The Knights Templar (The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon), were religious warriors formed in 1119 after the First Crusade. Nine French knights, led by Hugues de Payens, took vows of poverty and chastity, and got together to protect pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. After those early days, the Knights Templar grew into something else entirely–basically, a rich and powerful corporation.

The Templars have always held an interest and a fascination for many people, including me. They’ve long been a subject of discussions, books, papers, films, but after the runaway success of author Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, where the Templars were mentioned in mysterious, historical (or not) context, the Knights Templar have resurfaced as a cultural phenomena.

Though a lot is known about the Templars historically, various myths about them abound (and, let’s face it, those are a lot more fun!)–they are the keepers of the Holy Grail, they still survive today as the Freemasons, they found and hid the Ark of the Covenant, even that they discovered America! Take that Vikings!

They are given credit, in fact, for creating the modern system of banking. Ironically, taking vows of poverty, the Templars eventually became one of the richest organizations in the Old World, who could lend money and buy property with ease. It got to the point, in just a short century, that governments depended on them to help finance certain projects. That’s considered one of the reasons King Phillip IV of France and Pope Pius V orchestrated the Templars’ downfall in 1307. The “impoverished” Knights were perceived as having become too rich and powerful (although most historians figure Phillip just wanted all that loot for himself) and turning against their vows and God.

The fall of the Templars is one of the origin stories attributed to the legend of Friday the 13th. On Friday, October 13th, 1307, most of the Templars throughout France were rounded up from their various castles, commanderies, perceptories and farms. Again, most, not all, were tortured to confess to false crimes, and burned at the stake for heresy (although one legend has it some escaped to become the Freemasons and to hide their legendary treasure, though no trace of whatever that treasure is has ever been found).

The heresy crimes included the worship of a god or demon called Baphomet. This is variously described as a disembodied head (possibly of John the Baptist!) of a goat, a horned demon, a skull, a cat, etc. It’s depicted as a winged, goat-headed human in certain decks of Tarot cards.

All nonsense, of course. But what if it wasn’t? One source I read described how the apocryphal Lilith (the Biblical Adam’s supposed first wife, according to some sources, and the lover of King Solomon) transformed, through her followers neglect, into the Baphomet. How cool and creepy is that? I used that idea in my first “Knights Templar in Outer Space” story, Crusade.

In my crazy future history, the Knights Templar have been reborn into the 23rd Century to become the Templar Accord. Their long war with the alien Kazoran Union is at a stalemate. Both sides are equal in numbers, strength and technology. But what if the Accord could discover and resurrect certain “artifacts”, which are not myths and legends but real? Including the Baphomet? The Union would have no defense against these ancient “weapons.” Or so the Accord hopes.

My new serial novel, The Endgame Chronicles, posted by chapter for free on the JukePop Serial website, posits that theory also. The Templar Accord, now serving a church of their own making, struggle to survive against their enemies. You can read about what happens after they discover an artifact long buried on a remote, backwater planet in an ancient tomb. They find out their “Endgame Initiative” may sound good on paper but even the best-laid plans can go horribly wrong. Yikes.

I’ve tried to capture the essence of the Knights Templar and their Code in my stories but have updated it to include female Knights and administrators (this is the 23rd century, after all). No vows of poverty exist and, especially, no vows of chastity. How boring would that be?

The first chapter is available to read free without a JukePop account, but you’ll have to create an account (also free with no obligations) to read any further. Let me know what you think!

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