Were Occitanian Templars also Cathar heretics?

Templars and Cathars were contemporaries. The Cathars were subdued during the Albigensian Crusade (1209–1229). This was a 20-year military campaign initiated by Pope Innocent III to eliminate heretical Catharism in the Languedoc region, in southern France. What was the role of the Templars?

This Crusade was prosecuted primarily by the French crown. It promptly took on a political flavour, resulting in not only a significant reduction in the number of practising Cathars, but also a realignment of Languedoc with the French crown. 

The Templars had many settlements in the Occitanian region and in that way were closely connected to the local nobility and people. Many of those families were (at least in part) favourable to the Cathar movement. Read Jochem Schenk "Templar Families" on these family ties. At the same time, Templars and Cathers did not see everything the same way.

Dr Nicholson (1989), renowed specialist on the Knights Templar, summarizes: "The heretics, Cathars and Waldensians, were opposed to the military orders on a matter of doctrine, believing that Christians should not use force against their enemies, nor to encourage non-Christians to convert. Jacques de Vitry indicates that by c. 1220 their arguments were having a considerable demoralizing effect upon the knight-brothers. There are no recorded instances, however, of antagonism between the military orders and the heretics. During the Albigensian crusade, the orders of the Hospital and Temple did not take up arms against the heretics, although representatives of the orders appeared on the side of the Church during the war, and the Temple occasionally lodged crusaders. Both orders were regarded by the inquisitors as fully orthodox, but, in the Treaty of Paris of 1229, they were regarded as neutral."

Other research concludes that during the period 1119-1291 contemporaries did not doubt that the Military Orders served Christ. Only once during this period did a pope suggest that some of the Hospitallers were guilty of heresy, and the accusation was never repeated or elaborated. The Templars and Teutonic knights and the other military orders were never accused of error in their religious beliefs. So even after the final loss of Acre in May 1291 the concept of the military order remained unquestioned, and they were still expected to spearhead the recovery of the Holy Places which they had fought so long to protect. 

It is only in recent popular culture, that Catharism or other forms of heresy have been linked with the Knights Templar, and unjustly so.

Text adapted from Wikipedia (2020), Schenk (2015), Nicholson (1989), Nicholson (1999); Illustration by BlueBreezeWiki showing Cathar Quéribus Castle, France (source)

Support TemplarsNow™ by becoming a Patrontipping us or buying one of our Reliable Books

No comments: