The Knights Templar, or Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, existed during the middle ages from 1129 to 1312. They were identified by their white mantles with red crosses. The Knights Templars became famous for being the most skilled fighters in the Crusades though the majority were non-combatant. The Knights Templars founded the first banking system in Europe. The main reason they were created was to protect pilgrims who travelled to the Holy Land from bandits who were known to slaughter them sometimes by the hundreds.Their existence was so closely tied to the Crusades that when the Holy Land was lost they lost their popularity and were dismantled.
In 1305, Pope Clement V, then based in France, requested that King Phillip IV of France investigate charges made against the Knights Templars by an ousted Knight even though he had agreed with the Grand Master that these charges were false. King Phillip IV of France was at that time deep in financial debt with the Knights Templars so he seized upon the opportunity and arrested scores of French Templars including their Grand Master, Jacques de Molay. They were charged with numerous offences including apostasy, idolatry, heresy, obscene rituals, homosexuality, financial corruption, fraud and secrecy. They were tortured until they confessed to these crimes and were put to death.
In 1307, King Phillip IV of France then bullied Pope Clement V to pass a papal bull instructing all other Christian kingdoms to arrest their Knights Templars and seize their assets. The five charges made against the Knights Templars in the papal bull were:
- Spitting on the cross during initiation into the Order
- Making the initiated strip and kiss a man on the naval, the buttocks and the mouth
- Informing the initiated that sex was legal and was okay to be indulged in even though one of the prefects of the Order was against it
- Consecrating the chord worn by the initiated by wrapping it around an idol in the form of a human head with a beard
- Omitting to consecrate the host during the celebration of Mass
In 2001, Barbara Frale discovered the “Chinon Parchment” which was written in 1308. It was a record of the trials and showed that Pope Clement V had absolved the all the Knights Templars of heresy and restored them to the Unity of the Church. Pope Clement then dismantled the order in 1312. The Catholic Church presently stands on the viewpoint that there was nothing wrong with the Order or with its Rule.
There are many Templar legends today mostly circulating around relics that they may have had stored such as the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant. Due to the accusation of idolatry there is a modern belief that the Knights Templars were heavily into witchcraft and indulged in other paranormal activity. Another article associated with the Knights Templars is the Shroud of Turin which was discovered by Geoffrey of Charney in 1357. Indeed interesting.