The Templars started out as a Christian security force in the Holy Lands. Think of the Blackwater private security firm that provided protection (and, at times, chaos) in the Middle East recently, but add religious zeal, ZZ Top beards, and a blessing from the Pope, and you're on the right track.
The Order of the Templar Knights started in France, around the time of the First Crusade. A man named Hugh de Payns, who some say was from France (and some say was from Italy), and a French knight named Godfrey de Buillon, started the order to protect pilgrims journeying to and from the Holy Lands during the First Crusade. And it wasn't long before their soldiers became the special-ops forces of the Crusdades.
Hugh got permission from King Baldwin of Jerusalem to start a new order of monks. But these monks would be really cool ones, who could carry crusader swords and kick ass, Kill-Bill style. Baldwin, who was surrounded by hundreds of thousands of grumbling Muslims, thought it was a splendid idea and even gave the order a headquarters at the Temple Mount. Yes, I see the wheels spinning. King Solomon's Temple Mount. Hugh de Payns sat on the Temple Mount with his closest friends and, after a few days, came down with the name of the order: The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon. Yeah, the coolness factor just dropped a bit. But it would rise again! Stick with me.
Hugh decided that the Templar Order would protect Christians wherever they needed protecting, and kick enemy ass in the Holy Lands. Whoever those enemies were (and believe me, telling friend from foe out there became a bit of a thing . . .) Even the Pope got on board. Pope Honorius II approved of the order, and suddenly, the Templars were legit.
The original Navy Seals.The original Navy Seals. Except for one teensy, weensy detail.
Monks don't kill. It's kind of their thing, you know?
So what, right? I mean, desperate times and such, no?
But lots and lots of people were all sorts of upset by the new order of killer monks. So Bernard of Clairvaux (St. Bernard, of shaggy dog fame) was called in to help. Bernard was a really respected figure in the church, and, better than that, the man could "write". He was a Middle-Ages spin master. So good, in fact, that they called him the "honey-mouthed doctor." Although that may have just been his mistress. (I'm joking, he really was called that). And he was so respected that he was also sometimes called The Second Pope - which is confusing because there actually were two popes not long after. But I digress again.
Click here to read the rest of this fascinating history...
See Strongblade's Templar Dagger