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Anonymous pilgrim’s account of the Knights Templar in the Holy Land

PilgrimThe original Latin text of this anonymous account has been published in Österreichische Vierteljahresschrift für katholische Theologie. The English translation is by Aubrey Stewart and is found in volume 6 of “The library of the Palestine Pilgrims’ Text Society.” As Stewart notes, these anonymous do not contain any new information. However, this brief account of the Knights Templar is interesting in its confirmation of what was commonly believed about the Order during the Middle Ages.

In this land there are two religious houses, to wit, the Temple and the Hospital. They have an exceeding great abundance of riches, for they have property in and draw revenues from every part of Europe. When they go to the wars, the Templars fight on the right wing and the Hospitallers on the left.

The Templars are most excellent soldiers. They wear white mantles with a red cross, and when they go to the wars a standard of two colours called balzaus* is borne before them. They go in silence. Their first attack is the most terrible.** In going they are the first, in returning the last. They await the orders of their Master. When they think fit to make war and the trumpet has sounded, they sing in chorus the Psalm of David, ‘ Not unto us, O Lord’ (Non nobis, Domine, Ps. 115), kneeling on the blood and necks of the enemy, unless they have forced the troops of the enemy to retire altogether, or utterly broken them in pieces. Should any one of them for any reason turn his back to the enemy, or come forth alive (from a defeat), or bear arms against the Christians, he is severely punished: the white mantle with the red cross, which is the sign of his knighthood, is taken away with ignominy, he is cast out from the society of the brethren, and eats his food on the floor without a napkin for the space of one year. If the dogs molest him, he does not dare to drive them away. But at the end of the year, if the Master and the brethren think his penance to have been sufficient, they restore him the belt of his former knighthood. These Templars live under a strict religious rule, obeying humbly, having no private property, eating sparingly, dressing meanly, and dwelling in tents.

* Obviously a corruption of Beauseant
The original text is corrupt


See also:
An account of Templar prisoners in the Holy Land after the dissolution of the Order
How can I join the Knights Templar?

1 comment… add one

  • Chev. Bryant Jones

    A most interesting account confirming that the Templars were the elite troops of the crusading period. Love it

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