Templar Mass

Some of the following texts on the Templars are taken or adapted from translations by Alexei Grishin, who has kindly given permission for their use here, and whose website contains valuable information on the Knights Templar. 

TEMPLARS (or Knights Templar). The ‘Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon’, one of the two chief Military Orders of medieval Christendom, with headquarters successively in Jerusalem, Acre, and Cyprus. The original nucleus consisted of Hugh de Payens, a knight of Champagne, and eight companions, who in c.1119 bound themselves by a solemn vow to protect pilgrims from bandits on the public roads of the Holy Land. They were given quarters at the site of Solomon’s Temple. At first they lived on alms, but in 1127 Hugh journeyed to the W. to obtain ecclesiastical approbation and recruits, and their fortunes (then perhaps at a low ebb) quickly improved. At the Council of Troyes (1129) approval was given to the Rule of the Order, said to have been drawn up by St Bernard, who dedicated to Hugh his treatise ‘De laude novae militiae’. The Order contained four ranks of ‘knights’, ‘serjeants’, ‘squires’ and ‘chaplains’.

The Templars soon rose in influence and wealth, acquiring property and setting up their organization in most parts of Christendom. The new Order gained the support of the Papacy which, in a series of bulls, granted it extensive privileges, the most important being contained in ‘Omne Datum Optimum’ (1139). In the 12th cent. Crusader states, the professional forces of the Templars and Hospitallers played an increasingly important part in campaigns, and from the late 1130s onwards various castles came into the Templars’ hands. The Grand Master of the Temple was partly responsible for the disaster which overtook the Crusaders in 1187, but then and later the knights of the Order fought bravely. The Order became still more important in the 13th cent., providing an even higher proportion of troops and acquiring even more castles; in 1217–18 they built Castle Pilgrim, and in 1240–3 they rebuilt Safed, the largest Christian fortress in the East, bought by the Templars in 1168. However, the Military Orders increasingly acted independently of the rulers, and they were sometimes at odds with each other. At the fall of Acre (1291) the Templars fought fiercely and their Grand Master was killed.

Meanwhile great wealth had been accumulated by the Templars; this was deposited in their ‘temples’ in Paris and London, and the integrity and credit of the Order led it to be much trusted as a banking house. The same wealth led to its early ruin after the loss of Acre. Already the Council of Lyons (1274) had witnessed an attempt to end the rivalry of the Templars and Hospitallers by incorporating them into a single Order; but even in 1306 the last Grand Master, James de Molay, opposed such a scheme. In 1303, Hugh de Pairaud, the Visitor of the Templars in France, was among those who supported Philip the Fair, the King of France, against Pope Boniface VIII, but the King soon found the temptation of the Order’s great wealth too strong. Aided by a renegade Templar, he brought charges of sodomy, blasphemy, and heresy against the Order, and enlisted the reluctant aid of Pope Clement V. Both the King and the Inquisition used torture freely to obtain confessions; many knights died under torture or at the stake. Philip IV, in his later years increasingly pre-occupied by a rather morbid piety, may have become convinced of the Templars’ guilt, as well as seeking to gain material profit from the downfall. Clement V finally suppressed the Order at the Council of Vienne in 1312; James de Molay was burnt in Paris in 1314, and the Order’s possessions (except those in Spain and Portugal) were given to the Hospitallers. The innocence of the Templars, vigorously championed by Dante, has been a matter of prolonged controversy, but is now generally admitted.

The headquarters of the English branch of the Order was for a long time in London, S. of the Strand (now the Inner and Middle Temple). The Temple Church, dating from 1185, was, in common with some other churches of the Templars, a round structure on the model of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. A nave (or choir) was added in 1240.

