of France.

For almost two centuries, the good deeds done by these Knights and their successors in protecting the Holy sites in Jerusalem, the Holy Land itself, and the routes to the Holy Land became legendary. The Order grew in strength and prospered greatly during the crusades, until those jealous of its financial power violently overthrew it and confiscated its properties, ultimately executing its Grand Master Jacques de Molay and many of its other leaders in the year 1314.

The original Order of the Temple ended with the death of its leaders, but the Templar spirit survived in a misty and elaborate world of legend and myth. The sacrifices of the original knights in the name of Christianity; their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience; and their legendary fighting prowess offered a vision of purity, honor, and bravery, that many individuals and organizations have sought over the seven centuries since then to ally themselves with that image.

The Crusades – (1095—1291 A.D. were initiated by Pope Urban II. He gathered Christians from all over the world to battle Muslims for the purpose of recovering Jerusalem. During this period, The Knights Templar was formed in 1118 A.D. by Hugues de Payens with a primary goal of protecting the many pilgrims who made the journey to Jerusalem.

Growth and Power – The Knights became a formidable force throughout the Holy Land and Europe and were feared by all who challenged them. They amassed great wealth by virtue of noble grants and gifts received from nobility throughout the land. To manage these gifts and great wealth, the Knights were credited for the creation of what we now refer to as our modern banking system.

In 1128 A.D., the Knights were sanctioned by the Catholic Church. Pope Honorius II granted a papal sanction to them by declaring them to be an Army of God. Later, In 1139 A.D., Pope Innocent II granted the power of exemption to the Templars. They continued to fight through the remaining crusades throughout the Holy Land and were considered exempt from all local laws. Their only required obedience was to the Pope.

False Accusations & Downfall – An unscrupulous King Philip IV of France owed a great financial debt to the Knights and in order to avoid repaying this debt, he falsely accused them of heresy and blasphemy and unduly influenced Pope Clement V to dissolve the Templars in 1311 A.D.

On Friday, October 13, 1307, the Templars came under siege. They were ordered arrested. Accusations from King Philip IV were responsible for the deaths of many Templars by torture and burning at the stake.  It was this day that many hold as the origin of Friday the 13th as an unlucky day.

Many Templars confessed to the heresy in order to avoid death while others escaped to distant lands. Notable among those tortured was Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay. In 1314, de Molay denied his former confession of heresy and blasphemy due to torture. He stated that they were false and was immediately burned at the stake. This was the final event causing the Templars to go underground for nearly 500 years.

An Underground Society – The Templars escaped to such lands as Scotland and Portugal and from there, some are believed to have sailed to America and Nova Scotia. Thus the Templars survived as an underground order after 1314, both on the continent of Europe and in Scotland.