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Origins of the Knights Templar
After Christian fighters captured Jerusalem during the First Crusade, groups of pilgrims from across Western Europe began visiting the Holy Land. Many were killed while crossing through Muslim-controlled territory during their journey. Around 1118, a French knight named Hugues de Payens founded a military order along with eight relatives and acquaintances, calling it the Poor Knights of the Temple of King Solomon (later known as the Knights Templar). With the support of Baldwin II, the king of Jerusalem, they set up headquarters on the sacred Temple Mount and pledged to protect Christian visitors to the city.
After facing initial criticism by religious leaders, in 1129 the knights received the formal endorsement of the Catholic Church and support from Bernard of Clairvaux, a prominent abbot. New recruits and lavish donations began pouring in from across Europe. (Though the Templars themselves took vows of poverty, the order could accrue wealth and land.) It was also around this time that the knights adopted an austere code of conduct and their signature style of dress: white habits emblazoned with a red cross.
The Knights Templar Branch Out
Now numbering in the thousands, the Templars established new chapters throughout Western Europe. They developed a reputation as fierce warriors during key battles of the Crusades, driven by religious fervor and forbidden from retreating unless vastly outnumbered. They also set up a network of banks that enabled religious pilgrims to deposit assets in their home countries and withdraw funds in the Holy Land. Along with their donated fortune and various business ventures, this system gave the Knights Templar enormous financial sway. At the height of their influence, they boasted a sizeable fleet of ships, owned the island of Cyprus and served as a primary lender to European monarchs and nobles.
Decline of the Knights Templar
In the late 12th century, Muslim soldiers retook Jerusalem and turned the tide of the Crusades, forcing the Knights Templar to relocate several times. In the decades that followed, Europeans’ support of military campaigns in the Holy Land began to dwindle; the Templars’ popularity met the same fate as they clashed with other Christian military orders and participated in a series of unsuccessful battles. By 1303, the knights had lost their foothold in the Muslim world and established a base of operations in Paris. Meanwhile, the French king Philip IV resolved to bring down the order, perhaps because the Templars had denied the indebted ruler additional loans and expressed interest in forming their own state in southeastern France.
On October 13, 1307, scores of French Templars were arrested along with the order’s grand master, Jacques de Molay. Charged with a host of offenses ranging from heresy, devil worship and spitting on the cross to homosexuality, fraud and financial corruption, the men were brutally tortured; many, including de Molay, confessed under duress. King Philip then convinced Pope Clement V, who had raised concerns about the knights’ secret initiation rites and practices in the past, to launch his own inquiry. In 1310, dozens of Templars were burned at the stake in Paris for recanting their earlier confessions during their trials; de Molay would suffer the same punishment in 1314. Under pressure from Philip, Pope Clement reluctantly dissolved the Knights Templar in 1312.
The Knights Templar Today
While most historians agree that the Knights Templar fully disbanded 700 years ago, some people believe the order went underground and remains in existence to this day. In the 18th century, certain organizations, most notably the Freemasons, revived some of the medieval knights’ symbols and traditions. More recently, stories about the legendary Templars—that they dug up the Holy Grail while occupying the Temple Mount, for instance, or harbored a secret capable of destroying the Catholic Church—have found their way into popular books and films. And in the last week, the group has been back in the news: A right-wing extremist who carried out terrorist attacks in Norway maintained that he belonged to a group called the Knights Templar, while a Mexican drug cartel has also appropriated the order’s name.
NOTE: The Knights Templar Order is a Christian Organisation and as such we reject all forms of racism as anti-Biblical and reject all forms of political hatred no matter from what end of the political spectrum it comes from. We firmly believe in the dignity and humanity of all people regardless of colour, creed, ethnicity or political persuasion. This does not mean we necessarily agree with them or their beliefs but as committed Christians we are convinced of the principles of free speech, lawful assemble and freedom of expression for all mankind without fear of persecution.
Meet the Americans Following in the Footsteps of the Knights Templar
Joseph A. Auteri draws his sword and hands it to his Grand Prior, Patrick Carney, who brings it down through a layer of yellow icing, cutting a large birthday cake in half. A couple of hundred people cheer.
The crowd is mostly dressed in business attire, but Auteri is wearing medieval-style armor: a shirt of steel-link mail, a mail coif on his head, plate armor on his shoulders and white linen robes emblazoned with a red cross. The outfit weighs 65 pounds and can cause problems for airline baggage handlers. His sword, modeled on one from the Ridley Scott movie Kingdom of Heaven, is not battle sharp, but it cuts sponge cake easily enough.
By day Joe Auteri, 49, is a partner in a financial planning company based in Pennsylvania. This evening, though, he is Hugh de Payns, a French knight who died in 1136 after establishing a military order known as the Knights Templar.
It is Memorial Day weekend and we are in a hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, where about 350 members of the autonomous Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem have gathered to mark the 900th birthday of the Knights Templar. Members of the charitable organization, known by the unwieldy abbreviation SMOTJ, regard themselves as spiritual descendants of the original Templars. It’s a historical legacy many groups vie for, and in that regard the SMOTJ’s celebration is off to an inauspicious start: Most scholars date the foundation of those first Templars to 1119 or 1120, making the order today just 898 or 899 years old.
No matter. The assembled are eager to get the party started, and the cake-cutting kicks off a weekend that will culminate in the dubbing of seven new “knights” and “dames” in a ritual the official literature says will “prepare you for the great works you have yet to complete.”
Joseph A. Auteri, Grand Treasurer of the Temple of Jerusalem, prepares to induct new knights and dames into the order. (Kristina Krug)
The original Knights Templar—shorthand for the Order of the Poor Knights of the Temple of Jerusalem—were founded to protect Christian pilgrims on the roads of Palestine following the First Crusade the group was named for its original headquarters on the Temple Mount. Members were often called “warrior monks,” since they fought on the front line of the crusades and swore oaths of chastity, poverty and obedience.
In their day, though, the Templar organization was rich. It owned property stretching from Britain to Syria, profits from which were used to fund military expeditions in the Holy Land and charitable deeds across the West. The order boasted considerable financial acumen, providing international banking and credit-transfer services. It counted the pope and kings of France among its clients. Its knights were also renowned for bravery in battle—one Muslim writer called them “the fiercest fighters” of all the crusaders.
However, beginning on Friday 13th October 1307 the Templars were destroyed in a process instigated by the French king Philip IV “The Fair” and abetted by Pope Clement V. The Templars had been tainted by the final failure of the crusades in 1291 they were also victims of the French king’s chronic shortage of money. Templar brothers across Europe were arrested, charged with crimes including sodomy, blasphemy and worshiping false idols they were imprisoned, tortured and forced to make false confessions. In March 1312 a church council formally abolished the order. Its property was confiscated and its members stripped of their rank. In 1314 the last Master, Jacques de Molay, was burned at the stake in Paris.
That grisly demise has lent the Templars lasting notoriety and a thick shrouding of myth. They crop up regularly in modern entertainment, most famously in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, which cast them as the shadowy guardians of ancient religious secrets, and more recently in the video game franchise Assassin’s Creed, which transforms them into time-traveling supervillains. The Templars have also been widely revived and imitated for purposes both benign and sinister since at least 1737, when the Scottish Freemason Andrew Michael Ramsey wrote a pseudo-history of Masonry that claimed ties to the medieval Templars.
Today Templar revivalism remains strong. Templar iconography is popular with European neo-fascists: The Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik claimed to be a Templar, and Knights Templar International is an online network that connects far-right activists, particularly in Britain. In Mexico, a drug cartel called Los Caballeros Templarios has borrowed from Templar symbolism to create its own brand and code of honor. Templar imitation is enduringly popular but seldom historically literate.
Yet the Templars I meet in Nashville are mostly fascinated by the history, at times exhaustingly so. They have recently self-published a long, painstakingly footnoted book about Templarism over the centuries. Their internal literature liberally cites medieval texts such as those of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who wrote the original Templars’ quasi-monastic rules. For the men and women I encounter, being a 21st-century Templar is about far more than medieval cosplay with a donation cup: It is participation in a living metaphor for evangelical Christian advocacy, financial expertise, internationalism and a militaristic ethos of duty and service to the cause. As Auteri puts it, “The only thing we don’t do is fight.”
SMOTJ was founded in the 1960s under the umbrella of an older, international network of Templar revivalists called Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani, which was itself formally recognized by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1805. The worldwide organization claims 5,000 members, 1,500 of whom are the knights and dames of the American SMOTJ. They are attached to 33 priories from Arizona to Wisconsin, and many stay in touch via a closed-membership smartphone app. The SMOTJ is far from the only Templar revivalist organization in the United States: There is a separate Masonic order, and various other non-Masonic groups with online presences. To try to combat confusion, SMOTJ has a legal officer called the Grand Avocat who works on registering trademarks to guard its brand identity.
The Templars: The Rise and Spectacular Fall of God's Holy Warriors
A faltering war in the middle east. A band of elite warriors determined to fight to the death to protect Christianity’s holiest sites. A global financial network unaccountable to any government. A sinister plot founded on a web of lies.
The main function of the tax-exempt SMOTJ is raising money for Christian causes in the Holy Land: funding schools and scholarships in places like Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Bethany and Ramleh, and sponsoring children through Christian schools. Last year donations totaled $407,945. But members also sit in an advisory capacity on committees in the United Nations, and claim informal involvement in international diplomacy. Some dream of one day having the order restored to papal favor with recognition by the Vatican.
There are also perks of membership. It’s good networking, with regular opportunities to wear uniforms, accrue titles and hang out with other like-minded Christians who get a kick from sharing a romantic, medieval past.
