Templar and Hospitaller cooperation in the 12th century Orient.

Contradictory views merit examination of the cooperation between the Templar and Hospitaller military orders buring the Crusades. The rules laid down by the Orders contain much information on their mode of coexistence in the East. 

The Templar navy - the early phase

During the twelfth century the Frankish navy seems never to have passed an embryonic stage, which compelled the kings of Jerusalem to constantly search for external alliances. There was no direct reason for the Templars to invest in maritime activities in the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe directly after the First Crusade. Their first objective was pacification of the roads of the kingdom of Jerusalem. 

Development of the novelty of the right of clerical self-defense 1120-1176

Sometime between 14 January and 13 September 1120 (...) at the hands of Patriarch Warmund, Hugh of Payns, Godfrey of Saint-Omer, and certain other French knights pledged to live “more canonicorum regularium” (as regular canons, not monks, as is so commonly thought) and accordingly took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. In return, Warmund and his fellow bishops enjoined upon these consecrated knights, for the remission of their sins, the principal task of keeping roads and highways safe for pilgrims against thieves and highwaymen. (...) These new armed, consecrated knights, soon to be known as ‘Templars’, were revolutionary indeed and required nearly another twenty years before they were approved completely by Rome.

Nablus 1120: the medieval ban of clergy bearing arms lifted

"It is revealing that in recovering this canon (on the prohibition of clergy bearing arms; TN) from earlier legislation, Gregory IX and Raymond of Peñafort went all the way back to the council of Poitiers in 1078, convened during the pontificate of Gregory VII (...) In sum, then, between 1049 and 1095, no fewer than thirteen councils and synods had damned clerical armsbearing. At nine of these thirteen assemblies, three different popes and six papal legates presided. The reforming papacy seemingly could not have been clearer on this issue. After that there is almost nothing in the decrees of the seven so-called ecumenical or general councils held between 1123 and 1312. (...)

Muslim-Christian alliance in early crusader times?

Before and at the start of the First Crusade "An alliance existed between the Crusaders and the (muslim; TN) Fatimid rulers of Egypt (...) By the latter decades of the eleventh-century, these states (Byzantium and Fatimid Egypt; TN) had only known peace with each other in living memory, which is remarkable for the medieval world.

Development of Templar legistlation

"The legislative body by which the friars of the Temple govern themselves underwent many logical adaptations to suit the times, along its existence. In spite of this, they channeled themselves in two different and complimentary but equally valid points: on the one side papal bulls and on the other the general chapters.

Noble legacies to the Knights Templar

"An astonishing enthusiasm was excited throughout Christendom on behalf of the Templars. Princes and nobles, sovereigns and their subjects, vied with each other in heaping gifts and benefits upon them, and scarce a will of importance was made without an article in it in their favour. Many illustrious persons on their deathbeds took the vows, that they might be buried in the habit of the order. And sovereigns, quitting the government of their kingdoms, enrolled themselves amongst the holy fraternity, and bequeathed even their dominions to the Master and the brethren of the Temple.

Templar hospitals normal features in medieval France

The care of hospitals also falls within the remit of the military order of the Knights Templar. (...) Alms are one of the concerns of their rules.
To the poor one must give broken and unfinished bread during meals; the old robes of the brothers belonged by right to the lepers. The meat ration of two knights is calculated so that there would be enough to feed two poor.
The early rivalry between the Templars and the Hospitable people made it clear that the former had not neglected the care of the hospices. And, in fact, in many places, tradition attributes to them institutions of this nature. (...) 

Hospices spread everywhere, monastic hospitals, cathedral hospices, parish hospices. We find some in Dijon, in Autun, in Chalon, in Màcon, in Auxerre, in Langres as in Cluny, in Saulieu very formerly, in Châtillon whose commercial importance becomes very large in the twelfth century, in Seraur which, at the end in the twelfth century the Duke of Burgundy freed men from the house of God from various royalties. Beaune already has at the gates of the city his Maison-Dieu, which later on was named St. Peter's Hospital. Vezelay, an important center of prayer and exchange, on the threshold of the duchy, has a similar establishment from the eleventh century, and Sens, also on the confines of the duchy, and Aigueperse and Cersy in the twelfth century."

