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The famous Red Cross on their mantle was added later when Pope Eugenius III (1145-53) allowed them to wear it as a symbol of Christian martyrdom.

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After 1129, the Order grew exponentially with many thousands of knights and it then became increasingly powerful.

At the Council of Troyes in Champagne, the status of the Templar Order underwent a dramatic change.

Originally they were known as the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, or, more simply, as the Knights Templar.

In a famous letter written in the 1130s, In Praise of the New Knighthood, St Bernard of Clairvaux elevated the Templar Order above all other Orders of the day, establishing the image of the Templars as a fierce spiritual militia for Christ.

He regarded them as a "new species of knighthood, previously unknown in the secular world..." To him, they were a unique combination of knight and monk; to later historians, they were the first military order, soon imitated by the Knights Hospitaller, by several Spanish orders and, by the end of the 12th century, by the Teutonic Knights.

As a holy militia fighting for Christ, the Templars were willing to put aside the usual temptations of ordinary secular life for an arduous, dedicated life of service.

As these privileges indicate, during the 1130s, the fledging Order had attracted increasing numbers of major donors, for it proved to be especially popular with that sector of the French aristocracy which held castles and estates and could mobilize vassals, albeit on a modest scale.

In fact, the scale of this sudden, unprecented rise was extraordinary, something hardly seen before or since.

At the Council of Troyes, the Templars were given a proper Rule, written in Latin, which ran to 72 clauses.

The impetus given by papal approval and the extraordinary publicity generated by the visits of the leaders to France, England and Scotland in the months before the council ensured that the "New Knighthood" would long outlive its founders.

The rulers of Aragon and Portugal, confronted directly with the problems of warfare on a volatile frontier, realized their military value more quickly than most others.

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