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Answered 2011-08-22 09:34:36

Both the Knights Templar and the Hospitallers were Orders of monks. The Templar Order was accepted into the Church of Rome by Pope in 1129, when their first Rule was compiled to regulate their dress, equipment and religious services. This put them on exactly the same level as other Orders of monks: the Cluniacs, Benedictines and Cistercians - with one major difference:

Their task was primarily to protect Christian pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem, so they became a military religious Order consisting of knights, non-noble serjantz and servants who worked as labourers, craftsmen, cooks, grooms and so on. All of them were also (first and foremost) monks, and the Templars also included priests to conduct daily services, hear confessions and give absolution to those killed in battle. Death on the battlefield as a member of the Order was considered Christian martyrdom, meaning that a Templar would expect to go straight to Heaven.

The Order of Knights Templar was abolished by Pope Clement IV in 1312, just 183 years after its acceptance by an earlier Pope. People who today pretend that the Order can be re-established conveniently forget the main part of the Templar function: as monks within the Catholic Church, regulated by a Pope and having religious conviction as their primary function.

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The function of the Knights Templar, to protect pilgrims, was extended to protect the property of the pilgrims, both on the road and at home. Money and other valuables were often deposited with the Knights Templar for safekeeping. In many cases, money was deposited for transportation, and this eventually turned into a system under which money could be deposited in one place and withdrawn in another. Naturally, the Knights Templar provided a prototype for the early banks.

The collapse of the Templars created a need for others to provide the same service. This need was met by merchant families, whose members traveled under guard, and who could manage property for clients. This gave rise to the system of banking that appeared in the Late Middle Ages.

There is a link below to an article on the Knights Templar, to the section describing their economic importance relative to banking.

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