When Nicolas Cage took on the leading role of Benjamin Franklin Gates in the first installment of National Treasure, he showed us how awesome it would be to become a treasure hunter. He also showed us how awesome American history can be once you get below the textbook definitions of it.
The story follows Cage's character, Ben Gates, as he attempts to steal the Declaration of Independence so that the bad guys don't get it first. The movie runs on the premise that there is a secret treasure map on the back of the document, and that it will lead whoever has it to a secret Templar treasure hidden somewhere in the United States.
The movie has raised a number of questions surrounding the historical accuracy of the "facts" portrayed throughout the story, and it's time that a few of them were answered for fans across the country.
1. Were the Knights Templar real people?
Yes, the Knights Templar were very much real people. During the middle-ages, the group amassed a huge amount of wealth and power, which is ultimately what led to their eventual downfall at the hands of the Catholic Church.
2. Are the Freemasons real people as well?
The Freemasons are very much real. In fact, they are one of the longest running "secret" societies left in the world. They have moved into the public light in recent decades, and if you want to join you should reach out to the local lodge to see what you need to do.
3. Did the Freemasons evolve out of the Knights Templar?
There are rumors that the Masons were a product of the destruction of the Templars, but there is no proof to back that up. Most historians agree that the Masons were a separate group that formed on their own.
4. Is there really a Templar treasure hidden somewhere?
Obviously, one has never been found, but based on the amount of power the Templar Knights had, it is safe to assume they were sitting on a load of valuables. Legend says the treasure was smuggled out of Europe and transported across the Atlantic to be hidden on an island off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. Allegedly, the treasure was then moved again to somewhere in the continental United States. All we can say at this point is that it's a legend with some possibility of being fact.