knights templar founded

Guardians of the Holy Grail: The Founding and Legacy of the Knights Templar

The Knights Templar – the very name conjures images of chivalry, valor, and mystique. Their story is one of the most fascinating and enigmatic in history, and their influence continues to be felt to this day. In this section, we delve into the origins of the Knights Templar and explore their legacy.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Knights Templar were founded in the 12th century in Jerusalem.
  • They were a Catholic military order tasked with protecting Christian pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land.

The Birth of a Brotherhood

The origins of the Knights Templar can be traced back to the early 12th century, during the Crusades. It was a time of fervent religious belief, and a group of French knights saw the need to protect pilgrims visiting Jerusalem.

In 1119, the knights formed a military order called the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, later known as the Knights Templar. They took on monastic vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and lived according to a strict rule.

The order quickly gained popularity and support from the church and European monarchs. They were granted land, money, and rights, and soon became a powerful force in Europe.

The Founding Members

The founding members of the Knights Templar were Hughes de Payens, a knight from Champagne, and Godfrey de Saint-Omer. They were joined by seven other knights, including Andre de Montbard, the uncle of Bernard of Clairvaux, a prominent religious figure who supported the order.

The founding members went on a journey to seek approval and funding from King Baldwin II of Jerusalem. They were successful, and the king granted them lodging in the Temple of Solomon, which was in ruins. The knights worked hard to restore the temple and turned it into their headquarters.

The first years were difficult for the order, as they struggled to gain momentum and recognition. However, they were soon recognized for their military prowess and discipline, and their reputation grew.

Expansion and Influence

The Knights Templar expanded throughout Europe and established chapters in Spain, Portugal, England, and other countries. They became a powerful force and served as bankers to the monarchs, churches, and wealthy individuals.

They also served as protectors of the pilgrims visiting holy sites in the Middle East, and their military successes were legendary. They were instrumental in the Battle of Montgisard, where they saved the Crusader army from certain defeat against the Saracens.

The Knights Templar established a unique code of conduct, which included strict rules of behavior, hygiene, and diet. They were also devoted to their religious beliefs and were known for their piety.

In the next section, we will explore the rise of the Knights Templar during the Crusades and their military victories.

The Crusades: Rise to Prominence

During the Crusades, the Knights Templar quickly rose to prominence as one of the most influential military orders in Europe. The Order’s participation in the First Crusade in 1096, which aimed to recapture the Holy Land from Muslim control, marked the beginning of its rise.

The Templars’ reputation for bravery and skill on the battlefield earned them the respect and admiration of their fellow Crusaders, and soon the Order became a crucial ally in the fight against the Muslims. They were pivotal in battles such as the siege of Antioch in 1098 and the Battle of Ascalon in 1099.

Aside from their military prowess, the Knights Templar also played an important role in protecting Christian pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. Their border forts and safe houses provided a safe haven for travelers, and their escort services ensured safe passage through dangerous areas.

The Battle of Hattin

One of the Knights Templar’s most significant military engagements during the Crusades was the Battle of Hattin in 1187. Led by the visionary Muslim leader Saladin, the Muslim army dealt a crushing blow to the Crusaders, capturing the precious relic of the True Cross and decimating their forces. The Knights Templar, alongside the Knights Hospitaller and the Teutonic Knights, fought valiantly in the face of overwhelming odds but were ultimately defeated.

The aftermath of the battle led to the loss of many of the Christian territories, including Jerusalem, and the fall of the Crusader States. The Knights Templar, however, managed to survive the defeat and continued to play a significant role in the Crusades, including the Third Crusade.

The Legacy of the Crusades

Although the Crusades ultimately failed in their objective to recapture the Holy Land, their impact was far-reaching, and the Knights Templar played a significant role in shaping the course of history. Their deeds and sacrifices during the Crusades transformed them into legendary figures, and their military tactics and organizational structures influenced future military orders.

The Knights Templar’s involvement in the Crusades also helped to spread their reputation as defenders of Christianity and protectors of the Holy Land. This reputation would lead to the Order’s continued influence and wealth in Europe for many years to come.

The Templar Code: Structure and Ideals

The organization of the Knights Templar was unique in many ways, with a strict hierarchy and set of rules governing all aspects of life within the order. At the top of the hierarchy was the Grand Master, who held absolute authority over all members. Under him were the Seneschal, Marshal, and other officers who oversaw various aspects of the order’s activities.

