The Templar Rule and the prohibition of chess, or was it dice?...

Chess is a game of Arabic origin, that was well known and appreciated at all medieval courts, Muslim and Christian, in Al Andaluz and beyond. The prohibition of Templars playing chess attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux is not to be found in one of the 76 Primitive Rules designed on the results of the Troyes Council (January 1129). It can be found in Article 317, which is one of the Rules on the Conventual Life of the brothers (Articles 279-385), part of the seven other parts of the Rule that has 686 articles in total. These were composed in the 1160s.

The masonnic Templar link - myths and facts

Templar history has always been accompanied by myths. The French author Honoré de Balzac, for instance, in 1836 proposed a current of thought according to which the Templar Order had not disappeared despite the trial and the verdict of dissolution that followed, but emerged at the same time as Freemasonry. The Temple was supposed to have survived, underground, within the Freemasons, which may have been a real guild of tradesmen in the Middle Ages but by the Early Modern Era, had kept only the symbolism and imagery of masons.

Knights Templar: council to Kings

For almost the entire duration of its presence in French lands, the Temple enjoyed good relations with royal power. The French monarchs frequently employed members of the Temple as advisors and collaborators. Louis VII was the first Capetian monarch to admit Templars into his inner circle, such as Eustache Chien and even more so, Geoffroy Foucher, with whom he maintained friendly correspondence.

Templar territorial organisation in the West

The purpose of the European Templar sites was to transfer significant amounts of resources to the East. Provisions, weapons, horses, and coinage formed an ensemble that Templar sources termed "responsio", from "to respond". To organise this, the Temple developed a three-tier territorial organization connecting the central house in the East to each of its Western commanderies by means of an intermediate district, termed the ‘province’.

Templar chapel architecture in France

Chapels are today the most iconic remains of Templar buildings in France. Sometimes alone in their village or in the open countryside, they have long attracted the attention of art historians. The myth of the primacy of round churches which has only been documented for the Temple in Paris, Laon and perhaps Metz in France, has now been disproved. The most recent regional studies have found that the brethren did not necessarily seek to develop their own architecture and used a style that is rightly described as “simple and practical.”

More Templar sites in the Allier department, Central France.

On internet much information on the Knights Templar (Templiers) in France is available. Many mix fact and imagination, myths and truths. Two sites are above question.

Project Beauceant (www.templiers.org) is an extensive website (in French), with the main objective to set up a kind of encyclopedia on the Templar Order and a catalogue of diverse historical remnants that the presence of these men has left everywhere in Europe and the Middle-East. To do it, the Project is open to any person, professional or not, who wants to share his research and experiences on this topic. It also contains much information on Templar commanderies.  Regretfully many commanderies in the Centre of France seem to be missing. For these other sources have to be considered, such as the ones below.

Templiers.net is another great website (in French) with a lot of information on the Knights Templar and the crusades. It includes very detailed descriptions of the French commanderies, in alphabetical order and per Département.

Mainly from this latter source TemplarsNow composed a new map containing all known and probable Templar sites in the Allier department according to templiers.net. To this were added sites mentioned on templarii3m.free.fr. All sites were checked on other maps and aerial photographs and categorized, and indicated on the best possible geographical location.

The resulting map is shown below and can also be reached by this link. The work on the map continues, adding information from other sources. TemplarsNow acknowledges gratefully that this map could not have been made without the data from templiers.net.

Similar maps for (for now) 20 other French Departements can be found here.


New Templar site maps of Cher and Indre Departments, France

Today the French departments Cher (18) and Indre (36) were added to the TemplarsNow maps project.

The aim of this project is to present earlier published information on commanderies on modern Google Maps as much as possible at the exact location. Sources are mainly the websites templiers.net and templiers.org, supplemented with information from Wikipedia and other sources on the web.

The location of all sites was checked using the Cassini maps as well as by scanning aerial photographs and maps for appropriate buildings, ruins or even toponyms. At this moment 19 departments have been processed in that way. More to follow.

TemplarsNow has earlier done a similar job for The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.


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Early Templars, mainly from the ranks of lower and middlinge nobility

All the donations received by the Temple added together constituted a significant value. Although the donations were extremely varied in nature, they usually were not cash money but most often lands, revenues from land, rents and rights on land or of taxes on trade, finance or crafts, which were essentially urban activities.

The Templar motte at Richemont, Allier, France

One of the less well known Templar sites of the Allier Department, France, is the "motte" at Richemont (Municipality of Bizeneuille. It is a circular platform, called The Chapels, which once was the foundation of a castle that belonged to the Templars and then to the Hospitallers of Saint John of Jerusalem.

It is said that the location of the quadrangular castle can be recognized on the ground thanks to the vegetation. This was not the case when TemplarsNow visited the site on August 2, 2020. At the time the site was used as a cattle pasture, as far as possible because of the drought.

In 1242, Guillaume de Richemont was one of the signatories of a Montluçon charter.

Richemont is also mentioned with Magnet as a Templar possession, in 1279. On this date, François de Bort, tutor of the Militia of the Temple in Auvergne, recognizes that Robert comte d'Artois, and Agnès Dame de Bourbon, have written off half of the forest of Magnet acquired by the Order of the Temple, but in reserving high justice for the men of the Temple who live in the village of Magnet at the Domaine du Temple à Magnet (act 657).

The toponyms: Les Chapelles, Le Champ de l'Abeille, La Champ de l'Hôpital preserve the memory of the original function of the Motte de Richemont.



Text (translated from French) based on this site; Pictures made by TemplarsNow, August 2, 2020.

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