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Knights Templar, The

Officially the Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon; founded in 1118 by Hugh de Payens, who, along with fellow crusaders, appealed to King Baldwin II of Jerusalem that they might form a religious order—taking the traditional vows of poverty and chastity but with the special purpose of protecting pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. Baldwin agreed and provided them shelter in the palace, also the former site of Solomon’s temple.

The small group of knights grew, due to the efforts of Hugh and fel low knight Andrew of Montbard, as they traveled in search of donations and recruits. One influential supporter was Bernard of Clairvaux, an abbot who had fought in a crusade and was a powerful man within Christendom. Bernard provided a ‘‘rule’’ (book of guidelines) for the Knights and obtained the pope’s blessing upon the order. In 1147, the pope added a red cross to the white tunics the Templars wore over their armor, like other military monks, such as the Knights Hospitaller and the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.

Dan Brown portrays the Knights as having wealth beyond kings, of living beyond the pope’s rule, and, most important to The Da Vinci Code’s conspiratorial theme, the keepers of a great secret (158–59, 346). The Templars did have wealth, but since they held vows of poverty, their prosperity came from contributions—their money simply accumulated. In fact, the Knights Hospitaller possessed far greater wealth than the Templars.

The Da Vinci Code claims that Pope Clement V devised a plan with France’s King Philip IV to arrest, torture, and even kill all the Knights because they were ‘‘heretics guilty of devil worship, homosexuality, defiling the cross, sodomy, and other blasphemous behavior’’ (160). In reality, Philip’s envy of Templar wealth and power provoked him, independent of Clement V, to order the arrest of all Templars on October 13, 1307. Clement was notified later; he was appalled but could not annul the trials due to many Templars having been coerced into confessing bizarre crimes while placed under the severe torture of Philip’s soldiers. Eventually Clement was persuaded to suppress the Knights, but he was not the formulator or initiator of the plan to extinguish them.



Printed with permission from Bethany House Publishers, South Bloomington, Minnesota from the book "The Da Vinci Codebreaker : an easy-to-use fact checker for truth seekers" by James L. Garlow.
 

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