The Knights Templar was an organization founded sometime in the early twelfth century. At conception, the order claimed only a handful of impoverished knights. Their symbol of two men riding on one horse acted as a visual reminder that they were poor and in need of donations. In addition to armor, they were protected by faith, creating the means by which they became untouchable by anything or anyone, including evil entities such as demons. They were officially recognized and supported by the Catholic Church around the year of 1129.
Viewed as an exceptional, highly skilled fighting force with unshakable faith, the organization became vital to the efforts of the Crusades. Advancing their intangible nature even further in 1139, the pope announced an exemption from all laws for those in the order of the Knights Templar. The only authority above them was that of the pope himself.
The Knights often served as advance forces in battle during the Crusades. Their numbers increased at a rapid rate due to the sons of various nobles who joined their ranks on a regular basis. However, not all Templars were fighters. In fact, members who were not fighting built and managed an economic infrastructure, recognized as a basic form of banking, which included the introduction of letters of credit. These notes allowed citizens to travel without the fear of bandits and thieves stealing their assets. Viewed as a rudimentary form of the cheques used in today’s society, they were highly respected for the convenient creation. They also became instrumental in the construction of several large structures throughout Europe which they used to house their members in carious areas.
Their rise to power and influence was done with efficiency and class, and they maintained their standing for nearly two centuries. Their decline began late in the thirteenth century when the tide of the Crusades began to shift in favor of the Muslims. They came up against resistance within the Christian order and were further decreased in favor due to several unsuccessful campaigns. Following which, they were forced to relocate their headquarters to cities in the north. Donations dwindled due to their fall from grace, forcing them to operate their business ventures at a local community level. They were, however, still exempt from local laws, and with the ability of their army to pass borders without question, several began to challenge their motives due to fear developed through ignorance.
In 1305, Pope Clement V attempted to merge the Knights Templar with a rival organization known as the Knights Hospitaller. Neither side was in agreement with the merger. Still, the pope persisted, eventually writing to King Phillip IV for assistance in investigating the charges raised by a previous member of the Knights Templar.
King Phillip IV took advantage of both the rumors around their mysterious initiation process and the false charges to cast doubt on their methods, resulting in the torture and subsequent burning at the stake of several members by 1307. These sentences were carried out by the Inquisitors. Implementing the false confessions obtained during the torture of its members, the order was officially disbanded in 1312 by Pope Clement V. It is believed by several that this decree came to pass due to persuasion by King Phillip IV, who was seriously indebted to the Knights Templar. An aura of mystery and supernatural phenomena became synonymous with their name after their sudden disappearance from society.
The Grand Master at the time recanted his confessions and was taken to trial. He was later convicted with the use of their false evidence. Sentenced to burn in 1314 facing the Notre Dame Cathedral, he cried out that the pope and the king would pay for their sins against the Knights. As luck would have it, Pope Clementine died later that month, as did King Phillip IV. Legend maintains that the hand of God claimed their lives for the falsities they festered within the people, resulting in the devastation of the Knights Templar.