The Knights Templar were a Western Christian military order founded after The First Crusade of 1096 to ensure the safety of Christians who made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem after it was taken over by the Turks.
In 1099 crusaders led by Godfrey of Bouillon regained control of Jerusalem from the Turks, leading to the formation of the Knights Templar by Bernard of Clairvaux, French abbot of the Cistercian order.
Its principal members were knights who were easily identifiable by what they wore; a white mantel with a large red cross on it.
As the order was created to protect pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem, many fortifications were built throughout the Holy Land.
The order was officially endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church around 1129 making it more popular. At this time its membership grew, as did its power.
The knights and general soldiers were the fighting force, however there was also administrative members, mainly priests. These members would manage the order, overseeing the economic framework of Christendom and financial matters, introducing an early form of banking.
To become a member of the order, a knight would undertake a secret initiation ceremony, however this being secret caused distrust of the order to mount.
Pope Clement V was to come under pressure to disband the order, from King Philip IV of France. As Philip IV was heavily in debt to the order, the pressure he mounted on the pope may have been for his own gain and not because of mistrust.
The pope did however take action and many members were arrested, tortured and burned at the stake in 1307.
Pressure on the pope continued and he eventually disbanded the order in 1312.