The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon are called the Order of Solomon's Temple or the Knights Templar. This Catholic military order is one of the famous Western Christian military orders. They were set up in 1119, and its headquarters on the Temple Mount is in Jerusalem. In addition, they were available for two centuries, nearly during the Middle Ages.
The Knights Templar was a big set-up of devout Christians at the time of the medieval era carrying out a vital mission. They aim to secure European travellers when they visit sites in the Holy Land and carry out military operations. It has a strong and mysterious order that has fascinated historians, people for centuries, financial acumen, etc.
Who was Knights Templar?
Pilgrims from Western Europe began visiting the Holy Land after Christian armies captured Jerusalem from Muslim control in 1099 during the Crusades. Unfortunately, multiple people were robbed and killed while crossing through Muslim-controlled territories during the journey.
A French knight, Hugues de Payens, made a military order around 1118 with eight relatives and acquaintances. He called it the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon. We know it later as the Knights Templar.
Baldwin II was the ruler of Jerusalem. They established headquarters on that city's sacred Temple Mount with his support, which is the origin of the now-iconic name.
Knights Templar Brief History:
Knights Templars were well trained, well-equipped, and highly motivated. In addition, they were forbidden to retreat in a war until they outnumbered three to one. Besides, Knights Templars follow only the order of the commander. You should know that all of them were not warriors. Most of them wanted to acquire resources that could help them to fund themselves. But a few percent of people fought on the front lines.
Three classes existed within the orders. Knight was the highest class. While someone was sworn into the order, they made the knight a monk. There are a few things which you should know about them. The first one is that they used to wear white robes. Besides, they couldn't hold any property and receive any private letters. In addition, they could not get married or betrothed and have any vow in any other Order.
Moreover, they could not have more debt than they could pay, and they could not have any infirmities. However, the Templar priest class was like the modern-day military chaplain. Furthermore, they conducted religious services and led prayers wearing green robes, and we got proof that they used to wear gloves always until offering Holy Communion.
We know the mounted men-at-arms as the most common class, called "brothers." They got assigned two horses each, where they used to hold multiple positions, including guard, steward, squire, or other support vocations. But, when it comes to the primary support staff, brown or black robes were something they wore. Besides, they were garbed in plate mail or chain mail.
Like them, the armor was not so complete. The warriors got good training for the infrastructure. As a result, they were well-armed. Their horses got training to fight in a war. The combination of soldier and monk was strong for the Templar Knights. However, one of the popular ways to die in battle is martyrdom.
They were shrewd tacticians who followed the dream of Saint Bernard. According to him, a small force might defeat a big enemy. 1177 witnessed the Battle of Montgisard, one of the crucial wars where this was demonstrated. Saladin was a popular Muslim military leader at that time. He tried to push toward Jerusalem from the south with his 26,000 soldiers. Besides, he had pinned the forces of Jerusalem's King Baldwin IV. The coast at Ascalon held the proof of the incident. There were about eighty people who tried to reinforce.
It was in Gaza where they saw Saladin's troops and met. But their force was so small that they could not fight against the opponent. As a result, Saladin decided not to fight against them. Therefore, he went toward Jerusalem. As soon as Saladin and his army went from there, they could join King Baldwin's forces. After that, both went north along the coast.
But Saladin made a big mistake. He allowed them to spread out his army instead of ordering them to stay together. As a result, the opponent benefits from this low state of readiness. They attacked directly against Saladin and his bodyguard at Montgisard near Ramla. The army of Saladin was spread so thin that they could not defend themselves appropriately. It resulted in the loss of Saladin and his forces because they retreated to the south.
While returning to Jerusalem, the remaining number of forces was only a tenth of their original number. In this regard, you need to know that the war wasn't the last one with Saladin. But it bought some peace for a year for the Jerusalem kingdom. A tiny Knights group and the heavily armed warhorses collected tightly, galloping full speed at the enemy lines.
The bottom line:
Knights Templar had a strong will that they might even commit suicide but didn't fall back. In addition, they used to join other armies in crucial wars. Moreover, they stood on the front line of the force in a battle. Sometimes, they worked as fighters to protect the military from the rear. Even they fought wars with King Louis VII of France and King Richard I of England. Furthermore, they fought in the Spanish and Portuguese Reconquista.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Q. Do they still exist today?
According to most historians, they disappeared 700 years ago. However, some people think they went underground and remained in some form of existence.
- Q. What do they believe?
They swore an oath of poverty, chastity, and obedience like Cistercians. In addition, they heard the divine office like the monks during every canonical hour of the day.
- Q. Why were they killed?
The King Philip IV of France and Pope Clement V arrested Jacques de Molay, the Grandmaster, in 1307. They charged him with sacrilege and Satanism.