Aristocratic and monastic primacy in the 12th century County of Champagne, France

In his book The Aristocracy in the County of Champagne, 1100-1300, Theodore Evergates sketches the administrative situation in the County of Champagne, France in the 12th century. Champagne is the birth place of the Cistercian monastic Order, and also played an important part in founding of the Knights Templar. A summary.

The Templar's first task: highway police in peace time

After the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 the Kingdom of the Franks did not endure a perpetual state of emergency, as the chroniclers and many historians wanted us to believe. Rather, the roughly ninety years leading to Saladin’s decisive victory over the Frankish army at Hattin in 1187, which put an end to the first Frankish kingdom, can be divided into a period of frequent military engagement between Franks and Muslims, a period of relative security, and a period of sustained Muslim offensive, which resulted in the creation of the Frankish frontier. 

Evrard des Barres - Templar Grand Master and Cistercian monk

"Evrard des Barres was the third Grand Master of Knights Templar from 1147-1151. After his career at the Temple he retired to Clairvaux near the end of the life of St. Bernard (died 1153). This again is an illustration of the close relationships that existed between the Knights Templar and the Cistercian Order.

Templars in Sweden?

People who read Jan Guillou's books on Arn Magnusson, the imaginary Swedish Knight Templar, often ask if there really have been Knights Templar as far up north as Sweden. It has of course been speculated that the noble man who appears in the relief on Forshems church, and who inspired Guillou, must have been a Knight Templar. Is there reason to believe this?

The Templars and Nostradamus - myth or truth?

In his book  Nostradamus and the Lost Templar Legacy (2003) Rudy Cambier presents the results of his decade long research and analysis of the verses of Nostradamus' 'prophecies'. He argues that the language of those verses does not belong in the 16th Century, nor in Nostradamus' region of Provence, France. An intriguing alternative vision unfolds.

Back to the truth in sound sources

TemplarsNow seeks to collect and present the true story of the Knights Templar in north-western continental Europe. However, history is taken into consideration if it contributes to a better understanding of the original character of the Knights Templar which may still be of importance today. Historical items mainly focus on the early years of the Knights Templar and their partners and direct predecessors at the end of the 11th and the first half of the 12th century.

This work is hampered by much pseudo-information in books and on internet that is at least imaginative and at worst sensational. Such work is often characterized by repetition of earlier published information without presenting any or sufficient primary sources. Obviously, well documented information, based on sound historical research with ample professional references, preferably primary sources, is of the utmost importance for an objective picture of the Knights Templar, their origin and their impact then and, probably, now.

The following set of well annotated sources are sound and valuable introductions to professional literature on the Knights Templar. A useful collection of annotated primary sources is The Templars Selected Sources Translated And Annotated by Malcolm Barber and Keith Bate (2002).

The best introductions to the Templars are
* Malcolm Barber, The New Knighthood: A History of the Order of the Temple (1994, reissued 1996)
* Alan Forey, The Military Orders from the Twelfth to the Early Fourteenth Centuries (New Studies in Medieval History) (1992)
* Helen Nicholson, The Knights Templar: A New History, new ed. (2004).

The fall of the Templars is discussed in Malcolm Barber, The Trial of the Templars, 2nd ed. (2012).

Templar myths are the subject of Peter Partner, The Knights Templar and Their Myth, rev. ed. (1990).

A full collection of books thought of by scolars as sound and reliable can be found on our special "Reliable Books" Page. 
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Cluny Abbey - the islamic link to Christian France

Islamic knowledge contributions to Medieval Europe were numerous, affecting such varied areas as art, architecture, medicine, agriculture, music, language, and technology. From the 11th to 13th centuries, Europe absorbed knowledge from the Islamic civilization. The Benedictin monastery at Cluny played an important part.

Bernard de Clairvaux - 900 years at Citeaux

The ninth centenary of Bernard de Fontaine’s entry into the Abbey of Cîteaux (1112 or 1113?) was celebrated during the Vocations Year 2012-2013. After founding Clairvaux Abbey in 1115 Bernard became better known as Bernard de Clairvaux, the spiritual leader of the Cistercian Order and (after 1127) of the Order of the Knights Templar.

