Knights Templar (or simply Templars), mysteries and warfare – these three avenues had an obscured connection when it came to the mercurial times of the medieval Crusades. In fact, their full name ‘Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon’ (or Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonici in Latin) directly pertains to the enigmatic Temple of Solomon. And while the Templars did exhibit their fanatical martial prowess on the battlefields (a ‘quality’ conducive to Crusades), the moniker of ‘Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ’ didn’t really do the organization any justice. That is because, by 13th century AD, the Order administered an incredibly well-managed economic infrastructure throughout Christendom while also making innovations in early European banking systems. However, there was more to the Knights Templar than deep fortunes and fervent warfare tactics. So without further ado, let us take a gander at fourteen things you should know about the Templars.
1) From Praying to Fighting
It is quite a well-known fact that the Knights Templar took a vow to defend their fellow Christians from ‘foreign’ intrusions, especially in the Outremer (the conglomeration of Crusader States in the Levant). But interestingly enough, as Prof. Helen Nicholson noted, their proclivity towards martial pursuits was only developed as a reactionary measure, rather than a (starting) ideology that dictated religious warfare. To that end, historically, in the aftermath of the First Crusade, some of the Christians warriors actually decided to put away their swords in favor of a monastic lifestyle based around the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
But with the establishment of the Christian entities in the Holy Land, the scenario became a logistical nightmare for the nascent Outremer kingdoms – because a great number of pilgrims flocked to these newly conquered lands. And as more visitors turned up around the confines of Jerusalem, local bandits (that also included Muslims who lost their lands) took advantage of the chaos and attacked these common pilgrims. Afflicted by such unconventional forays, the monastic warriors decided to once again take up their swords. As a result, pertinent military brotherhoods were formed, and they finally coalesced together to form the Templar Order, officially approved by the Church in 1120 AD.
2) Temple of Solomon?
As we mentioned before, the full name of the Knights Templar (‘Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon’) directly linked the order with the Temple of Solomon. Now from the historical perspective, the Temple of Solomon pertains to an enigmatic ancient structure whose existence is still debated among the historians (read this post for more details). But the ‘Temple of Solomon’ referred to in the case of the Templars might not be as sensational as one would be inclined to think. That is because after the Order was ratified by the Church (possibly at the Council of Nablus, circa 1120 AD), the king of Jerusalem, Balwin II, gifted the Templars a wing of his makeshift ‘palace’ inside the Al Aqsa mosque situated on Temple Mount.
Now given Temple Mount’s mystical (and possible physical) association with the Temple of Solomon, western Europeans frequently (and misleadingly) referred to the Al Aqsa mosque as the ‘Temple’. As a result, the new occupants of this palace probably became known as the ‘Order of the Temple’, or the ‘Templars’. And on an interesting note, Al Aqsa is possibly the oldest Islamic structure in the world. But since it has been rebuilt many times during the course of history, the building cannot be considered as the oldest ‘extant’ specimen of Islamic architecture – an honor that belongs to the proximate Dome of The Rock… Show More