Immediately after the deliverance of Jerusalem the Crusaders considering their vow fulfilled returned to their homes. In 111 during the reign of Baldwin II, Hugues de Payens a knight of Champagne and eight companions bound themselves by a perpetual vow taken in the presence of the Patriarch of Jerusalem to defend the Christian kingdom. Baldwin accepted their services and assigned them a portion of his palace adjoining the temple of the city; hence their title "pauvres chevaliers du temple" (Poor Knights of the Temple). Poor indeed they were being reduced to living on alms and so long as they were only nine they were hardly prepared to render important services, unless it were as escorts to the pilgrims on their way from Jerusalem to the banks of the Jordan then frequented as a place of devotion.
The Templars had as yet neither distinctive habit nor rule. Hugues de Payens journeyed to the West to seek the approbation of the Church and to obtain recruits. At the Council of Troyes (1128) at which he assisted and at which St. Bernard was the leading spirit the Knights Templars adopted the Rule of St. Benedict as recently reformed by the Cistercians. They accepted not only the three perpetual vows besides the crusader's vow but also the austere rules concerning the chapel, the refectory, and the dormitory. They also adopted the white habit of the Cistercians adding to it a red cross. Notwithstanding the austerity of the monastic rule recruits flocked to the new order which thenceforth comprised four ranks of brethren:
1) The Knights equipped like the heavy
cavalry of the Middle Ages.
2) The Serjeants who formed the light cavalry and two ranks of non-fighting men.
3) The Farmers entrusted with the administration of Temporals.
4) The Chaplains who alone were vested with sacerdotal orders, to minister to the spiritual needs of the order.
The order owed its rapid growth in popularity to the fact that it combined the two great passions of the Middle Ages, religious fervour and martial prowess. Even before the Templars had proved their worth the ecclesiastical and lay authorities heaped on them favours of every kind, spiritual and temporal. The popes took them under their immediate protection exempting them from all other jurisdiction episcopal or secular. Their property was assimilated to the church estates and exempted from all taxation even from the ecclesiastical tithes while their churches and cemeteries could not be placed under interdict. This soon brought about conflict with the clergy of the Holy Land inasmuch as the increase of the landed property of the order led owing to its exemption from tithes, to the diminution of the revenue of the churches, and the interdicts at that time used and abused by the episcopate became to a certain extent inoperative wherever the order had churches and chapels in which Divine worship was regularly held.
As early as 1156 the clergy of the Holy Land tried to restrain the exorbitant privileges of the military orders but in Rome every objection was set aside, the result being a growing antipathy on the part of the secular clergy against these orders. The temporal benefits which the order received from all the sovereigns of Europe were no less important. The Templars had commanderies in every state. In France they formed no less than eleven bailiwicks subdivided into more than forty two commanderies, in Palestine it was for the most part with sword in hand that the Templars extended their possessions at the expense of the Mohammedans. Their castles are still famous owing to the remarkable ruins which remain: Safèd built in 1140; Karak of the desert (1143); and most importantly of all Castle Pilgrim built in 1217 to command a strategic defile on the sea-coast.
In these castles which were both monasteries and cavalry-barracks, the life of the Templars was full of contrasts. Having renounced all the pleasures of life they faced death with a proud indifference; they were the first to attack, the last to retreat, always docile to the voice of their leader, the discipline of the monk being added to the discipline of the soldier. As an army they were never very numerous. There were 400 knights in Jerusalem at the zenith of their prosperity and an unknown number of serjeants who were more numerous. They were the terror of the Mohammedans. When taken prisoners, they scornfully refused the freedom offered them on condition of apostasy. At the siege of Safed (1264) at which ninety Templars met death, eighty others were taken prisoners and refusing to deny Christ died martyrs to the Faith. This fidelity cost them dear. In less than two centuries almost 20,000 Templars, knights and serjeants perished in war.
As the order was compelled to make immediate use of the recruits the article of the original rule in Latin which required a probationary period fell into disuse. Even excommunicated men who as was the case with many crusaders wished to expiate their sins were admitted. All that was required of a new member was a blind obedience as imperative in the soldier as in the monk. He had to declare himself forever "serf et esclave de la maison" (French text of the rule). The great wealth of the order may also have contributed to a certain laxity in morals but the most serious charge against it was its insupportable pride and love of power.
At the apogee of its prosperity it was said to possess 9000 estates. With its accumulated revenues it had amassed great wealth which was deposited in its temples at Paris and London. Numerous princes and private individuals had banked there their personal property because of the uprightness and solid credit of such bankers. In Paris the royal treasure was kept in the Temple. Quite independent except from the distant authority of the pope and possessing power equal to that of the leading temporal sovereigns. The order soon assumed the right to direct the weak and irresolute government of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, a feudal kingdom transmissible through women and exposed to all the disadvantages of minorities, regencies, and domestic discord.
