News & Opinion | June 28, 2018 12:48 pm

Meet the Neo-Fascists Who Want To Revive the Knights Templar

European far-right groups are fascinated with medieval Christian order that led the Crusades.

knights of templar
Templar knights on the battlefield, Crusades, 13th century. Historical reenactment. (DeAgostini/Getty Images)
De Agostini/Getty Images

The Knights of Templar, shorthand for the Order of the Poor Knights of the Temple of Jerusalem, were founded to protect Christian pilgrims who were following the First Crusade on the roads of Palestine. The group was named for its original headquarters on the the Temple Mount and they swore oaths of chastity, poverty, and obedience. The organization itself, however, was rich, and owned property stretching from Britain to Syria. Any profits were used to fund military expeditions in the Holy Land and charitable deeds across the West. The Templars downfall began on Friday, October 13th 1307, when fellow knights and brothers across Europe were arrested, imprisoned, tortured, and forced to make false confessions.

But today, Templar revivalism is strong, reports the Smithsonian and Templar iconography is popular with European neo-fascists. In America, Templar fans have recently self-published a long researched book about then order over the centuries. Smithsonian writes that being a 21st-century Templar in America is participation in a “living metaphor for evangelical Christian advocacy, financial expertise, internationalism and a militaristic ethos of duty and service to the cause.”