Philosophy and Christian context of the Crusades

The philosophy of the crusades is summarized by Christopher Tyerman as follows:

"The crusades were wars justified by faith conducted against real or imagined enemies defined by religious and political elites as perceived threats to the Christian faithful. The religious beliefs crucial to such warfare placed enormous significance on imagined awesome but reassuring supernatural forces of overwhelming power and proximity that were nevertheless expressed in hard concrete physical acts: prayer, penance, giving alms, attending church, pilgrimage, violence.

Crusading reflected a social mentality grounded in war as a central force of protection, arbitration, social discipline, political expression and material gain. The crusades confirmed a communal identity comprising aggression, paranoia, nostalgia, wishful thinking and invented history. Understood by participants at once as a statement of Christian charity, religious devotion and godly savagery, the ‘wars of the cross‘ helped fashion for adherents a shared sense of belonging to a Christian society, societas christiana, Christendom, and contributed to setting its human and geographic frontiers. In these ways, the crusades helped define the nature of Europe."

When I read this, I sense that the same may be true for all religiously inspired wars and conquests, such as the early islamic conquests. These began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the 7th century. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which saw a century of rapid expansion. The resulting empire stretched from the borders of China and the Indian subcontinent, across the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and parts of Europe (Sicily and the Iberian Peninsula to the Pyrenees).

Quote from Christopher Tyerman "God's War - a New History of the Crusades", 2006 The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press Cambridge, Massachusetts, added with information from Wikipedia. Illustration: Guy de Lusignan and Saladin in Battle / Mathew Paris, c.1250, source Wikiwand

Key qualities of the Cistercian Order: simplicity, practicality and self-sufficiency

"The promotion of the tenets of their faith on one hand and desire to return to the simplicity of early monasticism on the other, permitted the Cistercians (...) art and architecture. (...) As St Bernard envisaged the Earth as the work of Divine Architect, he himself as a head of his order, actively participated in many practical aspects of founding new Cistercian monasteries, including solving concrete architectural problems. (...) Their churches and monasteries, usually build in wild and remote places, emulating the model of Monte Cassino and 'the desert of Citeaux, were simple yet beautifully constructed structures, without unnecessary ornamentations and gildings as not to disturb the monks from work and pray routine.

Yet it wasn't the beauty, although that came almost as an afterthought, which characterised most of the Cistercian endeavours. It was the simplicity and practicality. It is precisely because they wanted to prove to themselves and others that simple monastic life is the panaceum for all the world's ills, that they excelled in anything which required and promoted self-sufficiency, and that included science needed for providing sustenance and general survival of the monks.

Because their monasteries were usually located in remote locations, they developed a highly sophisticated hydraulic engineering and pioneered the use of water wheels. Their metallurgists were well known for their kills and the forges and factories were always located within the monastery complex, which shows us that it was the monks themselves who worked there and not the lay workers."

Source (slightly edited by TN): Igor R. Murawski Features of Cistercian monasticism in the twelfth century. Illustration:
Cistercians at work in a detail from the Life of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, illustrated by Jörg Breu the Elder (1500)

Templars in Art: The Abduction of Rebecca

Templars in Art: Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) Rébecca enlevée par le Templier (The abduction of Rebecca, 1858)

Throughout his career, Delacroix was inspired by the novels of Sir Walter Scott, a favorite author of the French Romantics. This painting depicts a scene from Ivanhoe: the Jewish heroine Rebecca, who had been confined in the castle of Front de Boeuf (seen in flames), is carried off by two Saracen slaves commanded by the covetous Christian knight Bois-Guilbert. The contorted, interlocking poses and compacted space, which shifts abruptly from the elevated foregound to the fortress behind, create a sense of intense drama. Apart from the still life at lower left, the only element of calm is Rebecca herself.

The painting is kept at Metropolitan Museum of Art, (Met Fifth Avenie in Gallery 801). The present picture is Public domain published by the MetMuseum. Text from the same website. Another version is kept at the Musée du Louvre

The Knights Templar - bleuprint of militarized fraternities

Formed in the setting of the Chapter of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem from a brotherhood of Champenois and Burgundian knights, the Templars received their rule at the Council of Troyes in 1129. They inspired all the foundations that followed by showing the way of militarization to charitable fraternities. The hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, appearing in the context of the First Crusade, engaged in fighting in the Holy Land and in the Iberian Peninsula from the 1130 and 1140s, Just like the Sainte-Marie des Teutoniques hospital, established at Acre around 1190, and militarized eight years later, and Saint-Lazare which came forth fom a leper colony in Jerusalem around 1130 and involved in the Crusade a century later.

Operated under the influence of the Temple, this military conversion was also encouraged by the rulers of the Holy Land and the Iberian Peninsula who wished to involve these new powers in the defense of their states. Parallel to the experiences of the Holy Land, but this time on the front of the Reconquista, brotherhoods of knights supervised by the Cistercians were formed to defend and populate cities and territories that had become Christians. These gave birth to military orders marked by a "national" imprint. The Order of Calatrava was basically Castilian, control of The Order of Alcántara was an issue between Castile and León, The Order of Santiago was rather close to the Castilian monarchy, but gave birth to a branch independent Portuguese in 1290. While the Order of Avis was specifically Portuguese. At the other end of Christianity, in the first third of the 13th century, the militant spirituality of Cîteaux also gave birth to the militias of Porte-Glaive and Dobrin, responsible for supporting the evangelization of the Baltic areas.