However the Templars were soon opposed by the Order of Hospitallers which had in its turn become military and was at first the imitator and later the rival of the Templars. The Knights Hospitaller also known as the Knights of St. John had begun some 4 decades before the rival Templar Order. Prior to the Templar's existence, the Order of the hospital were principally a humanitarian order offering aid and care to travelling pilgrims.
Also around this period appeared a third rival Order. The Teutonic Knights were originally known as the "Order of the Knights of the Hospital of St. Mary of the Teutons in Jerusalem." They were formed during the siege of Acre during the Third Crusade around 1190 or 1191. Latter the Order moved to Eastern Europe where they gained prominence in the area.
This ill timed interference of the orders in the government of Jerusalem only multiplied the intestine dissentions and this at a time when the formidable power of Saladin threatened the very existence of the Latin Kingdom. While the Templars sacrificed themselves with their customary bravery in this final struggle they were nevertheless partly responsible for the downfall of Jerusalem.
To put an end to this baneful rivalry between the military orders there was a very simple remedy at hand, namely their amalgamation. This was officially proposed by St. Louis at the Council of Lyons (1274). It was proposed anew in 1293 by Pope Nicholas IV who called a general consultation on this point of the Christian states. Never in fact had the question of the crusaders been more eagerly taken up than after their failure. As the grandson of St. Louis, Philip the Fair could not remain indifferent to these proposals for a crusade. As the most powerful prince of his time the direction of the movement belonged to him. To assume this direction, all he demanded was the necessary supplies of men and especially of money. Admitting that he was sufficiently powerful to encroach upon the property of the Templars in France he still needed the concurrence of the Church to secure control of their possessions in the other countries of Christendom.
Philip the Fair made a preliminary inquiry and on the strength of revelations of a few unworthy and degraded members, secret orders were sent throughout France to arrest all the Templars on the same day (13 October, 1307) and to submit them to a most rigorous examination. The king did this it was made to appear at the request of the ecclesiastical inquisitors but in reality without their cooperation. In this inquiry torture the use of which was authorized by the cruel procedure of the age in the case of crimes committed without witnesses was pitilessly employed. Owing to the lack of evidence the accused could be convicted only through their own confession and to extort this confession the use of torture was considered necessary and legitimate.
Most of the accused declared themselves guilty of these secret crimes after being subjected to such ferocious torture that many of them succumbed. Some made similar confessions without the use of torture it is true but through fear of it. The threat had been sufficient. Such was the case with the grand master himself, Jacques de Molay who acknowledged later that he had lied to save his life.
Carried on without the authorization of the pope who had the military orders under his immediate jurisdiction this investigation was radically corrupt both as to its intent and as to its procedure. Not only did Clement V enter an energetic protest but he annulled the entire trial and suspended the powers of the bishops and their inquisitors. However the offence had been admitted and remained the irrevocable basis of the entire subsequent proceedings. Philip the Fair took advantage of the discovery to have bestowed upon himself by the University of Paris the title of Champion and Defender of the Faith and also to stir up public opinion at the States General of Tours against the heinous crimes of the Templars. Moreover he succeeded in having the confessions of the accused confirmed in presence of the pope by seventy two Templars who had been specially chosen and coached beforehand. In view of this investigation at Poitiers (June 1308) the pope until then sceptical, at last became concerned and opened a new commission the procedure of which he himself directed. He reserved the cause of the order to the papal commission, leaving individuals to be tried by the diocesan commissions to whom he restored their powers.
In most of the other countries Portugal, Spain, Germany, Cyprus the Templars were found innocent. In Italy except for a few districts the decision was the same. But in France the episcopal inquisitions resuming their activities took the facts as established at the trial and confined themselves to reconciling the repentant guilty members imposing various canonical penances extending even to perpetual imprisonment. Only those who persisted in heresy were to be turned over to the secular arm but by a rigid interpretation of this provision those who had withdrawn their former confessions were considered relapsed heretics. Thus fifty four Templars who had recanted after having confessed were condemned as relapsed and publicly burned on 12 May 1310. Subsequently all the other Templars who had been examined at the trial with very few exceptions declared themselves guilty.
At the same time the papal commission appointed to examine the cause of the order had entered upon its duties and gathered together the documents which were to be submitted to the pope and to the general council called to decide as to the final fate of the order. The culpability of single persons which was looked upon as established did not involve the guilt of the order. Although the defence of the order was poorly conducted it could not be proved that the order as a body professed any heretical doctrine, or that a secret rule distinct from the official rule was practiced. Consequently at the General Council of Vienne in Dauphiné on 16 October 1311 the majority were favourable to the maintenance of the order.
