Sunday, February 28, 2016

Origin of the Hospitaller Order at Jerusalem

Hospital of the Hospitaller Order in Jerusalem (source)
"In 603 AD, Pope Gregory I commissioned the Ravennate Abbot Probus, who was previously Gregory's emissary at the Lombard court, to build a hospital in Jerusalem to treat and care for Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land.

In 800, Emperor Charlemagne enlarged Probus' hospital and added a library to it. About 200 years later, in 1005, Caliph Al Hakim destroyed the hospital and three thousand other buildings in Jerusalem.

In 1023, merchants from Amalfi and Salerno in Italy were given permission by the Caliph Ali az-Zahir of Egypt to rebuild the hospital in Jerusalem. The hospital, which was built on the site of the monastery of Saint John the Baptist, took in Christian pilgrims travelling to visit the Christian holy sites. It was served by Benedictine monks.

The monastic hospitaller order was founded following the First Crusade by the Blessed Gerard, whose role as founder was confirmed by the papal bull Pie Postulatio Voluntatis issued by Pope Paschal II in 1113. Gerard acquired territory and revenues for his order throughout the Kingdom of Jerusalem and beyond.

Under his successor, Raymond du Puy de Provence, the original hospice was expanded to an infirmary near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Initially the group cared for pilgrims in Jerusalem, but the order soon extended to providing pilgrims with an armed escort, which soon grew into a substantial force. Thus the Order of St. John imperceptibly became military without losing its eleemosynary character. The Hospitallers and the Knights Templar became the most formidable military orders in the Holy Land. Frederick Barbarossa, the Holy Roman Emperor, pledged his protection to the Knights of St. John in a charter of privileges granted in 1185." source  wikipedia.org

This 2013 source reports that the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced the finding of the 1000-year-old building of the Hospitallers in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. The building was spread out over more than 14.000 square metres and characterized by massive pillars, ribbed vaults, smaller halls, patient rooms and ceilings as high as 6 metres. “The Muslim Arab population was instrumental in assisting the Crusaders in establishing the hospital and teaching them medicine,” the IAA archaeologists said.  It was the Muslim hero Salah a-Din, who conquered Jerusalem from the Crusaders (1187, TN), who helped preserve the structure, allowing 10 Crusader monks to run the hospital.

Historical documents have revealed that the hospital was highly organised with different wings and departments for patients suffering from different medical conditions. In times of emergency, it could take in up to 2,000 patients from all religions.  There was even a system for ensuring Jewish patients received kosher food.

In the earthquake of 1457, the building collapsed. During the Ottoman Empire, what remained was used as a fruit and vegetable market that operated until 2000.
 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Templar castles in 12th century Outremer - police and taxing stations

Castle Blanc in present day Syria
photographed in 1905 by Gertrude Bell (source)
For a while (following their foundation in 1119 for protecting pilgrims in the Holy Land; TN) the Templars seem to have organised their patrols of the pilgrim sites from Jerusalem, but within a few decades they and the Hospitallers had set up strongholds across the country.

With the notable exception of Gaza, given to the Templars after its restoration by King Baldwin IV 1149-50 but before 1153, and Bethgibelin, built and given to the Hospitallers already in 1136, which both were intended to effectively stave off the Fatimid garrison of Ascalon, most military fortifications which the two military orders had created or taken over in the Latin kingdom before c.1168 fulfilled the double purpose of guarding a pilgrim site and protecting the road leading to, from or through it.

Most of these early fortifications were firmly situated within the perceived borders of the kingdom of Jerusalem. But by 1170 the military orders in the Kingdom of Jerusalem had started establishing new castles and towers in regions that were at the fringes of Frankish authority. To consolidate Frankish authority effectively, these forward castles functioned as centres of a new administration that extended its power into the landscape and exerted its authority over the nomadic tribes by binding them to the land or the law.

The castles of the military orders were, in short, exactly what Raymond Smail believed crusader castles to be: economic administrative centres that allowed their owners or keepers to control and exploit the rural population, to police the surrounding landscape and to control nomadic tribes.