Despite their diversity, these orders all share a common origin: they came forth from associations of knights attached to the defense of a city or a castle and were all sponsored by a canonical or monastic institution. This brotherly crucible, conforming to the evangelical spirit but enriched with a military dimension, constituted the spiritual essence of military monasticism. In the 13th century, they continued to inspire armed brotherhoods dedicated to the fight against heresy and the control of morals, supported by the Dominicans in Northern Italy - militias of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary - or by the papal legates in Languedoc - militias of the Faith of Jesus Christ and of Faith and Peace.

source (in French, translated by TN): Les ordres militaires et hospitaliers: une nouvelle religion by Damien Carraz

Did Knights Templar wear beards?

Many popular pictures show Knights Templar clean shaven. Is this corrects?

The Primitive Templar Rule, written in 1128 and added to the minutes of the Council of Troyes in 1129, holds only 72 articles. Here the beard is only mentioned in article 21. 

Article 21: On Bed Linen:
(...) And the Draper (the Brother taking care of the bed linen, TN) should ensure that the brothers are so well tonsured that they may be examined from the front and from behind; and we command you to firmly adhere to this same conduct with respect to beards and moustaches, so that no excess may be noted on their bodies.

In about 1138, under the direction of Robert de Craon, second grand master of the order (1136–1149), the rule was translated into French and modified. In this French Primitive Rule the beard is mentioned in three articles

Article 31 is On Bed Linen and replaces the old article 21. The new version says in translation (TN): "(...) we firmly order that they have a beard and a mustache without any superfluity of vice being noted in their dress."

Article 195, one of seven articles pertaining to the nursing brother ("frère infirmier") says: "(...) the nurse can give them leave of the bleeding and shearing their heads. But to shave off their beards (...) he must take the leave of the master or the one who is in his place."

Article 268, a set of articles on conduct, says: "The brothers chaplain (...) have to wear a closed dress and shave their beards (...)"

The combined articles may suggests that for full brothers, except the chaplains, it was exceptional not to have a "shaven head" (sometimes interpreted as "bold) and a neatly trimmed beard and mostache.  

The illustration at the top was made by Distopial (source Wikipedia Commons); The bottom illiustration is also from Wikipedia Commons.

The objective of the 1st Crusade - the Nobels' point of view

"Notwithstanding the cooperation of both Churches, the Crusaders stationed in Antioch were tended by their own priests. The Latin clergy were free to serve their community as long as they acknowledged the authority of the Byzantine patriarch. Crusaders in the East were for the time militia who were there to serve a purpose. The question of restituting the churches of the East to Rome was not in the crusader’s plans.

This position changed drastically when Alexius abandoned the Crusaders in view of the impending Muslim backlash. When Antioch was captured, Crusaders sent notice for Alexius to come to the Levant and take official control of the city.

During this time the unfortunate death of Adhémar in the summer of 1098 created an important political and religious void for the Crusaders. Urban had sent Adhémar with the Crusaders to insure the stipulations agreed upon by the two Churches were maintained. When Crusaders learned that Alexius’ forces had turned back on their march to Antioch, the previous religious and political plans were discarded as void.

Alexius’ abandonment and the sudden death of Adhémar left the Crusaders in an unexpected and little prepared for position. Alone in the Levant and confident of their military might, Crusaders acted as an autonomous group which would carry out their own will irrespective of the Byzantines.

Crusaders interpreted Alexius’ actions as the submission of Antioch to the Latins,  and immediately sent a petition to Pope Urban. (...) The letter sent by the Crusaders demonstrates how they understood their own actions in the Levant. Their obedience to Adhémar and the restitution of territories back to the Byzantines was done to honor the Pope’s wishes. Without the papal legate and the Byzantine’s betrayal, the work Crusaders were doing took on an entirely new meaning."

Source: dissertation Sebastián Ernesto Salvadó, August 2011, Stanford University. Illustration: Portrait of Emperor Alexios I (1048-1118), from a Greek manuscript; source Wikipedia.

Templars in Art: the Templar Chapter of 1147

TemplarsNow starts a new series: Templars in Art.

The first piece is from François-Marius Granet (1775-1849), who in 1844 painted the "Chapitre de l'Orde du Temple" (Chapter of the Order of the Temple), said to have taken place in Paris on 22 April 1147.

Every five years, the Chapter of the Templar Order convened, bringing together the high dignitaries of the order. They debated political questions and decided acts which engaged the order. It was also the internal court of appeal that dealt with serious disciplinary problems. 

On April 27, 1147, eight days after Easter, a general chapter of the Order of the Temple in France was gathered in the Commandery of the Temple of Paris. Before Pope Eugene III, the King of France, Louis VII, and many prelates, the Knights Templar and their master Evrard des Barrès engaged for the first time for the second Crusade. At this meeting Pope Eugene III granted the Templars the right to wear a red cross on their white coat.

The painting is kept at the Versaille Palace, France. Photo (C) RMN-Grand Palais (Château de Versailles) / Gérard Blot. Published with permission under the rules of T&C of Text inspired by Wikipedia.

What triggered the Crusades? - the Church's point of view.

