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Composite image of members of the Knights Templar and a treasure pile.

Greed and Decline: The Treasure of the Knights Templar and Their Downfall

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The ‘Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon,’ more commonly known as the Knights Templar, or the Templars, was one of the most renowned military orders during the Middle Ages. The source of their fame came not only from their prowess on the battlefield, but also from the wealth they amassed during the Crusades. These riches eventually led to their downfall, and became the so-called ‘Treasure of the Templars’ in the popular imagination. What exactly is the ’Treasure of the Templars’?

The Finances of the Templars

The Templars were not only great warriors, but formidable financiers as well. One of the two ranks of non-fighting men, for instance, was known as the farmers, who were responsible for the administration of the Order’s worldly possessions. The other rank was the chaplains, which tended to the spiritual needs of the Order.

As they had the official endorsement of the Church, the wealthy of Europe provided the Templars with a great amount of donations in the form of money, land, and fighting men. Additionally, they were exempted from all taxation, including the ecclesiastical tithes that were due to the clergy. Thus, the Templars became one of the most affluent institutions during the Middle Ages.

Members of the Knights Templar in discussion.

Members of the Knights Templar in discussion. ( Public Domain )

The Downfall of the Templars

It was during the early 14th century that the Knights Templar officially came to an end, with the execution of its last Grand Master, Jacques de Molay. The dissolution of the Order was related to its vast treasury.  

 Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar.

 Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar. ( Public Domain )

The man responsible for the downfall of the Templars was the king of France, Philip IV, called the Fair. The French king, it has been claimed, was heavily in debt to the Templars due to his war with the English, and was also eyeing the wealth of the Templars for himself.

In 1305, Pope Clement V sent letters to de Molay and the Grand Master of the Hospitallers, requesting them to come to France to discuss the possible merger of the two Orders. de Molay arrived in early 1307, though the meeting was delayed for some time.

Nevertheless, the Grand Master was able to discuss other matters with the Pope, one of which concerned some charges made a few years earlier by an ousted Templar, regarding impropriety in the Templars’ initiation ceremony. Some believe that the Pope was in collusion with the French king, though others claim that the Pope was a weak character who served as a pawn of Philip.

A royal enquiry was set up to look into the matter of the Templars, and Philip saw this as an opportunity to get rid of the Templars. On the 18th of March 1314, almost seven years after the Templars were first arrested throughout France, de Molay and three other top-ranking Templars were burned to death as heretics in Paris.

Execution of Templars in front of Philip the Fair. (Circa 1415-1420)

Execution of Templars in front of Philip the Fair. (Circa 1415-1420) ( Public Domain )

Philip freed himself from his monetary debts to the Templars, and seized their treasury as well. The king, however, would not enjoy his new-found wealth for long, as he died on the 29th of November 1314, less than a year after de Molay’s execution. Some believe that the Templars managed to hide some of their wealth from the French king. This became the foundation for the legend of the Templar’s treasure, and many have since speculated on the location of their richness.

Contents of the Templars’ Treasure

It has been claimed that the Templar’s treasure contained more than common material wealth. It is believed that the Templars had collected a number of sacred relics during their time in the Holy Land as well. For example, one of the charges levelled against the Templars was that they were idolaters, and worshipped the image of a ‘bearded man.’

An unpublished account of the initiation of a young Frenchman, Arnaut Sabbatier, into the Order, which was found by a historian doing research in the Vatican Secret Archives, has helped to shed light on this claim. It is reported that Sabbatier was “shown a long piece of linen on which was impressed the figure of a man and told to worship it, kissing the feet three times”. It has been suggested that this was one of the relics in the possession of the Templars, the Turin Shroud.

Positive and negative images of the Shroud of Turin.

Positive and negative images of the Shroud of Turin. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

Whilst the Turin Shroud is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin today, the location of other purported Templar relics is harder to pin-point. These supposed relics include the Treasure of Solomon, the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail, lost teachings of Jesus, and even the mummified head of Christ.

The possible locations for these treasures are also varied, ranging from Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland to Oak Island in Nova Scotia, Canada, and even a remote Danish island in the Baltic called Bornholm. What is almost certain, however, is that treasure hunters looking for the wealth of the Templars will be kept busy for some time to come.

Bornholm is one of the many locations that have been associated with the Templars’ treasure.

Bornholm island’s coast. ( CC BY SA 3.0 ) Bornholm is one of the many locations that have been associated with the Templars’ treasure.

