The first Templar House at Temple Mount, Jerusalem

"To the south of this holy Mussulman temple (the well-known dome-shaped Dome of the Rock, TN), on the extreme edge of the summit of Mount Moriah, and resting against the modern walls of the town of Jerusalem, stands the venerable christian church of the Virgin (now the Al-Aqsa Mosque; TN), erected by the Emperor Justinian, whose stupendous foundations, remaining to this day, fully justify the astonishing description given of the building by Procopius. (It is this building and its surroundings that was in about 1120 made available by king Baldwin to the newly formed group of the "Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon"; TN).

That writer informs us that in order to get a level surface for the erection of the edifice, it was necessary, on the east and south sides of the hill, to raise up a wall of masonry from the valley below, and to construct a vast foundation, partly composed of solid stone and partly of arches and pillars (todat known as King Solomon's stables; TN). The stones were of such magnitude, that each block required to be transported in a truck drawn by forty of the emperor’s strongest oxen; and to admit of the passage of these trucks it was necessary to widen the roads leading to Jerusalem.

The forests of Lebanon yielded their choicest cedars for the timbers of the roof, and a quarry of variegated marble, seasonably discovered in the adjoining mountains, furnished the edifice with superb marble columns. The interior of this interesting structure, which still remains at Jerusalem, after a lapse of more than thirteen centuries, in an excellent state of preservation, is adorned with six rows of columns, from whence spring arches supporting the cedar beams and timbers of the roof; and at the end of the building is a round tower, surmounted by a dome. The vast stones, the walls of masonry, and the subterranean colonnade raised to support the south-east angle of the platform whereon the church is erected, are truly wonderful, and may still be seen by penetrating through a small door, and descending several flights of steps at the south-east corner of the inclosure.

Adjoining the sacred edifice (at the left of the building on the above illustration; TN), the emperor erected hospitals, or houses of refuge, for travellers, sick people, and mendicants of all nations; the foundations whereof, composed of handsome Roman masonry, are still visible on either side of the southern end of the building."

source text: The history of the Knights Templars, the Temple Church and the Temple, by Charles G. Addison of the Inner Temple. London 1842; source illustration; links added bij TemplarsNow (TN).

Tempelgesellschaft - a modern free Christian Community

 "We are a free Christian religious community. Free not only because we are not aligned to any of the Christian Churches, but also because our understanding of the essence of Christ’s message departs, in some aspects, from what they teach as being essential.

We teach and believe that the Kingdom of God is at one with the affirmation and practice of the commandment to love God and your fellow man. In working towards this Kingdom, we recognise the task given to humanity and unite in communities in order to contribute to its realisation on Earth according to the directive given by Jesus: »Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Justice!« (Matthew 6:33).

The name »Temple«, based on New Testament texts (Eph. 2:21,22 and 1 Peter 2:5a), expresses itself through the members of the community seeing themselves as living components of God’s temple, which they strive to build in unity and cooperation. Essential for Temple Society membership is not a commitment to doctrine, but the willingness to contribute to the Society’s task of cultivating Christian fellowship.

Because of its Free Christian orientation, the Temple Society is a member of the  Bund für Freies Christentum (Association for Free Christianity) and represents their concerns. We share a bond with all those who work for the good of humanity and towards peace."

"Following the call of their faith, they began moving to the Holy Land in 1868. They were the first to successfully drain swamps and make the land habitable for Europeans. To this day, many traces testify to their beneficial activity...

First of all a necessary distinction: they have nothing to do with the Knights Templar of the crusader era. That order was dissolved in 1312 AD.

The Christian community of the Templers evolved out of mid-nineteenth century Protestant Pietism. The Temple Society was brought into being by the theologian Christoph Hoffmann (1815-1885),  who was the son of the founder of the Korntal Pietist Community near Stuttgart and a delegate to the 1848 National Assembly in the Frankfurt Paulskirche. Its special concern is to return to the core message of Jesus, to his promise of the kingdom of God and his directive to contribute to the making of a better world through personal action to bring about this kingdom of love and kindness.

In view of the grave social ills of the time and guided by this basic attitude, Hoffmann and his followers saw the renewal of society in line with Jesus’ teachings as the foremost challenge facing a Christian community. They separated from the Church because they believed that, along with all the other Churches, the Protestant Church was neglecting this main task.

They perceived such renewal to be achievable through a more profound Christianity, where individuals strive to align their life and the choices they make with the words of Jesus in the New Testament, and where creeds, dogmas and rituals are of secondary importance in line with the Society’s motto: Set your mind on God’s kingdom and his justice before everything else.

source quotes and illustration:

An Analysis of Prophet Muhammad’s Covenants with Christians

"This article examines the roles that religious pluralism and civic rights played in Prophet Muhammad’s vision of a “Muslim nation”. I demonstrate how Muhammad desired a pluralistic society in which citizenship and equal rights were granted to all people regardless of religious beliefs and practices.

The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of his time are used as a framework for analysis. These documents have received little attention in our time, but their messages are crucial in light of current debates about Muslim-Christian relations.

The article campaigns for reviving the egalitarian spirit of the Covenants by refocusing our understanding of the ummah as a site for religious freedom and civil rights. Ultimately, I argue that the Covenants of Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of his time can be used to develop a stronger narrative of democratic partnership between Muslims and Christians in the “Islamic world” and beyond."

This blog quotes the abstract of the paper "Religious Pluralism and Civic Rights in a “Muslim Nation”: An Analysis of Prophet Muhammad’s Covenants with Christians" by Craig Considine, published on; illustration source

‘The role of women in the Military Orders’ - quotes

This blog quotes freely from the paper ‘The role of women in the Military Orders’ published by Helen Nicholson on

"The military orders differed in their attitudes towards the admission of women. Some accepted women as full sisters, while others did not. The rule of the Teutonic Order, for example, excluded women because, according to the rule, women would make the Brothers ‘go soft’, emolliri. Women could, however, become consorores (in German halpswesteren, in Dutch halversustern, or ‘half sisters’), to assist with care of the sick. They should be housed separately from the Brothers: a dwelling should be provided for them outside the Brothers’ house.

The rule of the Order of the Temple excluded all women from entering the order, even from entering a house of the order as associates, because – according to the rule – women would lead men into sin. In contrast, the Hospital of St John and the Order of Santiago accepted women from the beginning of the order. The military orders’ rules, however, set out only the ideal, not actual practice, and it is necessary to consider also the evidence for these women’s everyday involvement in the military orders’ religious life.

There were many ways in which women could be present in the military orders’ houses. There were some wholly women’s houses, although the women would have to allow a male priest admission to the house in order to perform priestly duties such as hearing confession and celebrating mass. Women’s houses were sometimes attached to a separate house of men, or might form part of a double house containing both men and women.

Women are also found associated with predominantly male commanderies, and worked as servants in male commanderies. Much still remains unclear. It is certain that many women involved with the military orders were not fully professed sisters but associates; nevertheless, they appear to have been closely connected to a house of a military order and to have taken an active role within the life of that house. Unlike men, however, they remained in the house they joined – they did not move around within Europe and were not sent to the East. ...

