Pre-crusade Muslim religious tolerance in the Holy Land

In his book Dungeon, Fire and Sword: The Knights Templar in the Crusades(1991) John J. Robinson describes religious tolerance in the pre-crusade Holy Land as follows:

"Christians in the Holy Land were permitted to practice their religion, and there was no barrier to pilgrims visiting the Holy Places. They had to pay a toll to enter Jerusalem, but they also had to pay a toll to pass through the gates of London or Paris. As for the “Saracen“ rulers of Palestine, they had no problem with the presence of either Orthodox or Latin Christians in their territory, whether as pilgrims or as permanent residents.

The Benedictine Rule prevailed among Roman clerics in Palestine, and was followed by a small order that was permitted to maintain a hostel or “hospital“ for Christian pilgrims in Jerusalem. It had been founded about twenty years earlier, in 1075, by Citizens of the Italian city of Amalfi. The order was dedicated to St. John the Compassionate, sometimes called St. John the Alms-giver, a seventh-century Patriarch of Alexandria known for his pious works of Charity.

With such religious tolerance on the part of the Muslim rulers of Jerusalem, and with access to the Holy Places for Christian pilgrims, it was going to take some skillful effort on the part of the pope to stir up the people of Europe to the point that they would leave their homes to risk their lives in a foreign land."

Dungeon, Fire and Sword: The Knights Templar in the Crusades (M. Evans & Company, Inc. 1991) by John J. Robinson

Depicting Saracens in the Middle Ages: sometimes more than monsters

"Representations of Saracens as "the other" abound in ... the earliest manuscripts of the 13th century to the copies of the early 15th century books. These images reinforce stereotypes of Muslims that depict them as barbarians, berserkers, idol worshipping pagans, and nothing less than the enemies of God and mankind. Highly racial and pejorative depictions of these figures highlight their negative qualities through dark skin and distorted facial features.

Medieval treasure discovered at the Abbey of Cluny suggests Arab link - quotes

In a paper of November 17, 2017 the unearthing of a large treasure at the Abbey of Cluny, France was reported. The precense of Arab world currency illustrates a direct connection between Cluny and the Arab world. The following text quotes parts of the paper:

A six phase origin of the Order of the Temple

In his paper The first Templar Knight (part 2), the origin of the Temple, Josè Maria Fernandez Nùñez proposes a six phase development period of the premordial Order of the Temple, from 1104 to 1120.
"The first history of the Brotherhood is known as the time that occurs between the Synod of Nablus until the Council of Troyes, where the Order is definitely created, but...what about before? Before this period that covers from 1104 through 1120...what occurs during this period? ...
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.

Diversity and multiculturalism in the medieval world - theory and practise - quotes

"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  he 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. For instance, under a practice known as devshirme (literally, “collecting”), Christian children were recruited to serve in the Ottoman army and court. Ottoman representatives visited various towns with large Christian populations in order to force boys into service. They were separated from their families, converted to Islam, learned Turkish, and either entered into military service or began working at the palace.

While this practice was criticized by some Christians living in the Ottoman Empire, it also meant that some of the most important functionaries of the Ottoman State were, in fact, of Christian origin. And some of them did maintain ties with their families, whether in the Balkans or in Anatolia."

This blog quotes from "Diversity in the Medieval Middle East - Inclusions, Exclusions, Supporters, and Discontents" by Rachel Goshgarian; illustration from the same source, showing The Byzantine emperor Alexios Comnenos, who ruled from 1081 to 1118; Photo public domain of the United States.

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Racial changes in depicting Saracens in the Middle Ages

"How were Saracens depicted from 1200-1420, and what can this tell modern scholars about the way that western artists and audiences viewed and depicted Saracens? ...

Throughout the images created in the 13th and 14th centuries it is possible to discern a noticeable change in the depiction of Saracens. In the 13th century they are clearly depicted with almost no physical differences from Christians, and they must be differentiated through the use of equipment and heraldry. This might be an example of  artists attempting to create a contemporary struggle for their audience to relate to, or perhaps it was a means of creating adequate enemies for the crusaders to battle.

