A set of 13th century deeds granting lands in Yorkshire to the Knights Templar will appear at Dreweatts later this month – the largest archive of its kind to come to auction in 50 years.
The fascinating history of the order has been capturing imaginations for centuries (particularly those of conspiracy nuts) and the extreme rarity of memorabilia is likely to ensure a strong sale.
Legends and conspiracies abound.
But what do we know about the Templars?
For a start, we know that the order was formed to protect pilgrims en route to Jerusalem.
The name derives from their original moniker: The Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (hence Templars for short).
When the order started out in 1120 it was reliant on donations of food, but within 10 years, it grew rich on charitable donations.
Its power continued to grow after the pope granted exemption from law in 1139.
The orders wealth was diversified through various channels (including fort building, manufacturing and farming) leading some to qualify it as the first multinational corporation.
The deeds offered in the sale date to this era at the height of the Templars’ power.
But all good things must come to an end.
In 1244, the Turks recaptured Jerusalem and by early 1300, the order was forced out of the Holy Land for good.
This left the people of Europe in a predicament. An enormously wealthy, powerful and lawless army without a purpose is a dangerous thing.
It was at this point, in around 1307 that the new pope decided enough was enough and ordered the leaders to be rounded up and burned at the stake.
The legends, including that of the Holy Grail, began circulating around this time and gestated over the preceding centuries – although no hard evidence for any of the conspiracies that dog the order have ever been found.