"It is well enough that the people of this nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning." -Henry Ford
Denarius of Marus Aurelelius
Around 300 BC, the Roman Republic establishes the first global currency in the form of metal coins stamped with the image of notable Roman faces. Gold and silver are minted in Rome, while bronze and copper are minted around the empire. The system works remarkably well for nearly eight centuries. But after Rome gradually drains all silver out of its "silver" coin, inflation sets in and its western empire collapses, opening the door for a new global banking authority.
Jacques de Molay, by Chevauchet, lithograph.
Founded in 1119, The Knights Templar is a religious order granted a Papal exemption from usury. This highly secretive order begins operations by generating "letters of credit" for pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. The letters evolve into a check-writing system and the Templars grow into a force of 20,000. They maintain their own army, navy, forts, merchant marine, and intelligence network, and build Europe's greatest cathedrals (many of which contain magic mushroom iconography). For two centuries the Templars effectively become the world's central bank as they hold large repositories of gold and are the bank of choice for European royalty looking to initiate wars of conquest. After falling deeply in debt to the Templars, the King of France outlaws the order and attempts to seize its assets on Friday, October 13th, 1307. The French grandmasters are tortured and executed, but much of the gold simply vanishes and no one knows why so many ships later embarking for the New World a century later bear giant Templar crosses on their sails.