A brief history of the Knights Templar

The Knights Templar have been made famous through the many books, films and TV shows made about them. Much of the information about the original Knights has been subjected to artistic license and creatively rewritten and retold.

What you’ll find below is a brief potted history of the Order of Knights Templar.

We hope you find it helpful in understanding a little more about where we, the modern Order of Knights Templar, came from.


1095 – Pope Urban II called the first crusade at Clermont, France.

1099 – In July, Jerusalem was conquered by the crusaders. Among them was Hughes de Payens.

1100 – The Hospitaller Order of St. John (now St. John Ambulance) was founded to care for the sick.

1113 – Pope Pascale II recognised the Hospitallers.

1118 – Hughes de Payens and Godfrey de St Omer formed a religious community to protect pilgrims. Taking monastic vows, nine knights placed themselves under the patronage of Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, and were provided with quarters in part of his palace (thought to be the remains of King Solomon’s temple). The “poor Knights of Christ and the temple of Jerusalem” was officially recognised by Baldwin on Christmas Day 1119. They became the first religious military order.

1126 – Hughes de Payens travelled to France to seek advice from Bernard of Clairvaux to develop a “rule of life”.

1128 – At the council of Troyes the order of the temple was recognised and a rule, written under the guidance of Bernard and based on the Benedictine model, was approved. It was known as the Latin rule and contained 76 articles. From this point on the order began to spread rapidly.

1136 – Death of Hughes de Payens. Robert of Craon became the second Grand Master.

1139 – In the bull “omne datum optimum” the Templars were brought under Papal authority, which provided them with the priviledges and exemptions that allowed them to become an autonomous corporate body and secure an economic base for founding their military activities. They were charged with defending the church against the enemies of the cross.

1144 – The bull “milites temple” allowed the Templars to collect their own funds.

1145 – Pope Eugenius called the second crusade. He issued the bull “militia dei” allowing the Templars to have their own churches and priests that were exempt from Episcopal control.

1150 – The Templars acquired their first castle at Gaza.

1163 – The “retrais et etablissements du temple” was added to the rule. This was some 675 additional articles covering the conventual life. Pope Alexander III recognised the amended rule and declared the Templars to be a sovereign authority. They were given the seal showing two knights on horseback and the motto “non nobis domine, non nobis, sed nomine, tuo da gloriam”. The amended rule became known as the French rule.

1187 – Saladin defeated the crusaders at the battle of Hattin with most of the crusader forces being captured or killed including the death of over 200 Templars; a third crusade was called.

1191 – The port of Acre was captured.

1197 – The loss of Jacobs ford.

1200 – By now the establishment of a network of preceptories within Europe had allowed the Templars to become a major European power. The Temples in London and Paris became treasuries patronised by the rich and powerful. The Templars were becoming pioneers of international banking.

1244 – The loss of La Forbie became a disaster. The final loss of Jerusalem caused the Templar headquarters to be moved to Acre.

1250 – At the battle of Mansurah, the Templars suffered a disastrous defeat.

1291 – The fall of Acre saw the effective end of the crusades. The order moved its headquarters to Cyprus.

1292 – Jaques de Molay was elected grand master.

1300 – With no crusades the Templars continued existence as a military order was called in to question; they chose to pursue agricultural and economic interests allowing their enemies, jealous of their wealth, to begin accusing them of corruption and blaming them for the loss of Palestine.

1307 – Philip IV of France, heavily in debt to the temple, seized his opportunity. Rumours were circulated of Templar corruption and were turned in to fact. On Friday 13th October Philip ordered the arrest of all Templars in France and turned them over to the Inquisition. Under pressure the Pope agreed to an investigation.

1311 – All Philip’s charges against the Templars were substantiated by the Inquisition. The crisis forced the Pope to call a church council.

1312 – The council of Vienne found the charges against the Templars to be without merit and the order was not found guilty of any charge. The bull “vox in excelso” dissolved the Templars and “ad proviendan” turned all property over to the Hospitellers.

1314 – On retraction of their forced confessions Philip IV ordered the execution of Jaques de Molay and his deputy. They were burned to death on an island in the Seine in Paris on March 14th.