The Levantine Rite of the Templar Order, or simply the Knights Templar, was the branch of the Templar Order which operated throughout the Levant. Founded during the period of the Crusades, the Levantine Rite was synonymous with the very arm of the Templar Order that reformed into a public organization in the guise of a Christian military order. As such, it was also the flagship branch of the global organization.
During the Third Crusade, they were one of the principal forces of the Crusaders, fighting alongside the Knights Hospitalier, Knights Teutonic, England, and France against the Saracens of the Ayyubid Sultanate Egypt and Syria. Because of its true nature, unlike the other Crusader orders, the Templars consisted of agents who infiltrated the various factions of the regional conflict, including the Saracens themselves. Even the Grand Masters of the Hospitalier and the Teutonic Knights ranked among the nine secret leaders of the Templars.
In 1189, the first year of the Third Crusade, the Levantine Rite suffered a critical setback with the demise of their Grand Master Gerard de Ridefort at the Siege of Acre. Frustration at the prolonged double siege would prompt a plot by the Templars to poison the water supply of the city to kill all of its inhabitants. Though this operation was foiled by the Assassin Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, the Crusaders ultimately managed to capture the city in the last year of the war.
Until the election of their new leader, Basilisk took the reins, and under his direction, the rite was obsessed with the acquisition of the Chalice, an artifact rumored to bestow the power to unify the factions of the war. Their subsequent capture of the relic, actually a woman named Adha and lover of Altaïr, resulted in Basilisk's death at the Master Assassin's blade. Though they escaped with Adha, she proved to be less than what they had expected, and they had her executed, an act that would further lead to the deaths of all Templars involved by her vengeful lover.
Upon Robert de Sablé's accession in 1191, the rite directed their next objective to the retrieval of the Apple of Eden from the ruins of Soloman's Temple, hoping that with its power, they could inaugurate their dream of a New World Order at last. To this end, they conspired with Al Mualim, the leader of their mortal enemies, the Levantine Brotherhood of Assassins, but they lost the Piece of Eden to the traitorous Mentor who then immediately turned his backs on his new Templar allies as well. All nine leaders of the Levantine Rite fell in rapid succession to Altaïr as directed by Al Mualim. Despite Robert's attempt to adapt by exploiting the deaths to unify the Crusaders and Saracens against the Assassins, this last-ditch effort unraveled when he himself was slain by Altaïr in personal combat at the Battle of Arsuf, after which the Assassin dealt with the final conspirator, Al Mualim.
Retreating from their precipitous defeat in the Third Crusade, the Templars sought to recuperate at their new base of Cyprus, which they purchased from King Richard I of England. Their misrule there immediately provoked an insurgency, which, coupled with the arrival of Altaïr, led to another critical defeat as they were driven from the island.
Centuries later, the Levantine Rite would reestablish their presence in Jerusalem and Damascus, only to be expelled once again by the Assassins, this time at the hands of the Ottoman Brotherhood of Assassins.
- "Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed Nomini Tuo da Gloriam"
"(Not to us God, not to us, but to Your Name Give Glory)"
- ―The motto of the monastic Templar Order[src]
Crucifixion of Jesus
During the 1st century, the Templars discovered that one of the Pieces of Eden, the Shroud, was in the hands of Jesus Christ, who used it to perform restorative miracles. Wanting the Piece for their own purposes, the Templars crucified Jesus in order to gain it. However, Jesus' disciples were able to recover the Shroud and attempted to harness its powers to resurrect him.
Formation as a Knightly Order
When Christian European lords tried to retake the Holy Land from its Muslim rulers during the Crusades, Bernard de Clairvaux decided the Templars needed the Church as an ally. In 1119, He sent nine of his trusted men, including Grand Master Hugues de Payens, to the Holy Land, searching for Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem. After arriving in Jerusalem, de Payens proposed to Baldwin II of Jerusalem that the Order be founded to protect pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. Baldwin approved this, and ceded the Al-Aqsa Mosque to the Templars as a headquarters.
Upon returning nine years later, de Payens, together with Bernard, created the Latin Rule, and reorganized the Templars into a public order of knights, whose apparent sole purpose was to protect pilgrims to the Holy Land. In the 1129 Council of Troyes, the order was officially recognized by the church.
