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Ten things you’d need to give up to become a Knight Templar

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knighttemplararnThe Order of the Knights Templar was the most influential institution of the Middle Ages, second only to the Catholic Church itself. It was an elite military force backed by its very own agricultural and industrial network, complete with Europe’s first extensive system for financial transactions and public accounting. The existence of such an enterprise took a great deal of effort on the part of thousands of individuals over the course of two centuries, but only a small percentage of those people were physically and morally equipped to hold the Order’s most important position — to be a Knight Templar. While it was actually possible to be a rank and file Templar warrior without becoming a full Knight, the honor of wearing the famed white mantle with the red cross belonged exclusively to those who dedicated their lives entirely to the causes for which the Order firmly stood. Do you want to find out how your values and determination would stack up against those shown by the Middle Ages’ bravest? The list below will give you a fair idea about the choices and sacrifices you would have had to make in order to join the Knights Templar.
  1. You would have to give up the very notion of being able to get through life without sacrificing anything ever. This was not an easy adjustment for young noblemen who grew up in an entitlement-based culture. Contrary to popular belief, one did not have to be a first-born son in order to feel that hereditary nobility was your license to effortlessly take all you wanted from life without any scruples. Is this not similar to the moral malaise so prevalent in the Western world today?
  2. You would have to give up earthly riches. The vow of poverty demanded that a Knight Templar should be free of any personal possessions. You would have been given what it took to do your job, and that’s it. This sacrifice also affected the knight’s family, who were often required to donate land, property and large sums of money to the Order.
  3. You would have to give up sexual relations for good. Taking the vow of chastity meant that a knight could not even kiss his own sister or mother, as simply conversing with women was deemed harmful and distracting. Although the Middle Ages were not as universally obsessed with sex as our own society, this surely was a very difficult commitment for young men at the pinnacle of their physical vigor.
  4. You would have to give up personal freedom. The vow of obedience put every Knight in a completely subordinate state. As a Knight Templar your would always have to follow orders, even regarding the most insignificant aspects of your being. Early rising, religious services, meals, taking care of one’s equipment — everything was strictly regulated and enforced. This is another point where sacrifice would have been as difficult for young members of the feudal class as it is for the privileged population of today’s Western countries.
  5. You would have to give up your ancestral name. An ordinary Knight Templar was only known by his first name. The number one thing that every European noblemen was most proud of — his heritage — would have been denied to him. Only those knights who reached the highest echelons of the Order could use their their full names, undoubtedly because this put them on the same level with members of the secular society with whom they had to have official dealings. Naturally, you would not be able to use your coat-of-arms. A Knight Templar was not identifiable as an individual. Only the leadership of the Order sometimes used heraldic accomplishments, for reasons explained.
  6. You would have to give up fashion. At the time when European arts and craftsmanship were on the rise, the Knights Templar were expressly prohibited to wear anything other than their uniform, and special measures were taken as not to include any fashion statements in the way the knights’ clothing was made. For instance, pointed shoes that were so popular at the time were forbidden. Well-kept beards were also required in most cases, probably as another way to make the men look indistinguishable.
  7. You would have to give up jousting. This was the most popular form of entertainment among the ruling class in Medieval Europe well into the Renaissance period. Although it may seem that this activity could have been helpful as a part of military training, one should keep in mind that jousting resulted in numerous accidents. The Knights Templar could not afford to lose men outside of battle.
  8. You would have to give up falconry and other kinds of hunting. These popular activities were off limits probably because they went side by side with the notions of individual freedom and leisure.
  9. You would have to give up dietary indulgences. The Knights Templar diet was simple and only differed from monastic diets of the time by the abundance of protein. It was understood that a knight had to stay in the best physical shape possible at all times.
  10. You would have to be prepared to give up your life. Martyrdom was at the core of the Knights Templar value system. Their willingness to die was one of the explanations behind the unmatched bravery that was even noted by their enemies.

See also:
History of the Knights Templar at a glance

History of the Knights Templar at a glance

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The history of the Knights Templar is comprised of events that span 200 years. It is covered in excellent books that tell the whole story from different perspectives, and I encourage you to delve deeper into this subject — well worth it. But if you want to get a very brief education in the main historic events that involve the legendary order of warrior monks, this page was put together to help. If you are also interested in numerous tales and stories that surround the ancient order, be sure to check out Legends of the Knights Templar.

