In the aftermath of the First Crusade of 1096 AD, 9 knights led by Hugues de Payens went to the King of Jerusalem, Baldwin II, proposing that they form a monastic order of knights, taking vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, in service of the Holy Land. They were granted part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which was built on the site of the original Temple of Solomon. Once they established themselves there, they began secret excavations. Almost immediately they became an enormously rich and powerful organisation. As the traffic in pilgrims grew, they grew in popularity and affluence, receiving gifts of lands and money from the wealthy feudal lords of Europe. They developed the first international banking network to protect the wealth of pilgrims going overseas to their destination, and grew ever richer. A few short years after the final loss of the Holy Land, the King of France, Philip IV, turned his greedy eyes to the wealth of the Templars to fill the coffers he drained in his desire for ever-greater control over his subjects. He started rumours among the people of devil-worship and shameful practices by the Templars, and used these as an excuse to seize their property. Orders were sent that on Friday 13th of October, 1307, the King's men were to carry out mass arrests of the Knights, and torture them to extract confessions. Before that fateful day, however, 24 Knights took 18 ships out of their Atlantic port, La Rochelle, and were never heard of again. Although he succeeded in grabbing all their lands, not a penny of their fabulous wealth was found, and he did not live long to enjoy his spoils. As the last Grand Master of the Knights of the Temple, Jacques de Molay, was burned at the stake for retracting a confession tortured out of him, he cried out to God to bring the King and the Pope, who had sacrificed the Templars for political gain, to join him at God's table. Within a year both were dead.
In 1118 Hugh de Payen and eight companions, under the protection of St Bernard of Clairvaux, visited Jerusalem with a letter of introduction to King Baudoin I of Jerusalem. They announced their intention to found an order of warrior monks whose aim was to protect pilgrims on the road to the Holy Land. The new order took vows of poverty and chastity, and the king granted them quarters within the Temple of Solomon - hence their name Knights of the Temple, or Templar. Whilst in Jerusalem, in addition to fighting and protecting pilgrims, the knights also excavated under the Temple of Solomon. In the 19th century the Palestine Exploration Fund re-excavated these tunnels and found various Templar items. Evidence of digging has led to many theories of what they found - the most populist version being that they located the Ark of the Covenant. Champions of this theory point to the pillar at the Templar Cathedral at Chartres, which depicts the Ark in transport. Less prosaic interpretations suggest they found scriptural scrolls, treatises on sacred geometry and details of ancient Judaic-Egyptian wisdom.
De Payen and the knights returned to France in 1127. A year later at the Council of Troyes, the Knights Templar gained legal autonomy, putting them beyond the reach of bishops, kings or emperors and making them responsible to the Pope alone. They were gifted land by pious aristocrats to finance their rapidly growing order. Their wealth grew as they developed commercial interests in mines, quarries and vineyards. They had a fleet that outshone the largest state. But what the Knights Templar did most was build. The classic round Templar church, founded on octagonal geometry, is still regarded as the most obvious example of their building, but many observers see Templar influence in the vast gothic outpouring that occurred throughout the next hundred years. They set the gold and silver standard for coin weight, and introduced the "note of hand" – a kind of 12th century credit card. Christians at the time were not allowed to charge interest on money, but the Templars got round this by charging "rent". The order quickly became the richest bankers in Europe, lending to kings, princes and influential people across Europe. King Philip IV of France (1268-1314) was one monarch among many who was heavily in debt to the Knights Templar. The death of the Pope gave the King an opportunity to bribe the incoming Catholic leader and initiate enquiries against the order.
They were charged with heresy and on a Friday the 13th, in October 1307, Jacques de Molay, the Grand Master of the Knights Templar, and 60 of his senior knights were arrested in Paris. Across Europe thousands of Knights Templar were taken into custody. But when King Philip raided the Templar treasure house he found it empty and the fleet gone from Larochelle.
Anyone found sheltering a Templar was under threat of excommunication. At the time Scotland was already excommunicated for Robert the Bruce's involvement in the murder of John "Red" Comyn. Since Robert the Bruce could not afford to turn away wealthy and powerful allies in his struggle against Edward I, it is not too fanciful to suppose that Scotland may have welcomed the homeless knights. French Masonic ritual seems to indicate that Scotland was designated as the place of refuge for the Templar treasures. It is certainly a matter of fact that their land in Scotland was never seized but was transferred to the Knights of St John for safekeeping.