Regardless of the reason, this seems to change in the later manuscripts from the 14th century. Throughout this period, in both the History of Outremer and the Grandes Chroniques de France, the depictions of Muslims become more and more focused on racial differences. Furthermore the depiction of Saracens begins to lean upon eastern headdresses such as turbans, and the variations, to depict Saracens. The topos for depicting Saracens that appears is then based almost entirely on dark skin and turbans.....

This blog quotes from the conclusions to "Bertrand, Benjamin Anthony, "Monstrous Muslims? Depicting Muslims in French Illuminated Manuscripts from 1200-1420" (2015). Honors Theses and Capstones. 236 to be found here.

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RIP - Dr Bernadus Theodoor (Ben) Brus - 1917 - 2016

In The Netherlands only a few researchers focus on the Knights Templar and their presence in the Low Countries. One of them is Dr Ben Brus.

In 2017 I found out that Dr Brus passed away in 2016, only a year before his one hundredth birthday, which would have been Saterday, September 30th.

I had the honour to be in contact with Dr Brus for my own research several times. His work, summarized on his website and visually quoted on Templars Now, is the cornerstone of Templar research in The Netherlands and will remain so for many years to come. With great respect I acknowledge his work and vow to continue it as much as I can in my own way.

In 2019 I met with the family of Dr Brus. We agreed that TemplarsNow will continue the work of Dr Brus in a modest way. First step is by simply re-plublishing importanmt parts of his work in English on TemplarsNow channels. Later on TemplarsNow will undertake additional research on Templar sites in the Netherlands indicated by Dr Brus as certain or probable. All this will be done in honor or Dr Brus' monumental work.

Rest in Peace, Dr Ben Brus.

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Financing the Crusades - general taxation

"A "first crude experiment" in compulsory almsgiving, the levy of 1166 begins the history of general taxation for financing the crusades.

The peril of the Holy Land again evoked an extraordinary levy in 1183, when king Baldwin IV with the consent of a general council imposed a tax on the kingdom of Jerusalem. It was levied at the rate of one bezant on a hundred of movables and debts (and income of mercenary soldiers) and of two bezants on a hundred of the revenues of churches, monasteries, barons, and their vassals. The poor were to pay a hearth tax of one bezant or what they could; the unfree were to be taxed by their lords at the same rate. Four men were chosen in each civitas of the realm to assess and collect the tax, but the taxpayer might declare under oath that he was over-assessed and pay according to his own declaration.Altogether the levy showed considerable development beyond that of 1166.

The kings of England and France followed the new model in levying another crusade tax on their subjects in 1185. The unit of one hundred was employed, and the annual rate was roughly the same as in Jerusalem, but the levy was taken for three years and so was the heaviest thus far collected. The sanctions remained ecclesiastical, and the tax was still administered by the clergy, though the bishops were replaced as collectors by a Templar and a Hospitaller appointed in each diocese. The exemptions of goods necessary to the taxpayer's profession presaged the Saladin Tithe"

Blog quotes from Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe  (1989), Chapter IV, "Financing the Crusades". The quotes presented here focus on the situation in the first half of the 12th Century. Illustration Norwich Tollhouse source

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People behind the Knights Templar

Usually the Knights Templar are referred to as if it was a a coherent body. This may have been the case in their later days. But in their early days, when the concept of knight-monks and the organisation were as such new, it seems more likely that they were a on-coherent group of individuals of different origins, mainly coming from early 12th century Francia.

Virtually nothing is known about the origins of the founders of the first military orders, although legends grew up around them later. Clearly, they were not particularly important people. Most of those who joined the military orders came from the lesser nobility, the ordinary knights or rich peasant farmers ... . There were very few really rich or influential members. Instead, we find many examples of men joining the orders as a means of gaining influence and promotion which would otherwise have been beyond their reach (...)

