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It is as chilling as the catacombs and a lot more mysterious.
Of all the possible refugees who might have holed up here, the Knights — long a part of history, but most recently popularised by Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code and other works of ‘religious mystery’ — are prime contenders.
He would then carry a letter of credit, like travellers’ cheques, and in Jerusalem he would be able to withdraw his funds.‘Their influence on modern banking is perhaps their best legacy,’ says James Jackson, author of Perdition: The Crusaders’ Last Stand.‘My word is my bond is, in fact, a phrase borrowed from the Templars.
They then followed religious rules, with vows of poverty, chastity and obedience — and each man pledged himself ready to die for his faith.In eerie photographs published by the Mail yesterday, candlelight flickers on a row of arches and pillars cut into the rock.There is a stone-carved font, narrow passages and graffiti of strange symbols.This wealth was ostensibly for financing the Holy War, but it made them richer than the kings and princes who borrowed from them.They even bankrolled Henry II on his crusades.‘If you wanted to buy a nice island off the west coast of France — as Henry III of England did in the 1200s with the island of Oleron, north-west of Bordeaux — it was the Templars who could broker the deal,’ says financial historian Tim Harford.
What followed was the persecution of the Order, with thousands of Knights imprisoned, tortured or slaughtered.