The Detailed History and Myths of the Knights Templar's Treasure: A Definitive Guide

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The History and Myths of the Knights Templars’ Treasure 

The modern era has seen the emergence of a number of stories about the fabled treasure of the Knights Templars, a Late Medieval order of military monks. The tales concerning the Templars are many and varied, but the two most fantastical ones provide a good window into the general tenor of these stories. During the suppression of the order by the French monarchy in 1307, the members are said to have hidden vast treasures and priceless artifacts at the time. These treasures have remained buried or been kept by secret orders ever since. As a secret society, the Knights Templar have been the subject of speculation, even after their dissolution. Many theories have been developed about their treasures, religious beliefs, and even whereabouts around the world. So what's the truth? Below, we will shed some greater light on some of these theories by exploring them in greater depth.

Documentaries on the Templar Treasures

A sword with Templar crosses etched on it. An exquisite alabaster libation vessel. An iron box emblazoned with Biblical motifs. These are just some of the enticing treasures in the hands of Carl Cookson and Hamilton White - two daring collectors who are diving into the history of their astonishing discoveries in Lost Relics found by many a Templar Knight. Order of St. John of Jerusalem was another name for the Knights Hospitaller, a medieval and early modern Catholic military order.

Documentaries from National Geographic and History channel find a templar connection to the pirate treasure of Captain Kidd, Barry Clifford, Mary Magdalene, Albert Lin, Sir Francis Bacon, and the historian Scott Wolter.

Could any of the artifacts in Carl and Hamilton's trove be part of the Templars' mythical lost treasure? If such is the case, their tenacious study may fundamentally alter our understanding of what happened to order after its spectacular and brutal demise in the 14th Century.

Hamilton White spent ten years assembling over 100 artifacts from a collection of the lost Templar treasure thought to have belonged to the Knight Templar of the Knight Hospitaller in Nova Scotia and La Rochelle. He does not snap a whip, nor does a 20-ton ball hurtle at him from inside a tomb. This modern-day Indiana Jones claims to have discovered a $135 million treasure hoard.

Hamilton White, on the other hand, does sport a fedora hat and has something Indiana Jones could only dream of: a $135 million treasure trove stretching all the way back to the 1200s. Finding out about their story seems no less than 'Treasure Island' and the wonderment of their great adventure to find this greatest lost treasure.

The antiquarian treasure hunters spent ten years assembling more than 100 artifacts from a collection thought to have belonged to the legendary Knights Templar. A libation cup, a sword with three Templar crosses, a helmet, and an obsidian chalice are included. White and his partner hunter Carl Cookson think the trove has the potential to fundamentally alter our perception of the lost Templar treasure.

Was the Ark of the Covenant found?

According to one of the two most popular legends, this treasure contained the Holy Grail, the cup or vessel from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper. Another popular story claims the treasure contained the Ark of the Covenant, the chest where the stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were presented to Moses in the Book of Exodus were kept, along with other priceless relics associated with the Israelites of the Old Testament. It is said that these relics have been handed down from generation to generation by secret societies ever since, with it often being assumed that groups such as the Freemasons had ties to the Templars and their treasure. Here we explore the precise history of the Knights Templars, the basis of the stories about their treasure and whether there may be any truth to these tales. 

The Knights Templar Treasure's Origins

A lifetime position was held by the Grand Master of the Knights Templar order, founded in 1118 by Hugues de Payns. On October 13th, 1307, King Phillip IV ordered the arrest of hundreds of Knights Templar by his officers. King Phillip believed the Templars had become too powerful and affluent, and he saw them as a danger. The burning at the stake of a religious group was one of the most heinous crimes ever committed. 

Following Friday the 13th, several further Templar knights were tracked down and executed. The Templars then went into hiding, and the organization became subterranean on Oak Island money pit due to the Catholic church. The Oak Island rumors have grown over the years. Treasure hunters have found the Oak Island angle quite enticing. For over 90 years, the surviving Templars were dispersed around Europe, and in Scotland, many aristocratic families shared responsibility for safeguarding the Templars' secrets and ancient Templar fortress. Recently discovered tunnels and Templar emblems under Scotland's castles. According to certain historians and researchers, they were castles, and the Scottish families that lived there would aid the Templars in reorganizing and becoming stronger.

Who were the Knights Templars?

