Noble support of the early Templars: funds, hands and land

It was from France nobles that the Templars received their earliest support in terms of donations.

In 1120, the Count of Anjou, Fulk V, future king of Jerusalem, came as a pilgrim to the East and he temporarily joined the confraternity founded by Hugues de Payns. He lived in the palace that King Baldwin II had given to the brethren and on his return to the West, Foulques V granted them an annuity of thirty Angevin livres. With this gesture inspired by admiration and devotion, he certainly hoped to set an example.

In 1125, the Count of Champagne, Hugues I, who was travelling for the third time to Jerusalem, also joined the Temple once he arrived and stayed a Templer until his death, only one year later. This is evidenced by a letter from Bernard of Clairvaux, who congratulated him while lamenting that he did not join Cîteaux. Such support shows that the reputation of the Temple had quickly spread beyond the Holy Land.

The first donation of land was recorded on July 1, 1124, when a layman named Guilhem de Poitiers, acting for the Templars, gave the church of La Motte-Palayson in the diocese of Fréjus to Saint-Victor of Marseille. Through an intermediary, probably a pilgrim, this church had previously been transferred to Hugues de Payns’ fellow Templars, who then resolved to transfer it to Saint-Victor.

This first landed donation, in addition to the support of several great nobles of the realm, enables us to discredit the idea that there were very few Templars on the eve of the Council of Troyes. Nine brothers in nine years: that is the image forged by Archbishop William of Tyre, who in the second half of the twelfth century came into conflict with the Templars. His image is powerful, but it is false. From its earliest years, the Temple gained a certain renown beyond the Holy Land, especially in France.

Text adapted from Philippe Joserand (2015) The Templars in France: Between History, Heritage, and Memory; in: COSTA, Ricardo da, SALVADOR GONZÁLEZ, José María (coords.). Mirabilia 21 (2015/2), Medieval and early modern Iberian Peninsula Cultural History (XIII-XVII centuries), Jun-Dez 2015/ISSN 1676-5818.Illustration The Coronation of King Fulk and Queen Melisende of Jerusalem. 13th century, source Wikipedia

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