ORDER OF  THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR - 'TEMPLARS'

A famous order of knights which flourished during the middle ages, and originated in connection with the Crusades.  It's founders were Hugues de Payen and Geoffrol de St. Omer, who along with 17 other French knights, in 1119 formed themselves into a brotherhood, taking vows of chastity and poverty, for the purpose of convoying, in safety from attacks of Saracens and infidels, pilgrims to the Holy Land.  King Baldwin II of Jerusalem granted them a residence in a portion of his palace, built on the site of the Temple of Solomon, and close to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which became the especial object of their protection.  hence their assumption of the name 'Templars'. The order grew rapidly, and drew members from all classes.  For many the life of a 'Templar' fulfilled the two strongest passions of the Middle Ages - the desire for military renown and for the life of a monk.

A constitution was drawn up by Bernard of Clairvaux (1128), and later three ranks were recognised - the knights, who alone wore the mantle of the white linen and red cross, men-at-arms, and lower retainers, while a grand master, seneschal, and other officers were created.  During the first 150 years of their existence the Templars increased enormously in power; under authority from the Pope they enjoyed many privileges, such as exemption from taxes and tithes.  After the capture of Jerusalem by the infidels Cyprus became their headquarters in 1291, then later France.  However their usefulness was seen to be at an end, and their arrogance, luxury, and quarrels with the Hospitallers had alienated the sympathies of Christendom.  Supported by Pope Clement IV, Philip the Fair of France suppressed the Templars in the most cruellest and barbaric way.  Arrested in 1307, many eventually went to trial in 1314, the intervening years used to gather evidence.  Hundreds were burned at the stake , the order scattered, and their possessions confiscated.