The Knights Templar Destroyed, November 22, 1307
ohammed, the founder and prophet of Islam, and his successors, spread their new religion across the Middle East, North Africa, and parts of Asia beginning in the 7th Century, through conquest, commerce, and missionaries. Those who did not convert, particularly Christians and Jews, were compelled to pay extra taxes, and bid to comply with the new cultural changes. They established new Muslim dynasties in the areas conquered, including in Palestine, where many of the historic sites from the time of Christ and the apostles were located. Christian pilgrims who travelled to those places were sometimes set upon by thieves and lawless gangs, and the Christians and Jews of those areas faced the constant pressure to convert to Islam. Moslem structures were sometimes constructed over the older Christian ones. The Roman Pontiffs began calling for the re-conquest of the Middle East, from the 11th to the 14th Centuries.
A panoramic view of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, as seen from the Mount of Olives
Kings, princes and monks raised armies in Europe, especially France, to make the long journey to the Holy Land to drive out the Muslim interlopers. The Latin Church granted them forgiveness and indulgence, the nobility called on the feudal obligations of their vassals to go to war, and Kings took up their positions at the head of armies, all with the commendation and approval of the Pope in Rome. The success of the First Crusade, with the capture of Jerusalem in 1099, however, did not eliminate the dangers that awaited Christian pilgrims, who had to walk or ride from Joppa to Jerusalem. Death came to hundreds of European pilgrims from thieves and terrorists who stalked the byways leading to the city.
King Baldwin II of Jerusalem ceding the location of the Temple of Solomon to Hugues de Payns and Gaudefroy de Saint-Homer in the presence of Warmund, Patriarch of Jerusalem
In 1119, nine knights banded together and petitioned Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem and Warmund, the Patriarch of the region, to allow them to create a new warrior-monastic order to protect the pilgrims coming to the Holy City. Their petition was granted and the Knights were given part of the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for their headquarters.
The Temple Mount in Jerusalem, showing Al Aqsa Mosque (once headquarters of the Knights Templar) prominently in the center with the gold dome