The Knights Templar
aka: Knights Templar
You know better than to mess with them.note
"The knight of Christ, I say, may strike down with confidence and die yet more confidently, for he serves Christ when he strikes down, and serves himself when he falls.
"When they weren't praying or clubbing people in the face with a mallet, the Templars spent most of their time just standing around looking badass."
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon
a.k.a. the Order of the Temple
a.k.a. simply The Knights Templar
were a Christian religious order
founded during The Crusades
. Originally established to protect pilgrims on their way to the recently conquered Holy Land, it soon became a major banking institution of unprecedented power and so well respected that even the Muslims trusted their money with them. Originally, the banking aspect was secondary (pilgrims to the Holy Land needed someplace safe to store their possessions when they were away), but it soon became the Templar's primary purpose. However, after the Holy Land was taken back from Europeans, the order's original purpose was lost.
The end came when they incurred the envy of King Philip IV of France, who had seen the amount of money and lands the Templars hadnote
at a time when the order was sheltering him from his enemies — money and land that the king now wanted for himselfnote
. He started a campaign of defamation against the order, accusing the knights of all of sorts of heretical acts, from sodomy to worshiping cats to selling the Holy Land to the Saracens. Finally Pope Clement V (considered by most a French puppet, whose election Philip had engineered after the death of the previous pontiff, Philip's bitter enemy, Boniface VIII) had the order (illegally) disbanded and hundreds of Templars tried and burned. Outside of France, however, most of the Templar knights were adjudged innocent and were taken under the wing of their old rivals, the Hospitallers
, while others managed to find sanctuary in the Iberian Peninsula by forming or joining new orders such as the Order of Christ
in Portugal and the Orders of Montesa
in Aragon and Castile.
The Knights Templar were skilled, pious, and occasionally highly educated elite fighters, cavalry, and bankers. The order was all in all a fairly normal (if vastly successful until its demise) religious warrior class born from the upper crust of medieval society. Ironically enough, they only embodied the Knight Templar
trope in their early days; within a few decades after their beginnings they had transformed, in the eyes of their more zealous contemporaries, into a notoriously tolerant
organization that cultivated diplomatic contacts with the Muslim world; worked with Arab architects (which influenced the Gothic architecture seen everywhere in Europe), merchants, and even theologians; and disapproved of slaughtering enemies if they agreed to surrender. All of these points were used against them during the trials against them staged by Philip IV. The persistence of rumors that the Templars were somehow corrupt despite most evidence to the contrary means the Order is, to this day, an example of heroes with really bad publicity
The fact that the order ceased to exist effectively overnight, and that they're associated with a huge treasure trove, has since given rise to countless Ancient Conspiracy
theories, but anything more
is best left to, say, The Other Wiki
. The fact that many of the Order's members in France were arrested, tortured into giving false confessions, and then burned at the stake on Friday 13th (October 13, 1307, to be precise), is often erroneously cited as the origin of the belief that Thirteen Is Unlucky
. Pope Clement V only officially disbanded the Order in 1312.
Recent Speculative Fiction
tends to feature Templars In Name Only
, with the term "Templar" slapped onto any militant religious order without any connection to the historical Templars. The in-universe origin of the term in such cases is often conspicuously vague, since in Real Life
, "Templar" literally means "of the Temple"—and not just any temple, the
Temple. Only one temple in the canon shared by Judaism and Christianity is referred with a "the": the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem
(as well as its Spiritual Successor
built on the same spot). Fictional Templars, however, seem to have no problem existing even if no building of comparable cultural importance exists in their world.
of Knight Templar
, Knight Templar Parent
, and Knight Templar Big Brother
. Compare equally famous Military Orders The Teutonic Knights
and The Knights Hospitallers
. See also The Illuminati
. Given that those on the receiving end of the Knights Templar's missions seldom like it, they are also a fairly frequent target of Take Thats
, including Religion Rant Songs
. They seem often to be pitted against The Hashshashin
, even though in real life they had more of an Enemy Mine
situation when they both
fought the Sunni Turkish lords such as Saladin.
They should not be confused with The Knights Hospitallers
, a different order with a similar name. Nor any other order of Knights, for that matter.
Tropes associated with the Templars:
- Ancient Conspiracy: Any Conspiracy Kitchen Sink worth its salt will involve the Templars one way or another.
- Badass Beard: A huge number of their Grandmaster's sported these that one has to wonder if it was a tradition.
