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Who Founded the Knights Templar?

Hugues de Payens founded the Knights Templar. Hugues de Payens, a nobleman from France, began the order with eight other knights who were also his relatives. The purpose of the order was to protect pilgrims as they journeyed to the Holy Land.

Who Founded the Knights Templar?

Knights Templar Founded in 1119

The Knights Templar was officially the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon. Hugues de Payens and Godfrey de Saint-Omer approached King Baldwin II of Jerusalem in 1119 and the order was allowed to establish a headquarters in the Temple Mount that was previously Al Aqsa Mosque. This was the location of the Temple of Solomon.

The Knights Templar's brotherhood was officially endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church in 1129. The group was a military order but had a religious nature. After the Church sanctioned the order and Bernard of Clairvaux lent his support, the Knights Templar gained popularity throughout Europe and the Middle East. Soon the order was joined by: "All who disdain to follow after their own wills, and desire with purity of mind to fight for the most high and true King."

Growth of the Order

The Knights Templar was supported mainly by donations. Many people gave them money, land, and sometimes businesses. They were divided into 72 chapters and wound up with diverse interests, like vineyards, ships, imports, and exports. The brotherhood came to be a very powerful and wealthy organization.

Soon they began to build churches and castles on land that had been donated to them. The first of the temples was built in 1128 in Holborn, London. The well-known splayed red cross was adopted as their emblem in 1146 and could be seen on their clothing, shields, flags, etc.

By the middle of the 12th century, the Knights Templar had to move north because the Crusades were not as successful as they had previously been. They had to change their headquarters several times and as the Crusades grew to a close, many people questioned the need for the order.

In 1307, King Philip IV of France ordered the arrest of all the Knights Templar and many of them were killed. The Knights Templar was officially disbanded in 1312 by order of Pope Clement V. Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay, was burned at the stake on March 18, 1314 in Paris as a final act of total dissolution of the order. Many knights joined other orders, some started new ones, and some retired.

Myths and Legends

When many people hear the words "Knights Templar" they think about the legend of King Arthur and the Holy Grail. There is much debate over the stories that have been passed down over the years and whether they are fact or fiction. Some believe that the story of King Arthur is purely metaphorical and that this king never existed. They believe that the stories were about politics and the nobility.

One of the myths about the Holy Grail suggests that Jesus drank from the cup at the Last Supper and Joseph of Arimathea took it and caught some of Jesus' blood in it. He then went to Britain and passed the grail down to his descendants. Some people say the Holy Grail can be found in Nova Scotia or inside the Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland.

As far as the Holy Grail goes, some believe one of the responsibilities of the Knights Templar was to protect it. There is even much debate on what the Grail actually is: a chalice that Jesus drank from, a stone, the bloodline, lost teachings, or even a machine that makes energy. Dan Brown's pop culture work The Da Vinci Code took great liberties with the history of the Knights Templar and after eight centuries, fascination with the Knights, their mission and their secrets, remains strong.