The standard edn. of the Rule is that of H. de Curzon (Société de l’Histoire de France, 1886), to be used in conjunction with G. Schnürer, Die ursprüngliche Templerregel (Studien und Darstellungen aus dem Gebiete der Geschichte. Im Auftrage der Görres-Gesellschaft und in Verbindung mit der Redaktion des Historischen Jahrbuches, 3, Hefte 1–2; 1903). Eng. tr. of the Rule, with introd., by J. M. Upton-Ward (Woodbridge, Suffolk [1992]). St Bernard’s ‘De laude novae militiae’ is pr. in his Opera, 3, ed. J. Leclercq, OSB, and H. M. Rochais, OSB (Rome, 1963), pp. 207–39; Eng. tr. by C. Greenia, OCSO, in St Bernard’s Works, 7 (Cistercian Fathers Series, 19; Kalamazoo, Mich., 1977), pp. 125–67, with introd. by R. J. Z. Werblowsky, pp. 115–23. The Marquis d’Albon began to make a general collection of Templar docs., part of which he pub. as Cartulaire général de l’Ordre du Temple, 1119?–1150 (1913; fasc. complémentaire, 1922), but the bulk of the material is in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris; E. G. Léonard, Introduction au cartulaire manuscrit du Temple (1150–1317) constituté par le marquis d’Albon (1930) is a detailed guide. R. Röhricht (ed.), Regesta Regni Hierosolymitani (2 vols., Innsbruck, 1893–1904) contains summaries of docs. and their sources in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, incl. those concerning the Templars. Privileges and bulls ed. R. Hiestand, Papsturkunden für Templer und Johanniter (Abh. (Gött.), Dritte Folge, 77 and 135; 1972–84). The most important chronicler of the Templars’ activities in the East is William of Tyre (q.v.), while the rebuilding of Safed is described in a text ed. by R. B. C. Huygens in Studi medievali, 3rd ser. 6 (1965), pp. 355–87. There is a wide range of material for the Templars’ western lands, of which good examples are the inquest of 1185 in England, ed. B. A. Lees, Records of the Templars in England in the Twelfth Century (1935), and P. Gérard and É. Magnou (eds.), Cartulaires des Templiers de Douzens (Collection de documents inédits sur l’histoire de France, sér. in 8°, 3; 1965). A good selection of docs. on the trial can be found, with Fr. tr., in G. Lizerand (ed.), Le Dossier de l’Affaire des Templiers (Les classiques de l’histoire de France au moyen âge, 1923), but the most substantial collections are contained in [J.] Michelet (ed.), Procès des Templiers (Collection de documents inédits sur l’histoire de France, 1st ser., Histoire politique, 2 vols., 1841–51), H. Finke, Papsttum und Untergang des Templerordens (Vorreformationsgeschichtliche Forschungen, 4–5; 1907), and K. Schottmüller, Der Untergang des Templer-Ordens, 2 (1887). The use of these docs. is facilitated by the tables in J. Gmelin, Schuld oder Unschuld des Templerordens (Stuttgart, 1893). These materials are concerned largely, though not exclusively, with the trial in France. Sources for other countries incl. A. Gilmour-Bryson, The Trial of the Templars in the Papal State and the Abruzzi (ST 303; 1982).

Secondary lit. is extensive, but of variable quality and often tendentious. General histories incl. H. Prutz, Die Geistlichen Ritterorder: Ihre Stellung zur kirchlichen, politischen, gesellschaftlichen und wirtschaftlichen Entwicklung des Mittelalters (1908); G. A. Campbell, The Knights Templars (1937); M. Melville, La Vie des Templiers (1951); A. Demurger, Vie et mort de l’Ordre du Temple, 1118–1314 [1985]; M. [C.] Barber, The New Knighthood: A History of the Order of the Temple (Cambridge, 1994); id. (ed.), The Military Orders: Fighting for the Faith and Caring for the Sick (1994), esp. pp. 139–219; and H. Nicholson (ed.), The Military Orders, 2: Welfare and Warfare (Aldershot [1998]), passim. Particular aspects are covered by L. Delisle, Mémoire sur les opérations financières des Templiers (Mémoires de l’Institut National de France, Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 33, pt. 2; 1889); J. Piquet, Des Banquiers au moyen âge: Les Templiers (1939); É. Lambert, L’Architecture des Templiers (1955); and M. L. Bulst-Thiele, Sacrae Domus Militiae Templi Hierosolymitani Magistri: Untersuchungen zur Geschichte des Templerordens 1118/9–1314 (Abh. (Gött.), Dritte Folge, 86; 1974). Regional studies incl. V. Carrière, Histoire et cartulaire des Templiers de Provins (1919); T. W. Parker, The Knights Templars in England (Tucson, Ariz., 1963); A. J. Forey, The Templars in the Corona de Aragón (1973); and id., The Fall of the Templars in the Crown of Aragon (Aldershot [2001]). For the trial, H. Prutz, Entwicklung und Untergang des Tempelherrenordens (1888), incl. docs.; H. C. Lea, A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages, 3 (New York, 1887; London, 1888), pp. 238–334; H. Finke, op. cit., 1; G. Lizerand, Clément V et Philippe IV le Bel (1910), also with docs.; and M. [C.] Barber, The Trial of the Templars (Cambridge, 1978). For the controversies over the Order, see P. [D.] Partner, The Murdered Magicians: The Templars and their Myth (Oxford, 1982). Works up to 1965 are listed in M. Dessubré, Bibliographie de l’Ordre des Templiers (Bibliothèque des Initiations Modernes, 5; 1928) and H. Neu, Bibliographie des Templer-Ordens 1927–1965 (Bonn [1965]).






