Knights Templar were ‘legends in their lifetime’ says historian
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The famous Catholic military order is said to have boasted numbers of up to 20,000 members at its peak and was active for almost 200 years until its sudden demise. Between the 12th and 13th century the Templars were among the most skilled fighting units of the Crusade period and managed large Christian economic organisations across Europe and the Middle East. Their sudden reduction in power inspired the rise of legends and has seen them at the centre of intense research ever since, especially in regards to the Holy Grail.
And historian Daniel Jones detailed what he believes to be the catalyst to their mystique during an appearance on Dan Snow’s History Hit.
He said: “A little bit of it comes from their origin – the Temple Mount – which is what they are named after.
“There is a great mystery of the Christian faith and it all comes from the Temple Mount.
“It’s partly that, but I think it’s much more – the nature of their fall, the grotesque black propaganda that was levelled against them and their enormous wealth.
“The unaccountability of the organisation with the combination of the military, spiritual and financial all rolled together make this a perfect organisation to attach to conspiracy.
“But I think the nature of their fall [was also vital] – the fact they were brought down so quickly, devastatingly and in such a short space of time.”
But Mr Jones also detailed a second reason why the Templars’ raised suspicions.
He added: “They then appeared to disappear and people think ‘no this can’t have happened’ and the ferocity that the French pursued them must mean they had something more than wealth.
“It is all total speculation but you can see why it is alluring. My normal response is ‘do you remember the Lehman Brothers?’ They vanished in 2008.
“But that doesn’t answer the point – there must have been something going on.
“In Templar history, you have big holes, partly because the central archive – which was moved from Jerusalem to Cyprus, disappeared when the Ottoman’s took Cyprus in the 16th century.”
Beginning in the Sixties, much attention has been focused on the order’s early occupation of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and what relics the Templars may have found there.
Some believe the order may have once carried the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant, two items central to Bible scripture, yet never found.
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But Mr Jones explained why the gaps in their history may have added fuel to the fire of such claims.
He continued: “There’s lots of stuff we don’t know about them and they were legends in their own lifetime – in the King Arthur story they were guardians of the grail.
“The idea of the grail and the Holy Grail is something that has a mystique of its own – mixed with the Templars and you have this incredible concoction of myth and magic.
“This is not just in the 20th and 21st century, it is as much a part of the history of the Templars as the Templars themselves.”
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