Knights Templar

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The first of the military orders, the Knights Templar were founded in 1118 in the aftermath of the First Crusade to help the new Kingdom of Jerusalem maintain itself against its Muslim neighbors.

The Templars were organized as a monastic order, following a rule revised for them by Bernard of Clairvaux, the great leader of the Cistercian Order.

There were four divisions of brothers in the Templars:

the knights, equipped as heavy cavalry
the serjeants, equipped as light cavalry and drawn from a lower social class than the knights
farmers, who administered the property of the Order
the chaplains, who were ordained priests and saw to the spiritual needs of the Order.

On October 13, 1307, what may have been all the Knights Templar in France were simultaneously arrested by agents of Phillip the Fair (Phillipe le Bel), to be later tortured into "admitting" heresy in the Order.

During extreme torture (as documented in "Born in Blood" By John Robinson), some Templars "admitted" to worshipping a "bearded head." Some authors (such as John Robinson) discount this as a common accusation from the Inquisition, and therefore a typical forced admission, while others use it as the basis of conspiracy theories (such as Michael Baigent).

see also: Pope Clement V -- Acre, Palestine --

military orders

Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem
Knights of Malta
Teutonic Knights