Women also joined the Military Orders, including the Order of the Temple, despite the fact that the Templar Rule forbad the admission of women. The brothers rapidly discovered that they could not afford to offend female patrons by refusing them admission to the order (...).

Adapted from the internet paper by Helen Nicholson entitled "The Templars, Hospitallers and other military orders in the eyes of their contemporaries, 1128-1291"; Illustration Hughes de Payns, the first Master of the Knights Templar (source)

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Traces of the Knights Templar in Allier, Auvergne, France

On the website a host of templar sites in France is collected and describes in much detail. Especially for Central France, this website mentions more sites than indicated on the well known alternative website of the Project Beaucéant,

The present map endeavours to close this gap for the Department Allier in the Auvergne Region, using the source

With great respect and acknowledgement we quote below part of the description (in French) and illustrations of the commanderies mentioned on under the rules of Fair Use.

The round symbols with white background indicate location where a recognizable evidence of Templar presence is still visible. On the square locations all evidence is lacking nowadays, though archives indicate a former presence.

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"Depictions of the Military Orders’ Martyrs in the Holy Land" - quotes

"The military religious orders were founded to fight on behalf of their fellow Christians, in defence of pilgrims and Christian territory. They fought alongside and supported the crusaders in the Holy Land. New members of these institutions took the three monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, underlining that their work was a spiritual undertaking, despite the fact that they shed blood. In an era in which warriors who died fighting non-Christians were increasingly depicted as martyrs, it is not surprising that writers of the 1120s and 1130s associated the first knight-brothers with martyrdom. But as the Franks of the Holy Land met with division and defeat, how far did this imagery continue? Did outsiders continue to depict the brothers of the military orders in this way? ....

Focusing on Latin accounts written within a year or two of events, this survey has demonstrated that some contemporaries explicitly depicted some members of the military religious orders who died in encounters with the Muslims in the Holy Land as martyrs. As the Christian force in each of these encounters was effectively annihilated, leaving no immediate eyewitnesses, these descriptions must have been more or less fictional. None of these accounts were composed by the orders, and the reports which members of the orders wrote immediately after these battles did not claim that their dead brothers were martyrs. It is possible, however, that some information about these brothers’ deaths originated with their orders.

It is tempting to suggest that the paucity of clerical descriptions of martyrdom between the Third Crusade and the final loss of Acre in 1291 was linked to theological anxiety regarding the appropriateness of labelling men who died in combat as martyrs. While groups could be so described, ecclesiastical authors were wary of using the term for individuals. Fidenzio of Padua was happy to use the term for the Templars who died at Saphet in 1266 as they had died voluntarily and passively, but not in battle. However, the fact that this term appeared again in 1291 suggests that another factor was also significant. Each of these depictions of martyrdom was linked to a devastating Latin Christian defeat which threatened or effectively destroyed the Latin Christian presence in the Holy Land. In such circumstances, the authors may have intended such imagery to encourage recruitment to recover the Holy Land. Certainly, as contemporaries in 1291 expected the Templars and Hospitallers to lead re-conquest of the Holy Land, images of the brothers’ martyrdom could have helped to repair their reputation in the West preparatory to a new expedition. What is not clear, however, is how far these orders themselves promoted their own military martyrs: the current state of scholarship suggests that they did not."

This blog quotes the introduction and the conclusions of the paper "Martyrum collegio sociandus haberet’: Depictions of the Military Orders’ Martyrs in the Holy Land, 1187–1291'" by Helen J. Nicholson, rerpinted on; illustration: Fresco in CVressac Templar Cgurch, France, showing a Templar on Horseback, carrying a standard, source:

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The founding of a Cistercian abbey, a good investment

"The founding of a Cistercian abbey was a comparatively cheap investment, in comparison to other monastic orders. The patrons, while seeking the spiritual rewards from charity, were also looking to develop their land. The Cistercians ventured into the wilderness to seek self sufficiency, a Cistercian abbey depended on cultivating a great expanses of wasteland, woodland and marshland.

