Knights Templar in Cyprus
By Chris Elliott
When we are young we are taught many things including history and no doubt many people will have heard of the Knights Templar. When you live in Cyprus you become even more aware of this past band of holy warriors who ruled our country and then it seems disappeared forever, or did they?
Wanting to learn more I visited the web site of the “The Ancient and Noble Order of The Knights Templar” and various other locations to discover more. The following is a brief (uncertified) chronology. drawn from numerous references relating to the Templar’s”.
“In 1291, after the Siege of Acre, the Templar’s relocated their headquarters to the island of Cyprus, primarily in their fortresses in Nicosia, Limassol, and Gastria but also in Templos (ZEYTINLIK) a village in the Kyrenia district in Cyprus, thought to be named by the Knights Templar.
As there were few battles left to be fought, the Templar’s largely used Cyprus as a base for their financial and commercial endeavours and travelled extensively across the island to support their trade routes coastal and inland. These routes included daily pilgrimages between the castles at St Hilarion and Kantara.
In 1292 Pope Boniface VIII, agreed to grant the Templars the same privileges at Cyprus as they had held in the Holy Land, Charles II of Naples and Edward I also pledged varying types of support, either continuing to exempt the Templar’s from taxes, or pledging future support towards building a new army.
In 1306, the Templar’s supported a coup on that island, which had forced King Henry II of Cyprus to abdicate his throne in favour of his brother, Amalric of Tyre
At dawn on Friday October 13th 1307, scores of Templar Knights were simultaneously arrested, later to be tortured into admitting heresy and other sacriligious offences in the Order. They were then put to death.
The Templar’s on Cyprus were a quite different cohort from those found anywhere else. They were younger, a much greater number of them were of high rank, more had taken part in fighting than Templar’s to be found anywhere else. They came from almost every part of Christendom where the Order was established.
As far as the Templar’s on Cyprus, there is no definitive evidence as to their actual demise on Cyprus.. No contemporary document makes clear what was done to them after their hearings ended. The much later chronicle known as the Chronicle of Amadi stated that in 1316 many Templar’s in Cyprus died in prison or had been drowned as a punishment for their alleged crimes.
The history of the Templar’s and their connection with the island of Cyprus ends in the year 1571, long after the Order had vanished as a formal institution. It was in this year that the island was overrun and the Templar archives were destroyed.
The current Knights Templar Orders are worldwide, supporting numerous worthy causes and charitable events, providing assistance, aid and resources in order to promote health and well being.
So it would seem the Knights Templar left the island but did they return? please watch these pages to learn more soon.