The Knights Templars have become associated with legends concerning secrets and mysteries handed down to the select from ancient times. Their financial acumen, their military prowess and their work on behalf of Christianity during the Crusades still circulate throughout modern culture. They were formed in the early 12th century to protect pilgrims to Jerusalem from the Muslims. This large organization of devout Christians during the medieval era served the nations of Europe mightily in the Crusades. Unfortunately, over time they became too rich and powerful and in the mid-14th century, support for the order faded. Charles G. Addison examines their beginning, their end and their legacy. This book goes into minute detail describing the immoral scheme of the French King Philip IV and the Pope Clement V to arrest and try for heresy a lot of The Knights Templars (like James of Molay, the Last Grand Master). The latter part of this work discusses the architecture in England of the Temple Church.
Edition with illustrations and complete dynamic footnotes (609).
Excerpt: “ The extraordinary and romantic career of The Knights Templars, their exploits and their misfortunes, render their history a subject of peculiar interest.
Born during the first fervour of the Crusades, they were flattered and aggrandized as long as their great military power and religious fanaticism could be made available for the support of the Eastern church and the retention of the Holy Land, but when the crescent had ultimately triumphed over the cross, and the religio-military enthusiasm of Christendom had died away, they encountered the basest ingratitude in return for the services they had rendered to the christian faith, and were plundered, persecuted, and condemned to a cruel death, by those who ought in justice to have been their defenders and supporters. The memory of these holy warriors is embalmed in all our recollections of the wars of the cross; they were the bulwarks of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem during the short period of its existence, and were the last band of Europe’s host that contended for the possession of Palestine.”
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Origin of the Templars—The pilgrimages to Jerusalem—The dangers to which pilgrims were exposed—The formation of the brotherhood of the poor fellow-soldiers of Jesus Christ to protect them—Their location in the Temple—A description of the Temple—Origin of the name Templars—Hugh de Payens chosen Master of the Temple—Is sent to Europe by King Baldwin—Is introduced to the Pope—The assembling of the Council of Troyes—The formation of a rule for the government of the Templars.
The most curious parts of the rule displayed—The confirmation of the rule by the Pope—The visit of Hugh de Payens, the Master of the Temple, to England—His cordial reception—The foundation of the Order in this country—Lands and money granted to the Templars—Their popularity in Europe—The rapid increase of their fraternity—St. Bernard takes up the pen in their behalf—He displays their valour and piety.
Hugh de Payens returns to Palestine—His death—Robert de Craon made Master—Success of the Infidels—The second Crusade—The Templars assume the Red Cross—Their gallant actions and high discipline—Lands, manors, and churches granted them in England—Bernard de Tremelay made Master—He is slain by the Infidels—Bertrand de Blanquefort made Master—He is taken prisoner, and sent in chains to Aleppo—The Pope writes letters in praise of the Templars—Their religious and military enthusiasm—Their war banner called Beauseant—The rise of the rival religio-military order of the Hospital of St. John.
The contests between Saladin and the Templars—The vast privileges of the Templars—The publication of the bull, omne datum optimum—The Pope declares himself the immediate Bishop of the entire Order—The different classes of Templars—The knights—Priests—Serving brethren—The hired soldiers—The great officers of the Temple—Punishment of cowardice—The Master of the Temple is taken prisoner, and dies in a dungeon—Saladin’s great successes—The Christians purchase a truce—The Master of the Temple and the Patriarch Heraclius proceed to England for succour—The consecration of the Temple Church at London.
The Temple at London—The vast possessions of the Templars in England—The territorial divisions of the order—The different preceptories in this country—The privileges conferred on the Templars by the kings of England—The Masters of the Temple at London—Their power and importance.
The Patriarch Heraclius quarrels with the king of England—He returns to Palestine without succour—The disappointments and gloomy forebodings of the Templars—They prepare to resist Saladin—Their defeat and slaughter—The valiant deeds of the Marshal of the Temple—The fatal battle of Tiberias—The captivity of the Grand Master and the true Cross—The captive Templars are offered the Koran or death—They choose the latter, and are beheaded—The fall of Jerusalem—The Moslems take possession of the Temple—They purify it with rose-water, say prayers, and hear a sermon—The Templars retire to Antioch—Their letters to the king of England and the Master of the Temple at London—Their exploits at the siege of Acre.
Richard Cœur de Lion joins the Templars before Acre—The city surrenders, and the Templars establish the chief house of their order within it—Cœur de Lion takes up his abode with them—He sells to them the island of Cyprus—The Templars form the van of his army—Their foraging expeditions and great exploits—Cœur de Lion quits the Holy Land in the disguise of a Knight Templar—The Templars build the Pilgrim’s Castle in Palestine—The state of the order in England—King John resides in the Temple at London—The barons come to him at that place, and demand Magna Charta—The exploits of the Templars in Egypt—The letters of the Grand Master to the Master of the Temple at London—The Templars reconquer Jerusalem.
The conquest of Jerusalem by the Carizmians—The slaughter of the Templars, and the death of the Grand Master—The exploits of the Templars in Egypt—King Louis of France visits the Templars in Palestine—He assists them in putting the country into a defensible state—Henry II., king of England, visits the Temple at Paris—The magnificent hospitality of the Templars in England and France—Benocdar, sultan of Egypt, invades Palestine—He defeats the Templars, takes their strong fortresses, and decapitates six hundred of their brethren—The Grand Master comes to England for succour—The renewal of the war—The fall of Acre, and the final extinction of the Templars in Palestine.
The downfall of the Templars—The cause thereof—The Grand Master comes to Europe at the request of the Pope—He is imprisoned, with all the Templars in France, by command of king Philip—They are put to the torture, and confessions of the guilt of heresy and idolatry are extracted from them—Edward II. king of England stands up in defence of the Templars, but afterwards persecutes them at the instance of the Pope—The imprisonment of the Master of the Temple and all his brethren in England—Their examination upon eighty-seven horrible and ridiculous articles of accusation before foreign inquisitors appointed by the Pope—A council of the church assembles at London to pass sentence upon them—The curious evidence adduced as to the mode of admission into the order, and of the customs and observances of the fraternity.