- Their rules forbade them to shave, wash and change underwear amongst other things.
- Badass Bookworm: Warfare is Our Business. And vice versa. These guys invented dual accounting, credit cards, holding companies, corporations, insurance, and travel agencies. And they're responsible for modern banking. And of course, befitting any medieval religious order, every Templar could read and write in Latin.
- Church Militant: And one of the most iconic representatives of this trope.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: They really weren't as bad as their typical portrayals in popular culture suggest. The Other Wiki has some more information, but their bad reputation likely stems from the abrupt disappearance of such an important political and military order in Europe leading to conspiracy theories.
- Knight in Shining Armor or Tin Tyrant: Sometimes both in the same work.
- Knight Templar: Despite being the Trope Namer, they mostly avert this trope, and they suffer massively from Historical Villain Upgrade. Although most Templars were probably ruthless and fanatical, so was nearly everybody else during the Middle Ages (by our standards), and as the order grew wealthier, they became less and less involved with fighting. So why are the Templars singled out? Blame it on the conspiracy theories!
- Mega Corp.: A medieval version, as they grew from a crusading order into an order of bankers and merchants.
- Motive Decay: A rare positive example. They started off as the Trope Namer of the Knight Templar but eventually evolved beyond that into a kind of large scale and tolerant corporation.
- The Order: One of the Trope Codifiers.
- Warrior Monk: As noted, they were founded with the function of protecting pilgrims and as in other orders new members took monastic vows.
Works featuring or referencing historical Templars (or their successors):
open/close all folders
- In Neil Gaiman's 1602, much of the early plot involves various characters chasing after the secret treasure of the Templars, which is being carried by their last survivor across Europe. It turns out to be Thor's hammer.
- The World Bank in the Carl Barks & Don Rosa continuity of Donald Duck is a front of the Templars. One epic arc focused on Scrooge's quest for their hidden treasure which was hidden under his family castle.
- The Sacred Order of Saint Dumas from Batman comics was originally a branch of the Templars but split up with them and thus survived their disbandment.
- Witch Blade villians Kenneth Irons, Gerald Irons and Sir Renaud de Gaudin were members of The Knights Templar.
- The Accursed Kings begins with the historical disbanding of the Knights Templar and execution of their Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, by the King of France.
- In The Da Vinci Code, after Jerusalem was conquered, the Templars discovered documents proving that not only has Jesus really existed, but also married Mary Magdalene and had a child with her. After the crucifixion, Mary fled with their child to France, starting the Merovingian royal line (a.k.a. the Holy Grail), which exists to this day despite Vatican's efforts. Using this knowledge, the Templars have pressured the Church into giving them unprecedented power, which backfired on them, eventually, but the survivors reformed as "the Priory of Sion".
- In the Conspiracy Theory invented by the main characters of Foucaults Pendulum, Templars have discovered a way to harvest the tremendous energies of the telluric currents but were destroyed before they could actually use their discovery. The rest of the conspiracy theory is their convoluted plan to reform and Take Over the World six centuries later.
- Brian de Bois-Guilbert, Albert de Malvoisin, Grand Master Lucas de Beaumanoir, et al. in Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe; and Grand Master Giles Amaury in his The Talisman.
- Jan Guillou's The Templar Knight (book two of his Crusades trilogy) follows the adventures of a Swedish nobleman as a Knight Templar in the Holy Lands.
- A group of modern-day Templars feature in Steve Alten's The Loch, having made a (metaphorical, though they apparently believed it to be real) deal with the devil to protect an artifact of symbolic importance to Scotland. And by "devil" I mean "giant deep-sea eels that come into the loch via tunnel from the sea" (otherwise known as the Loch Ness Monster). Played with in that they turn out to be good guys.
- Sir Baldwin Furnshill, one of the detectives in Michael Jecks' "Medieval Murder" mysteries, is an ex-Knight Templar.
- In M. R. James's "Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad" the hapless Parkins finds a haunted whistle on the site of a ruined Templar preceptory.
- In Wolfram von Eschenbach's 13th century romance Parzival, the Knights of the Holy Grail are described as "templeizen" or Templars.
- Throughout the Requiem series of books by Robyn Young, which follows the fall of the Templars, we see the fall of Acre and the attempts of the Templar Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, and Pope Clement V to get another crusade going. They never do.
- In the Gemma Doyle Trilogy, Kartik tells Gemma that some of the Knights Templar were members of the Rakshana.
