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The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, commonly known as the Knights Templar or the Order of the Temple, were among the most famous of the Western Christian military orders. The organization existed for approximately two centuries in the Middle Ages. It was founded in the aftermath of the First Crusade of 1096, to ensure the safety of the many Europeans who made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem after its conquest.

Officially endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church in 1129, the Order became a favored charity across Europe and grew rapidly in membership and power. Templar knights in their distinctive white mantles with red cross were among the best fighting units of the Crusades. Non-combatant members of the Order managed a large economic infrastructure throughout Christendom, inventing or adapting many financial techniques that were an early form of banking, and building many fortifications across Europe and the Holy Land.

The Templars' existence was tied closely to the Crusades; when the Holy Land was lost, support for the Order faded. Rumors about the Templars' secret initiation ceremony created mistrust, and King Philip IV of France, deeply in debt to the Order, took advantage of the situation. In 1307, many of the Order's members in France were arrested, tortured into giving false confessions, and then burned at the stake. Under pressure from King Philip, Pope Clement V disbanded the Order in 1312. The abrupt disappearance of a major part of the European infrastructure gave rise to speculation and legends, which have kept the "Templar" name alive into the modern day.

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The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, commonly known as the Knights Templar or the Order of the Temple, were among the most famous of the Western Christian military orders. The organization existed for approximately two centuries in the Middle Ages. It was founded in the aftermath of the First Crusade of 1096, to ensure the safety of the many Europeans who made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem after its conquest.

Officially endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church in 1129, the Order became a favored charity across Europe and grew rapidly in membership and power. Templar knights in their distinctive white mantles with red cross were among the best fighting units of the Crusades. Non-combatant members of the Order managed a large economic infrastructure throughout Christendom, inventing or adapting many financial techniques that were an early form of banking, and building many fortifications across Europe and the Holy Land.

The Templars' existence was tied closely to the Crusades; when the Holy Land was lost, support for the Order faded. Rumors about the Templars' secret initiation ceremony created mistrust, and King Philip IV of France, deeply in debt to the Order, took advantage of the situation. In 1307, many of the Order's members in France were arrested, tortured into giving false confessions, and then burned at the stake. Under pressure from King Philip, Pope Clement V disbanded the Order in 1312. The abrupt disappearance of a major part of the European infrastructure gave rise to speculation and legends, which have kept the "Templar" name alive into the modern day. More...

 
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