The Templars in France revoke their rack-extorted confessions—They are tried as relapsed heretics, and burnt at the stake—The progress of the inquiry in England—The curious evidence adduced as to the mode of holding the chapters of the order—As to the penance enjoined therein, and the absolution pronounced by the Master—The Templars draw up a written defence, which they present to the ecclesiastical council—They are placed in separate dungeons, and put to the torture—Two serving brethren and a chaplain of the order then make confessions—Many other Templars acknowledge themselves guilty of heresy in respect of their belief in the religious authority of their Master—They make their recantations, and are reconciled to the church before the south door of Saint Paul’s cathedral—The order of the Temple is abolished by the Pope—The last of the Masters of the Temple in England dies in the Tower—The disposal of the property of the order—Observations on the downfall of the Templars.
THE TEMPLE CHURCH. The restoration of the Temple Church—The beauty and magnificence of the venerable building—The various styles of architecture displayed in it—The discoveries made during the recent restoration—The sacrarium—The marble piscina—The sacramental niches—The penitential cell—The ancient Chapel of St. Anne—Historical matters connected with the Temple Church—The holy relics anciently preserved therein—The interesting monumental remains.
THE TEMPLE CHURCH. The monuments of the crusaders—The tomb and effigy of Sir Geoffrey de Magnaville, earl of Essex, and constable of the Tower—His life and death, and famous exploits—Of William Marshall, earl of Pembroke, Protector of England—Of the Lord de Ross—Of William and Gilbert Marshall, earls of Pembroke—Of William Plantagenet, fifth son of Henry the Third—The anxious desire manifested by king Henry the Third, queen Eleanor, and various persons of rank, to be buried in the Temple Church.
THE TEMPLE. Antiquities in the Temple—The history of the place subsequent to the dissolution of the order of the Knights Templars—The establishment of a society of lawyers in the Temple—The antiquity of this society—Its connexion with the antient society of the Knights Templars—An order of knights and serving brethren established in the law—The degree of frere serjen, or frater serviens, borrowed from the antient Templars—The modern Templars divide themselves into the two societies of the Inner and Middle Temple.
THE TEMPLE. The Temple Garden—The erection of new buildings in the Temple—The dissolution of the order of the Hospital of Saint John—The law societies become lessees of the crown—The erection of the magnificent Middle Temple Hall—The conversion of the old hall into chambers—The grant of the inheritance of the Temple to the two law societies—Their magnificent present to his Majesty—Their antient orders and customs, and antient hospitality—Their grand entertainments—Reader’s feasts—Grand Christmasses and Revels—The fox-hunt in the hall—The dispute with the Lord Mayor—The quarrel with the custos of the Temple Church.
MASTERS OF THE BENCH OF THE HONOURABLE SOCIETIES
INNER AND MIDDLE TEMPLE,
THE ANCIENT CHURCH OF THE KNIGHTS TEMPLARS,
The extraordinary and romantic career of the Knights Templars, their exploits and their misfortunes, render their history a subject of peculiar interest.
Born during the first fervour of the Crusades, they were flattered and aggrandized as long as their great military power and religious fanaticism could be made available for the support of the Eastern church and the retention of the Holy Land, but when the crescent had ultimately triumphed over the cross, and the religio-military enthusiasm of Christendom had died away, they encountered the basest ingratitude in return for the services they had rendered to the christian faith, and were plundered, persecuted, and condemned to a cruel death, by those who ought in justice to have been their defenders and supporters. The memory of these holy warriors is embalmed in all our recollections of the wars of the cross; they were the bulwarks of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem during the short period of its existence, and were the last band of Europe’s host that contended for the possession of Palestine.
To the vows of the monk and the austere life of the convent, the Templars added the discipline of the camp, and the stern duties of the military life, joining
“The fine vocation of the sword and lance,
With the gross aims, and body-bending toil
Of a poor brotherhood, who walk the earth
The vulgar notion that the Templars were as wicked as they were fearless and brave, has not yet been entirely exploded; but it is hoped that the copious account of the proceedings against the order in this country, given in the ninth and tenth chapters of the ensuing volume, will tend to dispel many unfounded prejudices still entertained against the fraternity, and excite emotions of admiration for their constancy and courage, and of pity for their unmerited and cruel fate.
Matthew Paris, who wrote at St. Albans, concerning events in Palestine, tells us that the emulation between the Templars and Hospitallers frequently broke out into open warfare to the great scandal and prejudice of Christendom, and that, in a pitched battle fought between them, the Templars were slain to a man. The solitary testimony of Matthew Paris, who was no friend to the two orders, is invalidated by the silence of contemporary historians, who wrote on the spot; and it is quite evident from the letters of the pope, addressed to the Hospitallers, the year after the date of the alleged battle, that such an occurrence never could have taken place.
The accounts, even of the best of the antient writers, should not be adopted without examination, and a careful comparison with other sources of information. William of Tyre, for instance, tells us that Nassr-ed-deen, son of sultan Abbas, was taken prisoner by the Templars, and whilst in their hands became a convert to the Christian religion; that he had learned the rudiments of the Latin language, and earnestly sought to be baptized, but that the Templars were bribed with sixty thousand pieces of gold to surrender him to his enemies in Egypt, where certain death awaited him; and that they stood by to see him bound hand and foot with chains, and placed in an iron cage, to be conducted across the desert to Cairo. Now the Arabian historians of that period tell us that Nassr-ed-deen and his father murdered the caliph and threw his body into a well, and then fled with their retainers and treasure into Palestine; that the sister of the murdered caliph wrote immediately to the commandant at Gaza, which place was garrisoned by the Knights Templars, offering a handsome reward for the capture of the fugitives; that they were accordingly intercepted, and Nassr-ed-deen was sent to Cairo, where the female relations of the caliph caused his body to be cut into small pieces in the seraglio. The above act has constantly been made a matter of grave accusation against the Templars; but what a different complexion does the case assume on the testimony of the Arabian authorities!
It must be remembered that William archbishop of Tyre was hostile to the order on account of its vast powers and privileges, and carried his complaints to a general council of the church at Rome. He is abandoned, in everything that he says to the prejudice of the fraternity, by James of Vitry, bishop of Acre, a learned and most talented prelate, who wrote in Palestine subsequently to William of Tyre, and has copied largely from the history of the latter. The bishop of Acre speaks of the Templars in the highest terms, and declares that they were universally loved by all men for their piety and humility. “Nulli molesti erant!” says he, “sed ab omnibus propter humilitatem et religionem amabantur.”
