The Vatican is about to publish documents that reprieve the Knights Templar, the stormtroopers of the Crusades – from accusations of heresy. The minutes of the trials that led to the disbanding of the order were discovered by chance in the Vatican archives in 2001. The records show that Pope Clement V did not believe they were heretics but that the order should be suppressed for the good of the Church. The Knights’ principle accuser was King Philip IV of France, who had borrowed heavily from them to finance his wars. Some historians believe the trials, which began in 1307, were a convenient way of cancelling the debt.
Publicist Rosi Fontana says the Knights were caught in a battle between the Pope and the French King: “They’d’ no funds anymore, they had been partly physically destroyed and partly psychologically destroyed. So the order didn’t have the ability to re-assemble.”
The order was founded in the 12th century to protect Christian pilgrims during the Crusades. But it went into decline in Muslims recaptured the Holy Land at the end of the following century. Until now official Church history had written the Knights off as corrupt heretics.