Templar and Hospitaller cooperation in the 12th century Orient.

Contradictory views merit examination of the cooperation between the Templar and Hospitaller military orders buring the Crusades. The rules laid down by the Orders contain much information on their mode of coexistence in the East. 

The Templar navy

During the twelfth century the Frankish navy seems never to have passed an embryonic stage, which compelled the kings of Jerusalem to constantly search for external alliances. There was no direct reason for the Templars to invest in maritime activities in the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe directly after the First Crusade. Their first objective was pacification of the roads of the kingdom of Jerusalem. 

Shortly after the Order was established in 1120 (Nablus) and confirmed by the papacy in 1129 (Troyes), it settled at the coastal cities such as Acre and Jaffa, where the Western pilgrims landed on their way to the holy places. During the 12th Century the Templars came into possession of twenty coastal commanderies. Most of these commanderies enjoyed direct access to the sea as in Acre, Tripoli, Tortosa or Latakia. The best known Templar port remains Tortosa, where the order had since 1152 half of the seignory of the city with a castle leaning against the shore. The coastal commandaries often communicated with each other by cabotage by sea. This is the transport of goods or passengers between two ports in the same country by a transport operator from another country.

Templars and Hospitallers appear to have expressed reluctance to fight on sea before the battle of Hattīn (4 July, 1187). Their first notable engagement came on 30 December 1187 when the two orders seized eleven Egyptian galleys blocking the port of Tyr. However, it was not until the Fifth Crusade (1217–1221) that the Order of the Temple was able to arm its own ships. The Fifth Crusade saw the Nile delta serve as a foundation operations to a multitude of squadrons. 

These vessels were intended to bring provisions and equipment to the contingents engaged in the Nile Delta from 1218. Knights Templar and Hospitaller transport speeded up considerably after the arrival of a Frisian squadron, composed of solid hulls (koggen). The crews of the Templar ships consisted at that time of crusaders and brothers in arms, versatile enough to handle trebuchets (a type of catapult which uses a swinging arm to throw a projectile) in case of forced demobilization.

This blog is based on papers in French by Pierre-Vincent Claveri on the Templar Navy, such as this one; illustration templar ship, fresque in trhe Templar Chappel, Cressac, Charente, France, source

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Development of the novelty of the right of clergy self-defense 1120-1176

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