The celebrated orientalist Von Hammer has recently brought forward various extraordinary and unfounded charges, destitute of all authority, against the Templars; and Wilcke, who has written a German history of the order, seems to have imbibed all the vulgar prejudices against the fraternity. I might have added to the interest of the ensuing work, by making the Templars horrible and atrocious villains; but I have endeavoured to write a fair and impartial account of the order, not slavishly adopting everything I find detailed in antient writers, but such matters only as I believe, after a careful examination of the best authorities, to be true.
It is a subject of congratulation to us that we possess, in the Temple Church at London, the most beautiful and perfect memorial of the order of the Knights Templars now in existence. No one who has seen that building in its late dress of plaster and whitewash will recognize it when restored to its antient magnificence. This venerable structure was one of the chief ecclesiastical edifices of the Knights Templars in Europe, and stood next in rank to the Temple at Jerusalem. As I have performed the pilgrimage to the Holy City, and wandered amid the courts of the antient Temple of the Knights Templars on Mount Moriah, I could not but regard with more than ordinary interest the restoration by the societies of the Inner and the Middle Temple of their beautiful Temple Church.
The greatest zeal and energy have been displayed by them in that praiseworthy undertaking, and no expense has been spared to repair the ravages of time, and to bring back the structure to what it was in the time of the Templars.
In the summer I had the pleasure of accompanying one of the chief and most enthusiastic promoters of the restoration of the church (Mr. Burge, Q.C.) over the interesting fabric, and at his suggestion the present work was commenced. I am afraid that it will hardly answer his expectations, and am sorry that the interesting task has not been undertaken by an abler hand.
Temple, Nov. 17, 1841.
P.S. Mr. Willement, who is preparing some exquisitely stained glass windows for the Temple Church, has just drawn my attention to the nineteenth volume of the “Mémoires de la Société Royale des Antiquaires de France,” published last year. It contains a most curious and interesting account of the church of Brelevennez, in the department des Cotes-du-Nord, supposed to have formerly belonged to the order of the Temple, written by the Chevalier du Fremanville. Amongst various curious devices, crosses, and symbols found upon the windows and the tombs of the church, is a copper medallion, which appears to have been suspended from the neck by a chain. This decoration consists of a small circle, within which are inscribed two equilateral triangles placed one upon the other, so as to form a six-pointed star. In the midst of the star is a second circle, containing within it the lamb of the order of the Temple holding the banner in its fore-paw, similar to what we see on the antient seal of the order delineated in the title-page of this work. Mr. Willement has informed me that he has received an offer from a gentleman in Brittany to send over casts of the decorations and devices lately discovered in that church. He has kindly referred the letter to me for consideration, but I have not thought it advisable to delay the publication of the present work for the purpose of procuring them.
Mr. Willement has also drawn my attention to a very distinct impression of the reverse of the seal of the Temple described in page 106, whereon I read very plainly the interesting motto, “testis svm agni.”
“Yet ’midst her towering fanes in ruin laid,
The pilgrim saint his murmuring vespers paid;
’Twas his to mount the tufted rocks, and rove
The chequer’d twilight of the olive-grove:
’Twas his to bend beneath the sacred gloom,
And wear with many a kiss Messiah’s tomb.”
The extraordinary and romantic institution of the Knights Templars, those military friars who so strangely blended the character of the monk with that of the soldier, took its origin in the following manner:—
On the miraculous discovery of the Holy sepulchre by the Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine, about 298 years after the death of Christ, and the consequent erection, by command of the first christian emperor, of the magnificent church of the Resurrection, or, as it is now called, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, over the sacred monument, the tide of pilgrimage set in towards Jerusalem, and went on increasing in strength as Christianity gradually spread throughout Europe. On the surrender of the Holy City to the victorious Arabians, (a. d. 637,) the privileges and the security of the christian population were provided for in the following guarantee, given under the hand and seal of the Caliph Omar to Sophronius the Patriarch.
“From Omar Ebno ’l Alchitab to the inhabitants of Ælia.”
“They shall be protected and secured both in their lives and fortunes, and their churches shall neither be pulled down nor made use of by any but themselves.”1
Under the government of the Arabians, the pilgrimages continued steadily to increase; the old and the young, women and children, flocked in crowds to Jerusalem, and in the year 1064 the Holy Sepulchre was visited by an enthusiastic band of seven thousand pilgrims, headed by the Archbishop of Mentz and the Bishops of Utrecht, Bamberg, and Ratisbon.2 The year following, however, Jerusalem was conquered by the wild Turcomans. Three thousand of the citizens were indiscriminately massacred, and the hereditary command over the Holy City and territory was confided to the Emir Ortok, the chief of a savage pastoral tribe.
Under the iron yoke of these fierce Northern strangers, the Christians were fearfully oppressed; they were driven from their churches; divine worship was ridiculed and interrupted; and the patriarch of the Holy City was dragged by the hair of his head over the sacred pavement of the church of the Resurrection, and cast into a dungeon, to extort a ransom from the sympathy of his flock. The pilgrims who, through innumerable perils, had reached the gates of the Holy City, were plundered, imprisoned, and frequently massacred; an aureus, or piece of gold, was exacted as the price of admission to the holy sepulchre, and many, unable to pay the tax, were driven by the swords of the Turcomans from the very threshold of the object of all their hopes, the bourne of their long pilgrimage, and were compelled to retrace their weary steps in sorrow and anguish to their distant homes.3 The melancholy intelligence of the profanation of the holy places, and of the oppression and cruelty of the Turcomans, aroused the religious chivalry of Christendom; “a nerve was touched of exquisite feeling, and the sensation vibrated to the heart of Europe.”
Then arose the wild enthusiasm of the crusades; men of all ranks, and even monks and priests, animated by the exhortations of the pope and the preachings of Peter the Hermit, flew to arms, and enthusiastically undertook “the pious and glorious enterprize” of rescuing the holy sepulchre of Christ from the foul abominations of the heathen.
