OK, seriously: Templars?

I try to make this a history blog rather than a blog about all the other things I like, like Forteana or comic books or games or what have you. But there are times when they interact (we’re going to have to talk about comics one of these days, maybe even tomorrow).

I write, from time to time, book reviews for Fortean TimesIt doesn’t pay, but I get free books and free copies of the magazine, and it’s a lot of fun. A recent issue (possibly even the current issue?) had some interesting stuff about conspiracy theories, and it made me think. 

Now, I know that (or at least, it seems to be the case that) the reason the Knights Templar are such a big deal in the world of conspiracy theory is twofold: firstly because the trial of the Templars is such an odd piece of medieval legal whatever-it-is, and secondly, and perhaps more importantly, because the Freemasons made such a big deal out of them (or, if not the Freemasons, the secret-society community generally). After all, werewolf trial records are equally bizarre, but nobody gets all weird about secret conspiracies of werewolves. That I’m aware of. 

But “because the Freemasons made a big deal out of them” is just one of those questions that punts the question back one. People associate the Templars with conspiracy because the Templars are connected to the Freemasons and the Freemasons are connected to conspiracy. Fair enough, except what’s the Templar-Freemason connection? Of all the many weird organisations in the medieval world, why did they pick that one to get all weird about? Is it just that they had been suppressed and were therefore no longer around in some legacy form? 

I genuinely don’t know, and I kind of never wondered until now – possibly because I read Foucault’s Pendulum early on and therefore just assumed that conspiracy theories naturally involved the Templars. 

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OK, seriously: Templars?