The First Bankers
The Templar ability to accumulate vast amounts of wealth, coupled with the obligation of poverty for individual members, proved to be of pivotal significance to their future success. By using their received donations for investment, the Templars accumulated even greater wealth and became, in a sense, the first multi-national bankers.
The Templar ethos of being skilled and trustworthy was of vital significance to their future success. The concept of banking at the time was primitive by contrast, yet they provided a useful service to both monarchs and ordinary people alike. At their height, they lent money to every major monarch in Europe, and, controversially, even some Moslem rulers. The Kings of France, in particular, preyed on Templar wealth, eventually bringing the order to the verge of bankruptcy.
In addition to loans to kings, their broad base of preceptories throughout Europe allowed them to arrange transfers of money for those who had deposited funds with them, effectively inventing the concept of the cheque. The creation was invaluable, as pilgrims previously had little choice but to carry money and possessions through dangerous locations without protection. Though forbidden from charging interest rates, the order sidestepped the problem by charging deposit fees, providing a further source of income. The evolution of banking extended to the creation of deposit boxes.