A major question keeps hovering above history: what triggered the Crusades? Today the Church's point of view.

"In March 1095, the devastation incurred by the onstorming Seljuk Turks in the Byzantine territories forced Emperor Alexius I to ask Pope Urban II for help. This request inspired Urban’s preaching of the crusades later that year at the church council of Clermont. Urban’s crusading plans were in great part a striving to restore good relations with the Byzantine church and was not one which had premeditated plans for expanding the Latin Church. So the expressed goal of Urban’s call was to help Alexius I regain Byzantine territories lost to Seljuk forces.

During the first Crusade the papal legate Adhémar of Le Puy was present among the Crusaders to enforce Alexius’ desire that those lands re-conquered would be given back to the Byzantines. An additional condition was that any other lands gained through their efforts would likewise become part of the Byzantine empire.

The seemingly carte blanche Urban offered Alexius through the Crusader’s unconditional help was a result of the papacy’s views of the Eastern church. At this time both Rome and Constantinople were still seen as a single church in communion with each other. The Crusader’s had no other stipulated goals than to restore the Byzantine sees to the holiest sites of Christianity.

The West’s intentions of goodwill were demonstrated when Crusaders conquered portions of North Syria in 1097. When Antioch was taken the patriarch Symeon II was restituted to the position. This appointing of a Byzantine to the see confirms Rome’s intentions. The joint statement issued by Adhémar and Symeon II further points to the cooperation of both churches. Rome and Constantinople were acting as one body."

Source: dissertation Sebastián Ernesto Salvadó, August 2011, Stanford University. Illustration: A mitred Adhémar de Monteil carrying the Holy Lance in one of the battles of the First Crusade; source Wikipedia.

The Knights Templar - Canons at first?

In his book The New Knighthood: A History of the Order of the Temple Malcom Barber reconstructs in detail the birth of the Order.

He argues that it is probable that, prior to their recognition by King Baldwin II sometime after Spring 1118, the brotherhood that later became the Knights Templar existed in another form. Prior to settlement on the former royal palace at the Temple Mount and becoming "The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon" (in Latin: Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonici), this brotherhood probably already existed for some years as one of the brotherhoods of the Holy Sepulcher.

Researching on this TN found that one of the possible groups was the Canons Regular of the Holy Sepulchre. Originally, a canon was a cleric living with others in a clergy house or, later, in one of the houses within the precinct of or close to a cathedral and conducting his life according to the orders or rules of the church. This way of life grew common (and is first documented) in the eighth century. In the eleventh century, some churches required clergy thus living together to adopt the rule first proposed by Saint Augustine that they renounce private wealth. Those who embraced this change were known as Augustinians or Canons Regular, whilst those who did not were known as secular canons.

The also Augustinian Order of the Canons Regular of the Holy Sepulchre was founded in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, then the capital of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Order was recognised in 1113 by Papal bull of Pope Paschal II and therefore must have been established several years earlier.

According to the website of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem Godfrey de Bouillon, who ruled Jerusalem between July 15, 1099 and his death on July 18, 1100, 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.

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. This description seems a blueprint for the later Knights Templar Order.

The Order of the Canons Regular of the Holy Sepulchre was suppressed in 1489 by Pope Innocent VIII, but its history runs parallel to that of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (along with the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of the Custody of the Holy Land), with Grand Magistery vested in the Papacy since 1496.

sources Wikipedia 1 and 2, and LPJ. illustration Church of the Holy Sepulchre Wikipedia

Templars and wine making in Occitania

When in the 12th to 14th centuries Knights Templar returned from their Crusade, they settled also on the territory of Banyuls and Collioure,  (departement Pyrénées-Orientales, region of  Occitanie, Southwest France), and restored the noble grape varieties planted there by the Phoenicians centuries earlier.

Their settlement all over Europe, led them to discover very varied agricultural techniques. They applied these techniques (and techniques they had importerd themselves from the Orient; TN) in their Commanderies, in producing the cultures necessary for their subsistence and that of the neighboring populations. Through trading their produce they also acquired funds for the continuing occupation and protection of the Holy Land.

In the Banyuls and Collioure region, Templar knowledge revolutionized the management of the vineyard. Their techniques have been preserved for centuries thanks to generations of winemakers. In Banyuls and Collioure, it does not rain often but the showers are terrible. In order to avoid runoff of water on the plots, which takes everything in its path, the Knights Templar set up the terraced cultivation. This required more than 6,000 km of walls, and created a network of canals to guide the water, called Agulles" änd "Peu de Galls" in Catalan.

In 1258 the "mutage  was discovered by the Catalan physician Arnaud de Villeneuve, who reported the principle of the distillation obtained during the Crusades. Mutage is the operation of stopping the alcoholic fermentation of a wine by the addition of vinous alcohol (wine having been distilled). In this way preserve some of the grape's natural sugar and aromas is preserved. This is how one gets the Banyuls wine.

Seduced by the unique taste of the Banyuls and its aromatic richness, the Templars wanted to have them discovered across Europe. It was during a transport by boat that they realized that the barrels of Banyuls that had rested some time in the sun, had developed richer and more complex aromas. It's since then that a part of the Banyuls wines is ripened outdoors.

source text (translated from French and adapted by TN) and illustration

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The Knights Templar Commandery at Arville, France

This video, hosted by a very enthousiastic Frenchman, provides a nice introduction to the well preserved Knights Templar Commandery at Arville, Loir-et-Cher Department, France.