The function of the women was to pray – that is, they played a role in spiritual rather than physical warfare – and in some cases they may also have helped care for the sick. They also made donations to the military orders and effectively helped to draw new members and donations to it. The women’s primary role was prayer and reciting the office each day in their priory church....

There might also be female servants present in commanderies. These were forbidden by the rule of the Temple, but nevertheless there are records that dairymaids were employed at some houses, although they might never actually have entered the precinct of the house. Women also worked on the Templars’ land. ..."

Illustrations from the paper: caption top iluustration: Sigena: tomb of Sister Isabel of Aragon, 1434. Museo Diocesà, Lleida;

Knights Templar Mass at Lier, Belgium, March 2010

On Sunday March 28, 2010, at the Holy Cross Church at Lier, Belgium, the "Orde Supremus militaris Templi Hierosolymitani militiae Christi Oecumenis Belgicae" held its annual commemoration mass for deceased borthers and sisters of the Templar Order.

At the same event a new Knights Sword was consecrated. In the future thus Sword will be used to knight new member of the Knights Templar.

For further information go to

"The Rule of St. Benedict Compared with the Rule of the Templars" - quotes

The Primitive Rule of the Templars

The Rule given to the Templars had as a model the Rule of St. Benedict, influenced greatly by the reformed Cistercian version, and from this base developed their own distinct code of military, spiritual, and everyday life. As a result, the Benedictine and Templar Rules (hereafter BR and TR, respectively; TN) bear considerable similarities. Both the Templars and Benedictines prescribe leaders expecting complete obedience and in turn showing kindness, mercy, and fatherly care. To govern successfully, these men should seek counsel and appoint able subordinates. Elections allow the orders to choose the most capable brothers to be the head. Both rules also create similar initiation processes, vows and duties, restrictions, and prayer procedures for the brethren....

While the Abbot and Master stand atop their communities as representatives of Christ, both Rules highly recommend the usage of counsels to deal with problems. In this way, the leader can weigh several wise options and use his final judgement to resolve whatever is at hand. He is urged by the [Benedictine] Rule to take the advice of the brethren before taking policy decisions. Chapter 3 of RB illustrates the value of consulting the entire community on an important matter. Old and young hold equal weight, and should offer calm, helpful advice without getting too opinionated adamant. In lesser affairs, the Abbot need only consult senior brothers for advice. ...

Besides leaders, Templar and Benedictine brothers both follow comparable codes of life in accordance with their respective Rules, excluding the former's taking up of arms to wage physical battle against God's enemies. They take similar vows, must avoid similar transgressions, and dedicate good portions of their time to humble prayer and reflection. Secular knights enter the Templar ranks, but must change their livelihood to a one of discipline, purity, and hard work, placing aside the superficialities and temptations of secular life for the service of the Lord; they arm themselves not with gold, but inside with faith. The Templars follow virtues and ideals espoused by the Benedictine Rule from which their own Rule borrowed greatly.....

From leadership to the responsibilities and prayer methods of the brethren, the Rule of the Templars contains strong parallels to the Benedictine Rule. Though the military aspects of the Templars turned them into an international, wealthy powerhouse, their code of life in theory never lost traces of St. Benedict's influence. Though the Benedictine and Templar Rules were not followed to the letter throughout history, their messages are timeless. Benedict's Rule carries weight today, not only adapted by orders such as the Cistercians, but valuable to anyone seeking a life of piety and simplicity. Equally immortal are the Templars, who stand tall in history as "lions of war and lambs at the hearth; rough knights on the battlefield, pious monks in the chapel; formidable to the enemies of Christ, gentleness itself to His friends."

This blog quotes from an essay by Steven Grobschmidt which grew out of a paper written for an undergraduate course on the Crusades, published in full on Copyright (C) 1997, Steven Grobschmidt.

"Who were the first Norwegian crusaders?"- quotes

"Several thousand Norwegians answered the call of the Pope to undertake the perilous journey to Jerusalem. ...

The Crusades were originally seen as pilgrimages. In the centuries before the Crusades there was a religious resurgence in Europe. Pilgrimages were an important part of religious life. Initially these journeys were both short and local, but during the 11th century they became more extensive and lengthy. One important goal was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. ... Jerusalem became increasingly important over the course of the 11th century.

Although there are very few sources that shed light on the number of Scandinavian pilgrims and where they were going, about 750 Scandinavian names were recorded in the register of a German monastery in the 11th and 12th centuries, which noted these visitors were pilgrims passing through. “Norwegian participation in the Crusades should be seen as a continuation of the tradition of making a pilgrimage,” Pål Berg Svenungsen (a PhD candidate in history at the University of Bergen, who has tried to collect what we know about Norway and the Crusades from 1050 and 1350) said, with one important difference: These pilgrims had weapons...

The most famous Norwegian crusader is King Sigurd I Magnusson. He was also called Jorsalfare, in recognition of the fact that he had travelled to Jerusalem. But the first Norwegian credited with making the journey was Skofte Ogmundsson, a rich magnate from Giske in western Norway who was said to have gone to Jerusalem in 1101, two years after the city had been conquered by the first Crusaders.

Exactly why Skofte decided to take this trip is unclear, and the only source is Snorri Sturluson’s Old Norsk saga, Heimskringla, Svenungsen said. ... Skofte never made it to Jerusalem, because he died in the Mediterranean on the journey there. But some of the people who travelled in the five ships he was said to have brought with him returned with news about the religious city, which in turn spurred the well-known journey of Sigurd in 1108.

“Part of what is so interesting about Sigurd is that we have multiple, concurrent sources about his journey to Jerusalem,” Svenungsen said. Sigurd, who shared the throne with two half-brothers, launched a much larger expedition than Skofte, with a total of 60 ships that sailed from Norway in 1108. Various historians have estimated that anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 men were on the ships, Svenungsen said.

Sigurd helped Baldwin I, King of Jerusalem, to consolidate his position in the Middle East, and he participated in the siege of Sidon in 1110. Sidon is located in today’s Lebanon, and the city was besieged by Sigurd from the sea and by Baldwin from the land. But this was also a pilgrimage, and Sigurd visited all the holy places while he was there. He returned to Norway in 1111. Sigurd donated all his ships to the emperor Alexeios I of Constantinople, today's Istanbul, and then travelled along country roads through Europe to return home.

Subsequently, the Earl of Orkney, Ragnvald Kale Kollsson, embarked for the Holy Lands in 1153. The magnate Erling Skakke travelled there between 1153 and 1155. ...“Many of those who went from both Norway and Europe were not poor, they were among Europe's most powerful and richest men. They had much more to lose than to win,” Svenungsen said. But seen in the larger context of religious movements across Europe, the Crusades make sense, he said. “A crusade became a kind of alternative to entering a monastery, and knights could thus serve God in other ways,” he said."

