Are the Templars German?

Are the Templars German?

In the annals of history, few organizations capture the imagination as the Knights Templar do. With their origins steeped in the fervor of the Middle Ages and the Crusades, the Templars’ story extends across countries and centuries, influencing politics, religion, and culture. This intrigue brings us to an intriguing question: Are the Templars German? Despite the French origin of the order, compelling links between the Templars and Germany invite a deep exploration. This article seeks to uncover the roots of the Templars, their substantial presence in Germany, and a surprising connection with the Haifa German Colony. Join us on this journey that traverses time and place, offering new perspectives on the Templars’ complex and fascinating history. 


The Order of the Knights Templar, one of history’s most fascinating and enigmatic organizations, has always been shrouded in mystery. Founded in 1119, their influence was felt across medieval Europe, the Middle East, and, as we will discover, even as far as Germany. But were the Templars themselves German? This question leads us to a riveting historical journey to trace the roots, the activities of Templars in Germany and their intriguing connection with the Haifa German Colony.

Templars’ Origins

Following the First Crusade, the Templars were founded by two French knights, Hugh de Payens and Godfrey de Saint-Omer. Their initial purpose was to ensure the safety of Christian pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land, but their remit quickly expanded. Although French knights played a vital role in their inception, the Templars soon became a pan-European entity, boasting members from various kingdoms and regions.

It’s essential to note that the Templars were not a national organization. Membership was not restricted by nationality, allowing knights from across Christendom, including Germany, to join their ranks.

What Nationality Were the Knights Templar?

When discussing the nationality of the Knights Templar, one enters an intriguingly complex historical sphere. The Knights Templar, or the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, was a medieval Christian military order founded in 1119. They originated during the aftermath of the First Crusade, with their inception aimed at protecting Christian pilgrims visiting the Holy Land.

The founding members of the Templar Order were primarily French, established by French knights Hugh de Payens and Godfrey de Saint-Omer. However, the order soon transformed into an international organization, breaking the confines of nationality. It welcomed knights from across Christendom, creating a multinational force dedicated to the cause of the Crusades.

Over time, the Templars developed a robust network across Europe, the Middle East, and even North Africa. Templar houses emerged in Portugal, England, Scotland, Italy, and indeed, Germany, among other regions. These facilities served as economic, religious, and military hubs and became recruiting grounds for new knights. Hence, the Templars came to comprise an assortment of nationalities, including French, English, Portuguese, Italian, and German knights.

Several Templar Grand Masters, the highest position within the order, were of German descent, including Herman de Perigord and Otto de Brons, further emphasizing the multinational character of the Templars. Yet, the organization’s structure transcended national boundaries. The Templars pledged allegiance to the Pope rather than any sovereign king or country, reinforcing their unique pan-European identity.

Therefore, while the Knights Templar had a French origin, their ranks over the years reflected a rich diversity of nationalities. The order’s distinctive structure, which focused on a collective religious purpose rather than individual national loyalties, contributed to its wide reach and long-lasting influence in the world of medieval Christendom.

Templars in Germany

Moving to the Templars in Germany, the Knights Templar held significant influence in the region, as evidenced by the prevalence of Templar houses across the country. Like monasteries, these houses were religious, economic, and military centers where Templar knights lived and trained. They were also essential waypoints for knights and pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land.

Germany was home to over 50 Templar houses, one of the largest concentrations outside of France. This prevalence indicates the substantial influence of the Templars within German society. But, it’s important to remember that while the Templars had a considerable presence in Germany, this does not necessarily denote German origin.

Famous German Templar Knights

Although the Knights Templar was an international order, its ranks boasted members from many countries, including prominent figures from Germany. Several German Templars rose to influential positions within the organization, gaining fame for their contributions to the order and the broader historical landscape.

One of the most significant German Templars was Herman de Perigord. Born in Germany, Herman rose through the ranks to become Grand Master of the Order in 1247. During his tenure, he worked closely with Louis IX of France during the Seventh Crusade. He played a crucial role in negotiating the release of Louis IX after the disastrous Battle of al-Mansura.

Another renowned German Templar was Otto de Brons. Though less is known about his early life, he served as Grand Master from 1228 to 1237. His leadership was marked by the aftermath of the Fifth Crusade and the political maneuverings of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, providing a challenging period for the Templars.

Also worthy of mention is Frederick of Saxony, a German prince who joined the Templars. He was involved in the Battle of Montgisard in 1177, a significant victory for the Christian forces during the Crusades.

These German Templar knights exemplify the global nature of the order. Their careers reflect a rich tapestry of international politics, warfare, diplomacy, and religious devotion during one of the most captivating periods in world history. They are a testament to the influence and diversity of the Knights Templar, an order that continues to intrigue historians and enthusiasts to this day.

What Are German Templar Colonies in Palestine?