Map of medieval monasteries in the Netherlands published

On October 17, 2019 the Vrije Universiteit at Amsterdam, the Netherlands, published The Map of Monasteries. This map shows the monasteries of all orders which have been represented in the present-day Netherlands during the Middle Ages and Early Modern period (until 1800).

This Map of Monasteries is based on the Census, which has been composed at the Faculty of Humanities of the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam and which contains basic information on all monasteries in the Netherlands until 1800. The Census may be accessed independently, but its records are also accessible via the Map.

The map includes the settlements of Cistercians and Knights Templar in the Netherlands.

The first Templar house was founded at Alphen in the southern province of Brabant by the lord of Breda, probably shortly after 1144. It remained a Templar house until the abolition of the Order in 1312. After that it was taken over by the Knights Hospitaller. The last time this house was mentioned was in 1616.

According to the map the first Cistercian settlement was the monastry of Klaarkamp (= Clear field) at Rinsumageest in the northern province of Friesland. This monastery for monks was dedicated to Our Lady. The first efforts of foundation of the Order took place in East-Frisia ca 1155. The settlement of Cistercians in Frisia West-of-Lauwers took place in 1163-65. Monsatic life ended here in 1580.

All traces of Templar houses in the Netherlands have been summarized on our own map, which in turn is based on the great work (in Dutch) of late Dr Ben Brus.

Source text and illustration Free University Geoplaza. The illustration shows the site of the Klaarkamp Cistercian monastery in northern Friesland. The archaeological remains are lying directly beneath the surface.

"The Templars in Bretagne (France) during the Middle Ages"

The Templars established themselves in the duchy of Brittany in the second quarter of the twelfth century, perhaps as early as 1128, during the travels in western Europe of the first master of the order, Hugh of Payns.

The Templars lived on well beyond the Middle Ages in the local collective memory, in spite of the poorness of the buildings which may be directly ascribed to them.

Even if the present paper is interested in the traditions and myths the Templars provoked in Brittany, it is based on medieval and modern sources which are not as scarce as scholars have often thought.

Thus, over a period of two hundred years, this study explains the Templars’ regional growth, violently broken by the trial of 1307, and it throws light on the establishment of a complete network of possessions organized at its peak, during the second half of the thirteenth century, in about ten commanderies and integrated in the province of Aquitaine.

This blog quotes the English abstract of the paper "Les Templiers en Bretagne au Moyen Âge : mythes et réalités" by Philippe Josserand published on Illustration from the same sorce, showing the Chapel of the Commandery of Coudrie (cliché Chr. Renault).

The Templars at sea

Originally there was no reason for the Knights of the Temple to invest in maritime activities in the Mediterranean area. The foundation of the Temple did indeed have as only goal the pacification of "the roads and ways of the kingdom of  Jerusalem".

The development of the order, however, led the Templars to survey the quays of Acre and Jaffa, where Western pilgrims landed on their voyage to the Holy Places. During the 12th century the Temple came into possession of some 20 coastal commanderies, which communicated with each by sea through other parties. Most of these Commanderies had direct access to the sea, such as Acre, Tripoli, Tortosa or Latakia.

The charter of Italian ships seems to have preceded the acquisition by the different congregations of ships capable of crossing the Mediterranean. We thus see the Temple to import some two tons of iron in Acre, in 1162, through Venitian merchants. In the following years the order acquired fleets in the Bay of Biscay and in La Manche, where the brothers specialize in the export of La Rochelle wine to destination in England.

At the start of the 13th century the port of Marseille receives  the favor of the Templars and Hospitals because of its location at the mouth of the Rhone corridor that leads to the north of France. A "commander of the passage" watches on behalf of the Temple to tranship goods and fighters on their way to the Holy Land in times of tension. 

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 Chapel, Cressac, Charente, France, source

"Groundbreaking Agreement Brings OSMTJ and OSMTHU Templars to the Table"

In June 2019 the OSMTHU-blog The Templar Globe reported on an agreement signed between the OSMTJ and the OSMTHU. Both organizations aim to conteract fragmentation in the worldwide Templar movement. This movement, as the publication rightly states, "is characterized by many small groups of undetermined origin and frequent divisions in the main branches."

For the purpose of unification a Cultural Exchange Association between both branches was proposed.  Efgorts are undertaken to elect Vila Nova da Barquinha – of the Castle of Almourol, location of the Templar Interpretation Center (CIT), as the official seat of this Association.

Illustration left shows the adopted declaration. source the OSMTHU-blog

Geo-politics in 11th and 12th century Francia

For the purpose of TemplarsNow the medieval geo-political landscape of what is now France is important. The County of Champagne, especially the area around Troyes, was the native region of many an early knight Templar. This geo-political situation was fragmented to say the least, as the adjacent maps show.

In 987, Hugues Capet was elected king. The monarchy becomes hereditary, and the Capetians reign over France for more than 800 years. Nevertheless, the first Capetian kings only directly control a very small portion of the French territory, called the royal domain, and some of their vassals are much more powerful than them. 
In the twelfth century, royal power began to assert itself against the princes of the kingdom, but faced from the 1150s to the birth of a "Plantagenet empire" grouping together in England and the western third of France. 

