How The Knights Templar May Have Inspired Star Wars

When Muslim-held Jerusalem fell in 1099, devout Christian pilgrims rejoiced and journeyed to the Holy Land. The voyage crossed Muslim lands, though, and many never reached their destination. So, the Knights Templar formed to protect the devout as they traveled.

The order formed in 1119, created by Hugues de Payens and eight others — all related. Their wealthy French patron, Abbot (now Saint) Bernard of Clairvaux, helped make them powerful. Even Pope Honorius II eventually gave them a papal sanction, designating them as part of God's army.

The Templars followed the same rules adhered to by Benedictine Monks, the Latin Rule, an honor code that also oversaw their daily life, from how their uniforms should look to when they could adjust their steed's stirrups. The Templars exercised strict discipline, and neither surrendered nor retreated without a commanding officer's say-so, which made them fierce fighters, sometimes defeating enemies even when outnumbered, such as in the Crusade's Battle of Montgisard in 1177. Known for their white mantles, marked with St. George's red cross, the group inspired fear on the battlefield, said Sky History.

The organization disbanded more than 700 years ago, yet their legend still inspires. Bestsellers like Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" and Raymond Khoury's "The Last Templar" used themes that explored their Templars' legendary code. George Lucas modeled his Star Wars series after its noble cause, and initially named his Jedi after the organization, dubbing them Jedi-Templars in the original script, according to a different article in Sky History.

The ethos of the Knights Templar lives on in the Jedi

A history buff, Lucas used a variety of sources to feed his imagination while he developed the "Star Wars" story. "When I was making 'Star Wars,' I wasn't restrained by any kind of science," he said to the Boston Globe in 2005. "I simply said, 'I'm going to create a world that's fun and interesting, makes sense, and seems to have a reality to it.' And a lot of it came from our literary history, our social history, like robots and whatnot. Part of it's based on mythological motifs, the politics are based on history." 

The 2013 book "Star Wars and History," edited by Nancy R. Reagin and Janice Liedl, talks about the people and events that helped Lucas create the franchise, including Nazi Germany, Ancient Rome, the Vietnam War, and the Knights Templar. Lucas' Jedi adopted several Knight characteristics, such as their devotion, chastity, and morality. The Great Jedi Purge decreed by Chancellor Palpatine in "Revenge of the Sith" mimics France's King Philip IV's order to arrest the Templars on October 13, 1307, and then torture and kill them for committing the crime of heresy, said

Pope Clement V might have disbanded the Templars in 1312, but the Jedi in "Star Wars" still rise.