Financing the crusades - the role of the military orders

"Through the military orders of warrior-monks, the church provided directly for the defense of the Holy Land. The most important of these orders were the Knights of the Temple and the Brethren of the Hospital of St. John, although for a time the Teutonic Knights added their strength and resources to the common task.

The orders formed permanent corps of crusaders stationed in the east with reserves in Europe. Each created an elaborate organization with houses of various ranks throughout Europe as well as Outremer. In the west these houses acted as recruiting stations and managed the resources of the orders locally. Early in the thirteenth century James of Vitry wrote of the orders, "They have been prodigiously increased by vast possessions both on this side of and beyond the sea, for they own villages, cities and towns.

The records more than bear out his statement. Each house of the orders, as James went on to say, sent "a certain sum every year for the defense of the Holy Land to their grand master", whose seat was in the east. The sum sent by preceptories of the Hospital seems normally to have been a third of their revenues, paid twice a year before the regular spring and autumn passages to the east. The financial organization of the orders not only supplied their own needs, but also permitted them, especially the Templars, to act as bankers for the crusades. Their part in the collection of the general taxes of 1185 and 1188 has already been noted, and they also received clerical taxes in 1201 and 1215.

Their regular passages offered facilities for other crusaders to resupply themselves. Deposits with houses in the west could be withdrawn in the east, and money could also be borrowed from them in the Holy Land to be repaid in Europe. They preferred to deal in coin and apparently did not develop credit operations beyond transfers. Yet they remained the crusade bankers par excellence, serving the papacy and princes as well as lesser men, while their own resources gave them a prime place in the defense of the Holy Land"

Blog quotes from Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe  (1989), Chapter IV, "Financing the Crusades". The quotes presented here focus on the situation in the first half of the 12th Century. Illustration coins Knights Templar France. Philip IV Le Bel, 1268-1314 AD; source

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How many Templars were there?

"How many Templarts were there? This is one of those questions that people interested in the Templars often ask. But so far as we know the Templars did not keep membership lists; certainly none have survived. (...) it appears that there were around 300 Templar knights in the kingdom of Jerusalem in the 1180s. Malcolm Barber has estimated that there were around 1,000 sergeant-brothers in addition to the 300 knight-brothers.

Is this a reasonable figure? (...) the estimated figure of 1,300 Templars in the East in the 1180s is too large. Perhaps there were only 300 brothers in total, in the whole of the East; that would mean that numbers more than halved between the 1180s and the early fourteenth century, but that would be reasonable after the losses of 1291-1302.

That is only the East: how many Templars were there overall? ... so far this suggests that there were no more than 1,500 Templars in Europe and Cyprus in 1307."

Text and illustration from the blog by "Gawain's Mum" on Illustration shows Four Templar knights on the tomb of Don Felipe in the former Templar church of Santa Maria la Blanca de Villasirga, at Villacazar de irga (Palencia, Castile, Spain). Photo: Juan Fuguet Sans

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Setting the stage for the Crusades - role of the Church

"The rude and unlettered barbarian tribes who had eclipsed the rule of the Roman Empire were led by the Roman Church. The Church provided the glue by which these scattered tribes became a united force capable of protecting the Continent against the military expansion of Islam and the Oriental hordes. Its priests, bishops, and monastic communities provided political as well as spiritual leadership among far-flung and isolated towns and villages. Ecclesiastical councils served as courts of justice. Christian monasteries preserved learning and literacy. Norman Cantor estimated that ninety percent of those who attained literacy between 600 and 1100 received their education in a monastic school. The Church extended the hand of charity to the poor and suffering.

