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

Financing the Crusades - Papal support

"The privileges of popes and princes for the crusaders reveal the great importance of credit arrangements in financing the crusades. From the First Crusade on the popes took not only the persons of the crusaders and their families but also their property under papal protection. Crusaders who found it difficult to secure the return of pledged lands were able thus to call upon the church for help. ...

(Pope) Eugenius III in 1145 conceded to crusaders the privilege of pledging lands, even fiefs, without the consent of relatives or lords, if the latter were not themselves willing to lend the money needed. At the same time Eugenius granted crusaders a moratorium on repayment of debts and sought to free them from the payment of interest on loans while they were under the cross"
Quotes from Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe (1989), Chapter IV, "Financing the Crusades". The quotes presented here focus on the situation in the first half of the 12th century. Illustration: Pope Eugene III from this source

Friday, April 7, 2017

Financing the military orders in medieval times

"Ultimately the financial support of the military orders and the confraternities derived from the alms and legacies of the faithful. By his gift to one of the orders any Christian could share in the great enterprise and in the spiritual rewards promised to crusaders.

As early as 1101 pope Paschal II joined with the patriarch of Jerusalem, Daimbert of Pisa, in offering an indefinite remission of penance to those who gave aid to the Hospital. Innocent II in 1131 promised remission of one seventh of enjoined penance to those who gave of their goods to the Hospital, and the same privilege was soon extended to the Temple.

Confraternities also received indulgences and could pass on some of their rewards to those who supported them. Great gifts as well as innumerable small ones were made: in 1134 Alfonso I of Aragon bequeathed a third of his kingdom to the two military orders and the Holy Sepulcher; Bela of Hungary, Byzantine heir-apparent and "duke", in 1163—1169 gave 10,000 gold bezants to the Hospital; and Henry II of England sent 30,000 marks sterling to the Templars and the Hospitallers for the defense of Tyre in 1188. Until the Third Crusade the Hospital and the Temple were the usual recipients of alms and legacies for the Holy Land."

Blog quotes from Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe  (1989), Chapter IV, "Financing the Crusades". The quotes presented here focus on the situation in the first half of the 12th Century. Illustration coins Knights Templar France. Philip IV Le Bel, 1268-1314 AD; source; illustration source.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Financing the Crusades - the "lesser men"

"The communal organization of the "lesser men", the middle classes, revealed itself in their crusades, which took now the character of a huge partnership, now that of a trading company, and now that of a state enterprise.

Although the Italians were the most famed participants, they were not the only middle-class crusaders. From the first, expeditions of northern mariners made their way by the Strait of Gibraltar to the Holy Land: men of the British Isles, the Low Countries, Germany, even Scandinavia... The crusaders came from both sides of the North Sea and the English Channel, in large part the sailors of those seas, men neither of the chivalry nor of the peasantry. Like a commune, they elected their leaders and made policies in council and assembly...

The crusaders from the Italian cities organized their sacred expeditions like trading ventures. To participate in the First Crusade the Genoese nobles and merchants formed a compagna on the model of their earlier expeditions against the Moslems. The ships were provided and outfitted by subscription; each man who subscribed or went on the crusade had a certain financial interest in the profits or losses. When the expedition ended after the capture of Caesarea, the booty was divided according to the shares held by the members in the compagna."

Quotes from Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe (1989), Chapter IV, "Financing the Crusades". The quotes presented here focus on the situation in the first half of the 12th century. Illustration: Crusader vessel  from this source

Sunday, March 19, 2017

March 18, 2017, the 703rd anniversary death of Jacques de Molay

On March 18, 2017 we commemorated the 703rd anniversary of the death of the last official Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay. De Molay, born in 1244 was put to death in Paris by the King of France on 18 March 1314. He was the 23rd and last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, leading the Order from 20 April 1292 until it was dissolved by order of Pope Clement V in 1307.

Though little is known of his actual life and deeds except for his last years as Grand Master, he is the best known Templar, along with the Order's founder and first Grand Master, Hugues de Payens (1070–1136). Jacques de Molay's goal as Grand Master was to reform the Order, and adjust it to the situation in the Holy Land during the waning days of the Crusades.

