"an association of Knights Templars"

A Christian military order which flourished during the Middle Ages. The Knights Templar were not only one of the most fearsome fighting forces in the Crusades, they were also an incredibly wealthy and powerful trading organization, holding vast tracts of land across Europe and the Middle East. Their unaccountable power, together with the perception that they were becoming increasingly secular and decadent, gave rise to a general loathing and in 1307, Philip IV of France and Pope Clement V ordered their persecution. Interestingly, the charges against them closely mirrored those that would be laid at the feet of the Salem witches centuries later. Their secret initiation ceremonies, which the devil was said to attend in the guise of a black cat, apparently included spitting and stamping on the cross, worshipping satanic idols and roasting children. With large numbers of Templars executed or imprisoned, their order was finally suppressed in 1312.