Auteri maintains that there is a seriousness to the dress-up. “We are all brought together because of the ideals of a chivalric order,” he says. “It takes a group of people with a common belief and a common cause to stop the persecution and the exile of Christians.” Carney, the outgoing 20th Grand Prior, head of the organization and a smooth-spoken financier, justifies it in simpler but more telling terms: “We belong to the most prestigious order of knighthood on the planet.”
The Episcopal Christ Church Cathedral is packed when the seven new inductees—or “postulants”—take their pews at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The knights and dames who join them wear white mantles with red crosses. Many men wear military formalwear underneath. (The modern order recruits strongly from the officer classes of the U.S. military. In Nashville I meet several one- and two-star generals and many colonels, majors and captains.) A 2-year-old Rottweiler service dog named Tique wears a Templar-themed doggy jacket.
There are plenty of women present: In the 1990s, the order, seeking to maximize membership, forsook medieval rules that argued “the company of women is a dangerous thing. let not ladies be admitted.” One of the postulants is Barbara Prate, a bright, occasionally caustic 45-year-old nurse from New Jersey. She has dressed for the occasion in a red business suit and high heels. Four days ago, Barbara and Joe Auteri got married between preparing for her own investiture Barbara has been helping Joe in and out of his Hugh de Payns outfit.
Garments of the Knights Templar
The original Latin Rule of the Templars lays out in detail what the members of the Order were permitted to wear. These garments were distributed by the Order’s Draper.
The biggest distinction between the knights and sergeants, who made up the Order, was the colour of their mantle. The knights wore a white mantle, while the sergeants wore a black one. After 1143, the Templars were permitted to add a red cross to their habits.
The following excerpt from the original Latin Rule translated by Judith Upton-Ward, provides some additional insight into the dress of the Templars.
On the Brothers’ Dress
17. We command that all the brothers’ habits should always be of one colour that is white or black or brown. And we grant to all knight brothers in winter and in summer if possible, white cloaks and no-one who does not belong to the aforementioned Knights of Christ is allowed to have a white cloak, so that those who have abandoned the life of darkness will recognise each other as being reconciled to their creator by the sign of the white habits: which signifies purity and complete chastity. Chastity is certitude of heart and healthiness of body. For if any brother does not take the vow of chastity he cannot come to eternal rest nor see God, by the promise of the apostle who said: Pacem sectamini cum omnibus et castimoniam sine qua nemo Deum videbit. That is to say: ‘Strive to bring peace to all, keep chaste, without which no-one can see God.’
- But these robes should be without any finery and without any show of pride. And so we ordain that no brother will have a piece of fur on his clothes, nor anything else which belongs to the usages of the body, not even a blanket unless it is of lamb’s wool or sheep’s wool. We command all to have the same, so that each can dress and undress, and put on and take off his boots easily. And the Draper or the one who is in his place should studiously reflect and take care to have the reward of God in all the above-mentioned things, so that the eyes of the envious and evil-tongued cannot observe that the robes are too long or too short but he should distribute them so that they fit those who must wear them, according to the size of each one.
- And if any brother out of a feeling of pride or arrogance wishes to have as his due a better and finer habit, let him be given the worst. And those who receive new robes must immediately return the old ones, to be given to the squires and sergeants and often to the poor, according to what seems good to the one who holds that office.
20. Among the other things, we mercifully rule that, because of the great intensity of the heat which exists in the East, from Easter to All Saints, through compassion and in no way as a right, a linen shirt shalt be given to any brother who wishes to wear it.
On Bed Linen
21. We command by common consent that each man shall have clothes and bed linen according to the discretion of the Master. It is our intention that apart from a mattress, one bolster and one blanket should be sufficient for each and he who lacks one of these may have a rug, and he may use a linen blanket at all times, that is to say with a soft pile. And they will at all times sleep dressed in shirt and breeches and shoes and belts, and where they sleep shall be lit until morning. And the Draper should ensure that the brothers are so well tonsured that they may be examined from the front and from behind and we command you to firmly adhere to this same conduct with respect to beards and moustaches, so that no excess may be noted on their bodies.
On Pointed Shoes’ and Shoe-Laces
22. We prohibit pointed shoes and shoe-laces and forbid any brother to wear them nor do we permit them to those who serve the house for a fixed term rather we forbid them to have shoes with points or laces under any circumstances. For it is manifest and well known that these abominable things belong to pagans. Nor should they wear their hair or their habits too long. For those who serve the sovereign creator must of necessity be born within and without through the promise of God himself who said: Estote mundi quia ego mundus sum. That is to say: ‘Be born as I am born.’
- (founder, 1118) (first Grand Master, 1118–1136)  (founding member, 1118)  , (founding member, 1118)  (or Saint Aignan) (Founding member, 1118)  (founding member, 1118) (later Grand Master, 1153–1156)  (1125)  ,  occurs 1119, 1120 or 1121 , Cistercian Priest and Templar, relative of Bernard of Clairvaux  , Cistercian Priest and Templar, relative of Bernard of Clairvaux 
Masters of Apulia Edit
- Fr. Boniface (1167)
- Guillaume de la Fossa (1186–1188)
- Pons Rigaud (1199–1205) (1205–1232) (afterwards Grand Master, 1232–1244)
- Jacques de Turisellis
- Damase de Fenolar (1255)
- Etienne de Sissey (1264–1271) (1273) (afterwards Grand Master, 1273–1291)
- Pierre de Greffier
- Guillaume de Cannelis
- Albert de Cannelis
- Geoffroy de Pierrevert
- Pierre d'Outremont
- Laurent de Beaune (1300)
- Ode de Vaudrie (1307)
Masters of Aragon Edit
All the dates given are those of the first record as master and of the last. Rarely is the date of appointment or end of tenure known.
The following were de facto provincial masters before the formal creation of an Aragonese province:
The following were "masters in Provence and certain parts of Spain":
- Pere de Rovira (Pere de la Rovira November 1143 – January 1158) First Brother to hold the title of Provincial Master
- Hugh of Barcelona (1159 – April 1162)
- Hugh Geoffrey (Hugues Godefroi May 1163 – 1166) (Arnaud de Toroge October 1166 – March 1181) (afterwards Grand Master 1181–1184)
- Berenguer of Avinyó (Bérenger d'Avignon April 1181 – March 1183)
- Guy of Sellón (April–June 1183)
- Lorencio Plaza November 1184)
- Raymond of Canet (November 1183 – July 1185) (Gilbert Erail October 1185 – August 1189) (afterwards Grand Master 1193–1200)
- Pons (of) Rigaud (September 1189 – February 1195)
- Gerald of Caercino (February 1196)
- Arnold of Claramunt (Arnaud de Clairmont April – November 1196)
- Pons Marescalci (Dec. 1196 – June 1199)
- Arnold of Claramunt (August 1199 – April 1200), second time
- Raymond of Gurb (Raimon de Gurp April 1200 – Nov. 1201)
- Pons (of) Rigaud (April 1202 – July 1206), second time (Pierre de Montaigu July 1207 – June 1212) (later Grand Master, 1218–1232)
- William Cadell (October 1212 – May 1213)
- William of Montrodón (January 1214 – September 1218)
- Evelio Ramirez born October 8 death Friday, October 13, 1307 lieutenant, cousin of James 11.
- Adémar de Claret (1216–1218), lieutenant
- Pons Menescal (1218–1221), lieutenant
The following were "masters in Aragon", which also included Catalonia, Roussillon, Navarre, and eventually Majorca, Valencia, and Murcia:
- Raymond of Serra (May 1240 – June 1243)
- William of Cardona (January 1244 – May 1252)
- Hugh of Jouy (September 1254 – June 1247 / March 1258)
- William of Montañana (May 1258 – February 1262)
- William of Pontóns (March 1262 – August 1266)
- Arnold of Castellnou (March 1267 – February 1278)
- Peter of Moncada (April 1279 – October 1282)
- Berenguer of San Justo (April 1283 – May 1290)
- Berenguer of Cardona (June 1291 – January 1307)
- Simon of Lenda (September 1307)
Note also Peter Peronet, commander of Burriana in 1276.
- 1286 – Fridericus de Silvester
- 1292 – Berthramus dictus de Czweck, preceptor Niemiec, Sławii i Morawii, w 1294
- 1291 – Bernhard von Eberstein, w 1295
Masters of England Edit
+Robert de Haleghton (1290–1294 Yorkshire)
- Guillaume de Tourville (1292)
- Gui de Foresta (1293–1296)
- Brian le Jay (1296–1298)
- Guillaume de la More (1298–1307)
- (d. 1187), converted to Islam and married Saladin's niece, according to Roger of Howden
- Richard Mallebeench, Master of the Templars in England
- Gilbert of Ogerstan, caught stealing money from the Saladin tithe, 1188 
- Sir Lachlan MacLean-de Corzon (d.1194) Baron of ak'ham, fought in the Third Crusade
- Sir William de Harcourt, 1216, fought at Siege of Damietta.
- Sir Robert de Sheffield, 1216, fought in the fifth crusade.
- Sir Robert Keyes, 1216, fought in the fifth crusade.
