The Order of Montesa
In Spain and Portugal, the Templars never really went away. The Pope gave permission for the Kings of Spain and Portugal to rename the Templars. In Spain, the Templars were renamed the “Order of Montesa” and while they were renamed the “Order of Christ” in Portugal (see more on the “Order of Christ”: http://www.theknightstemplar.org/portugal/) (1). The Order of Montesa exists to this very day and is awarded by the Spanish Government.
The Order Montesa was established in the Kingdom of Aragon to take the place of the Knights Templar, of which it was in a certain sense the continuation. It derived its title from St. George of Montesa, its principal stronghold. The Templars were received with enthusiasm in Aragon from their very foundation (1128). Berenger III, Count of Barcelona, wished to die in the habit of a Templar (1130). King Alfonso I, “The Fighter”, having no direct heir, bequeathed his dominions to be divided among the Templars, the Hospitallers, and the Canons of the Holy Sepulchre, but naturally this bequest was annulled by his subjects (1131).
The Templars had to be contented with certain castles, the chief of which was Monzon. Although the Aragonese branch of the order was pronounced innocent at the famous trial of the Templars, Clement V’s Bull of suppression was applied to them in spite of the protests of King James II (1312). By way of compensation, however, this monarch obtained from Pope John XXII authority to dispose of the possessions of the Templars in his Kingdom of Valencia in favour of a military order not essentially differing from that of the Templars, which should be charged with the defence of his frontier against the Moors and the pirates.
It was affiliated to the Order of Calatrava, from which its first recruits were drawn, and it was maintained in dependence upon that order. The first of the fourteen grand masters, who ruled the Order of Montesa until the office was united with the Crown by Philip II in 1587, was Guillermo d’Eril.