They Began With Just Nine Knights Trying to Protect Pilgrims
In 1119 Hugues de Payens was a French nobleman from Champagne. He realized that the pilgrims traveling to visit Holy Places faced dangers and had little means to protect themselves. In order to protect the pilgrims, he gathered 8 of his knighted relatives and began the Order.
The nine knights approached King Baldwin II of Jerusalem and informed the King of their quest. He allowed them to set up headquarters in the Temple Mount. The Templars were allowed to stay at Aqsa Mosque which was believed to stand where in the same place where Solomon’s Temple once existed. Due to the prestige of their location they incorporated it into the name of their order. They became the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of the Christ and of the Temple of Solomon. It would eventually be shortened to the Knights Templar.
The first Knights to join Hugues de Payens were Godfrey de Saint-Omer, Payne de Monteverdi, Archambaud de St. Agnan, Andre de Montbard, Geoffrey Bison and two men who were recorded only as Rossal and Gonadmer. There is much speculation about who could have been the ninth knight. Some suggest that it might have been Count Huge of Champagne but the records show that he returned to France in 1116 and did not join the Order until 1125.
For nine years, there was very little written or recorded about the Order. In 1129 they started to rise to prominence after they were officially sanctioned by the church at the Council of Troyes. With the sanction of the church they started to collection donations of money, land and noble-sons to join the order. With the promise a spot in Heaven in return for a donation, the Knights Templar quickly became wealthy and powerful throughout Europe.