- Sir Allen William Howard of Norfolk (d.1239), fought in the Third Crusade
- Amberaldus, Master of the Templars in England
- Richord Brand, Conqueror of Tyre , fought in the Third Crusade , Precentor of the Templars and a commander in the 1160s , invested as a knight on his deathbed
- Elyas de Rolleston, 1270, fought in the Eighth Crusade 
- Marcus Adrienn LeBlanc
- Sir Geoffrey de Charney
- Sir Jean De St. Leger (1096)
- Payen de Montdidier (1130) (died in 1147) (afterwards Grand Master 1136–1147) (1143–1147) (afterwards Grand Master 1147–1151)
- Guillaume Pavet (1160–1161)
- Geoffroy Foucher (1171)
- David de Rancourt (1171–1175)
- Eustache le Chien (1175–1179) (1190)
- Raoul de Montliard (1192–1193)
- Gilbert Erail (1196)
- Arn Fredrik LeBlanc (1203)
- André de Coulours (1204)
- Guillaume Oeil-de-Boeuf (1207)
- André de Coulours (1208–1219)
- Guillaume de l'Aigle (1222)
- Fr. Aimard (1222–1223)
- Eudes Royier (1225)
- Olivier de la Roche (1225–1228)
- Pons d'Albon (1229)
- Robert de Lille (1234)
- Pons d'Albon (1236–1240)
- Fr. Damase (lieut.) (1241–1242) (1242–1249) (afterwards Grand Master 1250–1256)
- Gui de Basenville (1251–1253)
- Fabienn Deon LeBlanc (1253–1258
- Foulques de Saint-Michel (1256–1258) (1261–1264)
- Amaury de la Roche (1265–1271)
- Jean le Francois (1277–1281)
- Guillaume de Mallay (1286) (1291–1294)
- Matthew John Norris (1294–1299)
- Gérard de Villiers ( 1299–1307)
- Jerar de Poitous (1307)
Masters of France Edit
Les commandeurs de Richerenches Edit
- Arnaud de Bedos (1136–1138)
- Gérard de Montpierre (1138–1139)
- Hugues de Bourbouton (1139–1141)
- Hugues de Panaz (1141–1144)
- Hugues de Bourbouton (1145–1151)
- Déodat de l'Etang (1151–1161)
- Guillaume de Biais (1161)
- Déodat de l'Etang (1162–1173)
- Foulques de Bras (1173–1179)
- Pierre Itier (1179)
- Hugolin (1180–1182)
- Raimond (1200–1203)
- Déodat de Bruissac (1205–1212)
- Jeremy Bermond (1216–1220)
- David Potterific (1220–1230)
- Bertrand de la Roche (1230)
- Roustan de Comps (1232)
- Raymond Seguis (1244)
- Raymond de Chambarrand (1260–1280)
- Ripert Dupuy (1280–1288)
- Nicholis Laseter (1288–1300)
- Pons d'Alex (1300–1304)
- Raimbaud Alziari (1304)
- Guillaume Hugolin (1308) Master (1191–1193)
Les Commandeurs du Ruou Edit
- Hugues Raimond (de Villacros) 1170
- Pons de Rigaud 1180
- Bertrand de Gardannes 1195
- Bertrand Hugues 1195
- Bernard Aimeric (Vice Précepteur) 1203
- Bernard de Claret (Précepteur) 1205
- G. Gralons 1205
- Bernard de Clairet de Claret 1206
- Roger (Vice Précepteur) 1215
- Rostang de Comps 1216
- R. Laugier (Précepteur) 1222
- Rostang de Comps 1224
- R. Laugier (Précepteur) 1229
- Pons Vitrerius 1233
- Rostang de Comps 1235
- Pierre de Boisesono Boysson 1236
- Ugues de Milmeranda 1241
- Rostang de Comps 1248
- Rostang de Boiso ou Buxo de Buis 1251
- Guillaume de Mujoul (Précepteur) 1255
- Alaman 1256
- Rostang de Boiso de Buis 1260
- Boncarus (Précepteur) 1265
- Albert Blacas 1269
- Pierre Geoffroi 1284
- Albert Blacas de Baudinard 1298
- Hugues de Rocafolio 1305
- Bertrand de Silva de la Selve (Précepteur) 1307
- Geoffroy de Pierrevert 1308
- Geoffrey de Campion 1310
Visitors of France and Poitou Edit
- Geoffroy Foucher (1164)
- Gauthier de Beyrouth (1166–1168)
- Geoffroy Foucher (1168–1171)
- Eustache le Chien (1171–1173) (afterwards Master of France, 1175)
- Albert de Vaux (1173–1174)
- Baudouin de Gand (1176–1178)
- Aimé de Ayes (1179–1188)
- Eluard de Neuville (1188–1190) (1190–1193) (afterwards Master of France, 1196)
- Pons Rigaud (1193–1198)
- Aimé de Ayes (1202–1206)
- Pons Rigaud (1207–1208)
- Guillaume Oeil-de-Boeuf (1208–1211) (previously Master of France, 1207)
- Guillaume Cadeil (1212–1216)
- Alain Martel (1221) (also Master of England 1220–1228)
- Hugues de Montilaur (1234–1237)
- Pierre de Saint-Romain (1237–1242)
- Raimbaud de Caromb (1246)
- Renaud de Vichier (1246–1250)
- Hugues de Jouy (1251)
- Constant de Hoverio
- Gui de Basenville (1257–1262) (1266–1269) (afterwards Master of England, 1270)
- Francon de Bort (1270–1273)
- Hugues Raoul (1273)
- Pons de Brozet (1274–1280)
- Geoffroy de Vichier (1286–1290) (1291–1307) (also Master of France, 1291–1294)
- Gebhard Preceptori domorum milicie Templi per Alemanniam 1241, 1244 
- Johannes Magistro summo preceptore milicie Templi per Teutoniam, per Boemiam, per Morauiam et per Poloniam 1251
- Widekind Domum militie Templi in Alemania et Slauia preceptor Magister domorum militie Templi per Alemaniam et Poloniam 1261, 1268, 1271, 1279
- R de Grae`ubius Preceptor domorum milicie Templi per Alemanniam et Slavia 1280 ?–1284
- Friedrich Wildegraf Preceptor domorum milicie Templi per Alemanniam et Slauiam 1288–1292
- Bertram gen. Czwek (von Esbeke) Commendator fratrum domus militie Templi in Almania, Bohemia, Polonia et Moravia 1294–1297
- Friedrich von Alvensleben Domorum milicie Templi per Alemaniam et Slauiam preceptor 1303–1308
- Hugo de Grumbach Grand master of Germany 1310 ?
- Otto von Brunswick, Comtur of the Order of Knights Templar at Süpplingenburg 1303–1304
- Lord Johan Kraus 1304–1307
- Ruprecht Dilber 1194
- Jordanus von Esbeke domus milicie Templi per Alemaniam et Slauiam vicepreceptor 30 June 1288
- Johan Decher (Decker) 1152–1153
Leaders of Knights Templar in Hungary had official title "masters of Knights Templar for Hungary and Slavonia" (meaning Croatia) (maestro della militia del tempio per Ungariam et Sclavoniam). 
Masters of Hungary and Croatia Edit
- Fr. Cuno
- Fr. Gauthier
- Fr. Jean (1215)
- Johannes Gottfried von Schluck (1230)
- Rembald de Voczon (1241)
- Thierry de Nuss (1247)
- Raimbaud de Caromb
- Jacques de Montreal
- Fr. Widekind (1271–1279)
- Gérard de Villers
- Frédéric wildgrave de Salm (1289)
- Bertram von Esbeke (1296)
- Frédéric de Nigrip
- Frédéric von Alvensleben (1300)
Masters of Poitiers Edit
- Fr. Falco (1141)
- Guillaume Guidaugier (1141)
- Fr. Hugues (1151)
- P. Levesque (1166)
- Guillaume Pavet (1166–1173)
- Humbert Boutiers (1180)
- Aimery de Sainte-Maury (1189–1190) (later Master of England, 1215)
- Guillaume Arnauld (1201)
- Témeric Boez (1205)
- Guillaume Oeil-de-Boeuf (1207) (also Master of France, 1207)
- Giraud Brochard (1210–1222)
- Gui de Tulle (1222)
- Giraud de Broges (1223–1234)
- Guillaume de Sonnay (1236–1245)
- Foulques de Saint-Michel (1247–1253)
- Hugues Grisard (1254–1258)
- Francon de Bort (1261)
- Gui de Basenville (1262–1264) (1266–1269)
- Jean le Francois (1269–1276)
- Amblard de Vienne (1278–1288)
- Raymond de Mareuil (lieut.) (1285–1288)
- Pierre de Madic (1288–1290)
- Pierre de Villiers ou Villard (1292–1300)
- Geoffroy de Gonneville (1300–1307)
- Guillaume 1130 1148, 1151, 1152, 1154
- Guillaume de Guirehia 1163
- Gautier 1170
- Béranger 1174, 1176
- Seiher de Mamedunc, 1174
- Godechaux de Turout, 1174
- Walter du Mesnil, 1174 1183
- Hurson 1187
- Aimon de Ais 1190
- Reric de Cortina 1191 April–July
- Bryony Bonds 1192
- F. Relis : last to hold the title of seneschal
- Odon 1156  1183 (afterwards Grand Master 1193–1200)
- Jean de Terric 1188
- Gerbert 1190
- William Payne 1194
- Irmengaud 1198
- Barthélemy de Moret 1240
- Pierre de Saint-Romain 1241
- Gilles 1250 (February)
- Étienne d’Outricourt 1250 (May)
- Amaury de la Roche 1262 (May)
- Guillaume de Montignane 1262 (December)
- Simon de La Tour Landry
- G. de Salvaing 1273
- Arnaud de Châteauneuf 1277–1280 (afterwards Grand Master 1291–1292)
- Hugues de Quilioco 1154 
- Robert Franiel 1186
- Jacques de Maillé 1187
- Geoffroy Morin 1188
- Adam 1198
- Guillaume d’Arguillières 1201
- Hugues de Montlaur 1244
- Renaud Vichier 1250
- Hugues de Jouy 1252
- Étienne de saisi 1260
- Guillaume de Molay 1262
- Gimblard 1270
- Guy de Foresta (Forest) 1277–1288?
