The Knights Templar
The Knights Templar were the most powerful military religious order of the Middle Ages. Formed to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land, they participated in the Crusades and rapidly gained wealth, lands and influence and were answerable to none save the Pope himself.
In addition to having a fearful military reputation, they were also Christendom's first bankers, and played a large part in inventing the modern banking system. They were also involved in developments in navigation, architecture, medicine, and engineering, amongst others.
Seemingly untouchable for nearly two centuries, the Templars fell from grace spectacularly after the loss of the Holy Land. In 1307, all Templars in France were arrested on charges of heresy, homosexuality, denial of the cross and devil worship. The order was suppressed by the Pope in 1312, and Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master, was burnt at the stake as
a heretic two years later.
The myth of the Templars was born and in the ensuing centuries, they have occupied a unique position in European history. Orthodox historians see them as nothing more than soldier-monks whose arrogance was their ultimate undoing, while others see them as occultists of the first order, the founders of Freemasonry, possessors of the Holy Grail and the Turin Shroud.
Sean Martin considers both the orthodox and conspiratorial version of events, and includes the latest revelations from the Vatican Secret Archives.
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