The Knights themselves were divided into three classes: the fully professed Knights, the Sergeants, and the Chaplains. The fully professed Knights were the highest ranking members, taking vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and dedicating themselves to the defense of the Christian faith. The Sergeants were responsible for carrying out administrative duties, while the Chaplains were responsible for the spiritual welfare of the order.

The Templar Code, also known as the Rule of the Temple, was a set of guidelines designed to regulate the behavior of all members of the order. It emphasized obedience, humility, and piety, with strict punishments for disobedience or violations of the code. Examples of punishments for disobediences range from being bound to bread and water or even exile from the order.

The order was also deeply devoted to the religious aspects of their mission, with daily masses, regular confession, and spiritual guidance all playing a central role in the life of a Templar. They were also required to wear the distinctive white mantle with a red cross, which became a symbol of their order and their dedication to the ideals of chivalry.

The Influence of the Templar Code Today

The principles of the Templar Code continue to inspire and influence people today. Many modern organizations, including some in the military and law enforcement fields, model their codes of conduct after the Templar Code. The ideals of honor, discipline, and self-sacrifice embodied by the Knights Templar continue to be a source of inspiration for many.

Wealth and Power: The Templar Order’s Influence

The Knights Templar were not only a military order but also a financial powerhouse that amassed vast wealth throughout their existence. They established an extensive network of properties, businesses and operated as bankers to the Christian world.

Source of Wealth Examples
Donations Numerous nobles, monarchs, and even popes donated money, land, or other valuable assets to the Knights Templar.
Trade The Knights Templar had extensive trade operations throughout Europe and the Middle East, including the import and export of rare goods.
Banking The Templars became well known for their banking activities, providing safe storage for pilgrims’ riches, personal banking services, and issuing credit notes, which was the precursor to modern-day banking systems.

The wealth of the Knights Templar was a significant factor in their downfall. Many of the European monarchs, who had borrowed money from the order, saw an opportunity to eradicate their debts while simultaneously acquiring their enormous riches.

The Templars’ extensive land and property holdings also contributed to their wealth. They owned farms, vineyards, and even entire villages throughout Europe, providing them with a steady income from rents and taxes.

The Templar’s vast wealth made them the target of many accusations and rumors, including allegations of hoarding treasure, engaging in satanic rituals, and even controlling the world’s governments.

The influence and wealth of the Knights Templar were undeniable and played a significant role in their rise to prominence as well as their ultimate demise.

Accusations and Persecution

The downfall of the Knights Templar began with a series of accusations that ultimately led to their persecution. In the early 14th century, King Philip IV of France was heavily in debt to the Templars and saw an opportunity to seize their wealth. He began to spread rumors that the Knights were engaging in heretical practices and ordered their arrest.

Many of the Templars were subjected to brutal interrogations and torture, with some confessing to false crimes under duress. In 1312, Pope Clement V officially disbanded the order, and many of its members were imprisoned or executed.

The Trial of the Templars

The trial of the Templars was a farce, with many of the accusations being based on hearsay and rumors. The Knights were accused of denying Christ, spitting on the cross, and engaging in homosexual acts. These allegations were completely unfounded, but they were used as justification for the Templars’ persecution.

The trial was also marked by corruption and political maneuvering. King Philip IV used his influence to stack the court with sympathetic judges who were willing to do his bidding. The proceedings were heavily biased against the Templars, with many of their lawyers being intimidated or bribed into silence.

The End of the Templars

Despite their efforts to clear their name, the Templars were unable to overcome the overwhelming political forces arrayed against them. Hundreds of Knights were burned at the stake, and the order was officially disbanded by the Pope.

However, the legacy of the Knights Templar lived on, inspiring countless books, movies, and legends. The order’s downfall has also been the subject of much historical debate, with many scholars questioning the legitimacy of the accusations against the Knights. Today, the Templars are remembered as symbols of honor, valor, and sacrifice.

Legacy: Myths and Legends

Throughout history and popular culture, the Knights Templar have been shrouded in myths and legends surrounding their alleged connection to the Holy Grail. These stories have been perpetuated through books, movies, and various media, fueling public fascination with this enigmatic order.

One of the most enduring myths surrounding the Knights Templar is their supposed involvement in the search for the Holy Grail, the cup that Jesus used at the Last Supper. This legend originated in medieval times and has been popularized through numerous works of fiction, including Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code.

