The Purpose of the Knights Templar
Pilgrimages to Jerusalem were made by people in Medieval Times who had been guaranteed their safety in the city. In 1065 Jerusalem was taken by the Turks and Christians were treated so badly that throughout Christendom people were stirred to fight in holy crusades and the Knights Templar were formed to to ensure the safety of the pilgrims of the Middle Ages who flocked towards Jerusalem. In 1099 Crusaders led by Godfrey of Bouillon took Jerusalem back from the Turks.
The Knights Templar and the Christian Pilgrimages to Jerusalem
The zeal for undertaking the pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the need for the Knights Templar increased further. To reduce the dangers to which the pilgrim were exposed, to guard the honour of female pilgrims, and to protect the venerable palmers, nine knights formed a holy brotherhood in arms, and entered into a solemn contract to aid one another in clearing the highways through Palestine of dangers, and in protecting the pilgrims through the passes and mountains on the route to the Holy City of Jerusalem. In addition to the protection of pilgrims the Knights Templar also made the defence of the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem and of all the holy places a part of their duty.
The Founding of the Knights Templar
The founding of the Knights Templar was initiated by Bernard of Clairvaux, a member of the Cistercian Order following the liberation of Jerusalem by the crusaders led by Godfrey of Bouillon. The Knights Templar brotherhood used their wealth to construct numerous fortifications throughout the Holy Land. The monastic and military society of the Knights Templar was principally of a religious character. It was divided into seventy-two chapters and was joined by:
"All who disdain to follow after their own wills, and desire with purity of mind to fight for the
most high and true King"
Names of the Leaders of the Knights Templar fraternity
The two most distinguished members of the fraternity of the Knights Templar were Hugh de Payens and Geoffrey de St. Aldemar (Omer), who had fought with great valour during the siege of Jerusalem. Hugh de Payens was chosen by the knights to be the superior of their new religious and military society and was known by the title "the Master of the Temple". Hugh de Payens has been generally called the founder of the order of the Knights Templar .
The Vows of the Knights Templar
The Vows of the Knights Templar exhorted them to put on the armour of obedience, and to associate themselves with piety and humility for the defence of the Holy Catholic Church. The rule of the Knights Templar contained severe devotional exercises, self-mortification, fasting, prayer, and a constant attendance at matins, vespers and other services of the Church. They were not allowed to receive letters from their parents, relations, or friends without the license of the master. Any gifts given to a Knights Templar were given to the treasurer and donated to the order.
The vows of a Knights Templar included the following:
"To speak sparingly and to wear a grave and serious deportment."
"To be constant in the exercise of charity and almsgiving, to have a watchful care
over all sick brethren, and to support and sustain all old men"
"To receive no service nor attendance from a woman and to shun feminine kisses."
Joining the Knights Templar
It was not easy to join the fraternity of the Knights Templar . Would be candidates had to make reparations for any damage done by them to churches, public and private property. Many famous knights from the best families in Europe tried to join, but, they were not accepted until they had proved themselves, by their conduct, worthy of such a fellowship.
The Status of the Knights Templar
The status of the Knights Templar was so high that Kings, nobles and their subjects, competed with each other in heaping gifts and benefits on the Templars. The wills of almost anybody of importance would leave something to the Templars - vastly increasing the wealth of the order. Many important people took the Knights Templar vows on their death-beds, so that they could be buried in the habit of the order. Some sovereigns, such as Alphonso I, King of Navarre and Aragon, even bequeathed even their kingdoms to the master and the brethren of the temple.
The Knights Templar in England
The Knights Templar in England were governed by Hugh de Payens. In his absence he placed a Knights Templar at the head of the order in England, who was called the Prior of the temple. The Prior of the temple was the vice-regent of the master. It was his duty to manage the estates granted to the fraternity and to transmit the revenues to Jerusalem. He was also delegated with the power to admit new members into the order. The prior also provided transport for newly-admitted Knights Templar to the Far East, enabling them to fulfil their duties. As the houses of the Temple increased in number in England, sub-priors were appointed, and the superior of the order was then called the "Grand Prior" and afterward "Master of the Temple".
The Decline of the Knights Templar
The wealth and political power of the Knights Templar continued to increase to such an extent that the order was seen as a threat. King Philip IV of France needed cash for his wars and asked the Templars for money. The Knights Templar refused his request and this ultimately led to their decline
The Knights Templar and the Inquisition
On October 13 1307, all the Knights Templar in France were simultaneously arrested by agents of King Philip the Fair and were tortured into admitting heresy. The inquisition was familiar with extracting submissions of guilt using methods of torture. Many of the Knights Templar admitted to heresy and homosexual practises. Following these admissions a Papal command was issued by Pope Clement V to all Christian sovereigns which ordered that all Orders of the Knights Templar should be disbanded on the pain of excommunication. The Order of the Knights Templar therefore gradually became a secret organisation and has since been surrounded by mystery and intrigue. It is believed that members the Knights Templar movement founded the Rosicrucian movement and the Freemasons.