Death-site plaque of Jaques de Molay on Isle des Juifs, Paris
As European support for the Crusades had dwindled, other forces were at work which sought to disband the Order and claim the wealth of the Templars as their own. King Philip IV of France, deeply in debt to the Templars, had De Molay and many other French Templars arrested in 1307 and tortured into making false confessions. When de Molay later retracted his confession, Philip had him executed by burning upon a scaffold on the Paris Ile des Juifs in the River Seine on 18 March 1314.

source text and illustrations


Some pictures from the Chapitre des Commanderies de l'Ile de France, December 2016, OSMTH France as published on the OSMTH-France website


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Financing the Crusades - loans and gifts

"(It were) loans by which crusaders perhaps most commonly financed their journeys. They borrowed from kings and princes, from monasteries and bishops, from lay lords and merchants, from whoever had money to lend.

The terms of the loans vary. Some were interest-free, like the 70,000 livres of Tours lord Edward of England (the future king Edward I) borrowed from Louis IX in 1269. A recognized form, however, gave the lender the use of the pledged land for a period of years, the income comprising his repayment. Under this vif gage the lender took a certain amount of risk. The more common form of loan, consequently, was the mort gage, which provided for the lender to have the usufruct of the land as interest, the borrower to repay the principal, usually before he got his property back. From the patristic period on, the church had condemned the taking of interest on money loans as usury.

The vif gage was not held to be usurious, since the lender was expected to regain essentially the principal of his loan. The papacy permitted clerical crusaders to pledge their benefices under these terms. Mortgages, on the other hand, fell under the condemnation of pope Eugenius III, and under Alexander III the papacy undertook to enforce its laws against usury. Law-abiding clergy, especially the monasteries, which had found mortgages profitable investments, gave up the business,but other Christians continued to ignore or evade the prohibition of usury. The merchants of southern France and, above all, of Italy were commonly known as moneylenders. ...

Finally, family and friends must often have aided the crusaders. The nature of the transactions did not require written documents to record them, and few examples can be cited. John, lord of Joinville, in describing his departure on the crusade, tells of a gift of "a great quantity of fair jewels to myself and the nine knights I had with me" made by the abbot of Saint Urbain. The kings of England from Henry II to Henry III made considerable gifts to various crusaders.

Again, the social dimension of the crusades is apparent. Although the crusaders took their vows as individuals and were individually responsible for fulfilling them, the crusades were corporate, or at least collective, enterprises. As crusaders joined together to fight under the leadership of feudal lords, communal officers, national sovereigns, and the church, so they also organized their finances, thus transcending the individual."

Blog quotes from Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe  (1989), Chapter IV, "Financing the Crusades". The quotes presented here focus on the situation in the first half of the 12th Century. Illustration from

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Financing the Crusades - saving and selling

"How could the individual crusader finance his journey? He might look first to his current income, but it will be shown later in this chapter that few crusaders had sufficient cash income both to pay their obligations at home and to support themselves decently on a crusade. If one was wealthy enough to support himself from current income, then he had to arrange to resupply himself with money as he needed it. The Holy Land lay beyond a long and dangerous passage by land or sea, and the receipt of money from home was correspondingly uncertain. ... From the middle of the twelfth century, it is true, the Templars provided facilities for the transfer of crusaders' funds, and merchants came to provide similar services by lending money in the east to be repaid in the west. ...

Many crusaders, however, may have hoped to support themselves with plunder....On the First Crusade the booty of the Moslem armies defeated at Dorylaeum and at Antioch, as well as the tribute and ransom of those who had the misfortune to dwell in the path of the crusaders from Antioch to Jerusalem, all enriched the Christians. Stephen of Blois wrote home from Antioch that he had more silver and gold than when he left France. ... it has been suggested that count Robert II of Flanders may have financed his participation in the First Crusade from his treasury. Stephen of Blois went on two crusades without paying any heed to his financial arrangements, and he may have had sufficient savings....

A large expenditure, such as a crusade, had to be made from his capital, whether chattels or lands. From the First Crusade to the last the alienation of property by crusaders reveals the failure of booty, current income, and savings to support their expeditions.... For the First Crusade Godfrey of Bouillon sold his county of Verdun and other lands to bishop Richer, while for the Crusade of 1101 viscount Odo Arpin of Bourges sold his city and county to king Philip I of France. ...

Crusaders preferred not to sell their property outright. Count John of Macon sold his fief subject to the provision of a life pension for himself and his wife Alix. A lesser English crusader made a gift of land to a religious house in return for which the canons promised to make regular payments to his wife while he was gone on the crusade. For the First Crusade duke Godfrey of Lower Lorraine sold his castle of Bouillon to bishop Otbert of Liege for 1,500 pounds with the right to redeem it if he returned, and duke Robert II of Normandy pawned his duchy to his brother king William Rufus of England for 10,000 marks which William took from the churchmen of England.