When intelligence of the capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders (a. d. 1099) had been conveyed to Europe, the zeal of pilgrimage blazed forth with increased fierceness; it had gathered intensity from the interval of its suppression by the wild Turcomans, and promiscuous crowds of both sexes, old men and children, virgins and matrons, thinking the road then open and the journey practicable, successively pressed forwards towards the Holy City, with the passionate desire of contemplating the original monuments of the Redemption.4 The infidels had indeed been driven out of Jerusalem, but not out of Palestine. The lofty mountains bordering the sea-coast were infested by bold and warlike bands of fugitive Mussulmen, who maintained themselves in various impregnable castles and strongholds, from whence they issued forth upon the high-roads, cut off the communication between Jerusalem and the sea-ports, and revenged themselves for the loss of their habitations and property by the indiscriminate pillage of all travellers. The Bedouin horsemen, moreover, making rapid incursions from beyond the Jordan, frequently kept up a desultory and irregular warfare in the plains; and the pilgrims, consequently, whether they approached the Holy City by land or by sea, were alike exposed to almost daily hostility, to plunder, and to death.
To alleviate the dangers and distresses to which these pious enthusiasts were exposed, to guard the honour of the saintly virgins and matrons,5 and to protect the gray hairs of the venerable palmer, nine noble knights formed a holy brotherhood in arms, and entered into a solemn compact to aid one another in clearing the highways of infidels, and of robbers, and in protecting the pilgrims through the passes and defiles of the mountains to the Holy City. Warmed with the religious and military fervour of the day, and animated by the sacredness of the cause to which they had devoted their swords, they called themselves the Poor Fellow-soldiers of Jesus Christ. They renounced the world and its pleasures, and in the holy church of the Resurrection, in the presence of the patriarch of Jerusalem, they embraced vows of perpetual chastity, obedience, and poverty, after the manner of monks.6 Uniting in themselves the two most popular qualities of the age, devotion and valour, and exercising them in the most popular of all enterprises, the protection of the pilgrims and of the road to the holy sepulchre, they speedily acquired a vast reputation and a splendid renown.
At first, we are told, they had no church and no particular place of abode, but in the year of our Lord 1118, (nineteen years after the conquest of Jerusalem by the Crusaders,) they had rendered such good and acceptable service to the Christians, that Baldwin the Second, king of Jerusalem, granted them a place of habitation within the sacred inclosure of the Temple on Mount Moriah, amid those holy and magnificent structures, partly erected by the christian Emperor Justinian, and partly built by the Caliph Omar, which were then exhibited by the monks and priests of Jerusalem, whose restless zeal led them to practise on the credulity of the pilgrims, and to multiply relics and all objects likely to be sacred in their eyes, as the Temple of Solomon, whence the Poor Fellow-soldiers of Jesus Christ came thenceforth to be known by the name of “the Knighthood of the Temple of Solomon.”7
A few remarks in elucidation of the name Templars, or Knights of the Temple, may not be altogether unacceptable.
By the Mussulmen, the site of the great Jewish temple on Mount Moriah has always been regarded with peculiar veneration. Mahomet, in the first year of the publication of the Koran, directed his followers, when at prayer, to turn their faces towards it, and pilgrimages have constantly been made to the holy spot by devout Moslems. On the conquest of Jerusalem by the Arabians, it was the first care of the Caliph Omar to rebuild “the Temple of the Lord.” Assisted by the principal chieftains of his army, the Commander of the Faithful undertook the pious office of clearing the ground with his own hands, and of tracing out the foundations of the magnificent mosque which now crowns with its dark and swelling dome the elevated summit of Mount Moriah.8
This great house of prayer, the most holy Mussulman Temple in the world after that of Mecca, is erected over the spot where “Solomon began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite.” It remains to this day in a state of perfect preservation, and is one of the finest specimens of Saracenic architecture in existence. It is entered by four spacious doorways, each door facing one of the cardinal points; the Bab el D’jannat, or gate of the garden, on the north; the Bab el Kebla, or gate of prayer, on the south; the Bab ib’n el Daoud, or the gate of the son of David, on the east; and the Bab el Garbi, on the west. By the Arabian geographers it is called Beit Allah, the house of God, also Beit Almokaddas, or Beit Almacdes, the holy house. From it Jerusalem derives its Arabic name, el Kods, the holy, el Schereef, the noble, and el Mobarek, the blessed; while the governors of the city, instead of the customary high-sounding titles of sovereignty and dominion, take the simple title of Hami, or protectors.
On the conquest of Jerusalem by the crusaders, the crescent was torn down from the summit of this famous Mussulman Temple, and was replaced by an immense golden cross, and the edifice was then consecrated to the services of the christian religion, but retained its simple appellation of “The Temple of the Lord.” William, Archbishop of Tyre and Chancellor of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, gives an interesting account of this famous edifice as it existed in his time, during the Latin dominion. He speaks of the splendid mosaic work, of the Arabic characters setting forth the name of the founder, and the cost of the undertaking, and of the famous rock under the centre of the dome, which is to this day shown by the Moslems as the spot whereon the destroying angel stood, “with his drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem.”9 This rock he informs us was left exposed and uncovered for the space of fifteen years after the conquest of the holy city by the crusaders, but was, after that period, cased with a handsome altar of white marble, upon which the priests daily said mass.
To the south of this holy Mussulman temple, on the extreme edge of the summit of Mount Moriah, and resting against the modern walls of the town of Jerusalem, stands the venerable christian church of the Virgin, erected by the Emperor Justinian, whose stupendous foundations, remaining to this day, fully justify the astonishing description given of the building by Procopius. That writer informs us that in order to get a level surface for the erection of the edifice, it was necessary, on the east and south sides of the hill, to raise up a wall of masonry from the valley below, and to construct a vast foundation, partly composed of solid stone and partly of arches and pillars. The stones were of such magnitude, that each block required to be transported in a truck drawn by forty of the emperor’s strongest oxen; and to admit of the passage of these trucks it was necessary to widen the roads leading to Jerusalem. The forests of Lebanon yielded their choicest cedars for the timbers of the roof, and a quarry of variegated marble, seasonably discovered in the adjoining mountains, furnished the edifice with superb marble columns.10 The interior of this interesting structure, which still remains at Jerusalem, after a lapse of more than thirteen centuries, in an excellent state of preservation, is adorned with six rows of columns, from whence spring arches supporting the cedar beams and timbers of the roof; and at the end of the building is a round tower, surmounted by a dome. The vast stones, the walls of masonry, and the subterranean colonnade raised to support the south-east angle of the platform whereon the church is erected, are truly wonderful, and may still be seen by penetrating through a small door, and descending several flights of steps at the south-east corner of the inclosure. Adjoining the sacred edifice, the emperor erected hospitals, or houses of refuge, for travellers, sick people, and mendicants of all nations; the foundations whereof, composed of handsome Roman masonry, are still visible on either side of the southern end of the building.
