Knights Templar (or simply Templars), mysteries, and warfare – these three avenues had an obscure connection when it came to the mercurial times of the medieval Crusades. In fact, the full name of the Templars – ‘Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon’ (or Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonici in Latin) alludes to the ancient and enigmatic Solomon’s Temple.
And while the Templars did exhibit their fanatical martial prowess on the battlefields (a ‘quality’ conducive to Crusades), the moniker of ‘Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ’ didn’t really do the organization any justice.
That is because, by the 13th century AD, the Order administered an incredibly well-managed economic infrastructure throughout Christendom (including the Holy Land). The French Templars also made innovations in the early banking systems of Western Europe.
However, there was more to the Knights Templar than deep fortunes and fervent warfare tactics. So without further ado, let us take a gander at the origins, history, and military of the Knights Templar.
- Origins: From Praying to Fighting
- The Obscure Link to Temple of Solomon?
- Commercial Empire Beyond the Holy Land
- Alternate Feudalism of the Knights Templar
- The ‘Knights’ of the Templar Order
- The Armor of the Knights Templar
- The Weapons of the Knights Templar
- The Tight-Packed Charge of the Knights Templar
- Yes, There Were Female Members of the Templar Order
- The Healthy Diet of the Templars
- Varying Motivations For Joining the Templars
- The Downside of ‘Fanaticism’
- The Politics-Induced Fall of the Knights Templar
- Official Proof of Innocence?
- The Enigmatic Symbol of Two Knights
- The Mystery of the Holy Grail
Origins: From Praying to Fighting
It is quite a well-known fact that the Knights Templar took a vow to defend their fellow Christians from ‘foreign’ intrusions, especially in the Outremer (the conglomeration of Crusader States in the Levant).
But interestingly enough, as Prof. Helen Nicholson noted, their proclivity towards martial pursuits was only developed as a reactionary measure, rather than a (starting) ideology that dictated religious warfare.
To that end, historically, in the aftermath of the First Crusade, some of the Christian warriors actually decided to put away their swords in favor of a monastic lifestyle based around the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
But with the establishment of the Christian control in the Holy Land, the scenario became a logistical nightmare for the nascent Outremer kingdoms – because a great number of Christian pilgrims flocked to the sacred sites in the newly conquered lands. And as more visitors turned up from Western Europe around the confines of Jerusalem, local bandits (that also included Muslims who lost their lands) took advantage of the chaos and attacked these common pilgrims.
Afflicted by these raids, the monastic warriors decided to once again take up their swords. As a result, pertinent military brotherhoods were formed. Some of these fraternities finally combined together to form the Templar Order, approved by the Church in 1120 AD. The official recognition came in spite of criticism from contemporary Christian religious leaders.
The first Grand Master of the original Knights Templar was Hugh de Payns (or Hugues de Payens). He was supposedly a French knight who started the military order at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with just eight men, in 1119 AD – two decades after the successful First Crusade.
The Obscure Link to Temple of Solomon?
As we mentioned before, the full name of the Knights Templar (‘Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon’) directly linked the order with the Temple of Solomon. Now from the historical perspective, the temple pertains to an enigmatic ancient structure whose existence is still debated among historians.
But the ‘Temple’ and ‘King Solomon’ referred to in the case of the Templars might not be as sensational as one would be inclined to think. That is because after the Order was ratified by the Catholic Church (possibly at the Council of Nablus, circa 1120 AD), the king of Jerusalem, Baldwin II, gifted the Templars a wing of his makeshift ‘royal palace’ inside the Al Aqsa mosque situated on Temple Mount.
Now given Temple Mount’s mystical (and possible physical) association with Solomon’s Temple, folks from Western Europe frequently (and misleadingly) referred to the Al Aqsa mosque as the ‘Temple’. As a result, the new occupants of this palace probably became known as the ‘Order of the Temple’, or the ‘Templars’.
And on an interesting note, Al Aqsa is possibly the oldest Islamic structure in the world. But since it has been rebuilt many times during the course of history, the building cannot be considered the oldest ‘extant’ specimen of Islamic architecture – an honor that belongs to the proximate Dome of The Rock.
