The Templar cavalry charge

"The nearest thing that we have to a cavalry manual is the The Rule of the Templars, which in its present form seems to date from the thirteenth century. In several Rules such as 148 - 168 it lays down painstakingly detailed instructions for military behaviour including the delivery of a charge, and this within the framework of monastic discipline.

How could such coherence be achieved amongst laymen who might at best be used to working in small units? Moreover, what the Rule envisages is not simply a single all-out shock-effect cavalry charge. It insists firmly that the brothers should keep formation in units often, gathered close around a banner, and be obedient to the leaders of the Order – usually the Marshal. 

The squires with lances go ahead ready to hand them to the knights, but others hold spare mounts behind and they follow the main charge, with the fresh horses at the ready. Thus if the charge turns into a mêlée, the means exist to support the knights and enable them to charge again in their squadrons. 

The internal organization of the charge envisaged in the Rule would enable the cavalry to react to changing circumstances, or in a largescale encounter to employ different tactics if they were appropriate. All-out charges were uncommon in the West – Muret in 1213 is a rare example. At Bouvines, the technique clearly envisaged in the Templar Rule, of small-scale repeated charges, was used to great effect, and this seems to be what happened at Hastings, where a series of charges were made."

Text quoted, slightly adapted, from this source; Illustration charging crusader, fresco at the old Templar commandery called 'le Dognon', near Blanzac, Charente, France, source.

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