On the other hand, the Church was responsible for inculcating pernicious doctrines that infested Europe for centuries. Original sin was no mere philosophical or religious speculation. The concept of sin informed the entire social, political. anti legal structure. Since the human condition was fallen to begin with, justice was, by definition, impossible. Social improvement was not a goal. This was a reversal of earlier ]ewish beliefs in the goodness of God and the possibility of reformation of society through adherence to the Divine. To the medieval Christian, life was a test and trial in preparation for death. lf one were good, the joys of Paradise followed the loss of the body. The soul-chilling horror of eternal torment in Hell awaited the wicked. Suffering cleansed and purified the soul in preparation for its after-death reward. Contrition. confession and penence were introduced in the sixth century by Pope Gregory I, "the Great"(later nanonized), as the sole means by which the sin-befouled human being could advance through the intermediate state of Purgatory.

Nature herself was evil. She was the source of the insistent, instinctual sexual drive to reproduce. Those conceived by the sin of sex were sinful at birth. Celibacy hecame a spiritual ideal rather than a spiritual technique. The atternpt to promulgate and enforce rigid antisexual hehavior on the masses led to a raging rebellion within the European psyche. lnsanity and disease are the inevitable consequences of sexual repression, and they took a horrid toll durig the Middle Ages. Because sickness of the body was seen as God's punishment for wickedness, the medical arts were confined to Arab and ]ewish practitioners and to women, who studied herbs and the healing properties of nature. These were among the many who fell in that great battle against Satan and the flesh known as the lnquisition - the central command center for the centuries of murder, torture, and hysteria that followed its establishment."

This blog quotes from Chapter 2 of "The Templars and the Assassins: the militia of Heaven" by James Wasserman (Rochester, 2001);
illustration from   Spread of Christianity to AD 325;   Spread of Christianity to AD 600

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Setting the stage for the Crusades - daily life

"The sixth century marked the beginning of the Dark Ages in western Europe. While the Byzantine Empire generally prospered, despite its loss of territory, western Europe spent the six centuries after the death of Justinian in chaos, war, cultural degeneration, superstition, ignorance, and poverty. The majority of western Europe, including Italy, Gaul (modern France), and Spain, had fallen to the barbarian tribes who had earlier overtaken Rome. Plague and famine decimated Europe. By 550, Rome, which once had a population of one million people, was reduced to forty thousand souls, half of whom were maintained hy papal alms.

Life was harsh and hrutal. The peasantry, although free, were poor, uneducated, and politically impotent. Skin disease was epidemic because of the Church's prohibition against nudity and bathing. (Other sources indicate that -at least in a later part of the Middle Ages- personal hygiene as well as bathing did exist; TN *). Lice and similar vermin tormented all, regardless of social class. By the beginning of the seventh century, literacy was reserved for the clergy. Science, medicine, and literature were replaced by magic, superstition, and religious texts. Eighty percent of the population during the Dark Ages never moved more than ten miles from their place of birth. As a result of poor nutrition and medicine, the average life expectancy was thirty years, while the average height for men was not more than five feet three inches (about 160 cm; TN).  Throughout the ninth and tenth centuries, Europe endured a perpetual state of war, decimated by continuous aggression from Scandinavian, castern European, and Germanic trides, as well as Muslims. Savagery and faith, ignorance and piety, agriculture and aggression, this mixture embodied the intellectual stagnation of the Dark Ages."

This blog quotes from Chapter 2 of "The Templars and the Assassins: the militia of Heaven" by James Wasserman (Rochester, 2001); * Additional source on bathing and illustration from

"An Analysis of Prophet Muhammad’s Covenants with Christians"

In his paper "Religious Pluralism and Civic Rights in a “Muslim Nation”: An Analysis of Prophet Muhammad’s Covenants with Christians" Craig Considine

"examines the roles that religious pluralism and civic rights played in Prophet Muhammad’s vision of a “Muslim nation”.

He demonstrates 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, Considine argues 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 contains the (slightly edited) entire Introduction to the following paper: Considine, C. Religious Pluralism and Civic Rights in a “Muslim Nation”: An Analysis of Prophet Muhammad’s Covenants with Christians. Religions 2016, 7, 1, which can be found at  Illustration: A Christian and a Muslim playing chess, illustration from the Book of Games of Alfonso X (c. 1285; from

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Financing the Crusades - Papal support

"The privileges of popes and princes for the crusaders reveal the great importance of credit arrangements in financing the crusades. From the First Crusade on the popes took not only the persons of the crusaders and their families but also their property under papal protection. Crusaders who found it difficult to secure the return of pledged lands were able thus to call upon the church for help. ...

