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Who Were The Knights Templar?

31 March 2010 45 Comments

By Stephen Dafoe

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 who were en route to the Holy Land to visit the shrines sacred to their faith.

Somewhere between the years of AD 1118 – 1120, King Baldwin II granted the group quarters in a wing of the Royal Palace on the Temple Mount (the Al Aqsa Mosque).

It has been generally accepted that, for the first nine years of their existence, the Templars – as they came to be known – consisted of nine members.

Although it has been widely speculated that the Templars wished to keep it this way to cover their secret mission of digging for buried treasure on the Temple Mount, the simple fact remains that the lifestyle adopted by the Order was not to everyone’s taste. As such, the Templars had difficulty in recruiting members to their cause in the early years.

In the year 1127 the Cistercian abbot, Bernard of Clairvaux, wrote a rule of order for the Templars that was based on his own Cistercian Order’s rule of conduct. Additionally, Bernard did a great deal to promote the Templars.

Perhaps Bernard’s greatest contribution to the Order was a letter that he wrote to Hugues de Payens, entitled De laude novae militae (In praise of the new knighthood.)

This letter swept throughout Christendom drawing many men, of noble birth, who joined the ranks of the Templar Order. Those who were unable to join often gifted the Templars with land and other valuables.

While it is true that the Templars were not permitted, by their rule, to own much of anything personally, there was no such restriction on the Order as a whole. As such, the gifts of land were accepted and put to immediate use by the Templars, who farmed the land generating additional wealth.

Over the years the Templars rose from their humble beginnings to become the wealthiest of the Crusading Orders – eventually garnering the favour of the Church and the collective European monarchs.

This wealth, generated in the West was put to immediate use in the East to buy arms and raise armies. Although the Templars are regarded as the greatest of the medieval military Orders, the record shows that they lost more battles than they won. Despite a brutal win/loss record, the Order did play an important role in the Holy Land.

However, after two centuries of defending the Christian faith, the Order met its demise when Philip IV – known as Philip le Belle (the Fair) – sought to destroy the Templars.

Historians are generally in agreement that Philip was motivated by greed rather than his belief that the Templars were corrupt.

Regardless of his motivations, Philip had the Templars arrested on October 13, 1307.

The Templars were tortured and confessions were given. These confessions included:

  • Trampling and spitting on the cross
  • Homosexuality
  • Idolatry

Philip was successful in ridding the Templars of their power and wealth and urged all fellow Christian leaders to do the same thing.

In 1312 the Templars were officially dissolved by Pope Clement V at the Council of Vienne. Although the Templars were not found guilty of the crimes they were charged with, it was felt that the reputation of the Order had fallen to so low a state as to warrant dissolving the Order.

On March 18th, 1314 the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay, was burned at the stake, for having recanted his earlier confessions of guilt.

De Molay is said to have cursed King Philip and Pope Clement as he burned, asking both men to join him in death within a year.

The story is an apocryphal legend; however, it is one that has come to be widely accepted.

Although there is no historical truth to the de Molay curse story, both Pope Clement V and Philip IV followed de Molay to their graves within the year.

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45 Comments »

  • me said:

    this info really helped me on my bonus project for social studies. it is great info and it helps a lot. thanks for the GREAT info!:)

  • Keirsten said:

    The site was very helpful but im doing a research project on what impact they had in the East and hoping i can get more info on that?

  • Baphomet or is the Metatron said:

    Who were the Knights Templar?
    They were the medieval police force or the Military police carrying out the orders of the Haute Cour. Why is it people prefer fantasy to truth,obviously because fantasy sells more book than truth! Quaere Verum

  • admin (author) said:

    Keirsten. I would recommend Evelyn Lord’s Knights Templar in Britain or Malcolm Barber’s The New Knighthood. Both have a decent amount of info on the eastern activities.

    Baphomet. Quite right. On this site we offer a variety of info and opinion, but always categorized by historical and speculative.

    The true historical side is, to me, more fascinating than the fantasy stuff.

