Origins & History

I've always thought, that you can make things as simple or as difficult as you wish. Me? I'd rather have them simple, whilst at the same time having a good working knowledge of the subject. Such is the case with the Knights Templar. What follows is brief history of those famous knights. If you want to know more, there are many excellent books on the subject, many of which you'll find in our Knights Shop.

knight on horsebackThe Knights Templar were a French religious military order founded in Jerusalem in AD1119 by  Hugues de Payens, to protect pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land. During the 12th and 13th centuries the Templars played an important role in the crusades sanctioned by Pope Innocent II who in AD1139 placed the Templars under direct papal authority.

This holy brotherhood, or to give them their full designation, 'The Order of Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon' (Pauperes commilitones Christi templique Salomonis) referring to their original headquarters on the site of the Temple of Solomon which was given to them by King Baldwin II of Jerusalem, lived under austere vows of poverty and chastity according to the rule of St Bernard of Clairvaux. They can be well described, as a band of fighting monks.

The order comprised four ranks: servants, chaplains, sergeants, and knights, the latter wearing white surcoats with the red cross of St. George. It was in 1147 though, that Pope Eugenius III ordained them to bear the familiar eight pointed cross, which is said to be older in history, than the St George's cross. By the 13th century there were as many as 20,000 knights.