Did Knights Templar wear beards?

Many popular pictures show Knights Templar clean shaven. Is this corrects?

The Primitive Templar Rule, written in 1128 and added to the minutes of the Council of Troyes in 1129, holds only 72 articles. Here the beard is only mentioned in article 21. 

Article 21: On Bed Linen:
(...) And the Draper (the Brother taking care of the bed linen, TN) should ensure that the brothers are so well tonsured that they may be examined from the front and from behind; and we command you to firmly adhere to this same conduct with respect to beards and moustaches, so that no excess may be noted on their bodies.

In about 1138, under the direction of Robert de Craon, second grand master of the order (1136–1149), the rule was translated into French and modified. In this French Primitive Rule the beard is mentioned in three articles

Article 31 is On Bed Linen and replaces the old article 21. The new version says in translation (TN): "(...) we firmly order that they have a beard and a mustache without any superfluity of vice being noted in their dress."


Article 195, one of seven articles pertaining to the nursing brother ("frère infirmier") says: "(...) the nurse can give them leave of the bleeding and shearing their heads. But to shave off their beards (...) he must take the leave of the master or the one who is in his place."

Article 268, a set of articles on conduct, says: "The brothers chaplain (...) have to wear a closed dress and shave their beards (...)"

The combined articles may suggests that for full brothers, except the chaplains, it was exceptional not to have a "shaven head" (sometimes interpreted as "bold) and a beard.  

The illustration at the top was made by Distopial (source Wikipedia Commons); The bottom illiustration is also from Wikipedia Commons.

The objective of the 1st Crusade - the Nobels' point of view

"Notwithstanding the cooperation of both Churches, the Crusaders stationed in Antioch were tended by their own priests. The Latin clergy were free to serve their community as long as they acknowledged the authority of the Byzantine patriarch. Crusaders in the East were for the time militia who were there to serve a purpose. The question of restituting the churches of the East to Rome was not in the crusader’s plans.

This position changed drastically when Alexius abandoned the Crusaders in view of the impending Muslim backlash. When Antioch was captured, Crusaders sent notice for Alexius to come to the Levant and take official control of the city.

During this time the unfortunate death of Adhémar in the summer of 1098 created an important political and religious void for the Crusaders. Urban had sent Adhémar with the Crusaders to insure the stipulations agreed upon by the two Churches were maintained. When Crusaders learned that Alexius’ forces had turned back on their march to Antioch, the previous religious and political plans were discarded as void.

Alexius’ abandonment and the sudden death of Adhémar left the Crusaders in an unexpected and little prepared for position. Alone in the Levant and confident of their military might, Crusaders acted as an autonomous group which would carry out their own will irrespective of the Byzantines.

Crusaders interpreted Alexius’ actions as the submission of Antioch to the Latins,  and immediately sent a petition to Pope Urban. (...) The letter sent by the Crusaders demonstrates how they understood their own actions in the Levant. Their obedience to Adhémar and the restitution of territories back to the Byzantines was done to honor the Pope’s wishes. Without the papal legate and the Byzantine’s betrayal, the work Crusaders were doing took on an entirely new meaning."

Source: dissertation Sebastián Ernesto Salvadó, August 2011, Stanford University. Illustration: Portrait of Emperor Alexios I (1048-1118), from a Greek manuscript; source Wikipedia.

Templar Chapter 1147

TemplarsNow starts a new series: Templars in Art.

The first piece is from François-Marius Granet (1775-1849), who in 1844 painted the "Chapitre de l'Orde du Temple" (Chapter of the Order of the Temple), said to have taken place in Paris on 22 April 1147.

Every five years, the Chapter of the Templar Order convened, bringing together the high dignitaries of the order. They debated political questions and decided acts which engaged the order. It was also the internal court of appeal that dealt with serious disciplinary problems. 

On April 27, 1147, eight days after Easter, a general chapter of the Order of the Temple in France was gathered in the Commandery of the Temple of Paris. Before Pope Eugene III, the King of France, Louis VII, and many prelates, the Knights Templar and their master Evrard des Barrès engaged for the first time for the second Crusade. At this meeting Pope Eugene III granted the Templars the right to wear a red cross on their white coat.


