Perceived Templar arabization: a misunderstood but ultimately lethal matter

"The arabization of the Knights Templar was of two types: real and imagined. While real examples of Templar arabization in the Holy Land aroused the occasional ire of Europeans back home, it was never serious enough to threaten the Order itself. (...) 

Real Templar arabization was a reaction to local conditions. Despite incidents of friendship between Templar and Muslim, the Templars associated with Muslims not because of any special tolerance in their nature, but because it was necessary, in order to preserve, and expand, the Christians' grasp on the Holy Land. For the same reason, Templars learned how to fight, and, therefore, think like their Muslim foes, as well. There was no other way to survive in the early days when they were poor and had to severely husband their resources.

Yet, throughout their history, the Templars did show signs that they might some day come to a permanent rapprochement with their enemies. Some Muslims, like Usamah lbn Munqidh, recognized this in the Order, and approved of it. The Templars themselves did not live to see the persecutions which European Christians practiced against Muslims and Jews in the latter part of the Middle Ages. 

It was, in fact, the perceived arabization described in Guillaume de Nogaret's charges at the Templars' Trial that destroyed them, and it has been this perceived arabization which has entered public consciousness as the "true" image of the Knights Templar. The denial of Christ, the desecration of the cross, the charges of obscene kisses and sodomy, and the adoration of an idol, or relic, in the shape of a head or a cat, were all common European misconceptions about Islam. 

They were also charges that were frequently levelled against heretics, an internal enemy. The charges were a way for the French government to condemn, and destroy representatives of the hated Muslim enemy (the Templars) without prompting an actual crusade to the Holy Land. The persecution of the Templars was not an isolated phenomenon, but was part of a pattern of attacks which Philip and his ministers made on convenient targets throughout his reign. In this way, Philip could relieve the debts which always pressed upon his treasury, while making himself look, and feel, like a "most Christian King." "

This blog quotes from the Conclusions of Stiles, Paula Regina, "BETWEEN TWO FAITHS: THE ARABIZATION OF THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR DURING THE CRUSADES" (1999). Open Access Master's Theses. Paper 1805. The illustration shows a crusader-Muslim encounter, source Enluminure, Cantigas de Santa Maria (Códice Rico), 1255-1281, bibliothèque du monastère de l’Escurial, Madrid.

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