  • Ed said:

    I continue to search for truth, and enjoy finding information on societies of the past the influence our future. I have put together a frame in which I’m placing the pieces of the puzzels. The puzzel pieces are loose and can be moved around. I’m almost totally convinced I’ll be in Heaven in less than a year, if the things that are talked about in the news come to pass on schedual. The only wise thing for a person to do is put their totally trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has accomplished for your Salvation.
    God Bless your studies and hope you find the truth

  • Susan said:

    Hello ! My question is…what is the core of the Templars ? I’ve heard there are are rituals that could be satanic? I’ve met a Templar and I’m wondering if its truth that I heard. He says he’s never seen any activity that doesn’t glorify The Lord and if he did…he would be done with it…Is it true that they spit on the cross and were practicing homosexuality ? Also..what happens to a Templar if they do quit..? .I’ve heard they cannot quit…What is the blood oath for? I appreciate your answers…Thankyou in advance. Susan

  • admin (author) said:

    In order asked: There are many different Templar groups today, so core might vary. Most have christianity at the core. Certainly not in the casde of Masonic Templars, SMOTJ Templars, etc. Your friend is right. Most Templar groups I know of are Christian groups. They were accused of spitting ont he cross and practicing homosexuality. Homosexuality certainly existed in isolated cases. The Templars had a rule against it. When a Templar quits he has two or three nights a month open on his calendar. Probably a couple weekends, too. You heard wrong. Templars can adn do quit today. They couldn’t quit then, but some did. Don’t know of any blood oath.

  • Dennis Coen said:

    Templar legacy is forever tainted by Plancaert’s phony list of GrandMasters. Why not distance yourselves for once and for all. D.Coen, Netherlands.

  • admin (author) said:

    I believe you mean Plantard. There is also another phony list of Grand Masters and that is the one contained int he Larmenius charter. Our site lists the authentic one, and lists the Larmenius charter in the speculative section, along with the commentary that it is regarded as fantasy.

  • Butch said:

    Is there a historical timeline available of the templar’s and thier off-shoot organizations?
    On the “History Chanel” I heard that the majority of the people who signed the Decloration of Independance of the United States of America were registered members of an Irish society that was an off-shoot of the Tempalrs. Is that true?

  • admin (author) said:

    That’s news to us. I think it is important to remember that documentaries on the History Channel are produced largely by companies of film makers, not by companies of historians. As such, they will take any potty theory they hear and weave it into the show to keep you coming back after the commercial break.

    The Templars were long dead by the time of the Declaration of Independence. The claim is usually that most were Freemasons. That also is wrong.

  • DJ said:

    I think it is necessary to point out to Susan that the story of the Knights Templar is that of history (and, as some say, fantasy). However, the Knights Templar of today don’t really have anything to do with the ancient or original Knights Templar. At least this is the case of the Knights Templar in the York Rite of Freemasonry (“The United Religious, Military and Masonic Orders of the Temple and of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta”). They use the history of the Knights Templar of old as allegory.

    The modern Masonic Knights Templar, as the Admin stated, are based on a Christian theme and all members take a vow to prefer and defend the Christian faith. The rituals and religious beliefs of the original Knights Templar have nothing to do the the modern Masonic Knights Templar. There are no “blood vows,” “homosexuality,” “spitting on the cross,” or “idolatry” in this organization; in fact, there is much reverence to the Cross and to the Holy Bible and its teachings. One can quit the organization any time he wants with impunity.

  • Brian said:

    This is great information, I’m doing a final paper on Holy Warriors and want to include some info on the Templars. Would you mind listing some additional resources?
    Also, around my house we refer to the history channel as The Conjectury Channel, take that info with a grain of salt people.

  • Brian said:

    Also, @DJ, you have to consider that most people under torture will admit to just about anything, so confessions of homosexuality and spitting on the cross (while possibly true) were probably forced under duress. After all, the Catholics were some of the best torturers in modern history.