Just a few decades previously, their mortal adversaries, the Assassins had also reconstituted as a public organization and as they were primarily based in the Levant at the time, the two factions often clashed.
Quest for the Chalice
In 1190, the Templars led by Lord Basilisk were searching for a mysterious artifact known as the Chalice rumored to possess the power to unite the factions of the war and to be hidden in the Temple of Sand. To that end, they furiously pursued the three keys thought to be needed to enter the temple, as well as the map to its location. The Assassin Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad thwarted their attempts at every turn, retrieving the keys and the map for his own use, but ultimately, they managed to launch an expedition to the Temple and break into its premises anyways even without these items.
The Temple turned out empty, and they discovered that the Chalice was in fact a woman by the name of Adha, who they would soon after hold hostage in Jerusalem. In the meantime, they bribed Harash, the second most senior member of the Assassins, to serve as their spy. Though Altaïr's successfully rescued Adha, the Templars recaptured her in Tyre while the Assassin was dealing with Harash in Alep.
Before they set sail with Adha, Altaïr confronted their forces at the Tyre harbor. The lone Assassin managed to fight his way through the army, killing even Basilisk himself in single combat, but the Templars escaped with Adha nonetheless. For many days and nights, the Templars hurried to their destination, all while the Assassin pursued them across the Mediterranean Sea close behind. By the time he caught up, they had executed Adha, an outrage that would result in the death of every Templar responsible for her capture at the hands of the vengeful Assassin.
In 1189, the Templars became involved in the Third Crusade, fighting on the side of fellow Crusaders such as the Knights Hospitalier and Teutonic Knights. Under the leadership of Grand Master Gerard de Ridefort, a great force of them were involved in the Siege of Acre. Ridefort was personally executed by Saladin, Sultan of Egypt and Syria, when the Saracen army arrived in an attempt to lift the siege. His death would result in a year without an official Grand Master, with de facto leadership undertaken by Basilisk. After many months, the Templars became agitated by the stalemate and devised a scheme to poison every water source in the city in the hopes that it would kill off its entire population by the next morning, allowing them to seize Acre without a fight. The plot failed to come to fruition when Altaïr stopped the operation by infiltrating the Templar camp and assassinating its commander. In spite of this setback, the Crusaders still managed to capture Acre after two years of siege, leading to a temporary truce between the Crusaders and Saracens.
By 1191, the Templars had appointed Robert de Sablé as Ridefort's official successor. De Sablé began covertly recruiting men on both sides of the war. Among these were Garnier de Naplouse, William of Montferrat and Sibrand of the Crusaders, and Tamir, Talal, Abu'l Nuqoud, Majd Addin and Jubair al Hakim of the Saracens. Each of these men cooperated to obtain the Apple of Eden hidden with in the Ark of the Covenant at the Jerusalem Vault in Solomon's Temple, as well as to conspire to bring about their vision of a New World Order. While Tamir produced weapons for the Templars and Abu'l Nuqoud provided funds, Talal provided slaves for Garnier to experiment with in the hopes of developing drugs that could render people subservient to their will. Meanwhile, Jubair purged Damascus of books he found in conflict with Templar ideology, and Sibrand prepared his fleet for a blockade that would deter Europe from sending reinforcements once the Levant was under Templar control. William and Majd Addin served as regents for Acre and Damascus respectively, and the former's execution of three thousand Saracen prisoners-of-war would reignite the war with Saladin. Unknown to the Assassins, however, was that their leader Al Mualim had joined with the Templar cause, though only as a means to obtain the Apple for himself.
When Robert de Sablé and a few of his men went to retrieve it from the temple, though, their progress was delayed by a small group of Assassins consisting of Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad and the brothers Malik and Kadar Al-Sayf, who were sent by Al Mualim to retrieve the treasure. Though they routed Altaïr and killed Kadar, Malik managed to bring the artifact into Assassin possession even after losing one arm. This event prompted Robert to lead his men to an attack on the Assassins' fortress of Masyaf, but as soon as they arrived at the fortress gates, they were routed by a wave of falling tree logs.