English translation from the paragraph "Maison des Templiers de Dijon" on templiers.org.free.fr. Illustration The fortified hospital at Ste-Eulalie-de-Cernon, France, CC BY-SA 3.0, source Wikipedia

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Muslim-Christian coexistence during the crusading period

"(...) During the Crusades, coexistence manifested itself in another way. Richard the Lionheart (king of England, 1189–1199) attempted to arrange a marriage between his sister and the brother of Saladin (the most famous hero of the Counter-Crusade and founder of the Ayyubid Dynasty). Intermarriage between Christians and Muslims was commonplace in Anatolia, and it was quite frequent between the Seljuk Turkish (who had conquered Byzatium in 1071, TN) and Byzantine elite.

At the same time, recent scholarship (...) has uncovered that many Byzantine women who married into the Seljuk Dynasty maintained their Christian religious practices and passed them onto their children (future Seljuk sultans), many of whom were baptized at the Hagia Sophia, the main cathedral in Constantinople. A consciousness of conversion did develop in the medieval period, but a thirteenth-century Cilician Armenian law code suggests that conversions to Islam were reversible."

This blog quotes from "Diversity in the Medieval Middle East - Inclusions, Exclusions, Supporters, and Discontents" by Rachel Goshgarian, Chapter 9 in Lucia Volk's The Middle East in the World: An Introduction (Foundations in Global Studies) (Routledge, 2015) on www.academia.edu; source illustration the Comnenus mosaics in the Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Public Domain, source Wikipedia

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Dhimma: diversity and multiculturalism in medieval Islam

"It might be surprising to imagine that the societies of the medieval Mediterranean were brimming with diversity.  (...) Linguistic and religious diversity were facts of everyday life throughout the medieval world. And—very much like today—diversity had its share of proponents and its discontents.

11th century Benedictine translations of Islamic manuscripts

"Peter the Venerable (c. 1092 – 25 December 1156) was between 1122 and 1156 abbot of the Benedictine abbey of Cluny. Despite his active life and important role in European history, Peter's greatest achievement is his contribution to the reappraisal of the Church’s relations with the religion of Islam.

A proponent of studying Islam based upon its own sources, he commissioned a comprehensive translation of Islamic source material, and in 1142 he traveled to Spain where he met his translators. One scholar has described this as a “momentous event in the intellectual history of Europe.”

The Arabic manuscripts which Peter had translated may have been obtained in Toledo, which was an important centre for translation from the Arabic. However, Peter appears to have met his team of translators further north, possibly in La Rioja, where he is known to have visited the Cluniac monastery of Santa María la Real of Nájera. The project translated a number of texts relating to Islam (known collectively as the "corpus toletanum"). They include the Apology of al-Kindi; and most importantly the first-ever translation into Latin of the Arabic Qur'an (the "Lex Mahumet pseudoprophete") for which Robert of Ketton was the main translator. (...) The translation was completed in either June or July 1143, in what has been described as “a landmark in Islamic Studies. With this translation, the West had for the first time an instrument for the serious study of (and attack on; TN) Islam.”

Source text and illustration Wikipedia

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Medieval Anatolian architectural hybridities

 Until the establishment of Ottoman suzerainty over the region in the mid-fifteenth century, Anatolia was a place of cultural “betweenness.”

The Seljuks were the first Turkish Muslim entity to become established in the region (the Byzantine defeat by the Seljuk Turks took place 1071; TN). They were followed by many other similar Turkish and Persian-speaking principalities, which existed either as subservient to the Seljuks or in direct competition with them.

At the same time, the Armenians established their own principality and, later, kingdom in the region. And after the First Crusade, a Latin Crusader state was established around Antioch. This was followed by the entrance of the Mongols into the region. Those Mongols who had converted to Islam (and were known as the Ilkhanids) extended their territory into Anatolia in the mid-thirteenth century, forming the largest contiguous land empire in the history of humankind.