On this occasion Dom Olivier, abbot of present day Cîteaux Abbey, has asked to pass on the following invitation to all the members of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance O.C.S.O.. This request is relayed here in full.
"Our community is going to celebrate the ninth centenary of St Bernard’s entering of Cîteaux (1112 or 1113?). To mark the event, we are setting up a campaign of prayer for vocations, from 20th August 2012 to 20th August 2013. We invite you to join us with this prayer:


Most gracious Father,
in setting up the New Monaster your fathers followed the poor Christ into the desert.
Thus they lived the Gospel
by rediscovering the Rule of Saint Benedict in its purity.

You gave Bernard of Fontaine
the ability to make this new life attractive and appealing to others,
in the joy of the Holy Spirit.

Grant that we today, after their example,
may live our charism deeply
in a spirit of peace, unity, humility,
and above all, in the charity which surpasses all other gifts.
May men and women of our time
be newly called to follow the Gospel in monastic life,
in the service of the Church’s mission,
and in a world forgetful of You.

Remember Lord, Cîteaux,
where Bernard arrived with his companions.
May the brothers there
continue to live in the enthusiastic and generative spirit of the founders.

Remember all who live the Cistercian charism.

Remember all Cistercian communities,
those which are aging and those newly-born,
in all parts of the world, north and south, east and west.

Let them not lose courage in times of trial,
but turn to her whom Bernard called the Star of the Sea.

Holy Father,
from whom we have already received so much,
grant us again your blessing
that our communities may grow in numbers,
but above all in grace and in wisdom,
to your glory,
who are blessed for ever and ever.

sources text and illustration

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Troyes de Champagne - the jewish link

A Hebrew school of great importance, directed by the highest rabbinical authorities and attended by numerous students from various lands, especially Germany and France, flourished at Troyes in the twelfth century. Several synods whose ordinances were adopted in foreign countries assembled at Troyes about 1160. A blog on Jewish roots and Christian sequel.

Templar and Cistercian family ties

Through kindred the Order of the Temple maintained close ties with leaders of society. These relationships were mutually beneficial. What was the situation in the the duchy of Burgundy, the county of Champagne, and the area that is now commonly referred to as Languedoc in southern France?

The Cistercian key: birth of the Knights Templar 1118 - 1127

The years 1114 till 1129 are key years of history of the Knights Templar: the years. What happened in that timespan? The source of this blog provides historical context as well as creative thinking and myth building. What do you think?

The Templar workforce

"Whenever Templars appear in books or films, it is always the knights of the Order in their flowing white surcoats, hacking their way through the dust of battle. But to function properly, the Order needed more than squadrons of combat-hardened knights. It required armies of other men to undertake the hundreds of skilled tasks necessary to keep everything running. The Templar workforce.

Women and the Knights Templar

The "Primitive Templar Rule" of the Templars, originating from the Troyes council of January 1129,  is quite clear on the disadvantages of contact with women. And still, women were involved in the Order. Some examples of Rules and practise.

Ordines Militares - Yearbook for the Study of the Military Orders

The journal Ordines Militares Colloquia Torunensia Historica follows a fifteen-volume book series containing papers from international conferences devoted to the history of military orders “Ordines militares. Colloquia Torunensia Historica”, which have been organized in Toruń every two years since 1981. Thanks to the research done by Professor Karol Górski and his students, the Institute of History of Nicolaus Copernicus University (created in 1945) became the most important Polish centre for research on the history of the Teutonic Order and the Teutonic State in Prussia.

The idea to create an international forum of researchers of military orders in Toruń resulted from the cooperation between Polish and German historians established during conferences organized since 1974 under the auspices of UNESCO, and devoted to the role of the Teutonic Order in history textbooks.

The founder of Toruń’s meetings of researchers of military orders and the editor of the first eleven volumes from the series “Ordines militares” was Zenon Hubert Nowak from the Institute of History and Archival Science of Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. After his death in 1999 Roman Czaja from NCU and Jürgen Sarnowsky from the University of Hamburg took over the organization of conferences and the edition of the series.

The subject of the first volumes from the series “Ordines militares. Colloquia Torunensia Historica” centred around the history of the Teutonic Order; however in the beginning of the 1990s the thematic scope started to include the history of the Hospitallers, the Knights Templar and orders set up in the Iberian Peninsula.