jerusalemcaptured 1099
Jerusalem captured during the First Crusade. Godfrey de Saint-Omer, one of the future founders of the Knights Templar order, most likely came to the Holy Land at this time.
alt="baldwinII" c. 1119
The Order of the Knights Templar was established in Jerusalem by nine knights, including Hugues de Payens, the order’s first Grand Master. Their main stated purpose was to protect Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land. King Baldwin II (pictured) granted the knights the use of the Al Aqsa mosque on Temple Mount.
honoriusII 1129
The Knights Templar were officially recognized by Pope Honorius II at the Council of Troyes. The Latin Rule, written by Bernard de Clairvaux, was approved as guidelines for this first religious military order.
innocentII 1139
Papal bull Omne Datum Optimum (Latin for “Every perfect gift”, James 1:17), issued by Pope Innocent II, made the Knights Templar exempt from tithes and taxes, allowing them to use the spoils of war at their own discretion.
paristemple 1146
The Paris Temple was built, to serve as the global headquarters for the Knights Templar.
saladin 1187
On July 4, Saladin defeated Crusader forces at Hattin. Templar Knights captured in the battle were beheaded. On October 4, Jerusalem fell to Saladin.
acre 1191
The Knights Templar established their new Outre-mer (“Overseas”) headquarters in Acre.
castlepilgrim 1217-21
Castle Pilgrim (Atlit) was built.
frederickII 1229
Jerusalem was regained by crusading forces through diplomatic efforts of Frederick II.
jerusalem 1244
In Southern France, papal forces brutally suppressed the Cathars, a powerful heretical group. Jerusalem surrendered by Crusaders for the final time.
fallofacre 1291
Fall of Acre. The Syrian citadel of Tortosa and Castle Pilgrim abandoned by the Templars.
ruad 1302
Fall of Ruad, the last Christian stronghold in Outre-mer.
philipthefair 1307
Philip the Fair, King of France, orders massive arrests of the Knights Templar on charges of heresy, sodomy, corruption and apostasy. Torture was used to extract confessions, eventually resulting in executions. Outside of France the fate of the Knights Templar varied greatly, allowing many to escape persecutions.
clementV 1312
On March 22, the Order of the Knights Templar was officially dissolved in the bull Vox in Excelso, issued by Pope Clement V. The order’s possessions were transferred to the Knights Hospitaller.
demolay 1314
Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, was burned at the stake in Paris on March 18.

 

Knights Templar Timeline

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lariviere-ascalon

This is a work in progress, a brief chronology of the Knights Templar history, mostly based on Sean Martin’s timeline. Visitors who like this page might also enjoy: History of the Knights Templar at a glance.

c.1070 Birth of Hugues de Payen; Foundation of the Hospitallers
1095 (November) Pope Urban II calls for a crusade to recapture Jerusalem
1099 (July) Jerusalem taken by the First Crusade
1104 Hugh of Champagne arrives in Outremer (possibly with Hugues de Payen)
1114 Bishop of Chartres refers to a military order called the ‘Militia of Christ’
c.1119 The Order of the Knights Templar founded (traditional date)
1120 (January) Council of Nablus:The Order of the Knights Templar recognized in the East
1127 Presumed first meeting between Hugues de Payen and St Bernard de Clairvaux
1129 (January) Council of Troyes.The Latin Rule of the Temple adopted
1130 Hugues de Payen arrives in Jerusalem with new recruits.
1131 In Praise of the New Knighthood by St Bernard de Clairvaux
1135 Earliest records of Templars’ banking activities
c.1136 Death of Hugues de Payen (possibly 1131); Hospitallers become a military order
1136–37 Templars first established in the Amanus March [click to continue…]

Grand Masters of the Knights Templar (a list)

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This list of the Grand Masters of the Knights Templar Order follows Malcolm Barber’s dates except in case of Richard de Bures, whose dates are taken from P.P. Read. I make no attempt to represent the fictitious list of Grand Masters who supposedly followed De Molay in a secret succession. The list is found in the Larmenius Charter which I believe to be fake.

Hugues de Payens 1119-1136
Robert de Craon 1136-1149
Everard des Barres 1149-1152
Bernard de Tremeley 1153-1153
Andrew de Montbard 1154-1156
Bertrand de Blancfort 1156-1159
Philip de Milly (Nablus) 1169-1171
Odo de St Amand 1171-1179
Arnold de Torroja 1181-1184
Gerard de Ridefort 1185-1189
Robert de Sablé 1191-1192/3
Gilbert Erail 1194-1200
Philip de Plessis 1201-1209
William de Chartres 1210-1218/9
Peter de Montaigu 1219-1230/2
Armand de Périgord 1232-1244/6
Richard de Bures 1244-1247
William de Sonnac 1247-1250
Reginald de Vichiers 1250-1256
Thomas Bérard 1256-1273
William de Beaujeu 1273-1291
Theobald Gaudin 1291-1292/3
Jacques de Molay 1293-1314