Now, before we get into the juicy conspiracy part of the Templars’ tale, we need to contextualize it with a good dose of the order’s history. The Order of the Temple was a unique organization when first founded in the twelfth century. Although founded by a small group of fighting knights expressly for the purpose of battling bandits and raiders along the pilgrim roads of Outremer (the Frankish term for the Holy Land), they lived their private lives in imitation of the monastic orders, swearing vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and were to become officially recognized as a monastic order in 1129 in direct contravention of existing belief and custom regarding the permission of monks to engage in violence (specifically, they weren’t – monks were meant to be peaceful lambs of God, and violence was strictly forbidden for members of monastic orders). Unfortunately for the Knights Templar, their dual identity was not a balanced one, and while they achieved great success and renown as holy warriors battling against the infidel to preserve the Kingdom of Jerusalem and its many fiefdoms, their exploits in Christian Europe – where their primary function was not as warriors, but rather as monks – were continuously dogged with suspicion, rumour, and mistreatment. When the Crusader kingdoms in the East finally fell for the last time and the Templars could no longer trumpet their exploits as warriors, the weak and unstable monastic side of their brotherhood quickly collapsed under the weight of dangerous accusations and political intrigue.
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