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 Chappel, Cressac, Charente, France, source
 

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