Fri October 12, 2007 Knights Templar secrets revealed Story Highlights. Vatican documents reveal Pope Clement V initially absolved knights of heresy. The knights featured heavily in Dan Brown's best-seller "The Da Vinci Code" ROME, Italy (AP) -- The Vatican has published secret archive documents about the trial of the Knights Templar, including a long-lost parchment that shows that Pope Clement V initially absolved the medieval Christian order from accusations of heresy, officials said Friday. The 300-page volume recently came out in a limited edition -- 799 copies -- each priced at $8,377, said Scrinium publishing house, which prints documents from the Vatican's secret archives. The order of knights, which ultimately disappeared as a result of the heresy scandal, recently captivated the imagination of readers of the best-seller "The Da Vinci Code," in which the author Dan Brown linked the Templars to the story of the Holy Grail. The work reproduces the entire documentation on the papal hearings convened after King Philip IV of France arrested and tortured Templar leaders in 1307 under charges of heresy and immorality. The military order of the Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon was founded in 1118 in Jerusalem to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land following the First Crusade. As their military might increased, the Templars also grew in wealth, acquiring property throughout Europe and running a primitive banking system. After the Templars left the Middle East with the collapse of the Crusader kingdoms, their power and secretive ways aroused the fear of European rulers and sparked accusations of corruption and blasphemy. Historians believe that Philip owed debts to the Templars and seized on the accusations to arrest their leaders and extort confessions of heresy under torture as a way to seize the order's riches. The publishing house said the new book includes the "Parchment of Chinon," a 1308 decision by Clement to save the Templars and their order. The document was misplaced for centuries in the archives and found again by researchers in 2001. According to the Vatican archives Web site, the parchment shows that Clement absolved the Templar leaders of the heresy charge, though he did recognize they were guilty of immorality, and he planned to reform the order. However, pressured by Philip, Clement later reversed his decision and suppressed the order in 1312. Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Templars, was burned at the stake in 1314 along with his aides. Surviving monks fled, with some absorbed by other orders, and over the centuries, some groups have claimed to have descended from the Templars.
MCLEANSCOTLAND can arrange sightseeing tours throughout Scotland for those of you wishing to seek more knowledge on the Knights Templar. Our tour guides are actual Scottish Knights Templars, who would know more about them than one of their own? Please contact us for more info on these incredible tours.
THE KNIGHTS Templar were a monastic military order formed during the 12th century European crusades to the Holy Land. The Knights Templar became mythologised as guardians of spiritual secrets, such as the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail. Eventually, the wealth the order accumulated put them on a collision course with royalty and Rome.
Wealth of the Templars Charitable donations decreased with increased political stability in western Christendom, a shifting pattern of piety to the personal away from the institutional, and a shift in royal policy forbidding donations of land without royal licence. "They made money in the countryside not only from farming, but also from rents and from commerce and trade."
The Templars as bankers "The Templars in particular also provided a range of financial services for rulers. This could vary from making loans and looking after valuables to running the royal treasury, as in France. The Templars were not a bank in the modern sense of the word as their financial operations were merely a sideline, a result of their need to store and move large quantities of cash about Christendom. Money deposited with them was not pooled and reinvested, but remained in its owners' strongboxes within the Order’s treasury, and could not be accessed without the owner’s permission."
The Templar Fleet "The Templars did have ships to carry personnel, pilgrims and supplies across the Mediterranean between the West and East and back. These would have been heavy transport vessels rather than warships. Much of the surviving evidence for Templar shipping comes from the relevant port records or royal records giving permission for the export of produce. At La Rochelle on the west coast of France during the twelfth century the Templars were given several vineyards and produced wine for their own consumption and for export; although the cartulary of their house is lost, the records of the port of La Rochelle show that the Templars were exporting wine by ship. This was not a fleet in any modern sense: again, those would have been transport vessels rather than warships, and the Templars probably hired them as they needed them, rather than buying their own. "[Pope] Nicholas IV also ordered the Masters of the Temple and Hospital to build up a fleet, and in January 1292 he authorized them to use their ships to assist the Armenians.
The trial "As the charges against the Templars had no basis in previous criticism, and were clearly ’standard' accusations, why did anyone believe them? The answer to this is two-fold. First, hardly anyone outside the domains of France did believe them. Secondly, within France the charges were carefully grounded in the actual activities of the Templars." "In short, the charges were ingeniously devised to make the most of the Templars' weak points, to undermine their strong points and to make it impossible for them to escape." "Very little third-party evidence was heard during the French trial. On Cyprus, third-party evidence was heard at length and was virtually unanimous: the charges were absolutely false."