The Identity of the Knights Templar

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The Knights Templar were a medieval Christian military order formed in the early 12th century. They were initially established to protect Christian pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land during the Crusades. The order quickly grew in power and wealth, becoming one of the most influential organizations of the time. The Knights Templar were known for their distinctive white mantles adorned with a red cross. They developed a reputation for their military prowess and played a significant role in the Crusades. However, their wealth and influence eventually led to their downfall, as they were accused of various crimes and disbanded in the early 14th century.


Prepare your sword and armor. Today, we are embarking on a journey through time! A journey all the way back to the era of the Middle Ages. During this expedition, we will acquaint ourselves with a group renowned for their shields, their protection of travelers, and their assistance to the less fortunate. They even played a pivotal role in establishing one of the earliest international banks. That’s correct, today’s lesson revolves around the Knights Templar.

Allow us to commence with an overview of the Crusades. These were a series of wars initiated by European Christians with the aim of capturing Jerusalem and other Holy Lands from the Muslim population.

The Order of the Knights Templar was established in the aftermath of the First Crusade. Scholars suggest that the order originated either in 1119 or 1120. It officially gained recognition from the Catholic Church in 1129. The group was formed to safeguard pilgrims journeying from Europe to the Holy Lands in the Middle East.

However, as time progressed, the Knights Templar assumed additional responsibilities. They actively participated in subsequent Crusades and eventually gained control over a significant amount of land. The Knights Templar also seized control of numerous castles.

Later on, the Knights Templar played a key role in establishing one of the earliest international banks in the world. It is important to note that during the Middle Ages, there was no Internet, Bitcoin, or debit cards. Instead, individuals carried their money with them wherever they went.

This presented challenges for international travel and immigration. Individuals moving from one country to another had to carry their money, making the journey more arduous and perilous. Many were fearful of being robbed along the way. This is where the Knights Templar stepped in.

Prior to embarking on a long journey, individuals could deposit their money with the Knights Templar. The order would issue them a note as proof of the deposit. Upon reaching their destination, they could exchange this note for funds from another branch of the Knights Templar.

In addition to their banking services, the Knights Templar also provided loans and generated income through interest. As a religious order, they donated 10 percent of their earnings to those in need. Yet, they remained a powerful and affluent group.

What was life like for a member of the Knights Templar? It was an incredibly strict order, and those seeking to join had to take vows. These knights were prohibited from hunting, wearing ostentatious clothing, or missing religious services. They obediently followed the commands of their leader, known as the Grand Master.

Knights Templar donned armor and possessed expertise in weapons such as swords and crossbows. They were easily recognizable by their white cloaks. Their shields were also white, adorned with a red cross.

As the Knights Templar grew in power, many religious leaders and kings became suspicious of their activities. The order faced allegations of corruption and abuse of power. Consequently, the group was officially dissolved in 1312. Many members were arrested, and some were even executed following the disbandment. The veracity of the accusations leveled against the order remains uncertain in historical records.

Presently, tales of the Knights Templar continue to exert influence on popular culture, inspiring numerous books, movies, and TV shows. Some individuals even claim to be part of a modern revival of the order. Unfortunately, many of those who make such claims are actually affiliated with white nationalist terrorist organizations. It is crucial to exercise critical thinking and employ sound judgment to avoid falling into the trap of radicalization.

However, there are still many people who have an interest in the historical Knights Templar. They have left behind a very fascinating legacy! This could be why the order continues to be popular in various ways even today.

Give It a Try

Are you ready to continue learning? Take a look at the activities below and do them with a friend or a family member!

  • During the Middle Ages, it was quite common for families to have their own coat of arms. Ask a friend or a family member to help you design your own coat of arms today! Make sure to include symbols and a motto that represent you or your family. For some suggestions on what to include, you can check out this resource.
  • Can you imagine what life was like during the Middle Ages? Let’s say you’ve traveled back in time to the 12th century. Where do you live? What is your occupation? What adventures might you have? Write a short story about what could unfold. Be as imaginative as possible!
  • Were you aware that the Knights Templar accepted both men and women? Although women were not typically knighted, they still played a part in the group. Read more about the history of women in knightly orders. Then, summarize what you have learned for a friend or a family member.

Sources of Wonder

  • https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/world-history/medieval-times/development-of-financial-institutions/a/financial-institutions (accessed 03 Feb. 2021)
  • https://www.ancient.eu/Knights_Templar/ (accessed 03 Feb. 2021)
  • https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2017/09/knights-templar-crusades-dan-jones/ (accessed 03 Feb. 2021)
  • https://www.ancient.eu/First_Crusade/ (accessed 03 Feb. 2021)
  • https://learnersdictionary.com/ (accessed 03 Feb. 2021)

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