On the conquest of Jerusalem by the Moslems, this venerable church was converted into a mosque, and was called D’jamé al Acsa; it was enclosed, together with the great Mussulman Temple of the Lord erected by the Caliph Omar, within a large area by a high stone wall, which runs around the edge of the summit of Mount Moriah, and guards from the profane tread of the unbeliever the whole of that sacred ground whereon once stood the gorgeous temple of the wisest of kings.11
When the Holy City was taken by the crusaders, the D’jamé al Acsa, with the various buildings constructed around it, became the property of the kings of Jerusalem; and is denominated by William of Tyre “the palace,” or “royal house to the south of the Temple of the Lord, vulgarly called the Temple of Solomon.”12 It was this edifice or temple on Mount Moriah which was appropriated to the use of the poor fellow-soldiers of Jesus Christ, as they had no church and no particular place of abode, and from it they derived their name of Knights Templars.13
James of Vitry, Bishop of Acre, who gives an interesting account of the holy places, thus speaks of the Temple of the Knights Templars. “There is, moreover, at Jerusalem another temple of immense spaciousness and extent, from which the brethren of the knighthood of the Temple derive their name of Templars, which is called the Temple of Solomon, perhaps to distinguish it from the one above described, which is specially called the Temple of the Lord.”14 He moreover informs us in his oriental history, that “in the Temple of the Lord there is an abbot and canons regular; and be it known that the one is the Temple of the Lord, and the other the Temple of the Chivalry. These are clerks, the others are knights.”15
The canons of the Temple of the Lord conceded to the poor fellow-soldiers of Jesus Christ the large court extending between that building and the Temple of Solomon; the king, the patriarch, and the prelates of Jerusalem, and the barons of the Latin kingdom, assigned them various gifts and revenues for their maintenance and support,16 and the order being now settled in a regular place of abode, the knights soon began to entertain more extended views, and to seek a larger theatre for the exercise of their holy profession.
Their first aim and object had been, as before mentioned, simply to protect the poor pilgrims, on their journey backwards and forwards, from the sea-coast to Jerusalem;17 but as the hostile tribes of Mussulmen, which everywhere surrounded the Latin kingdom, were gradually recovering from the stupifying terror into which they had been plunged by the successful and exterminating warfare of the first crusaders, and were assuming an aggressive and threatening attitude, it was determined that the holy warriors of the Temple should, in addition to the protection of pilgrims, make the defence of the christian kingdom of Jerusalem, of the eastern church, and of all the holy places, a part of their particular profession.
The two most distinguished members of the fraternity were Hugh de Payens and Geoffrey de St. Aldemar, or St. Omer, two valiant soldiers of the cross, who had fought with great credit and renown at the siege of Jerusalem. Hugh de Payens was chosen by the knights to be the superior of the new religious and military society, by the title of “The Master of the Temple;” and he has, consequently, generally been called the founder of the order.
The name and reputation of the Knights Templars speedily spread throughout Europe, and various illustrious pilgrims from the far west aspired to become members of the holy fraternity. Among these was Fulk, Count of Anjou, who joined the society as a married brother, (a. d. 1120,) and annually remitted the order thirty pounds of silver. Baldwin, king of Jerusalem, foreseeing that great advantages would accrue to the Latin kingdom by the increase of the power and numbers of these holy warriors, exerted himself to extend the order throughout all Christendom, so that he might, by means of so politic an institution, keep alive the holy enthusiasm of the west, and draw a constant succour from the bold and warlike races of Europe for the support of his christian throne and kingdom.
St. Bernard, the holy abbot of Clairvaux, had been a great admirer of the Templars. He wrote a letter to the Count of Champagne, on his entering the order, (a. d. 1123,) praising the act as one of eminent merit in the sight of God; and it was determined to enlist the all-powerful influence of this great ecclesiastic in favour of the fraternity. “By a vow of poverty and penance, by closing his eyes against the visible world, by the refusal of all ecclesiastical dignities, the Abbot of Clairvaux became the oracle of Europe, and the founder of one hundred and sixty convents. Princes and pontiffs trembled at the freedom of his apostolical censures: France, England, and Milan, consulted and obeyed his judgment in a schism of the church: the debt was repaid by the gratitude of Innocent the Second; and his successor, Eugenius the Third, was the friend and disciple of the holy St. Bernard.”18
To this learned and devout prelate two knights templars were despatched with the following letter:
“Baldwin, by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, King of Jerusalem, and Prince of Antioch, to the venerable Father Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, health and regard.
“The Brothers of the Temple, whom the Lord hath deigned to raise up, and whom by an especial Providence he preserves for the defence of this kingdom, desiring to obtain from the Holy See the confirmation of their institution, and a rule for their particular guidance, we have determined to send to you the two knights, Andrew and Gondemar, men as much distinguished by their military exploits as by the splendour of their birth, to obtain from the Pope the approbation of their order, and to dispose his holiness to send succour and subsidies against the enemies of the faith, reunited in their design to destroy us, and to invade our christian territories.
“Well knowing the weight of your mediation with God and his vicar upon earth, as well as with the princes and powers of Europe, we have thought fit to confide to you these two important matters, whose successful issue cannot be otherwise than most agreeable to ourselves. The statutes we ask of you should be so ordered and arranged as to be reconcilable with the tumult of the camp and the profession of arms; they must, in fact, be of such a nature as to obtain favour and popularity with the christian princes.
