The Knights Templar was the foremost Military Order of the Crusades. In about 1118 these warrior-monks were appointed custodians of Temple Mount, and defenders of Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land. Endorsed by the Catholic Church in 1129, the Order became a favoured cause across Europe. Templar knights, distinguished by their white mantles with red crosses, constituted some of the most disciplined and efficient fighting units in successive crusades. The expanding Order acquired extensive estabes in the West, and served as financers and advisors to the great and good. In the East the Templars garrisoned cities and castles, helping to sustain the Frankish presence in the Orient for almost two centuries. Support for the Order faded after the final loss of the Holy Land. King Philip IV of France, seizing on the Templar's habitual secrecy, plotted their destruction and confiscation of their assets. Bending the Papacy to his will, he secured the arrest and trial of Templars throughout Christendom, on grounds of heresy and diabolical corruption. In France the Inquisition extracted damning confessions from the arrested brethren.
In 1312, under continuing pressure from Philip, Pope Clement V formally disbanded the Order. Two years later the last Grand Master was burned alive in Paris after renouncing his confession. The Order's suppressino amid such sinister circumstances gave rise to myth and speculation which keeps the Templar name alive to this day. This highly readable and informative A-Z guide is an invaluable reference to the places, people, and themes of the Crusades, the Knights Templars and their legacy.show more