Knights Templar :: Shared Description

The Knights Templar were an order of military-religious monk-warriors of mediæval Europe. Along with the Knights Hospitaller they were the most powerful and wealthy orders of their time. The Templars rise to eminence was rapid, but nowhere near as swift as their catastrophic collapse and destruction. The Hospitallers avoided such a disastrous fate, and survive to this day - in much changed form - most conspicuously in the guise of St John's Ambulance.
The Templars arose as a result of Pope Urban II's call at the end of the C11th for Christians to reclaim the Holy Land. The resulting First Crusade was largely successful and crusading knights captured Jerusalem in July 1099.
About 1120 a select group of these crusader knights took the monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Their intention was to protect pilgrims to the Holy Land from attack on the route of their pilgrimage. The knights were given land on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem by the king of the city and province - and so took their name "The Templars" from this their power-base.
The brotherhood of the Templars consisted of those of high birth and wealth: the "Knight-Brothers" and the more lowly-born and less affluent: the "Sergeant-Brothers" - the former were each entitled to three horses, the latter to just one. Unusually for the time however, a man could rise in rank from sergeant to knight, and from knight to commander - in charge of a house or "Temple". Head of the entire order was the Grand Master who was elected by a council of 13 knights and sergeants. They were all bound by the Templars' Rule - that of Bernard of Clairvaux established in 1129 - written originally in Latin but with additions in French. This Rule laid out what was expected, what was permitted and what was deprecated or forbidden. All members of the brotherhood had to keep to this monastic-style chivalric code.
The Templars soon gained a reputation for valour and bravery - and also for business accumen. By acting as bankers to the travelling pilgrims, they amassed huge sums of money, such that although each member of the brotherhood was (theoretically at least) impoverished, the Order became fabulously wealthy.
With this wealth came increasing influence and power - but with the concomitant negatives of suspicion and jealousy.
They acted as both money-brokers and power-brokers, and were for example involved in the signing of Magna Carta in 1215, after King John had sought sanctuary from the barons in Temple Church. One of the witnesses to this great bill-of-rights was Aymeric de St Maur, who was master of the Temple in England.
However, since the initial successes of the First Crusade, the Christians' hold on Jerusalem and the Holy Lands had been tenuous, and battles against the great - and chivalric - Muslim leader, Saladin had resulted in reverses of fortune. By the late C13th little of the Holy Lands remained in Christian hands. There was infighting between different sections of the Christian kingdoms and armies and the Vatican, and suspicion and mistrust festered between competing factions. The Templars were caught up in this, and their wealth and prestige led many to believe that they were driven by motives of self-interest and greed to make pragmatic decisions which best suited them, rather than the wishes of, for example the Pope and of the kings of the various European states - many of which the Templars helped finance.
In 1291 a disastrous attack by the Mamluk forces on Acre resulted in the population (of about 7000) abandoning the city and seeking refuge with the Templars in their castle. After 12 days of siege, with supplies dwindling and no hope of rescue the populace and all the Templars rushed out of their stronghold and were mown down and slaughtered. This marked the end of the Templars in the Holy Land, but not as an order, for they were dispersed across the whole of Europe - and their main financial assets were held well away from the troubled areas of the Holy Lands.
They set up a new headquarters in Cyprus, but their days were numbered as their old allies - many of whom they had financially assisted now started to turn on them, envious of their continuing wealth and power. Philip IV of France initiated their final destruction in 1307. On Friday October 13th 1307 every Templar in Philip's domain was arrested. Accused of Heresy, they had the choice of "admitting" this and being pardoned, or refuting it and being burnt at the stake. Not surprisingly, most "confessed". Pope Clement V was outraged at Philip's high-handedness, but in the face of these "confessions" could do nothing to support them, and in Novemebr 1307 ordered the arrest of all Templars throughout Europe.
The purge against the Templars in France reached a murderous height on 12th May 1310 when 54 recusants were burnt at the stake outside Paris.
On the 22nd March 1312, Pope Clement V dissolved the order of the Templars - not saying that they were guilty - but that their name was too tarnished for the brotherhood to continue. Probably the last Templars to die were the Grand Master, Jacques de Molay and his fellow Templar Geoffrey de Charney who recanted their confessions and declared their innocence. They were burnt at the stake on an island in the River Seine in 1314.
The Templars had been destroyed, but their legacy remains to this day throughout Europe in their former churches - such as The Temple in London - and in the crusader castles dotted throughout the Holy Land; in Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan.
by Rob Farrow
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45 images use this description. Preview sample shown below:

TQ3181 : Temple Church from Church Court by Rob Farrow
TQ3181 : Temple Church - central roof boss above the Round Nave by Rob Farrow
TQ3181 : Temple Church - Tomb of Sir Edmund Plowden by Rob Farrow
TQ3181 : Temple Church - view across the gallery by Rob Farrow
TQ3181 : Temple Church - Chancel south aisle by Rob Farrow
TQ3181 : Temple Church - East Window detail by Rob Farrow
TQ1605 : Sompting - St Mary's - Tower and west end by Rob Farrow
TQ3181 : Temple Church - William Marshal, 2nd Earl by Rob Farrow
TQ3181 : Temple Church - Stained glass nave window by Rob Farrow
TQ3181 : Temple Church from Inner Temple Lane by Rob Farrow
SO4522 : Garway - St Michael's Church - from entrance gateway by Rob Farrow
TQ3181 : Temple Church - Chancel, central aisle by Rob Farrow
TQ3181 : Temple Church - Letters Patent 1608-2008 window by Rob Farrow
TQ3181 : Temple Church - Gilbert Marshal, 4th Earl by Rob Farrow
TQ3181 : Romanesque doorway, Temple Church by Rob Farrow
TQ3181 : Knights Templar Statue by N Chadwick
SO4522 : Garway - St Michael's Church - post-Templar nave by Rob Farrow
TQ3181 : Tombstones beside Temple Church by Rob Farrow
TQ3181 : Temple Church - Tomb of Richard Martin by Rob Farrow
SO4522 : Garway - St Michael's Church - Grotesque capital by Rob Farrow
TQ3181 : Temple Church - Nave roof by Rob Farrow
TQ3181 : Temple Church - Font by Rob Farrow
TQ3181 : Temple Church - Gallery above the round nave by Rob Farrow
TQ3181 : Temple Church - Old glass diamond pane (1) by Rob Farrow
SO4522 : Garway - St Michael's Church - Chancel Arch - Detail by Rob Farrow

... and 20 more images.

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Created: Fri, 20 Feb 2015, Updated: Tue, 24 Mar 2015

The 'Shared Description' text on this page is Copyright 2015 Rob Farrow, however it is specifically licensed so that contributors can reuse it on their own images without restriction.