- Pierre de Severy 1291
- Sir Jarim de'Varean 1295
- Barthélémy 1302
- Aimon(Aimé) d’Osiliers 1316 
- 1134–? – Geoffroy from Płock
- 1139–1148 – Bernhardt
- ?–1155 – Joseph
- 1189–? – Thibault from Halych
- ?–1190 – Mieszko
- ?–? – Jan
- ?–1194 – Guillem Ramond
- ?–1198 – Janusz from Kijów (Kyiv, also Kiev)
- 1200–1208 – Jan from Potok
- 1201–1223 – Mieszko from Lwów
- 1229–1251 – Lukasz
- 1229–1241 – Mieszko from Lwów
- ?–? – Zbyszko from Kraków
- ?–? – Andrzej from Toruń
- ?–? – Jurand from Płock
- 1251–1256 – Janusz
- 1258–1259 – Ratka from Wilno
- 1261–1263 – Fridericus
- 1273–1281 – Mieszko from Wilno
- 1284–1290 – Lukasz
- 1285–1291 – Bernhard von Eberstein Humilis preceptor domorum milicie Templi per Poloniam, Sclauiam, Novam TerramPreceptori et fratribus militie Templi in partibus Polonie, Pomeranie, Cassubie, Cracouie et Slauie 13 November 1291 – 1295
- 1294 – Sanderus
- 1296–1303 – Jordanus von Esbeke / preceptor /
- 1301–1312 – Jan from Halych
- 1303 – brat Fryderyk von Alvensleben
- 1305 – Dietrich von Lorenen
- 1309–1312 – Janusz from Halych
Masters of Portugal Edit
- Arnaldo da Rocha? (In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, some authors and chroniclers of the history of the Portuguese Templar Order and its continuer, the Order of Christ, possibly based on original medieval source material in Braga and Tomar, cite the Portuguese Pedro Arnaldo da Rocha, of Burgundian and French parentage, as having been one of the founding knights of the militia of the Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, alongside Gondemare, and then in Portugal) 
- Gondamer or Gondemare? (the same authors identify one of the 9 founders of the Knights Templar, the Knight Gondemare, as having Portuguese origin – possibly from medieval Gundemar also spelled Gundemari or Gondemare, present-day Gondomar, in the County of Portugal)) 
- King Afonso I of Portugal, Templar Brother (13.03.1129) First King of Portugal (1139–1185)
- Raymond Bernard, known as Raimundo Bernardo in Portugal (1126–1135) Also possibly a provincial master
The following were masters in Portugal:
- Guilherme Ricardo 1124 (1127–1139)
- Hugo Martins (1139)
- Pedro Froilaz? (1139?–1143)
- Hugues de Montoire (1143)
- Pedro Arnaldo (1155–1158) 1160 (1158–1195)
- Lopo Fernandes
- Fernando Dias (1202)
The following were masters in the Province of Leon, Castile and Portugal (based in Tomar, also temporarily in Castelo Branco), or the three kingdoms of Spain:
- Gomes Ramires (1210–1212)
- Pedro Álvares de Alvito (1212–1221)
- Pedro Anes (1223–1224)
- Martim Sanches (1224–1229)
- Estêvão Belmonte (1229–1237)
- Guilherme Fulco alias Fouque (1237–1242)
- Martim Martins (1242–1248)
- Pedro Gomes (1248–1251)
- Paio Gomes (1251–1253)
- Martim Nunes (1253–1265)
- Gonçalo Martins (1268–1271)
- Beltrão de Valverde (1273–1277)
- João Escritor (1280–1283)
- João Fernandes (1283–1288)
The following were masters in Portugal:
- Afonso Pais-Gomes (1289–1290)
- Lourenço Martins (1291–1295)
- Vasco Fernandes (1295–1306) 
- Berenger de Coll (last known survivor of Mas Deu – 1350)
- Guillem de Cardona (1247–1251)
- Hugues de Jouy (1251)
- S. de Belmonte (1269)
- Pere de Montcada (1276–1282)
- Bérenger de Cardona (1304)
- Rodrigue Ibañez (1307)
- ^ The Knights Templar by Malcolm Barber
- ^ The Knights Templar by Malcolm Barber
- ^ The Knights Templar by Malcolm Barber
- ^ The Knights Templar by Malcolm Barber
- ^ The Knights Templar by Malcolm Barber
- ^ The Knights Templar by Malcolm Barber
- ^ Fulk after entrusting his county of Anjou to Henry II, King of England about 1119, had gone to Jerusalem where Orderic Vitalis states that he "attached himself for some time to the Knights of the Temple". Fulk returned to Anjou probably in the latter half of 1121 (The Laud Chronicle 1121 in "The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles")
- ^ The Knights Templar by Malcolm Barber
- ^ The Knights Templar by Malcolm Barber
- ^ abcdefg"Dignitaire" . Retrieved 2012-01-31 .
- ^ Jean Richard, "The adventure of John Gale, knight of Tyre", in The Experience of Crusading, vol. 1, ed. Jonathan Riley-Smith, Peter W. Edbury, Jonathan P. Phillips, p. 195, n. 26
- ^ Malcolm Barber, The New Knighthood, p. 353, n. 120.
- ^ Excerpta Historica, Samuel Bentley Pub. 1831
- ^La Commanderie du Ruou
- ^Templiers des ArdennesArchived 2005-11-10 at the Wayback Machine
- ^ Dobronić, Lelja, Templari i ivanovci u Hrvatskoj, p. 77
- ^ Magyar Országos Levéltár
- ^ Died in Prison in Kyrenia in 1316. Chroniques d'Amadi et de Stambaldi, ed. Rene de Mas Latrie, Collection de documents inedits, 2 vols. (Paris, 1891–1893) p. 398
- ^Templar RouteArchived 2005-11-10 at the Wayback Machine
- ^ Memorias E Noticias Historicas Da Celebre Ordem Militar dos Templarios – Para a História da admirável da Ordem de Nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo, Alexandre Ferreira, 1735 (pp. 720, 750–52, 1032 ) (Portuguese, Latin)
- ^ André Jean Paraschi, 1990, Sol Invinctus atelier (pp. 10–)
16. "Knight Templars register of Oxfordshire", during the reign of King Stephen of England, 1135 - 1154.
The Knights Templar: Origins, History, And Military
Knights Templar (or simply Templars), mysteries, and warfare – these three avenues had an obscured connection when it came to the mercurial times of the medieval Crusades. In fact, their full name ‘Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon’ (or Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonici in Latin) directly pertains to the enigmatic Temple of Solomon. And while the Templars did exhibit their fanatical martial prowess on the battlefields (a ‘quality’ conducive to Crusades), the moniker of ‘Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ’ didn’t really do the organization any justice. That is because, by 13th century AD, the Order administered an incredibly well-managed economic infrastructure throughout Christendom while also making innovations in early European banking systems. However, there was more to the Knights Templar than deep fortunes and fervent warfare tactics. So without further ado, let us take a gander at the origins, history, and military of Knights Templar.
Origins: From Praying to Fighting –
It is quite a well-known fact that the Knights Templar took a vow to defend their fellow Christians from ‘foreign’ intrusions, especially in the Outremer (the conglomeration of Crusader States in the Levant). But interestingly enough, as Prof. Helen Nicholson noted, their proclivity towards martial pursuits was only developed as a reactionary measure, rather than a (starting) ideology that dictated religious warfare. To that end, historically, in the aftermath of the First Crusade, some of the Christian warriors actually decided to put away their swords in favor of a monastic lifestyle based around the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
But with the establishment of the Christian entities in the Holy Land, the scenario became a logistical nightmare for the nascent Outremer kingdoms – because a great number of pilgrims flocked to these newly conquered lands. And as more visitors turned up around the confines of Jerusalem, local bandits (that also included Muslims who lost their lands) took advantage of the chaos and attacked these common pilgrims. Afflicted by such unconventional forays, the monastic warriors decided to once again take up their swords. As a result, pertinent military brotherhoods were formed, and they finally coalesced together to form the Templar Order, officially approved by the Church in 1120 AD.
The Obscure Link to Temple of Solomon?
As we mentioned before, the full name of the Knights Templar (‘Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon’) directly linked the order with the Temple of Solomon. Now from the historical perspective, the Temple of Solomon pertains to an enigmatic ancient structure whose existence is still debated among historians (read this post for more details). But the ‘Temple of Solomon’ referred to in the case of the Templars might not be as sensational as one would be inclined to think. That is because after the Order was ratified by the Church (possibly at the Council of Nablus, circa 1120 AD), the king of Jerusalem, Balwin II, gifted the Templars a wing of his makeshift ‘palace’ inside the Al Aqsa mosque situated on Temple Mount.
Now given Temple Mount’s mystical (and possible physical) association with the Temple of Solomon, western Europeans frequently (and misleadingly) referred to the Al Aqsa mosque as the ‘Temple’. As a result, the new occupants of this palace probably became known as the ‘Order of the Temple’, or the ‘Templars’. And on an interesting note, Al Aqsa is possibly the oldest Islamic structure in the world. But since it has been rebuilt many times during the course of history, the building cannot be considered as the oldest ‘extant’ specimen of Islamic architecture – an honor that belongs to the proximate Dome of The Rock.
Commercialism (and Banking) Beyond the Holy Land –
While the primary goal of the Templars was to defend the pilgrims against ‘foreign’ forays, it was not long before they were involved in political affairs in Outremer, sometimes at the beckoning of the newly established Christian kingdoms in the region. Such overtures translated to defending borders of these realms or mounting skirmishes against local enemy forces, thus allowing the Templars to flex their military muscle. In return, the Order was gifted lands, farms and even castles for management.