Text quotes and illustration from; caption: Sigurd I Magnusson riding with King Baldwin I of Jerusalem around 1110. (Illustration: Snorri Sturluson - Heimskringla, J.M. Stenersen & Co., 1899)

Jerusalem Temple Mount: The Charles Wilson and Charles Warren map collection

This link leads to the Charles Wilson and Charles Warren map collection with notes (1864 AD) of the Jerusalem Temple Mount, with detailed descriptions and reconstructions.

Note "Salomon's Stables" (9) which probably were used by the Knights Templars, while their House was at what now is the Al-Aqsa  Mosque, located near the southwestern tip of the Temple platform (just west of 7).

Frisian ("Dutch") participation in the Crusades

"Frisian *) participation in the Crusades is attested from the very beginning of the First Crusade, but their presence is only felt substantially during the Fifth Crusade. They participated in almost all the major Crusades and the Reconquista. The Frisians are almost always referred to collectively by contemporary chroniclers of the Crusades and few names of individual Frisian crusaders have come down to us. They generally composed a naval force in conjunction with other larger bodies of crusaders.

The first Frisians to participate in the First Crusade were part of the army which was led to the Holy Land by Godfrey of Bouillon and they are only mentioned in passing by Fulcher of Chartres, who mentions that the Frisian language was one of the many tongues spoken by the crusaders. William of Tyre, drawing his information from Fulcher, mentions Frisians as part of the troops led by Godfrey at the Siege of Antioch in 1097. According to Albert of Aix, there was also a fleet of pirates, hailing from Denmark, Frisia, and Flanders and led by Guynemer of Boulogne, who assisted Baldwin of Boulogne at Tarsus.

Although unsubstantiated by known contemporary writings, the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Frisian chroniclers Ocko Scharlensis and the monk Ubbo Emmius wrote in some detail of eight Frisian nobles who allegedly took up the cross and followed Peter the Hermit to the Holy Land during the Peasants' Crusade of 1096. Of the eight (Tjepke Forteman, Jarig Ludingaman, Feike Botnia, Elke and Sicco Lyauckama (cousins), Epe Hartman, Ige Galama, and Obboke (Ubbo) Hermana, son of Hessel) only two, Botnia and Sicco Lyauckama, were said to have survived the pilgrimage to Jerusalem."

*) At the time the northwestern part of the present day Low Countries (the Netherlands) was referred to as "Frisia". See the map to the right from this source,

source text and illustration: Wikipedia; caption of the illustration "Frisian crusaders attack the tower of Damietta during the Fifth Crusade (from the 13th-century Chronica Majora of Matthew Paris)"

Interreligious protection of the “people of the book” - theory and practise

"It might be surprising to imagine that the societies of the medieval Mediterranean were brimming with diversity. The concepts of diversity and multiculturalism seem, in many respects, to be associated with modernity. However, linguistic and religious diversity were facts of everyday life throughout the medieval world. And—very much like today—diversity had its share of proponents and its discontents.

In considering the religious diversity of the medieval Middle East, scholars often praise Islam for inclusive policies toward Christians and Jews, even when aspects of those policies were discriminatory. The concept of dhimma — the protection of the “people of the book”—meant that Christians and Jews could continue practicing their own religions even when conquered by Muslims. In fact, the model of dhimma as defined in the Quran and in the hadith (the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) stipulated that while Christians and Jews must pay a supplemental tax in exchange for exemption from military service, they were not to be forcibly converted to Islam. Dhimma policies thus stipulated a separate tax (which can be considered discriminatory), and yet the tax non-Muslims paid granted them privileges and allowed them to practice their faiths. In fact, dhimma as a concept was considered a novelty of tolerance when it was elaborated in the seventh century.

The protection of the “people of the book” was prescribed by the Quran and the hadith, but some descriptive sources from the medieval period (from the seventh through the fifteenth centuries) show that these prescriptions were not always followed. For example, in many cities under Islamic rule, Christians and Jews were compelled to wear specific colors and/or types of clothing in order to physically distinguish themselves from Muslims. Non-Muslims were not allowed to mount horses in certain cities and towns, and making public noise associated with Christian and Jewish religious practices, such as chanting, singing, and bell-ringing, was discouraged and occasionally considered a punishable offense. Forced conversion was legally restricted, but in practice, mechanisms to encourage conversion were occasionally developed and even institutionalized as a means to integrate local non-Muslim populations into the larger Muslim society."

Quoted from "Diversity in the Medieval Middle East - Inclusions, Exclusions, Supporters, and Discontents" by Rachel Goshgarian; source

illustration: A Jew and a Muslim playing a game of chess; source: The Book of Games (Libro de los juegos), f°63v; Public domain image at this URL.

Economic and religious independence of the Knights Templar

"Independent and permanent, (made so by the papal bulls Omne datum optimum (1139), Milites Templi (1144) and Militia Dei (1145), TN)  the Templars needed the means to sustain themselves. As defenders of the goods of the Church it was appropriate to exempt them from the payment of tithes, while at the same time giving them the right to acquire them, provided that they had the assent of the bishops and their clergy.

Moreover, such a structure needed not only material resources, but spiritual guidance as well, and the bull granted the Order its own priests for the first time. Once in the Order, these priests were as much under the control of the Master as the knights and sergeants, despite the fact that the Master was not ordained. The Order was similarly allowed its own oratories, where divine office could he heard undisturbed by seculars, and around which they and their associates could be buried.

source text:  Malcolm Barber The New Knighthood: A History of the Order of the Temple (Canto) (New Ed) [Paperback]; illustration source

The militarization of the Hospitallers, mid 12th century

Blessed Gerard (source Wikipedia)
"Gerard, a native of Provence, was at this period (start of the 12th century; TN) at the head of the society (of the Hospital of St. John; TN), with the title of “Guardian of the Poor.”

He was succeeded (A.D. 1118) by Raymond Dupuy, a knight of Dauphiné, who drew up a series of rules for the direction and government of his brethren. In these rules no traces are discoverable of the military spirit which afterwards animated the order of the Hospital of St. John.

The Abbé de Vertot, from a desire perhaps to pay court to the Order of Malta, carries back the assumption of arms by the Hospitallers to the year 1119, and describes them as fiercely engaged under the command of Raymond Dupuy, in the battle fought between the Christians and Dol de Kuvin, Sultan of Damascus; but none of the historians of the period make any mention whatever of the Hospitallers in that action. De Vertot quotes no authority in support of his statement, and it appears to be a mere fiction.

The first authentic notice of an intention on the part of the Hospitallers to occupy themselves with military matters, occurs in the bull of Pope Innocent the Second, dated A.D. 1130. This bull is addressed to the archbishops, bishops, and clergy of the church universal, and informs them that the Hospitallers then retained, at their own expense, a body of horsemen and foot soldiers, to defend the pilgrims in going to and in returning from the holy places; the pope observes that the funds of the hospital were insufficient to enable them effectually to fulfil the pious and holy task, and he exhorts the archbishops, bishops, and clergy, to minister to the necessities of the order out of their abundant property. The Hospitallers consequently at this period had resolved to add the task of protecting to that of tending and relieving pilgrims.

