Templar provincial chapters in medieval times

"Most general and regional studies of the Templars contain little comment on provincial chapters. This is hardly surprising. Although they probably began to be held by the middle years of the twelfth century, for most of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the surviving sources provide only occasional references to provincial chapters. The section in the order’s regulations on the holding of chapters is concerned mainly with their function as chapters of faults, and makes no specific comment about provincial assemblies. What is known?

Some information about provincial chapters is to be found in the testimonies given by brothers when they were interrogated and in other sources relating to the Templar trial (...) In no province are provincial chapters recorded every year for any length of time in the surviving sources, but claims for corrodies and pensions in England during the Templar trial mention chapters in fifteen of the seventeen years between 1291 and 1307. (...) By the later thirteenth century Templar provincial chapters in the West were being held annually, usually in the spring or early summer. In the French province they were always convened in Paris, but in some other provinces meetings took place in various convents. (...) From 1291 onwards the English provincial chapter was always held at Dinsley in Hertfordshire, although in the later 1270s and in the 1280s it had been convened on several occasions at Bisham, in Berkshire, and there had earlier been chapters in London. (...)

Those who attended were mostly heads of convents, and it seems that those present usually totalled some forty to fifty brothers: in many provinces the majority were sergeants. Provincial masters normally presided, but occasionally the grand master or visitor had charge. Heads of convents were expected to pay their responsions at the chapter and present a statement about the condition of their houses. (...)

While some matters formed an essential part of the proceedings of a provincial chapter, these assemblies also engaged in a variety of other types of business. Templar testimonies include frequent references to the admission of recruits at provincial chapters. In England many, though not all, corrodies and pensions for which claims were made during the Templar trial had been granted during chapters. (...)

It is to be doubted whether Templar provincial chapters possessed any legislative powers, as those in the Dominican order had. The only evidence of such powers in the Temple is a set of decrees issued at a chapter which had been held at Mausonium in Italy in the third quarter of the twelfth century. (...)

There seems, however, to have been no general review of appointments. Moreover, the chapter also acted as a chapter of faults. Yet any current business could also be raised at a meeting, although little is known about the process of decision-making. Provincial chapters appear to have lasted for only a few days, whereas at other times in the year provincial masters tended to seek counsel from smaller groups of commanders"

 The blog quotes sections as well als the whole abstract, partly reworked, of the paper the TEMPLAR PROVINCIAL CHAPTERS IN THE LATER THIRTEENTH AND EARLY FOURTEENTH CENTURIES by Alan Forey (ORDINES MILITARES COLLOQUIA TORUNENSIA HISTORICA, XXIII, 2018, Yearbook for the Study of the Military Orders, ISSN (print) 0867-2008 / ISSN (online) 2391-7512, Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika w Toruniu, 2018, www.apcz.umk.pl ). The illustrations shows the Chapter of the Order of the Temple at Paris, 1147, a work by François Marius Granet (1775-1849),  collection Louvre), showing The Chapter of the Order of the Temple, held in Paris under the magistracy of Robert the Burgundian (1147). One hundred and thirty knights, led by Pope Eugene III, assembled to deal with Eastern affairs. Louis VII attended this chapter with several prelates and lords. Fair Use intended.

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