The Knights Templar were the members of the religious association of the Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon. These were a religious military order of knighthood which was established following the success of the First Crusade which conquered the Holy Land for Christendom between 1095 and 1099. The Templars were initially founded to protect Christian pilgrims who were visiting the Holy Land from attacks by Muslim raiders. The original founders were a group of eight or nine French knights led by Hugh de Payns, and these vowed in the winter of 1119/1120 to act as the protectors of all Christians who wished to visit the Holy Places associated with Jesus. In return for their pledge, King Baldwin II of Jerusalem gave them some lands and a headquarters in Jerusalem itself adjoining the former Temple of Solomon. It was from this that the order derived its name.  Eventually the role and responsibilities of the order began to expand as they gained influence throughout Europe. Rumors spread that the Knights Templar were at the Temple Mount because they intended to recover the lost treasures. The Knights Templar went all but completely off the radar for a few years after they first arrived in Jerusalem

The order modeled itself after the order of Benedictine monks, swearing an oath of poverty and chastity. They could not gamble, swear or become intoxicated and lived in communal settings, however unlike their monkish brethren who lived a cloistered life the Templars were very much active in the world, as their primary duty was to fight in defense of Christians and Christendom. As such they were active in the Holy Land throughout the period of the Crusades until the last crusader state was conquered in 1291. The Templars were headed by a grand master, who was elected for life and served in Jerusalem, with the Templars of regions such as France governed by provincial commanders or preceptors who oversaw individual Templar houses in each area. The Templars were divided into two classes: knights and sergeants. The knights came from the aristocracy and wore the Templars’ distinctive uniform of a white sur-coat marked with a red cross. The sergeants came from lower social classes and dressed in black habits.

The Destruction of the Knights Templars

Eventually the Templars acquired wealth and power far above anything that could have been predicted when they were first established in the early twelfth century. As the years passed the order of the knights templar was given a range of special privileges by the Papacy and by the monarchs of countries such as England, Spain, France and the various principalities that made by Germany and Eastern Europe at that time. These included lands and castles and by the thirteenth century the Templars had acquired a large property portfolio across Europe and with it vast wealth. Moreover, the order even began to effectively operate as bankers, lending money to the Crusader states in the Holy Land and many European monarchs. As we will see, this vast wealth became the basis of the idea that the Knights Templars were also the owners of vast gold and treasure. The infamous warrior monks used a network of tunnels to move gold from vast mining sites to their famous treasure towers 800 years ago, archaeologists believe. 

There was no way to avoid the fact that the power and wealth that the order had accumulated earned them enemies, first from other religious military orders such as the Knights Hospitallers, and then, eventually, from Europe's rulers. A second disadvantage was that after the last crusader state was conquered by the Muslims in 1291, the original purpose of the Knights Templar ceased to exist. In the absence of pilgrims to protect in the Holy Land many began to wonder why such an order was required as well as why so much wealth was allowed to be amassed. As a result of a major crackdown on the order, the order ultimately came to an end. It is believed that on the 13th of October 1307, King Philip IV of France ordered the arrest of every Templar living in France. Moreover, he seized all of the order's assets and transferred them into royal hands claiming the order was a heretic, an immorality, and many other charges, including that of idolatry. There was a mixture of reasons behind his decision to do so. The most likely reason for Philip's fear was that he genuinely feared the power that the Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, held. He was also covetous of the lands and wealth they held. However, his actions seem to have been swift and brutal, regardless of his motives. Templars were hunted down and tortured, the Papacy was enlisted to spread the suppression of the order throughout Europe and eventually the order was prohibited throughout Christendom by Pope Clement V in 1312. The last Grand Master, de Molaywas burned at the stake in March 1314 in view of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. This event can be viewed as the formal end of the Knights Templar.  

Discoveries Of The Knight's Treasure In The Modern Era

Numerous discoveries have occurred in North America that have the potential to alter the course of history as we know it, a history that is not taught in schools today. The undiscovered past is so intricate that if a modern-day treasure hunter has the means to investigate and follow the valuable clues, he or she may uncover more than they imagined imaginable. Certain historical relics and findings dating back to the Vikings have led many to conclude that the Knights Templar may have sailed to and settled in North America.

