Volume Two: Lions of God

Richard Baigent

Deus Ex

...and every sovereign of Europe made donations to the order, be it land, money, arms, or men. They triumphed in battle after battle, the first to attack and the last to retreat, "rough knights of the battlefield" as described by Jacques de Virty; if taken prisoner they refused all efforts to secure their freedom, instead becoming martyrs to the cause of God. With every success, the order prospered even further -- at their height they were said to have owned over 9000 estates throughout Britain, France, Italy, and the Holy Lands, including a network of castles and commanderies built to protect the frequent pilgrims to Jerusalem. In all but name, the Templars virtually ruled Jerusalem and -- in what can only be termed hubris -- recognized no temporal authority over their affairs save that of the Church.

By 1250 the coffers of the order had grown so large that it was not uncommon for pilgrims to deposit their money with a temple in London or Paris, and then cash in their receipt upon arriving in Jerusalem, thus establishing the foundations for modern banking and checking accounts...