Both the thematic scope of the conference and the growing number of participants have contributed to the fact that the conferences from the series “Ordines militares” have become one of the most important forums for meetings of researchers of military orders from all over the world. The meetings of young researchers dealing with the history of military orders constitute an important element of Toruń’s conferences organized since 2003.

The growing academic prestige of the series “Ordines Militares. Colloquia Torunensia Historica” led to its being transformed into a yearbook devoted to the history of military orders. In keeping with tradition, each volume includes a definite thematic scope, which refers to the subject of a conference from the “Ordines militares” series. Moreover, articles, polemics, research surveys, source monographs and reviews concerning the history of military orders are published there in English, German and French.

source text and illustration 
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Arn Magnusson - the imaginary Swedish Knight Templar

Arn Magnusson is the main character in the Crusades trilogy written in Swedish by author and journalist Jan Guillou. This fictional Swedish character from the Middle Ages is forced to become a Knight Templar. The series is an account of the life of Arn Magnusson, who becomes a witness as well as a catalyst to many important historical events, both in his homeland of Sweden and in the crusades against the Middle East.

The trilogy, dubbed the Crusades trilogy, consists of the following books:
book 1
book 2
book 3
DVD Blu-Ray


Guillou also wrote a follow-up novel about Birger Jarl, founder of Stockholm, entitled The Heritage of Arn (in Swedish Arven efter Arn) published in 2001. In Guillou's fictional universe, Birger Jarl is the grandson of Arn Magnusson.

The books were reworked to a film released in December 2007: Arn – The Knight Templar (In Swedish: Arn - Tempelriddaren, and its sequel Arn – The Kingdom at Road's End (in Swedish: Arn – Riket vid vägens slut), released August 22, 2008.

While the films are mostly in Swedish and most of the production was made in Sweden, the film is a joint production between the four Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland and Germany. With a total budget of around 210 million Sweidsh Krona (ca. 30 Million US$ for both films, it is the most expensive production in Swedish cinema.

Based on the detailed stories by Guillou, the question may be put forward: did the Knights Templar really live in Sweden? This question will be dealt with in another blog.

It's worth mentioning that there is a decent mini film series based on these books: link.

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A Templar history in graphics

July 2013, a new 480-page graphic novel about the Knights Templar was published by Jordan Mechner. It is called Templar. A review is presented here.

The storyline: Martin is one of a handful of Templar Knights to escape when the king of France and the pope conspire to destroy the noble order. The king aims to frame the Templars for heresy, execute all of them, and make off with their legendary treasure. That's the plan, anyway, but Martin and several other surviving knights mount a counter-campaign to regain the lost treasure of the Knights Templar.

With gorgeous illustrations by LeUyen Pham and Alexander Puvilland and lush coloring from Hilary Sycamore, this 480-page, full-color, hardcover graphic novel by Jordan Mechner is itself a treasure.

On presents a 28-page preview, of which one sample page is presented here.

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Modern Knights Templar in Belgium

Media project made for Knights Templar Priory of Belgium. Designed to provide our Order with a first-contact video brochure for introducing OSMTH to prospective new members.

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The Council of Vienne: royal blackmail for Templar condamnation

"The Council of Vienne (1311-12), the fifteenth Ecumenical Council, is a good example of the Church wrestling with the problem of secular interference and political pressure. King Philip IV of France was in urgent need of cash to continue his war with England and so in 1307 accused the Knights Templar of heresy. Powerplay at work.

The "Association Historique du Temple de Paris"

40 Rue des Blancs Manteaux
75004 Paris
Tél . +33 1 30 70 00 52

In Paris, France an association exists called L'Association Historique du Temple de Paris. This is an independent association under French law that does not receive any subsidies. The objective of the association is:

  • to establish in a general way the historical and heritage of the Temple district in Paris District (3rd Arrondissement) through the history of the Temple and of the life of the Knights Templar
  • Combining efforts to disseminate publications by supporting writers in a joint action towards booksellers, local groups and the general public
  • Organizing events such as exhibitions, lectures, tours, interventions in educational institutions, entertainment etc
  • Establishing a strategy on communication, information and promotion,in partnership with local communities.
  • Contributing to the cultural,historical and tourist development of the area of the Temple.
The work of the Association is undertaken in a totally selfless spirit and for the cultural enrichment of all.