of the









William of Tyre







Through such treacheries of a dangerous time, considerable throngs of as many Greeks as Latins came to holy sites for the sake of devotion. As they arrived to the city past thousands of modes of death through enemy lands, entry was forbidden to them unless they paid the doorkeepers at the Golden gate which was assigned for tolls. But those who had lost everything during their journey and came to the desired place barely alive did not have anything they could offer as payment. And so it was that in view of the city a thousand or more of such people were dying of hunger and cold while awaiting permission to enter (Guil. Tyr. Hist. Bell. Sacr. 1 I.C.10)

Inter has tam periculosi temporis insidias accedebat tam Graecorum quam Latinorum gratia devotionis ad loca venerabilia multitudo nonnula, quibus per mille mortis genera, perque hostium regions, ad urbem accedentibus negabatur introitus, nisi in porta aureus, qui pro tributo constitutus erat, janitoribus daretur. Sed qui in itinere cuncta perdiderant, et vix cum incolumitate membrorum ad loca pervenerant optata, unde tributum solverent, non habebant. Sic enim fiebat, ut ante urbem ex talibus mille vel plures collecti, et expectantes introeundi licentiam, fame et nuditate consumti deficerent. Guil. Tyr. hist. bell.sacr. l.1. c.10.








Nicholas Guertler:






And in the year 1095, during the reign of Philippe I in France, Urban II, in fear of Henry IV, the Emperor, against whose will he held the throne in Rome, crossed over from Italy to Gaul, to the Clermont monastery, in the city of Auvergne. He assembled a council, adorned with the presence of many princes, bishops and abbots, persuading them in a long speech to undertake an expedition to Palestine and promising complete remission of sins for the hardships of this long campaign to those who would enroll in his army. Because of this, the entire West, with the exception of Italy, which was not unwisely excluded by the Pontific from this dangerous expedition, in short time provided numerous troops for this campaign. The next year, under the command of Godfrey of Bouillon, Duke of Lorraine (who, according to Paolo Emilio, joined these knights bearing the sign of the cross in order for his sins to be absolved) and Peter the Hermit, they were led by different routes to Palestine enduring difficulties of various sorts and many critical situations.

Anno autem nonagesimo quinto Urbanus II. metu Henrici IV. Imperatoris, cujus ingratiis Romanam sedem tenebat, ex Italia in Gallia transgressus, ad Clarum montem, Alverniae civitatem, regnante in Francia Philippo I. Concilium egit, multorum Principum, Episcoporum et Abbatum praesentia decoratum, quibus prolixa oratione suscipiendam in Palaestinam expeditionem persuasit, cumulatam noxarum omnium expiationem pro longinquae militiae aerumnis, cunctis, qui illi nomen darent pollicitus. Quare universus Occidens, Italia excepta, quam Pontifex periculoso hoc itinere non imprudenter exemerat, numerosissimos brevia ad bellum exercitus fudit, anno sequenti diversa via, sub auspiciis praesertim Gothofredi Bullionae Lotharingiae Ducis, (qui Paulo Aemilio teste, ad expianda peccata, signatis cruce militibus hisce se aggregavit) atque Petri Eremitae, per varios casus et multa rerum discrimina in Palaestinam ductos.













 Nicholas Guertler:

And so, Jerusalem was occupied in the memorable 99th year of that century, and Godfrey was made its king, but even afterwards Saracens, Turks and Egyptians frequently invaded the kingdom, and robbers greatly disturbed the roads with continuing assaults. As a result, those who traveled to the holy sites of this sorrowful Earth exposed themselves to practically the same dangers as before. Therefore, a devotion originated in the souls of some people, according to which they committed themselves to guarding the Holy Sepulcher and protecting travelers who were coming to visit it.

