Thursday, July 20, 2017

Traces of the Knights Templar in Allier, Auvergne, France

On the website a host of templar sites in France is collected and describes in much detail. Especially for Central France, this website mentions more sites than indicated on the well known alternative website of the Project Beaucéant,

The present map endeavours to close this gap for the Department Allier in the Auvergne Region, using the source

With great respect and acknowledgement we quote below part of the description (in French) and illustrations of the commanderies mentioned on under the rules of Fair Use.

The round symbols with white background indicate location where a recognizable evidence of Templar presence is still visible. On the square locations all evidence is lacking nowadays, though archives indicate a former presence.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

"Depictions of the Military Orders’ Martyrs in the Holy Land" - quotes

"The military religious orders were founded to fight on behalf of their fellow Christians, in defence of pilgrims and Christian territory. They fought alongside and supported the crusaders in the Holy Land. New members of these institutions took the three monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, underlining that their work was a spiritual undertaking, despite the fact that they shed blood. In an era in which warriors who died fighting non-Christians were increasingly depicted as martyrs, it is not surprising that writers of the 1120s and 1130s associated the first knight-brothers with martyrdom. But as the Franks of the Holy Land met with division and defeat, how far did this imagery continue? Did outsiders continue to depict the brothers of the military orders in this way? ....

Focusing on Latin accounts written within a year or two of events, this survey has demonstrated that some contemporaries explicitly depicted some members of the military religious orders who died in encounters with the Muslims in the Holy Land as martyrs. As the Christian force in each of these encounters was effectively annihilated, leaving no immediate eyewitnesses, these descriptions must have been more or less fictional. None of these accounts were composed by the orders, and the reports which members of the orders wrote immediately after these battles did not claim that their dead brothers were martyrs. It is possible, however, that some information about these brothers’ deaths originated with their orders.

It is tempting to suggest that the paucity of clerical descriptions of martyrdom between the Third Crusade and the final loss of Acre in 1291 was linked to theological anxiety regarding the appropriateness of labelling men who died in combat as martyrs. While groups could be so described, ecclesiastical authors were wary of using the term for individuals. Fidenzio of Padua was happy to use the term for the Templars who died at Saphet in 1266 as they had died voluntarily and passively, but not in battle. However, the fact that this term appeared again in 1291 suggests that another factor was also significant. Each of these depictions of martyrdom was linked to a devastating Latin Christian defeat which threatened or effectively destroyed the Latin Christian presence in the Holy Land. In such circumstances, the authors may have intended such imagery to encourage recruitment to recover the Holy Land. Certainly, as contemporaries in 1291 expected the Templars and Hospitallers to lead re-conquest of the Holy Land, images of the brothers’ martyrdom could have helped to repair their reputation in the West preparatory to a new expedition. What is not clear, however, is how far these orders themselves promoted their own military martyrs: the current state of scholarship suggests that they did not."

This blog quotes the introduction and the conclusions of the paper "Martyrum collegio sociandus haberet’: Depictions of the Military Orders’ Martyrs in the Holy Land, 1187–1291'" by Helen J. Nicholson, rerpinted on; illustration: "Templar on Horseback, carrying the standard", source:

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The founding of a Cistercian abbey, a good investment

"The founding of a Cistercian abbey was a comparatively cheap investment, in comparison to other monastic orders. The patrons, while seeking the spiritual rewards from charity, they were also looking to develop their land. The Cistercians ventured into the wilderness to seek self sufficiency, a Cistercian abbey depended on cultivating a great expanses of wasteland, woodland and marshland.

Many abbeys actually became economic hubs and the white monks would either through acquisitions or donations obtain more land and subsequently build more granges to manage their growing estates. Instead of finding self-sufficiency they found greater produce, losing sight of their early principles of austerity. Newman concurs, ‘by the late twelfth century, they had abandoned their early ideals’.

This was not evident to all, the papacy rewarded the Order with exemptions to aid them on their journey to seclusion. A bull, Privilegium Romanum, (1100, TN) exempted the Order from any taxation: archbishop or bishop, an emperor or king, prince or duke, a count or viscount, a judge or any other clerical or secular person were all under threat of excommunication if they ignored the bull. Pope Paschall II decreed this because he believed in the spirituality the early Cistercians had set forth – that they would reject normal forms of income: churches with their tithes, manors held by feudal tenure, mills and rents. The Cistercians would take these donations, and subsequently, their untaxed economic growth in England caught the attention of the monarchy. This is where the conflict derives from: A prosperous monastic order has the necessary resources to support the King, but because of the Cistercians’ belief and dedication to the ideal of austerity any form of taxation was refuted by them, as an attack on their liberties and spirituality."

This blog quotes from the MA thesis of Luke Randell: "The Cistercian Order’s relationship with King Richard and King John" published on Illustration: Waverley Abbey, the first Cistercian abbey in England, founded in 1128. Source:

Monday, July 10, 2017

Financing the crusades - the role of the military orders

"Through the military orders of warrior-monks, the church provided directly for the defense of the Holy Land. The most important of these orders were the Knights of the Temple and the Brethren of the Hospital of St. John, although for a time the Teutonic Knights added their strength and resources to the common task.

The orders formed permanent corps of crusaders stationed in the east with reserves in Europe. Each created an elaborate organization with houses of various ranks throughout Europe as well as Outremer. In the west these houses acted as recruiting stations and managed the resources of the orders locally. Early in the thirteenth century James of Vitry wrote of the orders, "They have been prodigiously increased by vast possessions both on this side of and beyond the sea, for they own villages, cities and towns.

The records more than bear out his statement. Each house of the orders, as James went on to say, sent "a certain sum every year for the defense of the Holy Land to their grand master", whose seat was in the east. The sum sent by preceptories of the Hospital seems normally to have been a third of their revenues, paid twice a year before the regular spring and autumn passages to the east. The financial organization of the orders not only supplied their own needs, but also permitted them, especially the Templars, to act as bankers for the crusades. Their part in the collection of the general taxes of 1185 and 1188 has already been noted, and they also received clerical taxes in 1201 and 1215.

Their regular passages offered facilities for other crusaders to resupply themselves. Deposits with houses in the west could be withdrawn in the east, and money could also be borrowed from them in the Holy Land to be repaid in Europe. They preferred to deal in coin and apparently did not develop credit operations beyond transfers. Yet they remained the crusade bankers par excellence, serving the papacy and princes as well as lesser men, while their own resources gave them a prime place in the defense of the Holy Land"

Blog quotes from Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe  (1989), Chapter IV, "Financing the Crusades". The quotes presented here focus on the situation in the first half of the 12th Century. Illustration coins Knights Templar France. Philip IV Le Bel, 1268-1314 AD; source