The Knights Templar in Portugal

The Knights Templar is one of the monastic orders that marked history. They are known as fierce warriors who had an enormous influence on the Crusades. Nonetheless, there is so much more to know about the Templars and their history.

Even though they started in Jerusalem, the Knights Templar had a great influence in many European countries. In Portugal, Tomar, the historical province, was their headquarters. The castle was constructed in 1160 and has served as the Templar’s managerial center in Portugal. Thirty years after its construction, it was captured by a Muslim army that put the castle under siege. The Templars stood up to the Muslims for six days under the command of the Grand Master Gualdim Pais, who founded the town of Tomar. After the castle was taken back, the Knights Templar and other powerful noble Portuguese began Christianizing Portugal again and getting rid of any Muslim rule. The victory demonstrated the skills of the order in war. In the 14th century, the Knights’ power started shrinking when the monarchy convinced the Pope that the knights were involved in heresy and, therefore, should be vanished.

The king also took away their wealth and land. In Portugal, things were different. Dinis, the king of Portugal back then, couldn’t see the truth in the allegations made against them. Instead, he offered them protection under a new name: The Order of Christ. He also moved their headquarters from Tomar to Castro Marim, close to the Spanish border. A century later, Prince Henry, the Navigator, restored the site, and it became the headquarters of the Order of Christ, who itself ceased to exist centuries later.

Tomar and other towns in Portugal still carry the spirit of the Knights Templar. The rich history of the order in Portugal is, unfortunately, is understudied outside of its borders.

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