Moreover, it was an instrument to get a tighter grip on the Bedouins, who, if they were local tribes, had until then been living under royal and not a particular lordship’s protection, but who were also roaming outside the perceived borders of the Kingdom in great numbers. The right to charge them pasture taxes and annual fees if they crossed into Frankish territory was a lucrative financial asset which, however, also gave the recipient a duty to monitor them. TheTemplars and Hospitallers took on these responsibilities after 1160 and probably before.

Quoted from the paper "Nomadic Violence in the First Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Military Orders" by Jochen G. Schenk, published on www.academia.edu.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Templars at the court of the Counts of Flanders

Seal of Templar Pieter uten Zacke (December 1304)
Photo Bernard Schotte
"Ever since the founding of the Templar Order, the Templars had considerable influence on the Counts of Flanders

As early as in 1127 and 1128 Counts William Clito and Derrick, successively, donated the rights to the repay of their personal loans in the County to the Temple Order. Several Flemish noblemen subsequently followed their example. This was an important source of income for the Temple.

Besides that, ever since the reaffirmation of that right by Count Thierry of Alsace in 1157, a Templar Knight, usually the Flemish commander, resided at the Count's court. Not only to to collect taxes but also as a personal adviser and financier of the Flemish count.

One of the main actors in the Flemish scene towards the end of the Templars was brother Peter uten Sacke, also known as Peter Ute Zacke, Uten Zacke, Uten Sacke, Uuttensacke, Pierre dou Sac or Pieron du Sace, du Zac, the Sacco, Brother Pierron of Brother Pierre, "commander" and "master of the Court of the Temple in Flanders (1280 to 1297). He was an influential advisor to the Flemish Count Guy of Dampierre. He lent him money and obtained several important privileges and tiths. The Count donated in 1282 to "his good friend in God brother Pieter uten Sacke of the Temple Order" and to the Temple House near Bruges four acres located in the Aardenburg, for loyal service.

Mid May 1291 Count Guy sent 'brother Peter Utensacke, master of the courts of the temple in Flanders" with Dance Ystaes, monk at Cambron, and Wenin Stullard, bailiff of Ghent, to Ossenisse to assess a complaint of the citizens about the negligence of the Ten Duinen Abbey regarding the dikes. They had to check the accounts and to reach an agreement. In 1302 brother Peter uten Sacke was still present to welcome Brother Thomas Breele in the Temple House Atrecht. Later brother Pieter uten Sacke was one of the councilors of Philip of Chieti, son to Count Guy of Dampierre, who in 1305 became deputy ("Ruwaard") to the count after the rebellion of Flemish artisans."

This blog is a translation of part of the paper in Dutch bij Filip Hooghe entitled "Dwalende tempeliers en klagende hospitaalridders: het lot van de tempeliers in het graafschap Vlaanderen (1284-1332)", published on Academia.edu, which paper also is the source of the illustration.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Cistercian Order - preface to the Knights Templar



Praying and working Monks - source medievalists.net
It was a (Benedictine) Cluniac abbot, Robert de Molesmes, who founded in 1098, with the consent of the Duke of Burgundy, Citeaux Abbey. The Cistercian reform developing at here, advocated an austere life and stripped worship. Starting with sister abbeys in La Ferte, Pontigny, Clairvaux and Morimond, Citeaux deployed in France and the rest of Europe.

In 1112, Bernard de Fontaine, monk at Citeaux and future Saint Bernard, was sent to found Clairvaux Abbey, taking with him from Clairvaux thirty companions, including his uncle André de Montbard. The latter would later become one of the nine founding knights of the Order of the Temple.

Bernard became the first abbot of Clairvaux. Within the Cistercian order, he reformed the Benedictine tradition imposing a drastic return to rigor, purity, prayer, simplicity and austerity. By opposing the opulence and richness of Cluny he goes so far as to impose on his monks an austere lifestyle similar to that of "heretics" born around the year 1000. He wanted a stripped and confident faith.

All these Cistercian monasteries, which develop as self sustaining units, became important agricultural production centers. They played a key role in clearing of land throughout the Middle Ages. They were a blue-print of the Templar commanderies with the same agricultural end economic purpose, that developed after the 1120s.

This blog is a translation of parts of this paper in French.