The ‘Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon,’ more commonly known as the Knights Templar, or the Templars, was one of the most renowned military orders during the Middle Ages. The source of their fame came not only from their prowess on the battlefield, but also from the wealth they amassed during the Crusades. These riches eventually led to their downfall, and became the so-called ‘Treasure of the Templars’ in the popular imagination.
The Finances of the Knights Templar
The Knights Templar were not only great warriors, but formidable financiers as well. One of the two ranks of non-fighting men, for instance, was known as the farmers, who were responsible for the administration of the Order’s worldly possessions. The other rank was the chaplains, which tended to the spiritual needs of the Order.
As they had the official endorsement of the Church, the wealthy of Europe provided the Templars with a large amount of donations in the form of money, land, and fighting men. Additionally, they were exempted from all taxation, including the ecclesiastical tithes that were due to the clergy. Thus, the Knights Templar became one of the most affluent institutions during the Middle Ages.