As all of these political entities established themselves in Anatolia, they supported the construction of churches, mosques, religious schools (medreses, or ma-drassas), dervish lodges ( zaviyes), and caravansaries (inns), completely transforming the physical landscape both of urban areas and the hinterland. These physical structures, in turn, altered the cultural life of the region, by providing spaces within which individuals could gather to pray, study, or participate in the development of mystical religious practices.

The architectural programs funded in Anatolia—by a range of individuals associated with myriad local principalities—altered the urban and rural landscapes of the region. On a purely aesthetic level, these architectural programs are material evidence of the kind of hybridity that was common in late medieval Anatolia. Many of the masons and architects constructing new “Islamic” buildings (e.g., mosques, madrassas, and dervish lodges) were members of indigenous Christian populations. As a result, while many of the buildings and their functions were new, the physical appearance of much of the early Islamic architecture of Anatolia looks very similar to what is traditionally considered the Armenian, Byzantine, and Georgian (i.e., Christian) architecture of the region.

This blog quotes a portion of "Diversity in the Medieval Middle East - Inclusions, Exclusions, Supporters, and Discontents" by  Rachel Oshgarian which can be found here. Illustration: Ruins of the Cathedral of Ani and the church of Redeemer in Ani, an ancient capital of Armenia in the 10th century; photo by Antonio, source Wikipedia Commons

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Medieval Benedictine anti-islam manuscripts by Peter of Cluny

Peter the Venerable (c. 1092 – 25 December 1156) was between 1122 and 1156 the 8th abbot of the Benedictine abbey of Cluny. (...) His greatest achievement is his contribution to the reappraisal of the Church’s relations with the religion of Islam (by translating Islamic manuscripts such as the Qur'an; TN).

Peter used the newly translated material in his own writings on Islam, of which the most important are the Summa totius heresis Saracenorum (The Summary of the Entire Heresy of the Saracens) and the Liber contra sectam sive heresim Saracenorum (The Refutation of the Sect or Heresy of the Saracens). In these works Peter portrays Islam as a Christian heresy that approaches paganism (...). His explicit purpose for commissioning the translation was the conversion of Muslims. For Peter, the point is not to "study" a "religion" but to refute a particularly vile form of Christological heresy, a heresy centered on the denial of Christ's divinity.

While his interpretation of Islam was basically negative, it did manage in “setting out a more reasoned approach to Islam (...) through using its own sources rather than those produced by the hyperactive imagination of some earlier Western Christian writers.” Although this alternative approach was not widely accepted or emulated by other Christian scholars of the Middle Ages, it did achieve some influence among a limited number of Church figures (...).

Source text Wikipedia and the paper by John Tolan "Peter the Venerable on the "Diabolical heresy of the Saracens" " on academia.edu. Illustration: The Consecration of Cluny III by Pope Urban II, 12th century (Bibliothèque Nationale de France), source Wikipedia.

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Medieval Frankish society well in touch with the Holy Land

On her "Real Crusader History Blog" Dr. Helena P. Schrader reviews "Frankish rural settlement in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem" by Ronnie Ellenblum (2003) as quoted below:

"In this seminal work, Ronnie Ellenblum, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, challenges the assumptions of prominent 20th-century scholars concerning the composition and character of crusader settlement and society.  (...) Ellenblum’s research enabled the “reconstruction” of entire villages ― property by property ― identifying in the process the origins and vocations of many of the inhabitants. This survey turned up roughly 200 Frankish settlements, most of which had never been heard of before either because the settlements themselves had since been abandoned, ruined and overgrown, or because their Frankish origins were hidden behind modern Arabic names and more recent construction.

One of Ellenblum’s chief theses is that: “The Franks…were very successful settlers and were not only fighters and builders of fortifications.  The migrants who settled in the Kingdom of Jerusalem established a network of well-developed settlements…includ[ing] the construction of developed castra [towns], of ‘rural burgi,’ and monasteries, of castles that served as centers for seigniorial estates, of smaller castles, manor houses, farmhouses, unfortified villages, parochial systems etc.”

