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Secret Societies of the Middle Ages

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Author Topic: Secret Societies of the Middle Ages  (Read 1695 times)
Trena Alloway
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« Reply #75 on: January 05, 2009, 12:10:09 am »



Costume of Knight Templar.
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« Reply #76 on: January 05, 2009, 12:10:34 am »

p. 230

[paragraph continues] These emeriti knights are frequently mentioned under the name of Prodomes (Good men); they were present at all deliberations of importance; and their experience and knowledge of the rules of the order were highly prized and attended to.

When the Templar died, he was placed in a coffin in his habit, and with his legs crossed, and thus buried. Masses were said for his soul; his arms and clothes were partly given back to the marshal or draper of the order--partly distributed among the poor.

II. THE CHAPLAINS.--The order of the Templars, being purely military in its commencement, consisted then solely of laymen. That of the Hospital, on the contrary, on account of its office of attending the sick, had, necessarily, priests in it from its origin, This advantage of the latter society excited the jealousy of the Templars, and they were urgent with the popes to be allowed a similar privilege. But the pontiffs were loth to give offence to the oriental prelates, already displeased at the exemption from their control granted in this case to the Hospitaliers and it was not till the year 1162, that is, four years after the founding of the order, when their great favourer, Alexander III., occupied the papal throne, that the Templars attained their object.

The bull, Omne Datum Optimum, issued on this occasion, gave permission to the Templars to receive into their houses spiritual persons, in all countries, who were not bound by previous vows. If they were clergy of the vicinity, they were to ask them of the bishop; and if he refused his consent, they were empowered, by the bull, to receive them without it. The clergy of the Temple were to perform a noviciate of a year--a practice which, as in the case of the knights, was dispensed with in the days of the power and corruption of the order. The reception of the clergy was the same as that of the knights, with the omission

p. 231

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« Reply #77 on: January 05, 2009, 12:11:46 am »



Knights in Temple Church, London.
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« Reply #78 on: January 05, 2009, 12:12:59 am »



Effigies of Knights in Temple Church, London.
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« Reply #79 on: January 05, 2009, 12:13:32 am »

p. 233

of such questions as did not apply to them. They were only required to take the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The ritual of their reception was in Latin, and was almost precisely the same with that of the Benedictines. Like that of the knights, their reception was secret. When the psalms had been sung the Master put on the recipient the dress of the order and the girdle, and, if he was a priest, the cap called baret.

The habit of the chaplains of the order was a white close-fitting tunic, with a red cross on the left breast. Though, according to the statutes, they were to have the best clothes in the order, they were not permitted to assume the white mantle as long as they were mere priests. But should one of them, as was not unfrequently the case, arrive at the episcopal dignity, he was, if desirous of it, cheerfully granted that privilege. It was a further distinction between the knights and the chaplains, that the former wore their beards, while the latter were close-shaven. The chaplains were also to wear gloves, out of respect to the body of the Lord.

All who had received the first tonsure were eligible to the office of chaplain to the order. When those who were only sub-deacons and deacons were to be raised to the rank of priests, the Master or his deputy sent them with letters dimissory to a bishop of the vicinity, who was bound to confer the required order.

The clergy were, like all other members of the order, bound to obey the Master and the chapter. The Master and the chief officers of the order had always chaplains in their train to celebrate mass and other religions offices, as also to act as secretaries, the knights being in general as illiterate as their secular brethren. It was by this last office that the chaplains acquired their chief influence in the society mind and superior

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knowledge vindicating, as they always do, their natural rights. For though it was specially provided that the clergy should take no share in the government of the society without being invited thereto by their superiors, the opinion of the secretary was naturally taken in general, and if he was a man of sense and talent, it was most commonly followed *.

The duties of the clergy of the order were nearly the same as those of monks in general. They performed all religious offices, and officiated at all the ceremonies of the order, such as the admission of members, the installation of a Master, &c. Their privileges were very unimportant; they had merely the best clothes, sat next the Master in the chapter and in the refectory, and were first served at table; when they committed any offence, they were also more lightly punished than others. They could, however, if it so pleased the heads of the order, arrive at high rank in it; and we find that they were not unfrequently among the preceptors. The attorney-general of the order at Rome, who was always a person of considerable importance, was most probably a priest of the order; at least we know that Peter de Bononia, the last of them, was such.

It is worthy of notice, that even in the most flourishing period of the order it never had a sufficient number of chaplains, and was always obliged to have recourse to the ministry of secular priests. The causes of this were probably the circumstance of the order having attained its full form and consistency long before the clergy formed a part of it, and they consequently had not an opportunity of arranging it so as


p. 235

to give themselves their due share of power and importance. It must have been galling to the pride of those who were used to rule, obeying only their spiritual superiors, to find themselves subject to the command of mere laymen, as they esteemed the knights of the order. Further, though they shared in the good things of the order and enjoyed the advantage of the consideration in which it stood, yet they had no dignities to look forward to; whereas an entrance into a Benedictine order held out to the ambitious a prospect of rich priories, abbacies, and bishoprics, and, at the least, a voice in the chapter. It may well be supposed that' the pride of the knights of the Temple refused to admit into their society such persons as those who afterwards joined the mendicant orders--peasants and others who preferred a life of ease and idleness to the labours of the plough and the workshop. The number consequently of those who presented themselves for admission was small. But the knights felt no disadvantage thereby; enow of secular priests were to be had, who were willing to have the master of the Temple as their ordinary, and to share in the good things of the order, and as neither party was bound to the other, they could easily part if they disagreed.

