Knights Templar

medieval Christian military order, 1118–1312

The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (Latin: Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonici), commonly known as the Knights Templar or the Order of the Temple (French: Ordre du Temple or Templiers), were among the most famous military orders of Western Christianity.[3] The organization lasted for two centuries in the Middle Ages. It was founded after the First Crusade of 1096, with its original purpose to ensure the safety of the many Christians who made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem after it was taken from the Muslims.

Knights Templar
Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon
Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonici
Activec. 1119–1314
TypeWestern Christian military order
Size15,000–20,000 members at peak, 10% of whom were knights[1][2]
HeadquartersTemple Mount, Jerusalem
Nickname(s)Order of the Temple
PatronSt. Bernard of Clairvaux
AttireWhite mantle with a red cross
EngagementsThe Crusades, including:
Battle of Montgisard (1177),
Battle of Hattin (1187),
Battle of Arsuf (1191),
Siege of Acre (1190–1191),
Siege of Acre (1291)
First Grand MasterHugues de Payens
Last Grand MasterJacques de Molay

It was officially endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church around 1129, and became a favored charity by many Christians and grew fast in membership and power. Templar knights wore white mantles quartered by a red cross and were among the most skilled fighting units of the Crusades.[4] Those members of the Order that did not fight managed a large economic infrastructure throughout Christendom, innovating financial techniques that were an early form of banking,[5][6] and building many fortifications throughout the Mediterranean and the Holy Land.

The Templars' success was tied closely to the Crusades; when the Holy Land was lost, support for the Order faded. Rumors about the Templars' secret initiation ceremony created mistrust, and King Philip IV of France, deeply in debt to the Order, began pressuring Pope Clement V to take action against the Order. In 1307, many of the Order's members in France were arrested, tortured into giving false confessions, and then burned at the stake.[7] In 1312, Pope Clement, under continuing pressure from King Philip, disbanded the Order.

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  1. Burman, p. 45.
  2. Barber, in "Supplying the Crusader States" says, "By Molay's time the Grand Master was presiding over at least 970 houses, including commanderies and castles in both east and west, serviced by a membership which is unlikely to have been less than 7,000, excluding employees and dependants, who must have been seven or eight times that number."
  3. Malcolm Barber, The New Knighthood: A History of the Order of the Temple. Cambridge University Press, 1994. ISBN 978-0-521-42041-9.
  4. Livia Gershon. (2019). 10 Reasons the Knights Templar Were History's Fiercest Fighters.
  5. Martin, p. 47.
  6. Nicholson, p. 4
  7. Malcolm Barber, The Trial of the Templars. Cambridge University Press, 1978. ISBN 978-0-521-45727-9.

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