The Templar Knights and The Invention of Banking

Dimitrios Gourtzilidis
7 min readDec 1, 2023

The Knights Templar’s rise from warrior monks to economic powerhouses is a tale shrouded in as much mystery as wealth. Their seminal role in shaping early financial systems is undeniably intertwined with legends of lost riches and sacred relics. This piece will trace the Templar’s innovative banking strides while casting an eye over the cryptic lore that has immortalized their legacy.

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Origins (1119–1250)

The Knights Templar, officially named the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, were founded around 1119 in the aftermath of the First Crusade (1096–1099), which resulted in the capture of Jerusalem and the establishment of Christian states in the Levant. As a result, the number of pilgrims visiting the Holy Land increased. The organization was created with the primary mission of protecting these Christian pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land.

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The Knights Templar were initially a small group of knights led by Hugues de Payens and Godfrey de Saint-Omer. They took monastic vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and dedicated themselves to the protection of these pilgrims.

The name “Templar” comes from their original headquarters on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which tradition held was built on the ruins of the Temple of Solomon. King Baldwin II of Jerusalem gave them this location for their headquarters, and recognition and support from the Church and European nobility soon followed.

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Their Financial Success (1250–1312)

They received a formal endorsement from the Catholic Church at the Council of Troyes in 1129.

Initially, they lived in poverty, but this recognition allowed them to receive donations of money, land, and noble-born sons from families across Christendom who joined the order, as well as their exemption from taxes and the authority to pass freely across borders. This was pivotal to their…