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The order of the Knights Templar, which existed for about two centuries in the Middle Ages, was created after the First Crusade of 1096 to ensure the safety of European pilgrims to Jerusalem after its conquest. Officially endorsed by the Catholic church in 1129, the order became a favoured charity across Europe, and grew rapidly in membership and power. Templar knights, easily recognisable in their white mantle with a distinct red cross, were some of the best equipped, trained, and disciplined fighting units of the Crusades.
When the Holy Land was lost and the Templars suffered crushing defeats, support for the Order faded. Rumours about the Templars' secret initiation ceremony created mistrust, and King Philip IV of France, on 13 October 1307 had many of the order’s members in France arrested, tortured into ‘confession’ and burned at the stake. In 1312, Pope Clement, under continuing pressure from Philip, forcibly disbanded the order. The sudden disappearance of a major part of the European infrastructure gave rise to speculation and legends, which have kept the name ‘Templar’ alive. This book brings the story into logical focus.