(Pope) Eugenius III in 1145 conceded to crusaders the privilege of pledging lands, even fiefs, without the consent of relatives or lords, if the latter were not themselves willing to lend the money needed. At the same time Eugenius granted crusaders a moratorium on repayment of debts and sought to free them from the payment of interest on loans while they were under the cross"
Quotes from Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe (1989), Chapter IV, "Financing the Crusades". The quotes presented here focus on the situation in the first half of the 12th century. Illustration: Pope Eugene III from this source

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Financing the military orders in medieval times

"Ultimately the financial support of the military orders and the confraternities derived from the alms and legacies of the faithful. By his gift to one of the orders any Christian could share in the great enterprise and in the spiritual rewards promised to crusaders.

As early as 1101 pope Paschal II joined with the patriarch of Jerusalem, Daimbert of Pisa, in offering an indefinite remission of penance to those who gave aid to the Hospital. Innocent II in 1131 promised remission of one seventh of enjoined penance to those who gave of their goods to the Hospital, and the same privilege was soon extended to the Temple.

Confraternities also received indulgences and could pass on some of their rewards to those who supported them. Great gifts as well as innumerable small ones were made: in 1134 Alfonso I of Aragon bequeathed a third of his kingdom to the two military orders and the Holy Sepulcher; Bela of Hungary, Byzantine heir-apparent and "duke", in 1163—1169 gave 10,000 gold bezants to the Hospital; and Henry II of England sent 30,000 marks sterling to the Templars and the Hospitallers for the defense of Tyre in 1188. Until the Third Crusade the Hospital and the Temple were the usual recipients of alms and legacies for the Holy Land."

Blog quotes from Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe  (1989), Chapter IV, "Financing the Crusades". The quotes presented here focus on the situation in the first half of the 12th Century. Illustration coins Knights Templar France. Philip IV Le Bel, 1268-1314 AD; source; illustration source.

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Financing the Crusades - the "lesser men"

"The communal organization of the "lesser men", the middle classes, revealed itself in their crusades, which took now the character of a huge partnership, now that of a trading company, and now that of a state enterprise.

Although the Italians were the most famed participants, they were not the only middle-class crusaders. From the first, expeditions of northern mariners made their way by the Strait of Gibraltar to the Holy Land: men of the British Isles, the Low Countries, Germany, even Scandinavia... The crusaders came from both sides of the North Sea and the English Channel, in large part the sailors of those seas, men neither of the chivalry nor of the peasantry. Like a commune, they elected their leaders and made policies in council and assembly...

The crusaders from the Italian cities organized their sacred expeditions like trading ventures. To participate in the First Crusade the Genoese nobles and merchants formed a compagna on the model of their earlier expeditions against the Moslems. The ships were provided and outfitted by subscription; each man who subscribed or went on the crusade had a certain financial interest in the profits or losses. When the expedition ended after the capture of Caesarea, the booty was divided according to the shares held by the members in the compagna."

Quotes from Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe (1989), Chapter IV, "Financing the Crusades". The quotes presented here focus on the situation in the first half of the 12th century. Illustration: Crusader vessel  from this source

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March 18, 2017, the 703rd anniversary death of Jacques de Molay

On March 18, 2017 we commemorated the 703rd anniversary of the death of the last official Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay. De Molay, born in 1244 was put to death in Paris by the King of France on 18 March 1314. He was the 23rd and last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, leading the Order from 20 April 1292 until it was dissolved by order of Pope Clement V in 1307.

Though little is known of his actual life and deeds except for his last years as Grand Master, he is the best known Templar, along with the Order's founder and first Grand Master, Hugues de Payens (1070–1136). Jacques de Molay's goal as Grand Master was to reform the Order, and adjust it to the situation in the Holy Land during the waning days of the Crusades.