The Capetian kingdom reached its peak in the 13th century, with the monarchy regaining the power it had lost while French art and culture asserted in Europe. 

Philip Augustus (1180-1223) managed to conquer most of the French possessions of the Plantagenets, temporarily putting an end to the English threat and considerably enlarging the royal domain at the same time. 

Louis IX (1226-1270) behaves as a referee of Christendom and participates in the seventh and eighth crusades, which will lead him to be canonized very quickly by the Catholic Church

Source text (translated from French by TN) and illustrations (1: situation 1030; 2: situation 1180)

Templars in Switserland - then and now

As we have argued in an earlier post, certain historians and conspiracists alike suggest that the Knights Templar did in fact form Switzerland.  The evidence and likelihood seem pretty plausible. At the same time hard evidence is scarce and circumstantial at best. Historical fact is that the Order of the Temple counted on the current Swiss territory only two commanderies: La Chaux and Geneva.

 La Chaux in Cossonay is attested in 1223 and Geneva (district of Rive) is quoted in 1277. These had other dependent houses, particularly in Cologny, Bénex (commune of Prangins) and Entremont (commune of Yvonand). All these establishments belonged to the baillie (or preceptory) of Burgundy, subdivision of the Templar province of France.

La Chaux Commanderie was given by the lords of Cossonay to the Knights Templar before 1223. This commandery does not seem to have been particularly profitable, because in 1277 part of the possessions was sold to the Franciscan order to pay debts. After the dissolution of the Order, it passed in 1315 to the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. The commandery depended the hospices of Orbe, Villars-Sainte-Croix and Montbrelloz.

After the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century, the commandery was secularized, subordinated to the last commander, then in 1539 to the brothers of the reformer Guillaume Farel, finally sold in 1540 to Robert du Gard.

In Geneva there is a Ruelle de Templiers. This name comes from a house and a chapel of the Knights Templar who were there. At the suppression of this order, in 1312, they passed, as everywhere, to the Hospitallers of Saint John. This establishment was destroyed in 1534 with the suburbs of the left bank.

Modern Swiss Knights Templar (probably part of the branch, though this Order is not referred to directly on the website) are organized in the Commandery Bertrand de Blanquefort, situated in the hart of Geneva, and the Commandery André de Montbard at Kanton Vaud (no town mentioned).

Illustrations show La Chaux Commanderry and the location of the two historic commanderies in Switserland. Source of the illustrations and part of the text (translated and adapted) from Wikipedia and sources mentioned therein.

Templar locations in France pinpointed

On the website a host of templar sites in France and their history is described in great detail. The same is true for the Project Beauceant website on Regrettably, these websites differ in detail, number and location of commanderies presented. Furthermore, locating the indicated sites on modern maps is hardly possible in the first case and rather difficult in the second.

Therefore, TemplarsNow has started a project which will pinpoint the geographical location of Templar sites in France. TemplarsNow has earlier done a similar job for The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.

The French maps will be constructed by combining the information of both websites mentioned above and plotting it on modern Google-satellite maps, one per Department. In the process, the geographical location of each site is checked on the Cassini-map and other sources on the internet. Primary source is the website. Additional information is used from the website and from other sources on the internet. The site description on the maps uses snippits of text (for now in French) and photographs, mainly from the website. If other information is presented, the sources are indicated. The illustration above presents a part of the resulting map for the Creuse Department (23). All completed maps will be summed up on the page on France.

On the maps four types of Templar sites are distinguished:
  1. major actual Templar site which at present holds multiple important buildings and/or ruins
  2. actual Templar site which at present holds one or a small number of buildings and/or ruins
  3. historical Templar site where as yet no remains are found but of which the former presence can be inferred from toponymes etc
  4. historical Templar site which is mentioned in the sources but whereof no traces whatsoever in the field are known today
The symbols used for each category are:

category 1
category 2
category 3
category 4

Obviously these new TemplarNow maps could not be made without the information provided by the websites and and additional sources. Therefore these maps should be seen as the elaborated and augmented representation of the great work of others.

920th Anniversary First Crusade Siege of Jerusalem

The Siege of Jerusalem took place from June 7 to July 15, 1099, during the First Crusade. This successful siege saw the Crusaders take Jerusalem from the Fatimid Caliphate and laid the foundations for the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Only one year earlier, in the summer of 1098, the (Muslim) Fatimid Emir (commander) al-Afdal Shahinshah had taken Jerusalem from the (also Muslim) Seljuk Turks after a 40-day siege, on orders of the Fatimid Vizier (Minister of State) al-Musta’li, ruler of Egypt. Many months of political and diplomatic maneuvering with the Franj (Franks–the Arabic term used for all Western European Crusaders) and the Rumi (Romans–actually the Greeks of the Byzantine Empire) had not gotten the vizier the concessions he wanted, so he simply had sent Emir al-Afdal to seize the city the Crusaders were coming to capture, thereby presenting the Franj invaders with a fait accompli.

These 1098 events indicate that the negotiations between the Byzantine and Franj on the one hand, and the Muslim Fatimid rulers of Egypts on the other hand on combined efforts against their common enemy, the Muslim Seljuk Turcs that controlled the eastern part of the Byzantine Empire as well as Jerusalem, had turned sour.

