Who were the Knight Templars?

Tomb of a Knight Templar in Lorraine

When we look at the seal of the Knight Templars we see two knight on one horse.

Would that mean they couldn’t afford their own horse?

Let’s go back in time to around 1095 AD in Jerusalem the Holy Land.

Map of the crusades

Mount Zion | Jerusalem

Mount Zion, Jerusalem

At that time the city was at the hands of the Seljuk Empire (a Turko-Persian people, variant of the Islamic culture*). Pope Urban II called the First Crusade (a crusade was a religious war undertaken by the Latin Church*) to capture the Holy Lands which ultimately succeeded in 1099.

Godfrey of Bouillon statue

Godfrey of Bouillon, a French knight, leader of the First Crusade and founder of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Duel between a crusader and a Seljuk

Duel between a Crusader and a Seljuk

Following the capture of the city many pilgrims travelled to the newly conquered Holy Places but the roads were not safe and the pilgrims were routinely slaughtered on their way to the Holy Land.

First Templar | Hughes de Payns

First Templar

Knights Templar escort Christian pilgrims

The Knights Templar escort Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem in an illustration from around 1800.

Twenty years later, around 1119AD, two veterans of the First Crusade decided to create a monastic order (a society of knights bound by a common rule of life and having a combined military and monastic character) to protect these pilgrims.

Queen of Sheba before the Temple of Solomon

The Queen of Sheba before the temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, by Salomon de Bray (1597-1664)

King Baldwin II, then Kind of Jerusalem, agreed to their request and gave them a space for their headquarters above the believed Temple of Salomon and so took the name of “Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon”, or "Templar" knights. The Order, with about nine knights, had few financial resources and relied on donations to survive.

Their emblem was of two knights riding on a single horse, emphasizing the Order's poverty. But that didn’t last long!