A from 1168, after the failed expedition to Egypt in which te Hospitallers participated (whereas the Templars refused to do so), however, the character of the order of the Hospital of St. John was entirely changed; the Hospitallers appear henceforth as a great military body; their superior styles himself Master, and leads in person the brethren into the field of battle. Attendance upon the poor and the sick still continued, indeed, one of the duties of the fraternity, but it must have been feebly exercised amid the clash of arms and the excitement of war. "

source "The History of the Knights Templars, Temple Church and The Temple", by Charles G. Addison Esq (London 1842)

Foundation of the Hospitallers of Saint John at the end of the 11th century

"In the eleventh century, when pilgrimages to Jerusalem had greatly increased, some Italian merchants of Amalfi, who carried on a lucrative trade with Palestine, purchased of the Caliph Monstasser-billah, a piece of ground in the christian quarter of the Holy City, near the Church of the Resurrection, whereon two hospitals were constructed, the one being appropriated for the reception of male pilgrims, and the other for females.

Several pious and charitable Christians, chiefly from Europe, devoted themselves in these hospitals to constant attendance upon the sick and destitute.

Two chapels were erected, the one annexed to the female establishment being dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, and the other to St. John the Eleemosynary, a canonized patriarch of Alexandria, remarkable for his exceeding charity. The pious and kind-hearted people who here attended upon the sick pilgrims, clothed the naked and fed the hungry, were called “The Hospitallers of Saint John.”

On the conquest of Jerusalem by the Crusaders (1199; TN), these charitable persons were naturally regarded with the greatest esteem and reverence by their fellow-christians from the west; many of the soldiers of the Cross, smitten with their piety and zeal, desired to participate in their good offices, and the Hospitallers, animated by the religious enthusiasm of the day, determined to renounce the world, and devote the remainder of their lives to pious duties and constant attendance upon the sick. They took the customary monastic vows of obedience, chastity, and poverty, and assumed as their distinguishing habit a black mantle with a white cross on the breast. Various lands and possessions were granted them by the lords and princes of the Crusade, both in Palestine and in Europe, and the order of the hospital of St. John speedily became a great and powerful institution."

source "The History of the Knights Templars, Temple Church and The Temple", by Charles G. Addison Esq (London 1842)

Papel bulls and the Knights Templar summarized summarizes the papal Bulls pertaining to the Knights Templar as follows:

"There are many important dates in the history the Middle Ages, but some notable ones were the issuance of the Papal Bulls and, in this instance, those issued for and against the medieval Knights Templar. A Papal Bull is a formal proclamation or order issued by the Pope and the use of "bull" is derived from the lead seal or "bulla" that is appended to the end of the order to authenticate it. Originally a Papal Bull was used for normal communications, but would evolve and used for formal and important occasions

The Knights Templar is said to have formed in 1118, but it did not have Papal recognition for another 2-decades. Initially the knights were received and formed by the permission of King Baldwin II of Jerusalem. In 1128, by the efforts of Bernard of Clairvaux the Council of Troyes convened and the Catholic Church officially recognized the Knights Templar. Following the Council of Troyes, three Papal Bulls were issued which further endorsed the Templars and defined them.

Omne Datum Optimum, Latin for Gift," was a Papal Bull issued by Pope Innocent II in 1139 which endorsed the Knights Templar. It allowed the Templars to keep their spoils of war, placing donations directly under papal protection,and exempting them from paying tithing. This proclamation added a priest class to the hierarchy as well as making the members of order answerable to the Grand Master.

Milites Templi, Latin for "Soldiers of the Temple," was issued by Pope Celestine II in 1144 gave ecclesiastical protection of the Knights Templar and further endorsed them by advocating that the faithful donate to the cause of the Templars. This along with the Templars annual collections and with the next Papal Bull laid the base for the Orders famous wealth.

Militia Dei, Latin for "Soldiers of God," was issued by Pope Eugene III in 1145. This was somewhat controversial as it allowed the Templar priests to take tithes, build their own churches, collect property taxes from their tenants, and bury their dead in their own cemeteries. Some speculate that this gave the Order's priests to take confession, but others believe this is a false assumption as no language exists within this Papal Bull that allows for such liberties.

On Friday, the 13th of October, 1307, the Templar suppression began by the French King with support by the Holy See. The French King had the Templars charged with heresy and many other trumped-up charges, most of which were identical to the charges which had previously been leveled by Phillip's agents against Pope Boniface VIII. The first papal bull dealing with the fall and dismantling of the Templars wouldn't come for another month and would begin with Pastoralis Praeeminentiae, but would include 9 others.

Pastoralis Praeeminentiae, Latin for "Pastoral Preeminence," was issued by Pope Clement V on 22 November 1307. This bull was sent to all Christian monarchs and ordered the arrest of all Knights Templar and the seizure of all their properties. In spite of this request not all monarchs complied immediately; some did not believe the accusations and required more force by the Church for the arrests, confiscation, and investigation to occur in places like England.

Faciens Misercordiam, Latin for "Granting forgiveness," was issued by Pope Clement V on August 12, 1308. This bull called for the creation of an Ecumenical Council as a part of the trials against the Knight Templars, the creation of commissions who ran investigations into the charges leveled against the Templars, and established formal structures for the confiscation of Templar property and possessions. This council was asked to be held in 1310, but would not be held until 1311, and is important because it vested the fate of the Templars with the Papacy and not any of the monarchs.

Regnans in Coelis, Latin for "Reigning in Heaven," was the 15th Ecumenical Council which was held in Vienne located in Southern France. They met between 1311 and 1312, and its principle purpose was to formally withdraw the papal support given to Knights Templar as well as dealing with the massive properties that they had accumulated over the centuries. The Templars were allowed to have representatives at this council; the Grand Master was requested to attend, but was imprisoned in Paris by the French king. Those attending the Council were 20 cardinals, 4 patriarchs, around 100 archbishops and bishops, plus several abbots and priors.

Vox in Excelso, Latin for "A Voice from on High," was issued by Pope Clement V in 1312. This bull formally dissolved and removed all Papal support from the Templar Order, but did not wholly condemn the Templars which goes along with his actions of secretly absolving the Templar Order with the Chinon Parchment. "


Great Priory Knights Templar International, Paris, 2012

Video of the Great Priory of the Knights Templar International Chapter of France held in Paris, 16-18 March 2012 "Remembering the Grand Prior of Jacques de Molay".

Souce YouTube.

The Templar Seal - quotes

"The first seal that we are aware of is one of Grand Master Everard de Barres, a small wax seal from 1147 with the inscription “TUBE: TEMPLI: XPI. ....  Seals were used to validate letters, edicts and documents. With these seals, the authenticity of the document was validated.

Since at the time, the fabrication of a seal was quite labor intensive and difficult and a majority of the population were illiterate; the religious orders had their own seals and each one of them had its particular characteristics. There was a Templar seal with both inscriptions, on the obverse the two knights astride one horse and the reverse the Dome of the Rock, and, another one smaller in size with only the image of the Dome of the Boulder as it was referred to at that time. As time went on, special measures were taken to regulate its use and it was kept in a special chest that required three keys to open, one was in the Master’s possession and the other two were held by Templar officials of the utmost confidence.