Another popular myth is that the Knights Templar possessed secret knowledge or relics, such as the Ark of the Covenant or the Shroud of Turin. While there is no solid evidence to support these claims, they have nevertheless contributed to the Knights Templar’s enduring mystique.

“It is said that the Templars possess some forbidden knowledge, or even a treasure of unimaginable wealth. Some even claim that they can still be found today, guarding their secrets from the shadows.”

The Holy Grail

The story of the Holy Grail has captured the imaginations of people for centuries, and the Knights Templar have been linked to this legend through their supposed discovery of the cup during the Crusades. However, there is no historical evidence to support this claim, and the idea of the Holy Grail as a physical object is now widely regarded as a myth.

Despite this, the search for the Holy Grail continues to captivate people’s imaginations, with many modern-day organizations claiming to have found it or possess secret knowledge about its whereabouts.

The Curse of the Templars

Another popular legend surrounding the Knights Templar is the so-called “curse of the Templars.” According to this story, the Templars were cursed by the Pope and condemned to a life of misery and suffering for their alleged heresy and sins.

This curse is said to have manifested in various ways, such as the premature deaths of many Templars and the destruction of their order. Some even believe that the curse still affects those who seek to uncover the secrets of the Knights Templar, with mysterious accidents and unexplained phenomena occurring around them.

Influence on Popular Culture

The Knights Templar have had a profound influence on popular culture, appearing in countless books, movies, and video games. Their image as brave warriors and protectors of the Holy Grail has captured the imaginations of many, making them a popular subject for fiction and fantasy.

One of the most iconic representations of the Knights Templar in popular culture is their depiction in the Assassin’s Creed video game series. In the games, the player assumes the role of an assassin battling against the Templars, who are portrayed as a shadowy organization with nefarious motives.

Overall, the Knights Templar’s enduring legacy in myths and legends has solidified their place in popular imagination, making them one of the most fascinating and mysterious orders in history.

Influence on Freemasonry and Popular Culture

The influence of the Knights Templar can still be seen today in various aspects of modern culture, including the secrecy and rituals of Freemasonry. The Knights Templar served as a model for the fraternal organization, which traces its own origins back to the medieval period.

Many of the symbols and traditions in Freemasonry are believed to have been borrowed from the Knights Templar, including the use of a red cross as a prominent emblem. In fact, some Masonic orders have embraced the name and iconography of the Knights Templar, incorporating them into their own rituals and degrees.

The Knights Templar have also left their mark on popular culture, inspiring countless works of literature, art, and media. From classic novels like Sir Walter Scott’s “Ivanhoe” to modern blockbusters like “The Da Vinci Code,” the Knights Templar have captured the public imagination as romantic heroes or dark conspirators.

However, much of the popular mythology surrounding the Knights Templar is based on speculation and legend rather than historical fact. Scholars and historians continue to debate the true nature and legacy of this enigmatic order.

Modern-Day Knights Templar: Orders and Revivals

Despite their dissolution in the 14th century, the Knights Templar continue to captivate the imagination of people around the world. Today, various organizations claim to be either the direct descendants of the original order or inspired by its legacy. These groups often adopt the symbols and rituals associated with the Knights Templar, such as their distinctive red cross.

One of the most prominent modern-day orders is the Knights Templar International (KTI), which claims to have been established in 2007 as a spiritual and chivalric order. The KTI asserts that it is not affiliated with any other organization claiming to be the Knights Templar and that it does not condone violence or hate speech. Instead, the KTI aims to promote Christian values, charity, and the preservation of heritage sites linked to the Knights Templar.

Other organizations that claim a connection to the Knights Templar include the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (SMOTJ), which was founded in the United States in the 18th century. The SMOTJ describes itself as a “modern-day chivalric order” and requires its members to be of the Christian faith. The order’s activities include charity work, cultural preservation, and education.

The Modern-Day Templar Code

Modern-day orders that claim to be descended from the Knights Templar often adhere to a code of conduct that reflects the original order’s principles of chivalry, honor, and service. For example, the KTI’s code emphasizes the importance of defending the weak, protecting heritage sites, and administering justice. Similarly, the SMOTJ’s code stresses the need to uphold Christian values, respect for authority, and loyalty to fellow members.

