Knight templar sword, 12th Century (110cm)
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The Order of the Poor Knights of Christ (Latin: Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici), commonly known as the Knights Templar or the Order of the Temple (French: Ordre du Temple or Templiers) was one of the most famous Christian military orders. This organization remained active for a little less than two centuries. It was founded in 1118 or 1119 by nine French knights led by Hugo de Payens after the First Crusade. Its original purpose was to protect the lives of Christians who pilgrimage to Jerusalem after their conquest. They were recognized by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Gormond de Picquigny, who gave them the rule of the Augustinian canons of the Holy Sepulcher.
Officially approved by the Catholic Church in 1129, the Order of the Temple grew rapidly in size and power. The Knights Templar used as distinctive a white mantle with a red cross drawn. The members of the Temple Order were among the best trained military units that participated in the Crusades. Non-combatant members of the order managed a complex economic structure throughout the Christian world, creating new financial techniques that constitute a primitive form of the modern bank, and building a series of fortifications throughout the Mediterranean and the Holy Land.
The success of the Templars is closely linked to the Crusades; The loss of the Holy Land resulted in the disappearance of the Order's support. In addition, the rumors generated around the secret Templar initiation ceremony created great distrust. Felipe IV of France, considerably indebted to the Order, began to pressure Pope Clement V in order for him to take action against his members. In 1307, a large number of Templars were arrested, induced to confess under torture and subsequently burned at the stake. In 1312, Clement V yielded to the pressures of Philip and dissolved the Order. The sudden disappearance of their social structure gave rise to numerous speculations and legends, which have kept the name of the Knights Templar alive to this day.
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