The Knights Templars’ Treasure

So, this is how the order was suppressed; but what of the supposed treasure? As we have seen, the most commonly cited stories about Templar treasure concern the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant. Templars are widely believed to have been tasked with defending the Holy Grail while occupying the Temple Mount. However, there are other aspects to it, and the range of supposed treasure is vast, in large part based on a tale that Gerard de Villiers, the preceptor or regional commander of the French Templars had overseen the transportation of 50 horses carrying goods out of Paris at the time of the suppression in 1307. Other suppositions about what this treasure might have encapsulated include the so-called Turin Shroud, a large piece of cloth which is said to have the impression of a man’s face on it and is generally assumed to have been the material in which Jesus’s body was wrapped before being placed in the tomb after his crucifixion. Whatever the exact specifics of the treasure hoard, there is a plausible theory about how the Templars came into possession of all these biblical artifacts. We have seen that when they were originally founded the Templars were granted a space in the centre of Jerusalem next to where the Temple of Solomon had been to act as their headquarters and it is typically understood that they would have acquired these relics at that time.   The significance of their cache of biblical artifacts is so great that some scholars have speculated that this treasure was the reason for their downfall.

Residual Myths and Theories

In addition to the belief that these treasures were absconded with by some of the Templars in 1307, many other myths, legends and theories have developed about the subsequent history of the treasure involved. For instance, during the eighteenth century the Freemasons claimed to be the successors to a long line of individuals who had secret knowledge about the Holy Grail that had been passed down since the time of the Templars. Because of the association of another order of religious knights, the Order of St John, with the site during the sixteenth century, another tale purports that the Templars’ treasure is buried at the Fort of St Angelo on the island of Malta. One of the more elaborate theories concerns Henry Sinclair, the earl of Orkney in Scotland during the second half of the fourteenth century. Sinclair is believed to have led a voyage to Greenland and North America a century before Christopher Columbus discovered the New World. Because Sinclair is also believed to have been associated with the Templars, it is adduced that he had come into possession of some Templar treasure which might have included information on a lost continent across the western seas. This theory also suggests that Sinclair built Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland, that it is replete with Templar symbolism, and that the Holy Grail may even be hidden somewhere near or beneath the chapel, a theory which was most recently and famously explored in Dan Brown’s best-selling The Da Vinci Code. 

What Happened to Knights Templar Treasure?

The truth of the matter is that some of these theories are more plausible than others. It was Hugh Joseph Schonfield, a twentieth-century Biblical scholar, who suggested that the Knights Templar had discovered a copy of one of the texts found in the Dead Sea Scrolls in the twelfth century, known as the Copper Scroll. As a result of these discoveries, a map has been produced in the Holy Land showing where a great amount of treasure from the Second Temple was believed to have been hidden before it was destroyed by the Romans. This particular theory has the benefit of being based on actual documentary evidence which is extant today from the Dead Sea Scrolls, though Schonfield’s wider thesis was hypothetical as well. Thus, there is no shortage of theories about what the Knights Templars’ treasure might have consisted of and what might have happened to it in the centuries since the suppression of the order in the early fourteenth century.  Although it is the Knights Templar who are known for more their acts of violence than their acts of holiness, it is certainly possible that they have gathered an impressive amount of gold, silver and precious objects during the course of their many years of conflict.

A Piece of Mytho-History? 

Does the myth that surrounds the Knight Templars have any truth to it? The truth is, despite all our best efforts, a great deal of this remains a mystery. I think the simple answer to that question is that we are not certain. The more fanciful stories about Templar treasures can probably be dismissed, but it is worth noting that this was an order that was possessed of tremendous wealth at the time of its destruction in the early fourteenth century. Its collection included priceless artifacts, which were stored in its houses across Europe. Given the manner in which the order was violently suppressed over a period of some seven years between 1307 and 1314 it is entirely plausible that members of the order absconded with some of these valuable religious artifacts and reliquaries and that these have formed the basis of more elaborate tales of Templar treasure in the centuries since. In this sense, we might view the notion of the Knights Templars’ treasure as a piece of mytho-history, something which is based on a plausible piece of historical evidence, but which has been elaborated upon to such an extent as to seem almost fantastical or mythical at this point. If this is the truth of the Knights Templar treasure, then there are objects out there today which, even if they are not the Grail or other primordial objects, have been hidden from the authorities since the Knights Templar order was suppressed 700 years ago.

Copyright Detector Electronics Corp. - Revised July 30, 2022