The Crusades - from chaos to shared ideal in Christian Europe

"Following the collapse of the Carolingian Empire in the 9th century, Christian Europe had wrestled with increasingly senseless and uncontrollable violence. Muslim and Viking invasions during that time caused internal disintegration that eliminated all centralized power. By the 11th century, knights--even kings--had become indistinguishable from brigands." How did the Crusades change this?

Crusader-Muslim relationships during the Crusades

ln the late eleventh century, when the first crusade arrived in the Middle East, the region was not predominantly Muslim. The population was divided between Greek and other eastern Christians, Jews, Muslims, and minority religious groups which did not fit precisely into any of the three great religions. 

Templar wealth: personal austerity, liturgical richness

Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux had noted in his letter "In praise of the new knighthood" that the Templars led an austere lifestyle and that their clothing and armour was undecorated, in contrast to secular knights' flamboyant appearance. (...) Overall the Templars appear to have stuck with this image of austerity. Nothing should be wasted on themselves; all possible money should be saved for the help of the Holy Land. The exception to this was in their attitude to divine worship.

Friday, 13 October 1307 - an affair of state

The arrest of the French Templars on Friday 13 October 1307 left its mark on the minds of contemporaries. It even gave rise to myths and superstition linked to the choice of the date of Friday the 13th, which today has become both a day of misfortune for the superstitious and a day of luck for the French national lottery. Unlike often thought, the arrests were an initiative of the French King Philip the Fair, without consent of or cooperation by Pope Clement V who alone held supreme authority over the Templar Order.

The facts on Mount Sion and the crusaders

Ever since the Priory of Sion (or Zion) was made famous by popular literature as well as a recent relaunch of a similarly named association, Sion rings a bell with people interested in the crusades in general and Templars in particular. What are the facts?

Louis IX and his Holy relics

"In 1236, the Latin emperor of Constantinople, Baldwin II, approached the West for help in defending his moribund empire, one of the Latin States of Greece, born of the diversion of the fourth crusade in 1204. Early in 1237 he went to meet the French king Louis IX in Paris, telling him that, having run out of resources, he was obliged to borrow money against the relics with which Constantinople was still crammed, even after its sacking of 1204. Owing to his inability to repay the loans, these relics were at risk of falling into his creditors hands. On two occasions Louis IX redeemed the pledge. 

The medieval religious Orders as peace negotiators

"The religious military orders of the Middle Ages are often characterised by the image of soldier-monks, dedicated to combat, prayer and nothing else. This image has been strongly nuanced by contemporary historiography. Today's authors add to the military function of the orders, assistance, hospitality and activities in the economic, social, religious, artistic and other fields. Some examples. 

Templars and water

The Templars carefully chose the site where they would build their "domus". One of the most important points was accessibility to water. What was the situation at Arville Commandery, France?

André de Montbard - co founder of the Knights Templar

André de Montbard (ca 1068-17 October 1156) was the fifth Grand Master of the Knights Templar and also one of the early members if not one of the founders of the Order. His life started and ended in Burgundy, France, heartland of the Knights Templar as well as the Cistercians. It shows a remarkable link to both.

The Templecombe Head - Templar, lid or relic?

The Templecombe Head is an interesting artefact. The panel depicts a head, which was interpreted as that of Jesus. It was discovered in 1944 in the plaster covered ceiling of a woodshed adjacent to a common cottage in the village of Templecombe, Somerset, England. A quick scan by TN rendered a lot of data. A brief summary of the main points.

An unknown letter from Jacques de Molay found

 Letter from Jacques de Molay

"A recent finding at the Archives of the Crown of Aragon, has produced an unknown letter from Jacques de Molay, the last Master of the Order of the Knights Templar, addressed to Ramon de Bell-lloc, Commander of the Order, dated 21st January 1296. What is this letter about?

Commemoration of the 707th anniversary of the death of Jacques de Molay

On March 18, 2021 we commemorate the 707th anniversary of the death of the last official Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay. However, according to Alain Demurger and others the most probable date of the execution was March 11, 1314.

De Molay, born between 1244-1249, was put to death in Paris by the King of France. He was the 23rd and last Grand Master of the Knights Templar although at the time he was simply indicated as the Master from Outremer. He lead the Order from 20 April 1292 until it was dissolved by order of Pope Clement V in 1307. What is known of his last moments?

Jacques de Molay, the last Templar Master - youth and reception

Jacques de Molay was born somewhere between 1244 and 1249, most probably in Molay in the present day Haute-Saône Department of France. What were his early years like?

