Cash ‘n Christ
Although the Templars “raison d’etre” was to bring their version of “Holiness” to the Holy Land, only 10% of the T-team actually wielded a sword. The other 15 to 20 thousand organized and maintained a European wide economic infrastructure. Which was, basically, the first bank. The Templar organization provided escrow services, as well as issuing cheques and letters of credit.
The latter proved especially useful to pilgrims making the trek to J-town. Rather than take their gold with ‘em, and risk being relieved of it, and their heads by the local bad guys, they dropped the goods with their friendly local Templars. Who, in turn, issued them letters of credit. Redeemable for cash at the other end.(The first travelller’s cheques.) The bandits soon got the word, and with the exception of a few pilgrim trophy hunters, turned their swords elsewhere.
For almost two centuries, the Templars were the big men on campus. Buying land, farms, vineyards. Building churches and other fortifications.And, crossing against the light(and more) with impunity. Thanks to Pope Innocent(will we ever have a “Pope guilty?”) who in 1139 exempted the Templars from all local laws. And Taxes. They crossed backyards and borders without so much as an “excuse me.” Only when /if the Pope said “jump” were the Templars obliged to reply – “How high?”
So, “back in the day”, being a Templar was the best gig in town. A combination of rock star, sports hero, and trusted network news anchor.
And it lasted for almost two centuries.
Rain on the Parade
But, as you know all too well dear reader, the good things in life, eventually run into the law. Murphy’s law. And that’s what happened to the Knights Templar.
“History” ,as the man said, “is written by the winners.” And the T-team was seriously dropping the ball. Not only had they lost Jerusalem, conclusively and finally to that Godless Saladin, but by 1187 they had no base anywhere in the Holy land. So, what next?
The usual. Squabbling. Dissention in the ranks. How to stage a comeback? Opposition from the competition, drooling to replace them. But all that was small potatoes compared to what history had in store for the “poor fellow soldiers of Christ.”
A Froggie in the Works
History”, in this case, being King Phillip the fourth . Heavily in debt to the Templars, his “debt relief plan” (obviously inspired by Pope Innocent’s Carcassone Cathares “solution.”) was to round up as many T-teamers as possible. Imprison. Torture. Force confessions.(Think Gitmo). Needless to say, it worked like a charm. Major scandal in Paris.(And what better place to have one?)Even after the revelations that the “confessions”were phony.
My way…or the Highway
Ah, but sleazy King Phil was’nt finished yet. His rant to Pope Clement the 5th was that the only way to,”put this all behind us”…was to disband the Templars. (Thus handily wiping out his debt) Pope Clement, to his credit, was not down with this plan. However, when “never-play-fair-when-ya-can-play-dirty” Phil suggested that the alternative was to have his army pay a visit to the Pope-ville, Clement , in 1312, disbanded the Templars.
Quiet lives/Eternal Lives
The lucky ones, were pensioned off. Living quiet lives, one imagines, polishing their swords, reliving glorious campaigns, and growing Saucisson. In other countries, such as Portugal, the Templars simply changed their name to “The Order of Christ.”
The unlucky ones, as you will have guessed by now, went the way of the Salem witches, Joan of Arc, and, yes, the Cathares.
As he was working up a sweat, his hands tied into a prayer position as he faced Nortre Dame, the Templars last Commander Jacques Demolay shouted out that King Phil and Pope Clement would soon be standing before God. Can’t confirm their destination. But a year later, both were no longer on this planet.
THROW ME A BONE HERE PEOPLE!
What are ya Thinkin’?