The history of the modern age begins with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the martyrdom of His Apostles and followers, and disappearance of the true Church of Christ and the eventual rise of the apostate Catholic Church. To deal with the encroaching Christian religion, Constantine created a hybrid Pagan/Christian religion to end the religious division in the Empire. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Catholic Church struggled to keep power and control. To prevent heresy, the Catholic church held church services in Latin, and discouraged literacy, restricted the arts and sciences, and limited access to reading the Bible. The western world fell into the Dark Ages. The only easy way for a commoner to learn to read and write was to join a monastery where learning, art, and science were strictly controlled. General illiteracy and scriptural ignorance persisted until Dante published "Inferno" in the lingua franca of Italian and Wycliff translated the Latin Vulgate into English.
Beginning with the First Crusades in 1119 , Western Europe desired to re-take Jerusalem and the Holy Land from the Ottoman Turks. The Catholic Church created The Poor Knights of the Temple of King Solomon or Knights Templar to protect religious tourists who desired to visit Israel and see the sights described in the Bible. While in Palestine, the Order of the Knights Templar identified and excavated holy sites, and secured a vast hoard of religious artifacts and relics. The Order became instantly wealthy selling authentic and fraudulent antiquities in Europe. During the Middle Ages, religious tourism was big. Small towns could bring in serious money by building an ostentatious cathedral featuring a quality relic such as St. Paul's toenail. Pilgrims who didn't have the money to visit Israel, could do the next best thing and visit and pray at a cathedral featuring several museum quality or sham relics and antiquities.
The Templars made money in other ways. The Order was a charity. Therefore, as a charity, they received large donations in support of the Crusades and the cause of the Holy Land. The Templars were also a monastic order, so all those who joined the order gave up all their worldly possessions upon becoming a Templar. In addition to protecting pilgrims, Knight's Templar also fought in the front lines of the Crusades. Templar Warriors were never permitted to retreat in battle and thousands of Templars ran suicide charges into the ranks of the Ottoman Turks only to be cut down by the Turk's superior Damascus Steel Sabers (carbon nano-tube steel).
The Order of the Knights Templar became the most powerful, wealthy, and influential order in the Catholic Church. In 1139, Pope Innocent II decreed that the Knights Templar could pass freely through any border, owed no taxes, and were subject to no one's authority except that of the Pope. In France, the order embarked on the ambitious project of establishing a national and European banking system.
Templars had a papal mandate to protect pilgrims during their travels to Jerusalem which expanded to protecting pilgrims in their travels from cathedral to cathedral throughout Europe along famed pilgrim routes. In addition to protecting people, the Knights also were put into service protecting possessions. Eventually, the Knights and Hospitallars developed the first modern banking and monetary system where pilgrims could deposit gold, valuables, and mortgage deeds at a local Templar house. Pilgrims were then given a signed and ciphered document describing the value of their deposited assets which the pilgrim could then redeem at another Templar house along the pilgrim route. Templars claimed all rights to mortgaged property. Therefore, they instituted the forbidden practice of exacting usury by claiming the interest collected was actually rent.
The party didn't last. By 1300, the Order had lost nearly all its lands in the Holy Land to the Muslims. King Philip IV of France, already deeply indebted to the Templars due to an unpopular and protracted war with England, was denied another loan to fund the war. This denial of credit didn't endear the Order to King Philip. Then, the Templars came up with a scheme to de-legitimize Philip IV's claim of divine right. The Templars claimed that while conducting excavations of the temple mount in Jerusalem, they discovered genealogical records which proved that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene. The Order claimed that not only was Jesus Christ married, but that he had offspring by her. The Order claimed that they had identified and located numerous direct descendants of Jesus and Mary and that this holy bloodline was married into the rival Merovingian Dynasty (sangréal = royal blood not holy grail).
In response, King Philip IV requested Pope Boniface VIII to renounce and excommunicate the order. The Pope refused. King Philip then kidnapped the Pope, poisoned the next Pope, Benedict XI, and influenced the college of cardinals to elect his childhood friend Clement V as the next Pope. On Friday, October 13, 1307 (origin of Friday the 13th myth), King Philip rounded up and tortured hundreds of Templars and got them to confess to denying Christ, urinating on the cross, idolatry and homosexuality (obscene kissing). Using these confessions, King Philip IV convinced Clement V to dissolve the Order in 1312. The surviving Templars disbanded, scattered, and fled throughout Europe. Many found refuge in Scotland and Great Britain and others in Italy.