A new Scottish version of the Templar Rule - fact or fake?

News on a new version of the Rule, especially one supposed to be written by a Scotsman, deserves some attention. Therefore Templars Now performed a quick scan on a Facebook post (consulted February 11, 2023) that goes as follows: "A unique 12th Century Scottish Version of the Knights Templar Latin Rule. Its title is called, 'Regula Pauperum Commilitonum Christi Templique Salommonci.' It was written by Johannes Michaelensis, a resident of Albanensis, Alba (Scotland)." An intriguing post that triggered a TN quick scan. The results.

A transcript of the document mentioned can be found (in Latin, not Scottish) on this site (with French introduction):

The document itself in the National Library of Scotland is entitled Regula of the Knights Templar, and works concerning ceremonial orders, heraldry and tournaments [229918110]. It seems to be a combination of manuscripts created between 1100 and 1699. Different athors are mentioned: Joannes Michaelensis (of whom we will speak below), Hill, John (sergeant in the office of armoury of Henry IV and Henry V), d 1434, Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester, 1355-1397 and Author: Thynne, Francis (Lancaster Herald of Arms in Ordinary), c 1544-1608.

It describes the council at Troyes, France, starting at January 13, 1129 at which the Templar Rule was devised. This document suggests that, although Bernard of Clairvaux was heavily involved, the precise wording of the resulting Rule was too unlike Bernards normal style and in too bad Latin for Bernard to have written it himself. The document is thus attributed to the scribe of the Council, called here Jean Michaelensis. This name is similar to Jean Michel, the secretary who introduces himself as such in the standard version as translated to English by Upton-Ward and cited most commonly. This Primitive Rule can be found here

Both versions of the Rule have many similarities but are not identical. It is known that many versions exist because of copying in the years following the Troyes Council. However, according to Upton-Ward, there are not many original manuscripts extant. The three which Henri de Cujrzon used for his 1886 edition, are those of Paris, Rome (late 13th of early 14th century) and Dijon (early 13th century). So a new Scottish version, especially one written bij a Scotsman would really be news!

In the standard version of the Primitive Rule quoted by Upton-Ward, Ioannes Michaelensis, or in French Jean Michel, introduces himself as follows: "Therefore I, Jean Michel, to whom was entrusted and confided that divine office, by the grace of God served as the humble scribe of the present document by order of the council and of the venerable father Bernard, abbot of Clairvaux." Therefore this Jean Michel (or in Latin Iohannes Michaelensis) mentioned in the Facebook post was indeed the French scribe to the Troyes Council that started January 13, 1129. 

So, what is the basis of the claim in the post that this Iohannes Michaelensis was "a resident of Albanensis, Alba (Scotland)"? TN suggests that this is based on misreading or misunderstanding of the text of the Primitive Rule. Only a few lines after the words of Jean, the most important participant is mentioned: "Matthew, Bishop of Albane, legate to the holy Roman church by God's grace, was the first in rank present ". Or a more elaborated version in Latin: "Matthaeus, ex priore S. Martini a Campis creatus ab Honorio cardinalis et episcopus Albanensis, sub finem anni superioris cum legati potestate in Galliam missus, ineunte hoc anno". 

It is most probable that this "Albanensis", clearly belonging to the Papal Legate, meaning Albano in Italy, and having nothing to do with "Alba (Scotland)", was by the authors of the Facebook post accidentally attributed to the local French clerk Iohannes Michaelensis, therewith making him a Scotsman. 

In summary, the Primitive Rule present in the Scottish compilation is genuine but, like all other known versions, a copy of the original prepared in about 1129 at Troyes by a French secretary and not by a Scotsman.

Illustration shows a colourful manuscript of the rule of the Templar order, probably written in England in the 12th century. It gives the original 12th-century Latin version of the rule. The knights' code of conduct is set out in interesting detail. source National Library of Scotland, © 2023 National Library of Scotland

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

No comments: