We had to know more about this Order of the Knights Templar and why they were involved with celestial navigation. We proceeded to learn a lot, which would finally explain the very importance of the Knights Templar in the exploration of our new world.
This may seem like small time stuff until we take into account the status at that time of the Catholic Church, which had grown in power over the years and was building massive cathedrals and churches in most countries in Europe. These churches, which still stand today show the total preoccupation with Christianity. The artists at that time were limited to painting only saints and commissioned works. The musicians composed only music for the Church and for the glory of God. In this totally religious atmosphere, a visit to Jerusalem in the Holy Land was an honor for men of means. And participation in a crusade was a right of manhood.
The Knights Templar flourished in this environment. They grew in number and showed their devotion and military skill by leading many of the Crusaders' charges into battle. Pope Innocent II was so pleased with the Knights Templar that he issued a papal bull in 1139 stating that they owed no taxes and they could pass freely through any border. Only an all powerful pope could grant such license.
A non-military support group of the Templars also grew up and became famous for safeguarding the money of the individual crusaders. To afford the necessary armor and trip to Jerusalem the Crusaders had to be individually well off. They would leave their money with the Templars when they left to battle the Muslims. The Templars were enriched with the money of those Crusaders who didn't come back. This was not small stuff at all. The Templar organization became wealthy, and since their members were vowed to poverty, the Templars' wealth grew. The Templars originated many of the present-day banking concepts of safeguarding money, and lending it out with interest.
Prince Henry offered these new Knights of Christ the chance to participate in his grand concept of exploring. They totally bought in to Prince Henry's objective of searching a new trade route around Africa. It was also an opportunity for them to break the Moorish monopoly on the African and Asian trade routes in the Eastern Mediterranean and to once again best their ancient enemy, the Muslims.
The same Order of Knights Templar that spearheaded the crusades was now spearheading what turned out to be the grand exploration of the world, a new worthy cause for the celebrated Order. Out of gratitude and respect they appointed Prince Henry as the leader of the new Knights of Christ, a post he held for 20 years until his death.
The Portuguese also claim Christopher Columbus as one of their own since he lived in Portugal and became inspired for his own sailing expedition later financed by Queen Isabella of Spain. Columbus lived in the little town called Cuba, Portugal, which Leticia and I visited. It is named after the Cuve, a large container used in winemaking. Columbus later gave this town's name to the island of Cuba.
The exploration of the world was the last great feat of the Knights Templar organization before it turned into the mostly charitable organization that it is today. With its sister Order of the Masons it is now dedicated to charitable causes such as children's' hospitals, medical assistance, education, and housing for the needy.