The book opens with a chapter called ’The Knights Templar: Knightly Monks or Monkish Knights? A very good question indeed. I think many of us forget the fact that the Templars were monks. We are used to think of monks, staying in their monastery, taking care of their gardens, doing their prayers and all in all live a very quiet, contemplating kind of life. However, the Templars we see as Knights and soldiers firstly (don’t we all have a notion of knights as a nobel class of soldiers under the banner of faith, loyalty, courage and honour. Fighting tournaments and saving maids in distress?).
”Was the original intent of the Templars to protect pilgrims or was their prime aim to lead a monastic life? William of Tyre writes that they dedicated themselves to God, taking vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, and then the Patriarch and other bishops enjoined them for the remission of their sins ’that as far as their strength permitted, they should keep the roads and highways safe from the menace of robbers and highwaymen, with especial regard for the protection of pilgrims’”.Although the Patriarch of Jerusalem was one of the most important founders of the Order, the overall commander of the knights was the Pope. The order was spread out in different countries, and their allegiance was with the Pope, not the king or queen of the country where they were living. It was an early international organisation, independent from many structures in the countries where they lived. The privileges included freedom from paying tithes to the Church, as well as not having to pay taxes to the king. The money they earned all went into fighting the infidels during the various crusades. Maybe it was these inequalities that made them unpopular locally.