This medieval story comes from a collection of Old Occitan Vida — “Lives” of famous and not so famous troubadour poets. It represents a particular genre popular in the very first well established secular literary culture since the fall of Rome. For the most part, troubadour poets were dedicated to ideals of courtly love, but their works also reflected events of the time, including the crusades. Although it is highly unlikely that this biography of Jaufres Rudels is rooted in reality, one can get (very incidently) a good idea of how respected the Knights Templar were during the 13th century, when this text was written. I am including a version in the original Old Occitan (taken from Revue historique, Volume 53, 1893). If you have any background in Romance languages you may be able to read a great deal of this text. It is actually used by William D. Paden in his “Introduction to Old Occitan.” This language survives today as Modern Occitan, a regional language in Southern France.
Jaufres Rudels de Blaia si fo mout gentils hom, princes de Blaia, et enamoret se de la comtessa de Tripol ses vezer, per lo gran bon qu’el n’auzi dir als pelegrins que vengron d’Antiochia, e fetz de lieis mains vers, ab bons sons, ab paubres motz. E per voluntat de lieis vezer el se crozet, e mes se en mar; e pres lo malautia en la nau, e fo condutz a Tripol en un alberc per mort. E fo fait a saber a la comtessa, et ella venc ad el al sien lieit, e pres lo entre sos braz. Et el saup qu’ella era la comtessa, si recobret lo vezer e l’auzir el flairar; e lauzet Dieu que l’avia la vida sostenguda tro qu’el l’agues vista. Et enaissi el mori entre sos braz; et ella lo fetz a gran honor sepellir en la maison del Temple. E pois en aquel dia ella si rendet monga per la dolor que ella ac de la mort de lui. [click to continue…]
This story is mentioned by Alain Demurger in Vie et mort de l’Ordre du Temple. He quotes a very obscure book by Maurice-René Mazières entitled Mystères et Secrets des Templiers du Bézu. The legend comes from an oral tradition of that particular region in France.
The King of France was traveling with his son and stopped at a small village of Brenac. A local lord entertained them in his castle. Always on the lookout for gifted and capable noblemen, the prince noticed that the lord’s son was well suited for royal service. He asked the youth if he would join his royal entourage as a page. “No, your highness, I cannot, for I have already decided to become a Knight Templar,” replied the young man. The prince was much displeased by this answer. [click to continue…]
A very important anniversary that should not go unnoticed this year. In 313, Emperor Constantine and Lucinius, Emperor of the eastern provinces, agreed upon proclaiming tolerance towards all religions, with Christianity obviously standing to benefit the most from this legal change in terms of its treatment by Roman officials. Traditionally, Constantine’s own conversion is attributed to him seeing a cross in the sky, accompanied with the Greek words “Ἐν Τούτῳ Νίκα” (“by this, win!”, often rendered in the Latin “in hoc signo vinces”). A humorous interpretation of this event in the image above is meant to highlight the difference between the cultural climate of modern days and that of 1700 years ago.
Some people enjoy a very special connection to medieval times. This image, along with the story, was submitted through Facebook by Paul Hunter. After many years he revisited a place that he used to frequent as a boy – an old churchyard in Medomsley (County Durham), North East England:
When I was a boy aged about 10 (I’m now 55), I used to sit by what I was told was a knight’s grave, in my village church, and imagine him in battle, he and I had many adventures together in my imagination, mainly we slew dragons and rescued damsels. There are three gravestones, one is overgrown and no longer visible, but I know roughly where it is, it is a simple stone slab, with a sword or long cross cut into it, one is very feint, but this one, has the Templar cross or Knights of Malta cross on it in relief. About 250 mm diameter. No doubt about it.
The image is faint, but I have added a copy with the cross overlaid, so you can see better. Certainly looks like a cross pattee in a circle. Paul is hoping to explore the area some more.
Read more about the Knights Templar cross.