The origin of The Knights Templar goes back to the first Christian crusade in 1096-1999. The kingdoms of France and England and Rome launched an attack on the Muslim world. The knights in the crusades focused their attack on Jerusalem and captured the city in 1099. This also established the crusader states of Tripoli, Edessa, Antioch, and the Kingdom of Jerusalem. With the city under Christian control, many Christians from western Europe would travel to visit the newly safe holy lands. While the cities themselves were safe, the road was not. Rife with bandits, Christian pilgrims were killed and robbed by the hundreds while travelling to the cities. In 1120, King Baldwin of Jerusalem established an armed monastic guard to ensure safe travel to the holy lands. The Knights Templar were given a headquarters in what was believed to be the ruins of the Temple of Solomon. They were named the “Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon.” The Templar Knights, or Knights Templar, were founded with under 10 knights. Sworn to chastity, poverty, charity and obedience, the Knights Templar were equal parts religious monks and warrior knights.
Within 10 years of being founded, the Knights Templar were endorsed by the Catholic church and suddenly came under control of a wealth of charitable donations. The Templar Knights were given land, money, and real estate. Many families would send their noble born children to aid in the fight for the Holy Land. With these new found financial resources, expansion of the order came very quickly. In addition to the church blessing the order as an officially blessed charity, Pope Innocent II ruled in 1139 that, as an institution of the church, the Templars are exempt from local laws including taxes and tolls. This meant that Templar knights were free to travel across countries and borders without giving up any of their newly found treasure. Over the next hundred years, membership in the Knights Templar would grow to 20,000 at it’s largest. They maintained the status as an elite fighting force for over a century. In addition, they set up one of the worlds first banking systems, established farms and vineyards, built a navy by manufacturing their own ships, and built castles. The Knights Templar accumulated legendary amounts of wealth and treasure before their eventual and fantastic fall from power.