Death-site plaque of Jaques de Molay on Isle des Juifs, Paris
As European support for the Crusades had dwindled, other forces were at work which sought to disband the Order and claim the wealth of the Templars as their own. King Philip IV of France, deeply in debt to the Templars, had De Molay and many other French Templars arrested in 1307 and tortured into making false confessions. When de Molay later retracted his confession, Philip had him executed by burning upon a scaffold on the Paris Ile des Juifs in the River Seine on 18 March 1314.

source text and illustrations

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Financing the Crusades - loans and gifts

"(It were) loans by which crusaders perhaps most commonly financed their journeys. They borrowed from kings and princes, from monasteries and bishops, from lay lords and merchants, from whoever had money to lend.

The terms of the loans vary. Some were interest-free, like the 70,000 livres of Tours lord Edward of England (the future king Edward I) borrowed from Louis IX in 1269. A recognized form, however, gave the lender the use of the pledged land for a period of years, the income comprising his repayment. Under this vif gage the lender took a certain amount of risk. The more common form of loan, consequently, was the mort gage, which provided for the lender to have the usufruct of the land as interest, the borrower to repay the principal, usually before he got his property back. From the patristic period on, the church had condemned the taking of interest on money loans as usury.

The vif gage was not held to be usurious, since the lender was expected to regain essentially the principal of his loan. The papacy permitted clerical crusaders to pledge their benefices under these terms. Mortgages, on the other hand, fell under the condemnation of pope Eugenius III, and under Alexander III the papacy undertook to enforce its laws against usury. Law-abiding clergy, especially the monasteries, which had found mortgages profitable investments, gave up the business,but other Christians continued to ignore or evade the prohibition of usury. The merchants of southern France and, above all, of Italy were commonly known as moneylenders. ...

Finally, family and friends must often have aided the crusaders. The nature of the transactions did not require written documents to record them, and few examples can be cited. John, lord of Joinville, in describing his departure on the crusade, tells of a gift of "a great quantity of fair jewels to myself and the nine knights I had with me" made by the abbot of Saint Urbain. The kings of England from Henry II to Henry III made considerable gifts to various crusaders.

Again, the social dimension of the crusades is apparent. Although the crusaders took their vows as individuals and were individually responsible for fulfilling them, the crusades were corporate, or at least collective, enterprises. As crusaders joined together to fight under the leadership of feudal lords, communal officers, national sovereigns, and the church, so they also organized their finances, thus transcending the individual."

Blog quotes from Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe  (1989), Chapter IV, "Financing the Crusades". The quotes presented here focus on the situation in the first half of the 12th Century. Illustration from

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Financing the Crusades - saving and selling

How could the individual crusader finance his journey?

He might look first to his current income, but it will be shown later in this chapter that few crusaders had sufficient cash income both to pay their obligations at home and to support themselves decently on a crusade. If one was wealthy enough to support himself from current income, then he had to arrange to resupply himself with money as he needed it. The Holy Land lay beyond a long and dangerous passage by land or sea, and the receipt of money from home was correspondingly uncertain. ... From the middle of the twelfth century, it is true, the Templars provided facilities for the transfer of crusaders' funds, and merchants came to provide similar services by lending money in the east to be repaid in the west. ...

Many crusaders, however, may have hoped to support themselves with plunder....On the First Crusade the booty of the Moslem armies defeated at Dorylaeum and at Antioch, as well as the tribute and ransom of those who had the misfortune to dwell in the path of the crusaders from Antioch to Jerusalem, all enriched the Christians. Stephen of Blois wrote home from Antioch that he had more silver and gold than when he left France. ... it has been suggested that count Robert II of Flanders may have financed his participation in the First Crusade from his treasury. Stephen of Blois went on two crusades without paying any heed to his financial arrangements, and he may have had sufficient savings....

