The London Templar Trial Testimony: ‘Truth’, Myth or Fable
By Anne Gilmour-Bryson
A World Explored: Essays in Honour of Laurie Gardiner, ed. Anne Gilmour-Bryson (Melbourne, 1993)
Introduction: Little is known about the origin of the military order of Knights Templar. According to two medieval writers, and mentions in various other contemporary chronicles, it was founded in Jerusalem in 1118 or 1119 by Hugues de Payens, Geoffroi de Saint Omer, and five or six other nobles mostly from the Champagne area of France. We are told that these men took vows before the patriarch of Jerusalem and promised primarily to protect the many pilgrims traveling the roads of the Holy Land which had been recaptured from the infidel in 1099 during the First Crusade. By the mid-twelfth century, the Templars as they came to called had taken on a military role, followed soon after by the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, the Hospitallers, and others. What had begun as the first military religious order in western history, soon became both rich and powerful as lands were given to it in virtually every corner of Christendom.