The warrior monks who invented banking

Follow The Money


On London’s busy Fleet Street, opposite Chancery Lane, is a stone arch through which anyone may step, and travel back in time.

A quiet courtyard houses a strange, circular chapel and a statue of two knights sharing a single horse.

The chapel is Temple Church, consecrated in 1185 as the London home of the Knights Templar.

But Temple Church is not just an important architectural, historical and religious site. It is also London’s first bank.

The Knights Templar were warrior monks. A religious order, with a theologically inspired hierarchy, mission statement, and code of ethics, but also heavily armed and dedicated to holy war.

How did they get into the banking game?

The Templars dedicated themselves to the defence of Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem. The city had been captured by the first crusade in 1099 and pilgrims began to stream in, travelling thousands of miles across Europe.

Those pilgrims…

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