  • admin (author) said:

    What people need to know about Histroy Channel shows is that they are made by documentary makers and not historians or even people with knowledge of history. They get an idea for a show and then have their researchers learn about the subject, find people to interview, etc.

    As to other resources, you might look up some books by Nicholson or Barber. Or you could look up some historical book on Google Books.

  • stevo said:

    hey i need another resource for the knights of malta any ideas

    also are the hospitelers knights of malta and templars the same
    another also, do they have anything to do with the masons
    please enlighten STEVE

    FR

  • Erica said:

    Hi guys,

    I’m doing a report on why the Knights Templars were important and the great things that they did. Is there any information on more of what they did during the crusades? Also, what about their banking buisness? The coded manuscripts so that people could travel safely without money. I’ve barely seen anything on that.

    Thanks.
    Erica
    P.S. How did the Templars correspond with the Knights Hospitallers?

  • James said:

    Thanks. This info will help me with a essay about the myths about the Templar Knights. So thanks alot.

  • ian said:

    What happend to the tempalers afterwords i heard that they turned into, or gave the idea of the freemasons. is that true

  • admin (author) said:

    The Temnplar / freemason connection is a myth largely created by the Freemasons themselves when they started putting on templar-related degrees.

    Most of the original Templars reunited with the church, returned to society and recieved pensions from the Hospitallers out of Templar lands given to the Hospitallers by order of the papal bull Ad providam.

  • dontknow said:

    sorry, but i dont really know what is templars and their main purpose.. i just know about templars because i play a game named assassins creed.. in this game our enemy is the templars. and the game also based on historical and religous belief but not really based on the true story. only some of the part is based on the true story. can anyone explain me in more detail about the templars

  • admin (author) said:

    You could start by reading this and other pages in our history section.

  • chris said:

    you forgot to mention the part whe philip the iv had Jacques de Molay put to the inquisition and as the questioned him he was flogged with a cat of nine tails and then crucifed on a door so tht they could torture him further they also had him take his clothes off wich is the greatest insult for a brother night and after all tht happend they stabbed him in the side wich healled and after tht he was burned at the steak

  • admin (author) said:

    No we didn’t forget to mention that part. That part formed the basis of Knight and Lomas’ book The Second Messiah and while an interesting theory, is hardly concretely proven history.

  • Templar Fan said:

    ok theres one thing i dont understand, they were considered the greatest fighting force of the time why did they have such a crudy win/lose record?

  • admin (author) said:

    In most battles they were greatly outnumbered. Their reputation was largely due to their willingness to stick it out despite being outnumbered and for their discipline on and off the gfield of battle.

  • Brii said:

    So Im doing a final paper in history, i really need to find out about What the knights have done in america or just about their presence anywhere between 1600-1899. Any Suggestions on where i could find something like this or do you know anything?????

  • admin (author) said:

    The answer is an easy one – nothing. The Templars effectively ceased to exist in 1312, theories of them coming to America aside. A Masonic varient popped up in the United States around 1769. There is a great article on that online at:

    http://www.guigue.org/guitex28.htm

    However, there Templars were in no way connected to the original Templars.

  • Eleanor Hurckes said:

    I have a rather long winded question which is very mixed. I do genealogy meaning my family tree. And in that one is extremly lucky to find or have found a Knight,a Templar or a Hospitaller. Not withstnding my relations who have the surname KNIGHT. That said, it would seem my ancestors somewhere in the fmaily are guiding me in this “duty” that I have befallen to. I have experianced alot of wierd De Je Vu. And sometime in rapid succession. Thus, it came to pass I got entangled into the kngihts in the family theory & lgends. My personal belief is that Robin Hood, King Arthur … they all were living breathing men at one time hence their legend & fantasy. Woads, Romans, Saxons, Sarmations, Arabs,Vikings and Norsman – all knights of varying kinds existed giving us a rich & varied history of both fact & fantasy.