“Do you then so manage, that we may, through you, have the happiness of seeing this important affair brought to a successful issue, and address for us to heaven the incense of your prayers.”19
Soon after the above letter had been despatched to St. Bernard, Hugh de Payens himself proceeded to Rome, accompanied by Geoffrey de St. Aldemar, and four other brothers of the order, viz. Brother Payen de Montdidier, Brother Gorall, Brother Geoffrey Bisol, and Brother Archambauld de St. Amand. They were received with great honour and distinction by Pope Honorius, who warmly approved of the objects and designs of the holy fraternity. St. Bernard had, in the mean time, taken the affair greatly to heart; he negotiated with the Pope, the legate, and the bishops of France, and obtained the convocation of a great ecclesiastical council at Troyes, (a. d. 1128,) which Hugh de Payens and his brethren were invited to attend. This council consisted of several archbishops, bishops, and abbots, among which last was St. Bernard himself. The rules to which the Templars had subjected themselves were there described by the master, and to the holy Abbot of Clairvaux was confided the task of revising and correcting these rules, and of framing a code of statutes fit and proper for the governance of the great religious and military fraternity of the Temple.
1Elmacin, Hist. Saracen. Eutychius.
2Ingulphus, the secretary of William the Conqueror, one of the number, states that he sallied forth from Normandy with thirty companions, all stout and well-appointed horsemen, and that they returned twenty miserable palmers, with the staff in their hand and the wallet at their back.—Baronius ad ann. 1064, No. 43, 56.
3Will. Tyr., lib. i. cap. 10, ed. 1564.
4Omnibus mundi partibus divites et pauperes, juvenes et virgines, senes cum junioribus, loca sancta visitaturi Hierosolymam pergerent.—Jac. de Vitriaco. Hist. Hierosol. cap. lxv.
5“To kiss the holy monuments,” says William of Tyre, “came sacred and chaste widows, forgetful of feminine fear, and the multiplicity of dangers that beset their path.”—Lib. xviii. cap. 5.
6Quidam autem Deo amabiles et devoti milites, charitate ferventes, mundo renuntiantes, et Christi se servitio mancipantes in manu Patriarchæ Hierosolymitani professione et voto solemni sese astrinxerunt, ut a prædictis latronibus, et viris sanguinum, defenderent peregrinos, et stratas publicas custodirent, more canonicorum regularium in obedientia et castitate et sine proprio militaturi summo regi. Jac. de Vitr. Hist. Hierosol. apud Gesta Dei per Francos, cap. lxv. p. 1083.—Will. Tyr. lib. xii. cap. 7. There were three kinds of poverty. The first and strictest (altissima) admitted not of the possession of any description of property whatever. The second (media) forbade the possession of individual property, but sanctioned any amount of wealth when shared by a fraternity in common. The lowest was where a separate property in some few things was allowed, such as food and clothing, whilst everything else was shared in common. The second kind of poverty (media) was adopted by the Templars.
7Pantaleon, lib. iii. p. 82.
8D’Herbelot Bib. Orient. p. 270, 687, ed. 1697. William of Tyre, who lived at Jerusalem shortly after the conquest of the city by the Crusaders, tells us that the Caliph Omar required the Patriarch Sophronius to point out to him the site of the temple destroyed by Titus, which being done, the caliph immediately commenced the erection of a fresh temple thereon, “Quo postea infra modicum tempus juxta conceptum mentis suæ feliciter consummato, quale hodie Hierosolymis esse dinoscitur, multis et infinites ditavit possessionibus.”—Will. Tyr. lib. i. cap. 2.
9Erant porro in eodem Templi ædificio, intus et extra ex opere musaico, Arabici idiomatis literarum vetustissima monimenta, quibus et auctor et impensarum quantitas et quo tempore opus inceptum quodque consummatum fuerit evidenter declaratur.... In hujus superioris areæ medio Templum ædificatum est, forma quidem octogonum et laterum totidem, tectum habens sphericum plumbo artificiose copertum.... Intus vero in medio Templi, infra interiorem columnarum ordinem rupes est, &c.—Will. Tyr. lib. i. cap 2, lib. viii. cap. 3. In hoc loco, supra rupem quæ adhuc in eodem Templo consistit, dicitur stetisse et apparuisse David exterminator Angelus.... Templum Dominicum in tanta veneratione habent Saraceni, ut nullus eorum ipsum audeat aliquibus sordibus maculare; sed a remotis et longinquis regionibus, a temporibus Salomonis usque ad tempora præsentia, veniunt adorare.—Jac. de Vitr. Hist. Hierosol. cap. lxii. p. 1080.
10Procopius de ædificiis Justiniani, lib. 5.
11Phocas believes the whole space around these buildings to be the area of the ancient temple. ‘Εν τω ἀρχαίω δαπεδω του περιώνυμου ναου έκείνοὺ του Σὸλομωντος θεωρουμενος ... ῎Εξωθεν δὲ του ναου ἐστι περιαύλιον μεγα λιθόστωτον τὸ παλαιὸν, ὼς οιμαι, του μεγαλου ναου δάπεδον.—Phocæ descript. Terr. Sanc. cap. xiv. Colon. 1653.
12Quibus quoniam neque ecclesia erat, neque certum habebant domicilium, Rex in Palatio suo, quod secus Templum Domini ad australem habet partem, eis concessit habitaculum.—Will. Tyr. lib. xii. cap. 7. And in another place, speaking of the Temple of the Lord, he says, Ab Austro vero domum habet Regiam, quæ vulgari appellatione Templum Salomonis dicitur.—Ib. lib. viii. cap. 3.
13Qui quoniam juxta Templum Domini, ut prædiximus, in Palatio regio mansionem habent, fratres militiæ Templi dicuntur.—Will. Tyr. lib. xii. cap. 7.
14Est præterea Hierosolymis Templum aliud immensæ quantitatis et amplitudinis, a quo fratres militiæ Templi, Templarii nominantur, quod Templum Salomonis nuncupatur, forsitan ad distinctionem alterius quod specialiter Templum Domini appellatur.—Jac. de Vitr. cap. 62.
15In Templo Domini abbas est et canonici regulares, et sciendum est quod aliud est Templum Domini, aliud Templum militiæ. Isti clerici, illi milites.—Hist. Orient. Jac. de Vitr. apud Thesaur. Nov. Anecd. Martene, tom. iii. col. 277.
16Will. Tyr. lib. xii. cap. 7.
17Prima autem eorum professio quodque eis a domino Patriarcha et reliquis episcopis in remissionem peccatorum injunctum est, ut vias et itinera, ad salutem peregrinorum contra latronum et incursantium insidias, pro viribus conservarent.—Will. Tyr. lib. xii. cap. 7.