Quotes from Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe  (1989), Chapter IV, "Financing the Crusades". The quotes presented here focus on the situation in the first half of the 12th century. Illustration: Hoard of gold coins from Apollonia Castle, Israel, from this source

Friday, February 17, 2017

The life of Hughes Count of Champagne (1074-1126) summarized

Born around 1074, Hughes is the third son of Thibaud I and Adèle of Valois. In 1089, his half-brother Etienne-Henri succeeds Thibaud I as the head of the Counties of Blois and Meaux. Four years later, on 1 January 1093, Hugh inherited his other brother's Eudes IV Counties of Troyes, Vitry and Bar-sur-Aube. Hughes in 1102 was the first to officially take the title of Count of Champagne. He also was the first to settle in Troyes.

In 1093 (or 1094), Hugues married Constance of France, Dame d'Attigny, daughter of King Philip I and Queen Berthe of Holland. This union was canceled on Christmas 1104 (or 1105), because the couple had not had children. In 1104, he suffered an attack on his life.

Having not participated in the First Crusade, Hughes left for his first three year stay in Palestine (1104-1107).

Back in Champagne in 1107, Hugues married again in 1110 a young girl, Isabelle de Bourgogne-Comté, Dame de Champlitte, daugther of Étienne Ier of Bourgogne and Béatrice of Lorraine.Soon, however, he seeks to repudiate it, at which point the Countess seek the help of the Bishop of Chartres, Yves, who made the count understand that a husband can not be separated from his wife without the consent of her, not even to enter religion.

In August 1114, Hugues de Champagne travel overseas again with his vassal Hugh, lord of Payns, who will establishe in Jerusalem in 1118 the Order of the Temple.

Back in 1116, the count again governed his principality some ten years, promoting the expansion of the new Clairvaux Abbey founded by St Bernard in 1115 and turning his affection on his nephew, Thibaut de Blois, whom he considered as his heir.

But then in 1120 (or 1123), Isabelle gives birth to a son named Eudes. The child was only two years old when Hughes took advantage of a quarrel with his wife to be declared incapable of child bearing by doctors. Considering himself now free of wedlock, he sent away Isabelle and Eudes, abdicated (1125) and sold his heritage to Thibaut IV of Blois who became Count of Champagne under the title of Thibaut II of Champagne. Hughes traveled to the Holy Land where he joined the Order of the Temple just before his death on June 14, 1126.

This is a French-English translation by TN of this article. Illustration from the same source; caption: "Reconstruction of the Templar armament at the middle of the 12th Century. from Moyen Age 1998 (3) p 25. Some additional information was added found on this webpage.

Friday, February 10, 2017

"The Order of the Temple included women" - quotes

"The Order of the Temple included women. Within the first years of its existence many women took the Order’s oath, although they remained members of the lay persons’ Temple. While there is no suggestion that there was a secret enclave of warrior queens within the Templar Order, as Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh write in The Temple and the Lodge (1989): …a late twelfth-century account in England speaks of a woman being received into the Temple as a Sister, and seems quite clearly to imply some sort of feminine wing or adjunct to the Order. But no elaboration or clarification of the matter has ever been found.

Even such information as might have been contained in official Inquisition records has long since disappeared or been suppressed. Nicole and Charles, from their close study of Templar documents, are more emphatic: If you go back to the twelfth-century documents, there are numerous instances of women having joined the Order, certainly in its first century. Anybody that joined had to take an oath to give ‘my house, my lands and my body and soul to the Order, of the Temple’. You have women’s names at the end of these documents as well as men’s, and you often have couples joining—so the women must have taken the oath too.

These documents are mainly in this area [the Languedoc], and there are enough instances to show that there must have been quite a large number of women involved at one time. They also point out that there was a later change to the rules, in which the Templars were specifically forbidden from accepting women — with the implication that up until that time they had been doing so.

When we expressed some surprise that this was not more widely known, and certainly, apart from some vague hints, the women’s involvement does not feature in the standard works on the Templars, Charles explained: "At times it appears as though a lot of this information has been intentionally overlooked. What you get in the books is a lot of redundant information, the same thing hashed over and over again. There are only two things it could be: either these people are blind, or for some very specific reason they are not focusing on that information. If you are a researcher, which supposedly these people are, it should leap off the page at you. But it’s dismissed"."

source text: The Templar Revelation; source illustration