The Knights Templar began in 1113 when Frankish knight Hugues de Payen volunteered his and nine (unless it was thirty) other knights’ services to King Baldwin of Jerusalem to guard the safety of pilgrims traveling from where they landed on the coast to the Holy Sepulcher. Unless they were founded in Easter of 1119, when a group of pilgrims was massacred by Saracens. Unless you don’t think they were really Templars until the Catholic church anointed them as such at the Council of Troyes in 1128. And if you thought they weren’t Templars until they were granted the right to wear a red cross on their mantles, that wouldn’t be until 1147.
The Templars were founded as a community of warrior priests, bound to celibacy and poverty. Unless they were international financiers on the order of Jamie Dimon. They were verray, parfit, gentil knights, like Parsival and Lancelot. Unless they were some of the richest landowners in Europe. They took oaths to serve only God and were sworn to kill only Muslims. Unless they were swords for hire, indeed, Assassins in Christian clothing, and even colluded with the actual [Muslim] Assassins now and then.
The Templar order was suppressed in 1312 by papal bull, its Grand Master burned at the stake in 1314, a victim of a jealous Philip the Fair (there’s a misnomer for you) of France who wanted all their money and possessions. Unless they were guilty of idolatry, heresy and sodomy as charged.
I’ve read two other books on the Templars, and a quick search of Amazon yields forty-eight individual titles. Everybody’s got an opinion, apparently, but at least this opinion if older than some is shorter than most and very well referenced, albeit with a distressing recurrence of that scholarly phrase, “As we shall see.” Worth reading.
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.