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 vastwealth, 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
Hughde Payens, vowed to protect the pilgrims. The group
was grantedquasi-official status by King Baldwin II of
Jerusalem, who allowed themquarters in a wing of the royal
palace near the Temple of Solomon. It isfrom this initial
posting that the order derived its name. They took
thestandard vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and
were bound to the rulesof the Augustinian order.
[Upton-Ward 1] The order languished in near-anonimity
for several years, despite generouscontributions from
various European personages. In 1126, Count Hugh
ofChampagne, having donated his estates to Bernard of
Clairvaux for use in building a monestary for the Cistercian
order, arrived in Jerusalem to jointhe Templars. This action
indirectly obligated Bernard to support the newly chosen
advocacy of his benefactor. He wrote to the count, "If, for
God\'s 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 officialrecognition of the order. First, he had,
perhaps prematurely, bestowed uponHugh de Payens the
title of Master of the Temple. Second, the king had
theopportunity to launch an attack on the city of Damascus,
but he needed moreknights. Papal recognition would allow
open recruiting in Europe for theorder. King Baldwin sent a
letter to Bernard of Clairvaux, the order\'sprimary patron,
later known as Saint Bernard, asking him to petition the
Pope for official recognition of the order. [Howarth 50-51]
The King\'sletter was hand-carried to Bernard by two loyal
and trusted knights, Andrewde Montbard, maternally
related to Bernard, and Gondemare. Upon theirarrival at
Clairvaux, the two knights presented Bernard with
Baldwin\'sletter, which came right to the point.
[Upton-Ward 3] "The brothers Templar,whom God has
raised up for the defence of our province and to whom he
hasaccorded special protection, desire to receive apostolic
approval and alsotheir own Rule of life ... Since we know
well the weight of yourintercession with God and also with
His Vicar and with the other princes ofEurope, we give into
your care this two-fold mission, whose success will bevery
welcome to us. Let the constitution of the Templars be such
as issuitable for men who live in the clash and tumult of
war, and yet of a kind which will be acceptable to the
Christian princes, of whom they have beenthe valuable
auxiliaries. So far as in you lies and if God pleases, striveto
bring this matter to a speedy and successful issue." [qtd. in
Howarth 50-51] Bernard realized at once the genius of the
proposal to combine religiousand military endeavors.
Through such organizations, the borders ofChristendom
could be extended and fortified. He immediately granted
hisapproval of the plan and pledged his full support. He
petitioned PopeHonorius II for a special council to
consider the matter, and he notifiedHugh of his actions.
[Howarth 51] The Council of Troyes convened on January
13, 1128, a bitterly cold SaintHilary\'s Day, for the primary
purpose of considering the request of theKnights Templar.
Despite the delays of written communications, Hugh
dePayens, accompanied by several brother knights, arrived
from the Holy Landin time to attend the meetings of the
Council. [Howarth 51] William of Tyre wrote an account
of the events: "Nine years after thefounding of this order,
the knights were still in secular garb. They woresuch
garments as the people, for salvation of their souls,
bestowed uponthem. During this ninth year, a council was
held at Troyes in France. Therewere present the
archbishops of Rheims and Sens, with their suffragans;
thebishop of Albano, the Pope\'s legate; the abbotts of
Citeaux, Clairvaux,Potigny; and many others. At this
council, by order of Pope Honorious and ofStephen,
patriarch of Jerusalem, a rule was drawn up for this order
and ahabit of white assigned them." [qtd. in
Burman/Templars 27] Although referred to in William\'s
account by the generic title Abbott of Clairvaux, Bernard,
in actuality controlled the proceedings of the council.There
was little doubt Bernard\'s request would be met with
approval; he waswell known for his successes in reforming