The pope irresolute and harassed finally adopted a middle course: he decreed the dissolution not the condemnation of the order and not by penal sentence but by an Apostolic Decree (Bull of 22 March 1312). The order having been suppressed the pope himself was to decide as to the fate of its members and the disposal of its possessions. As to the property it was turned over to the rival Order of Hospitallers to be applied to its original use, namely the defence of the Holy Places. In Portugal however and in Aragon the possessions were vested in two new orders the Order of Christ in Portugal and the Order of Montesa in Aragon. As to the members the Templars recognized guiltless were allowed either to join another military order or to return to the secular state. In the latter case a pension for life charged to the possessions of the order was granted them. On the other hand the Templars who had pleaded guilty before their bishops were to be treated according to the rigours of justice tempered by a generous mercy.
The pope reserved to his own judgment the cause of the grand master and his three first dignitaries. They had confessed their guilt; it remained to reconcile them with the Church after they had testified to their repentance with the customary solemnity. But at the supreme moment the grand master recovered his courage and proclaimed the innocence of the Templars and the falsity of his own alleged confessions. To atone for this deplorable moment of weakness he declared himself ready to sacrifice his life. He knew the fate that awaited him. Immediately after this unexpected coup-de-théâtre he was arrested as a relapsed heretic with another dignitary who chose to share his fate and by order of Philip they were burned at the stake before the gates of the palace. This brave death deeply impressed the people and as it happened that the pope and the king died shortly afterwards the legend spread that the grand master in the midst of the flames had summoned them both to appear in the course of the year before the tribunal of God.
Such was the end of the first incarnation of the Templars. The Hospitallers finally inherited the property of the Templars and received many of its members with the remainder going to the Teutonics. However it would seem history was not yet done with the Templars on more than one earth..
Justice Unlimited Earth
During World War II Hitler was able to use the Spear of Destiny to command daemonic forces. Although they were opposed by mystery men (now recognised as the first recorded meta humans) from around the world, the Vatican was horrified at the growing darkness coming from Nazi Germany which threatened to engulf the world.
The Italian meta hero Manghost was secretly recruited by the Vatican without Mussolini's knowledge and sent to Germany to investigate. A chance encounter saw him team up with the Shadow and eventually uncover the extent of Hitler's commune with Daemons. Although they succeeded in killing him and managed to escape with the Spear of Destiny, an enraged Illuminati ambushed them recapturing the Spear and taking the Shadow prisoner.
Manghost escaped and reported back to the Vatican. Soon after news came that the Spear was in the hands of Stalin. Recognising that the soul of every living human was now in peril from yet another madman commanding the forces of chaos, the Vatican decided it needed a special force to combat Satan's minions. The Templars were reactivated..
Just like on the Justice earth Hitler used the Spear of Destiny to summon demons to fight the allies. However on this earth the mystery men were much more organised and the Freedom Squadron were able to take the Spear from him. Dimitrios used magic to teleport the Spear to another dimension (unfortunately for its inhabitants the Spear appeared on the Justice earth once again in the hands of a Hitler). World War II ended normally and although it took a few years longer than on the Justice earth the Vatican again had been terrified into reactivating the Templars. The difference being that on this earth they have had decades more experience.
Garments Of The Templar
Knights (Full Brothers)
These Templars were dressed in the traditional white mantle (symbolic of their newfound purity). After 1148 the red eight pointed cross was added to the mantle. This Cross was called a Cross Pattee and although the fish tailed cross is an often-depicted image in paintings it is actually the cross of the rival Order of the Hospital.
The Sergeants (men at arms,
The Clerics (priests)
|Sergeant Brothers||1st-4th level; These are the support troops who aid the Knights. Although similarly equipped to a full knight, the sergeants have less training. They are typically assigned as aids, clerks, and assistants to higher level priests, and keep that assignment through second experience level. During this time they will be getting practical field experience in the execution of their duties, in the way their Order works with the population and the real world.|
|Knight Brothers||5th-12th level; These are the warriors who wear the white tunic and cross. Each is well trained in all forms of armed and unarmed combat.|
|Under Marshal||13th level+; The Under marshal is in charge of the weapons, equipment and vehicles.|
|Commander of the Knights||14th-17th level; In charge of the local branch and has the same powers as the Commander of Houses within his own jurisdiction.|
|Commander of Houses||18th level; In charge of all the branches within his country and has the same powers as the Grand Master within his own jurisdiction.|
|Seneschal||19th level; Acts as both deputy and advisor to the Grand Master.|
|The Grand Master||20th level; Absolute ruler over the Templar order, answerable only to the Papacy.|
|The Pope||Is kept constantly up to date by the Grand Master on the fight against the supernatural. He also decides on the funding for the Order and can arrange additional assistance as required.|
|The Templars are
priests with a mission. They are charged with saving the souls of all
humanity. This involves removing corrupt priests, restoring the honour
of the Church and destroying the Daemonic forces threatening to create
hell on earth. To a Templar daemonic evil is an affront to his faith,
destroying an agent of evil is a holy act. Though the Templar becomes a
raging avenger when confronting daemonic forces, he is otherwise
thoughtful and compassionate. He sees himself as an advocate of the
common man, a source of solace to the downtrodden and disadvantaged. He
can conduct impromptu prayer services in makeshift chapels, and can
officiate at christenings and burials. Though completely devoted to his
faith, a Templar respects all other religions except those of daemonic
Templars live by the following code;
1) Promote the principles and ideals of Catholicism.
