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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

U of FM: Knights Templar and the Crusades

Pete Taggart, 32° KCCH and professor of history at Simpson College have a thought provoking presentation on the Crusades and the Knights Templar.  Beginning with a background sketch on the historical environment that led to the Crusades (the four 'official' Crusades), Bro. Taggart then gave a brief account of events in the Crusades.  Taggart's research into the founding of the Knights Templar turned conspiracy theories on their head, bringing historical context into the discussion.

With many of the knights on crusade being lower nobility, they had little to return to in Europe after conquering the land the French termed 'Outremer' (meaning 'overseas').  Thus, when the fighting against the Seljuk Turks ended, many knights found themselves begging in the streets of Jerusalem.  After 19 years, eight knights had finally had enough of life as beggars, and approached the King Baldwin of Jerusalem, and thus formed the Poor Fellow Soldiery of the Temple, or the Knights Templar.  Their founding was more out of pity, than out of conspiracy.

The Templars later gained favor of the Pope, and were made a holy order.  Thus, donations to the Templars started pouring in, inadvertently leading to the decline of the crusades.  One could much easier make donations to their local Templar preceptory instead of either going on crusade or donating to the Church to fund the crusades, the decline of crusades began.

After Saladin retook Outremer from the europeans, and the power and wealth of the Templars was at its height, the Templars became the target of jealousy.  King Philip IV of France, being deeply in debt to the Templars, and jealous of their wealth, saw an opportunity to usurp it.  On Friday 13, 1307, the Templars in France were arrested.  Many confessed to heretical acts under torture, and suffered the consequences.  The Templar Grand Master, Jacques deMolay, recanted his testimony of heresy in front of a crowd gathered in front of the fames Notre Dame cathedral in the middle of the River Seine in Paris, and was then burned at the stake.

Taggart's research put a new light on the story of the Templars, looking at history through the lens of what else was happening at the time, while bringing humor to the preposterousness of many conspiracy theories surrounding them.

A very enlightening presentation to the many assembled.

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