Medical care in the Templar Order

The Knights Templar provided medical care, both for their own brothers as for people from outside the Order. Taking care of medical problems started with preventing illness to enter the Order in the first place. But when sickness came up, care was provided.

Concealing illness on entry was considered an offence, which could lead to expulsion. Leprosy and epilepsy are mentioned explicitely in the Rule as illnesses to be kept out of the Order.

The Rule provides for those who became ill or wounded in the service of the Order. They were given over to the care of the lnfirmarer, When ill Templars were exempted from the strict dietary rules and from attendance at services. Diseases were recognised and treated, using quarantine if necessary, as well as medical advice from outside the Order. Leprose Templars were offered to transfer to the Order of Lazarus, a community of lepers in close association with the Templar Knights.

Templar care was extended beyond its own membership, also starting with adressing common food shortages. The Rule prescribed feeding three to four poor wherever the Master was himself. In all other cases the remainders of the brothers' meals were given to the poor. To provide for enough remains to be available, the brothers' portions were generous, not to be eaten by the brothers themselves but to be left over for the poor.

The Order also maintained permanent establishments for both poor and sick. Hospices spread everywhere, monastic hospitals, cathedral hospices and parish hospices. Examples are the ones at 
Autun, Chalon, Màcon, Auxerre, Langres, Châtillon, Beaune and Vezelay. Nevertheless, in this repect the role of the Knights Hospitaller was more promiment because they were founded upon hospitallity and the Temple was primarily a military brotherhood.

Source: Malcolm Barber, The New Knighthood: A History of the Order of the Temple (1995); Illustration The Hotel Dieu in Beaune, source

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