Even the name Knights Templar sounds romantic. I picture powerful knights fighting in organized jousts to win a lady’s favor.
The Templars were nothing like that. They were an order of fighting monks formed to escort pilgrims to the Holy Land.
Ever been on an escorted holiday led a guide? In England, Thomas Cook started a travel company on that principle. In 1841 he organized a group excursion from Leicester to Loughborough. Everyone hailed it as a success and the UK’s first travel company was born. No one realized the Templars had done something similar back in the time of the crusades. Of course, they had to fight off infidel attacks along the way.
Back to modern holidays. Do you use travelers’ checks? They’re a great way to keep your money safe, aren’t they? The banks did good when they thought of them? Well…not really. The Templars beat them to it. When someone set out on medieval pilgrimage, they needed a way to protect their valuables. They could pay money to the Templars before they set off and withdraw it along the way. Just like modern bankers, I’m certain the Templars charged for the privilege.
While I’m on the subject of bankers, who do you think started the banking system? The Gnomes of Zurich? Well…only if those gnomes wore a white tunic emblazoned with a red Templar cross.
On the 13th October, 1307 the whole Templar organization was condemned by Pope Clement and King Philip lV of France. They owed the Templars a fortune and didn’t want to pay it back. Instead, they arrested every Templar they could lay their hands on and put them to death. A few survivors supposedly escaped to Switzerland and fought with the Swiss cantons against foreign oppressors. Once the battle was won, they moved to Zurich and worked with the one thing they knew. Money.
Did you notice the date of the Templar’s fall? 13th October doesn’t sound all that important, until I tell you it was a Friday. Friday the 13th. No one can prove it, but many people think that’s why the date’s considered unlucky.
Of course, the Templars were crusader knights. Along with other travels, they brought new foodstuffs with them. As a caffeine addict, I’m glad they brought coffee. I live in Yorkshire’s famous rhubarb triangle, so that’s something else I’m grateful to them for—along with dates and spices.
Not hungry? Okay, but I bet you use mirrors and writing paper. Carpets add comfort, and they came from the Holy Land too. Are you a chess player? You guessed it. Chess was a game played in the Holy Land and adopted by visitors. Even he names of the pieces, with a knight and castle hark back to olden times.
I know I’ve been flippant, but let’s face it, the Templars and their ilk really did do lots for us.
So why the interest in the Templars?
In my latest book KNIGHTS VAMPIRE, the hero once belonged an order of religious Knights based loosely on the Templars—one I invented. He’s was a Knight Defender. Now he’s a modern day billionaire with a philanthropic streak. And fangs. That’s why he’s a Knight Vampire.