As to the question of the Templar seal’s image having a connection to the Holy Sepulcher, one must only recall that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem was entrusted to the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, founded by the very same Godfrey de Bouillon during the First Crusade, finally in the year 1098. This military order participated in all of the battles of the Holy Land after 1123 and it is no folly to think that the Poor Knights of Christ and of Solomon’s Temple, would honor their very name and the place where their central command was located, through connection and for all the symbolic meaning of the place.

For all three faiths, the center, the alpha and the Omega is Jerusalem, and in the Holy City the center is, without a doubt, Solomon’s Temple. Although not being physically, there it still emanates that special magnetism, greater than any other Sacred Space. .... As stated earlier, all that remains is the Wailing or Western Wall, but its center is located precisely on the rock sheltered by the Dome. This reminds us in a subtle way that all radiates from that center and all returns to it. It is the way of the initiate and of the Templars or, a certain part of them, were knowing and guardians of that symbolic world that reminds us of that forgotten path, the way to our own center. This is the symbology of the seal of the Dome of the Rock, a reminder of what direction a Knight Templar must look, towards the center of his own heart."

This blog quotes from an article "The Templar Seal - Dome of the Rock" by Fuensanta Santos de la Rubia in the May 2016 OSMTJ Spain The Graal Magazine to be downloaded here. The text and interpunction was slightly improved source quote and illustration. 

Promo-video OSMTH Knights Templar Belgium

Knights Templar and Papal bulls: Militea Dei (1145)

Consecration of St Etienne Cathedral,
Châlons, by Pope Eugene III
"'Militea Dei’, the third of the papal bulls, issued by Pope Eugenius III in 1145, is very similar in both content and style to ‘Milites templi’. The bull begins with praise for the knights’ efforts for the eastern church, drawing attention yet again to important military task the Order was saddled with. The bull moves on, much like the bull before it, to compel the clergy again to gather resources for the Templars.

However, ‘Militea Dei’ is different to its predecessor in that it discusses specifically that the clergy provide priests for the Order to ‘furnish them with the solace they require’. This bull reinforces the message of the previous bull, while adding pleas for the recruitment of spiritual aid. Here it can be seen that the papacy was perhaps concerned about the knights’ spiritual wellbeing, possibly indicating that they were aware of how taxing the rigors of the Order could be. The bull goes on to say that the clergy should allow and aid the Order in having their own temples in which to worship, as ‘It is not fitting and indeed is almost fatal to the souls of religious brothers to mingle with crowds of men and to meet women on the occasion of going to church.’

This is an interesting comment. Firstly, it suggests that the papacy was aware that the Order faced temptation from worldly desires, such as women, and strove to stop the temptation where they could by providing a separate place of worship for the Order. This is a papal recognition of the hardships the Order imposed on itself, and is similar to the praise the papacy bestowed upon the Cistercians for their strict and rigorous worship of God. Secondly, it can be argued that this comment cements the Knights Templar as a fully-fledged monastic Order, as they now had their private place of worship.

Read makes an interesting point about the pope who issued the bull; when Eugenius III was elected as pope he was an abbot of a Cistercians house and also ‘had once been a monk at Clairvaux, drawn into the community by the magnetism of Bernard’. This connection to the Cistercians, and in particular, Bernard of Clairvaux, shows that the influence of the Cistercians on the Templar Order was absolutely pivotal in its founding and subsequent growth. It seems highly improbable at this point that without Bernard’s support and the subsequent support of the papacy that the Order would have ever been anything more than a small group of vagabond knights."

This blog quotes freely from the thesis by Lori Firth, Hull University (2012):  "A Comparison of the Cistercian and Knights Templar Orders, And the Personal Influence of Bernard of Clairvaux", to be found here. References in the source.

The Templar force counted

The number of Knights Templar during the 200 years of their existence remains open for debate. TenmplarsNow collects information on this issue. This paper (in French; quote translated bij TN) states the following:

"By counting the number of dead and missing in a battle, the researchers established the number of figthers present in the Orient. This gives between 300 and 400 for each of the three orders, the Templars, Hospitallers and TeutonicKnights. That is not much in the eyes of the opinion of the time, given their wealth. But the knight is never alone. He is assisted by grooms and valets without whom he can not be effective in the field. In addition, the heavy cavalry needs light cavalry, that is to say, foot soldiers,archers and crossbowmen. At every few hundred knights one must therefore add a few thousand auxiliaries.

A more accurate estimate is made when the Templars were repatriated to France, following the loss of Saint-Jean d'Acre in 1291. That's even why they so concerned about the royal power. With fifteen thousand lances, the order is a more powerful army that the royal army, and always available. One understands better why this gave King Philip grey hair...."

In his "The New Knighthood" Malcom Barber states:

"By the late twelfth century and during most of the thirteenth century the Order probably had about 6oo knights and 2,000 sergeants on active service in the east.... During the thirteenth century the Order may have had as many as 7,000 knights, sergeants and serving brothers, and priests, while its associate members, pensioners, officials, and subjects numbered many times that figure. .... By about 1300 it had built a network of at least 870 castles, preceptories, and subsidiary houses, examples of which could be found in almost every country in western Christendom. The extent of the Templar empire can be gauged from the fact that in 1318 pensions were being paid to former Templars in twenty-four French dioceses, as well as in York, London, Canterbury, Dublin, Tournai, Liège, Camin, Cologne, Magdeburg, Mainz, Castello, Asti, Milan, Bologna, Perugia, Naples, and Trani, in Nicosia in Cyprus, and in the kingdoms of Aragon and Mallorca. In turn this network sustained fighting forces for the holy war in Palestine, Syria, Cyprus, and Iberia, together with some of the most formidable and impressive casties ever built." (text rearranged bij TN)

The early years of the Knights Templar - 1104 - 1120

"The first history of the Brotherhood is known as the time that occurs between the Synod of Nablus (January 16, 1120, TN) until the Council of Troyes (January 13, 1129, TN), where the Order is definitely created, but...what about before?

Before this period that covers from 1104 through 1120...what occurs during this period? This prehistory is the dark era of these knights. How did they support themselves?

As we shall see they had more than ample support, powerful support such as no other group of this sort ever counted on, not even the Deacon of St. John Hospitalier, to take off with such self assured success. They had economic power, they had hosts, they had lawfull cover. Later would come donations that miraculously multiply upon being accepted at Troyes. Their logistics and marketing worked marvelously.

Their provenance was made up of members of royalty and from the different noble houses of the Franks: Burgundians, Normans. etc. made the rest an easy passage of alliance with the highest spheres of the church, perhaps as Mellado says about its early ambition having no measure, perhaps it was not all bucolic and romantic as it has passed on in the annals of its first history.