These negotiations may have been one of the reasons why the Crusader army, after the successful siege of Antioch in June 1098, remained in that area for the rest of the year. Other reasons being disagreement between the leaders of the army on what to do next. Bohemond of Taranto had claimed Antioch for himself and wanted to remain there. Baldwin of Boulogne remained in Edessa, captured earlier in 1098. By the end of the year 1098, the minor knights and infantry were threatening to march to Jerusalem without their leaders. Eventually, on January 13, 1099 Raymond of Toulouse began the march south, down the coast of the Mediterranean, followed by Robert of Normandy and Bohemond's nephew Tancred, who agreed to become his vassals.

The 1099 siege and conquest of Jerusalem is notable for the mass slaughter of Muslim and Jewish perpetrated by the Christian crusaders, which contemporaneous sources suggest was savage and widespread. Atrocities committed against the inhabitants of cities taken by storm after a siege were normal in ancient and medieval warfare by both Christians and Muslims. The Crusaders had already done so at Antioch, and Fatimids had done so themselves at Taormina, at Rometta, and at Tyre. However, the massacre of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may have exceeded even these standards. Historian Michael Hull has suggested this was a matter of deliberate policy rather than simple bloodlust, to remove the "contamination of pagan superstition" (quoting Fulcher of Chartres) and to reform Jerusalem as a strictly Christian city.

Sources text and Wikipedia. Illustration a 13th-century miniature depicting the siege, Wikipedia

Reliable books on the Crusades

TemplarsNow is always looking to identify, promote and (re)distribute sources of reliable information on the Knights Templar and their time. Therefore this blog quotes the valuable list of "the 15 most important Books on the Crusades" prepared in 2017 by Andrew Holt PhD.

Dr Holt reported on his project to identify the "most important" books on the Crusades. He asked 34 leading medieval historians to provide their own preferential list. Their replies resulted in a list of some 150 titles. Analyzing this as to the number of times each title had been mentioned by the scolars, Dr Holt identified "the 15 most important Books on the Crusades". The titles are shown below, including the number of times each title was mentioned.

The subsurface of Temple Mount, Jerusalem

The subterranean part of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem contains a lot of acheological information mirroring its intensive use during many centuries. Part of this archeological information is documented bij artefacts from the Stone and Bronze Age up to and including the 20th century found by the Temple Mount Sifting Project (TMSP).

Approximately one in four pottery fragments recovered by the TMSP date to the Early Islamic Period (638-1099), mostly consisting of Ummayad tableware and storage vessels, and Abbasid tableware, storage and cooking vessels. Other finds include many architectural elements connected to the construction of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the most prominent being thousands of colored and gilded mosaic tesserae belonging to wall mosaics, most likely the mosaics akin to those adorning the inner walls of the dome of the rock, which adorned the outer walls till their replacement by glazed tiles in the 16th century.

During the Crusader period (1099-1187) the sub-floor structure of the Temple Mount was used as a Opus Sectile tiles from this era match up exactly to patterns seen under the Dome of the Rock's carpeting, as well as the churches of the Holy Sepulchre and of St. John the Baptist.
stables by the Knights Templar, which gave Solomon's Stables its current name. This use is reflected in finds such as hundreds of armor scales, horseshoe nails, and arrowheads. Over a hundred silver Crusader coins make up the biggest and most varied collection of such coins from Jerusalem.

Below some additional sources on the subsurface of Temple Mount.

Illustrations Crusader horseshoe nails and arrowhead, source Temple Mount Sifting Project; Source introductory text Wikipedia 

The fall of Muslim Jerusalem to the Muslims 1098

In the Crusader story, a strange event just prior to the conquest of Jerusalem by the Crusader army in July 1099, seems to be scarcely mentioned. This is the taking of Jerusalem from its Muslim Seljuk Turkish ruler (since 1073) by the Muslim Fatimid rules of Egypt.

The summer of 1098 saw the much-fought-over fortress city in Egyptian hands. The Fatimid Emir (commander) al-Afdal Shahinshah had taken Jerusalem from the Seljuk Turks after a 40-day siege, on orders of Vizier (minister of state) al-Musta’li, ruler of Egypt.

Many months of political and diplomatic maneuvering with the Franj (Franks–the Arabic term used for all Western European Crusaders) and the Rumi (Romans–actually the Greeks of the Byzantine Empire) had not gotten the vizier the concessions he wanted, so he simply had sent Emir al-Afdal to seize the city the Crusaders were coming to capture, thereby presenting the Franj invaders with a fait accompli.

This Fatimid conquest was the final step of developments during two decades within the fragmented Muslim world, where rulers of the same faith fought one another. Religion apparently being of no importance in matters of worldly power and conquest. This development is summarized as follows:

These 1098 events suggest that there were negotiations between the Byzantine (and perhaps even the Crusading Frankish) powers on the one hand, and the Muslim Fatimid rulers of Egypts on the other hand on combined efforts against their common enemy: the Muslim Seljuk Turcs that controlled the eastern part of the Byzantine Empire as well as Jerusalem. Negotiations that apparently turned sour, resulting in lots of misery. It now took untill 1192 when the Third Crusade under Richard the Lionheart failed to recapture Jerusalem, but reached the Treaty of Ramla with Saladin. In this treaty Saladin agreed that Western Christian pilgrims could worship freely in Jerusalem.