Similar scenarios were also played out in the west in Iberia (Spain and Portugal), and Christian kingdoms based there valued the military prowess of the Templars – so much so that they were offered swathes of lands on the frontiers that separated the Moors. This scope was further complemented by land and monetary endowments that were situated across Europe, far away from the conflict zones. Supported by such large tracts of real estate, the Templars not only managed farms and vineyards, but also engaged in manufacturing, imports, and even ship-building – thus creating a ‘multinational’ commercial empire of sorts that connected Christendom.
Interestingly, in spite of their mercantile acumen, the individual Knights Templar were sworn to poverty (at least in theory). This, in turn, led to the creation of a trustworthy ‘brand value’ that advertised Catholic Christian virtues with a military veneer. Inspired by these supportive measures, and also fearful of their own safety, European pilgrims (circa 1150 AD) frequently deposited their valuables with the local Templar preceptory before embarking on their overseas journey to the Holy Land.
The Templars, in turn, prepared letters of credit that indicated the value of these deposits. So once the pilgrim reached the Holy Land, he/she was handed over an amount of treasure of equal value (as written in the document). Simply put, this system alluded to an early form of banking and quite a successful one at that.
Alternate Feudalism of the Knights Templar –
With all the talk about lands, it is interesting to know that the Templars managed their assets in a feudalistic manner, as mentioned by Prof. Nicholson (in her book Knight Templar 1120 – 1312). In fact, like most kingdoms of the time, the lands of the Order were divided into autonomous provinces that were governed by the ‘provincial’ Grand Master – who usually came from an aristocratic background. The individual provinces were further divided into smaller commanderies (or preceptories in Latin), with each property being administered by a commander, who also hailed from the higher social strata.
Now in practical terms, as many of these rural commanderies consisted of farmlands that were controlled by a hold. This local stronghold housed the regional brothers, while also comprising a chapel and accommodation for travelers. And mirroring the secular feudal system of Europe, a portion of the annual revenues generated from the lands under the commander – known as responsion, was paid to the provincial Grand Master, who in turn transferred the income to the Knights Templar headquarters.
The amounts and requirements of responsion were frequently discussed in the ‘chapter’ meetings that were organized intermittently at a gap of a few years. These meetings also doubled as general assemblies that appointed officials and passed newer rules and amendments. Furthermore, the chapter conclaves practically maintained the (much needed) communications between the Templar brothers who were usually stationed in various parts of Europe and the Outremer.
The ‘Knights’ of the Templar Order –
Often times the Templars were considered synonymous with the Knights Templar though in a practical scenario that was not the case. In fact, knights formed a small percentage in a chapter, and they usually headed the other warrior-brothers from the Order. Now it should be interesting to know that the statuses of these Knights Templar also mirrored the evolution of the knightly class as the political elite in the European societies. So as we discussed at length in one of our articles about the medieval knights – “the first medieval knight was not really the lord who dabbled in opulent affairs. On the contrary, he was of ‘relatively’ lower social status (though always a free man) who was brought forth to the political world because of his military prowess.”
Similarly, in the case of the Templars, the knights who were inducted into the Order in 1120 AD were (possibly) of lower (or mixed) social status. However, after a century later, most European knights acquired their higher social standing, and thus by the late 13th century, a brother whose family belonged to the knightly class was only allowed to enter the Order as a knight (and thus was accorded the status of Knights Templar).
The other non-knightly warriors in the Templar Order mainly consisted of the sergents (in French) or servientes in Latin, which can be either translated as ‘sergeants’ or ‘servants’. Most of these warriors played a supporting role in the battlefield, by forming solid infantry lines or at times doubling up as screening medium cavalry. However, there were also many sergents who played non-combative roles by taking up ‘commercial’ professions like builders and craftsmen.
The Armor of the Knights Templar –
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
An armor list dating from circa 1165 AD sheds light on the protective equipment worn by the knights of the Templar Order. It starts off by listing the padded jerkin or haubergeon that was worn beneath the main armor and as such provided additional protection. Over the jerkin, the knight preferred the mail hauberk, basically comprising a long-sleeved mail shirt extending till the head – known as mail coif (fort et turcoise), the hands – mail mittens (manicle de fer), and thighs – cuisses.
But arguably, the most recognizable element of a Knights Templar panoply pertains to their white surcoat, which not only made them identifiable (within Crusader contingents) but also mitigated the hot Levant sun that could beat down on the relatively heavy armor underneath. In fact, the high temperatures of the Outremer often forced many of their Hospitaller brethren, who unfortunately tended to wear black, to adopt lighter armor in the form of panceria or light mail. In any case, the iconic white surcoat of the Templars was possibly the monastic capae – as referred to by Pope Gregory IX in circa 1240 AD.
And lastly, befitting their status as the heavy cavalry of the military order, the Knights Templar invested in additional protection for the head. So over the mail coifs (that were used like hoods), the knights wore helmets or helms, initially open-faced but later on adopting the closed-faced variety (with riveted iron-plates, eye-slits, and ventilation holes). By the 13th century, few of the knights and most mounted sergeants (sergents) possibly adopted the chapeau de fer, the kettle hat-shaped iron helmet with a wider brim for potentially deflecting enemy blows.
The Weapons of the Knights Templar –
Source: Kim (Flickr)
It is highly probable that the knights from the Templar Order fought with similar arms that were used by the contemporary ‘secular’ knights in the Holy Land. For example, swords were perceived as very important weapons by medieval European knights – partly because of their forms that insinuated Christian symbolism. Simply put, the typical broadsword resembled the cruciform with the crossguard cutting a right angle across the grip which extends into the blade. Such imagery must have played its psychological role in bolstering the morale of many spiritual Crusaders.
The Knights Templar were also issued with the ubiquitous lance (preferably made of sturdy yet flexible ashwood, with lengths of around 13 ft), three types of knives (including a combat dagger and a bread knife), and uniquely a ‘Turkish’ mace (grudgingly adopted from their Muslim foes) – possibly inspired by the armor-shattering capacity of such heavy weapons. Some codified statutes also hint at the use of rather ‘exotic’ non-knightly weapons such as crossbows – that were fired from both horsebacks (in a stationary position) and on foot.
The Tight-Packed Charge of the Knights Templar –
The ‘tour de force’ of the Templars arguably related to their capacity for fighting and organizational skills during the early medieval Crusades. But oddly enough, there were no specific instructions dedicated to martial training and pursuits in the Templars’ Rule (a codified statute approved by the Pope himself). This was probably because the warrior-brothers who joined the Knights Templar ranks were already expected to have some experience in fighting and tactics – be it in horse-riding, wielding swords, couched lances, and maneuvering spears from horseback (or dismounted positions).
Interestingly, as we mentioned before, some regulations also allude to the use of rather non-knightly weapons such as crossbows. Furthermore, the Templars also employed mercenaries like the famed Turcopoles (derived from the Greek: τουρκόπουλοι, meaning ‘sons of Turks‘), who were mainly lightly armed cavalry and horse-archers usually comprising the local forces of Levant, like the Christianized Seljuqs and the Syrian Eastern Orthodox Christians.
Now beyond training and mercenaries, it was the devastating charge of the Templars that brought them renown throughout the Holy Land. Many then-contemporary literary sources write about how the Knights Templar were masters of forming the tight-packed eschielle (squadron) and charging into their enemies in wedged formations. Now while this maneuver seems simple in theory, the scope must have required expert levels of discipline and organizational skill to actually make it work on a battlefield against a formidable foe.
In fact, such degrees of discipline contrast with their secular Western European counterparts, who were more prone to individualistic glory on the battlefield as opposed to dedicated team-work. To that end, it can be hypothesized that the Templars were more organized simply because of their reactionary measure to counter the superior mobility (and tactics) of the Muslim armies. Moreover, it should also be noted that many of the knights who joined the Order were already experienced veterans when it came to military careers.
Yes, There Were Female Members of the Templar Order –
In the earlier entry, we talked about the knights and the sergeants. Other than those ‘fighting’ members, the Templars also inducted priest-brothers for spiritual support of their communities. These ‘chaplains’ performed the various religious functions within the order, including the conducting of prayers, the celebration of masses and even hearing confessions. And quite intriguingly, some Templar chapters present in Europe also included female members among the ranks.
These ‘sisters’ were housed in facilities that were segregated from the main chapter house. And while they were obviously not expected to fight in battles, many of the nuns actively took part in the spiritual side of affairs – by helping the priest-brothers in their praying tasks and even offering psychological counseling to warriors. Furthermore, there were associate female members (along with males) who made donations and other contributions to the Order, in spite of not taking the full monastic vow required from regular members.
Varying Motivations For Joining the Templars –
It naturally begs the question – why did knights leave the apparent opulence of their ‘lordly’ lives to join an austere order that advocated simple living and sexual abstinence? Well, the reasons were many, with some joining the ranks of the Knights Templar to escape their personal tragedies over at home, like the death of their loved ones. Others joined the Order as penance for their presumed sins, while some of the knights also seriously believed in the ‘core’ cause of the Templars – to protect Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land from the ‘non-believers’.
Relating to an odd parcel of Templar history, there were also instances when criminal (or excommunicated) knights were enlisted into the order as punishment for their deeds though in a practical scenario this method also served as an effective conscription technique for bolstering the Templar ranks with experienced warriors. In that regard, we can comprehend the inspiration behind the Night’s Watch featured in The Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) novel series by G.R.R. Martin.
