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Knights Templar: Europe’s First Bankers

Knights Templar coinage

Knights Templar Coinage

Pilgrims travelled across Europe, their destination; Jerusalem in the Holy Land, to visit the sacred places, associated with Jesus.

These pilgrims carried cash for their survival, and relied on the Knights Templar for protection against bandits on the road.

Knights Templar, these men of God, who offered protection to these pilgrims, started out on a journey of poverty, a life devoted to the rules of the order.

As the war in the Holy Land continued, against these Muslims, their wealth accumulated, and according to Papal Bulls, they were permitted to keep, treasure troves of the Muslims.

It is known at one time, these Templar’s had 800 castles which served as banks.  For they became bankers to the Monarchs, controlling their finances, offering loans to finance wars, with their headquarters located in Paris, and clearing house in London and Paris.

How the system worked, much the same as banking of today.  One would deposit money at a Templar Keep (Bank) and upon production of a credit note, could withdraw said money at another Templar Keep, in London, Paris or any Templar bank across Europe and the Holy Land.

In much the same way, pilgrims had no need to carry large amounts of gold coins on route, for they would make a deposit in their home country, home city, be issued with a receipt and make withdrawals along the way.

These Templar’s created a “Safety Deposit Box” where Nobles and Royals could entrust their valuables, in Monasteries which operated these deposit boxes, under the guard of Templar warriors.

Much wealth came from these knights and noblemen, who surrendered their wealth of land and money when they joined the Knights Templar, and became warriors for God.

King Louis VII of France was one of many monarchs across Europe to turn to the Templar Order for financial loans.  By the reign of Philip II (1180-1223), the Templars had effectively become France’s royal treasury.

When Louis IX was held hostage in 1250, the French Commanders had to call upon the Templar Bank, to assist them in raising the desired ransom.

The Papacy also became dependent on the Templars for financial assistance, acting as their bankers from 1163.

King Henry II of England used the Templar Order to fund the crusade to Jerusalem.  King John borrowed to pay the wages of his troops in Poitou and Gascony.  King Henry III moved England’s crown jewels to the Paris Temple for safekeeping in 1261, and in 1264 used them to secure a loan to finance wars.

Image: Wikipedia

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