The Origin of the Templars according to Jacques de Vitry ca 1220

Jacques de Vitry (Jacobus de Vitriaco, c. 1160/70 – 1 May 1240), probably born at Reims, was a noted theologian and chronicler of his era. He wrote one of earliest and most detailed accounts on the origin and early years of the Knights Templar. What were his views on this Order?

Horses in the Temple

An important component amongst the equipment of a Templar knight were his horses and the equipment therefor. The well known Article 52 states: "We utterly forbid any brother to have gold or silver on his bridle, nor on his stirrups, nor on his spurs. That is, if he buys them; but if it happens that a harness is given to him in charity which is so old that the gold or silver is tarnished, that the resplendent beauty is not seen by others nor pride taken in them: then he may have them. But if he is given new equipment let the Master deal with it as he sees fit." What were some other rules on Templar horses in peacetime?

Location of the first Templar fortress revealed

In the Middle Ages the important coastal road from Acre and Haifa to Jerusalem ran through a narrow, probably man made passage in the sandstone ridge that runs parallel to the coast line directly to the east of Atlit peninsula. In primary sources this passage is called amongst others Petra Incisa ("carved rock") or Districtum/Destrictum, Destroit or Détroit ("strait") . The setting made the site an ideal location for robbers to ambush pilgrims and other travelers. As even King Baldwin I of Jerusalem discovered in 1103, when he was wounded by robbers in the area. What is the history of this remarkable place and what have the Templars to do with it?

Hugues de Champagne, from Count to Templar knight

Born around 1074, Hugues, the later Count of Champagne, was the third son of Thibaud I Count of Blois and Adèle of Valois. In 1089, his half-brother Etienne-Henri succeeded Thibaud as the head of the Counties of Blois and Meaux.

On 1 January 1093, Hugues inherited from his other brother Eudes (Odo) IV the Counties of Troyes, Vitry-le-François and Bar-sur-Aube. Only to abdicate in 1125 to become a Templar knight in the Holy Land.

How did his lifes develop from being a rich and important French nobleman to becoming a poor Templar?

A new Jerusalem in medieval Scandinavia

"(...) There seems to have been a concerted effort in Scandinavia from the beginning of the twelth century to turn the wilderness in the North into a new Jerusalem. As in many other western European countries at the same time, round churches were built in imitation of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and relics were brought in huge quantities from the Holy Land to Scandinavia, not least the Holy Cross. 

The Chinon Parchment of 1308 - Templars absolved

The parchment of Chinon contains the absolution by Pope Clement V of the leading members of the Templar Order. It was issued after the hearings held at Chinon, at the
Diocese of Tours, on August 17th to 20th, 1308. What was the meaning of this absolution for the Order as a whole?

The relationship between Hugues de Payns and Bernard de Clairvaux

Often it is suggested that the Templar founder and first Master Hugues de Payns and the Templar's spiritual inspirer, the Cistercian abbot Bernard de Clairvaux must have been well acquainted at the onset of the start of the group that became known as the Templars (between 1114 and 1120). One of the arguments is that they both came from noble houses in the Champagne region, so must have known each others. And perhaps even worked together in the founding of the Templar Order. What are the facts?

Ships and navigation during the Middle Ages

The medieval period brought on the maritime scene the emergence of new construction and navigation techniques coming mainly from the North, but also from the East (Arabs, and indirectly Chinese). A centuries-long dialogue between the Mediterranean and these diverse influences followed. 

On the one hand, we can observe the technical excellence of the Scandinavians, who brought to ship design a real empirical talent for hydrodynamics and a more solid clinker construction. On the other hand, in the Mediterranean, the work of the Byzantines, who took care of the large galley fleets and took this type of ship into the Renaissance.

The Origin of the Templars according to Michael the Syrian ca 1180

Michael the Syrian (ca 1129-1199) is also known as Michael the Great or Michael Syrus or Michael the Elder, to distinguish him from his nephew. He was a patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church from 1166 to 1199. He is best known today as the author of the largest medieval Chronicle of Michael de Great, Patriarch of the Syrians, which he composed in Syriac. Various other materials written in his own hand have survived.