The painting is kept at the Versaille Palace, France. Photo (C) RMN-Grand Palais (Château de Versailles) / Gérard Blot. Published with permission under the rules of T&C of rmngp.fr Text inspired by Wikipedia.

What triggered the Crusades? - the Church's point of view.

A major question keeps hovering above history: what triggered the Crusades? Today the Church's point of view.

"In March 1095, the devastation incurred by the onstorming Seljuk Turks in the Byzantine territories forced Emperor Alexius I to ask Pope Urban II for help. This request inspired Urban’s preaching of the crusades later that year at the church council of Clermont. Urban’s crusading plans were in great part a striving to restore good relations with the Byzantine church and was not one which had premeditated plans for expanding the Latin Church. So the expressed goal of Urban’s call was to help Alexius I regain Byzantine territories lost to Seljuk forces.

During the first Crusade the papal legate Adhémar of Le Puy was present among the Crusaders to enforce Alexius’ desire that those lands re-conquered would be given back to the Byzantines. An additional condition was that any other lands gained through their efforts would likewise become part of the Byzantine empire.

The seemingly carte blanche Urban offered Alexius through the Crusader’s unconditional help was a result of the papacy’s views of the Eastern church. At this time both Rome and Constantinople were still seen as a single church in communion with each other. The Crusader’s had no other stipulated goals than to restore the Byzantine sees to the holiest sites of Christianity.

The West’s intentions of goodwill were demonstrated when Crusaders conquered portions of North Syria in 1097. When Antioch was taken the patriarch Symeon II was restituted to the position. This appointing of a Byzantine to the see confirms Rome’s intentions. The joint statement issued by Adhémar and Symeon II further points to the cooperation of both churches. Rome and Constantinople were acting as one body."

Source: dissertation Sebastián Ernesto Salvadó, August 2011, Stanford University. Illustration: A mitred Adhémar de Monteil carrying the Holy Lance in one of the battles of the First Crusade; source Wikipedia.

The Knights Templar - Canons at first?

In his book The New Knighthood: A History of the Order of the Temple Malcom Barber reconstructs in detail the birth of the Order.

He argues that it is probable that, prior to their recognition by King Baldwin II sometime after Spring 1118, the brotherhood that later became the Knights Templar existed in another form. Prior to settlement on the former royal palace at the Temple Mount and becoming "The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon" (in Latin: Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonici), this brotherhood probably already existed for some years as one of the brotherhoods of the Holy Sepulcher.

Researching on this TN found that one of the possible groups was the Canons Regular of the Holy Sepulchre. Originally, a canon was a cleric living with others in a clergy house or, later, in one of the houses within the precinct of or close to a cathedral and conducting his life according to the orders or rules of the church. This way of life grew common (and is first documented) in the eighth century. In the eleventh century, some churches required clergy thus living together to adopt the rule first proposed by Saint Augustine that they renounce private wealth. Those who embraced this change were known as Augustinians or Canons Regular, whilst those who did not were known as secular canons.

The also Augustinian Order of the Canons Regular of the Holy Sepulchre was founded in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, then the capital of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Order was recognised in 1113 by Papal bull of Pope Paschal II and therefore must have been established several years earlier.

According to the website of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem Godfrey de Bouillon, who ruled Jerusalem between July 15, 1099 and his death on July 18, 1100, founded the Order of Canons of the Holy Sepulchre. According to accounts of the Crusades, in 1103 the first King of Jerusalem, Baldwin I, assumed the leadership of this canonical order.

The Order’s members included not only the Regular Canons (Fratres) but also the Secular Canons (Confratres) and the Sergentes. The latter were armed knights chosen from the crusader troops for their qualities of valour and dedication. They vowed to obey Augustinian Rule of poverty and obedience and undertook specifically, under the command of the King of Jerusalem, to defend the Holy Sepulchre and the Holy Places. This description seems a blueprint for the later Knights Templar Order.

The Order of the Canons Regular of the Holy Sepulchre was suppressed in 1489 by Pope Innocent VIII, but its history runs parallel to that of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (along with the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of the Custody of the Holy Land), with Grand Magistery vested in the Papacy since 1496.

sources Wikipedia 1 and 2, and LPJ. illustration Church of the Holy Sepulchre Wikipedia