a famous order of knights which flourished during the Middle Ages, and originated in connection with the Crusades. Its founders were Hugues de Payen and Geoffroi de St. Omer, who, along with 17 other French knights, in 1119 formed themselves into a brotherhood, taking vows of chastity and poverty, for the purpose of convoying, in safety from attacks of Saracens and infidels, pilgrims to the Holy Land. King Baldwin II. of Jerusalem granted them a residence in a portion of his palace, built on the site of the Temple of Solomon, and close to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which became the special object of their protection. Hence their assumption of the name "Templars." The order rapidly increased in numbers, and drew members from all classes. "The Templar was the embodiment of the two strongest passions of the Middle Ages - the desire for military renown and for a monk's life." A constitution was drawn up by Bernard of Clairvaux (1128), and later three ranks were recognised - the knights, who alone wore the mantle of white linen and red cross, men-at-arms, and lower retainers, while a grand-master, seneschal, and other officers were created. During the first 150 years of their existence the Templars increased enormously in power; under papal authority they enjoyed many privileges, such as exemption from taxes, tithes, and interdict. After the capture of Jerusalem by the infidels Cyprus became in 1291 their head-quarters, and subsequently France. But their usefulness was at an end, and their arrogance, luxury, and quarrels with the Hospitallers had alienated the sympathies of Christendom. Measures of the cruellest and most barbarous kind were taken for their suppression by Philip the Fair of France, supported by Pope Clement IV. Between 1306 and 1314 hundreds were burned at the stake, the order scattered, and their possessions confiscated.

The Nuttall Encyclopaedia. . 1907.

Look at other dictionaries:

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