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Militant Monks The Knights Templar a military order of monks answerable only to the Pope himself were founded in 1118 Their primary responsibility at least initially was to provide protection to Christians making pilgrimages to the Holy Land They rose in power both religious and secular to become one of the richest and most powerful entities in Christendom By the time of their disbandment in 1307 this highly secretive organization controlled vast wealth a fleet of merchant ships and castles and estates spanning the entire Mediterranean area When the crusaders captured Jerusalem from the Muslims in 1099 the Church encouraged all faithful Christians to visit that holy city in order to affirm their faith The area however was still subject to sporadic attacks from various non-Christian factions A small group of knights led by Hugh de Payens vowed to protect the pilgrims The group was granted quasi-official status by King Baldwin II of Jerusalem who allowed them quarters in a wing of the royal palace near the Temple of Solomon It is from this initial posting that the order derived its name They took the standard vows of poverty chastity and obedience and were bound to the rules of the Augustinian order Upton-Ward 1 The order languished in near-anonimity for several years despite generous contributions from various European personages In 1126 Count Hugh of Champagne having donated his estates to Bernard of Clairvaux for use in building a monestary for the Cistercian order arrived in Jerusalem to join the Templars This action indirectly obligated Bernard to support the newly chosen advocacy of his benefactor He wrote to the count If for Gods work you have changed yourself from count to knight and from rich to poor I congratulate you Howarth 49 In the year 1126 King Baldwin found two reasons for wanting official recognition of the order First he had perhaps prematurely bestowed upon Hugh de Payens the title of Master of the Temple
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