The Catholic military order was active for almost 200 years until their abrupt demise. At the height of their power between the 12th and 13th century, the Templars were among the most skilled fighting units of the Crusade period and managed large Christian economic organisations across Europe and the Middle East. But as the public’s distrust for their secrecy increased, King Philip IV of France seized his opportunity to settle his own debts and destroy them once and for all.
Under pressure, Pope Clement V disbanded the order in 1312, but its sudden reduction in power inspired the rise of legends.
And historian Daniel Jones explained why no one benefited from the move during an interview on Dan Snow’s History Hit.
He said: “Philip did not get enough out of it.
“We have to assume, although we don’t know for sure, that the coin in the Templar treasury in Paris ended up in a French treasury.
“That would have been a short-term gain in income, but the Templar lands – where the real wealth existed – were given to the [Knights] Hospitaller.
“The plan must have been to appropriate it, but it didn’t happen, most was granted to the Order of Knights of the Hospital [of Saint John] who then had a real tough 10 years of legal cases trying to secure them.
“It was a futile, wasteful and a tragic attack. It didn’t gain anyone anything.”
But Mr Jones detailed exactly what he thought was the catalyst to their mystique which caused questions to be asked in the first place.
He said: “A little bit of it comes from their origin – the Temple Mount – which is what they were named after.
READ MORE: Knights Templar unmasked: Lost secrets of Crusaders who ‘carried Holy Grail’ exposed
Some believe the order may have once carried the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant, two items central to Bible scripture, yet never found.
And Mr Jones explained why the gaps in their history may have added fuel to the fire of such claims.
He said: “In Templar history, you have big holes, partly because the central archive – which was moved from Jerusalem to Cyprus, disappeared when the Ottoman’s took Cyprus in the 16th century.
“There’s lots of stuff we don’t know about them and they were legends in their own lifetime – in the King Arthur story they were guardians of the grail.
“The idea of the grail and the Holy Grail is something that has a mystique of its own – mixed with the Templars and you have this incredible concoction of myth and magic.
“This is not just in the 20th and 21st century, it is as much a part of the history of the Templars as the Templars themselves.”
However, the expert does not believe there is much more mystery to be uncovered.
He continued last year: “If the Templars had any secret treasure, it remains secret, but I see no special reason why they did have any.
“As for the Holy Grail, there is a connection, but it’s like the connection between James Bond Spectre and MI6 – it exists in fantasy.
“It’s a very long-running, and one of the most successful entertainment stories of the last 800 years.
“Was the Holy Grail real? No, of course, it wasn’t. It was a trope, a literary idea. We must not mistake it for truth.
“I’m not here to kill the fun, but our job is to present the facts as best as we can. The Templars are no fun without the myth, but just keep the history and myth separately.”
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