Sources text and Wikipedia. illustration "Taking of Jerusalem by the Crusaders, 15th July 1099Émile Signol, oil on canvas (1847) source Wikipedia

Making the Crusades possible: craft, trade and organisation

The agricultural revolution described in an earlier blog resulted in a change in the land use that allowed the subsistence farmer to go with his surplus crop to the market, originally at the local church, to buy and sell. The creation of markets at the churches gave way to more defined market places that specialized in certain products. Trade chains developed. For instance, sheep were a good investment, for their wool was appreciated especially in the colder northern climates. Sheep’s wool was sheared by the shepherd, which wool was sold in the fairs and markets of Champagne (France) and later Flanders (Belgium) for processing and weaving. The product was bought by Italians from Northern Italy for further refinement, and from there sold in international trade.

The tradesmen, artisans, and workers did organize. The first labor laws protecting selected trades in "guilds" were enacted in Ghent in the 11th Century. Normally groups of property owners, burgers, and representatives of the guilds and associations, shared power with the titular feudal authority except when they went their own way. These "Communes" controlled the means of production in their towns and the association with other towns. The wool producing towns in France, Belgium and Germany were either dominated by such communes or independent as “communal republics”.

Many Italian city states used the communal republic as a form of governance. As such, Florence, Genoa and Venice were republic in form. These Italian cities provided the banking, trading and maritime skills for the wool producing regions in Champaign (France), Flanders (Belgium) and England.

This text consists of slightly edited quotes from the blog The Cistercian Connection by Gordon S Fowkes. The illustration is from the same source.

"Genetic Admixture from the Crusaders in the Near East"

"During the medieval period, hundreds of thousands of Europeans migrated to the Near East to take part in the Crusades, and many of them settled in the newly established Christian states along the Eastern Mediterranean coast.

Here, we present a genetic snapshot of these events and their aftermath by sequencing the whole genomes of 13 individuals who lived in what is today known as Lebanon between the 3rd and 13th centuries CE. These include nine individuals from the ‘‘Crusaders’ pit’’ in Sidon, a mass burial in South Lebanon identified from the archaeology as the grave of Crusaders killed during a battle in the 13th century CE.

We show that all of the Crusaders’ pit individuals were males; some were Western Europeans from diverse origins, some were locals (genetically indistinguishable from present-day Lebanese), and two individuals were a mixture of European and Near Eastern ancestries, providing direct evidence that the Crusaders admixed with the local population.

However, these mixtures appear to have had limited genetic consequences since signals of admixture with Europeans are not significant in any Lebanese group today—in particular, Lebanese Christians are today genetically similar to local people who lived during the Roman period which preceded the Crusades by more than four centuries."

This blog quotes the summary of the paper A Transient Pulse of Genetic Admixture from the Crusaders in the Near East Identified from Ancient Genome Sequences by Marc Haber et al., published in The American Journal of Human Genetics104, 977–984, May 2, 2019 published on internet here. This is an open access article under the CC BY license ( Illustration shows bones in the Sidon Crusaders' pit, source

Templar churches and chapels

Chapelle d'Avalleur
According to some authors the religious Templar churches and chapels were built in a way specific to the Order and arranged for the exercise of secret and mysterious rites. Hence the existence of a Templar architectural symbolism, the famous "Templar architecture", whose models would be octagonal buildings or rotunda, like the rotunda of the Temple of Paris.

If the actual existence of an architecture specific to the Temple is doubtful, it is none the less true that it is permissible to perceive in the use of certain forms or dispositions a symbolic content related to the conception of the spirituality of the Templars. But in its outline and its order, this architecture is inspired by the monastic architecture of the time, especially Cistercian style and references.

Let us remember that every sacred building rests on an articulated set of formal and other symbols whose purpose is to put in permanent relation the sacred, but nevertheless terrestrial, built site with the divine world, the symbols serving to express this relationship materially.

"crochets" source

Two types of sacred buildings were favored by the Temple: the church and chapel with rectangular or basilica plan, of early Christian origin, with the shape of a long square, generally oriented towards Jerusalem. The building has a nave, often with one and sometimes with three aisles. There is no break between the nave and the choir, which is closed by a  semicircular dome with in the wall three narrow windows or triplet of Romanesque or Gothic style, according to time. 
The back of the facade is often pierced by a single narrow window. 

This simplicity is also found on the outside openwork facade of the simple portal, sometimes decorated with small columns, and a middle window on the first floor, which is topped with a bell-tower arcade. Often,this is replaced by a more traditional bell tower leaning against one of the side walls of the building. Both inside and outside,  the decoration is discreet and uniform, though regional differences exist, and limited to foliage, some animal figures or hooks ("crochets") based on the Cistercian model. 

First illustration and text (translated from French and slightly edited) from a blog on Templar symbolism on

Making the Crusades possible: the agricultural revolution

A series of revolutions in economic and political life transformed Northern Europe. Technology (tools) drove the process, and it was the entrepreneurial spirit of inventive farmers, craftsmen, and what we call today business that triggered change. The monastery as an economic enterprise provided central direction upon reflection and quickly adopted the technologies to enhance the productivity of the monastery. The Cistercian Order under Saint Bernard is found in the middle of the process. 