Despite their claims to carry on the legacy of the Knights Templar, modern-day organizations that use the order’s name and symbols have been criticized for lacking historical legitimacy. Some scholars argue that these groups distort or oversimplify the complex history of the original order and that their adoption of the Templar name is little more than a marketing ploy.

Nevertheless, the enduring fascination with the Knights Templar and their legacy ensures that these modern-day revivals will continue to attract members and generate interest for years to come.

Artifacts and Relics: Traces of the Knights Templar

The legacy of the Knights Templar lives on in the artifacts, relics, and architectural marvels they left behind. These tangible traces of their existence and influence continue to fascinate and inspire people to this day.

One of the most notable artifacts associated with the Knights Templar is the Shroud of Turin. This piece of cloth, which bears the image of a crucified man, has been the subject of much speculation and debate over the years. Some believe it to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, while others attribute it to the work of medieval forgers. Regardless of its origins, the Shroud has long been associated with the Knights Templar, who allegedly possessed it at one time.

Artifact Description
The Templar Seal The emblem of the Knights Templar, depicting two knights riding a single horse, has become an iconic symbol of the order.
The Temple Church This church in London was built by the Knights Templar in the 12th century and contains many symbols associated with the order, including their seal and effigies of Templar knights.
The Castle of Tomar This Portuguese castle was built by the Knights Templar in the 12th century and served as their headquarters in Portugal. It contains many architectural features unique to the order, including a water distribution system and a round church.

Other artifacts associated with the Knights Templar include their distinctive seal, which depicts two knights riding a single horse, and the Temple Church in London, which contains many symbols associated with the order, including effigies of Templar knights. The Castle of Tomar in Portugal, which served as the Knights Templar’s headquarters in that country, is also an impressive architectural feat that bears witness to their influence.

While many artifacts associated with the Knights Templar have been lost or destroyed over time, their legacy endures through these tangible traces of their past. They serve as a reminder of the order’s accomplishments, and their enduring influence on history and popular imagination.


In conclusion, the Knights Templar have left an indelible mark on history and popular imagination. From their origins as a small group of knights to their ascendancy as a powerful and wealthy religious order, the Knights Templar have captured the attention of people for centuries.

While their legacy is often overshadowed by myth and speculation, the Knights Templar played a significant role in European history, particularly during the Crusades. Their military prowess, financial expertise, and religious devotion left an impact that is still felt today.

Despite their downfall and persecution, the Knights Templar continue to inspire fascination and admiration. Their unique brand of chivalry, secrecy, and devotion to their cause has influenced many modern-day organizations, including Freemasonry and various revivalist groups.

While much of their history remains shrouded in mystery, the artifacts and relics left behind by the Knights Templar provide tangible evidence of their existence and influence. From the beautiful architecture of their churches and castles to the legendary Holy Grail, the Knights Templar have left a lasting legacy that continues to captivate and intrigue people around the world.


Q: What is the origin of the Knights Templar?

A: The Knights Templar were founded in the early 12th century in Jerusalem by a group of knights.

Q: What were the Knights Templar’s role during the Crusades?

A: The Knights Templar became influential during the Crusades and played a significant role in protecting pilgrims and securing important sites.

Q: What was the organizational structure of the Knights Templar?

A: The Knights Templar had a unique code of conduct and religious devotion that governed their organizational structure.

Q: How did the Knights Templar accumulate wealth and power?

A: The Knights Templar amassed vast wealth through their financial operations and involvement in banking.

Q: What led to the downfall of the Knights Templar?

A: The Knights Templar faced persecution and were accused of heresy, leading to their ultimate downfall.

Q: What are some myths and legends associated with the Knights Templar?

A: The Knights Templar are often linked to legends surrounding the Holy Grail and other mythical artifacts.

Q: How have the Knights Templar influenced Freemasonry and popular culture?

A: The Knights Templar have had a lasting impact on Freemasonry and have been portrayed in various books and movies.

Q: Are there any modern-day orders or organizations that claim to continue the legacy of the Knights Templar?

A: Yes, there are modern-day orders and organizations that seek to carry on the traditions of the Knights Templar.

Q: What artifacts and relics provide evidence of the Knights Templar’s existence?

A: There are various artifacts, relics, and architectural marvels that serve as tangible traces of the Knights Templar.

Q: What is the conclusion of the article?

A: The article summarizes the key points discussed and emphasizes the lasting impact of the Knights Templar on history and popular imagination.