I was looking for info on an interesting story told by Ripley, and ran into this instead…
The Knights Templar used hawala-style full reserve banking to finance Crusades and pilgrimages.
A pilgrim could leave his cash at Temple Church in London, and withdraw it in Jerusalem. Instead of carrying money, he would carry a letter of credit. The Knights Templar were the Western Union of the crusades.
The Knights disbanded in 1312 after the Turks gained control of Jerusalem, eliminating the pilgrimages. (No Parkinson back then!) Later the bankers in Florence started up the modern fractional reserve system, creating debt without any physical storage of value. Trust was replaced by force.
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The unfound Ripley story, possibly confused or conflated: King Philip I of France was obligated to perform a pilgrimage, but being the King he was able to delegate all duties. He sent his Chamberlain, who completed the year-long pilgrimage on foot while wearing full armor and weaponry. As reward the King gave the Chamberlain and his family ZERO TAXES forever. Thus the Chamberlain was the first Republican. He went through hell to achieve ZERO TAXES, the ONLY THING THAT MATTERS to Republicans.
Later thought: The current King of France is carrying on the Chamberlain’s Republican tradition. He’s destroying the whole country to avoid raising taxes.