Page 6 - The 'X' Chronciles Newspaper - June / July 2018 Edition
P. 6

6                                         The Knights Templar

                   THE KNIGHTS


          Start with nine very determined knights
          and a couple of sacred oaths.  Add a
          jealous and vindictive king, a puppet
          pope, a mysterious wagon train, a
          medieval “celebrity roast.” and you get
          the amazing - and sometimes bizarre -
          story of the warrior monks known as the
          Knights Templar.

          At the end of the First Crusade (1095-1099)the
          Christian armies of Europe had succeeded in
          wresting control of the Holy Land and the holy
          city of Jerusalem from the Muslims., But very
          soon afterward, the Muslims started winning
          battles and regaining some of their lands, which
          made traveling to the Holy Land from Europe a
          perilous undertaking for pilgrims and non-
          pilgrims alike.
                 In 1118, nine knights, concerned for the
          welfare of the Christian pilgrims, bound
          themselves together in the creation of a knightly
          order of warrior-monks called the Knights       heavy horses - they would function like 20th-  Templar  owned vast tracts of land in France,
          Templar.  The order’s full name - the Poor      century tanks, easilt scattering a force of 200 -  England, Scotland, Spain, and Portugal. Another
          Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon -   300 Saracens (the Crusader’s name for Muslim   decade passed, and their possessions extended to
          was a reference to the Temple of King Solomon   soldier).  A massed charge of 100 mounted      Italy, Austria, Germany, and Hungary, and as far
          in Jerusalem, where the  Templars were          knights could crush 3,000 adversaries.         east as Egypt and Constantinople (modern-day
          stationed when they first took their vows. They                                                Istanbul), as well as Palestine. By the late 12th
          vowed to consecrate their swords and their very  NO RETREAT, NO NOTHING                        century, their European possession alone
          lives to the defense of the Christian faith, and to  When taken prisoner, the Templar (if they were  numbered more than 7,000 estates.  These are
          live humbly and simply according to the         lucky) were told they might be allowed to live -  mostly manors, farms, churches, monasteries,
          monkish dictates of poverty, chastity, and      on the condition that they renounce their faith.  and castles - all of which generated considerable
          humility.                                       At the siege of Safed, in Palestine in 1264,   revenue.
                                                          ninety  Templars met their death in battle; 80
          THE PRICE OF ADMISSION                          others were taken prisoner and told their lives  MONKS WITH  MUSCLE  AND
          Candidates seeking to join the Knights Templar  would be spared if they denied Christ.  They MONEY
          had to prove that they came from noble families  refused and were executed. This fidelity to the  Since the Templars had so many well-fortified
          or that their father was a knight. Potential    faith although very admirable, cost the Templars  castles scattered throughout Europe (more than
          Templars also had to be at least 12, unmarried,  dearly. Over all, it’s been estimated that in less  800 of them, at one point), these were logical
          and free from all obligations, including debt.  than two centuries, almost 20,000  Templars -  places for nobleman to deposit their wealth
          Eventually, the competition for admission was   knights and sergeants - perished in war.  This  when they went crusades to the Holy Land. A
          so great that candidates had to pay a very high  death toll could also be attributed to one of the  nobleman would naturally take only the ablest
          fee to get in, making it increasingly difficult for  most solemn vows: when in battle, no matter  men and would have to leave his treasury only
          anyone but the well-heeled (mostly noblemen)    what the odds, they swore not to retreat.      lightly guarded. So the Templar castles became
          to apply. In addition to fully armed knights,                                                  a natural place to leave money - especially since
          there were originally three other categories of  AND THEY WERE WELL  MANORED                   they were populated by warrior-monks who’s
          Templars: the sergeants, who formed the light   TOO                                            sworn a vow of poverty.
          cavalry; the farmers, entrusted with the        Remember those other vows the  Templars               Being the good businessmen they were,
          administration of Knights Templar’saffairs; and  swore? To live like monks and obey the vows   the Templars even gave the noblemen a letter or
          the chaplains, charged with ministering to the  of poverty and humility? Apparently, someone   draft with a secret code that could only be
          spiritual needs of the order.  Another of their  needed to remind them Within a few decades of  recognized by  Templars - something like the
          vows was to swear complete and utter            their founding, the Knights  Templar had       personal identification number you get with a
          obedience to their boss, the grand master (who  become - perhaps the exception of the Papacy-  bank card. They could then present the letter and
          answered only to the pope).                     the most powerful, most prestigious, most      code to any Templar castle along the way and
                                                          apparently unshakable institution of its age. And  withdraw gold in coins that were used in that
          MONKS WITH MUSCLE                               the foundation of this tremendous power and    particular area. So the Templars became the de
          The Templar Knight's were the chock troops of   influence was money.                           facto bankers of Europe.
          the Crusader forces.  They rarely wielded the          From 1128 (a mere decade after the
          largest force in any particular battle. But the  organizations founding) onward, the order     ...AND TAX-EXEMPT STATUS
          effectiveness of medieval armies was usually    began expanding at an extraordinary pace,      The order was exempt from all taxes, as well as
          determined not by numerical superiority, but by  taking in not just new members recruited from  tolls on roads, bridges, and rivers. The Templars
          training  and equipment.  Weight of armour,     the noblest houses of Europe, but also huge    could offer sanctuary like any church of the day,
          rigor of discipline, and sophistication of battle  donations of money, property, and arms.     or convene their own courts to try local cases.
          tactics (all of which the Templars had on their  Because they were under the pope’s protection -  They ran their own markets and fairs, pocketing
          side, and their opponents, for the most part,   and were themselves designated the protectors  most of the proceeds. Their many commercial
          didn’t) proved to be as decisive as firepower   of the Christian faith - kings, princes, and   activities included the operation of farms,
          would be later.                                 church officials were, shall we say, obliged to  vineyards and mines.
                 When the Templars went into battle - a   give freely.
          mere dozen fully armed knights, charging on            Within another year or so, the Knights                          (Continued on Page 8)
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