Commercial Empire Beyond the Holy Land
After the First Crusade, the primary goal of the Knight Templars was to protect pilgrims and Christian holy sites against ‘foreign’ forays. But was not long before they were involved in political affairs in Outremer, sometimes at the beckoning of the secular rulers (like Baldwin II) of the Christian States in the region.
Such overtures translated to defending borders of these newly-established realms or mounting skirmishes against local enemy forces, thus allowing the Templars to flex their military muscle. A pertinent example would point to the Third Crusade in 1189 AD – during which military orders like the Templars and Hospitallers played their important roles. In return, they were gifted lands, farms, and even castles for management.
Similar scenarios were also played out in the west in Iberia (Spain and Portugal). Christian kingdoms based there valued the military prowess of the Templars – so much so that they were offered swathes of lands and castles on the frontiers that separated the Moors.
The support was also given through land and monetary endowments that were situated across Europe, far away from the conflict zones. Supported by such large tracts of real estate, the powerful Templars not only managed farms and vineyards, but also engaged in manufacturing, imports, and even ship-building – thus creating a ‘multinational’ commercial empire of sorts that connected medieval Christendom.
It should also be noted that the Templar Order was given autonomous status and special rights within both Europe and the Holy Land. Decreed by the Papal Bull in 1139 AD (and bypassing the concerns of religious leaders), they were exempt from paying taxes and permitted to build their religious buildings on their lands. But more importantly, no European monarch held authority over them. In other words, simply the Templars were only answerable to the Pope.
Interestingly, in spite of their fascinating mercantile acumen, the individual Knights Templar were sworn to poverty (at least in theory). This, in turn, led to the creation of a trustworthy ‘brand value’ that advertised Catholic Christian virtues with a military veneer.
Inspired by these supportive measures, and also fearful of their own safety, European pilgrims (circa 1150 AD) frequently deposited their valuables with the local Templar preceptory before embarking on their overseas journey to the Holy Land (Middle East).
The Templars, in turn, prepared letters of credit that indicated the value of these deposits. So once the pilgrim reached the Holy Land, he/she was handed over an amount of treasure of equal value (as written in the document). Simply put, this system alluded to an early form of banking and quite a successful one at that.
Alternate Feudalism of the Knights Templar
With all the talk about lands, it is interesting to know that the Templar Knight brothers managed their assets in a feudalistic manner, as mentioned by Prof. Nicholson (in her book Knights Templar 1120 – 1312). In fact, like most kingdoms of the time, the lands under Templar rule were divided into autonomous provinces that were governed by the ‘provincial’ Grand Master.
He, often a French knight, usually came from an aristocratic background. The individual provinces were further divided into smaller commanderies (or preceptories in Latin), with each property being administered by a commander, who also hailed from the higher social strata.
Now in practical terms, many of these rural commanderies consisted of farmlands that were controlled by a hold. This local stronghold housed the regional brothers, while also comprising a Templar chapel (like one situated in Chwarszczany, Poland) and accommodation for travelers.
And mirroring the secular feudal system of Europe, a portion of the annual revenues generated from the lands under the commander – known as responsion, was paid to the provincial Grand Master, who in turn transferred the income to the Knights Templar headquarters.
The amounts and requirements of responsion were frequently discussed in the ‘chapter’ meetings that were organized intermittently at a gap of a few years. These meetings also doubled as general assemblies that appointed officials and passed newer rules and amendments.
Furthermore, the chapter conclaves practically maintained the (much needed) communications between the Templar brothers who were usually stationed in various parts of Europe and the Crusader States.
The ‘Knights’ of the Templar Order
Often times the Templars were considered synonymous with the Knights Templar. Although in a practical scenario that was not the case. In fact, knights formed a small percentage in a chapter, and they usually headed the other warrior-brothers from the Order.
Now it should be interesting to know that the statuses of these Knights Templar also mirrored the evolution of the knightly class as the political elite in the European societies. So as we discussed at length in one of our articles about the medieval knights –
…the first medieval knight was not really the lord who dabbled in opulent affairs. On the contrary, he was of ‘relatively’ lower social status (though always a free man) and was brought forth to the political world because of his military prowess.
Similarly, in the case of the Templars, the knights who were inducted into the Order in 1120 AD were (possibly) of lower (or mixed) social status. However, a century later, most European knights acquired their higher social standing. So by the late 13th century, a brother whose family belonged to the knightly class was only allowed to enter the Order as a knight (and thus was accorded the status of Knights Templar).