A large expenditure, such as a crusade, had to be made from his capital, whether chattels or lands. From the First Crusade to the last the alienation of property by crusaders reveals the failure of booty, current income, and savings to support their expeditions.... For the First Crusade Godfrey of Bouillon sold his county of Verdun and other lands to bishop Richer, while for the Crusade of 1101 viscount Odo Arpin of Bourges sold his city and county to king Philip I of France. ...

Crusaders preferred not to sell their property outright. Count John of Macon sold his fief subject to the provision of a life pension for himself and his wife Alix. A lesser English crusader made a gift of land to a religious house in return for which the canons promised to make regular payments to his wife while he was gone on the crusade. For the First Crusade duke Godfrey of Lower Lorraine sold his castle of Bouillon to bishop Otbert of Liege for 1,500 pounds with the right to redeem it if he returned, and duke Robert II of Normandy pawned his duchy to his brother king William Rufus of England for 10,000 marks which William took from the churchmen of England.

Quotes from Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe  (1989), Chapter IV, "Financing the Crusades". The quotes presented here focus on the situation in the first half of the 12th century. Illustration: Crusader Coins 11th - 12th century, source.

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The life of Hughes Count of Champagne (1074 - ca 1130) summarized

Born around 1074, Hughes is the third son of Thibaud I and Adèle of Valois. In 1089, his half-brother Etienne-Henri succeeds Thibaud I as the head of the Counties of Blois and Meaux. Four years later, on 1 January 1093, Hugh inherited his other brother's Eudes IV Counties of Troyes, Vitry and Bar-sur-Aube. Hughes in 1102 was the first to officially take the title of Count of Champagne. He also was the first to settle in Troyes.

In 1093 (or 1094), Hugues married Constance of France, Dame d'Attigny, daughter of King Philip I and Queen Berthe of Holland. This union was canceled on Christmas 1104 (or 1105), because the couple had not had children. In 1104, he suffered an attack on his life.

Having not participated in the First Crusade, Hughes left for his first three year stay in Palestine (1104-1107).

Back in Champagne in 1107, Hugues married again in 1110 a young girl, Isabelle de Bourgogne-Comté, Dame de Champlitte, daugther of Étienne Ier of Bourgogne and Béatrice of Lorraine.Soon, however, he seeks to repudiate it, at which point the Countess seek the help of the Bishop of Chartres, Yves, who made the count understand that a husband can not be separated from his wife without the consent of her, not even to enter religion.

In August 1114, Hugues de Champagne travel overseas again with his vassal Hugh, lord of Payns, who will establishe in Jerusalem in 1118 the Order of the Temple.

Back in 1116, the count again governed his principality some ten years, promoting the expansion of the new Clairvaux Abbey founded by St Bernard in 1115 and turning his affection on his nephew, Thibaut de Blois, whom he considered as his heir.

But then in 1120 (or 1123), Isabelle gives birth to a son named Eudes. The child was only two years old when Hughes took advantage of a quarrel with his wife to be declared incapable of child bearing by doctors. Considering himself now free of wedlock, he sent away Isabelle and Eudes, abdicated (1125) and sold his heritage to Thibaut IV of Blois who became Count of Champagne under the title of Thibaut II of Champagne. Hughes traveled to the Holy Land where he joined the Order of the Temple.

Usually Hugues' death is indicated Jun 14, 1126. But a charter of the Abbay of Notre-Dame at Josafat indicates that in September 1130 Hughes was still alive. At that time he witnessed, at the side of Guillaume Sénéchal of the Temple in the Holy Land, the donation of an oven and various tithes to the Josafat Abbey. This means that Hughes was still alive when the Templars reveived their first Rule at the Council of Troyes, France (January 13, 1129).

This is a French-English translation by TN of a paper which was once published on the website of Now the link is broken. Some additional information was added found on this webpage. The information on the 1130 events in the last paragraph came from Hugues de Payns - La naissance des Templiers by Thierry Leroy (2011).

Illustration shows the seal of Hughes de Champagne, source Wikipedia.

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