Secrets of the Knights Templar

As an American, I’ve had only limited exposure to the Knights Templar. To me they were a mysterious religious order that would show up in occasional old TV episodes of Superman, or that guy who patiently waited hundreds of years in a cave guarding the Holy Grail until Indiana Jones could come along and get it.

Yet clearly there was much more to them, a rich history waiting to be discovered. Which is one reason I was so eager to accept my friend’s invitation today to visit the Museum of the Knights Templar here in London.

I certainly learned a lot, about their shifting relationship with the various Monarchs of England, the waxing and waning of their political power throughout the centuries, their great role in both war and medicine throughout British history. But I also learned some small details that rather surprised me.

For example, in their role as providers of medicants, the Knights Templar tended to gather together some unusual ingredients. Here, for example, is a detail of a case of potions and elixars that I photographed during my visit:

Note, in particular, the container on the top left, labeled “Sang Dracon“. This translates into modern English as “Dragon’s Blood”.

Yes, that’s right — dragon’s blood. The Knights Templar had dragon’s blood.

Which means they had dragons. How cool is that?

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