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.
They Kept Their Secrets - Including The Holy Grail - In Rosslyn ChapelPhoto: 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 IslandPhoto: 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.
The Friday The 13th Superstition Began With The Knights TemplarPhoto: Public Domain / History Today
The Knights Templar were arrested on Friday, October 13, 1307 on the orders of French King Philip IV. At the time, Philip owed the knights a substantial amount of of money. Instead of paying up he accused them of being heretics and devil worship - something that would stick with the Knights Templar throughout history - and had them arrested. They were subsequently burned at the stake.
While many point to Friday the 13th's origin as lore from the Bible, some say the fear of the day actually is derived from the knights's arrests.
The Skulls Of The "List Of 12" Are In A French Church To This DayPhoto: Book Of The Pyrenees / Wikimedia Commons
Historians debate how many Knights Templar were able to escape the persecution of King Philip, though it's undisputed that at least a few were able to make it out alive. But one document called "The List of 12" that was uncovered in the 1800s by researcher Heinrich Finke specifically lists 12 knights who managed to escape.
Many speculate they and possibly others who survived persecution fled to the French-controlled mountains to an area known as Luz. The ghost of du Molay allegedly haunts the church which stands to this day near the border of Spain and France. It's also rumored the skulls of the 12 Order survivors are buried in the church, though historians highly speculate the validity of that.