The non-knightly members of the Templar Order had more varying reasons to join the reclusive ranks. Usually hailing from poorer sections of the society, many joined to simply provide themselves with timely meals on a daily basis, while others desperate (and illiterate) folks took the gamble to be ‘martyrs’ – pertaining to a glorious death on the battlefield against the ‘infidels’.
According to their beliefs, aided by propaganda, this would release them from their uncertain lives (that in middle ages were usually cut short by diseases or starvation), and gain them ‘direct access’ to heaven. Intriguingly enough, in spite of such fanatical belief systems, the Templars were renowned in contemporary times for their apparent long lives when compared to the average medieval life expectancy (25 – 40 years).
Recent research into this seemingly paradoxical scope provided a hypothesis that the Templars on average lived longer due to their controlled diets and better hygiene. In any case, reverting to the motivations, one shouldn’t also overlook the significant percentage of people who simply joined the Order to justify their belief in the core principle of the Templars – defending the pilgrims and other Christians in the Holy Land (unfortunately, such values later morphed into bloodthirsty punitive actions). Many of the brothers were probably pilgrims themselves and were later inspired by the fighting prowess (or at least the ‘advertised’ prowess) of the Templars in Outremer.
The Downside of ‘Fanaticism’ –
Unfortunately for the Templars, as noted by Prof. Nicholson, a ‘right’ charge was not always conducive to winning the battle, especially since this aggressive battle tactic required other Christian forces to exploit the gaps in the enemy ranks brought on by the heavy cavalry assault. So in many practical scenarios, these supporting forces (derived from the Frankish kingdoms of Outremer) were not sufficiently drilled to take the dynamic advantage in the battlefield, thus leaving the Templars stranded and surrounded by the agile Muslim foes.
These baleful situations were even more exacerbated for the Templars in the earlier Crusades because most of them were executed on being captured without mercy – as was the bloody scene after the Battle of Hattin (circa 1187 AD). Such extreme actions on the part of the Muslims were probably instigated by bouts of savagery displayed by the Templar Order itself in various battles. Sometimes the Muslims were even portrayed as soldiers of Antichrist, and as such many (illiterate) brothers believed in the ethnic or religious cleansing of the adherents of the Islamic faith – so as to prepare the Holy Land for the advent of Christ’s kingdom.
Beyond just misleading narratives (as was the case in most medieval societies, including Islamic ones), their uncompromising principles, like not surrendering until the red cross of martyrdom had fallen in battle, also added to unwarranted afflictions on the battlefield. In that regard, many contemporary works allude to the fanaticism displayed by the Templars, like in the case of a few knights who were imprisoned until their ransom demands were met.
But instead of paying ransoms, the Order just sent knives and belts to the captors – thus symbolizing how fighting was their ransom, and on being captured the knights would rather die than be paid for. However, as time went on, the practicality of military requirement triumphed over zealotry, and thus by the late 13th century, some high-ranking Knights Templar were indeed ransomed successfully.
The Politics-Induced Fall of the Knights Templar –
Now in spite of the martial ability and prowess of the Christian military orders, by the late 13th century it was becoming increasingly clear that the Crusaders were fighting a losing battle (discussed here at length) in the Holy Land. The fall of Acre in 1291 AD rather underlined such a precarious geopolitical situation for the Christian polities in the Levant. However, as opposed to a complete military defeat by their Muslim foes, the Knights Templar were dissolved and almost destroyed by a Christian monarch – namely King Philip IV of France.
According to some hypotheses, King Philip IV was possibly in debt to the Templars (we already discussed the financial power of the Templar Order in continental Europe) due to his wars with the English. Consequently, the French king may have decided to outlaw the Templars in a bid to remove his debts – and thus he ordered the arrest of many Templars, including their Grand Master Jacques de Molay, on 13 October 1307 AD (which fell on a Friday, thereby possibly rise to the superstition of Friday the 13th). The king also managed to either convince or pressurize Pope Clement to issue a Papal Bull that called for the arrest of all Templars residing in other parts of Europe beyond France.
There were numerous charges laid down during the mass arrests, ranging from the sensational like idol worship, forced spitting on the crucifix during initiation, indecent kissing amongst themselves (basically acts of homosexuality) to the conventional like fraud, corruption, and even secrecy. Some of the arrest warrants had religious overtones with phrases like: “Dieu n’est pas content, nous avons des ennemis de la foi dans le Royaume” [“God is not pleased. We have enemies of the faith in the kingdom”]. Subsequently, many of the Templars were forced to confess under torture and duress. And while a good many of them later recanted their confessions, including the Grand Master, the Pope was coerced to disband the entire order, after King Philip IV threatened to go to war over the issue.
As a result, many senior Knights Templar, like the Grand Master and Preceptor of Normandy, were sentenced to death on charges of heresy – and they were unceremoniously burned at the stake in Paris, opposite Notre Dame in 1314 AD. A great many members from around Europe were also detained and arrested (although without adequate charges), but most of them were either absorbed into other military orders or allowed to live peacefully with pensions. And officially, the property of the Knights Templar was transferred to the Knights Hospitaller.
Official Proof of Innocence?
Divine judgment or pure coincidence? During his execution, Grand Master De Molay’s recorded words were – “Dieu sait qui a tort et a péché. Il va bientot arriver malheur à ceux qui nous ont condamnés à mort” [“God knows who is wrong and has sinned. Soon a calamity will occur to those who have condemned us to death”]. Incidentally, Pope Clement died only a month later while Philip IV died later that year (1314 AD). As for the other remnants of the Knights Templar, some were given refuge in the Kingdom of Portugal (their remaining properties were also left untouched in the Kingdoms of Aragon and Castile).
And while the Templar Order was officially dissolved by the Catholic Church, in the course of just five years, bolstered by the shelter and aid provided in Portugal and parts of Spain, the Knights Templar simply adopted a new name and constitution – Military Order of Christ (Ordem Militar de Cristo – secularized in 1769) and also a parallel Supreme Order of Christ of the Holy See. Both of these organizations are functional, albeit in a limited capacity, even in our modern era.
Interestingly enough, in the year 2001, historians found evidence of the record of the final trial of the Templars from the Vatican Secret Archives. Known as the Chinon Parchments, these documents and letters outline how the Pope not only absolved the Templars of their alleged heresies but also had the ones who confessed their heresy (under torture) “restored to the Sacraments and to the unity of the Church”, in 1308 AD.
Honorable Mention – The Enigmatic Symbol
The mystery had always played a part in the cryptic aura of the Templars, so much so that one of the charges made against them in 1307 AD entailed ‘secrecy’. Now a later analysis of the events have revealed that the Templars were probably innocent of most of the charges, and thus were just victims of monarchical politics in the early 14th century. But on the ‘puzzling’ side of affairs, there was (and still is) some degree of mystery pertaining to the third Templar seal, which depicted two knights sitting on a single horse.
Now the most common (though possibly incorrect) explanation relates how two knights on a single horse symbolized the state of poverty advocated by individual Templars. Another explanation talks about the representation of ‘true’ brotherhood, wherein one knight rescues the other knight whose horse is probably injured. Intriguingly enough, there is a plausible commentary regarding two soldiers on a single horse, written by Saladin’s chronicler Bahaed-Din Ibn Shaddad (referenced from Knight Templar 1120 – 1312 By Helen Nicholson) –
On June 7, 1192, the Crusader army marched to attack the Holy City, (then occupied by Saladin). Richard’s spies reported a long-awaited supply train coming from Egypt to relieve Saladin’s army…when Richard received information that the caravan was close at hand…a thousand horseman set out, each of whom took a foot soldier (on his horse) in front of him…At daybreak, he took the caravan unawares. Islam had suffered a serious disaster…The spoils were three thousand camels, three thousand horses, five hundred prisoners and a mountain of military supplies. Never was Saladin more grieved, or more anxious.
*The article was updated on 30 July 2019.
Book References: Knight Templar 1120 – 1312 (By Helen Nicholson) / God’s Warriors: Crusaders, Saracens and the Battle for Jerusalem (Edited By Helen Nicholson and David Nicolle) / Knights Templar Encyclopedia (By Karen Ralls)
Online Sources: Provincial Priory of Hampshire and Isle of Wight / BibliotecaPleyades / Knight-Templar (link here)/ DominicSelwood / Britannica
MEDIEVAL SPANISH HISTORY
In the eleventh century the first crusade was launched under the pretext of protecting the holy lands and pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem. The Pope declared that anyone who fought in the holy war would be pardoned of his sins and within three years the first crusade had gained control of Jerusalem from the Muslims.
Shortly after the crusade had ended two knights formed a monastic order dedicated to the protection of pilgrims ,based in Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Initially there were only nine monk / knights who took strict vows of poverty and were called "The Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon" which became shortened to The Knights Templar. In 1129 the order was recognised by the church and began to receive both funding and new members from rich families across Europe. As well as being soldiers the Knights Templar also set up a bank for pilgrims and crusaders travelling to the holy land and the order's wealth and influence quickly grew. In 1139 the Pope granted them immunity from local laws and allowing the Knights to travel freely across Europe and the holy lands, accountable only to the church.
The Knights Templar were sworn never to surrender , death on the battlefield ensured a place in heaven. They were also well trained , highly organised and well equipped and played a key role in the subsequent crusades. In Spain they also fought alongside the Christian armies in the Reconquista and played a crucial role in many important battles including the Battle of Navas and Tolosa and the reconquest of both Valencia and Majorca. It was because of this that King Alfonso I of Aragon ( Alfonso the Battler )left large areas of land and castles to the Knights Templar. They also built their own castles and established a strong trading infrastructure across the Iberian Peninsula.