The other non-knightly warriors in the Templar Order mainly consisted of the sergents (in French) or servientes in Latin, which can be either translated as ‘sergeants’ or ‘servants’. Most of these warriors played a supporting role on the battlefield, by forming solid infantry lines or at times doubling up as screening medium cavalry. However, there were also many sergents who played non-combative roles by taking up ‘commercial’ professions like builders and craftsmen.
The Armor of the Knights Templar
An armor list dating from circa 1165 AD sheds light on the protective equipment worn by the knights of the Templar Order. It starts off by listing the padded jerkin or haubergeon that was worn beneath the main armor and as such provided additional protection.
Over the jerkin, the knight preferred the mail hauberk, basically comprising a long-sleeved mail shirt extending till the head – known as mail coif (fort et turcoise), the hands – mail mittens (manicle de fer), and thighs – cuisses.
But arguably, the most recognizable element of a Knights Templar panoply pertains to their white surcoat with the red cross, which not only made them identifiable (within Crusader contingents) but also mitigated the hot Levant sun that could beat down on the relatively heavy armor underneath.
In fact, the high temperatures of the Outremer often forced many of their Hospitaller brethren, who unfortunately tended to wear black, to adopt lighter armor in the form of panceria or light mail. In any case, the Templars wore the iconic white surcoat possibly as a monastic capae, as referred to by Pope Gregory IX in circa 1240 AD.
And lastly, befitting their status as the heavy cavalry of the military order, the Knights Templar invested in additional protection for the head. So over the mail coifs (that were used like hoods), the knights wore helmets or helms, initially open-faced but later on adopting the closed-faced variety (with riveted iron plates, eye-slits, and ventilation holes).
By the 13th century, few of the knights and most mounted sergeants wore the chapeau de fer, the kettle hat-shaped iron helmet with a wider brim for potentially deflecting enemy blows.
The Weapons of the Knights Templar
It is highly probable that the knights from the Templar Order fought with similar arms that were used by the contemporary ‘secular’ knights in the Holy Land. For example, swords were perceived as very important weapons by medieval European knights – partly because of their forms that insinuated Christian symbolism.
Simply put, the typical broadsword resembled the cruciform with the crossguard cutting a right angle across the grip which extends into the blade. Such imagery must have played its psychological role in bolstering the morale of many spiritual Crusaders.
The Knights Templar were also issued with the ubiquitous lance (preferably made of sturdy yet flexible ashwood, with lengths of around 13 ft), and three types of knives (including a combat dagger and a bread knife). Some Templars uniquely also carried a ‘Turkish’ mace (grudgingly adopted from their Muslim foes) – possibly inspired by the armor-shattering capacity of such heavy weapons.
Some codified statutes also hint at the use of rather ‘exotic’ non-knightly weapons such as crossbows – that were fired from both horsebacks (in a stationary position) and on foot.
The Tight-Packed Charge of the Knights Templar
The military effectiveness of the Templars arguably related to their capacity for fighting and organizational skills during the early medieval Crusades. But oddly enough, there were no specific instructions dedicated to martial training and pursuits in the Templars’ Rule (a codified statute approved by the Papal Bull).
This was probably because the warrior-brothers who joined the Knights Templar ranks were already expected to have some experience in fighting and tactics – be it in horse-riding, wielding swords, couched lances, and maneuvering spears from horseback (or dismounted positions).
Interestingly, as we mentioned before, some regulations also allude to the use of rather non-knightly weapons such as crossbows. Furthermore, the Templars also employed mercenaries like the famed Turcopoles (derived from the Greek: τουρκόπουλοι, meaning ‘sons of Turks‘).
These ‘Turks’ were mainly lightly armed cavalry and horse-archers usually comprising the local forces of the Levant, like the Christianized Seljuqs and the Syrian Eastern Orthodox Christians.
Now beyond training and mercenaries, it was the devastating charge of the Templars in key battles that brought them renown throughout the Holy Land. Many then-contemporary literary sources write about how the Knights Templar were masters of forming the tight-packed eschielle (squadron) and charging into their enemies in wedged formations.
