The order called Knights of the Temple, Knights Templar, or Poor Knights of Christ of the Temple of Solomon, later to be known as Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, traces its tradition and history to the year 1118. Founded by Hugues de Payens, Geoffroy de Saint-Omer, André de Montbard, Gondemare, Godefroy, Roral, Geoffroy de Bissol, Payen de Montdidier and Archambaud de Saint-Agnan, all of whom were chevaliers of France who had served under Godefroy de Bouillon, the Order was created in the early days of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, when the crusaders controlled only a few strongholds. Pilgrims depended upon the Knights to provide a means for their safe passage through the Holy Land. The Knights consecrated themselves to the protection of Christian pilgrims and the defense of the Holy Land against barbarian aggressors, accepting monastic vows under the Patriarch Garimond of France.
For almost two centuries, the good deeds done by these Knights and their successors in protecting the Holy sites in Jerusalem, the Holy Land itself, and the routes to the Holy Land became legendary. The Order grew in strength and prospered greatly during the crusades, until those jealous of its financial power violently overthrew it and confiscated its properties, ultimately executing its Grand Master Jacques de Molay and many of its other leaders in the year 1314.
The original Order of the Temple ended with the death of its leaders, but the Templar spirit survived in a misty and elaborate world of legend and myth. The sacrifices of the original knights in the name of Christianity; their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience; and their legendary fighting prowess offered a vision of purity, honor, and bravery, that many individuals and organizations have sought over the seven centuries since then to ally themselves with that image.