Benito Cereno: The Untold Truth of the Holy Grail: "After settling into Jerusalem, the Templars protected pilgrims on their way in and out of the city. Over time, the group of knights grew to be a powerful military order for the church. Kings from all around Europe gave the knights land and lordships, so they wound up super rich and bought the island of Cyprus. Though they were valiant fighters known for their bravery, the Templars became just as well known for proto-banking skills. They invented paying by check. That may not sound as exciting as hiding messages in Da Vinci paintings, but it was a pretty big achievement. Pilgrims could give the Templars however much money they'd need in the Holy Land. It would be safer with the group of fearsome knights than a bunch of regular folks walking through the desert. So, the Templars would give the pilgrims a promissory note and make sure all the money would be waiting for them when they got there. They moved enough gold that the Templars became the most powerful bankers in the land. Again, this is probably not the kind of thing that would go in a summer blockbuster, but it's one of the few things we know for sure about the Templars...


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