The Secret Story of the Knights Templar Episode 1 – In this meticulously researched documentary series, we delve into the intricate history of the Knights Templar, easily recognized by their iconic white mantles adorned with a red cross. Originally established to safeguard pilgrims on their journey to Jerusalem post the First Crusade’s success, the Templars rapidly evolved into a formidable power. Their influence was not just limited to warfare; they became pioneers in the banking sector of the Middle Ages. Their substantial wealth allowed them to fund the French monarchy, all while maintaining a unique direct connection with the Papacy.
Spanning three episodes, each lasting 45 minutes, this series sheds light on the Templars’ meteoric rise to power and the subsequent orchestrated campaign that sought to malign their name with accusations of heresy and otherworldly perversions. In less than two centuries, this esteemed order faced persecution, resulting in many members being executed and the order’s eventual disbandment. By closely examining historical records, this series offers viewers a chronological exploration of the events post the Templar’s dissolution, revealing the legacies and enigmatic traditions that hint at their continued influence.
Historically, the Templars’ narrative has been clouded with myths and legends. This series, with insights from leading experts on Templar history, dissects fact from fiction. From the deserts of the East to the grandeur of European royal courts, witness the transformation of a simple military brotherhood into a religious order that nearly dominated the Middle Ages. Join us as we chronicle the journey of the Knights Templar, formally known as The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. This order, which seamlessly blended monastic and military roles, saw a swift ascent to power from 1120 onwards, under the Catholic Church’s aegis.
Unravel the enigma of the Middle Ages’ most influential knightly order, tracing their rise, the controversies that engulfed them, and their enduring legacy that spans both the Holy Land and Europe. In this series, we demystify the Knights Templar’s tale, discerning between the layers of myth that surround them and the historical truths recently unearthed.
The Secret Story of the Knights Templar Episode 1
In a dimly lit stone chapel, a group of knights in full armor kneel before a priest. Their white mantles bear a peculiar red cross emblem. The priest reads aloud a solemn oath, to which the knights reply in unison: “We swear to dedicate our lives and swords to Christ and the protection of pilgrims visiting the Holy Land.” This scene marks the birth of one of the most famous knightly orders in history: The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, more commonly known as the Knights Templar.
In this secretive order’s nearly 200 year existence, myths intertwined with facts. Were they truly the valiant protectors of the faithful? Or something more sinister? In this epic three-part documentary series, we peel back the layers of legend to reveal the definitive history of the Knights Templar.
The story begins in Jerusalem in 1119 AD, twenty years after the First Crusade successfully captured the holy city from Muslim rule. However, the subsequent Latin Christian Kingdom was surrounded by enemies on all sides. Muslim forces based in Damascus, Aleppo, and Egypt posed a constant threat. The small occupying Crusader army relied upon a scant number of knights to defend the newly established Crusader States.
To make matters worse, the roadways around Jerusalem swarmed with bandits eager to ambush vulnerable pilgrims. Traveling unarmed pilgrims made easy targets. Tales of robbery, beatings, and even disappearance spread across Europe. The threat of violence increasingly discouraged the faithful from making the perilous pilgrimage to pray at Christian holy sites.
A French knight named Hugh de Payens aimed to remedy this dangerous situation. Along with eight relatives and acquaintances, he vowed to protect pilgrims visiting the Holy Land. King Baldwin II, the reigning Crusader monarch in Jerusalem, granted Hugues de Payens and his comrades quarters in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, located on the Temple Mount.
The Knights didn’t begin with much. Besides their weapons and steeds, they possessed little wealth. However, what they lacked in resources, they made up for in devotion. The Knights followed strict vows of poverty, chastity, and piety. Their impoverished appearance led to ridicule, with one chronicler describing them as a “certain new monstrosity.”