- In The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss, the Amyr seem clearly set up as a fantasy counterpart to the Knights Templar, complete with conspiracy theories surrounding their dissolution.
- A Knights Templar soldier appears in Robert Reed's short story, The Hoplite. The man, who was Resurrected for a Job, commands a squad of not very friendly soldiers - a SS officer, an Aztec warrior, a Greek hoplite, etc - who are used to subjugate rebellious territories on Earth and raid the colonies of Alpha Centauri.
- The Children of the Light in The Wheel of Time are a pretty clear Expy of the historical Knights Templar, right down to them getting better later in the series when Galad becomes Lord Captain Commander.
Live Action TV
- Brian de Bois-Guilbert (Sam Neill), Lucas de Beaumanoir (Philip Locke), et al. in the 1982 TV version, and Brian de Bois-Guilbert (Ciarán Hinds), Malvoisin (Jack Klaff), Lucas de Beaumanoir (Christopher Lee), et al. in the the 1997 TV version of Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe; and Grand Master Giles Amaury (Donald Burton) in the 1980 TV version of his The Talisman.
- Relic Hunter had a Templar knights episode, of course.
- In the episode "Seven Poor Knights from Acre" of Robin of Sherwood a band of Templars thrashes Robin and his outlaws in a fight and abducts Much. When Friar Tuck refers to them as "Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon" Will Scarlet replies, "Poor? I'd hate to see the good ones!"
- The Brotherhood of the Black Diamond in Warehouse 13 is a secretive sect descended from the Knights Templar.
- They are one of the subjects of Grave Digger's Knights of the Cross Concept Album.
- "Knight Templar" is the title of a march composed by George Allen and often played as a showpiece by contesting brass bands. Perhaps Allen saw contesting bandsmen as the equivalent of the Templars?
- In the GURPS Fantasy setting, the Templars existed as an order on the world of Yrth; a world populated by fantasy creatures and humans accidentally transported from the era of The Crusades on Earth. The Templars were rumored to be the only humans to have deliberately transported themselves there by magic.
- In Corvus Belli's tabletop war-game Infinity, the Pan Oceanian Knightly Orders include a re-founded version of the Templars.
- Along with the Hospitallers, The Knights Templar are one of the knightly orders battling the demonic minions of The Unholy on the living planet of Wormwood in Rifts.
- The Black Templars chapter of Space Marines in Warhammer 40,000 borrow a lot of their imagery and general theme from the Knights Templar.
- Nathan the Wise, a drama on religious tolerance by enlightenment poet Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, features a young Knight Templar as one of its main characters. In the play's multi-religion ensemble, he is the representative of Christianity.
- Assassin's Creed posits that the Templars themselves are part of an ancient society that has existed throughout human history (according to the Templars' old texts, Cain (yes, that Cain) was the founder of their order), and that the Knights Templar themselves were just the open military incarnation of them during the Middle Ages, operating in preparation for a takeover of the Holy Land. The public destruction of the order was actually a cover to let the Templars become secret once more, where they proceeded to gain enormous power in the shadows in Europe and elsewhere. The modern Templars are a collection of extremely powerful and highly advanced corporations. All history is actually fabricated by the Templars, and the Templars included, but were far from limited to, such famous historical figures as Pope Alexander VI, Henry Ford, and Thomas Edison.
- Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars.
- Crusader Kings.
- Deus Ex features a mission in a cathedral that was owned by the Templars and their descendants. A member of the Illuminati sends you there, in order to gain his favor, with orders to secure the gold inside that was originally seized by the Nazis in World War II and is now being held by members of Majestic 12.
- Post Mortem saw MacPherson tracking down the "Head of Baphomet," which the Templars were accused of worshiping by The Pope (among other things).
- The Medieval games of the Total War series features the Knights Templar as a special guild that can be established in certain cities, giving you access to the Knights Templar themselves — very, very powerful cavalry units which are almost unparalleled in combat.
- Sadly, in the vanilla game at least there was no reason whatsoever to allow the Templars into your cities besides the Rule of Cool: if you could hire them (as opposed to being stuck with Knights of Santiago or Teutonic Knights), that means you also satisfied the conditions for hiring Hospitallers who have the exact same stats and costs, but also provide a public health bonus via their guild buildings. Most mods corrected that by adding an income bonus to the Templar guilds (to represent the banking and money-lending they did IRL)... which turns Hospitallers into the completely naff choice.