Even more important, Ellenblum proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the claim of earlier historians such as Prawer and Smail “that the Franks were completely unaware of what went on in their fields (save when it came to collecting their share of the crops), and had no contact with the local inhabitants, is not based on written or archeological sources and is certainly not accurate.” (Emphasis added.) (...) This book makes all previous conclusions about Frankish society obsolete, and any depiction of Frankish Palestine that does not take Ellenblum’s conclusions into account can be dismissed as inaccurate."

Frankish Rural Settlement in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem (Cambridge OCR Advanced Sciences)

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Cluny Abbey: 10th century start of restoring spiritual independence

As early as the tenth century the situation and dependence of the church on worldly power had alarmed many devout men. In the hope of improving the monastic system William I of Aquitaine, Duke of Aquitaine and count of Mâcon, nicknamed William the Pious, (...) asked the abbot Berno (850-927) of the monastery of Baume, near Besançon, for advice on the foundation of a small new abbey, where twelve monks would enter. This became the abbey of Cluny

Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Land during the first centuries AD

From the earliest times Christians felt a desire to see for themselves the places hallowed by the incarnate God, where Christ was born and preached and suffered. (...)

During the first two centuries of the Christian era it was not easy to make the pilgrimage to Palestine. Jerusalem itself had been destroyed by Titus (70 AD, TN), and the Roman authorities did not approve of journeys thither. The fall of Jerusalem had resulted in the triumph of St. Paul's conception of Christianity over that of St. Iames', and the church sought to stress its universality at the expense of its ]ewísh origins. But the holy places were not forgotten. (...) When, after the triumph (of Emperor Constantine under the sign of Christ during the battle of the Milvian Bridge - 312,TN)  the empress Helena came to Palestine, the tradition that she found there was strong enough for her to be able to identify all the sacred sites.

The official recognition of Christianity, combined with Helena's voyage and her pious labors, which her son Constantine endorsed by building the great churches of the Holy Sepulcher at Jerusalem and the Nativity at Bethlehem, let loose a stream of pilgrims bound for Palestine. (...) By the beginning of the 4th century the number of monasteries and hostels in Jerusalem where pilgrims could be housed was said to be over three hundred.

This blog quotes form Baldwin, M. W. (ed.): The first hundred years (1969); illustration www.oldbookillustrations.com

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11th Century Benedictine participation in the Toledo "School" of Translators

Toledo, with a large population of Arabic-speaking Christians (Mozarabs) had been an important center of learning and translation since as early as the end of the 10th century, when European scholars traveled to Spain to study subjects that were not readily available in the rest of Europe.

8th to 10th century pilgrimage to the Holy Land

In the 8th century the numbers increased. Pilgirmage was now promoted as a means of penance. (...) Relations between the west and the Moslems soon improved. When in the 760s Charlemagne entered into an alliance with the Abbasid caliph Härün ar-Rashid from Baghdad, with the apparent objective of cooperating against the Umayyads of Spain, there was a sufficient number of pilgrims coming to Jerusalem tor the emperor to find it worth while to obtain permission to have a hostel set up for them in the holy city. There were women again amongst the pilgrims, and there were Spanish nuns living attached to the Holy Sepulcher.

There was another slight interruption in the course of the ninth century, owing to the growth of  Moslem power in the Mediterranean and the establishment of Arabs in Crete and Sicily and southern Italy. When (in 870, TN) the Breton Bernard reached Jerusalern he found Charlemagne's establishments still in working order, but they were shabby and the number of visitors had sadly declined.

By the beginning of the 10th century conditions in the Mediterranean had improved. The Moslems had lost their foothold in southeast Italy and were soon to lose their last pirate-nests in southern France. Crete was recovered for Christendom half way through the century; and the Byzantine fleet was already able to provide an effective police force. The Italian rnaritime cities were beginning to open up direct commerce with the Moslem ports.

