Act 2 – Wealth and power
From its founding, the Order of the Templars benefited from material advantages of all kinds and considerable support, from St Bernard, who decreed the Rule by which the knights had to live, and from the Pope, which allowed the order to be independent from the Church hierarchy.
With its members taking vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, the Order grew rapidly in the West. The donations made by noble families (the knights who joined the Order were all from the nobility), but also a talent for producing wealth from its land and property bequeathed or purchased, ensured that the Order became immensely prosperous.
By the end of the 13th century, when they lost the Holy Land, the Knights Templar had become extremely rich. In Paris, London and in the commanderies, they looked after the royal and private funds that had been deposited with them.
While the Cathars were being hunted down in the South of France, the Knights Templar were becoming the bankers of the kingdom. The Tour du Temple in Paris even contained the royal treasury. The power, role in the Holy Land and highly complex spiritual symbolism of the Order are no doubt the reasons why we find it so fascinating, and also why the history of the Knights Templar has given rise to so much wild speculation over the centuries.