End of Europe's Middle Ages
Also called the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, the Templars were a military order founded in 1119 by Hughes de Payens in Jerusalem in an attempt to combine monastic discipline with the duty of fighting the infidel. It began when eight French Knights formed an association to protect pilgrims on their journeys to the Holy Land and took the three monastic vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
The Templars' devotion to the order and their independence from secular authority made it difficult for the king of Jerusalem to control them. Often, they were accused of putting their own interests before those of the kingdom. Eventually, the Templars became involved in international banking, particularly with the French monarchy's revenues.
In his efforts to obtain greater control of the French government, Philip IV took the financial offices away from the Templars. To evade the crown's debt to them, he attacked them with charges of heresy and iniquitous behaviour. In 1312, he obtained the support of the pope, the order was condemned and dissolved at the Council of Vienna with their fiefs transferred to the Hospitalers.
The End of Europe's Middle Ages / Applied History Research Group / University of Calgary
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