The German Templar Colonies in Palestine, including the well-known Haifa German Colony, were settlements established by a religious and social movement originating in 19th-century Germany known as the Templars. These settlers were not direct successors of the medieval Knights Templar but drew inspiration from the Templars’ ideals, adopting the name as a testament to their devotion.

The Templars aimed to realize the apocalyptic prophecies of the Bible by settling in the Holy Land and leading a “pure” Christian life. They believed that their presence would hasten the second coming of Christ. In pursuit of this vision, they established several colonies in Ottoman Palestine in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which included areas in present-day Israel like Haifa, Jaffa, and Jerusalem.

The most famous of these is the German Colony in Haifa. Established in 1868, the colony was a blend of German and Middle Eastern architectural styles and cultural traditions. Notable structures, such as the colonists’ houses along Ben-Gurion Boulevard and the Immanuel Church, exhibit a unique fusion of cultural aesthetics.

The Templars thrived until World War II, after which most were expelled by the British authorities due to their German nationality. Despite this, the architectural and cultural legacy of the Templars persists in these regions, and the colonies remain popular historical and touristic sites.

The German Templar Colonies in Palestine illustrate a unique chapter in the history of European migration to the Middle East, reflecting a fascinating blend of religious aspiration, cultural exchange, and historical circumstances.

Germans within the Templar Order

While the Templars were not German by origin, many German knights were within the order. Records reveal that a number of Templar Grand Masters, the order’s highest position, were of German heritage. Herman de Perigord and Otto de Brons are two notable examples.

On the other hand, the number of German knights within the Templar ranks should not be surprising. In the medieval period, the German territories were a patchwork of powerful states and principalities, many actively engaged in the Crusades. As such, German knights were common among the Templars and other Crusading orders.

The Fall of the Templars

In 1307, the Templar Order faced a dramatic downfall. King Philip IV of France, heavily indebted to the Templars, launched a devastating campaign against them. Accusations of heresy, blasphemy, and various other charges were leveled at the Templars, leading to their disbandment in 1312.

The impact was felt across Europe, including Germany, where many Templars were arrested and their properties seized. Yet, some of the Templars supposedly managed to evade capture, leading to numerous legends and speculations about their ultimate fate.

Knights Templar Sites in Germany

Germany is home to an array of sites that testify to the Knights Templar’s influence. While the Templars were not a German-founded organization, their significant presence in Germany is undeniably etched into the architectural and historical landscape of the country.

One of the most well-known Templar sites is the Tempelhof Field in Berlin. Today, it serves as a massive public park, but its origins date back to the 13th century when the Knights Templar owned it. The Knights of Saint John later took over the area, yet the Templar’s original name—’Tempelhof’—has endured.

Venturing south to the region of Baden-Württemberg, the town of Weil der Stadt boasts a Templar House or Tempelhaus. This imposing structure served as a major Templar commandery, a testament to the Templars’ regional influence. The house has been meticulously preserved and is now used for cultural events, allowing visitors to experience the real history of the Templars in Germany.

In the heart of Bavaria, Templar sites are abundant. Among them, the city of Nuremberg stands out. The Nuremberg Castle, a grand fortification dominating the city’s skyline, housed a significant Templar community during the 12th and 13th centuries.

Another wonderful location is the village of Tempelberg in Brandenburg. As the name suggests, the Templars established a commandery here, and while little remains of the original structure, the Templar legacy endures in the village’s name and historical narrative.

The Templar presence across Germany reveals the extensive influence of this medieval order within the country. These sites offer a unique insight into the Templars’ activities and their role within the broader socio-political landscape of medieval Germany, reminding us of a time when knights, faith, and chivalry were the orders of the day.

The Templars and the Haifa German Colony

Fast forward to the 19th century, and we find an unexpected connection between the Templars and the Haifa German Colony in present-day Israel. The German Colony was established by the Templar Society, a group of Protestant German settlers who drew inspiration from the medieval Templars.

The settlers were not directly descended from the medieval Templars or a continuation of the original order. Instead, they were influenced by the Templars’ ethos and adopted the name in homage to their commitment to living a “pure” Christian life in the Holy Land.

In 1868, they established the German Colony in Haifa, creating a unique blend of German and Middle Eastern architecture and culture that remains a landmark today. The legacy of the Templars lives on in the German Colony, albeit not in the way one might initially expect.

Bottom Line 

In summary, were the Templars German? The answer is both yes and no. The Templar Order was not originally German, established by French knights in the aftermath of the First Crusade. However, they did have a considerable presence in Germany, with German knights among their ranks and Templar houses spread across the country.

Their influence is echoed centuries later in the establishment of the Haifa German Colony, not by direct descendants but by a group inspired by their ideals. This connection demonstrates the enduring legacy of the Templars, a testament to their significant impact on history, culture, and imagination, even far from their original sphere of influence.