11 Interesting Theories Historians Have Proposed About The Knights Templar

The original Knights Templar were a Christian military order during the Crusades, and were feared by many. These knights were famous among people living in the Middle Ages, but disbanded in the 1300s after King Philip IV of France arrested them for heresy. Many were burned alive and their deaths were shocking - so much so their legacies lived far beyond the two centuries they fought for Christianity. 

Since then, the Knights Templar have taken on an entirely different meaning - one shrouded in mystery, evil, and even treasure. Who are the Knights Templar? What did the Knights Templar do? These mercenaries fought in many wars for their religion and birthed a movement of secret societies, conspiracy theories, and religious artifacts seemingly lost to time.

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  • Their Execution Was To Cover Up Information About The Blood Line Of Christ

    Their Execution Was To Cover Up Information About The Blood Line Of Christ
    Photo: Creative Commons / Wikimedia Commons

    One theory popularized in modern culture - specifically in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code - is that the Knights Templar were not killed because King Phillip didn't want to pay them what he owed them. Instead they were killed for what they knew about the secret bloodline of Christ - specifically that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had a child. 

    The secret society that held this knowledge was called the Priory of Scion, which had deep connections to the Knights Templar. It's said all of Jesus's alleged descendants were killed off by the Roman Catholic Church. Because of this they knew they also had to kill anyone with knowledge of their existence - including the knights. Some say this was partially motivated to keep Jesus as a Christ figure and to allow Paul to ascend to power over Mary Magdalene and her decedents, presumably the children of Jesus. 

  • The Knights Cursed King Phillip And The French Monarchy

    The Knights Cursed King Phillip And The French Monarchy
    Photo: Bibliotheque Nationale de France / Wikimedia Commons

    In total, King Philip rounded up more than 60 knights and killed them. While some managed to escape the trials and executions by fleeing on ships, many of those arrested on October 13 were the top knights in the organization.

    One such knight was Grand Master Jacques de Molay. He was burned alive and was the last official member of the Order executed. As legend has it, de Molay screamed out to Philip and the Pope, cursing them and their families. A month later the pope died from disease and later that year Philip died in a hunting accident. All three of Philips son's died within the next two decades and were referred to as the "Cursed Kings." 

  • They Discovered Treasure And Knowledge While Digging Beneath Temple Mount

    They Discovered Treasure And Knowledge While Digging Beneath Temple Mount
    Photo: Creative Commons / Wikimedia Commons

    While the Knights Templar were still operating on behalf of Christianity during the Crusades, they used a royal palace called Temple Mount as their Jerusalem headquarters. Modern archeologists have dug underneath Temple Mount in an attempt to discover more about what life was like during that time and any artifacts the Order (or others) might have left behind. 

    But some think there's more to the story. Why would modern archeologists and scholars be digging under Temple Mount? Could it be that's exactly where the Order discovered ancient records of Christianity? Possibly. Some speculate the Knights found evidence the Catholic Church was not practicing Christianity the way Jesus and his followers intended, putting the church in jeopardy. Is it possible modern governments are searching for the same sort of information as they dig under Temple Mount? 

  • They Found America Before Columbus

    As the story goes: In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. But was he the first to officially discover America? Some believe the Knights Templar traveled to North America at least 100 years before Columbus made his infamous journey. 

    Researchers Tim Wallace-Murphy and Marilyn Hopkins wrote a book about the subject titled Templars In America: From the Crusades to the New World. They believe Henry Sinclair (sometimes referred to as St. Clair), Lord of Roslin and member of the Order, set sail to America in 1396 and left proof of their visit off the Atlantic coast of both the United States and Canada. Sinclair is said to have assimilated into a native tribe in Canada where he later died. 

  • They Kept Their Secrets - Including The Holy Grail - In Rosslyn Chapel

    They Kept Their Secrets - Including The Holy Grail - In Rosslyn Chapel
    Photo: Creative Commons / Wikimedia Commons

    Before Sinclair departed for North America, it's believed he hid many of the Order's treasures in Rosslyn Chapel. The chapel construction began in 1446 in Scotland and was at the behest of the Sinclair clan. It still stands today, and is considered one of the finest pieces of architecture in Scotland. Among its many architectural features are 213 cubes with inscriptions in them. 

    Many believe these inscriptions are Order-related, and even skeptics have found them fascinating and strange. Some say the inscriptions are a code to what lies beneath the chapel. At one time, it was speculated the Holy Grail, the mummified head of Jesus, the crown jewels of Scotland, and a vast amount of treasure were stored in a tomb underneath the temple. No entrance to any tomb has ever been found. 

  • Their Treasure Is Buried On Oak Island

    Their Treasure Is Buried On Oak Island
    Photo: McCully Nova Scotia Archives / Wikimedia Commons

    When Sinclair allegedly came over from Europe in the late 1300s, he brought with him a trove of treasure. It's said he buried it on Oak Island, an island off the coast of Nova Scotia. According to legend, on the day King Philip indicted the Knights Templar, the Order loaded up their various treasures from their headquarters in Paris and loaded it onto boats. From there, the boats were sent to Scotland and eventually settled with Sinclair. He hid the treasure in Rosslyn Chapel.

    In an attempt to start a new, utopian Order, he and the treasure - along with the Zeno brothers of Venice and handful of others - sailed to modern day Canada. The new Order did not survive, and instead of heading back to Europe they buried the treasure on Oak Island. The treasure is protected by a "Money Pit" full of complicated traps. 

    Since the 19th century, treasure hunters have come to the island in hopes of finding the Order's bounty - many of whom died. In 2006, brothers Michigan natives Rick and Marty Lagina purchased a major stock in the island and got the go ahead to start excavating it. They've since starred in a TV show on The History Channel about their attempts to locate the treasure called The Curse of Oak Island