Like the Knights Hospitalers and the Teutonic Knights, the Templars were formed during the Crusades. They originally had a purely military function. Founded when Hugh de Payens and eight other knights joined together in 1118 c.e. to protect pilgrims, the order grew rapidly. St. Bernard of Clairvaux drew up its rules, and it was recognized at the Council of Troyes (1128) and confirmed by Pope Honorius III.

The Templars received gifts of estates and money, and the organization soon became one of the most powerful in Europe. By combining monastic privilege with chivalrous adventure, they attracted many nobles. The order, organized under a grand master and general council, had its headquarters at Jerusalem. As Crusaders the knights were important both in fighting the Muslims (notably at Gaza in 1244 and later at Damietta, during the Fifth Crusade) and in the internal struggles of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. Although the Knights of the White Cross (the Hospitalers) were at first probably larger and richer, the Templars , who wore the red cross on a white background, were greater warriors. In the later crusades the deadly rivalry of the three orders helped weaken the Crusaders' chances of success.

Pictoral representation of what the Knights of Templar wore

When Jerusalem fell to the Muslims (1187), the Templars operated from Acre; after its fall (1291) the order retreated to Cyprus. By that time the Templars had ceased to be primarily a fighting organization and had become the leading money handlers of Europe. From the beginning the knights aroused opposition because of their special privileges, their freedom from control, and their great military and financial strength. As their banking role increased they served such kings as Henry II of England and Louis IX of France and their land holdings grew, they aroused the hostility, fear, and jealousy of rulers and clergy a like.

When the Crusades failed, the Hospitalers became a naval patrol in the East, but the Templars grew more worldly, more decadent, and more hated. In 1307, Philip IV of France, who needed money for his Flemish war and was unable to obtain it elsewhere, began a persecution of the Templars. With the aid of Pope Clement V, the king had members of the order arrested and their possessions confiscated. By 1308 the persecutions were in full process. The knights were put on trial and were tortured to extract confessions of sacrilegious practices. The pope at first opposed the trials but soon reversed his position, and at the Council of Vienne (1311-12) he dissolved the order by papal bull.

Pictoral representation of a Knights of Templar ritual.
Note the "Baphomet" in the background, this is still used in Satanic rituals to this day.
Even the universal symbol of Satanism is called the "Baphomet"

With the arrest of the Knights Templar by Philip IV on Friday the 13th of October 1307, started a set of accusations against the brethren of the Templar order. These accusations were broken into nine basic sets, as follows:

1. During the reception ceremony, new brothers were required to deny Christ, God, the Virgin or the Saints on the command of those receiving them.

2. The brothers committed various sacrilegious acts either on the cross or on an image of Christ.

3. The receptors practiced obscene kisses on new entrants, on the mouth, navel or buttocks.
During the Inquisition, this accusation was called "The Oscolum Infame", or "The Kiss of Shame."

4. The priests of the Order did not consecrate the host, and that the brothers did not believe in the sacraments.

5. The brothers practiced idol worship of a head (which was believed to either be that of a human or a goat).

6. The brothers encouraged and permitted the practice of sodomy.

7. The Grand Master, or other officials, absolved fellow Templars from their sins.

8. The Templars held their reception ceremonies and chapter meetings in secret and at night.

9. The Templars abused the duties of charity and hospitality and used illegal means to acquire property and increase their wealth.
It is well known that in the latter years the Templars became extremely wealthy and were often ruthless in the manner in which they obtained it.

Pictoral representation of Baphomet.
Eliphas Levi made this sketch of Baphomet based on Templar documents and
other Templar facts he studied while he was an Occult scholar.

The Knights Templar were completely destroyed by 1314. Much of their property, theoretically designated for the Hospitalers, was acquired by rulers. The leaders of the order, including the last grand master, Jacques de Molay, were tried by ecclesiastic judges and sentenced to life imprisonment, but after denouncing their confessions authorities burned them at the stake as lapsed heretics (1314). It is impossible to evaluate fairly the Templars and their fate. Yet, the charges against them were not entirely unfounded.

Although the Templars no longer 'officially' exist, many organizations and groups claim lineage to the Knights Templars. However, most of these groups have ignorantly distorted their own histories (as well as the later Templars history) to align themselves with the Knights Templars. Only the magical occult claim to the Hermetic Order of the Knights of Templar, that of Satanism and Freemasonry, has a truly valid claim of ancestry as both still follow the practices, and use many of the same symbols, as the Hermetic Order of the Knights of Templar.