Featured image: Composite image of members of the Knights Templar ( Public Domain ) and a treasure pile. ( CC BY SA 2.0 )

By: Ḏḥwty

References

BBC, 2015. From Jerusalem to Rosslyn?: The Templars in Scotland. [Online]
Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/legacies/myths_legends/scotland/lothian/

Haagensen, E. & Lincoln, H., 2006. The Templars' Secret Island. London: Phoenix.

Hooper, J., 2009. Turin Shroud link with Templars proved by archives, claims historian. [Online]
Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/apr/06/turin-shroud-templars

istina.rin.ru, 2005. The Lost Treasure of the Knights Templar. [Online]
Available at: http://istina.rin.ru/eng/ufo/text/180.html

Lovgren, S., 2004. "National Treasure": Freemasons, Fact, and Fiction. [Online]
Available at: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/11/1119_041119_national_treasure_2.html

Moeller, C., 1912. The Knights Templars. [Online]
Available at: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14493a.htm

Selwood, D., 2014. A stain on history: the burning of Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the mysterious Knights Templar, 700 years ago today. [Online]
Available at: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/dominicselwood/100263362/a-stain-on-history-the-burning-of-jacques-de-molay-grand-master-of-the-mysterious-knights-templar-700-years-ago-today/

www.crystalinks.com, 2015. The Knights Templar. [Online]
Available at: http://www.crystalinks.com/templars1.html

Comments

I understand completely Sir, and thank you!. As soon as I get caught up debating with a “friend” about our founding fathers...after 17 years, THREE CHARTERS, the Declaration of Independence, The articles of Confederation, the U.S. Constitution, Hundreds of letters back and forth about HOW TO WORD THESE DOCUMENTS and at least a hundred personal meetings into HOW TO WORD THESE SENTENCES and PARAGRAPHS. He is touting Jack Rakove as an expert in how they were ignorant and lacking in comprehension of the english language and that they didn’t “Intend" to actually WORD them as they are WORDED. : )

So it might be tomorrow Sir. Again...I thank you and completely understand!

I do not want to give too much away about my book as I would prefer people read it first to understand my viewpoint but you can try me out on exchanging ideas on this whole extraordinary subject as there may very well be aspects on which I also can gain new knowledge.

Thank you for your time to reply and share John. The background and bloodline of Anne Montechanin (A Huguenot), Wife of Pierre Du Pont, and as you know a Mason of course, has been a road block for me in my research to date. Interesting that you made a connection in your book with a historical situation concerning the Du Ponts considering the world wide historical influence this particular Family has had!

If I contacted you through the Contact feature here at AO would you have time to share notes?

my book The Royal Secret is concerned throughout with the Merovingian bloodline from which the King Merovech and his son Clovis believed they were descended from Mary Magdalene. Under severe pressure from the Catholic Church the later Merovingians overtly changed their beliefs from those of the Jewish Christian creed of Jesus and Mary Magdalene and their bloodline. The Catholics very cleverly then invented the Carolingian bloodline who were Catholics to replace the Merovingians in history, even though many of the European royalty including the Bourbons believed they were Merovingian descendants but concealed it so not to offend the Catholic church.
Re the Prieure de Sion story I do not believe it other than a 20th Century concoction.
Since Jesus claimed descendency from the House of David then his offspring from his wife Mary Magdalene would have been those whom King Merovech believed his bloodline came from.
Mary fled to Egypt and then to the Langueguedoc in SW France where her teachings of free love were taken up by the Cathars whom the Catholics eventually and atrociously destroyed.
Mary herself being the great grandaugter of Queen Cleopatra.
In my novel the story is told of the enquiry of a modern day woman (Mrs G- a cryptologist) working as an assistant for a Jewish-American billionaire who dies mysteriously having made his fortune from biochemistry and is married to a French woman who claims her ancestry is Merovingian and so consequently are her children and grandchildren. The connection to the Duponts you can draw for yourself. As for Anne Montechanin she does not feature in my book, but II will investigate.
Although my book is written as a novel it is as near the truth historically as I have been able to find over several years of investigation and the help of other investigative works down the ages and now more recently with the help of others to continue the incredible story in a sequel.

Wanted to thank you for sharing some of your work here with us and plan to get your book ASAP. I have been digging into this for quite awhile myself on this side of the pond and have a curious question if you could share it with us. Were you able to establish any solid connections between the Prieure de Sion, Merovingian dynasty and the House of David? Also have you been able to connect Anne Montechanin to the House of David? The not so talked about DuPont family and U.S. founder connection has fascinated me for years now and these particular connections have been elusive so far.

I am trying my best to open some eyes here in the States...

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