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Knights Templar and Modern Banking
Although the primary mission of the Order was military, few participants in the Knights Templar were actually combatants. Most Knights Templar’s acted in support positions to assist the knights and to manage the financial infrastructure. The Templar Order, though its members were sworn to individual poverty, was given control of wealth beyond direct donations. A nobleman who was interested in participating in the Crusades might place all his assets under Templar management while he was away. Accumulating wealth in this manner, the Order in 1150 began generating letters of credit for pilgrims journeying to the Holy Land: pilgrims deposited their valuables with a local Templar preceptor before embarking, received a document indicating the value of their deposit, then used that document upon arrival in the Holy Land to retrieve their funds. This practice was an early form of banking, and may have been the first formal system to support the use of checks. This system improved the safety of those journeying to the Holy Land by making them less attractive targets for thieves, and also contributed immensely to the Templar coffers. They acquired large tracts of land, both in Europe and the Middle East; bought and managed farms and vineyards; built churches and castles; and were involved in manufacturing, import and export. The Templar’s had their own fleet of ships. Based on these kinds of donations and business dealings, the Templar’s established financial networks across much of Europe and the Middle East. An illustration of a Knights Templar Ring can be found amongst the many Masonic Rings illustrated at Fox Jewelry.
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