Despite mockery, the Knights dedicated themselves to their mission. In 1120, King Baldwin II officially sanctioned the knights as a religious military order in service of the Latin Kingdom. Within a year, the humble troop received support from the Holy See, gaining them legitimacy under papal law. To fund their mission, Hugues de Payens traveled across Europe seeking patronage. His efforts saw initial success, particularly among French nobility like his relatives in Burgundy and Champagne. Lands and riches from the West soon flowed to the Order.
In 1129, the Catholic Church granted official acknowledgement of the Order at the Council of Troyes. There, Bishop Hugh de Payens received the mandate to safeguard pilgrims through force. The Church permitted the Knights, as an act of devotion, to kill enemies of the faith. This allowance for a religious order to wield swords was nearly unprecedented.
The Order’s recruits predominantly came from the French nobility. To complement the knightly brothers, the Templars welcomed affiliated sergeants and chaplains. This diverse composition allowed the Templars to balance both martial skills and religious devotion.
Donations of weapons, armor, and warhorses equipped the knights for battle. Land grants provided income to fund the Order. Lavish gifts arrived from lords across Christendom. Even commoners eagerly gave what little they could spare.
One particularly enthusiastic supporter was Bernard of Clairvaux, an influential abbot. Bernard penned In Praise of the New Knighthood, an impassioned treatise defending the Order. He described the Templars as a shining ideal of Christian knighthood. They exemplified piety, poverty, and courage.
Bernard’s fiery advocacy accelerated recruitment. By the late 1100s, the Order had grown into an international organization with hundreds of knights and extensive holdings throughout France, England, Scotland, Spain and Portugal. The Mediterranean island of Cyprus became a major Templar base.
Commanderies, fortified manor houses, sprang up across Western Europe to shelter traveling Templar brothers. The commanderies also stored weapons, raised funds, and recruited knights. This network of commanderies allowed the Order to safely and efficiently shuttle money and supplies to support the Holy Land.
Bankers to the Crown
The Templars’ rapid expansion required hefty expenses, including paying and equipping the brothers and financing distant military campaigns. Donations helped, but proved unreliable. Ingeniously, the Templars leveraged their extensive holdings to generate additional revenue.
They loaned money to nobles, pilgrims, clergy, and commoners from their commanderies in Europe. Interest earned from these loans provided a steady stream of income. Non-payment of debts often led the Order to simply repossess the collateral.
By the mid 12th century, the Templars evolved into medieval Europe’s leading bankers and moneylenders. This financial power attracted the nobility. Kings recognized the Order’s military might and vaunted financial resources.
In 1147, King Louis VII of France faced looming bankruptcy and turned to the Templars for a substantial loan to fund the Second Crusade. This emergency infusion of wealth established a lucrative relationship between the French Crown and the Order.
The Templars managed the Crown’s treasury and collected taxes on the monarch’s behalf. In return, King Louis exempted the Templars from all taxation and granted many privileges. This royal favor strengthened the Order’s influence across France.
Persecution and Dissolution
In 1291, the Mamluk Sultanate captured Acre, the final Crusader bastion in the Holy Land. This defeat ended the Templar’s original mission of protecting pilgrims and defending the Latin East. The Order retreated to their European commanderies, their initial purpose no longer feasible.
Without purpose, rumors spread regarding the secretive Order’s activities. Whispers spoke of strange occult rituals, blasphemous indignities, and shocking perversions. The more outlandish claims depicted idol worship and spit upon crosses.
On October 13, 1307, King Philip IV ordered the arrest of all Templars in France on charges of heresy. The Templars endured brutal torture until confessions were extracted. After dissolving the Order, Philip seized their wealth and properties for the French Crown.
In 1312, under pressure from King Philip, Pope Clement V officially suppressed the Order. Across Europe, monarchs followed France’s example by arresting, trying and seizing Templar assets within their realms. The formerly revered Order met a rapid downfall, doomed by greed and slander.
The remaining knights integrated into other Orders or retired. The leaderless and scattered network of commanderies stripped of purpose and resources eventually ceased supporting the Order. By the 1350s, the fabled Knights Templar faded into history.