Equidem Hierosolymae anno memorati seculi supra nonagesimum nono fuere occupatae, et Gothofredus Rex constitutus: verum et Saraceni, Turcae, Aegyptiique postea saepius in regnum irruerunt, et latrones continuis incursibus vias maxime infestarunt, ut qui ad sancta miserandae telluris loca contenderent, tot fere se, quot antea, periculis exponerent. Atque hanc ob rem nonnullorum animos subiit religio, qua sese ad sacri sepulchri custodiam, et viatorum illud visitaturorum a grassatoribus defensionem addstrinxerunt.













 Nicholas Guertler:

Nine knights and famous men, members of the first expedition to Jerusalem, all of Latin faith, were the first ones to do so. Among them, according to William of Tyre (12 c.7), were Hugo de Paganis (de Payens) and Ganfred de Sancto-Aldemaro , whom Matthew Paris while discussing Henry I calls Godefrey de S. Audemaro, but Volateran (1.21) and from him Polydor Vergil in “Discoverers of things” (1.7.c.5) call him Ganfred de S. Alexandro.

Id primi fecere Equites novem, viri Illustres, Latini omnes primaeque in Palaestinam expeditionis socii, et inter eos referente Tyrio l. 12. c.7. Hugo de Paganis (de Payens) et Ganfredus de Sancto Aldemaro, quem Matthaeus Paris in Henrico I. Godefridum de S. Audemaro, Volaterranus autem l.21. et ex eo Polydorus Vergilius de invent. Rer. l.7. c.5. Ganfredum de S. Alexandro appellant.

Their first duty, and also the one that was imputed by the Patriarch and other bishops to the remission of their sins, was to maintain, as much as possible, the roads and passages for the well-being of pilgrims, against the ambushes of robbers and assailants. Such are the words of the praised and yet deserving more praise William of Tyre (l.c), which were practically copied by Matthew Paris. These men, devoted to God, religious and God-fearing, submitting to the service of Christ in the presence of the Patriarch, vowed to always live according to canonical rules in chastity and obedience without wishing anything for themselves.

Prima autem eorum professio, quodque eis a D. Patriarcha et reliquis Episcopis in remissionem peccatorum injunctum est, ut vias et itinera, maxime ad salutem peregrinorum contra latronum et incursantium insidias pro viribus conservarent, verba sunt laudati porroque laudandi saepius Tyrii, l.c. quae fere Matthaeus Paris exscripsit. Iidem viri Deo devoti, religiosi et timentes Deum, in manu D. Patriarchae, Christi mancipantes se servitio, more Canonicorum regularium in castitate et obedientia, et sine proprio velle perpetuo vivere professi sunt.












William of Tyre

 CCCM 63, 63A 12.7, 553-555.

In the same year (1118) some noblemen of knightly rank, devoted to God, pious, and God-fearing, placed themselves in the hands of the Lord Patriarch [Warmund of Picquigny, Patr.Jerus. 1118-28] for the service of Christ, professing the wish to live perpetually in the manner of regular canons in chastity, and obedience, without personal belongings. 

Eodem anno quidam nobiles viri de equestri ordine, deo devoti, religiosi et timentes deum, in manu domini patriarche Christi servicio se mancipantes, more canonicorum regularium in castitate et obedientia et sine proprio velle perpetuo vivere professi sunt.

The leading and most eminent of these men were the venerable Hugh of Payns and Godfrey of St-Omer.  As they had neither church nor fixed abode, the king [Baldwin II (1118-31)] gave them a temporary home in his palace [Al-Aqsa mosque, called The Temple of Solomon] which was on the south side of the Temple of the Lord [Dome of the Rock], while the canons of the Temple ceded to them under fixed conditions the square they possessed near the said palace for the celebration of their offices.  In addition, the lord King together with his nobles, the lord Patriarch together with the prelates of his churches, granted temporarily or in perpetuity certain benefices from their own holdings to cater for their food and clothing. 

Inter quos primi et precipui fuerunt viri venerabiles Hugo de Paganis et Gaufridus de Sancto Aldemaro. Quibus quoniam neque ecclesia erat neque certum habebant domicilium, rex in palatio suo, quod secus Templum Domini ad australem habet partem, eis ad tempus concessit habitaculum, canonici vero Templi Domini plateam, quam circa predictum habebant palatium, ad opus officinarum certis quibusdam conditionibus concesserunt; dominus autem rex cum suis proceribus, dominus quoque patriarcha cum prelatis ecclesiarum de propriis dominicalibus certa eis pro victu et vestimentis beneficia, quedam ad tempus, quedam in perpetuum, contulerunt.

