Author: Penname McAnonymous
The Knights Templar, a monastic military order of warriors sworn to uphold the catholic faith and defend its pilgrims in the Holy Land, inspires some of us today with fantastic imagery of swords, chivalry, the Crusades, and perhaps the allure of being a part of something bigger than oneself. Dan Jones, in his interview with Simon Worral, says that Pope Clement V disbanded the Knights Templar in 1307 because he was controlled by King Philip IV of France, who owed large debts to the Templars and thusly motivated to remove the order entirely.
“Mystery & History: Knights Templar” (Lecture by Kevin K. Main uploaded on 20 May 2016)
Modern depictions of the Templars continue to draw from this idyllic view of the order as a fierce, honorable mantle held by the members of the order. Today, modern Templars exist as live-action roleplaying groups, fraternities, and secret societies such as the Freemasons, although they are not nearly as inspiring as the original namesake.
The Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ of the Temple of Solomon, as they were originally called, were established in Jerusalem by King Baldwin II in 1119. The order was created as a solution to combat the bandits and highwaymen that preyed upon catholic pilgrims making their journeys in the Holy Land. The Templars proved effective enough, surviving on donations to supply and maintain their order, that they began to attract donations large enough to expand their order. At their peak, the order of the Knights Templar operated as far as England, across Europe and the Mediterranean, to the Middle East.
The order was proficient at manipulating assets and funding and is believed to have conceptualized banking through credit notes and loans. Their large accumulation and efficient transfers of wealth over the better part of two centuries indicates that the order was the first corporation on the planet that operated across multiple countries. There are speculations today that there remain hidden Templar treasure hoards across Europe yet to be discovered. The most famous of these tales being the hidden location of the Holy Grail, a mythical christian relic rumored to have entered the Templars’ possession during their height.
Today, they exist only in the mind, truly. Videogames and films make up a large part of their romanticization, relying heavily on the legends of unfound wealth and relics. Patrick Masters, in his article, “The Knights Templar had actually been mythologised in popular culture as early as the 13th century in the Grail epic Parzival by German knight and poet Wolfram von Eschenbach.” Of course, the attraction of mystery and fantasizing of what once was is enough to hook anyone.