It is a natural understanding that prior to this time there was already a formation “in testing” since previous  years. How many? Not known, but logic prevails and we must yield and honor the closest hypothesis based on archival documents that were consulted. If my conjectures are correct (and there is no authentic proof to think that they are not possible) we could be talking not of the nine years of its existence until Nablus. If we count 1104 as the year of its conception until 1114 when it is already constituted and is put into practice upon the arrival of the Hugh’s, in that year, until 1120, when its officially recognized at Nablus, some 16 years had transpired that would encompass the novitiate, the temporal acknowledgment; the creation of the Brotherhood or congregation in the aforementioned Synod. It can be stratified in six different periods.
  1. Ideological and embryonic phase from 1104 until 1107, in which the creation of a police force is perceived as necessary. Creative steps are taken that leave Godfrey of Sainte-Omer tasked with its creation.
  2. Formation of the Militia Christi phase, incorpora-ting same with knights related to the conquerors that take Palestine as the new promised land, there whe-re the mister nobody’s can become someone, forcing that social stratification (35). In the long run, the church had served on not few occasions as a means of social climbing.
  3. Phase of activation with the presence of the Hugh’s from 1114 to 1120, where their relationship would be without rules,habits, monastic vows, no depen-dency on military or ecclesiastical authorities, bound only by the particular and personal oath of each of its members. Here we may apply from William of Tyre who wrote “the knights wore secular garb, they wore clothing such as all folk wear...”
  4. Foundation phase, Synod of Nablus (1120, TN) of the congregation or brotherhood, with a proper name, rules, dwellings, monastic vows, uniformity, disciplines, etc.,
  5. Acceptance by the church at Troyes phase (1129, TN). The Creation of the Order.
  6. Definite consolidation of the Order in 1139 by the Omne Datum Optimum Papal Bull.

(...) Thus the date of creation of the embryonic Templars, would be around 1107/1113, (...) From 1114 until 1120 is the recruiting phase. In 1120 the Brotherhood is legalized and in 1129 the Order is created by the Holy See, and is confirmed in 1139."

This blog quotes from an article "The First Templar Knights (Part 2)  -  The origin of the Temple" by Josè Maria Fernandez Nùñe in the December 2015 OSMTJ Spain The Graal Magazine to be downloaded here
 The text and interpunction was slightly improved and clarified. For references see the original text.

Carta caritatis: the Cistercian constitution - blue print of the Templar rule

Cistercian genealogy source
This blog quotes freely from the thesis by Lori Firth, Hull University (2012):  "A Comparison of the Cistercian and Knights Templar Orders, And the Personal Influence of Bernard of Clairvaux", to be found here

"Carta Caritatis’ (also known as the Charter of Charity) is a Cistercian source that is considered ‘the fundamental constitution of the Cistercian Order.’49 There is much debate amongst historians as to when the charter was actually written. Many historians, including W. A. Parker Mason, believe the charter was completed by 1117, however, the modern historian, Lekai, argues that such a document would have taken decades longer. The work is generally attributed to Stephen Harding, the third abbot of the Cistercian Order, though modern historians agree that he was probably the author of only a primitive version of the source, and that the ‘Carta Caritatis’ was expanded by later generations, as and when it was appropriate....

At face value, the ‘Carta Caritatis’ is startlingly reminiscent of the Rule of Saint Benedict in its structure. However, while the Rule is a guide to how monks live their lives in the monastery, the charter reads much more like a legal document, not a guide, but an order. Thecharter is considered the Cistercian constitution due to its regulations for an intricate network of Cistercian houses. The formation of a constitution illustrates how quickly and rapidly the Cistercian Order had grown, no matter what part of the twelfth century it was written. The complex organisation and the mention of daughter-houses having daughterhouses of their own is testament to this."

Religious fanaticism in the 12th Century Muslim camp

"The fiery zeal and warlike enthusiasm of the Templars were equalled, if not surpassed, by the stern fanaticism and religious ardour of the followers of Mahomet. “Noureddin fought,” says his oriental biographer, “like the meanest of his soldiers, saying, ‘Alas! it is now a long time that I have been seeking martyrdom without being able to obtain it.’ The Imaum Koteb-ed-din, hearing him on one occasion utter these words, exclaimed, ‘In the name of God do not put your life in danger, do not thus expose Islam and the Moslems. Thou art their stay and support, and if (but God preserve us therefrom) thou shouldest be slain, it will be all up with us.’ ‘Ah! Koteb-ed-deen,’ said he, ‘what hast thou said, who can save Islam and our country, but that great God who has no equal?’ ‘What,’ said he, on another occasion, ‘do we not look to the security of our houses against robbers and plunderers, and shall we not defend religion?’”

Like the Templars, Noureddin fought constantly with spiritual and with carnal weapons. He resisted the world and its temptations by fasting and prayer, and by the daily exercise of the moral and religious duties and virtues inculcated by the Koran. He fought with the sword against the foes of Islam, and employed his whole energies, to the last hour of his life, in the enthusiastic and fanatic struggle for the recovery of Jerusalem.

The close points of resemblance, indeed, between the religious fanaticism of the Templars and that of the Moslems are strikingly remarkable. In the Moslem camp, we are told by the Arabian writers, all profane and frivolous conversation was severely prohibited; the exercises of religion were assiduously practised, and the intervals of action were employed in prayer, meditation, and the study of the Koran."

This blog quotes freely from the thesis by Lori Firth, Hull University (2012):  "A Comparison of the Cistercian and Knights Templar Orders, And the Personal Influence of Bernard of Clairvaux", to be found here. References in the source. Illustration source.

Religious fanaticism in the 12th Century Knights Templar camp


"The Templars style themselves “The Avengers of Jesus Christ,” and the “instruments and ministers of God for the punishment of infidels,” and the Pope and the holy fathers of the church proclaim that it is specially entrusted to them “to blot out from the earth all unbelievers,” and they hold out the joys of paradise as the glorious reward for the dangers and difficulties of the task.

“In fighting for Christ,” declares St. Bernard, in his address to the Templars, “the kingdom of Christ is acquired.... Go forth, therefore, O soldiers, in nowise mistrusting, and with a fearless spirit cast down the enemies of the cross of Christ, in the certain assurance that neither in life nor in death can ye be separated from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, repeating to yourselves in every danger, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. How gloriously do the victors return from the fight, how happy do the martyrs die in battle! Rejoice, valiant champion, if thou livest and conquerest in the Lord, but rejoice rather and glory if thou shouldest die and be joined unto the Lord.... If those are happy who die in the Lord, how much more so are those who die for the Lord!... Precious in the sight of God will be the death of his holy soldiers.

"The close points of resemblance, indeed, between the religious fanaticism of the Templars and that of the Moslems are strikingly remarkable. In the Moslem camp, we are told by the Arabian writers, all profane and frivolous conversation was severely prohibited; the exercises of religion were assiduously practised, and the intervals of action were employed in prayer, meditation, and the study of the Koran.”"

This blog quotes freely from the thesis by Lori Firth, Hull University (2012):  "A Comparison of the Cistercian and Knights Templar Orders, And the Personal Influence of Bernard of Clairvaux", to be found here. References in the source.