    In researching The Templars, I have found some interesting things. Maybe its just a perception on my part… but King Arthur, Robin Hood,
    The God Father, and Batman, all seem to have a tie in. Think about it?
    They all do good and rid the world of evil. They protect the inocent or those who cannot fend for themselves! They attract wealth based solely on the good works they do well withthe exception of Robin Hood, but he did have goodly intentions & he did have faith as witnessed by Friar Tuck!

    I bring this to light because In the researching of the Templars I have found alot of interesting things and somethings (such as the afore mentioned comparisons) that I wasnt aware of such as: The Templars, The Teutonic Knights, The Knights Of Christ and The Hospitallers; all 4 groups were all apart of the original group of crusadeing knights that were sworn to uphold safety of pilgrims to the holy lands so as they could worhip in peace & safety and the Templars were a force to be reckoned with. Their alleged poor battle record, was a shock to me that was the first I had heard of that nuance.

    Now please keep in mind, this is based on my own observation of all that I have been able to read thus far. Some may be truth some maybe crapola (for give me I tend to be blunt); while I am certainly not trying to point a modern finger of course and an acient, it would seem that Not only did the Catholic Church have issue with the Templarsbut so did the Hospitallers and it is my belief that the Hospitallers had a heavy hand in the demise of the Templars BUT because of the 4 groups the Templars were the most truest of the knights without greed and the utmost repsect for their God & Savior and their fellow men, others of lesser morals & integrities became fanatically jealous and thus made sure the Templars were shamed and humiliated publically. In todays world, we’d call it a smear campagin as they often do in politics…. (sighs)….

    It was while watching the God Father part 3 I think it was, when Michael Corleone was awarded the Medal for doing good philanthropically, that things started to “gel” in my head or rather became clearer to a certain point. As in biblical time as it is now, people whom are “pure in heart or deed” are chastized and dammed by those who are greedy and have succumbed to evil as a way of life by taking and hurting those whom cannot fend for themselves. I am a firm believer in my own heart that one day, Templars will be back, enforce and will “clean up” this world and make it a better palce to live & Breathe Freedom both politcally & relegiously! My opinoin & observation. Hmm, were not the people in our govermental offices from times past to now also Templars or Masons?
    Ah well, food for thought or to contemplate…. Thank you for letting me ask this question… thought I had forgotten to ask it didnt you :)
    If there were 4 knows seperatist groups of the Crusades as they called it, were there more then those 4 and if so, how does one trace a Templar Ancestor? Or is that not possible?

  • admin (author) said:

    There were several Military Orders during the Crusades. The Knights of St. Lazarus to name but one. As to researching Templar ancestors, I’m afraid I can be of little help. Genealogy is not my forte.

  • Grant said:

    I believe the Masons require that you believe in a monotheistic deity, but it doesn’t have to be Christianity. The majority of Masons in the US are Christians, but I don’t think it’s a requirement. I got this information from a Freemason website. I also got the impression that they don’t discuss religious dogma. They do take a vow on a holy book when they join, but if you are Muslim for instance, that would be the Koran.

  • admin (author) said:

    That is correct.

  • chris english said:

    the author stated that the TEMPLARS were not FREE MASONS that is wrong, what is right is the Templars move to Scotland for a time then to America and be came Free Masons and started the SCOTISH RIGHT MASONIC LODGE which is now known as THE SCOTISH RIGHT OF THE KNIGHTS TEMPLARS.
    this I know for my Great Grandfather was a member of this masonic lodge which I have all his equiptment. and rituals,

  • admin (author) said:

    The Scottish Rite (not Right) originated in France and was greatly modified in the United States by Albert Pike and others. There is no recognized Masonic body known as the Scottish Right (sic) of ther Knights Templars. Even the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar and the Sovereign great Priory of Canada – both Masonic Templar organizations make no claim of a direct descent between the original Templars and today’s Freemasons. The theory of a connection was invented by the Scottish Masonic Templars in the mid 19th-century to promote their own growing order. However, people will believe what they wish to believe.

  • tracy said:

    In all of the information I’ve found on Templars, I have not seen a map or even a showing the general travel route of european pilgrims to the holy land in that time period. Do you know where I can find one?

