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Knights Templar and popular culture

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Cross of the Knights Templar

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The Knights Templar have many references in popular culture, yet most of those references quite inaccurate. The truth is that the Knights Templar were a Catholic military order that existed from the 1100s to the 1300s, to provide warriors in the Crusades.[1] They were quite famous in medieval times; stories and legends have grown about them over the centuries.

In modern works, the Templars are generally portrayed in one of three ways: as villains, misguided zealots; or representatives of an evil secret society;[2] or as the keepers of a long-lost treasure.

Receptions in scholarly settings

Their depiction in such works of art has already received considerable scholarly attention as the subject of the Annual Conference of the American Culture Association.[2] Literary theorists puzzle over Eco's use of the Templars as a symbol of postmodernist rewriting of history. Johannes Bertens asks about "a satire on the literary theory of deconstructionism in its near paranoid over-interpretation?"[3] Barber writes that "Mystic Templars are omnipresent in all good conspiracy theories."[4] On Day to Day on NPR, "Alex Chadwick discusses the literary fascination with the Knights Templar with Laura Miller, book critic for"[5] Torun Museum had "The Knights Templar - History and Myth" exhibition where "Apart from pieces of "high art," the exhibit will grant equal importance to "popular culture" items (literature, film, Internet content) exploring the subject of the Knights Templar."[6] Finally, a National Post editorial notes that "the Templars remain a living presence in popular culture. This has happened precisely because the historical record concerning their sudden annihilation in the early-14th century at the hands of Philip IV ("the Fair") of France has been so sparse and ambiguous. Time and revolution have damaged and dispersed the sources, and made the Templars a magnet for speculation and imagination."[7]

Notable examples

Novels and comics

A brief list of some works which have featured the Knights Templar:


  • A series of horror films (Tombs of the Blind Dead, Return of the Evil Dead, The Ghost Galleon, Night of the Seagulls and The Church) by Spanish director Amando de Ossorio depict the Knights Templar as resurrected mummies in search of human blood.
  • The mythos of the Knights Templar (presented as the fictional "Knights of the Cruciform Sword") as keepers and defenders of the Holy Grail is also a central plot point in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).
  • Dolph Lundgren plays the role of a modern day member of the Knights Templar in the 1998 movie The Minion.
  • The film Revelation (2001), in which the order tries to clone Jesus Christ for evil purposes.
  • The Templar Knights are featured in the 2001 French film Le Pacte des loups, in which the symbol of the Templar Knights is seen upon the walls of an old Templar stronghold and upon the Beast's armor. The cult seen in the movie is also supposedly a rogue Templar organization, originally sent by the Pope to teach the King of France a lesson.
  • Das Blut der Templer (2004) shows the Knights Templar as being descended directly from Jesus Christ and having half of his DNA, while members of the Priory of Sion have the other half of that same DNA. When a Templar has a child by a member of the Priory, the child combines the two strands and becomes capable of reactivating the Holy Grail.
  • National Treasure, 2004
  • Kingdom of Heaven, 2005 shows the incompetent last King of Jerusalem, Guy de Lusignan, and his bloodthirsty henchman, Reynald de Chatillon (not a Templar himself), as Templars.[8]




  1. Karen Ralls, Knights Templar Encyclopedia: The Essential Guide to the People, Places, Events, and Symbols of the Order of the Temple (New Page Books, 2007).
  2. 2.0 2.1 Masons, Templars and the Holy Grail: Historical Conspiracies and Popular Culture
  3. Bertens, Prof.dr. J.W.
  4. Barber's The New Knighthood (Cambridge U Press, 1995) paraphrased by Elaine Graham-Leigh
  5. Knights Templar Inspires Trio of Best-Selling Books
  6. "THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR - HISTORY AND MYTH" at Torun, District Museum, October 23 - November 28, 2004
  7. Marni Soupcoff, "The Post editorial board: The truth about the Templars," National Post (October 22, 2007).
  8. Dr. Cathy Schultz, "Making the Crusades Relevant in KINGDOM OF HEAVEN," History in the Movies and Providence Journal (5/6/05).

See also