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How the Templars did "business"
How the Templars did "business"

The "offshore zone" of the Knights Templar covered a significant part of Asia Minor. Templars did not pay taxes or share with the church.

Spiritual bonds: mortgages, penalties and interest

If a resident of medieval Europe dreamed of treasures, of course, the Templar fortresses were of the greatest interest to him. Gold, silver and other "bonuses" received as a result of the Crusades were kept here.

True, the commanderships were carefully guarded, and a mere mortal could not get to the cherished treasures. The "poor soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon" eventually became large landowners. They owned luxurious castles in different parts of Europe. The Templars had plenty of booty; so, for example, in 1204 the crusaders ravaged Constantinople, in search of values ​​the knights even opened the graves of high-ranking officials.

In an effort to accomplish a charitable deed, the monarchs allocated land plots to the order, the townspeople - premises, and the villagers - cattle and grain. In 12th-century Paris alone, the Templars controlled up to a third of the city's institutions. Local residents often gave valuable things for storage to the Templars on bail. In addition, the Templars looked after the property of their comrades for a fee when they went on a campaign. But the knights did not always return, and in this case, their property passed to the caretaker.


Templars. Source:

The "business" of the Templars developed in several directions. Loans became the key. For example, the French king Philip IV the Handsome borrowed 500,000 francs from the Templars to celebrate the wedding of Blanca's daughter.

There was, however, one delicate circumstance. The fact is that Rome prohibited the accrual of interest on pain of excommunication or expulsion from the state. The Templars circumvented these prohibitions by artificially increasing the size of the loan, using the services of clients or receiving gifts from them.

They carefully kept the documentation, all papers were drawn up in duplicate. At the dawn of financial achievements, the order took 10% per annum, later the percentage increased. If money was "lost" on the way back, the borrower was fined - from 60% to 100% of the total amount. Many preferred to use the services of the Templars - Jewish usurers did business on less favorable terms.

As a rule, they worked with small clients and took 25-40%. An alternative was offered by Italian lenders, but even in this case it was about a high interest rate. In Italy, maritime loans were popular; the merchant took a certain amount and returned it with interest on his return to the port. If the voyage was dangerous, the rate would rise to 50%. On the voyage, the merchant could lose all his money, and sea loans were fraught with risk.


Templars. Source:

The Templars acted more progressively than their Italian counterparts. First, they took into account the fact that the client could be robbed at any time. Secondly, they put money into circulation, increasing their wealth. The solution was cashless settlement - bills of exchange. Special signs made it impossible to counterfeit them. For the operation with promissory notes, the templars took a small fee. The papers were taken into account in the "bookkeeping" of the Templars.


Treasure hunters fantasies

Another "business project" of the Templars is road safety control. Initially, the order was created to protect pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. Wanderers were protected from robbers, and this service was not provided free of charge: the knights made a profit from the pilgrims' farm while they were absent. So, in one of the documents from the beginning of the 12th century, it tells about a loan for a married couple who went to the Holy Land. The Templars also "earned money" as couriers, delivering urgent mail.

It is worth noting that in Europe of the XII-XIII centuries, travelers usually paid for travel, while in the lands of the Templars it was possible to move freely. Despite this, the knights were disliked. They owned enormous wealth and did not pay taxes, while the average Europeans were in bondage, paying a variety of fees. Among them were very unusual, for example, taxes on accommodation and on marriage.

For English subjects, the initiatives of King Richard I became especially ruinous. Contemporaries attributed to him the cynical statement: "I would sell London if I could." Funding for the Crusades fell on the shoulders of Catholics. "Saladin's tithe" in 1188 obliged the inhabitants of France and England to give a tenth of the movable property and annual income in the name of the feat of the knights.

Only those who joined the crusaders were exempted from the collection. "Saladin's tithe" greatly enriched the treasury; only in England managed to collect about 70 thousand pounds. In 1245, residents of French and English cities gave 10% to finance the Crusades. These fees fell heavily on artisans and peasants.

Philip IV the Handsome

Philip IV the Handsome. Source:

Cooperation with the Templars was beneficial for the aristocrats. They could be transferred to "problem" land, the ownership of which was threatened with litigation. Fearing litigation, the nobility transferred property for temporary use to the Templars. Pope Alexander III, among others, appealed to the order for financial assistance.

King Philip the Fair of France owed hundreds of thousands of francs to the Templars. The situation was complicated by the fact that he also owed Rome. Pope Clement V, meanwhile, was concerned about the order's growing influence and independence. In 1307, the French monarch defeated the Templars with the support of the pontiff.

The Knights were accused of fraud, illegal land deals, conspiracy against the crown, and orgies involving teenagers. The master of the order, Jacques de Molay, was burned at the stake. The property of the Templars was arrested. According to a number of historians, by this time the treasuries were empty - part of the wealth was taken out of France immediately after the start of the process.

Arguing their version, the researchers point to a myriad of gold that suddenly appeared in the possession of the English monarch. Others believe that the order has been in economic decline since the mid-13th century. Some are looking for the treasures of the Templars today - in the forests, basements of castles, ancient churches. Fantastic versions are also being put forward; so, some treasure hunters believe that the relics were laid in the foundation of old Moscow.

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