  • Gods warrior said:

    I found your site to be extremly intresting and will defo be visiting again, I have just read a book by Michael Haag about Templar history and was intrested in any opinion u might have about the meeting at chinon with James de Molay and papal emissaries.Did this happen did the pope absolved the senior heads of the Templars and if so why wasn’t it made public?

  • admin (author) said:

    The Chinon parchment is an actual document, the event actually occurred. It was made public and is well known to historians. The parchment’s contents was published int he 17th century in a book called Live of the Popes of Avignon. The media buzz a few years ago about this being some long lost secret was a bit sensational.

  • alain said:

    The whole story of the templars and books about the templars make for excellent reading. Every time i go to the library or used books store, i take the time to dig specifically for those books. I can’t get enough of them.

  • BAM said:

    I was curious as to the validity of the claim that “much of” the Templars wealth was taken and given to the Hospitallers because of the amassed power and influence gained by the Templars. Was it not the Pope who distributed the wealth to the Hospitallers because of their backing of the Church and the Monarchy, as opposed to the Templars who took the side of the Landowners?
    Or is that incorrect as well?..

    So many people try to present “shocking evidence” regarding these subjects it’s hard to decipher sometimes..

    Thanks for your response..

  • Vincent said:

    I am doing a genealogy on my father’s side of the family and my grandfather’s untimely death. The only information that I received from a cousin that lived in the same household of my grandmother was that there was a conflict between my grandfather and someone [unknown] over the fact that my grandfather was wearing a lapel pin indicative of the Templer society.

    A little background, my grandfather was from Sicily [born 1877] and migrated to the USA in 1910. He was a member of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church. The while at a church function, the story goes that someone must have took issue with the indication of him being a Templar or something specific to the meaning of the society in the 1930’s. Whether or not his aggressor just saw the lapel insignia or they had a discussion of beliefs, which caused the confrontation which ended in the death of my grandfather, I don’t know.

    My question is what in your opinion do you think the Templar association would have meant to an Italian Immigrant in relation to the Catholic Church and why would it offend someone to the point of confrontation?

    I did read some information on the Internet, but it is all jumbled to me and like you said, the original organization is certainly not indicative of the doctrine all through the years.

    I’d appreciate if you would send your comments direct to my e-mail address or if you wish, you can post this question. But just in case I may mess up on the computer, could you please send your response to my e-mail address and when you post this, you can delete this last paragraph
    Vincent

  • admin (author) said:

    Sounds like the Templar society your anscestor belonged to were the anti-alcohol Templars. Likely the Independent Order of Good Templars. They were a temperance movement and had nought to do with the Medieval Templars or neo-Templar groups. Hope this helps.

  • Vincent said:

    It does help and I thank you. The reason is that from what I understand, my grandfather was a bootlegger. Could it be that because it was known that he was a bootlegger during the depression era, that someone in the Templar Society took issue with his endeavors resulting in an altercation? It is possible that my grandfather belonged to this organization as a relative mentioned that he had a Templer Pin in his lapel. Even though he was a member, it is possible to have conflict of values within.

    Can you give me a little more detail on the Anti-Alcohol Templars and is it possible there was a Templar Parade in Buffalo, New York in June of 1936? Where would I be able to find out this information?
    Vincent

  • admin (author) said:

    There are many groups that have taken the Templar name, including the temperance society I mentioned. I know next to nothing about them.

  • Patrick said:

    Thanks for the help. Needed the info for a history assignment.

  • shaun698 said:

    I find your site insightful. I am trying to get deeper into the story/legend of the Knights Templar, I believe there is a lot more to the Knights Templar than what I have read. I find the order very interesting and just like the Freemasons I believe that their maybe/must be remnants of the order, and if so how close is the order following the original doctorate that was laid down in the beginning with the original 9 members and the ensuing formation of the rules and vows set down by the Cistercian abbot, Bernard of Clarivaux. So can you help me find more information or be able to put me in contact with an organization that can help me more.
    regards,
    shaun698

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