The exact date for the foundation of the Knights Templar, like many other aspects of this ambiguous organization, is almost impossible to fix with absolute precision.
Some writers suggest 1118 or 1120AD, whilst others place it up to ten years earlier. What we can be sure of, however, is that by 1120AD at the latest, the first nine members of the order were securely installed in that part of the (Christian) King of Jerusalem’s palace – that part which stood on the site of what had once been King Solomon’s Temple.
Even at this early part of the history of the Templars we come across a series of intriguing paradoxes.
- Firstly, it Is alleged that Hugues de Payen, the first Master of the Order, and all his colleagues were ‘poor’ knights. Yet within a very short space of time following the foundation of the Order the knights began to send large sums of money back to France, specifically to the Abbot of the Cistercian monastery at Clairvaux – Saint Bernard. This was extremely fortunate, from the monk’s point of view, since it lifted them from being on the verge of bankruptcy to a position as one of the most influential orders in the Western world.
- Secondly, there is the question of the seemingly instant acceptance of the founder knights by King Baudouin I. By what means were the nine, able to gain such immediate and extensive favours?
- Thirdly, we must examine the Templars’ declared objective – to make the roads of Palestine safe for pilgrims and other travellers. Yet how could they hope to succeed in such a massive task?. Their seal emphasized their alleged poverty by showing two knights upon a single horse. Even with e horse apiece, how could nine men police such a large area simple handed? And lastly, who were they guarding the roads against?
In 1127 a majority of the Templars, including Hugues de Payen, returned to France where they were welcomed as “the epitome and apotheosis of Christian values”!
De Payen was officially proclaimed the Grand Master (!) of the Knights of the Order of the Temple, a semi-religious order of warrior-monks. It was also at this time that they were granted the exclusive tight to wear white mantles over their armour adorned with a red cross on the left side.
One hundred and eighty years later, the Templars were so rich that they had become the bankers of Europe, so powerful that they recognized allegiance to no one, not even the Pope, yet at the same time they were reviled on all sides as despotic, degenerate devil-worshippers.
I can hardly think that I need to impress upon my readers the many similarities between the Assassins on the one side, and the Templars on the other. Indeed, many of those who came into contact with the Templars quickly learnt that the sect had adopted many of the Assassins’ ideas and methods.
[Translator’s Note: At this point Professor Archensbak’s notes become totally fragmentary. In essence he merely outlines the conflict which arose between Phillipe IV – Phillipe le Bel – and the Templars, which Archensbak attributes primarily to the Templars’ growing arrogance towards everyone, from the Pope downwards, and more importantly to the fact that Phillipe was heavily in debt to the Templars with little or no hope of being able to pay that debt.]
When two Popes in succession refused to help Phillips in his plan to suppress the Templars, both died under suspicious circumstances.
Phillipe was thus able to have his own candidate elected to the office, and in less than two years a list of charges of blasphemy had been drawn up, and the Templars’ strongholds had been overthrown.