The Knights Templar were found by Bernard de Clairvaux and Hugues de Payens in 1119 as a Catholic Military Order deigned to protect Christian pilgrims on their travels throughout the Holy Lands, they were based at Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, Jerusalem.
They were not initially classed as an official organization but that came later in the year 1139 when they were granted official status by the Roman Catholic Church in the form of a Papal Bull – an official declaration by the Pope of the time.
After being effectively endorsed by the Church The Templars started to be well supported and became a favored charity amongst people of the Christian faith, from this point their rise in power and wealth rapidly accelerated as did their membership within Christendom.
Templar knights would wear the distinctive white surcoat emblazoned with the ‘red cross’, the surcoat was worn as the outermost garment, usually outdoors.
A white mantle also with a red cross was also worn by the Templars, this is a loose garment usually worn over indoor clothing.
There were different ranks within the Templar organization and Sergeants were distinguished by the black tunic they wore emblazoned with a red cross on the front – They also wore a brown or black mantle.
At the Council of Troyes in 1129 the Templars are described as wearing a ‘white mantle a loose sleeveless cloak or shawl’.
The red cross of the Templar knight is closely associated with their identity as religious crusaders, it is believed that the Cross was added around the start of the 2nd Crusades at a meeting of leaders at the French headquarters in Paris around the year 1147.
The red cross on the Templars Surcoats and mantles was a symbol of martyrdom – Templar knights fought to the death without fear!
Rules imposed on Templar Knights by the Grand Masters forced them to wear their white mantle clothing at all times, they could not drink or even eat without wearing it.