Charles Buck Theological Dictionary 
TEMPLERS, or Knights Of The Temple a religious order instituted at Jerusalem, in the beginning of the twelfth century, for the defense of the holy sepulchre, and the protection of Christian pilgrims. They were first called The poor of the Holy City, and afterwards assumed the appellation of Templars, because their house was near the temple. The order was founded by Baldwin II. then king of Jerusalem, with the concurrence of the pope: and the principal articles of their rule were, that they should hear the holy office throughout every day; or that, when their military duties should prevent this, they should supply it by a certain number of paternosters; that they should abstain from flesh four days in the week, and on Fridays from eggs and milk meats; that each knight might have three horses and one squire, and that they should neither hunt nor fowl.
After the ruin of Jerusalem, about 1186, they spread themselves through Germany and other countries of Europe, to which they were invited by the liberality of the Christians. In the year 1228 this order acquired stability, by being confirmed in the council or Troyes, and subjected to a rule of discipline drawn up by St. Bernard. In every nation they had a particular governor, called Master of the Temple, or of the militia of the temple. Their grand master had his residence at Paris. The order of Templars flourished for some time, and acquired, by the valour of its knights, immense riches, and an eminent degree of military renown; but, as their prosperity increased, their vices were multiplied, and their arrogance, luxury, and cruelty, rose at last to such a great height, that their privileges were revoked, and their order suppressed with the most terrible circumstances of infamy and severity.
The Nuttall Encyclopedia 
A famous order of knights which flourished during the Middle Ages, and originated in connection with the Crusades. Its founders were Hugues de Payen and Geoffroi de St. Omer, who, along with 17 other French knights, in 1119 formed themselves into a brotherhood, taking vows of chastity and poverty, for the purpose of convoying, in safety from attacks of Saracens and infidels, pilgrims to the Holy Land. King Baldwin II. of Jerusalem granted them a residence in a portion of his palace, built on the site of the Temple of Solomon, and close to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which became the special object of their protection. Hence their assumption of the name "Templars." The order rapidly increased in numbers, and drew members from all classes. "The Templar was the embodiment of the two strongest passions of the Middle Ages—the desire for military renown and for a monk's life." A constitution was drawn up by Bernard of Clairvaux, and later three ranks were recognised—the knights, who alone wore the mantle of white linen and red cross, men-at-arms, and lower retainers, while a grand-master, seneschal, and other officers were created. During the first 150 years of their existence the Templars increased enormously in power; under papal authority they enjoyed many privileges, such as exemption from taxes, tithes, and interdict. After the capture of Jerusalem by the infidels Cyprus became in 1291 their head-quarters, and subsequently France. But their usefulness was at an end, and their arrogance, luxury, and quarrels with the Hospitallers had alienated the sympathies of Christendom. Measures of the cruellest and most barbarous kind were taken for their suppression by Philip the Fair of France, supported by Pope Clement IV. Between 1306 and 1314 hundreds were burned at the stake, the order scattered, and their possessions confiscated.