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

"... sometime between 14 January and 13 September 1120 (...) at the hands of Patriarch Warmund (of Jerusalem; TN), Hugh of Payns, Godfrey of Saint-Omer, and certain other French knights pledged to live “more canonicorum regularium” (as regular canons, not monks, as is so commonly thought) and accordingly took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. In return, Warmund and his fellow bishops enjoined upon these consecrated knights, for the remission of their sins, the principal task of keeping roads and highways safe for pilgrims against thieves and highwaymen. (...) these new armed, consecrated knights, soon to be known as ‘Templars’, were revolutionary indeed and required nearly another twenty years before they were approved completely by Rome.

This company received formal recognition and initial statutes in January 1129 at the council of Troyes, presided over by a papal legate, Matthew Cardinal of Albano; was vigorously defended in a treatise De laude novae militiae (On the New Knighthood) by Bernard of Clairvaux, arguably the most influential figure in all Europe in the second quarter of the twelfth century; and finally fully accepted as an ‘order’ (religio et ueneranda institutio) in the privilege Omne datum optimum in 1139, promulgated by Pope Innocent II, who cited John 15:13 in underscoring the task of these milites Templi to protect their fellows Christians against pagan incursions, defend the church, and attack the enemies of Christ.

Two additional bulls, Milites Templi (1144) and Militia Dei (1145), completed the establishment of this new way of religious life. Between the approbation of Troyes, the juggernaut of Bernard of Clairvaux’s rhetoric in his De laude novae militiae, and the blessing of Pope Innocent II, the opposition to this very great novelty was largely bowled over (but not entirely, as we have been recently reminded), and the way was now paved for Pope Alexander III. (...)

It was during his long pontificate that not just the three major Spanish military orders (which is usually what is emphasized), but in fact the five Iberian military orders came into being with full papal recognition (...) Alexander was an extraordinary lawgiver who arguably did more than any other pope to shape the canon law on canonization, the conferral of benefices, the system of vicars, marriage, papal electoral procedure, majority decision-making (including maior et sanior pars), judges delegate, and papal appellate jurisdiction has come to be recognized.39 Now his contributions to the militarization of the clergy and of the church deserve to be added to this long list of distinctive and influential features of his papacy."

This blog quotes from the paper "Armsbearing by the Clergy and the Fourth Lateran Council" by Lawrence G. Duggan; source illustration www.medievalists.net

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