The website of the Association, which appears a bit outdated and undermanaged at the moment (May 2021), holds interesting information on events of all sorts, results of research undertaken at the Temple district as well as research carried out in the subterranean caves below the old town. The most important remains of Paris are to be found below ground, in the cellars of the houses that add up to many thousands. The research project is carried out by Danny Sandron, Director of the Centre André Chastel, in partnership with the Paris Department of History of Architecture and Archaeology, The Heritage Service and Inventory of the Regional Council of Ile de France and the Center of Parisian topography. 

Both illustrations source 

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The first Order of Jerusalem: the Hospitaller Order of St John

Around 1050 the Amalfi merchant family De Pantaleon opened a hospital under the protection of St. John the Baptist in Jerusalem, close to the Holy Sepulchre. That is almost half a century before the first Crusade. An even earlier origin has been proposed. After the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099, this hospital developed further and the organisation was ultimately recognized as an independent Order by the Pope. 

Beauchassin Templar House, Allier, France

The Allier Department does not house very many present day Templar sites, as can be seen on this map.  However, one of the best preserved Templar houses, as yet usually overlooked, stands near the village of Saint Hilaire. TemplarsNow visited this Templar House, which is a private agricultural property and not to be visited, in the Summer of 2012 and was allowed to take some photograhs.

aerial view of the Temple House at Beauchassin, Allier France. source
view from the northwest (photo TemplarsNow 2012)
driveway seen from the west (photo TemplarsNow 2012)

The "Maison du Temple" of Beauchassin is located at the village of Saint-Hilaire, Département Allier, Arrondissement: Moulins, Canton: Bourbon-l'Archambault, municipality of Saint-Hilaire. Beauchassin is located close to and to the east of the "bourgh" of Saint Hilaire.

The name of the Templar settlement changed as follows: Bois-Chassain, Bost-Chassin or Bourg-Chassain and today Beauchassin. The site still shows traces of the Knights Templar, for instance in the stone tablet in the wall of the House (aerial photo above nr 1).
This tablet earlier was described to show a cross pattée, a type of cross which has arms narrow at the centre, and broader at the perimeter. This cross appears very early in medieval art, and became one of the characteristic signs of the Knights Templar. It is known, however, that  in their early days Knights Templar wore a simple cross, as did all early crusaders. The present day cross at Beauchassin is not clearly a cross pattée as can be seen on the recent photographs below.

cross pattée (?) above the main door of the house in the
southeast facade of the House  (photos TemplarsNow 2012)
cross pattée (?) in detail
Apart from the house the Templar possession included a chapel, agricultural buildings, fields, pastures and forests. The chapel was dedicated to Saint Blaise and Saint John. The chapel measured 15 x 6,5 meters. It was not vaulted as indicated in the drawing below.

Some traces of the chapel still exist in the form of an ornamented doorway, shown on the pictures below. This doorway, set in the northwest facade of the building indicated nr 2 on the aerial photo above, nowadays leads into a agricultural building with a tin roof.

decorated doorway in northwest facade former chapel
detail doorway (both pictures TemplarsNow 2012)
Probably southeast facade view of chapel with doorway
similar to the one shown above but in the opposite wall.
The House can be seen to the left, with the door over
which is the croix pattée also shown above. To the  right
detail drawing of probably same doorway. Dates unknown.
According to the present occupant some years ago a fire destroyed much of the building that once was the Chapel. This building was rebuilt in a simple way with only agricultural use foreseen.

So there is not very much left of the former Templar origin of the site, although this origin is still documented by some striking details. Probably the Knights Hospitaller did take this house when the Temple Order was abolished in the early 14th century. However, only about 1 km to the westnorthwest, on the nearby D1 road, another (former) Hospitaller House is located, now aptly called La Croix Rouge (The Red Cross).

The color photographs were made and copy-righted by TemplarsNow. They may be re-used for non-commercial purposes, but only with full reference to this site and TemplarsNow. The above text is mainly a French-English translation by TemplarsNow of the text in The drawings are from, which mentions as source thereof the municipal archives of Saint-Hilaire. 

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