Few organisations in history have names as loaded with legend as the Knights Templar. Western culture is infused with the mythology of these pious warrior monks, who wielded magic and went on quests for legendary treasures. In reality, it was an elite fighting force that became a Middle Ages military and financial powerhouse. Its members moved in the same circles as kings and popes, their influence spanning from Portugal to the River Jordan. But as the Holy Land was lost, European leaders began to turn on the Order, and its final leaders would meet a violent end at the stake.
In this Explainer episode, Dan takes us from their pious beginnings in the first Crusades through to the height of their power in the 13th century, and finally, to their abrupt end.
Produced by James Hickmann and edited by Dougal Patmore.