The Templars: Selected Sources

The Templars: Selected Sources

The Templars: Selected Sources

The Templars: Selected Sources

Synopsis

The Templars were members of a monastic order established in 1099 after the success of the First Crusade. Enjoying the support of both the Church and the laity and vowed to poverty, chastity and obedience, these 'fighting monks' were the vital defenders o. A unique collection of translated sources documenting the origins of the Order and the circumstances of its suppression and dissolution. Offers a valuable insight into the lives of those who joined, supported, and attacked this most fascinating and enigmatic of institutions. Examines the many and varied facets of the Order's activities during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. There is no other book of translated sources devoted in its entirety to the Templars.

Excerpt

It was not without a certain irony that, faced with a proposal that the Orders of the Temple and Hospital should be united, James of Molay, the deeply conservative Master of the Temple, should claim that the idea was not a good one, since 'innovation (novitas) never or rarely results in anything other than great dangers'. Molay wrote these words on the eve of the arrests of himself and his fellow brethren in France in October 1307, arrests which led to their prolonged trial on charges of blasphemy, obscenity and idol-worship, and which resulted in the papal suppression of the Order at the Council of Vienne in 1312. Molay's own death followed two years later, consumed by the flames on the Ile des Javiaux in Paris as a consequence of his alleged relapse into heresy.

Yet novelty and innovation had characterised the foundation and development of the Order of the Temple in the twelfth century. The Templars began as laymen following an ascetic lifestyle who vowed to devote themselves to the protection of pilgrims travelling in the Holy Land; their acceptance as a recognised Order of the Church at the Council of Troyes in 1129 converted them into an organisation of 'fighting monks', until then, unique in Christian history. This, in turn, presented them with new challenges – military, organisational and political – for they needed to regulate a lifestyle for which there was no precedent. The Latin Rule which they received in 1129 was heavily influenced by the prevailing monastic climate which, while committed to an agenda of moral reform, took little account of the needs of an army of Christ devoted to perpetual battle, not with the supernatural forces of evil, but with the very solid human opposition represented by Turks and Arabs. During the next generation, therefore, the Templars were obliged to produce extensive additions to the Rule in French so that they had an appropriate chain of command, proper regulations for the conduct of battle and liturgical activites which were viable for large numbers of non-contemplative men who were often on active military service. At the same time, as their role attracted increasing support they needed to organise their growing possessions in both East and West into groups of preceptories in such a way as they might be utilised for the wider good of the holy war. Again, there was no previous monastic template at all relevant to their particular needs. Finally, the intrusion of such an Order into a society, the mentality of which was largely shaped by what many liked to regard as preordained functional roles, demanded that their relationship to other existing institutions be defined, in particular to the papacy, to the diocesan clergy and to secular kings and lords.

These documents are intended to illustrate the many facets of the history of this new Order and, wherever possible, they have been reproduced in full in order to show their structure as well as their content. As such, it is hoped that they have some value as examples of different types of documents, irrespective . . .

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