Reshaping the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem - 1847 to present

"After their origin in 1103 and some 80 years of existence, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem first began to fail as a cohesive military body of knights after Saladin regained Jerusalem in 1182, and completely ceased to exist in that format after the defeat of Acre in 1291. Only in 1847 the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem was restored and Pope Pius IX modernised the Order. 

The Approach of the modern Knights Templar OSMTH

The main modern international Templar Order is the "Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani" OSMTH or Knights Templar International. What is the Approach from the OSMTH according to the Order's Overview of Purpose and Activities?

Breaking away of the Church from the secular society in the 11th century

From the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries, medieval Europe and the development of the Church saw rapid and radical change. After centuries of a move away from the archaic values of the desert fathers, the Church became embroiled in the political structure of Europe and became more and more intertwined with the secular world as the secular and spiritual worlds fought for power. How did this change come to be?

A Comparison of the Cistercian and Knights Templar Orders

The Cistercian Order is often seen as the religious main precursor and mentor of the Order of the Knights Templar. Was that established through structure or ideology? And what was the role of Bernard of Clairvaux?

The trial of the Templars summarized - quotes

The trial of the Templars has been summarized by Malcolm Barber in the Introduction to "The Debate on the Trial of the Templars (1307–1314)". This blog quotes a part of the introduction.

"The trial of the Templars is one of the most sensational events of the high middle ages. Contemporaries expressed astonishment when, on the 13th, the day after the funeral, all the members of the order in France were suddenly arrested and accused of what amounted to the renunciation of the faith that they were supposed to be defending with their lives. They had, the French government alleged, all been received into the order in ceremonies in which they denied Christ, spat on a crucifix and engaged in obscene kissing with their receptor and, thereafter, they had been obliged to take part in acts of sodomy with other brothers and to worship idols. Molay was not alone: during November and December, French royal officials succeeded in gaining admissions of guilt from nearly all the Templars in their custody, and it looked as if the order was doomed.

However, the trial was prolonged because of unexpected resistance, first from the pope, Clement V, and then from the Templars themselves, led by the order’s former procurator at the papal court, Peter of Bologna. Clement V intervened because he regarded the affair as an affront to his jurisdiction and dignity, for he had not been consulted about the arrests but, as he could not reverse the process, he decided to attempt to take over the proceedings himself, ordering arrests in other countries and conducting his own inquiries. The papal intervention had a quite startling effect, for some of the Templars withdrew their confessions, claiming they had been made under coercion. Thus, early in 1308, the pope suspended the proceedings, and it was only after massive pressure from the French crown, culminating in a direct confrontation at Poitiers in May and June 1308, that he could be induced to restart them. This time they took the form of a papal commission to inquire into the order as a whole, and a series of local, episcopal inquiries, which were to investigate individuals at the diocesan level.

The operation of the papal commission in Paris offered the Templars another opportunity and there, in the spring of 1310, they mounted such an effective defence that the French government had to resort to further intimidation in the form of execution by burning of various groups of Templars who had the misfortune to be held in dioceses where the bishops were closely allied to the French monarchy. Even then, there were Templars willing to offer a defence before the commission, but the French government’s control of the personnel of the order meant that few of them had the chance to speak out again. The end came in the spring of 1312 at the council of Vienne, when the pope, having gathered reports from across Christendom, declared that the order was too defamed to continue and thus suppressed it, although he did not condemn it on the original charges. Its property was to be transferred to the Hospitallers – by this time established in Rhodes – so that it could continue to be used in the cause of the recovery of the Holy Land, which the pope claimed had been the original intention of the donors."

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The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem - non-military blueprint of the Knights Templar?

The origins of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem date back to the First Crusade, when its leader, Godfrey de Bouillon, liberated Jerusalem. As part of his operations to organise the religious, military and public bodies of the territories newly freed from Muslim control, he 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, and reserved the right for himself and his successors (as agents of the Patriarch of Jerusalem) to appoint Knights to it, should the Patriarch be absent or unable to do so.

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.

Very soon after the First Crusade the troops – including the Knights of the Order of Canons of the Holy Sepulchre – began to return to their homelands. This led to the creation of priories all over Europe, which were part of the Order as they came under the jurisdiction of the noble knights or prelates who had been invested on the Holy Sepulchre itself and who, although they were no longer in the direct service of the King of Jerusalem, continued to belong to the Order of Canons.

The Order first began to fail as a cohesive military body of knights after Saladin regained Jerusalem in 1182, and completely ceased to exist in that format after the defeat of Acre in 1291. The passing of the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem left the Order without a leader, though it continued to survive in the European priories thanks to the protection of sovereigns, princes, bishops and the Holy See.

The priories kept alive the ideals of the Crusader Knights: propagation of the Faith, defence of the weak, charity towards other human beings. With the exception of events in Spain, it was only rarely that the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre ever took part again in military action to defend Christianity.

In the 14th century, the Holy See made an extremely high payment to the Egyptian Sultan so that he would grant the right to protect the Christian Sanctuaries to the Franciscan Friars Minor. Throughout the whole period of the Latin Patriarchate’s suppression, the right to create new Knights was the prerogative of the representative of the highest Catholic authority in the Holy Land: the Custos.

Elsewhere on this website it is argued that some researchers suggest that the origins of the Temple can be found in the associations that the Knightly Order of the Sepulcher formed with the Order of the Canons Regular of the Holy Sepulcher. It seems this group may have been known as the “Milites Christi,” or “Milites Sancti Sepulchri”, later to be known as the Knights Templar.

Source of text of all but the last paragraph and illustration

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