Although the Templars no longer exist, their name still conjures images of an enigmatic brotherhood possessing secret rituals and immense wealth. How did an Order lasting less than 200 years become so mythologized?
The Templars’ elite status captivated medieval minds. Their direct papal connection, great wealth, banking empire, and military acumen seemed otherworldly. Rumors spoke of the Order possessing the Holy Grail, Ark of the Covenant, and lost treasure of the Temple of Solomon. Their sudden dissolution and the subsequent disappearance of their fabled fortune left mysteries.
The clandestine Order also entered popular culture. Associations drawn with the Freemasons and other alleged successors reinforced conspiracy theories and occult links. Frequent appearances in films, television, books, and video games shrouded the Order in romanticism and fiction. Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code best embodies how pseudo-history twists facts into entertaining frauds.
The definitive history of the Knights Templar remains clouded by centuries of myth. But by scrutinizing reliable sources and separating truth from legend, their inspirational rise and fall emerges. The Templars began as an audacious idea, grew into a dominant institution, but fell victim to greed and injustice. Their valiant spirit in a darker age continues to kindle the flames of imagination today.
The saga of the Knights Templar encapsulates a crucial period in medieval history. Their distinctive fusion of military might and religious devotion captured popular fascination across Christendom. This enabled the Order’s meteoric rise from obscure beginnings into an elite international powerhouse spanning two centuries. As prominent Crusaders, esteemed protectors of pilgrims, the Catholic Church’s favored Order, Europe’s first bankers, and counselors to kings, the Templars played a pivotal role across the realms of religion, finance, politics and warfare.
The Templars demonstrated how to transform idealism into influence. As an institution, they leveraged deep spirituality, political connections, military might, and financial genius to dominate their era. Their capabilities evoked admiration, envy, and enmity. The Order’s seemingly sudden destruction specifically stemmed from defiant power turning former supporters into enemies. But the potent Templar mystique outlived their Order, continually resurrecting their name in popular culture.
Ultimately, separating Templar facts from fictions proves challenging even today. Examining the known history reveals the impressive heights, controversial rumors, and injustice surrounding their fall. The enduring legend of the Knights Templar stands as a testament to their phenomenal impact during their relatively brief lifespan. Their intricate tale continues to intrigue centuries after their dissolution.
Frequently Asked Questions – The Secret Story of the Knights Templar Episode 1
Who were the Knights Templar?
The Knights Templar, or the Order of the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, was a Catholic military order founded in 1119 CE in Jerusalem. They sought to protect Christian pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land and fought alongside other Crusaders. The Templars became famous across Europe for their piety, wealth, military prowess, and banking.
Why were they called the Knights Templar?
After their founding, King Baldwin II granted the knights quarters in Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque, located on the Temple Mount. This association led to them taking the name “Templars” after the Temple of Solomon. They were also known as the “Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ” early on due to their vows of poverty.
How did the Templars become so rich and powerful?
The Templars accumulated great wealth and influence through donations of money, land, and noble recruits from across Christendom. Their banking activities also generated significant funds. With papal exemption from taxes and tithes, they invested this wealth into growing an extensive network of commanderies and knights. This enabled them to wield major financial and military might.
Why were the Templars persecuted and disbanded?
After losing their last Crusader fortress in 1291 CE, rumors spread about Templar secrecy and strange rituals, leading to growing mistrust. In 1307, King Philip IV of France accused the Templars of heresy as an excuse to seize their wealth. Under torture, Templars confessed to bogus charges. Pope Clement V dissolved the Order in 1312, leading to similar purges across Europe.
How are the Knights Templar portrayed in popular culture?
The Templars developed an aura of mystery that captivated popular imagination. They frequently appear in books, such as The Da Vinci Code, and films like Indiana Jones and Assassin’s Creed depicting them as secretive keepers of the Holy Grail and other relics, masters of occult lore, and guardians of incredible lost treasures. While compelling fictional accounts, these depictions embellish and distort the historic Templars.