Their main duty, something that was imposed upon them by the patriarch and the other bishops for the remission of their sins was that they should maintain the safety of the roads and the highways to the best of their ability, for the benefit of pilgrims in particular, against the attacks of bandits and marauders.

Prima autem eorum professio, quod que eis a domino patriarcha et reliquis episcopis in remissionem peccatorum iniunctum est, ut vias et itinera maxime ad salutem peregrinorum contra latronum et incursantium insidias pro viribus conservarent.

Nine years after the foundation of the Order they still wore secular habits, namely the clothing that people donated to them for the salvation of their souls.  However during the course of the ninth year, at a council held at Troyes, France, attended by the archbishops or Reims and Sens and their suffragans, the bishop of Albano, the pope’s legate, the abbots of Citeaux and Clairvaux and several other abbeys, a rule and a white habit were assigned to them at the bidding of Pope Honorius and Stephen, Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Novem autem annis post eorum institutionem in habitu fuerunt seculari, talibus utentes vestimentis, quales pro remediis animarum suarum populus largiebatur; tandem nono anno, concilio in Francia apud Trecas habito, cui interfuerunt dominus Remensis et dominus Senonensis archiepiscopi cum suffraganeis suis, Albanensis quoque episcopus, apostolice sedis legatus, abbates quoque Cisterciensis et Clarevallensis cum aliis pluribus, instituta est eis regula et habitus assignatus, albus videlicet, de mandato domini Honorii pape et domini Stephani Ierosolimitani patriarche.

Although they had been in existence for nine years, they were still only nine in number, but after that their numbers and possessions began to increase and multiply.  Later, however, in the time of Pope Eugenius it is said, they started to sew on their mantles crosses of red cloth to make them more distinctive, and this was true not only of the knights but also of their inferior brothers called sergeants.

Cum que iam annis novem in eo fuissent proposito, non nisi novem erant, extunc vero cepit eorum numerus augeri et possessiones multiplicari. Postmodum vero, tempore domini Eugenii pape, ut dicitur, cruces de panno rubeo, ut inter ceteros essent notabiliores, mantellis suis ceperunt assuere tam equites quam eorum fratres inferiores, qui dicuntur servientes.

Their wealth has increased to such an extent that today there are about three hundred white-robed knights in the Order as well as other brothers who are almost too numerous to count.  Their possessions on both sides of the sea are said to be so huge that thee cannot be a single province in Christendom that has not contributed a part of its possessions to these brothers.  In fact their wealth is said to equal that of kings.

Quorum res adeo crevit in inmensum, ut hodie trecentos plus minus ve in conventu habeant equites, albis clamidibus indutos, exceptis aliis fratribus, quorum pene infinitus est numerus. Possessiones autem tam ultra quam citra mare adeo dicuntur inmensas habere, ut iam non sit in orbe christiano provincia, que predictis fratribus bonorum suorum portionem non contulerit, et regiis opulentiis pares hodie dicantur habere copias.

Because, as was previously said, they live next to the Temple of the Lord in the king’s palace they are called the brothers of the Knighthood of the Temple.  For a long time they remained faithful to their noble vows, carrying out their duties fairly satisfactorily.  Afterwards they forgot about humility, the quardian of virtues, which, voluntarily sitting in the lowest seat, has no reason to fear a fall, and abandoned the patriarch of Jerusalem, who had established their order and granted them their first benefices.  They refused him the obedience that their predecessors had shown them.  They even caused many problems for the churches of God by removing their titles and unjustly harassing their possessions.

Qui quoniam iuxta Templum Domini, ut prediximus, in palatio regio mansionem habent, fratres militie Templi dicuntur. Qui cum diu in honesto se conservassent proposito, professioni sue satis prudenter satisfacientes, neglecta humilitate, que omnium virtutum custos esse dinoscitur et in imo sponte sedens non habet unde casum patiatur, domino patriarche Ierosolimitano, a quo et ordinis institutionem et prima beneficia susceperant, se subtraxerunt, obedientiam ei, quam eorum predecessores eidem exhibuerant, denegantes, sed et ecclesiis dei, eis decimas et primicias subtrahentes et eorum indebite turbando possessiones, facti sunt valde molesti.



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