The Cistercian link to the birth of the Knights Templar 1104-1129

The years 1104 till 1129 are key years of the history of the Knights Templar: the years of origin. What happened in that timespan? And what were the links with that other juvenile Order, the Cistercians?

 "We have seen in the overview, that the Order of the Temple was officially born in the Holy Land in 1118 (probably early 1119). However, we note that the official recognition of the Order in 1118 (probably early January 1120 at the Council of Nablus, TN) is only the continuation of a "mission" or "investigation" started nearly 10 years earlier ...

It has been demonstrated and accepted by all historians that Hugues de Payens has made at least two (pilgrimage, TN) trips to the East after the First Crusade, in 1104-1105 and 1114-1115, both times in the party of Count Hugues de Champagne.

It is worth pausing for a moment on the person of the Count of Champagne. He is one of the leading feudal vassals of the French kingdom, about 4 to 5 times richer than the King of France himself! Very influenced by a religious mysticism, his links with Stephen Harding, abbot of Citeaux, who reformed Benedictine thought to form the Cistercian movement, were close. These links are so close that in 1115 Stephen Harding let come to Citeaux Abbey a Cistercian monk from the Abbey of La Chaise-Dieu, a specialist in Hebrew texts. In 1115, after the return from the East of the Count of Champage, right ...

The same year, the same Count of Champagne takes under his direct protection a young monk of Citeaux, Bernard, offering him an estate under his control at Clairvaux. After that Clairvaux Abbey and the thought of the future of St. Bernard of Clairvaux reigns throughout all the Christian world during the twelfth century ...

In 1118, we find among the "new" founders of the Knights Templar a certain André de Montbard. He is no more or less than the uncle of Bernard of Clairvaux. It is worth recalling that the 1129 Council was held at Troyes, the homes of Hughes de Payens and the Count of Champagne, who will join the Templars in 1126 after having abandoned his wife, children, wealth and power. Doing so putting himself under the command of his former vassal Hugues de Payns.

Bernard of Clairvaux who, if it is not established that he effectively directed the Council, did at least influence greatly the drafting of the rule of the Order, by introducing the concept of the soldier-monk in the strict line of his thought urging the nobility to give up private wars, to serve the faith instead.

Let's briefly recap the chronology:

1104-1105: Hugues de Payens and the Count of Champagne travel to the East on pilgrimage

1105-1114: It is unclear if or when Hugues de Payens returns home with the Count of Champagne, but we are sure of his presence in France in 1110, thanks to a charter signed by him that year. In 1109, Stephen Harding is elected Abbot of Citeaux. His links with the Count of Champagne are close.

1114-1115: Both Hughes leave again for the East. Hugues de Payens stays there, that is certain. The Cistercian Abbey at Citeaux begins studying Hebrew texts. 

1115:  Bernard, a Benedictine monk of the Abbaye de Saint-Nicolas-lès-Cîteaux, establishes a newCistercian House at Vallée d'Absinthe, Clairvaux. For this purpose Hughes I, Count of Troyes, donates this valley to the colony of Cistercians, and takes its first abbot Bernard under his protection.

1118: The uncle of Bernard, (André de Montbard,TN) is with Hugues de Payens when the Patriarch of Jerusalem grants them for residence "Solomon's Temple"

 1119-1126: The black hole. We know only that the Templars lived at the Temple Mount, constructed new buildings there, and used the subterraneous cellars called the Stables of Salomon, often interpreted as "excavations". There is no evidence or disproof on new return trips between Jerusalem and Champagne. There are no combat achievements attributed to the Templars during these years.

1126: The powerful Count of Champagne divorces his wife and children, abandoned his wealth and power to join the Templars, under the command of Hugues de Payens, his former vassal.

1127: Return to Champagne of Hugues de Payens and five Knights Templar who subsequently make a promotional journey through France and England

1129, January: Hugues de Payens and his group visit the Council of Troyes that, under the leadership of Stephen Harding and Bernard of Clairvaux, formalizes and grants the Order of the Temple its "Primitive Rule" and sets the scene for total independence of the Order from secular clergy and temporal sovereigns.

Things are clearer now. The origin of the creation of the Knights Templar is pretty much a family affair and everything revolves around the Count of Champagne and of the Cistercian movement. The leading creators and their mentors are from the County of Champagne, their other companions originate form the house of the Princes of Flanders, crusaders and pilgrims of the first hour. 

The ubiquitous presence of Bernard of Clairvaux and Stephen Harding around the founding of the Order illuminates the religious foundation and even origins of the Order.

Are there links between the scouting trips of 1104 and 1114, the start of the study of Hebrew texts in 1115 at Citeaux, the excavations under the Temple of Solomon in 1118? Only sound, scientific research will provide true answers.

This blog quotes edited sections, translated by TN, of the publication in French by Philippe Vincent as well as paragraphs added by TN. Illustration Hugues I de Champagne source

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1 comment:

freddy silva said...

I published this connection in First Templar Nation, for those who are interested. The missing link is their early history in Portugal, where they were given a grant and a castle in 1108, therefore they already existed before their 'official' date.