2) Honour and respect all members of humanity regardless of race or religion. This does not apply to those who have clearly turned to evil.
3) Sacrifice his life for his fellow man if necessary.
4) Consider the feelings of others and take care not to offend them. Templars always demonstrates proper manners (shaking hands with friends, expressing gratitude for favours). He also keeps himself immaculately groomed (bathing regularly, wearing clean clothes).
5) Speak tactfully and kindly. A Templar never knowingly insults or slanders another person. If others engage in insults or slander, the Templar walks away.
6) Behave with dignity. A Templar refrains from emotional outbursts, excessive eating and drinking, foul language and other unseemly acts.
7) A Templar demonstrates unyielding courage in the face of adversity. No danger is too great to prevent him from fulfilling a promise or completing a mission. His commitment is stronger than his fear of pain, hardship or even death.
8) A Templar's valour is particularly evident in battle. A Templar attacks an enemy without hesitation continuing to fight until the enemy withdraws or is defeated. Whenever possible a Templar must choose a supernatural as his primary opponent.
9) A Templar always tells the truth as he knows it. He may decline to speak or choose to withhold information, but he will never intentionally mislead anyone, even his enemies. He may ask permission not to answer a direct question, but if pressed he'll tell the truth (however he may frame his answers in such a way as to withhold vital information). Though a Templar doesn't make promises lightly, once he gives his word he always keeps it. He behaves in a morally sound manner even when he's by himself or when no one else will know of his actions.
10) Honour also involves respect, not just for the Templar's peers and superiors but for anyone sharing the Templar's commitment to goodness and justice. The Templar shows mercy to the repentant. Defers to the judgment of all good characters of superior rank, experience and honour.
11) Templars would rather die before compromising their principles, betraying their liege or faith, or abandoning a protected charge.
12) The Templar remains humble in spirit and action. He rejects adulation and declines awards. He speaks modestly of his deeds, if at all, grateful for the opportunity to fulfil his moral obligations.
13) The Templar gladly shares his possessions with anyone in need. He will give his last crust of bread to a hungry child, even if he must go without food for the rest of the day. He is also generous of spirit, always willing to lend an ear to a troubled companion or acknowledge a friend's accomplishments with lavish praise.
14) The Templar engages in productive activity at all times. He works diligently and hard until he completes the job at hand. When not working he studies, exercises or practices his combat skills.
Templars are the Black Ops branch of the Vatican locating and destroying supernatural evil where ever it is found. They have seen things most people will never see. They have witnessed the foulest of creatures commit the blackest of acts. They have seen things that would make common folk become comatose, and have gone toe-to-toe with it. Most Templars have a grim, determined look the result of the grisly nature of their work. These people have lost their old enjoyment of life, and often become obsessed with death and the undead.
Training in this field is often times different then training in other fields of adventuring. The Templar studies the undead through books and through training with those whom are experts in certain fields of undead. They must learn every nuance and variation between the various members of undead species and subspecies. Because of this, the Templar can destroy the creatures with more ease than most. They know the signs of undead infestations and can trace them back to their sources. Their senses are focused and trained to be honed to detect the unnatural rhythms of undead, and they can therefore find their lairs easier.
A Templar will never turn down the chance to eliminate an undead foe. While this does not mean just charging blindly into battle, they will not hesitate to sacrifice themselves if it means one of these foul abominations will perish. They never back away from the opportunity to rid the world of the blasphemous creations, regardless of the cost to themselves. The Templar will always eliminate low powered undead such as skeletons, but they truly live for the hunt of powerful undead such as vampires and liches. What normal people will never see and what few Templars will show to anyone else is the loss of happiness they gradually build up over time. Undead are not pretty creatures, and the acts they commit are often unspeakable and unfathomable to normal people. This scars the Templar slowly till they reach a point where they die on the inside. Eventually the Templar becomes so obsessed with death they start throwing themselves foolishly into battle just on the hopes that this one will end it all.
However Templars try to live up to the high ideals of the Catholic faith and in nearly all respects are the opposite of the Last Dawn, a splinter group from the Catholic Church which is devoted to bringing about the horrors of the supernatural upon humanity, so that they would have reason to return to God. Recently they have also become aware of the Cult of Kali and the danger it poses to all of humanity..