After the Christians captured Jerusalem following the First Crusade in 1099, many faith followers made pilgrimages to the Holy Land and the Holy Places scattered around. Though the city was secured but the outskirts were full of bandits who routinely slaughtered the pilgrims, often accounting for hundreds, as the people tried to make their way through the coastline of Jaffa to the Holy Land. Then in 1119. The French knight Hugues de Payens approached the king of Jerusalem Baldwin II with a proposal to create a Monastic Order of knights who would protect the pilgrims. After much deliberation and trial runs, Roman Catholic Church endorsed the Monastic Order of Knights and they were named Knights Templar. Most scholars believe Knights Templar was the first of its kind Warrior Monks. In their early days, the knights had to rely on the alms of travelling pilgrims.
In the initial days, Knights Templar instituted of only 9 knights but the number grew significantly as they started finding favor of the European monarchies. Within two centuries the Knights Templar rose as a very powerful organization that could defy anybody barring the Papal orders. They engaged in the following Crusades for supremacy over Jerusalem. They grew rich by looting cities and mosques during the Crusades. Though the Knights Templar were fearsome warriors, but they were respected for their shows of charity towards the poor.
Soon the Knights Templar had lot of wealth. So, they invented the banking system. They would finance and help the monarchies in Europe with their funds. Though lending of money on interest was forbidden by the church, yet the Knights loaned huge money and changed the payment process. Soon, their vast wealth became a cause of concern in the royal circles. This led to their demise in hands of King of France and the Pope in 1307 and 1314.
Demise of Knights Templar
When King Phillip of France ascended the throne, Knights Templar was a powerful organization. He felt insecure in their presence, for they wielded unchallenged power. Their vast wealth meant, they could shift the power balance any time they wished for it. So, King Phillip included some of his informants in the group and sought information. After Richard the Lionheart had retreated from Holy Lands, Knights Templars had settled in various parts of England and France. They were now primarily money lenders. They met in private to discuss important issues. King Phillip got all the news regarding their plans from informants. In 1307, King Phillips was planning to wage a war against England’s Edward I and he needed funds. So, he thought of another way to arrange money, rather than lending it from the Knights Templar.
He had the Knights arrested on the grounds of heresy. This was the only charge that would allow him to seize all their wealth and assets. The Knights Templar was disbanded as an organization and all the members were tortured for confessions. Ridiculous confessions were sought such as homosexuality, sodomy, spitting on the Cross and other unholy practices. King Phillip also urged other monarchies to take similar actions and most of them did.
On March 19, 1314 the last Grand Master of Knights Templar, Jacques De Molay was burned at stake in the middle of River Seine in Paris on account of some framed charges. Following this, most of the members fled to Scotland and the movement went silent until it re-surfaced again in 1705. Some scholars feel that the Knights Templar is still operational till present day and they are still secretly undertaking missions.
The Lost Treasure of Knights Templar
When the Knights were arrested Phillip had dreamed of retrieving huge treasures to fund all his campaigns. Though some treasures had been ceased, but the large portion of huge treasures could not be found. Some scholars feel that, Knights already had an idea about the scheme French King was plotting. They had used carriages to send away their treasures for safekeeping. Their motive was to preserve some of the religious relics that might otherwise be lost with time. Their meek surrender to the royal troops was just an effort to bide time while the treasures reach their destination. After the fall of Knights Templar many have tried to retrieve this immense treasure, but no one has been successful.