Origin of the Cistercian Order: isolation and poverty

"The self-induced exclusion from the world discussed in the ‘Exordium Parvum’ is perhaps the first instance we see of the ideal of poverty, which became a part of the Order’s mantra. Burton and Kerr point out that with the ideal of poverty, the author of the text is perhaps trying to conjure a comparison; ‘… embraced that poverty which… at one and the same time evoked the notion of apostolic poverty (making the ‘new monks’ the successors of the apostles as well as the early monks). They also argue that the formation of Cîteaux did not occur in complete isolation at all, and that the location of the founding house as described in the source is a manufactured ideal to reinforce the apostolic imagery and an association with the desert fathers; ‘…the reality of the site of the New Monastery was that it was far from remote but it was integrated into the territorial holdings of Burgundy, not many kilometres from the ducal and ecclesiastical centre of Dijon, and settled enough to have a rural population.’

This is an argument that holds substance, as surely the later recruits that saved and ensured the success of the Order would not have heard of the way of life of the monks if they were so far from society. It seems likely that the founders of the Order sought uncultivated land but within a reasonable distance of the civilised world. Considering the success and riches that the later generations of the Order gained, partly through the cultivation of the isolated lands they were given and other ventures such as sheep-shearing in the desolate lands of Yorkshire, this isolation from the world could be considered as a break away from society to gain land (that their benefactors would not mind bestowing) and to avoid competition from other orders.

However such a view perhaps suggests that the early Cistercians did not hold the values that the Order held with esteem, and were only seeking to gain. It would be wrong to suggest that their search for isolation was borne out of greed, but it is interesting to note that their initial ideal of poverty led the Order to become vastly rich and powerful."

Souce text: thesis by Lori Firth, Hull University (2012): "A Comparison of the Cistercian and Knights Templar Orders, And the Personal Influence of Bernard of Clairvaux", to be found here. References in the source. Illustration

Cistercian monks working an praying source

Knights Templar and Papal bulls: Milites Templi (1144)

Pope Celestine II source
This blog quotes freely from the thesis by Lori Firth, Hull University (2012):  "A Comparison of the Cistercian and Knights Templar Orders, And the Personal Influence of Bernard of Clairvaux", to be found here

"The second of the papal bulls, ‘Milites templi’ was issued in 1144 by Pope Celestine II. The bull discusses briefly the military aspects of the order; ‘through them that God has freed the eastern church from the filth of the pagans and defeated the enemies of the Christian faith.’ This shows the complete sanction for the military aspects of the order, even the taking of human life, if it means fighting for the Christian realm.

This consent for violence is in stark contrast to other monastic orders, including the Cistercians. The papal bull moves on to petition the clergy to ‘encourage the people that God has entrusted to you to make contributions in order to supply their needs.’ The bull also goes on to explain that there would be spiritual rewards for those that provide support for the brotherhood which was an important privilege for the Order as it ‘helped them to attract and keep new members and attract associates and donations.’

This request of donations and the subsequent wealth which was transferred to the Order is very similar to the beginnings of the Cistercian Order. Though both orders would not allow personal wealth and sought for a life in which to live by the barest essentials, both orders became extremely wealthy in a short space of time. This bull was important because it allowed the order, for a time, to grow at an astonishing rate, as did the Cistercians. "

The exemplary military conduct of the Knights Templar documented

"Brother Everard des Barres, the newly-elected Master of the Temple, having collected together all the brethren from the western provinces, in 1147 joined the standard of Louis, the French king, and accompanied the crusaders to Palestine.

During the march through Asia Minor, the rear of the christian army was protected by the Templars, who greatly signalized themselves on every occasion. Odo of Deuil or Diagolum, the chaplain of King Louis, and his constant attendant upon this expedition, informs us that the king loved to see the frugality and simplicity of the Templars, and to imitate it; he praised their union and disinterestedness, admired above all things the attention they paid to their accoutrements, and their care in husbanding and preserving their equipage and munitions of war: he proposed them as a model to the rest of the army, and in a council of war it was solemnly ordered that all the soldiers and officers should bind themselves in confraternity with the Templars, and should march under their orders.

The services rendered by the Templars are thus gratefully recorded in the following letter sent by Louis, the French king, to his minister and vicegerent, the famous Suger, abbot of St. Denis.

“Louis, by the grace of God king of France and Aquitaine, to his beloved and most faithful friend Suger, the very reverend Abbot of St. Denis, health and good wishes.

... I cannot imagine how we could have subsisted for even the smallest space of time in these parts, had it not been for their (the Templars’) support and assistance, which have never failed me from the first day I set foot in these lands up to the time of my despatching this letter—a succour ably afforded and generously persevered in. I therefore earnestly beseech you, that as these brothers of the Temple have hitherto been blessed  with the love of God, so now they may be gladdened and sustained by our love and favour. ...

I have to inform you that they have lent me a considerable sum of money, which must be repaid to them quickly, that their house may not suffer, and that I may keep my word....” "

source "The History of the Knights Templars, Temple Church and The Temple", by Charles G. Addison Esq (London 1842)

The Templar Rule and the Cistercian influence

The Primitive Rule of the Templars

This blog quotes freely from the thesis by Lori Firth, Hull University (2012):  "A Comparison of the Cistercian and Knights Templar Orders, And the Personal Influence of Bernard of Clairvaux", to be found here

"The Latin Rule, also known as the Primitive Rule, is one of the earliest sources of the Knights Templar. The Primitive Rule is a result of the discussions that took place at the Council of Troyes, which was under the heavy guidance of Bernard of Clairvaux, the new rising star of the Church....The Council of Troyes took place in either 1128 or 1129, though many modern historians believe it was the latter. The original Latin Rule, from the Council of Troyes, was actually written by the council’s scribe, John Michael, though the credit for its contents go to St Bernard; ‘At the very least he must have been a major influence on the framing of the Latin Rule, for it is clear that the later Templars valued their Cistercian links above all’.

The structure of the text is strikingly similar to that of ‘Carta Caritatis’ and the Rule of St Benedict, which implies a replication of Cistercian organisation and values. What is very interesting to note is that it was at the Council of Troyes that the Knights Templar came to follow the Rule of St Benedict; ‘At the time of the Council, the Templars had been following the Rule of St. Augustine, however, this changed in 1129 with the direct influence of the Cistercian abbot St. Bernard of Clairvaux.’...

The Rule itself describes procedures that the Templar brothers should adhere to on a day-today basis. The description of procedures- in particular clause three, which relate to clothing resonates the tone of both the Cistercian ‘Charter of Charity’ and also the Rule of St Benedict. In fact much of the Rule appears to have strong monastic overtones, rather than a military aspect and the detail that is given to food and drink is very similar to that of the Cistercians. "

For the original Latin Rule (in French) as well as the additional rules Rules visit

The early Cistercians: back to strict observance of the Rule of St Benedict

Illustration from "the Bible of Etienne (Stephan) Harding",
3rd abbot of Citeaux source
This blog quotes freely from the thesis by Lori Firth, Hull University (2012):  "A Comparison of the Cistercian and Knights Templar Orders, And the Personal Influence of Bernard of Clairvaux", to be found here. References in the source.