19Reg. Constit. et Privileg. Ordinis Cisterc. p. 447.
Regula Pauperum Commilitonum Christi et Templi Salomonis.1
“Parmi les contradictions qui entrent dans le gouvernement de ce monde ce n’en est pas un petite que cette institution de moines armées qui font vœu de vivre là a fois en anachoretes et en soldats.”
Voltaire sur les Mœurs et l’Esprit des Nations.
“The rule of the poor fellow-soldiers of Jesus Christ and of the Temple of Solomon,” arranged by St. Bernard, and sanctioned by the Holy Fathers of the Council of Troyes, for the government and regulation of the monastic and military society of the Temple, is principally of a religious character, and of an austere and gloomy cast. It is divided into seventy-two heads or chapters, and is preceded by a short prologue, addressed “to all who disdain to follow after their own wills, and desire with purity of mind to fight for the most high and true king,” exhorting them to put on the armour of obedience, and to associate themselves together with piety and humility for the defence of the holy catholic church; and to employ a pure diligence, and a steady perseverance in the exercise of their sacred profession, so that they might share in the happy destiny reserved for the holy warriors who had given up their lives for Christ.
The rule enjoins severe devotional exercises, self-mortification, fasting, and prayer, and a constant attendance at matins, vespers, and on all the services of the church, “that being refreshed and satisfied with heavenly food, instructed and stablished with heavenly precepts, after the consummation of the divine mysteries,” none might be afraid of the fight, but be prepared for the crown. If unable to attend the regular service of God, the absent brother is for matins to say over thirteen pater-nosters, for every hour seven, and for vespers nine. When any templar draweth nigh unto death, the chaplains and clerk are to assemble and offer up a solemn mass for his soul; the surrounding brethren are to spend the night in prayer, and a hundred pater-nosters are to be repeated for the dead brother. “Moreover,” say the holy Fathers, “we do strictly enjoin you, that with divine and most tender charity ye do daily bestow as much meat and drink as was given to that brother when alive, unto some poor man for forty days.” The brethren are, on all occasions, to speak sparingly, and to wear a grave and serious deportment. They are to be constant in the exercise of charity and almsgiving, to have a watchful care over all sick brethren, and to support and sustain all old men. They are not to receive letters from their parents, relations, or friends, without the license of the master, and all gifts are immediately to be taken to the latter, or to the treasurer, to be disposed of as he may direct. They are, moreover, to receive no service or attendance from a woman, and are commanded, above all things, to shun feminine kisses.
There is much that is highly praiseworthy in this rule, and some extracts therefrom will be read with interest.
“VIII. In one common hall, or refectory, we will that you take meat together, where, if your wants cannot be made known by signs, ye are softly and privately to ask for what you want. If at any time the thing you require is not to be found, you must seek it with all gentleness, and with submission and reverence to the board, in remembrance of the words of the apostle: Eat thy bread in silence, and in emulation of the psalmist, who says, I have set a watch upon my mouth; that is, I have communed with myself that I may not offend, that is, with my tongue; that is, I have guarded my mouth, that I may not speak evil.
“IX. At dinner and at supper, let there be always some sacred reading. If we love the Lord, we ought anxiously to long for, and we ought to hear with most earnest attention, his wholesome words and precepts....
“X. Let a repast of flesh three times a week suffice you, excepting at Christmas, or Easter, or the feast of the Blessed Mary, or of All Saints.... On Sunday we think it clearly fitting and expedient that two messes of flesh should be served up to the knights and the chaplains. But let the rest, to wit, the esquires and retainers, remain contented with one, and be thankful therefor.
“XI. Two and two ought in general to eat together, that one may have an eye upon another....
“XII. On the second and fourth days of the week, and upon Saturday, we think two or three dishes of pulse, or other vegetables, will be sufficient for all of you, and so we enjoin it to be observed; and whosoever cannot eat of the one may feed upon the other.
“XIII. But on the sixth day (Friday) we recommend the Lenten food, in reverence of the Passion, to all of you, excepting such as be sick; and from the feast of All Saints until Easter, it must be eaten but once a day, unless it happen to be Christmas-day, or the feast of Saint Mary, or of the Apostles, when they may eat thereof twice; and so at other times, unless a general fast should take place.
“XIV. After dinner and supper, we peremptorily command thanks to be given to Christ, the great Provider of all things, with a humble heart, as it becomes you, in the church, if it be near at hand, and if it be not, in the place where food has been eaten. The fragments (the whole loaves being reserved) should be given with brotherly charity to the domestics, or to poor people. And so we order it.
“XV. Although the reward of poverty, which is the kingdom of heaven, be doubtless due unto the poor, yet we command you to give daily unto the almoner the tenth of your bread for distribution, a thing which the Christian religion assuredly recommends as regards the poor.
“XVI. When the sun leaveth the eastern region, and descends into the west, at the ringing of the bell, or other customary signal, ye must all go to compline (evening prayer;) but we wish you beforehand to take a general repast. But this repast we leave to the regulation and judgment of the Master, that when he pleaseth you may have water, and when he commandeth you may receive it kindly tempered with wine: but this must not be done too plentifully, but sparingly, because we see even wise men fall away through wine.
“XVII. The compline being ended, you must go to bed. After the brothers have once departed from the hall, it must not be permitted any one to speak in public, except it be upon urgent necessity. But whatever is spoken must be said in an under tone by the knight to his esquire. Perchance, however, in the interval between prayers and sleep, it may behove you, from urgent necessity, no opportunity having occurred during the day, to speak on some military matter, or concerning the state of your house, with some portion of the brethren, or with the Master, or with him to whom the government of the house has been confided: this, then, we order to be done in conformity with that which hath been written: In many words thou shalt not avoid sin; and in another place, Life and death are in the hands of the tongue. In that discourse, therefore, we utterly prohibit scurrility and idle words moving unto laughter, and on going to bed, if any one amongst you hath uttered a foolish saying, we enjoin him, in all humility, and with purity of devotion, to repeat the Lord’s Prayer.
“XVIII. We do not require the wearied soldiers to rise to matins, as it is plain the others must, but with the assent of the Master, or of him who hath been put in authority by the Master, they may take their rest; they must, nevertheless, sing thirteen appointed prayers, so that their minds be in unison with their voices, in accordance with that of the prophet: Sing wisely unto the Lord, and again, I will sing unto thee in the sight of the angels. This, however, should always be left to the judgment of the Master....