- In the Crusades expansion campaign, the Kingdom of Jerusalem has a significant number of its troops supplied by the Templars - knights, archers, and spearmen among them.
- The MMORPG The Secret World has the Templars as a playable faction. However, in its universe, the historical Knights Templar were nothing but a temporary front for the real Templars that the player can join.
- Team Plasma from Pokémon Black and White look a lot like the Knights Templar. Unfortunate Implications ensue.
- Knights of Honor features the Templars as one of the best swordsman units, and available only to Catholic nations. Unfortunately, they don't have their own faction.
- Immortal Souls projects the Templars into a present day world as a ridiculously technologically-advanced order (essentially, white and red official-cross-symbol-adorned Power Armor and Energy Weapons, and other advanced gadgetry, in an otherwise normally-teched setting) of borderline-Mad Scientist Church Militants fighting in a Secret War against the "shadow world" of demons and monsters. It's implied even their current leader has no real clue how they got from then to now, since one plotline involves him procuring an artifact that will reveal his ancestor's memories and the history of his order. Doesn't work, unfortunately for him, since the artifact in question turns out to have been booby-trapped.
- In Azraels Tear, during the Crusades a group of 12 of the Templars was sent to bear the Holy Grail out of Jerusalem to Scotland and protect it there. Some of them survive thanks to the Grail's life-sustaining effects, and the protagonist interacts with them through the course of the story.
- Civilization V does not have Templars. It does, however, feature the "Chivalry" tech which is very easy to associate with them. It ties in with a lot of economic techs, and unlocks Knights.
- The website Vampiric Studies claims that the Knights Templar were vampire hunters.
- In 2008, a Spanish group claiming descent from the historical Templars sued the Vatican, seeking restoration of the order's reputation as well as recognition, but not restitution of the alleged billions of dollars in assets that the Church seized upon the order's dissolution.
- The World War II Adventurer Archaeologist, warrior (he was too independent in his style to be called a "soldier"), spy, nobleman, and general Badass László Ede Almásy de Zsadány et Törökszentmiklós apparently was involved in an arcane cult that claimed descent from The Knights Templar. He worked for the Hungarians, which qualifies him as a Worthy Opponent of the Allies.
- Also in 2008, it was founded, in Brazil, a church named "Igreja Templária" (Templary Church), claiming to be knights.
- Some Freemasons claim descent from the Knights Templar. In the York Rite branch of Freemasonry, the highest-degree members become part of the Knights Templar. Freemasons of the Scottish Rite and other branches may also become Knights Templar by invitation only, but the Knights Templar are the only Freemason group that is Christians-only rather than simply requiring a belief in any concept of God. Whatever direct links might exist between Freemasonry and the original Knights Templar, if they exist, have apparently been lost to history.
- The Norwegian far-right-wing terrorist Anders Breivik claimed to be just one of a new order of Knights Templar planning to wipe out all of Europe's Muslims and left-wingers, although this has been officially dismissed as fantasy.
- In a rather chilling example, the remnants of one of Mexico's most notorious drug cartels, La Familia Michoacana, reformed into...well...Los Caballeros Templarios. Noted for preserving La Familia's Family Values Villain stance (members aren't supposed to use the drugs they traffic, and they are also supposed to "fight for social justice," etc.) and for the 2013-14 vigilante uprising against them when the government security forces proved ineffective.
- The Temple area in the City of London is indirectly named for the Knights: their "house" and church (Temple Church, still standing) in London were located there beginning in the 12th century.
- The Dragon Age series features the "Templar Order", an organization of Mage Killers, which, while formally associated with the Chantry, actually predates its establishment. The origin of their name is never revealed, since temples are referred only as "chantries" in the Andrastian religion.
- Path of Exile has a member of Knights Templar as one of the player characters (dubbed "The Templar"). Again, the origin of their name is not elaborated upon.
- Starcraft: The Protoss warrior caste are called the Templars.
- David Eddings had a series (Elenium and Tamuli) with an order of knights based loosely on the historical Knights Templar.
- The Discworld fanwork "The Da Quirm Code Revealed" (it was by Trevor Truran, creator of Thud, and delivered as a lecture at a Discworld convention, which arguably gives it a thin veneer of canonicity) features the Knights Tippler, who eventually became the Priority of Shawn. Or possibly it was all made up by the authors of The Unholy Brood and the Holey Gruel.