Knights Templars

  By Rider, August 2006; Revised 5 October 2006
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"Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomine tuo, da gloriam" - Not unto us Lord, not unto us, but to thy name give glory.
The Templar motto

The Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon or The Poor Fellow Soldiers of Jesus Christ was founded in 1118 by Hugues de Payens (Hugh of Payns) and eight other knights, whose original task was to protect the pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem.
The Templar Seal
The Templar Seal
The other knights were Geoffrey de St. Omer (Godfrey of St. Omer), Payen de Montdidier, Archambaud de St. Agnan, Andre de Montbard, Geoffrey Bison, and two men recorded only by the names of Rossal and Gondamer. The ninth knight remains unknown, although some have speculated that it was Hugh, Comte de Champagne. Around this time, Kind Baldwin II gave the Templars the Temple of Solomon.
The Order was small and unwealthy until about 1120, when noblemen started to join Orders (one other military Order had been founded some years ago, the Knights Hospitallers or the Knights of St. John). The Order faced a few financial problems. In 1128, when Hugues de Payens, the first Grand-Master, went to London in 1128, he raised funds and convinced many noblemen to join the Order. He aswell created the first Templar house in England, which he called after the Temple of Solomon, the Temple. All next headquarters around Europe, were called too the Temple.
Around this time, the Templars received the first castle in Outremer. The castle was given to them in the 1130's. It was called Barghas and the Templars renamed it to Gaston. In 1150 the Templars received Gaza and from the time on, protected it as a frontier against Muslims. The Grand Masters of both Orders were very powerful in Outremer for this time, and so their importance grew in Europe. They became advisors of Popes and Kings.
The main Headquarters were situated in Jerusalem, in Dome of the Rock. Their territories were enourmously large. There were stables, separate quarters for sergeants and knights. The Grand-Master was usually situated in Jerusalem. The Commander of the Kingdom of Jerusalem was aswell in Jerusalem being the second highest rank one could achieve by ruling a territory. All Templars were to only follow the orders of their higher levels, immediately follow orders of the Grand-Master and the Pope. No king nor queen could command the Templar forces, this was achieved by a Papal bull which Robert de Craon received. He also received rights for hiring chaplains.
They were a monastic order, following closely the Bernardianian rules, created by Bernard of Clairvaux who can aswell be considered as the creator of the Order. There were four divisions of brothers in the Templars:
*the knights, who were equipped as heavy cavalry;
*the sergeants, who were equipped as light cavalry and drawn from a lower social class than the knights;
*the chaplains, who were ordained priests and saw to the spiritual needs of the Order;
*the farmers, who administered the property of the Order; 
At any time, each knight had some ten people in support positions. Some brothers were devoted solely to banking, as the Order was often trusted with precious goods by participants in the Crusades. During the Templar Golden Age, there were around 300 knights and 1,000 sergeants in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The forces in Europe were usually much smaller although a formidable number of knights stayed in the Iberian Peninsula too.

A person that must be mentioned in accordance with the Templars during the Second and Third Crusades, is Archbishop of Tyre, William. He has become known of his chronicle 'Of the Deeds Beyond the Sea', but in that chronicle he pictures the Templars as only out for maximum personal (or Order's) gain in any specific point. So he also mentions the fall of 40 Templar knights at Ascalon (1153, Grand Master Bernard de Tremelay) when the wall was breached and the Templars, with their Grand Master in the lead intruded the city but were trapped and killed to the last man. William says that the Templars attacked before the general command and on purpose secluded themselves from the general fray and therefore were lost in their lust for gold as the Saracens killed them.
The Templars received their first territories in the Iberian Peninsula through a number of events. Firstly, as the Christian Kingdoms on the Peninsula were in constant warfare with the Muslims, it was only natural that such Orders as the Templars and Hospitallers would eventually expand there. Alfonso the Battler, King of Aragon, had no children. In his will, he decided to leave his kingdom to the Templars, Hospitallers and to the Canons of the Holy Sepulchre. The will however was ignored and none of the beneficiaries could enforce the will. They did not even listen to Pope Innocentius II. Still, not to anger the Church completely, the Templars were given six castles, tenth of royal revenues, fifth of all lands conquered from the Moors and they were exempted from some taxes.

“Therefore, after my death I leave as heir and successor to me the Sepulchre of the Lord which is Jerusalem and those who observe and guard and serve God there, and to the Hospital of the poor which is of Jerusalem, and to the Temple of Solomon with the Knights who keep vigil there to defend the name of Christendom. To these three I conceed my whole kingdom. Also the lordships which I have in the whole of the lands in my kingdom, both over clerics as well as over laity, bishops, abbots, canons, monks, magistrates, knights, burgesses, peasants and merchants, men and women, the small and the great, rich and poor, also Jews and Saracens, with such laws as my father and I have had hitherto and ought to have”.
- Alfonso I the Battler
Money came to the hands of Templars by accidents (though, mostly fortunate accidents). Men who joined the order had to give away all the property they had owned, that went to the Order. Thus, when great dukes or princes joined the Order, most of their property went to the Order. Order got wealthier and wealthier. It started lending money to other kings and Pope granted Templars rights to lend and borrow money. They seldom had need to borrow money. Their finances were usually lent to gather quick armies and forces in the Holy Land.
When Jerusalem in 1188 fell into Saracen hands, the Order relocated. Order had still large areas in England, France, Iberian peninsula and the entire island of Cyprus. They had bought Cyprus for 100,000 besants from the King of England, Richard I the Lionheart. The main objectives of the Orders changed to reconquering Jerusalem. With the Third Crusade, the christians gained advantage as they could now have pilgrimages to Jerusalem. The situation remained the same for next years.
When the Order was finally stricken away from Acre in 1291, Templars lost much of their prestige. The kings in Europe still lent money from Grand Masters as the Orders had much land and were rich. The Templars held over 9,000 mansions in Europe.