The soil of northern Europe was too dense and damp to be plowed efficiently with the scratch plows of the day to produce much past subsistence. In order to cut the heavy soil, the heavy plow was invented which included a cutter, plowshare, and wheels and was initially drawn by oxen. The need for speed and horse power, as horses pulled two hours longer and faster, lead to the invention of the horse collar which solved the problem of the oxen yoke which choked the horse. The hooves of horses did not fare well in the damp earth, unlike oxen, which lead to the use of horse shoes. 

Oxen could survive largely on hay, but horses needed vegetable protein such as from grain and legumes (beans). The additional protein in farmers diets lead to increased energy in the people in the area. Since legumes contain symbiotic bacteria called Rhizobia, they were found to restore nitrogen to farmland. Crop rotations changed from fallow and wheat to fallow, wheat, and legumes, a change to three crop rotation which also extended the productive use of the land.

This text consists of slightly edited quotes from the blog The Cistercian Connection by Gordon S Fowkes. The illustration is from the same source.

Crusading for the sake of commerce - the Genoa case

"There were another body of crusaders, outside the knightly class, to whom it is worth turning in any discussion of the economic gains and losses of the First Crusade. By the end of the eleventh century a growing social milieu was beginning to assert itself in parts of Europe: the urban manufacturer and merchant. (...)

In Italy, a number of cities were beginning to emerge as independent powers; importantly for the history of the First Crusade, Genoa was already organising itself into a commune in 1052 and by 1095 was governed by elected consuls. Sources nearly contemporary with the First Crusade noticed the consules of Genoa as the leading figures of the city. (...)

Marshall examined the sources for the First Crusade to show that many contemporary authors treated the Genoese fleet as fellow crusaders. But no one, even the crudest advocate of the ‘booty’ position, would expect eleventh century sources to do otherwise. The point here, as with the argument about motivation in general, is to ask whether there were contemporary social and economic trends which would contribute to an enthusiasm, sincere or otherwise, for the First Crusade among the consules of Genoa? (...)

When, in 1101, a fleet from Genoa made a convention with King Baldwin I of Jerusalem, the agreement is another good illustration of how contemporaries had no difficulty combining their religious beliefs with their own material interests. The treaty was made, reported Fulcher, with the consuls of the fleet. If, out of the love of God and with His assistance, they and the king could take any of the cities of the Saracens, a third of the wealth of the inhabitants would go to the Genoese, theother two thirds to the king. Additionally, a section in each captured city would be given to the Genoese in perpetuity.31 This agreement became a standard one for relations between Italian cities and the Kingdom of Jerusalem, leading to considerable long-term benefit for the cities.

Is it plausible to deny that the prospect of such arrangements formed part of the considerations of the Italian republics when they heard and accepted the crusading message?"

This blog quotes an abbreviated section of the book The Social Structure of the First Crusade by Conor Kostick (2008), which is available at Brill Leiden/Boston via This is an open access title distributed under the terms of the cc-by-nc License, which permits any non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited. Illustration from Wikipedia shows the city of Genoa in a woodcut from the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493.

March 18, 2019, the 705th anniversary of the death of Jacques de Molay

On March 18, 2019 we commemorate the 705th 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

Numbers of participants of the First Crusade

"The most thorough discussion of the number of combatants on the First Crusade is that offered by John France and this study cannot improve on his painstaking assembly of the relevant data and the plausible manner in which it assessed. At its height, gathered together at Nicea, John France estimates the Christian army to have been composed of some 50,000 combatants, of whom 7,000 were knights. Using these figures as a guide, the overall composition of the crusade would have, very approximately, been as follows. Nine princes, 200 magnates, 7,000 knights, 40,000 footsoldiers, and 40,000 pauperes.

This overall figure of around 90,000 people differs from France’s estimate of 50–60,000 inclusive of non-combatants and it is at the high end of estimates by other modern historians, even though most have revised upwards the estimate in Steven Runciman’s discussion of the subject, that there were 4200 to 4500 cavalry and 30,000 infantry.

Jonathan Phillips offers the figure of 60,000, although somewhat confusingly these are divided between 6,000 knights and the rest ‘servants, pilgrims and hangers-on.’ In other words, the footsoldiers are absent. (...)

The huge variation of the various estimates is a fair reflection of the difficulty of the sources in regard to the reporting of numbers and this study claims no great authority on the matter. It does seem inconsistent of France, though, to assess the number of combatants of the First Crusade at 50,000, yet the overall number, including non-combatants, at 50–60,000. The discussion in Chapter Three shows that when the People’s Crusade departed and, indeed, the various contingents of the princes, the movement had something of a mass emigratory character.

The People’s Crusade was overwhelmingly made up of pauperes, but they were also present in substantial numbers among those marching with the princes. Even after the destruction of the People’s Crusade, thousands of survivors (and later, returned prisoners) joined up with the united army.

That is why it seems reasonable to push the overall figure for the expedition to the higher one of 90,000 by including some 40,000 non-combatants with the 50,000 soldiers."

This blog quotes an abreviated section of the book The Social Structure of the First Crusade by Conor Kostick (2008), which is available at Brill Leiden/Boston via This is an open access title distributed under the terms of the cc-by-nc License, which permits any non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited. Illustration shows The siege of Jeriusalem at 1099, Source Wikimedia Commons