and were able to skirt the issue and finance even kings. Perhaps because
of this wealth or fear of their seemingly limitless powers, they were destined
to be destroyed. The order met with a rather untimely demise at the hands
of the Pope and the King of France in 1307 and by 1314, "The Poor
Fellow Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon" ceased to exist.
originally a small group of nine knights, they quickly gained fame largely
due to the backing of Bernard of Clairvaux and his "In Praise of the
New Knighthood". Bernard at that time was often called the Second
Pope and was the chief spokesman of Christendom. He is also the one responsible
for helping to draw up the order's rules of conduct.
European political circles, they became very powerful and influential.
This was because they were immune from any authority save that of the Papal
Throne. (Pope Innocent II exempted the Templars from all authority except
the crusades were over, the knights returned to their Chapters throughout
Europe and became known as moneylenders to the monarchs. In the process
many historians believe they invented the Banking System. The Templars
fought along side King Richard I (Richard The Lion Hearted) and other Crusaders
in the battles for the Holy Lands.
secret meetings and rituals of the knights would eventually cause their
downfall. The King of France, Philip the Fair used these rituals and meetings
to his advantage to destroy the knights. The real reason for his crushing
the Templars was that he felt threatened by their power and immunity. In
1307, Philip, who desperately needed funds, to support his war against
England's Edward I made his move against the Knights Templar.
October 13th, 1307, King Philip had all the Templars arrested on the grounds
of heresy, since this was the only charge that would allow the seizing
of their money and assets. The Templars were tortured and as a result,
ridiculous untrue confessions were given.
Philip was successful in ridding the Templars of their power and wealth
and urged all fellow Christian leaders to do the same thing. On March 19th,
1314 the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay was
burned at the stake. De Molay is said to have cursed King Philip and Pope
Clement as he burned asking both men to join him within a year. Whether
he actually uttered the curse or if it is simply an apocryphal tale what
remains as fact is that Clement died only one month later and Philip IV
seven months after that.