In the east the Abbasid (...) vice-roys in Palestine were ready to welcome visitors who brought
money into the country and who could be taxed; and when the Ikhshïdids, and after them the Fätímids, succeeded to the possession of Palestine, the appearance of good-will increased. It was now not difficult for a pilgrim to take a boat at Venice or Bari or Amalfi which would take him direct to Alexandria or some Syrian port. Most pilgrirns, however, preferred to sail in an Italian ship to Constantinople and visit the renowned collection of relics there, and then go on by land to Palestine. (...)

That certain holy places endowed the visitor with peculiar spiritual merit was now generally accepted.  (...)  The penitential value of a pilgrimage was also widely recognized. (...) The crime of murder in particular needed such an expiation.

This blog quotes form Baldwin, M. W. (ed.): The first hundred years (1969); additional text and source illustration Wikipedia, showing Harun al-Rashid receiving a delegation of Charlemagne in Baghdad, a painting by Julius Köckert.

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Early christian pilgrimage and relics

"The fathers of the church were not altogether happy about this new fashion (of 4th century pilgrimage to the Holy Land, TN). Even Jerome, though he recommended a visit to Palestine to his friend Desiderius as an act of faith and declared that his sojourn there enabled him to understand the Scriptures more clearly, confessed that nothing really was missed by a failure to make the pilgrirnage. 

11th Century Cluniac promotion of pilgrimage to the Holy Land

In 910 count William I of Aquitaine founded the abbey of Cluny, and in a few decades Cluny became the center of a vast ecclesiastical nexus, closely controlled by the mother-house, which itself owed obedience to the papacy alone. The Cluniacs took an interest in pilgrimage, and soon organized the journey to the Spanish shrines.

10th Centrury worldy dominance over the church

"During the ninth and tenth centuries the church had become deeply involved in secular affairs. 

Crusade on the 11th century Mediterranean Sea

"Long before pope Urban II made his ímpassioned plea at Clerrnont, the Italian cities were fighting the Saracens on land and sea. 

Co-habitation of church and state in early 11th century France

"At the beginning of the eleventh century France was the only feudal state in Europe. (...) Actually France was not a single state but an alliance of feudal principalities bound together by the feeble suzerainty of the king. 

900th Anniversary of the Knights Templar in 2019 or 2020


On the internet, for example on the page of the OSMTH of France, one is preparing to celebrate this year the 900th anniversary of the Knights Templar. This stems from the proposed year of origin 1118 which is nowadays considered false.

At present it is widely accepted that it was in 1119 that the French knight Hugues de Payens approached King Baldwin II of Jerusalem (crowned king at Bethlehem on Christmas Day 1118) and Warmund, Patriarch of Jerusalem (installed in August or September 1118), and proposed creating a monastic order for the protection of these pilgrims. King Baldwin and Patriarch Warmund agreed to the request, probably at the Council of Nablus in January 1120. The king granted the Templars a headquarters in a wing of the royal palace on the Temple Mount in the captured Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Journeys of Relics in Tenth to Twelfth Century Northern France and Flanders

The social importance of saints’ relics during the European Middle Ages is well documented, yet relics have rarely been treated as mobile objects beyond discussions of their transportation from one permanent location to another (a “translation”).

The dissertation "Bringing Out the Saints: Journeys of Relics in Tenth to Twelfth Century Northern France and Flanders" by Kate Melissa Craig (University of California, Los Angeles, 2015) examines the practice of taking relics on out-and-back journeys to explore the consequences of temporarily removing these objects from the churches in which they were housed and displayed, focusing on northern France and the Low Countries during the high Middle Ages.

Medieval relics were considered direct conduits to the supernatural power of the saints, and an itinerant relic projected religious, economic, and political authority onto the areas it traveled through.
However, travel also brought a relic into contact with unfamiliar audiences. Using evidence from customaries, hagiography, charters, and images, Kate Melissa demonstrates that while moving relics transformed them into versatile tools of power, it also exposed them to criticism, antagonism, and danger from both lay and ecclesiastical groups (...).

Click here to read this dissertation from the University of California – Los Angeles.This blog quotes the first part of a paper with the same title on medievalists.net. Illustration from the same source.

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