Two centuries later when the Christian armies were driven from the holy lands their fortunes changed. They were accused of heresy and idol worship and an Inquisition was started , largely instigated by King Philip V of France who was heavily in debt to the Knights. Many of the order's members were tortured and finally burned at the steak. Across Europe their lands and properties were confiscated and given to their rivals the Knights Hospitaller.
In Spain the Knights Templar held out against the king's troops in their castles. In the end they were found not guilty of heresy and under the protection of King James II they became part of the Order of Montessa which was affiliated to the Calatrava. Over the centuries many myths and legends have grown up surrounding the Knights Templar, their heroic acts, supposed treasures and alleged mysterious rituals.
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Templar, also called Knight Templar, member of the Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, a religious military order of knighthood established at the time of the Crusades that became a model and inspiration for other military orders. Originally founded to protect Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land, the order assumed greater military duties during the 12th century. Its prominence and growing wealth, however, provoked opposition from rival orders. Falsely accused of blasphemy and blamed for Crusader failures in the Holy Land, the order was destroyed by King Philip IV of France.
Following the success of the First Crusade (1095–99), a number of Crusader states were established in the Holy Land, but these kingdoms lacked the necessary military force to maintain more than a tenuous hold over their territories. Most Crusaders returned home after fulfilling their vows, and Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem suffered attacks from Muslim raiders. Pitying the plight of these Christians, eight or nine French knights led by Hugh de Payns vowed in late 1119 or early 1120 to devote themselves to the pilgrims’ protection and to form a religious community for that purpose. Baldwin II, king of Jerusalem, gave them quarters in a wing of the royal palace in the area of the former Temple of Solomon, and from this they derived their name.
Although the Templars were opposed by those who rejected the idea of a religious military order and later by those who criticized their wealth and influence, they were supported by many secular and religious leaders. Beginning in 1127, Hugh undertook a tour of Europe and was well received by many nobles, who made significant donations to the knights. The Templars obtained further sanction at the Council of Troyes in 1128, which may have requested that Bernard of Clairvaux compose the new rule. Bernard also wrote In Praise of the New Knighthood (c. 1136), which defended the order against its critics and contributed to its growth. In 1139 Pope Innocent II issued a bull that granted the order special privileges: the Templars were allowed to build their own oratories and were not required to pay the tithe they were also exempt from episcopal jurisdiction, being subject to the pope alone.
The rule of the order was modeled after the Benedictine Rule, especially as understood and implemented by the Cistercians. The Knights Templar swore an oath of poverty, chastity, and obedience and renounced the world, just as the Cistercians and other monks did. Like the monks, the Templars heard the divine office during each of the canonical hours of the day and were expected to honour the fasts and vigils of the monastic calendar. They were frequently found in prayer and expressed particular veneration to the Virgin Mary. They were not allowed to gamble, swear, or become drunk and were required to live in community, sleeping in a common dormitory and eating meals together. They were not, however, strictly cloistered, as were the monks, nor were they expected to perform devotional reading (most Templars were uneducated and unable to read Latin). The knights’ primary duty was to fight. The Templars gradually expanded their duties from protecting pilgrims to mounting a broader defense of the Crusader states in the Holy Land. They built castles, garrisoned important towns, and participated in battles, fielding significant contingents against Muslim armies until the fall of Acre, the last remaining Crusader stronghold in the Holy Land, in 1291. Their great effectiveness was attested by the sultan Saladin following the devastating defeat of Crusader forces at the Battle of Ḥaṭṭīn he bought the Templars who were taken prisoner and later had each of them executed.
By the mid-12th century the constitution of the order and its basic structure were established. It was headed by a grand master, who was elected for life and served in Jerusalem. Templar territories were divided into provinces, which were governed by provincial commanders, and each individual house, called a preceptory, was headed by a preceptor. General chapter meetings of all members of the order were held to address important matters affecting the Templars and to elect a new master when necessary. Similar meetings were held at the provincial level and on a weekly basis in each house.
The Templars were originally divided into two classes: knights and sergeants. The knight-brothers came from the military aristocracy and were trained in the arts of war. They assumed elite leadership positions in the order and served at royal and papal courts. Only the knights wore the Templars’ distinctive regalia, a white surcoat marked with a red cross. The sergeants, or serving-brothers, who were usually from lower social classes, made up the majority of members. They dressed in black habits and served as both warriors and servants. The Templars eventually added a third class, the chaplains, who were responsible for holding religious services, administering the sacraments, and addressing the spiritual needs of the other members. Although women were not allowed to join the order, there seems to have been at least one Templar nunnery.
The Templars eventually acquired great wealth. The kings and great nobles of Spain, France, and England gave lordships, castles, seigniories, and estates to the order, so that by the mid-12th century the Templars owned properties scattered throughout western Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Holy Land. The Templars’ military strength enabled them to safely collect, store, and transport bullion to and from Europe and the Holy Land, and their network of treasure storehouses and their efficient transport organization made them attractive as bankers to kings as well as to pilgrims to the Holy Land.
The Templars were not without enemies, however. They had long engaged in a bitter rivalry with the other great military order of Europe, the Hospitallers, and, by the late 13th century, proposals were being made to merge the two contentious orders into one. The fall of Acre to the Muslims in 1291 removed much of the Templars’ reason for being, and their great wealth, extensive landholdings in Europe, and power inspired resentment toward them. Although an ex-Templar had accused the order of blasphemy and immorality as early as 1304 (though more likely 1305), it was only later—after Philip IV ordered the arrest on October 13, 1307, of every Templar in France and sequestered all the Templars’ property in the country—that most of the people of Europe became aware of the extent of the alleged crimes of the order. Philip accused the Templars of heresy and immorality specific charges against them included idol worship (of a bearded male head said to have great powers), worship of a cat, homosexuality, and numerous other errors of belief and practice. At the order’s secret initiation rite, it was claimed, the new member denied Christ three times, spat on the crucifix, and was kissed on the base of the spine, on the navel, and on the mouth by the knight presiding over the ceremony. The charges, now recognized to be without foundation, were calculated to stoke contemporary fears of heretics, witches, and demons and were similar to allegations Philip had used against Pope Boniface VIII.
The reasons why Philip sought to destroy the Templars are unclear he may have genuinely feared their power and been motivated by his own piety to destroy a heretical group, or he may have simply seen an opportunity to seize their immense wealth, being chronically short of money himself. At any rate, Philip mercilessly pursued the order and had many of its members tortured to secure false confessions. Although Pope Clement V, himself a Frenchman, ordered the arrest of all the Templars in November 1307, a church council in 1311 voted overwhelmingly against suppression, and Templars in countries other than France were found innocent of the charges. Clement, however, under strong pressure from Philip, suppressed the order on March 22, 1312, and the Templars’ property throughout Europe was transferred to the Hospitallers or confiscated by secular rulers. Knights who confessed and were reconciled to the church were sent into retirement in the order’s former houses or in monasteries, but those who failed to confess or who relapsed were put on trial. Among those judged guilty was the order’s last grand master, Jacques de Molay. Brought before a commission established by the pope, de Molay and other leaders were judged relapsed heretics and sentenced to life in prison. The master protested and repudiated his confession and was burned at the stake, the last victim of a highly unjust and opportunistic persecution.
At the time of its destruction, the order was an important institution in both Europe and the Holy Land and already an object of myth and legend. The Templars were associated with the Grail legend and were identified as defenders of the Grail castle through the remainder of the Middle Ages. In the 18th century the Freemasons claimed to have received in a secret line of succession esoteric knowledge that the Templars had possessed. Later fraternal orders similarly invoked the Templar name to bolster claims of ancient or revealed wisdom. The Templars were also identified as gnostics and were accused of involvement in a number of conspiracies, including one that was allegedly behind the French Revolution. One often cited but likely apocryphal account relates that, after the execution of Louis XVI, a French Freemason dipped a cloth in the slain king’s blood and cried out, “Jacques de Molay, you are avenged!”
In the 20th century the image of Christ on the Shroud of Turin was identified as the head allegedly worshipped by the Templars. Resurrecting a vein of pseudohistory and Grail legends, authors in the 20th century, claiming to assert historical fact but writing what most scholars regard as fantasy, implicated the Templars in a vast conspiracy dedicated to preserving the bloodline of Jesus. Similar occult conspiracy theories were also used by writers of fiction in the 20th and 21st centuries.
This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn, Managing Editor, Reference Content.
King Henry II (1154–1189) granted the Templars land across England, including some territory by Castle Baynard on the River Fleet, where they built a round church, patterned after the Knights Templar headquarters on Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Templar estate at Cressing Temple in Essex was one of the very earliest and largest Templar estates in England.   
The Order was also given the advowson (right to nominate the clergy) of St Clement Danes.
In 1184, the Templars' headquarters was transferred to the New Temple (Temple Church) in London where once again they built a round church, this one patterned after the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It was consecrated in 1185, and became the location for initiation rituals. 
1185 Hospital for Knights Templars In 1185 a hospital granted to the Knights Templars, for the use of sick persons, was this year founded at Newark, Nottinghamshire.
An inventory by Geoffrey Fitz Stephen reveals that by 1185, the Order of the Knights Templar had extensive holdings in London, Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Salop, Oxfordshire, Cornwall, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. The involvement of Templars in financial matters is highlighted by Walter of Coventry's story of Gilbert de Ogrestan, the Knight Templar accused of embezzling taxes collected in the Saladin tithe of 1188.  He was severely punished by his contemporary Master.
