Friday, June 9, 2017

"How many Templars were there?" - quotes

Four Templar knights on the tomb
of Don Felipe in the former Templar
church of Santa Maria la Blanca
de Villasirga, at Villacazar de irga (Palencia,
Castile, Spain). Photo: Juan Fuguet Sans.
This blog quotes from a blog published on April 22, 2016 by "Gawain's Mum" on

"How many Templarts were there? This is one of those questions that people interested in the Templars often ask. But so far as we know the Templars did not keep membership lists; certainly none have survived. ... it appears that there were around 300 Templar knights in the kingdom of Jerusalem in the 1180s. Malcolm Barber has estimated that there were around 1,000 sergeant-brothers in addition to the 300 knight-brothers.

Is this a reasonable figure? ... the estimated figure of 1,300 Templars in the East in the 1180s is too large. Perhaps there were only 300 brothers in total, in the whole of the East; that would mean that numbers more than halved between the 1180s and the early fourteenth century, but that would be reasonable after the losses of 1291-1302.

That is only the East: how many Templars were there overall? ... so far this suggests that there were no more than 1,500 Templars in Europe and Cyprus in 1307."

Text and illustration from the blog by "Gawain's Mum" on

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Setting the stage for the Crusades - role of the Church

"The rude and unlettered barbarian tribes who had eclipsed the rule of the Roman Empire were led by the Roman Church. The Church provided the glue by which these scattered trihes became a united force capable of protecting the Continent against the military expansion of Islam and the Oriental hordes. Its priests, bishops, and monastic communities provided political as well as spiritual leadership among far-flung and isolated towns and villages. Ecclesiastical councils served as courts of justice. Christian monasteries preserved learning and literacy. Norman Cantor estimated that ninety percent of those who attained literacy between 600 and 1100 received their education in a monastic school. The Church extended the hand of charity to the poor and suffering.

On the other hand, the Church was responsible for inculcating pernicious doctrines that infested Europe for centuries. Original sin was no mere philosophical or religious speculation. The concept of sin informed the entire social, political. anti legal structure. Since the human condition was fallen to begin with, justice was, by definition, impossible. Social improvement was not a goal. This was a reversal of earlier ]ewish beliefs in the goodness of God and the possibility of reformation of society through adherence to the Divine. To the medieval Christian, life was a test and trial in preparation for death. lf one were good, the joys of Paradise followed the loss of the body. The soul-chilling horror of eternal torrnent in Hell awaited the wickec. Suffering cleansed and purified the soul in preparation for its after-death reward. Contrition. confession and penence were introduced in the sixth century hby Pope Gregory I, "the Great"(later nanonized), as the sole means by which the sin-befouled human being could advance through the intermediate state of Purgatory.

Nature herself was evil. She was the source of the insistent, instinctual sexual drive to reproduce. Those conceived byb the sin of sex \were sinful at birth. Celibacy hecame a spiritual ideal rather than a spiritual technique. The atternpt to promulgate and enforce rigid antisexual hehavior on the masses led to a raging rbellion within the European psyche. lnsanity and disease are the inevitable consequences of sexual repression, and they took a horrid toll durig the Midle Ages. Because
sickness of the body was seen as God's punishment for wickedness, the medical arts were confined to Arab and ]ewish practitioners and to women, who studied herbs and the healing properties of nature. These were among the many who fell in that great battle against Satan and the flesh known as the lnquisition - the central command center for the centuries of murder, torture, and hysteria that followedl its establishment."

This blog quotes from Chapter 2 of "The Templars and the Assassins: the militia of Heaven" by James Wasserman (Rochester, 2001);
illustration from   Spread of Christianity to AD 325;   Spread of Christianity to AD 600

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Setting the stage for the Crusades - daily life

"The sixth century marked the beginning of the Dark Ages in western Europe. While the Byzantine Empire generally prospered, despite its loss of territory, western Europe spent the six centuries after the death of Justinian in chaos, war, cultural degeneration, superstition, ignorance, and poverty. The majority of western Europe, including Italy, Gaul (modern France), and Spain, had fallen to the barbarian tribes who had earlier overtaken Rome. Plague and famine decimated Europe. By 550, Rome, which once had a population of one million people, was reduced to forty thousand souls, half of whom were maintained hy papal alms.

Life was harsh and hrutal. The peasantry, although free, were poor, uneducated, and politically impotent. Skin disease was epidemic because of the Church's prohibition against nudity and bathing. (Other sources indicate that -at least in a later part of the Middle Ages- personal hygiene as well as bathing did exist; TN *). Lice and similar vermin tormented all, regardless of social class. By the beginning of the seventh century, literacy was reserved for the clergy. Science, medicine, and literature were replaced by magic, superstition, and religious texts. Eighty percent of the population during the Dark Ages never moved more than ten miles from their place of birth. As a result of poor nutrition and medicine, the average life expectancy was thirty years, while the average height for men was not more than five feet three inches (about 160 cm; TN).  Throughout the ninth and tenth centuries, Europe endured a perpetual state of war, decimated by continuous aggression from Scandinavian, castern European, and Germanic trides, as well as Muslims. Savagery and faith, ignorance and piety, agriculture and aggression, this mixture embodied the intellectual stagnation of the Dark Ages."

This blog quotes from Chapter 2 of "The Templars and the Assassins: the militia of Heaven" by James Wasserman (Rochester, 2001); * Additional source on bathing and illustration from

Saturday, April 15, 2017

"An Analysis of Prophet Muhammad’s Covenants with Christians"

In his paper "Religious Pluralism and Civic Rights in a “Muslim Nation”: An Analysis of Prophet Muhammad’s Covenants with Christians" Craig Considine

"examines the roles that religious pluralism and civic rights played in Prophet Muhammad’s vision of a “Muslim nation”.

He demonstrates how Muhammad desired a pluralistic society in which citizenship and equal rights were granted to all people regardless of religious beliefs and practices. The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of his time are used as a framework for analysis. These documents have received little attention in our time, but their messages are crucial in light of current debates about Muslim-Christian relations.

The article campaigns for reviving the egalitarian spirit of the Covenants by refocusing our understanding of the ummah as a site for religious freedom and civil rights. Ultimately, Considine argues that the Covenants of Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of his time can be used to develop a stronger narrative of democratic partnership between Muslims and Christians in the “Islamic world” and beyond."

This blog contains the (slightly edited) entire Introduction to the following paper: Considine, C. Religious Pluralism and Civic Rights in a “Muslim Nation”: An Analysis of Prophet Muhammad’s Covenants with Christians. Religions 2016, 7, 1, which can be found at  Illustration: A Christian and a Muslim playing chess, illustration from the Book of Games of Alfonso X (c. 1285; from