Templar importance in Spain in the 1130s preceeds their Oriental role

"Though the nature of Templar activities during the 1120's and 1130's remains obscure, they were clearly successful, despite their poverty. Most contemporary evidence of the early Templars stems from charters, bequests, and clerical correspondence. Their most notable activity at this time was property acquisition. By 1130, the Templars were receiving grants of land and money from southern France and Spain. 

Most Spanish gifts of land specifically mentioned the Templar's military function as a frontier guard for the Spanish crusade. This indicates that they had already scored some military successes on the peninsula that the chroniclers did not report; the Spanish had neither the funds nor the patience to support a group that could not substantially help in the Reconquista of the Iberian peninsula. 

Though the Templars were not yet a military power of note in Palestine, they were already one in Spain. So established were they in local politics by 1134 that when King Alfonso I (the Battler) of Aragon died childless that year, he left a third of his kingdom to the Templars. He left another third each to the Hospitallers and to the obscure Canons of the Holy Sepulchre." All three Orders originated in the Holy Land only one and a half decades earlier (TN).

"The will shocked Alfonso's vassals and neighbor. Eventually, a compromise, in which all three of the original beneficia profited handsomely, was worked out. Alfonso's brother Ramiro had been a Benedictine monk since childhood." (...) The Aragonese nobility took Ramiro out of a monastery and made him king, marrying him without papal dispensation to Agnes, sister of the Duke of Aquitaine, then betrothing their newborn daughter to Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona, who was then named Ramiro's heir.Ijn this way forging a strong bond between the Pyrenean nations. (TN)

"Some historians who have investigated the will now believe that Alfonso had no intention of leaving his kingdom to these three orders. Instead, they believe that he had written his will (with the knowledge of his beneficiaries) to continue his line by giving his brother time to escape his vows and establish his own power base.

The scandal of Alfonso's will created temporary resentment against these orders amongst the other clerics, but also raised their profile in the peninsula. For an Order like the Temple, which had been founded only fifteen years before, and officially recognized only five years previously, it was a propaganda coup. (...)"

This blog presents slightly edited and/or rearranged quotes from the Preface of Stiles, Paula Regina, "BETWEEN TWO FAITHS: THE ARABIZATION OF THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR DURING THE CRUSADES" (1999). Open Access Master's Theses. Paper 1805. Some details on Ramiro were added by TN from Wikipedia. The illustration shows the Modern statue of Alfonso as a warrior in the Parque Grande José Antonio Labordeta, Zaragoza; source Wikipedia, Public Domain.

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