The early Plantagenet kings of England, Normandy and Anjou had very cordial relations with the Order of the Temple. Henry II and his sons Richard the Lionheart and (bad) King John made use of their military support in the crusades and their financial support.
Across Europe, the Templars had a network of ‘preceptories’ – living and working centres where these warrior monks could conduct their activities. These included farming, trading and basic manufacture to raise funds for the crusades.
It also included an early form of international banking where Templars and non-Templars could deposit money with a preceptory and then withdraw it with a credit note at another preceptory hundreds of miles away. Revolutionary stuff for the Middle Ages. Essentially, preceptories operated like bank branches in this respect.
The Paris Temple was the mother of all preceptories with its high walls and vast amounts of bullion contained within. Crowned heads, popes and princes borrowed thousands of ‘livres’ from Paris making it an eventual source of envy and hatred among the Templar’s enemies and creditors.
The hapless king of England Henry III (1216-1272), who succeeded King John, went one further and lodged his own crown jewels in the Paris Temple for safe keeping. He was facing a major uprising by England’s barons for whom Magna Carta had not proven to be enough. The barons had even supported an invasion by the French king Louis at the end of John’s reign but when that king obligingly died, they threw their weight behind the boy king Henry – however, they eventually reverted to their more rebellious ways.
Led by Simon de Montfort – previously a confidante of the king who had fallen out with him on personal and political grounds – they forced the king to agree to the Provisions of Oxford. This very revolutionary declaration threatened to destroy the divinely ordained absolutist monarchy of the Plantagenats and Henry got a papal absolution from his oath to the Provisions and began a fightback.
Unfortunately, all did not proceed well. He lost the Battle of Lewes and saw most of southern England rise for De Montfort. He was also captured by De Montfort and further humiliated. The crown jewels were secluded with the Paris Temple then effectively pawned to raise funds from the Templars for Henry’s fightback against the barons. He was eventually successful and De Montfort was hacked to pieces after the Battle of Evesham.
It is interesting – I hope – to note how a king in desperate straits would hock his baubles to the Templars for some ready cash. This must have been a new and very innovative way to fund a war unless you can tell me otherwise.