Now while this maneuver seems simple in theory, the scope must have required expert levels of discipline and organizational skill to actually make it work on a battlefield against a formidable foe.
In fact, such degrees of discipline contrast with their secular Western European counterparts, who were more prone to individualistic glory on the battlefield as opposed to dedicated teamwork.
To that end, it can be hypothesized that the Templars were more organized simply because of their reactionary measure to counter the superior mobility (and tactics) of the Muslim armies. Moreover, it should also be noted that many of the knights who joined the Order were already experienced veterans when it came to military careers.
Yes, There Were Female Members of the Templar Order
In the earlier entry, we talked about the knights and the sergeants. Other than those ‘fighting’ members, the Templars also inducted priest-brothers for spiritual support of their communities.
These ‘chaplains’ performed the various religious functions within the order, including the conducting of prayers, the celebration of masses and even hearing confessions. And quite intriguingly, some Templar chapters present in Europe also included female members among the ranks.
These ‘sisters’ were housed in Templar buildings that were segregated from the main chapter house. And while they were obviously not expected to fight in battles, many of the nuns actively took part in the spiritual side of affairs – by helping the priest-brothers in their praying tasks and even offering psychological counseling to warriors.
Furthermore, there were associate female members (along with males) who made donations and other contributions to the Order, in spite of not taking the full monastic vow required from regular members.
The Healthy Diet of the Templars
Beyond enigmatic symbols, deep fortunes, and fervent warfare, the Templars were also known for their apparent longevity. And that may have resulted from their controlled diet that avoided traditional European food items.
As most historical sources make it evident, many important members of the Templar Order lived long enough when compared to the average life expectancy in Medieval Europe which oscillated between 25–40 years.
So in contrast, Hugues de Payens, the first Grand Master of the Order, lived till the age of 66 (and died in 1136 AD); Geoffrey de Charney, the preceptor of Normandy, was 63 when burned at the stake in 1314 AD; and finally, Grand Master Jacques De Molay, who was also burned at the stake in 1314 AD after seven years of imprisonment, died at the age of 67.
And while many then-contemporary sources equated such longevity to ‘divine will’, there was more to their lifestyles than just the favor of God. One of the potential reasons for longer lives can be arguably related to the unique diet patterns of many Templars. This diet mostly included the profusion of fruits, vegetables, dried legumes, and cheese, along with the preference for fish – as opposed to red meat.
The Templars also consumed moderate levels of wine infused with aloe pulps (with their antiseptic quality), while using nutritious olive oil for cooking. These are quite healthy when compared to the fat-drenched and potentially carcinogenic foodstuff (like grilled meat) usually consumed by other European political elites – which often led to conditions like high blood pressure and obesity.
On the other hand, the healthiness espoused by the Templars was not just limited to the food items. It also extended to hygienic table settings, with clean cloths being expected at the refectory, along with the complete prohibition of hunting (thus leading to mitigation of bacterial intrusions).
These ‘measures’ were obviously backed by their practical reasons, with some being purely related to the maintenance of a healthy body for martial pursuits (as opposed to just good living). As one of the researchers from a pertinent study made it clear –
The Templar diet was specifically designed to fight this condition: Can one imagine an overweight knight fighting a dozen enemies?
Varying Motivations For Joining the Templars
It naturally raises the question – why did knights leave the apparent opulence of their ‘lordly’ lives to join one of the austere military orders that advocated simple living and sexual abstinence? Well, the reasons were many, with some joining the ranks of the Knights Templar to escape their personal tragedies over at home, like the death of their loved ones.
Others joined the Order as penance for their presumed sins, while some of the knights also seriously believed in the ‘core’ cause of the Templars – to protect Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land from the ‘non-believers’.
Relating to an odd parcel of Templar history, there were also instances when criminal (or excommunicated) knights were enlisted into the order as punishment for their deeds. Although in a practical scenario this method also served as an effective conscription technique for bolstering the Templar ranks with experienced warriors.
In that regard, we can comprehend the inspiration behind the Night’s Watch featured in The Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) novel series by G.R.R. Martin.
The non-knightly members of the Templar Order had more varying reasons to join the reclusive ranks. Usually hailing from poorer sections of the society, many joined to simply provide themselves with timely meals on a daily basis. Other desperate (and illiterate) folks took the gamble to be ‘martyrs’ – pertaining to a glorious death on the battlefield against the ‘infidels’.