"My Lords I can do no more for I am dead." - Guillaume de Beaujeu, Grand Master of the Temple during the Siege of Acre, 1291.

Jaques de Molay

Jaques de Molay was the last Grand-Master of the Templar Order. On October 13th (it was a Frid
Jaques de Molay
Jaques de Molay
ay) 1307 all the Templars were arrested throughout France. Guillaume de Nogaret and Philip IV, King of France were to be blaimed in this. They charged Templars in heresy. The Templars were trialed for heresy for seven years, until 1314. Jaques de Molay and other Templars who were in France were burned on that year. Molay died on March 18, 1314. It is told that whilst burning, de Molay cursed Pope Clemens V (who had lifted the excommunication from Philip IV and allowed him to arrest the Templars) and Philip IV. Pope Clemens V died one month later, Philip VI died seven months later.  Thus the official history of Templars ends. Most of the lands of Templars outside France were given to Hospitallers, In Portugal and Aragon, following Orders (Order of Christ and the Order of Montesa, respectively) took the Templars’ properties.
"Quar nous navons volu ne volons le Temple mettre en aucune servitute se non tant come il hy affiert."
("For we did not and do not wish the Temple to be placed in any servitude except that which is fitting.")
- Jacques de Molay in one of his memorandas to Pope Clemens V from the summer of 1306.

The Templar Hierarchy
  • The Grand Master
Absolute ruler over the order answered only to the Papacy
  • Seneschal
Acted as both deputy and advisor to the Grand Master
  • Commander of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Was in charge of The area and had same powers as Grand Master within his own jurisdiction
  • Commander of the City of Jerusalem
Was in charge of the area and had same powers as Grand Master within his own jurisdiction
  • Commander of Tripoli and Antioch
Was in charge of the area and had same powers as Grand Master within his own jurisdiction
  • Drapier
The Drapier was in charge of the Templar Garments
  • Commander of Houses
Acted as lieutenants to higher authorities within the order but carried little actual power themselves
  • Commander of Knights
Like the Commander of houses, acted as lieutenants to higher authorities within the order. They carried little actual power themselves
  • Knight Brothers
These were the warriors who wore the white tunic and cross. Each was equipped with three horses and armaments
  • Turcopolier
The purpose of the Turcopolier was to command the brother sergeants in battle. The Turcopolier would lead the march along with a guard of knights
  • Under Marshal
The Under marshal was in charge of the footmen and the equipment
  • Standard Bearer
The Standard Bearer was one of the sergeants and charged with carrying the order's banner
  • Sergeant Brothers
These warriors were support troops and did not have to be nobly born. Although similarly equipped to a full knight, the sergeants had one horse and no squires under them
  • Turcopoles
These were the local troops who would fight along side the Templars. Usually horse archers. Similar to the sergeants.
  • Sick and Elderly Brothers
No longer active members but still members of the order
Battles of the Templars

"In hoc signo vinces."
  •  Note: Templars usually acted in battle as the vanguard or rearguard, defending the retreat of the secular knights; being so few and being capable in chasing or holding back the Saracen Horsemen who used bows on high speeds and on horseback.
Battle of ______ 1129

Siege of Lisbon 1138 (70 knights, 60 dead; some ships took part of the battle)

Battle of Tecua 1140
The Templars resisted a numerically superior Turkish army at the Battle of Tecua.
Siege of Damascus 1148

Raid of Jerusalem 1149
Templars helped to defend Jerusalem against a Turkish raid in 1149.
Battle of Ascalon 1153 (40 Templars, all fell including the Grand Master Bernard de Tremelay)
Ascalon had to be taken by assault because it was constantly supplied by sea. The Franks built a large siege tower and managed to break down the wall. The Templars charged, led by the Grand Master through the gap and into the enemy lines. The main force however failed to reach the Templars and so all the Templars were cut down. On the next morning, the heads of all Templars were on the castle walls, the one of Grand Master before all others. The main force soon however took the city.