"The ‘Exordium Parvum’ is a 12th century Cistercian document that includes the early history of Cîteaux, incorporating official letters and documents with narrative. While this source illustrates to us that the monks left Molesme to pursue a more rigorous devotion to the Rule of St Benedict, yet there is contrary evidence within the ‘Exordium Cistercii’ that tells us that the monks left for a new way of life because Molesme placed too much emphasis on materialistic wealth and possessions.

Why would the later Cistercians change the reasoning behind the monks leaving Molesme this way? If they left Molesme because they did not agree with the luxuries that Molesme had, then surely this would tie in perfectly with the Cistercian devotion to living a life of poverty. The Cistercians are perhaps giving a stronger argument for the legitimacy of their founding fathers abandoning another monastic house by changing the reasoning to a stricter adherence of the Rule of St Benedict.

This links in with theme of authenticity which is apparent throughout the source. It makes the legitimacy of the founding of the Order difficult to argue against if they had such a solid basis for the formation of the new order. ‘The insistence on the strict observance of the Rule linked the early Cistercians with the most powerful written monument in the monastic tradition. The Rule of St Benedict is implicitly apparent throughout the source; every mention of the limitations the Cistercians place upon themselves, down to their food, clothing, and the sense of humility they attempt to embody is showing their intrinsic commitment to the Rule."

Gregorian reform at the root of Cistercian monasticism

Pope Gregory VII source
This blog quotes freely from the thesis by Lori Firth, Hull University (2012):  "A Comparison of the Cistercian and Knights Templar Orders, And the Personal Influence of Bernard of Clairvaux", to be found here. References in this source.

"The Gregorian Reforms, (initiated by Pope Gregory VII and the circle he formed in the papal curia, c. 1050–80, dealt with the moral integrity and independence of the clergy, TN). This reform inspired others to seek a monastic life far from the secular world and all its excesses and greed, to a life based around control of desire, and the strict discipline of the rules of the desert fathers.

Many new orders were formed, namely Benedictine and Augustinian. Of these new orders, it was the Cluniacs that dominated in the monastic aspect of the Church (which in the medieval period was much more significant). The Cluniacs sought to follow the Rule of St Benedict, taking vows of obedience and poverty. The importance of the Cluniacs in this innovative period cannot be understated; ‘At the end of the eleventh century, at the height of its magnificence, Cluny was the head of a huge monastic empire containing many hundreds of dependencies and associated houses spread throughout western Europe....

The Cistercian Order finds its origins in the Cluniac monastery. It was from the abbey of Molesme, that Robert of Molesme with other monks, including Stephen Harding, left in search of a monastic life of stricter poverty than had been seen hitherto by the Cluniacs....The Cistercian, though he lived a communal life, had his salvation very much in his own hands than his Cluniac cousin: he was expected to do more to eradicate his own sins than to pray for the forgiveness of others. This illustrates some other differences between the two reformist orders.

The early Cistercians sought an isolated place, rejecting the world, to pursue this vocation.... The history of the Cistercian Order is integral to the history of western monasticism....Indeed, the history of the Cistercian Order is so intertwined with the history of medieval Europe as a whole, that it is hard to identify which
influenced the other more."

Knights Templar and Papal bulls: Omne datum optimum (1139)

"To confirm the Order’s legitimacy in the Roman Catholic Church, three papal bulls (Omne datum optimum, Milites Templi and Militea Dei) were issued between 1139 and 1145.

The first of these bulls, ‘Omne datum optimum’ issued in 1139 by Pope Innocent II allowed the Order many privileges when it came to gaining resources for itself. The bull, issued by Innocent II, exempted the Knight Templar from the payment of tithes, which was criticised by many, perhaps due to jealousy. Prior to this the only other order to gain this exemption was the Cistercians. The Templars were also given permission to gain wealth and support for their order’s growth from the plundering in battles.

Although the Templar brothers were not permitted to hold money for themselves (which is another similarity to the Cistercians) the Templars rules seem to be far more lax than the Cistercians when it came to wealth. This brings into question the supposed Templar ideal of poverty that was made apparent in the Latin Rule.

Another feature of this papal bull was that priests were added to the Knights Templar which shows that the Order was growing quickly and that a hierarchical structure was coming into place. Much like the hierarchical structure of the Cistercians in which the Abbot of Cîteaux was the leader, the Master in the Knights Templar was the head of the Order. This makes the document similar again to ‘The Charter of Charity’ in the way that it sets out the Order’s structure.

Perhaps the most important aspect of ‘Omne datum optimum’ was that ‘This effectively made the Order answerable only to the pope, and therefore free from all other ecclesiastical and secular demands.’ This was the fullest approval the Order could hope to achieve from the papacy and as a result the Order gained an independence from local authorities that must have caused discontent with other orders, not dissimilar to
the issues the Cistercians faced with the Cluniacs. Piers Paul Read suggests that this authorisation and sanction for the Knights Templar may not have been borne completely out of the pope feeling passionate about the Templar cause; Read argues that St Bernard’s support of Innocent II during his contested election secured the papal seat for Innocent, and crudely asks ‘Was Omne Datum Optimum Bernard’s reward for his support?’ If this is the case then it shows yet again that the influence of St Bernard and the Cistercians was absolutely pivotal in the growth and popularity of the military order."

This blog quotes freely from the thesis by Lori Firth, Hull University (2012):  "A Comparison of the Cistercian and Knights Templar Orders, And the Personal Influence of Bernard of Clairvaux", to be found here; Illustration: Detail from a mosaic in the church Santa Maria in Trastevere, showing Pope Innocent II holding a model of the church in his arms, with Sts. Laurentius (left) and Calixtus. source

The origin of the Cistercian Order by its own account: Exordium Parvum

The daughter Houses of Citeaux source
This blog quotes freely from the thesis by Lori Firth, Hull University (2012):  "A Comparison of the Cistercian and Knights Templar Orders, And the Personal Influence of Bernard of Clairvaux", to be found here. References in this source.

"Exordium Parvum’ is a source written by the Cistercians themselves and appears to be a simple and reliable retelling of the formation of the order, thought to have been written before 1119.

W. A. Parker Mason says; ‘the account is so bald and straightforward that it is transparently truthful, its very conciseness being in its favour, while the documents also must be accepted as genuine’. The purpose of this source not only seems to be a basic history of the foundation of the order, but also as a document that legitimises the origins of the Cistercian order.

The source illustrates this in its first sentence; ‘We monks of Cîteaux, the first founders of this church, inform our successors by this present text through whose agency and in what circumstances the monastery and our way of life came into being, and on what canonical authority they rest’. The use of the words ‘canonical authority’ suggest that the author(s) is keen to portray the foundation of the abbey in accordance with the church at the time. This is reinforced by the source’s description of the founders seeking approval from Hugh, Archbishop of Lyons and Hugh’s letter of authority.

Furthermore, the source shows that the early Cistercians gained ‘the agreement of the lord Odo, Duke of Burgundy, to whom the place belonged.’ This recurrence of illustrating the order being in accordance with the authority of the church shows that the early Cistercians held their legitimate origins in high esteem."

Download Exordium Parvum in English here. Versions in other languages can be found here.