The relationship between early Templars and the first Kings of Jerusalem

How was the relationship between the early Templars and the first kings of Jerusalem?

"Scholars generally agree on the characteristics of the relationship between the Templars and the kings of Jerusalem. In the twelfth century, the Order became increasingly important, as it protected the growing number of pilgrims and assisted with the kingdom’s defense. While the Order’s ‘independent action[s]’ occasionally collided with ‘monarchical authority’, there appears to have been a ‘profonde solidarité’ between Templars and kings. In the thirteenth century, due to their rivalry with the Hospitallers and their own political ambitions, the Templars played their role as ‘guardians of the Holy Land’ less effectively, though some contemporaries continued to acknowledge their respective function. (...)

Many of the Templars’ high officials either belonged to the nobility or enjoyed royal patronage. This was less pronounced with regard to the Hospitallers, which is why the Templars soon outranked them in the hierarchy of the charters’ witness lists. (...) a close relationship between the Templar masters and the kings of Jerusalem was not established until 1153 when, beginning with Andrew of Montbard’s mastership, ‘the Templar masters regularly stayed at court and appeared in royal charters among the top witnesses’. Yet, (...) this close relationship dates, in fact, back to the earlier decades of the twelfth century.

A chronological survey of Templars at the court of Jerusalem starts in 1119, when Hugh of Payns, the soon-to-be first Templar master, witnessed a charter issued by King Baldwin II as the fourth of eleven witnesses, namely after the chancellor and the vicecomes of Acre, but before the lord of Toron. In 1125, Hugh, now ‘master of the knights of the Temple’ (magister militum Templi), witnessed another charter issued by Baldwin II, this time as the last of 23 distinguished witnesses, which perhaps indicates that the royal chancery had not yet determined where to place him in his capacity as the leader of this new ‘religious-military’ community. It is noteworthy that the designation ‘knights of the Temple’ (milites Templi) was in use in 1125, because it suggests that the group’s residence in the al-Aqsa Mosque, the crusaders’ Templum Salomonis, which had been given to the Templars by the king in an act described by William of Tyre as merely ‘provisional’ (ad tempus), may by this time already have become a permanent arrangement. (...)

André de Montbard, a future Templar seneschal, his Order’s fifth master, a member of the Burgundian nobility, and an uncle of the famous Cistercian abbot Bernard de Clairvaux, served from approximately 1130 on, when he was still a mere Templar brother (though one of the founding members, TN), as one of Baldwin II’s envoys and later enjoyed the trust of Queen Melisende. (...)

In 1144, the Burgundian Templar Geoffrey Fulcherii, one of the twelfth century’s ‘éminences grises’, made his first appearance at the court of Jerusalem. A procurator and preceptor in his Order’s central convent by 1164, Geoffrey traveled to the West at least five times, served as King Amalric’s envoy to Egypt in 1167, and later represented his Order at the papal curia, as well as the royal courts of England and France. (...)

Several individuals enjoyed long on-again, off-again careers at the court of Jerusalem, including the time before joining the Order and, in at least one case, after leaving the Order. Thus, Geoffrey Fulcherii’s and Odo of St Amand’s respective careers at court lasted 24 years (1144–68 and 1155–79), that of Philip of Nablus 31 years (1138–69) (...).

Overall, the charter evidence suggests that, for much of the twelfth century, the Templars stayed close to the kings of Jerusalem, but the relationship was, as we can see especially in the cases of Odo of St Amand and Gerard of Ridefort, at times ‘complicated’."

Another blog zooms in on the peace negotiating abilities of the military Orders.

This blog quotes extensively, with minor edits from the paper "The Templars and the kings of Jerusalem" by Jochen Burgtorf from: The Templars and their Sources, Edited By Karl Borchardt, Karoline Döring, Philippe Josserand, Helen Nicholson (2017, Routledge). The illustration shows the marriage of Amalric I of Jerusalem and Maria Comnena at Tyre in 1167. source Fair Use intended.

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