Templar territorial organisation in the West

The purpose of the European Templar sites was to transfer significant amounts of resources to the East. Provisions, weapons, horses, and coinage formed an ensemble that Templar sources termed "responsio", from "to respond". What did the Temple do to organize this?

 

The Temple developed a three-tier territorial organization connecting the central house in the East to each of its Western commanderies by means of an intermediate district, termed the ‘province’. Such an organization, in the twelfth century, was absolutely new, breaking with the customs of both traditional and reformed monasticism, norms that privileged the autonomy of abbeys and priories.

After 1129 this systems developed, starting in the French northern lands, where Payen de Montdidier was charged with establishing the Order. At the end of the 12th century there were four different regions or "provinces": France, Provence, Auvergne and Aquitaine. Within these four provinces, Templar organization broke down further into networks of commanderies. These commanderies often grouped together several houses, with the largest commanderies having nearly a dozen houses. The term "baillie", when used by the Temple, usually seems to designate a fraction of a province, referring to a group of commanderies within a region of varying size.

Considering available figures, there probably were between 300 and 350 Templar commanderies in France. Although this figure may appear small, it is in fact considerable, since the number of  commanderies ranged between thirty and forty each for England, Aragon, Castile, and Portugal.

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: Arville Commandery, France, source

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