Religious wars are not caused by the fact that there is more than one religion, but by the spirit of intolerance... the spread of which can only be regarded as the total eclipse of human reason.

-Montesquieu

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The Knights Templar was a large organization of devout Christians during the medieval era who carried out an important mission: to protect European travelers visiting sites in the Holy Land while also carrying out military operations. The Knights were created after groups of pilgrims from across Western Europe were robbed as they crossed Muslim-controlled territories when visiting the Holy Land. Initially they received a lot of criticism from leaders, but eventually got the blessing of the Pope. The Templars were exempt from paying taxes, permitted to build their own oratories and were held to no one’s authority except the Pope’s.

The group developed a reputation as fierce fighters during the Crusades, driven by religious fervor and forbidden from retreating unless significantly outnumbered. By 1303, the Knights Templar lost its foothold in the Muslim world and established a base of operations in Paris. There, King Philip IV of France resolved to bring down the order.

While most agree that the Knights disbanded 700 years ago, there are some who believe the order went underground and still exist in the form of the Freemasons.