According to their beliefs, aided by propaganda, this would release them from their uncertain lives (that in the middle ages were usually cut short by diseases or starvation), and gain them ‘direct access’ to heaven. In any case, one shouldn’t also overlook the significant percentage of people who simply joined the Order to justify their belief in the core principle of the Templars.
These included protecting Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land (unfortunately, such values later morphed into bloodthirsty punitive actions). Many of the brothers were probably pilgrims themselves and were later inspired by the fighting prowess (or at least the ‘advertised’ prowess) of the Templars in the Outremer.
The Downside of ‘Fanaticism’
Unfortunately for the Templars, as noted by Prof. Nicholson, a ‘right’ charge was not always conducive to winning the battle, especially since this aggressive battle tactic required other Christian forces to exploit the gaps in the enemy ranks brought on by the heavy cavalry assault.
So in many practical scenarios, these supporting forces (derived from the Frankish kingdoms of Outremer) were not sufficiently drilled to take the dynamic advantage on the battlefield, thus leaving the Templars stranded and surrounded by the agile Muslim foes.
These situations were even more exacerbated for the Templars in the earlier Crusades because most of them were executed on being captured without mercy – as was the bloody scene after the Battle of Hattin (circa 1187 AD).
Such extreme actions on the part of the Muslims were probably instigated by bouts of savagery displayed by the Templar Order itself in various battles. Sometimes the Muslims were even portrayed as soldiers of the Antichrist. And as such many (illiterate) brothers believed in the ethnic or religious cleansing of the adherents of the Islamic faith – so as to prepare the Holy Land for the advent of Christ’s kingdom.
Beyond just misleading narratives (as was the case in most medieval societies, including Islamic ones), their uncompromising principles, like not surrendering until the Red Cross of martyrdom had fallen in battle, also added to unwarranted afflictions on the battlefield.
But instead of paying ransoms, the Order just sent knives and belts to the captors – thus symbolizing how fighting was their ransom, and on being captured the knights would rather die than be paid for. However, as time went on, the practicality of military requirement triumphed over zealotry, and thus by the late 13th century, some high-ranking Knights Templar were indeed ransomed successfully.
The Politics-Induced Fall of the Knights Templar
Now in spite of the martial ability and prowess of the Christian military orders, by the late 13th century it was becoming increasingly clear that the Crusaders were fighting a losing battle (discussed here at length) in the Holy Land.
The fall of Acre in 1291 AD rather underlined such a precarious geopolitical situation for the Christian polities in the Levant. However, as opposed to a complete military defeat by their Muslim foes, the Knights Templar was dissolved and almost destroyed by a Christian monarch – namely King Philip IV of France.
According to some modern historians, King Philip IV was possibly in debt to the Templars (we already discussed the immense financial power of the Templar Order in continental Europe) due to his wars with the English. Consequently, the French king may have decided to outlaw the Templars in a bid to remove his debts.
Thus he ordered the arrest of many order members, including their Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay, on 13 October 1307 AD (which fell on a Friday, thereby possibly giving rise to the superstition of Friday the 13th). The king also managed to either convince or pressurize Pope Clement V to issue a Papal Bull that called for the arrest of all Templars residing in other parts of Europe beyond France.
There were numerous charges laid down during the mass arrests, ranging from sensational like idol worship, forced spitting on the crucifix during initiation, indecent kissing amongst themselves (basically acts of homosexuality) to the conventional like fraud, financial corruption, and even secrecy.
Some of the arrest warrants had religious overtones with phrases like: “Dieu n’est pas content, nous avons des ennemis de la foi dans le Royaume” [“God is not pleased. We have enemies of the faith in the kingdom”].
Subsequently, many of the Templars were forced to give false confessions under torture and duress. And while a good many of them later recanted their confessions, including Jacques de Molay, Pope Clement V and the Church Council were coerced to disband the entire order, after King Philip IV threatened to go to war over the issue.
As a result, many senior Knights Templar, like the Grand Master and Preceptor of Normandy, were sentenced to death on charges of heresy – and they were unceremoniously burned at the stake in Paris, opposite Notre Dame in 1314 AD.