To ensure that he alone could wield the power of the Apple of Eden, Al Mualim sent Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad on a quest to eliminate the Templars he had allied with, under the pretense of offering him a chance to redeem himself of his disgrace at Solomon's Temple. One by one, the nine Templar leaders spread throughout the cities of Damascus, Acre and Jerusalem fell to Altaïr's blade, until he was assigned to kill Robert de Sablé himself. De Sablé had foreseen this, and assigned Maria Thorpe to impersonate him at Majd Addin's funeral, while he himself rode for Arsuf, where Saladin's army intercepted the Crusaders on their way to Jaffa. There, he hoped to capitalize on the deaths of leaders on both sides of the war at the hands of Altaïr to unite the Crusaders and Saracens against the Assassins, a plot that would necessitate murdering King Richard I of England. The Assassin fell for the decoy, but survived the trap and located Robert's true location. Before de Sablé could carry out his plan, Altaïr openly confronted him and accused him of treachery before King Richard, sparking a "trial by combat" where de Sablé was slain by the Assassin. Before dying, he revealed to Altaïr that the last conspirator was his own master, prompting the Assassin to hurry back to Masyaf to verify this claim. After Altaïr killed Al Mualim, he withheld the Apple of Eden, keeping it for the rest of his long life as he studied its mysteries.
Relocating to Cyprus
Control of the Order fell to de Sable's successor, Armand Bouchart. Not too soon afterwards, Bouchart bought the island of Cyprus from King Richard I, which was formerly ruled by the secret Templar Isaac Comnenus. Planning to retrieve all the artifacts that were hidden in Templar Archive underneath Limassol, the Templars set sail from Acre to Cyprus in the fall of 1191.
The Templars quickly expanded their reach, starting with building strongholds in Limassol but rapidly taking control of Kyrenia as well. As the Templars used brute force to stay in control, the people formed a Resistance force that aimed to route the Templars from Cyprus. Additionally, the Templars were followed by Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, who had taken Maria Thorpe as a captive. Due to Altaïr's efforts, all of Bouchart's generals in Limassol and Kyrenia were assassinated, and the Templars began to lose grip of Cyprus.
Despite the loss of many men, the Templars were successful in their objective, because while Altaïr was busy with removing Templar control in Kyrenia, the Templars had shipped out all of the artifacts in the Templar Archive underneath Limassol. After all the artifacts were shipped out, Bouchart found himself confronted by Altaïr in the Archive. The two faced off in a duel, but Bouchart too fell to Altaïr's blade.
- Hugues de Payens (Grand Master; 1118 – 1136)
- Bernard de Clairvaux
- Gerard de Ridefort (Grand Master; 1185 – 1189)
- Basilisk (De facto leader, 1189)
- Basilisk's champion
- Master of the Tower
- Master of the Tower's student
- Roland Napule
- Robert de Sablé (Grand Master; 1190 – 1191)
- Maria Thorpe (until 1191)
- Jubair al Hakim
- Majd Addin
- William of Montferrat
- Abu'l Nuqoud
- Garnier de Naplouse
- Armand Bouchart (Grand Master; 1191 – 1193)
- Armand Bouchart's agent
- Isaac Comnenus
Allies and puppets
- Al Mualim (Levantine branch)
- Abbas Sofian (Levantine branch)
- Conrad of Montferrat
- Guy of Lusignan
- Philip II of France
- Richard I of England
- Salāḥ ad-Dīn
- Dark Oracle
- Pirate Captain
- In Assassin's Creed, 60 Templar knights hide across the game in Damascus, Acre, Jerusalem, and the Kingdom and essentially function as interactive collectibles to be killed. These Templars are distinguished by a great helm, same as those worn by other Crusader commanders. Other Templars, even commanders, encountered throughout the game in story memories, do not count towards this collectible because they are not the specific sixty Templar agents in hiding.
- The sixty Templar knights are the most formidable enemy units of Assassin's Creed.
- Templars, not counting the sixty agents, are rarer in Acre than other Crusader orders and generally are not often encountered outside of story-specific events.
- Assassin's Creed (first appearance)
- Assassin's Creed: Altaïr's Chronicles
- Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines
- Assassin's Creed: The Secret Crusade
- Assassin's Creed: Revelations – Mediterranean Defense
- Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (Appears in video)
- Assassin's Creed: Rogue (Appears in painting)