“XX. ... To all the professed knights, both in winter and summer, we give, if they can be procured, white garments, that those who have cast behind them a dark life may know that they are to commend themselves to their Creator by a pure and white life. For what is whiteness but perfect chastity, and chastity is the security of the soul and the health of the body. And unless every knight shall continue chaste, he shall not come to perpetual rest, nor see God, as the apostle Paul witnesseth: Follow after peace with all men, and chastity, without which no man shall see God....
“XXI. ... Let all the esquires and retainers be clothed in black garments; but if such cannot be found, let them have what can be procured in the province where they live, so that they be of one colour, and such as is of a meaner character, viz. brown.
“XXII. It is granted to none to wear white habits, or to have white mantles, excepting the above-named knights of Christ.
“XXIII. We have decreed in common council, that no brother shall wear skins or cloaks, or anything serving as a covering for the body in the winter, even the cassock made of skins, except they be the skins of lambs or of rams....
“XXV. If any brother wisheth as a matter of right, or from motives of pride, to have the fairest or best habit, for such presumption without doubt he merits the very worst....
“XXX. To each one of the knights let there be allotted three horses. The noted poverty of the House of God, and of the Temple of Solomon, does not at present permit an increase of the number, unless it be with the license of the Master....
“XXXI. For the same reason we grant unto each knight only one esquire; but if that esquire serve any knight gratis, and for charity, it is not lawful to chide him, nor to strike him for any fault.
“XXXII. We order you to purchase for all the knights desiring to serve Christ in purity of spirit, horses fit for their daily occasions, and whatever is necessary for the due discharge of their profession. And we judge it fitting and expedient to have the horses valued by either party equally, and let the price be kept in writing, that it may not be forgotten. And whatsoever shall be necessary for the knight, or his horses, or his esquire, adding the furniture requisite for the horses, let it be bestowed out of the same house, according to the ability of that house. If, in the meanwhile, by some mischance it should happen that the knight has lost his horses in the service, it is the duty of the Master and of the house to find him others; but, on this being done, the knight himself, through the love of God, should pay half the price, the remainder, if it so please him, he may receive from the community of the brethren.
“XXXIII. ... It is to be holden, that when anything shall have been enjoined by the Master, or by him to whom the Master hath given authority, there must be no hesitation, but the thing must be done without delay, as though it had been enjoined from heaven: as the truth itself says, In the hearing of the ear he hath obeyed me.
“XXXV. ... When in the field, after they shall have been sent to their quarters, no knight, or esquire, or servant, shall go to the quarters of other knights to see them, or to speak to them, without the order of the superior before mentioned. We, moreover, in council, strictly command, that in this house, ordained of God, no man shall make war or make peace of his own free will, but shall wholly incline himself to the will of the Master, so that he may follow the saying of the Lord, I came not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
“XXXVII. We will not that gold or silver, which is the mark of private wealth, should ever be seen on your bridles, breastplates, or spurs, nor should it be permitted to any brother to buy such. If, indeed, such like furniture shall have been charitably bestowed upon you, the gold and silver must be so coloured, that its splendour and beauty may not impart to the wearer an appearance of arrogance beyond his fellows.
“XL. Bags and trunks, with locks and keys, are not granted, nor can any one have them without the license of the Master, or of him to whom the business of the house is intrusted after the Master. In this regulation, however, the procurators (preceptors) governing in the different provinces are not understood to be included, nor the Master himself.
“XLI. It is in nowise lawful for any of the brothers to receive letters from his parents, or from any man, or to send letters, without the license of the Master, or of the procurator. After the brother shall have had leave, they must be read in the presence of the Master, if it so pleaseth him. If, indeed, anything whatever shall have been directed to him from his parents, let him not presume to receive it until information has been first given to the Master. But in this regulation the Master and the procurators of the houses are not included.
“XLII. Since every idle word is known to beget sin, what can those who boast of their own faults say before the strict Judge? The prophet showeth wisely, that if we ought sometimes to be silent, and to refrain from good discourse for the sake of silence, how much the rather should we refrain from evil words, on account of the punishment of sin. We forbid therefore, and we resolutely condemn, all tales related by any brother, of the follies and irregularities of which he hath been guilty in the world, or in military matters, either with his brother or with any other man. It shall not be permitted him to speak with his brother of the irregularities of other men, nor of the delights of the flesh with miserable women; and if by chance he should hear another discoursing of such things, he shall make him silent, or with the swift foot of obedience he shall depart from him as soon as he is able, and shall lend not the ear of the heart to the vender of idle tales.
“XLIII. If any gift shall be made to a brother, let it be taken to the Master or the treasurer. If, indeed, his friend or his parent will consent to make the gift only on condition that he useth it himself, he must not receive it until permission hath been obtained from the Master. And whosoever shall have received a present, let it not grieve him if it be given to another. Yea, let him know assuredly, that if he be angry at it, he striveth against God.
“XLVI. We are all of opinion that none of you should dare to follow the sport of catching one bird with another: for it is not agreeable unto religion for you to be addicted unto worldly delights, but rather willingly to hear the precepts of the Lord, constantly to kneel down to prayer, and daily to confess your sins before God with sighs and tears. Let no brother, for the above especial reason, presume to go forth with a man following such diversions with a hawk, or with any other bird.
“XLVII. Forasmuch as it becometh all religion to behave decently and humbly without laughter, and to speak sparingly but sensibly, and not in a loud tone, we specially command and direct every professed brother that he venture not to shoot in the woods either with a long-bow or a cross-bow; and for the same reason, that he venture not to accompany another who shall do the like, except it be for the purpose of protecting him from the perfidious infidel; neither shall he dare to halloo, or to talk to a dog, nor shall he spur his horse with a desire of securing the game.
“LI. Under Divine Providence, as we do believe, this new kind of religion was introduced by you in the holy places, that is to say, the union of warfare with religion, so that religion, being armed, maketh her way by the sword, and smiteth the enemy without sin. Therefore we do rightly adjudge, since ye are called Knights of the Temple, that for your renowned merit, and especial gift of godliness, ye ought to have lands and men, and possess husbandmen and justly govern them, and the customary services ought to be specially rendered unto you.
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