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Primary sources and documents

Templar survivors in captivity

The Last CrusaderMalcolm Barber begins his great book “The New Knighthood” with a reference to this story. It seems worth the effort to publish the original text with translation. The source is Ludoplh von Sudheim‘s account of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1336-1341. The book first appeared in 1350 under the title “De Terra sancta et itinere Iherosolomitano et de statu eius et aliis mirabilibus, que in mari conspiciuntur, videlicet mediterraneo.” The particular encounter related here most likely took place in 1340. An important date to keep in mind is 1291, the year of the fall of Acre.

Near the Dead Sea, on its right side and towards of the Judean Mountains, Lot’s wife stands on some cliff, turned into a pillar of salt. When I traveled that way, I came across [two] Knights Templar, who had been captured during the fall of Acre. They have been cutting timber here and there for the Sultan’s needs. They did not know until then that the Templar Order had been destroyed, because they toiled in the mountains and did not see any people from across the sea after being captured. They very much advised us against riding any further along the shore of the Dead Sea if we wished to hold on to our lives, because of the stench, but they showed us at a distance the location of the Lot’s wife pillar in plain view. Within a year, the Sultan, at somebody’s request, freed these Templars along with their children and wives. They visited the court of our Lord the Pope and were honorably sent over to their homelands. One of them was from Burgundy, the other from Toulouse.

lotswifepillarCirca mare mortuum a dextris versus montes Israel, in quodam monticulo, stat uxor Loth, in statuam salis versa. In hoc itinere temporibus meis fuerunt Templarii, in destructione Acon civitatis capti, qui hinc inde in montibus ad opus Soldani ligna servabant, et ordinem Templariorum esse destructum, adhuc ignorabant, nam hinc inde in montibus laborabant, et aliquos homines cismarinos post captionem eorum non videbant; hi multum dissuadebant, quod ulterius supra mare mortuum non ecquitaremus, si prae foetore vitam vellemus obtinere, sed locum statuae uxoris Loth a longe aperte demonstrabant. Hos infra annum Soldanus ad quorundam preces cum liberis et uxoribus liberavit, et ad curiam domini nostri devenerunt et honorifice ad patriam suam fuerunt transmissi; unus eorum fuit de Burgundia, alter de Tholosa.


You can find more fascinating stories in my book “Legends of the Knights Templar”.

2 comments… add one

  • What is the minimum age that one could have become a Knight Templar? If both were as young as 17 during the fall of Acre, then both would be 66 cutting timber for the Sultan. It would have been difficult, although not impossible, for these two in such advanced years to be on timber cutting duty. Considering that men didn’t live as long in those days.

    • KTV

      Well, Roger de Flor worked for the Order since he was 9, even though he formally joined the KT later. Also, we don’t know how many former Templars from the same group died in captivity, since we only hear about the two survivors. But they lived a healthy life, I suppose 🙂 There is another story from Ludolph that I will publish very soon. That one is a lot less believable, but it is not presented as an eyewitness account.

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