How were the Knights Templar formed?
Knights Templar, also known as Poor Fellow-Soldiers of The Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, were actually a Catholic military order.
They were highly-trained, well-equipped, and highly motivated. It was their aim to carry out important missions and protect those pilgrims who visit the holy land.
Order of the Knights Templar was formed by Hugh de Payens in Jerusalem, around 1119, but officially recognized in 1139 by the papal bull Omne datum optimum.
They were the elite warriors. It was forbidden for them to retreat from the battle unless outnumbered three to one. Most people assume that the creation of Knights Templar was an ideology that dictated religious warfare, which is not true at all.
In reality, their creation is a reactionary measure to protect the groups of pilgrims from across Western Europe, as they were robbed and killed while crossing Muslim territories.
It all started when Christian armies captured Jerusalem in 1099.
Though, the city of Jerusalem was utterly under control. There wasn’t any kind of misconduct or threat from the foreigners, but the Bandits started preying upon the pilgrims. It was their only chance and way to demonstrate their dominance and get the city back.
Therefore, a new order formed with the support of Baldwin II, the ruler of Jerusalem. It was their duty to protect the pilgrims and avert the attack on the holy land.
The Knights Templar didn’t have direct involvement in any kind of social and financial sector of the system in the beginning, as their main aim was to protect the pilgrims and holy land. However, there were many rich families who were eager to help them with the fight. They opened the floodgates of abundance and showered them with money, lands, and different businesses.
For that reason, Knights Templar aren’t the group of elite warriors only.
In fact, most members of this group had different kind of duties, such as supporting other members who fight on the front lines. They used to acquire resources which could be used to fund and equip their fighters.
Recent researches exposed that 90% of the order’s members were indeed the non-combat members. The only duty they had, as we have explained earlier, was to support the front warriors of their group and develop innovative financial techniques to develop the world’s first multinational corporation.
With utter support from the public, the Knights Templar grew rapidly in membership and power. And, there were many reasons behind it.
For example, they started involving in the politics too. It became one of the simplest ways to have some influence on the authoritative figures and compel them to follow the ideas and decisions.
Besides, there were lots of other benefits too:
- They were gifted farms and lands on a consistent basis.
- Some warriors relished the authority of castles too.
- It was allowed for them to engage in manufacturing and ship-building.
- It was easy to start an import-export business.
- They also used to receive psychological and spiritual counseling.
The benefits and the status in society aren’t the only things that grew the membership of Knight Templar. There are indeed some gallant victories too that turned them into heroes.
One of their most famous victories was against Saladin.
When Saladin with his 26,000 soldiers headed toward Jerusalem in 1177, around eighty Templar Knights joined the army of King Baldwin.
They took advantage of Saladin’s mistake and defeated his army and indeed compelled him to end up with only a tenth of his original numbers.
This win turned them into a legend and brought peace in the region for a year.
In the beginning, as their status raised in society, there were some criticisms too from different sectors.
Some families and politicians saw them as a direct threat. Even some religious leaders were against the formation of Knights Templar.
But a prominent French abbot, Bernard of Clairvaux, endorsed them and supported them openly. This open support from the church bolstered their growth even more.
It helped them to relish special rights and advantages.
For example, they were exempt from paying taxes, it wasn’t pertinent for them to answer any authority except the Pope, and they could build their own oratories, which wasn’t straightforward at that time.
The mid 12th century period wasn’t so great for them.
Knights Templar began to lose their power and status, and it was due to many things.
First, the Muslim world became more united under their leaders, and the Knights Templar started losing their grounds in the holy land.
They even had to relocate their headquarters time and time again to protect themselves. Second, they invited lots of concerns among other orders, such as Knights Hospitaller and Teutonic Knights.
Their rivals and many other religious scholars started assuming that they have become a state within a state because of their authority and power.
For that reason, this order was dissolved in the 14th century but fortunately revived again after a very long time, at the beginning of 19th century, as Knights Templar International.
Today, we still have Knights Templar, but they are a non-governmental organization now. They still protect Christian sites in the holy land, but diplomatically.