A great many members from around Europe were also detained and arrested (although without adequate charges), but most of them were either absorbed into other military orders or allowed to live peacefully with pensions. And officially, the property of the Knights Templar was transferred to the Knights Hospitaller.
Official Proof of Innocence?
Divine judgment or pure coincidence? During his execution, Grand Master De Molay’s recorded words were – “Dieu sait qui a tort et a péché. Il va bientot arriver malheur à ceux qui nous ont condamnés à mort” [“God knows who is wrong and has sinned. Soon a calamity will occur to those who have condemned us to death”].
Incidentally, Pope Clement died only a month later, while Philip IV died later that year (1314 AD). As for the other remnants of the Knights Templar, some were given refuge in the Kingdom of Portugal. Their remaining properties and castles were also largely left untouched in the neighboring Kingdoms of Aragon and Castile.
And while the Order was officially dissolved by the Catholic Church (under Pope Clement), in the course of just five years, bolstered by the shelter and aid provided in Portugal and parts of Spain, the Knights Templar simply adopted a new name and constitution.
This reorganization pertained to the Military Order of Christ (Ordem Militar de Cristo – secularized in 1769) and also a parallel Supreme Order of Christ of the Holy See. Both of these organizations are functional, albeit in a limited capacity, even in our modern era.
Interestingly enough, in the year 2001, historians found evidence of the record of the final trial of the Templars from the Vatican Secret Archives. Known as the Chinon Parchments, these documents and letters outline how the Pope not only absolved the Templars of their alleged heresies but also had the ones who confessed their heresy (under torture) “restored to the Sacraments and to the unity of the Church”, in 1308 AD.
The Enigmatic Symbol of Two Knights
Beyond the Red Cross of Martyrdom, on the ‘puzzling’ side of affairs, there was (and still is) some degree of subtlety pertaining to the third Templar seal, which depicted two knights sitting on a single horse.
Now the most common (though possibly incorrect) explanation relates how two ‘poor knights’ on a single horse symbolized the state of poverty advocated by individual Templars. Another explanation talks about the representation of ‘true’ brotherhood, wherein one knight rescues the other knight whose horse is probably injured.
Intriguingly enough, there is a plausible commentary regarding two soldiers on a single horse, written by Saladin’s chronicler Bahaed-Din Ibn Shaddad (referenced from Knights Templar 1120 – 1312 By Helen Nicholson) –
On June 7, 1192, the Crusader army marched to attack the Holy City, (then occupied by Saladin). Richard’s spies reported a long-awaited supply train coming from Egypt to relieve Saladin’s army…when Richard received information that the caravan was close at hand…a thousand horseman set out, each of whom took a foot soldier (on his horse) in front of him…
At daybreak, he took the caravan unawares. Islam had suffered a serious disaster…The spoils were three thousand camels, three thousand horses, five hundred prisoners and a mountain of military supplies. Never was Saladin more grieved, or more anxious.
The Mystery of the Holy Grail
The mystery had always played a part in the cryptic aura of the Templars, so much so that one of the charges made against them in 1307 AD entailed ‘secrecy’. Now a later analysis of the events has revealed that the Templars were probably innocent of most of the charges, and thus were just victims of monarchical politics in the early 14th century.
One of these ‘big’ secrets of the Templars arguably relates to the Holy Grail – a relic that has been fancifully described by few medieval writers (like Robert of Boron) as the chalice of Jesus Christ during his Last Supper (that was apparently also used to collect his blood after the Crucifixion).
These medieval stories, comparable to contemporary bestsellers added fantastical elements – like how the chalice, with its imbued power of Christ, was transported to Canterbury, thus giving rise to the tales of King Arthur and his quests. One such Arthurian story Parzival, compiled by German writer Wolfram von Eschenbach (circa 1210 AD) mentioned the military order called the ‘Templeise’ and how they were tasked with guarding the chalice.
Suffice it to say, the name drew parallel to the then-existing Templars, thereby conflating the role of the Knights Templar to the secretive guardians of the holy chalice of Christ. Popular modern fictional works like the Da Vinci Code further elaborated on how the grail was related to secret knowledge about the bloodline of Jesus.
However, from the historical lens, it can be surmised that the grail is not a physical object, but rather a literary motif. The allegory of the chalice alludes to the quest for salvation and Crusading efforts. Beyond sensationalism, this suggests that the relation between the powerful grail and the influential Templars is/was purely a literary invention to wow the readers – both medieval and modern.
*The article was updated on 12th April 2022.
Book References: Knight Templar 1120 – 1312 (By Helen Nicholson) / God’s Warriors: Crusaders, Saracens and the Battle for Jerusalem (Edited By Helen Nicholson and David Nicolle) / Knights Templar Encyclopedia (By Karen Ralls)
Online Sources: Provincial Priory of Hampshire and Isle of Wight / BibliotecaPleyades / Knight-Templar (link here)/ DominicSelwood / Britannica
Deus Vult sister. Islam in the western world will be defeated again.
My family ancestry shows I am related to the Sinclairs of the Templars. Thank you my fellow blood for defeating Islam at the Holy City.
Eh. It was okay.
A fine article – a shame that some readers insist on politicizing it.
I once again repeat – when it comes to history, why can’t we see attributes instead of qualities? In other words, ‘blind zealotry’ was the attribute of (some) Templars; so it shouldn’t be viewed with a negative connotation (or positive one for that matter). In fact, I will go on to say, the earlier Muslim ‘ghazi’ warriors also demonstrated such ‘blind zealotry’ on their part – because by definition zealotry means – “fanatical and uncompromising pursuit of religious ideals”. And that was the idea behind their (some of their) martial pursuits as the political landscape in Levant and Anatolia changed. A similar case can be made for the Mongols, who were ‘cruel’ and war-like yet connected different regions with trade. So when viewed from lens of history, they were a dynamic bunch who just can’t be judged by our modern values. And furthermore, going by the sensible argument you provided, you seriously can’t be siding with your above poster who claimed some odd figures from a propaganda site? By the way, I am a Hindu, supposedly one of the ‘victims’ afflicted by the ‘Muslims’.
I really like the article. However, as others are pointing out, #9 contains some fairly biased language on your part. Words like ‘blind zealotry’ are an opinion of the author. Despite your assertions, this is making a value statement.
Our modern society has lost a lot of what honor and standing for truth are about. There are times where death would be preferable as a warrior to having the enemy benefit from my capture in any way, particularly when that benefit will be used to cause more damage. This is something my country needs to re-learn.
Right and WRONG is important. Because Islam is credited with killing a total of 270 million infidels / kafirs / Christians / Hindus / etc, etc.
Source : http://www.politicalislam.com
If you cannot make a judgment about that fact, this is not about history but a propaganda organ.
Yes, but we are talking about the time frame of Templars, not of Heraclius. So in article about the Eastern Roman Empire, we can talk about how Muslims took the land from native Christians. 🙂
And as more visitors turned up around the confines of Jerusalem, local bandits (that also included Muslims who lost their lands)” You forgot to mention those lands had been taken from Christian people 400 years earlier BY the Muslims.
This is a history website, and we have tried to be as unbiased as possible. There is no denying that there were few medieval Christian writers who produced sensational stuff that portrayed Muslims as warriors of Antichrist – and they were easily ‘retold’ by propagandists to be lapped up by some of the illiterate members of the Order. As for the ‘white washing’ part please refer to the 1st entry – “But interestingly enough, their (Templar) proclivity towards martial pursuits was only developed as a reactionary measure, rather than a (starting) ideology that dictated religious warfare.”
We have also said – “one shouldn’t also overlook the significant percentage of people who simply joined the Order to justify their belief in the core principle of the Templars – defending the pilgrims and other Christians in the Holy Land.”
So at the end of the day, it is not about Christians versus Muslims or cherry-picking certain sentences. It is about history, and how then-contemporary Templars and Muslims were connected through conflicts and traditions, without the dichotomy of ‘right and wrong’.
“Sometimes the Muslims were even portrayed as soldiers of Antichrist,
and as such many (illiterate) brothers believed in the ethnic cleansing
of the adherents of Islamic faith…”
Isn’t that a bit of hypocritical white washing?
Islam’s “perfect man” was a pedophile, kidnapper, rapist, murderer and warlord, to be emulated and copied, and whose “teachings” included eternal warfare against “infidels.”