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Myths About The Knights Templar, Debunked

Updated August 12, 2019 2.6k votes 451 voters 37.8k views12 items

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Films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, National Treasure, and The Da Vinci Code have helped further myths about the Knights Templar, a Christian military group that existed in medieval times. These soldiers worked to protect fellow Christians who were traveling through Western Europe, and in that time, they managed to amass massive amounts of money and treasure while making enemies of the French monarchy. Historical movies that twist stories about the Templars have created some fascinating myths about the Christian soldiers. 

Many religious conspiracy theorists believe the Knights Templar used their vast amounts of wealth to escape France in the early 1300s in order to hide the Holy Grail, but the real story of this religious group is actually much simpler. When debunking myths about the Knights Templar, all one needs to do is simply look at the facts. The stories about the Templars are very cool and make for great fiction, but the actual history of the Knights Templar is just as interesting as anything Dan Brown could ever invent. 

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    MYTH: The Knights Built Rosslyn Chapel

    Photo: Anne Burgess/Rosslyn Chapel / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

    The Reality: In spite of the esoteric markings and references to the Knights Templar inside Scotland's Rosslyn Chapel, there's no actual evidence that the Templars had anything to do with building the remarkable church. The Templars were wiped out in 1307, 150 years before construction on the chapel began. A few Templars are rumored to have made their way to Scotland and hid the remains of their treasure in the church during construction, but this is little more than speculation. 

    Why The Myth: The idea that the surviving Templars took their religious loot with them to Scotland is intriguing, and the strange carvings in the church definitely add to the idea that something cryptic happened during construction. On top of that, there's almost no documentation relating to the beginnings of Rosslyn. The rumors were obscure until the adaptation of Brown's The Da Vinci Code was filmed on site, sparking an increase in visitation.

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    MYTH: They Inspired The 'Bad Luck' Of Friday The 13th

    Photo: Münchener Bilderbogen / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The Reality: When King Philip IV of France grew tired of the Knights Templar, he tried to dismantle them. Even though he claimed the group was taking part in Satanic rituals and lusty pastimes, most historians believe he really just wanted their wealth for himself. 

    Templars were imprisoned throughout the fall of 1307, beginning on Friday, October 13, of that year. Some superstitious scholars even tie the history of Friday the 13th all the way back to the 13 guests at the last supper, suggesting the number is an omen of destruction. 

    Why The Myth: The myth of Friday the 13th tying in with the Knights Templar was thrust into the limelight by Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. In the book, Brown says the imprisonment of the Templars on the 13th is responsible for our distrust of this spooky day, but it's more likely that a conflation of multiple events plays into the superstition. 

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    MYTH: They Found Solomon’s Treasure

    The Reality: Ruling between 965 BCE and 925 BCE, Solomon was supposedly one of the wealthiest kings of Israel. It's rumored that he built a temple to house his cache of gold and the Ark of the Covenant, the chest that stored the Ten Commandments. His temple was wiped out about 400 years after his reign, however, and his riches were plundered, becoming the stuff of legend. 

    There's no conclusive evidence about whether the Knights Templar found Solomon's treasure. If they did, they did not document its new location, so its wonders are likely lost forever. 

    Why The Myth: The Knights Templar were one of the wealthiest groups of their time. They accumulated vast riches by inventing the modern banking system. The fact that they were also on the hunt for religious artifacts makes it easy to assume they hoarded what was left of Solomon's treasure. 

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    MYTH: They Reached The New World Before Columbus

    Photo: Benet Mercadé / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The Reality: After the dissolution of the Knights Templar, any member who survived the wrath of King Philip IV got the heck out of Dodge. There are rumors that surviving members fled to Scotland in the 1300s, and some of them went to America from there. A document called the Zeno Manuscript features a map of Nova Scotia with the emblem of a crowned knight, supposedly a reference to the Knights Templar.

    Even if a couple of Knights Templar survived the group's extinction, it's doubtful they made it to Scotland and America with the intention of restarting the group. By 1300, the "New World" had already been visited by the Norse, so even if the Knights Templar made it to America, it was already old news. 

    Why The Myth: It's fascinating to imagine the secret society surviving far beyond its destruction at the hands of the monarchy and how that group could have gone on to influence the nascent United States. But even if someone did beat Columbus to the punch, it likely wasn't the struggling remnants of the Knights Templar. 

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