Templar activities in the city of Jerusalem

"The life of the Templars in Jerusalem is known thanks to the rule of the order and a panel of chronicles depicting the actions of the brothers in the 12th century. According to Michael the Syrian (1126-1199), the brothers supplied the population of Jerusalem with grain and provisions in 1120. (...) The intervention of the Templars proves that the order did not wait until the 13th century to take care of the needy. (...) 

It is quite difficult to assess the size of the Temple convent in the first half of the 12th century. The pilgrims Dietrich and Benjamin of Tudèle claim that the convent was composed of 300 horsemen during the reign of King Amaury of Jerusalem (1163-1174). This number probably includes the sergeants and temporary knights (milites ad terminum) who facilitated the development of the order in the 1120s.(...)

According to the pilgrim John of Würzburg, the Templars overtook the hospital convent of Jerusalem in the middle of the 12th century. This account claims that the order's underground stabels could accommodate 2,000 horses and 1,500 camels thanks to the various galleries dug into the Temple Mount.(...)

The Temple Mount was a small city comprising several dormitories, a cloister and a stonemason's workshop, which produced several ornaments in Jerusalem and al-Latrÿn. The spiritual life of the Templars was rich with the observance of canonical hours and two periods of fasting before Christmas and Easter. It was common for groups of brothers to join the Holy Sepulchre, or another Hierosolymitan church, to pray during the night. In addition, every day, thanksgiving was celebrated after lunch and supper in the conventual church of the Temple. (...)

The Templars followed the Liturgy of the Holy Sepulchre, commemorating with a service the Liberation of Jerusalem on July 15 each year. During the festivities, a procession went from the Holy Sepulcher to the Templum Domini (Dome of the Rock) where the Patriarch of Jerusalem offered thanksgiving, while reading a sermon. Thirteen processions were organized during the year to honor a deceased saint on a Sunday. (...)

The Templars owned many houses in Jerusalem, the rents of which varied between 3 and 8 bezants. These buildings were marked with the capital letter T, the hospital workers using a Maltese cross to mark their possessions. An annuity register from 1170 mentions five tenants of the Hospital, installed near the Temple Mount. (...)

An important role was assigned to the Commander of Jerusalem, who conveyed Western pilgrims to the Jordan. The supposed location of Christ's baptism was one of the most revered sites by Christians in the Middle Ages (Bethabara or Al-Maghtas southeast of Jericho). (...) Along the way, a network of Templar towers could protect pilgrims and transmit information to Jerusalem in the event of an invasion from the Jordan estuary. (...)

This blog quotes sections, translated from French by TN, slightly rearranged and with minor adaptions, of La place de Jérusalem dans la pensée templière by Claverie, P-V,  (2023) in Cadernos Culturais Nabantinos, III (2023), pp. 37-50, published on academia.edu. Illustration shows the subterraneous halls below the southeastern tip of the Temple Mount platform, which were used as stables bij the Knights Templar. source, Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California at Riverside. Fair use.

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