The Templars: many of us have heard about them, but who were they exactly? In the bestseller ‘The Da Vinci Code’ by Dan Brown, the Templars are mentioned, but few know the exact role these knights played in history.

The Templars formed a knightly order, the oldest known knightly order, with roots going back to the period of the Crusades. The knightly order began as a brotherhood of a number of crusaders. The Templars were recognizable by their white mantle with a red cross on the left chest. Originally, they were a small group of knights who protected pilgrims in the conquered Jerusalem. The order was officially recognized by the Catholic Church in 1129. After two centuries, they had grown into a powerful and wealthy knightly order, which eventually led to their downfall. Below are 10 facts about this legendary knightly order from the Middle Ages.

10. The Templars Took Vows

The Templars were knights who took religious vows. Most members of the order came from wealthy noble families, but upon joining the order, they took vows of eternal poverty, purity, and obedience. They had to give their personal possessions to the order. In fact, the Templars were fighting monks who aimed to fervently defend Christianity. They excelled in combat and thereby earned the respect of church leaders. It was not easy to become a member of the order. Each candidate was carefully screened. If a candidate had ever wronged a Christian or harmed the Catholic Church, he was unconditionally rejected.

9. The Templars Were Feared on the Battlefield

The members of the order were determined Christians who would give their lives for their faith. They did not doubt that they would go straight to heaven if they died in their fight against the Islamic rulers. According to their combat code, they were only allowed to leave the battlefield if their flag was captured and the enemy had at least three times more troops than their own army. The knightly order was wealthy and thus the Templars were equipped with the best weapons available at that time. Their army was an elite force. They fought fanatically and courageously.

8. The Oldest Knightly Order Recognized by the Catholic Church

Around the year 1118, the first Templars took their vows. Just 11 years later, in 1129, the knightly order was officially recognized by the Catholic Church during the Council of Troyes. The Templars originally wore a white garment over their combat gear to distinguish them from other troops. It was Pope Eugene III who allowed the Templars to wear a red cross on their mantles, their shields, and their flags. That red cross symbolized the suffering of Christ and martyrdom. The red cross of the Templars came in various forms, depending on the division to which a Templar belonged.

7. The First Bankers of Europe

The order of the Templars had many sources of income. The members themselves gave their money and possessions to the order. There were also numerous donations from nobles and wealthy citizens. The Templars also conquered territories, estates, and possessions from the enemies they had defeated. And these territories, in turn, generated money for the order. At the height of their power, the Templars owned no less than 800 castles.

The Templars had so much money that the order began to act as bankers and stewards. The order lent money to the French king and even to the pope. The Templars also collected taxes and managed the wealth of wealthy merchants. The order also introduced a system of ‘credit letters’. A pilgrim embarking on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land handed over his wealth to the local branch of the Templars. In return, he received a credit letter. Upon arrival in the Holy Land, the pilgrim could report to the Templars and exchange his credit letter for money. The order charged a commission for this, which was yet another source of income.

6. What Did the Order Discover on the Temple Mount?

Israel Truths/CC BY 4.0

The Templars established their first headquarters in the religious center of Jerusalem, namely the Temple Mount. According to tradition, the great Temple of Solomon once stood on the Temple Mount. The name of the Templar order, by the way, comes from the original name ‘The Poor Knights of the Temple of King Solomon’.

Andrew Shiva / Wikipedia

The knights carried out excavations on the Temple Mount in search of various artifacts such as the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail, the Holy Lance, and other important objects and symbols of Christianity. Whether they found anything and what exactly it was is not known. The rumor that the Templars had found the Holy Grail on the Temple Mount was a major inspiration for Dan Brown when he wrote the story of the Da Vinci Code.

5. Persecution of the Templars

No matter how wealthy, powerful, and influential the order of the Templars was, by the end of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th century, their glory days were over. When Muslims reconquered the city of Jerusalem at the end of the 13th century, the Templars had to give up their headquarters on the Temple Mount and retreat to Paris.

The Templars had lent large sums of money to the French king Philip IV. However, the king squandered this money on the war against the English. The Templars therefore refused to lend money to Philip again, which made the king furious. It also displeased the French king that the Templars wanted to establish their own mini-state in his country. In 1307, Philip had had enough. He accused the Templars of heresy. The newly elected pope, Clement V, was a friend of the French king. Initially, Clement V did not cooperate in the persecution of the Templars, but eventually, he was forced to side with the French king.

The members of the knightly order were persecuted and arrested. Torture was used to extract false confessions from the Templars. In 1312, the knightly order was officially dissolved. The grand master of the order, Jacques DeMolay, died at the stake in Paris on March 18, 1314. In reality, the Templars were never guilty of heresy, idolatry, or other accusations that were leveled against them. However, it would take until 2007 for the Catholic Church to clear the order of the Templars of all blame.

4. Friday the Thirteenth: An Unlucky Day

To this day, many believe that a Friday that falls on the 13th of the month is an unlucky day. That ‘superstition’ is said to have originated when the Templar order was accused of heresy on Friday, October 13, 1307. That day marked the downfall of the illustrious knightly order. In his popular book ‘The Da Vinci Code’, author Dan Brown blames Pope Clement V for the persecution and downfall of the Templars.

However, this does not align with historical facts. It was the French king Philip IV who initiated the persecution of the knightly order. Pope Clement V initially defended the Templars, but under pressure from the French king, he dissolved the knightly order, though without condemning the members for heresy.

3. Did the Templars Continue in Secret?

The rumor that the Templars continued to exist in secret after the order was dissolved has been circulating for hundreds of years. Many ex-Templars are said to have fled to Scotland, where they came into contact with Henry Sinclair, the Earl of Orkney. Sinclair is said to have become a member of the now-secret and underground knightly order of the Templars. It is also said that Henry Sinclair organized a trans-Atlantic expedition to North America, a hundred years before Christopher Columbus set foot on the American continent. Sinclair’s expedition is said to have discovered Nova Scotia. This claim further fuels the rumors that a fabulous Templar treasure is buried on Oak Island.

2. The Treasure on Oak Island

What exactly happened to the money and possessions of the Templars has been a subject of debate for centuries. There are stories of a great treasure of gold and valuables buried on the Canadian Oak Island, an island off the coast of Nova Scotia. Since 1795, treasure hunters have been digging for a treasure said to be hidden deep in the ground there. It is not entirely clear whose treasure it is. It could be pirate loot, lost manuscripts of Francis Bacon, or perhaps valuables and money of the Templars.

The location on Oak Island has been nicknamed the ‘Money Pit’. Over the years, the excavations have caused six deaths due to the collapse of the walls of the pits, which repeatedly filled with water. So far, no valuables have been found in the ground of Oak Island, but treasure hunters continue to search.

1. The Role of Former Templars in the Battle of Bannockburn

Bannockburn
Edmund Leighton
The Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 went down in history as one of the most important victories of Scottish freedom fighters over the English army. The Scottish fighters were led by the legendary Robert the Bruce. The English army had more troops and weapons, but after a two-day battle, the Scots achieved victory. According to some, this victory was due to former Templars who had fled to Scotland after the knightly order was dissolved.

The ex-Templars joined the fighters of Robert the Bruce and used their experience and combat techniques to inflict a significant defeat on the English. However, there is no historical evidence that former Templars fought with the troops of Robert the Bruce.

John, hailing from the bustling streets of London, is an avid movie buff and comic book enthusiast. With a keen eye for cinematic detail and a deep appreciation for the art of storytelling,

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