In 1200, Pope Innocent III issued a Papal Bull declaring the immunity of persons and goods within the houses of the Knights Templar from local laws. This ensured that the New Temple became a royal treasury as well as the repository for the order's accumulated revenues. These financial resources provided the basis for the development of the Templar's local banking facilities.
King Richard I (1189–1199) confirmed the Templars' land holdings and granted them immunity from all pleas, suits danegeld and from murdrum and latrocinium.
King John (1199–1216) had substantial financial dealings with the Knights Templar. At the time of Runnymede, not only was Aymeric de St Maur present, but King John was also resident at the Temple when the Barons first presented their demands. He awarded them the island of Lundy as well as land at Huntspill, Cameley, Harewood, Radnage and Northampton.
King Henry III (1207–1272) also had substantial dealing with Templars, the king's Wardrobe being located there in 1225. He entrusted Templar knights with military, financial and diplomatic commissions, and even considered being buried in the Temple. He did in fact establish a chantry there in 1231.
The first Templar House in England was in London. Early patrons included Robert de Ferrers, 2nd Earl of Derby, Bernard de Balliol, King Stephen of England and Queen Matilda.
King Edward I (1239–1307) had accorded the Knights Templar a slighter role in public affairs, financial issues often being handled by Italian merchants and diplomacy by mendicant orders. Indeed, Edward I raided the treasury in 1283.
When Philip IV, King of France suppressed the order in 1307, King Edward II of England at first refused to believe the accusations. But after the intercession of Pope Clement V, King Edward ordered the seizure of members of the order in England on 8 January 1308. Only handfuls of Templars were duly arrested, however. Their trial ran from 22 October 1309 until 18 March 1310 in front of Deodatus, Abbot of Lagny and Sicard de Vaur. Most of the Templars acknowledged their belief that the Order's Master could give absolution was heretical, and were then reconciled with the church. However, Willian de la More refused to do so and remained a prisoner in the Tower of London until his death.
In 1312, under further pressure from King Philip IV of France, Pope Clement V officially disbanded the Order at the Council of Vienne. In 1314, the remaining Templar leaders in France were executed, some by being burned at the stake. Clement issued a Papal Bull which granted the lands of the Templars to the Knights Hospitaller, but this was ignored until 1324. Starting in 1347, the priests started letting (renting) part of the Temple to lawyers, from which the evolution of the Inner Temple and Middle Temple as Inns of Court derives.
Between 13 October 1307 and 8 January 1308, the Templars went unmolested in England. During this period many fugitive Templars, seeking to escape torture and execution, fled to apparent safety there. But after repeated pressure from Philip IV and Clement V on Edward II, a few half-hearted arrests were made. During a trial running from 22 October 1309 until 18 March 1310 most of the arrested Templars were forced to acknowledge the belief that the Order's Master could give absolution was heretical, and were officially reconciled with the church, many entering more conventional monastic Orders.
Most Templars in England were never arrested, and the persecution of their leaders was brief. The order was dissolved due to damaged reputation, but given the pope and church's judgement of the order as free from guilt, all members in England were free to find themselves a new place in society. Templar lands and assets were given to the Order of the Hospital of Saint John, a sister military order—though the English crown held onto some assets until 1338. The largest portion of former Templars joined the Hospitallers, while other remaining members joined the Cistercian order, or lived on pension as lay members of society. The loss of the Holy Land as a base for war against the muslims had removed the primary reason for Templar existence, and the dissolved order now faded into history, in England as well as the rest of Europe.
Baldock in Hertfordshire was a town founded by the Knights Templar and between 1199 and 1254 it was their English headquarters. The Hertford Mercury newspaper reported a warren of Templar tunnels beneath the town of Hertford, centering on Hertford Castle, where in 1309 four Templars from Temple Dinsley near Hitchin were imprisoned after their arrest by Edward II, who believed that they were holding a lost treasure.
Royston Cave in Hertfordshire Edit
Modern tradition has it that after the persecution began the Templars were forced to meet in caves, tunnels and cellars in Hertfordshire and elsewhere in southeast England. However, the brief and modest persecution in England is unlikely to have necessitated this, as remaining members could, even around 1310, met at the house or room of a friend not under arrest—which would have been most Templars.
But after lying undiscovered for at least 300 years, workmen accidentally stumbled upon Royston Cave (August 1742), hidden under a heavy millstone and a covering of soil. The cave's discovery created much excitement. Today, it still awes and inspires visitors who can see carvings depicting, among other images, knights, Saint George and Saint Catherine of Alexandria. Before the brief persecution, the Templars, assuming the cave was theirs, had no reason to hide below the ground, and they had wealth and access to stonemasons if they required religious carvings. It is thus suggested by storytellers and a few historians that Royston Cave is evidence 'fugitive' Templars continued to meet and worship in secret after the disbandment.
There have been some highly questionable claims made about Royston Cave and its history, including the suggestion that its Templar builders may, in effect, have been early Freemasons. However, no evidence of this link has been produced at this time.
Much of Strood, Kent was a royal manor until Henry II gave it to the Knights Templar around 1159. The Templars had assembled a range of buildings in Strood by 1185, which included a timber hall, barns, kitchens and stables. The stone building, which has survived to the present day, was added around 1240. It consists of a vaulted undercroft supporting a large, undivided first-floor hall, approached by an external staircase. This was probably a part of the range of facilities designed for the temporary accommodation of travelling Templar dignitaries.
Over the years, this hall was altered and enlarged as it passed through the hands of a number of owners. Many additions have been lost but two fine, 17th century brick extensions can still be seen today. These and the massive internal chimney were built by the Blake family, perhaps the richest in Strood at that time.
The estate was inevitably sold off bit by bit until the City of Rochester acquired what was left and decided to use the site for industrial development. The debate over the future of the house was interrupted by a gentleman named Mr. Willis (a local councillor) in 1913 just 2 weeks after purchasing an 8.4 acre (3.4 hectare) plot of land directly East across the River Medway for a facility of what was to become known as the Seaplane Works. It was not until 1951 that work began to save the building and preserve it in the condition in which it can be seen today.
Nearly any site in England which uses the name "Temple," can probably be traced to Templar origins.
The Temple Church still stands on the site of the old Preceptory in London, and effigies of Crusading Templars can still be seen there today. The land was later rented to lawyers who use it today as Inner Temple and Middle Temple.
Several modern organisations claim links with the medieval Templars. Some, such as the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (SMOTJ), also known as the "Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani" (OSMTH), have attained United Nations NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) status. The SMOTJ admits that their group was founded in 1804, "based on the traditions" of the medieval order, which legacy they use to promote humanitarian causes.  However, there is often public confusion about the gap in time between the 14th century dismantling of the medieval Templars, and the 19th century rise of more contemporary organisations.
According to a 2004 article in The Times, one modern group in Hertfordshire (not affiliated to OSMTH) claims that although the medieval order officially ceased to exist in the early 14th century, that the majority of the organisation survived underground. There is, however, no verifiable evidence to support this claim. The Times article states that the group has written to the Vatican, asking for an official apology for the medieval persecution of the Templars. In Rome in 2004, a Vatican spokesman said that the demand for an apology would be given "serious consideration". However, Vatican insiders said that Pope John Paul II, 84 at the time, was under pressure from conservative cardinals to "stop saying sorry" for the errors of the past, after a series of papal apologies for the Crusades, the Inquisition, Christian anti-Semitism and the persecution of scientists and "heretics" such as Galileo. 
History Of Ferentillo
Ferentillo has an ancient history. The Nera valley was already inhabited in pre-Roman times by the Naharki people, a curious tribe belonging to what Pliny defined as gens antiquissima (very ancient gens). Even in Roman times the area enjoyed prominence as it was located near the Via Flaminia, which was built on the ancient route that led from the Salto del Cieco to Rome. The village, whose genesis is to be connected to the history of the nearby Abbey of San Pietro in Valle, belonged to the noble Cybo family until the 18th century, when it was inherited by the Montevecchio and then, by decision of the Apostolic Chamber and Pope Pius IX, it was granted to the Frenchman Louis Désiré de Montholon-Sémonville, until it was definitively annexed, after the wars of independence, by the Kingdom of Italy in 1860. Aside from its long history, the entire territory has an enigmatic aura that stubbornly challenges any attempt to demystify it. Ferentillo, is located near Spoleto, famous for having been the seat of the Cathars and Anglicans and a secular role player on the side of the Catholic Church of Rome.
Giovanni Tomassini, author of the book ‘ Gli ultimi custodi del Tesoro templare’ (The Last Guardians of the Templar Treasure) relates according to a legend known in France and England, but absolutely unknown in Italy, the ‘Treasure of the Templars’ was believed to have passed to a secret place near Spoleto. The story relates that: “ In the year 1318 more than 3,000 knights met in Spoleto (Umbria, Italy) to decide future of its Order. Two factions opposed each other: those who wanted to avenge the Templars and those who wanted to protect the secrets of Cavalry. The second faction eventually decided the future of the Order ". In Spoleto there is no evidence of such an event, but the historian thinks he has identified the location where this meeting of the Knights took place.
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Alessandro Moriccioni is a historical-scientific popularizer who contributed to Mystero, Archeomisteri, Archeologia Proibita, Mysterien and Hera. He is director of the website ilpuntosulmistero.it and is co-founder of the terraincognitaweb.com website. He is the author of several books, including “ Le grandi dinastie che hanno cambiato l'Italia " (The great dynasties who changed Italy).
Born in Rome in 1980, Alessandro Moriccioni is a historical-scientific popularizer, and contributed to Mystero, Archeomisteri, Archeologia Proibita, Mysterien and Hera. He currently collaborates with the quarterly Horizon. He conducted two seasons of the Terra Incognita program and appeared on several. Read More
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