Battle of Banyas 1157 (88 Templars, Grand Master captured)
Battle of _______ 1158

Siege of _______ 1166 (12 knights, all survived and were later hung)
Siege of Gaza 1170
Philippe de Milly, Grand-Master, commanded the defenses of the city.
Siege of Gaza 1177

Battle of Mont Gisard 1177 (80 Templars, most survived)
The combined force of Baldwin and the Templars amounted to Baldwin’s 500 knights, 80 Templars, and a few thousand infantry. They met Saladin at Montgisard near Ramla, surprising him completely, as his army was not prepared for a pitched battle. Saladin’s personal bodyguard of Mamluks was destroyed and the rest of his troops were defeated as well.
Capture of Jerusalem 1187

Battle of Cresson 1187 (less than 100 Templars, most killed)
Gerard of Ridefort, Grand-Master, quickly assembled a small army hearing that Saladin's captain was near; consisting of the Templar garrisons from Qaqun and al-Fulah and the royal knights stationed at Nazareth, only about 140 men in total.Gerard reached Cresson on May 1. The Muslims feigned a retreat, a common tactic which should not have fooled Gerard; nevertheless, he ordered a charge, against Roger's advice, and the knights were separated from the foot-soldiers. The Muslims easily repulsed a direct Christian attack, killing both the exhausted knights, and, later, the foot-soldiers. Gerard survived but almost all the others were killed.
Battle of Hattin 1187
The Templars and Hospitallers, considered by Muslims to be the most ardent partisans of Christian cause, who had been captured were also killed
Capture of Jaffa 1187

Siege of Acre 1189
Gerard de Ridefort led the Templars against Saladin but was captured.
Siege of Acre 1191 (many died during their retreat)
The battle began with a disjointed combat between the Templars and Saladin's right wing, Saracen right wing fell upon the Templars, who suffered severely in their retreat. Gerard de Ridefort, Grand Master of the Templars, was killed.
Battle of Arsuf 1191
Originally defended the vanguard, later charging into Saladin's left flank.
Battle of Darbsâk/Terbezek 1236 (120 Templars, less than 20 returned)
In the first phase of the battle the Templars reached the town but they met fierce resistance. When reinforcements from Aleppo arrived, the Templars were massacred. Fewer than 20 of them returned to their castle in Bagras.
Battle of la Forbie 1244 (260-300 Templars, 33 Templars survived)
Of the troops of the knightly orders, only 33 Templars, 27 Hospitallers, and 3 Teutonic Knights survived; Philip of Montfort and the Patriarch of Jerusalem also escaped to Ascalon. However, Armand de Périgord, the Master of the Temple, the Marshal of the Temple, the archbishop of Tyre, the bishop of Lydda and Ramla (St. George), and John and William, sons of Bohemond, Lord of Botron, were all killed.
Capture of Sidon 1249

Siege of Damietta 1249
Templars commanded the vanguard of the Christian army together with the Count of Artois.
Battle of Mansurah 1249 (282 knights, two survived, including Grand Master William of Sonnac)
Siege of Mansurah 1250 (few Templars, most alive)
  • Sally of the Mamluks: 18 Templars dead
Battle of ______ 1261 (strong contignent)
Marshal of the Temple, Stephen of Sissy, was one of the few who remained alive.

Capture of Safed 1264
(90 knights and 80 sergeants, all beheaded)

Capture of Caesarea 1265

Siege of Castle Pilgrim 1265

Capture of Haifa 1265

Capture of Beaufort 1266

Capture of Antioch 1268

Capture of Chastel Blanc 1271

Capture of Tripoli 1289

Capture of Acre 1291

Capture of Beirut 1291

Capture of Tyre 1291

Capture of Roche-Guillaume 1299
... the loss of Roche-Guillaume, the last Templar stronghold in Cilicia to the Mamluks.
Capture of the Island of Ruad 1302
In September 1302 the Templars were driven out of Ruad by the attacking Mamluk forces from Egypt, and many were massacred when trapped on the island. The island of Ruad was lost.
Grand Masters of The Templars from 1118 to 1314
Huguens de Payns (1118-1136)
Robert de Craon (1136-1146)
Everard des Barres (1146-1149)
Bernard de Tremelay (1149-1153)
André de Montbard (1153-1156)
Bertrand de Blanchefort (1156-1169)
Philippe de Milly (1169-1171)
Odo de St Amand (1171-1179)
Arnoldo de Toroga (1179-1184)
Gérard de Ridefort (1185-1189)
Robert de Sablé (1191-1193)
Gilbert Horal (1193-1200)
Phillipe de Plessis (1201-1208)
Guillaume de Chartres (1209-1219)
Pierre (Pedro) de Montaigu (1219-1230)
Armand de Périgord (1231-1244)
Richard de Bures (1245-1247)
Guillaume de Sonnac (1247-1250)
Renaud de Vichiers (1250-1256)
Thomas Bérard (1256-1273)
Guillaume de Beaujeu (1273-1291)
Thibaud Gaudin (1291-1292)
Jacques de Molay (1292-1314, March 18)

The Wikipedia respective sites. (Knights Templar, Crusades, Jaques de Molay and so on)
'Ristisõdijad hommikumaal' - Mihhail Zaborov; Tallinn: Valgus, 1987
'The Order of St John' - G. Sainty; New York, 1991
'War in the Middle Ages' - P. Contamine;
'A History of Warfare'/'Sõjakunsti ajalugu' - John Keegan; Tallinn: Varrak, 2004
’The Templars’ – Piers Paul Read; London: Phoenix Press, 2001