Who were the Knights Templar?

Essay by apocryphalCollege, UndergraduateA+, May 2003

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Since AD 1118, the Knights Templar have been romanticized in numerous movies, theorized about in countless books, and given metaphysical powers by organizations across the world. These pauvres chevaliers du temple, or Poor Knights of the Temple, formed under very humble circumstances, and grew to such prowess they became the basis on which all military orders of the Church to come were based. Just as interesting and important as the creation and growth of this order was their eventual destruction in 1314, marked by the burning at the stake of the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar.

The Knights Templar was formed following the end of the First Crusade (1095 - 1099) in 1118. Hugues de Payens, a knight of Champagne, and eight comrades bound themselves to each other with a vow under the reign of Baldwin II, patriarch of Jerusalem from 1118 to 1131. Their vow was simple enough, just to escort pilgrims from Jerusalem to the banks of the Jordan River.

During this time, they established the rules of living solely off of alms given to them freely. Poor they were, and, so long as they remained a group of nine, completely incapable of rendering the important services they were to be assigned.

Though humble a beginning as this was, the Knights were destined for expansion by the Church.

In 1128, de Payens journeyed to the Council of Troyes, to seek both the approbation of the Church, and to recruit new members. There, he aided the council and officially, in the name of the Templars, adopted the Rule of St. Benedict, which was recently changed by the Cistercians, Benedictine reformists. The Rule was intended to set guidelines for, among other things, internal administration of monasteries, the regulation of the worship of God, discipline and the penal...