“A NEW KNIGHTHOOD HAS APPEARED IN THE LAND OF INCARNATION, A KNIGHTHOOD WHICH FIGHTS A DOUBLE BATTLE, AGAINST ADVERSARIES OF FLESH AND BLOOD AND AGAINST THE SPIRIT OF EVIL,” by Bernard of Clairvaux (1129).
In 1118, Hugues de Payens led a group of nine knights; Geoffrey de St.Omer, Rossal, Gondamer, Geoffrey Bisol, Payen de Montdidier, Archambaud de St.Agnat, Andre de Montbard, and Hugh Conte de Champagne. They saw an opportunity, and offered their services, to protect pilgrims on route to the sacred sites in the Holy Land.
So the Knights Templar were born, with Hugues de Payens as their first Grand Master. A monastic order of knights, who would take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. In 1128, they were officially recognised by the papacy. They were given a white habit, which indicated they had taken monastic vows… for white symbolised purity and a red cross on their mantles, showed they be Christ’s Knights.
By 1147, some 700 knights were established at their headquarters in Jerusalem, at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, built upon the site of the former “Temple of Solomon.”
As their numbers grew, so did their wealth, with donations from Monarchs, Barons and Knights across Europe. By the mid 1100’s they owned some 3,500 castles, along with churches, houses and land. By the 13th century, they had 160,000 devout followers.
To join the order of the Knights Templar, one would be of good health, single, debt free and not connected to any other order and be prepared to accept the position of a slave or servant if so willed. Swear an oath of loyalty to the order and his brother, until the day he dies.
The dress code of a Knights Templar consisted of their armour, with a white mantle emblazoned with a red cross.
An initiation ceremony would be held in a domed chamber, which resembled the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and take place in secrecy. The candidate would be led away during the ceremony to an adjoining room, by three senior members of the Knights Templar, where hardships and expectations of the order will be given to him. He would then confirm his wish to be admitted, and rejoins the ceremony, where confirmation of his desire to become a slave of the order, is stated by the three senior knights. The candidate is questioned by other knights. Once satisfied, the Grand Master would present him with a Tabard of the Knights Templar along with a woven belt, which he must never take off.
As pilgrims from the Christian world, headed to the Holy City of Jerusalem, in order to gain redemption for their sins. They died in their hundred’s as they became easy prey to robbers, as they attempted to retrace the steps of Jesus from Jerusalem to the River Jordan, the desert and the Sea of Galilee.
Hugues de Payens witnessed many pilgrims being slaughtered on route to Jerusalem. The need was there, to offer protection, and so it was, a band of soldiers; Knights Templar were formed to offer protection. They became the first military order approved by the Catholic Church. They patrolled the lands of the Middle East, between Haifa and Jerusalem, watching and waiting for those who would prey upon defenceless pilgrims from the west.
These knights may have offered protection to pilgrims, but their long term goal was to seek out the secrets of Solomon, as they excavated below Temple Mount.
The Templar’s Rule was based on the principles of the Cistercian Order, that which St.Bernard of Clairvaux was part of.
These Templar’s were only answerable to the Pope, and as such, paid no dues, to any King, ruler or diocese.