Deeper into Jeopardy! XLIX: The Knights Templar – $400

Nearing the end of the Jeopardy! season, let’s take a look at a pretty cool group from back in the day, THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR. No explanation necessary.

Jeopardy! category: THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR (27-7-2015)

$400 clue: The Templars were formed in this city around 1120 to protect pilgrims left defenseless after crusaders went home

Correct response

The gist: Where their namesake temple was, of course. The Knights Templar, in full the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, were formed in Jerusalem, where they were originally housed in a wing of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is thought to stand on the site of the original Temple of Solomon, the holiest site in Judaism, and among the holiest in Christianity and Islam. When the First Crusade succeeded in capturing Jerusalem from the Fatimid Caliphate in 1099, thousands of Christians undertook the pilgrimage to the holy city. While Jerusalem itself was well-governed and relatively stable, the Outremer (French for “overseas”), the term for the lands surrounding Jerusalem that had also been taken in the Crusade, were rife with banditry. Robbery, murder, and wholesale slaughter of pilgrims were not uncommon events.

The French knight Hugue de Payens proposed to the two reigning powers in Jerusalem, King Baldwin II and Patriarch Warmund, to found a monastic society in order to protect the pilgrims. Beginning with only a few members and fewer resources, the order adopted the emblem of two knights riding a single horse to emphasize their poverty. Their professed impecunity, however, was a short-lived situation. With powerful friends in the administration of both Jerusalem and the Catholic Church at large, the order grew rapidly, and was officially recognized by the Church in 1129. Ten years later, Pope Innocent II issued a papal bull exempting the Order from all local laws, freeing them from observing borders, paying taxes, and generally listening to anyone except the Pope. With these new privileges, the Knights became a favoured Christian charity by European nobles, who donated money, land, and sons to further their own prestige. Within a few years, the Knights became an elite fighting force for the Church and the Christian Middle East, with their heavily-armoured warhorses (no longer one for every two knights) charging at enemy lines before the main force of foot soldiers engaged.

There’s really nothing like a near-complete lack of oversight to get your organization up and running.

The seal of the Knights Templar: two knights on horseback and the Temple Mount

The seal of the Knights Templar: two knights on horseback and the Temple Mount

The clue: If you know anything about the Knights Templar at all (maybe from reading a particular novel), Jerusalem is probably the first city you associate with them, so this clue should be pretty easy. But if it isn’t, it also tells you that they were protecting pilgrims, and pilgrims, at least Christian ones, are usually going to Jerusalem.

In Jeopardy!: I can’t go into all 300-odd clues that mention Jerusalem in the J!Archive, but there are only six that mention the city along with the Knights Templar. 21 mention it along with “Crusade,” and this is the only clue that mentions the year 1120 at all. Meanwhile, 1099 can be about two things: one, of course, is the Crusades, and the other is the death of El Cid, the historical yet legendary Spanish knight who fought for Muslim rulers against both Christians and other Muslims in Spain and North Africa.

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