Did Templars found Switzerland?

"The Warriors and the Bankers is an interesting discussion about the fate of the monastic and military order Knights Templar after October 13, 1307, the day of its supposed destruction orchestrated by the unpopular King of France, Philip IV. There is strong evidence that some French Templars escaped interrogation, torture and death in France and emigrated to Scotland where they were welcome to fight against the English. Is there also a Swiss connection?

The Origin of the Templars according to Jacques de Vitry ca 1220

Jacques de Vitry (Jacobus de Vitriaco, c. 1160/70 – 1 May 1240), probably born at Reims, was a noted theologian and chronicler of his era. He wrote one of earliest and most detailed accounts on the origin and early years of the Knights Templar. What were his views on this Order?

Horses in the Temple

An important component amongst the equipment of a Templar knight were his horses and the equipment therefore. What were some other rules on Templar horses in peacetime?

Location of the first Templar fortress revealed

In the Middle Ages the important coastal road from Acre and Haifa to Jerusalem ran through a narrow, probably man made passage in the sandstone ridge that runs parallel to the coast line directly to the east of Atlit peninsula. In primary sources this passage is called amongst others Petra Incisa ("carved rock") or Districtum/Destrictum, Destroit or Détroit ("strait") . The setting made the site an ideal location for robbers to ambush pilgrims and other travelers. As even King Baldwin I of Jerusalem discovered in 1103, when he was wounded by robbers in the area. What is the history of this remarkable place and what have the Templars to do with it?

Hugues 1er de Champagne, from Count to Templar knight

Born around 1074, Hugues, the later Count of Champagne, was the third son of Thibaud I Count of Blois and Adèle of Valois. In 1089, his half-brother Etienne-Henri succeeded Thibaud as the head of the Counties of Blois and Meaux.

On 1 January 1093, Hugues inherited from his other brother Eudes (Odo) IV the Counties of Troyes, Vitry-le-François and Bar-sur-Aube. Only to abdicate in 1125 to become a Templar knight in the Holy Land.

How did his lifes develop from being a rich and important French nobleman to becoming a poor Templar?

A new Jerusalem in medieval Scandinavia

"(...) There seems to have been a concerted effort in Scandinavia from the beginning of the twelth century to turn the wilderness in the North into a new Jerusalem. As in many other western European countries at the same time, round churches were built in imitation of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and relics were brought in huge quantities from the Holy Land to Scandinavia, not least the Holy Cross. 

The Chinon Parchment of 1308 - Templars absolved

The parchment of Chinon contains the absolution by Pope Clement V of the leading members of the Templar Order. It was issued after the hearings held at Chinon, at the
Diocese of Tours, on August 17th to 20th, 1308. What was the meaning of this absolution for the Order as a whole?

The relationship between Hugues de Payns and Bernard de Clairvaux

Often it is suggested that the Templar founder and first Master Hugues de Payns and the Templar's spiritual inspirer, the Cistercian abbot Bernard de Clairvaux must have been well acquainted at the onset of the start of the group that became known as the Templars (between 1114 and 1120). One of the arguments is that they both came from noble houses in the Champagne region, so must have known each others. And perhaps even worked together in the founding of the Templar Order. What are the facts?

Ships and navigation during the Middle Ages

The medieval period brought on the maritime scene the emergence of new construction and navigation techniques coming mainly from the North, but also from the East (Arabs, and indirectly Chinese). A centuries-long dialogue between the Mediterranean and these diverse influences followed. 

On the one hand, we can observe the technical excellence of the Scandinavians, who brought to ship design a real empirical talent for hydrodynamics and a more solid clinker construction. On the other hand, in the Mediterranean, the work of the Byzantines, who took care of the large galley fleets and took this type of ship into the Renaissance.

The Origin of the Templars according to Michael the Syrian ca 1180

Michael the Syrian (ca 1129-1199) is also known as Michael the Great or Michael Syrus or Michael the Elder, to distinguish him from his nephew. He was a patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church from 1166 to 1199. He is best known today as the author of the largest medieval Chronicle of Michael de Great, Patriarch of the Syrians, which he composed in Syriac. Various other materials written in his own hand have survived.

Fate of the Templars outside France during the arrests of 1307-1308

We can consider that the great majority of the brothers of the Temple were indeed arrested throughout the kingdom of France, during the raid of October 13, 1307. But because the Order was international, one can wonder what was the fate of the Templars in other countries. Here are the facts for England, Aragon, Castile-Leon and the Templars headquarters Cyprus.