The Knights Templar were founded early in the 12th century to protect Christians on pilgrimages to Jerusalem from Muslim attacks. The Templars were renowned for their military prowess, which they transformed into a lucrative security franchise, guarding not only the persons of crusaders in transit but their domestic assets when on crusade. This role was facilitated through a network of fortified Templar houses throughout Europe and the Near East. Their wealth created enemies, and the loss of Acre, the last crusader stronghold, to the Turks in 1291 left them exposed. Philip IV of France, although deeply indebted to the Templars, seized on accusations of heresy and corruption in 1307 and ordered all the leaders of the order in France to be arrested: many were subsequently burned at the stake. Pope Clement V was pressured to abandon the Templars and to seize their assets. This order was finally disbanded in 1312.
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