The Knights Templar, also known as the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the  Temple of Solomon, were an order of Christian knights that was formed in  approximately 1119 A.D., following the First Crusade. The stated responsibility  of the Knights Templar was to protect Christian pilgrims who were traveling to  Jerusalem. The Knights Templar were given the Temple Mount in Jerusalem as their  headquarters, and there are many legends of the Templars excavating the many  tunnels beneath the Temple Mount in search of biblical treasures and  artifacts. Primarily due to a financial dispute with King Philip IV of  France, the Knights Templar were ordered to be disbanded by Pope Clement V. Many  of the Knights Templar were arrested, tortured until they confessed to  unimaginable crimes, and then burned at the stake as heretics. Some of the  Knights Templar escaped the persecution and went into hiding. There are various  traditions as to what happened to the surviving Knights Templar, with the most  likely legend being that they eventually formed what is now known as the Freemasons. The recent books, Holy  Blood, Holy Grail and The Da Vinci Code include the Knights Templar  in their conspiracy theories. The unfounded and baseless legend says that the  Knights Templar found evidence that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, and  they blackmailed the Roman Catholic Church, leading to the legendary wealth of  the Knights Templar. Eventually, though, the Roman Catholic Church was able to  orchestrate the heresy charges against the Knights Templar, leading to their  disbanding and deaths. Similar to the other conspiracy theories in Holy  Blood, Holy Grail and The Da Vinci Code, these theories are  completely lacking in historical merit.

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