Saint Bernard - hating and loving Knights

The Cistercian Order, and especially Clairvaux abbot Bernard (1091-1153), was essential in creating the Templar Order. The Vitae of Saint Bernard was written to promote Bernard's sainthood and may have been idealised. Effectively, as Bernard was canonized by Pope Alexander III as soon as 18 January 1174, so only 20 years after his death. The Vitae gives a very interesting insight into his views, convictions and way of life.

Noble support of the early Templars: funds, hands and land

It was from France nobles that the Templars received their earliest support in terms of donations.

In 1120, the Count of Anjou, Fulk V, future king of Jerusalem, came as a pilgrim to the East and he temporarily joined the confraternity founded by Hugues de Payns. He lived in the palace that King Baldwin II had given to the brethren and on his return to the West, Foulques V granted them an annuity of thirty Angevin livres. With this gesture inspired by admiration and devotion, he certainly hoped to set an example.

The langue d’oïl, the mother tongue of the Knights Templar

French lands have always had a privileged relationship with the Temple, and so did the French language. Templar founders were from what is now northern France, but at the time was all of Francia. Hugues de Payns came from the family of the lords of Montigny, from the area between Champagne and Burgundy, or Godefroy de Saint-Omer and Payen de Montdidier, both of more elevated status, who were respectively from Flanders and Picardy.

Small rural commanderies: the heart of the Templar organisation

Templar commanderies formed an interlocking network, despite significant regional differences. They housed brethren that belonged to three categories of members of the Order: knights, clerics, and sergeants lived together in the everyday life of the commandery.

Usually the brethren in the commanderies did not constitute a community in the full sense of the term. The existence of a cloister, known for the Temple in Paris, was exceptional and dormitories and refectories remained fairly rare.

Were Occitanian Templars also Cathar heretics?

Templars and Cathars were contemporaries. The Cathars were subdued during the Albigensian Crusade (1209–1229). This was a 20-year military campaign initiated by Pope Innocent III to eliminate heretical Catharism in the Languedoc region, in southern France. This Crusade was prosecuted primarily by the French crown. It promptly took on a political flavour, resulting in not only a significant reduction in the number of practising Cathars, but also a realignment of Languedoc with the French crown. 

The Templars had many settlements in the Occitanian region and in that way were closely connected to the local nobility and people. Many of those families were (at least in part) favourable to the Cathar movement. Read Jochem Schenk "Templar Families" on these family ties. At the same time, Templars and Cathers did not see everything the same way.