III. THE SERVING-BRETHREN. The order, consisting at first of only knights and men of noble birth, had no serving-brethren in it. The knights probably found esquires for a limited time among those who fought under their banner and received their pay. The Hospitallers seem to have set the example of introducing into the order the class of serving-brethren, which is not to be found with the Templars till some time after the council of Troyes. The advantage of this alteration was very apparent. Hitherto only knights and nobles were interested in the fate of the society to which their relatives belonged; the regards of burghers and

p. 236

traders would now be obtained by the formation of this class, to admission into which their sons and brothers were eligible. They felt themselves honoured by their relatives coming into contact with knights, and were therefore liberal in the admission-fee and in other contributions to the quêtes of the order.

We should be wrong in supposing the serving-brethren to have been all persons of mean birth. The high consideration in which the order stood induced many men of wealth, talent, and valour, but who were not of noble birth, to join it. We thus find among the serving-brethren William of Arteblay, almoner to the king of France; Radulf de Gisi, collector of the taxes in Champagne; John de Folkay, an eminent lawyer. Bartholomew Bartholet gave property to the amount of 1,000 livres Tournois to be admitted; William of Liege gave 200 livres Tournois a year. The serving-brother, indeed, could never arrive at the dignity of knight (for which he was disqualified by birth), and consequently never exercise any of the higher offices of the order, but in other respects he enjoyed the same advantages and privileges as the knights and priests.

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« Reply #80 on: January 05, 2009, 12:13:58 am »

The reception of the serving-brethren was the same as that of the two higher classes, the necessary difference being made in the questions which were asked. As the order would receive no slave into their body, the candidate was required to aver that he was a free-born man: he was moreover obliged to declare that he was not a knight. This last condition may cause surprise, but it was probably justified by experience, as it is not unlikely that evil may have been felt or apprehended from men of noble birth, out of humility, or by way of atoning for the sins of their youth, or from some other of the causes which might operate on the minds of superstitious men, or even from poverty, if, as is likely, the admission-fee was lower for

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a serving-brother than for a knight, concealing their birth, and entering the order as serving-brethren. As the more disagreeable duties of the order probably fell to their share, the general duties and obligations were laid before them in stronger and more explicit terms than were thought necessary in the case of knights and priests.

In the times of the poverty of the order, the clothing of the serving-brethren was the cast-off garments of the knights. But this custom did not long continue, and as some abuses arose from all the members of the order being clad in white, the serving-brethren were appointed to wear black or brown kirtles, with the red cross upon them, to indicate that they belonged to the order. In battle, their arms were nearly the same as those of the knights, but of a lighter kind, as they had frequently to jump down from their horses, and fight on foot. A serving-brother was allowed but one horse by the order, but the Master was empowered to lend him another if he thought it expedient, which horse was to be afterwards returned.

The serving-brethren were originally all of one kind; they fought in the field; they performed the menial offices in the houses of the order; but, in after-times, we find them divided into two classes--the brethren-in-arms (Frères servons des armes), and the handicraft-brethren (Frères servons des mestiers). These last, who were the least esteemed of the two, dwelt in the houses and on the lands of the order, exercising their various trades, or looking after the property of the society. We read in the statutes of the smiths and bakers of the order, and we hear of preceptors (as was the phrase) of the mares, cows, swine, &c. of the. order. These handicraft-brethren practised the usual religious duties of the order, and were even allowed to be present at chapters. The

p. 238

farrier, who was also armourer, enjoyed a much higher degree of consideration than the other handicraft-brethren, for this profession was highly prized by the martial generation of the middle ages *.

The other class were more highly regarded. The knights associated with them on a footing of equality. They ate in the same refectory with the knights and priests, although at separate tables, and with always one dish less than the higher classes. They were, however, strictly subordinate to the knights; the master and all the great officers of the order had each several serving-brethren to attend him, and each knight had some of the serving-brethren among his esquires. The statutes provided carefully against their being tyrannized over or otherwise ill-treated by the knights.

The statutes make a distinction between the serving-brethren who were armed with iron and those who were not. The former were the proper light-horse of the order; they were chiefly intended to support the knights in the action, and were usually placed in the second rank. The place of the unarmed was with the baggage; and as they were exposed to little danger, they wore only linen corslets. The others were enjoined to fight, without flinching, as long as a Christian banner flew on the field: it was matter of praise to these last if they managed to come safe out of the fight. When the troops of the Temple were on their march, the esquires rode before the knights with their baggage. When the knights were going to action, one esquire rode before each with his lance, another behind with his war-horse.

There were various offices in the society, hereafter to be noticed, which were appropriated to the serving-brethren, or to which they were eligible.


p. 239

The knights, the chaplains, and the serving-brethren, were the proper members of the order, and it is to them alone that the name Templars applies. But both the Templars and the Hospitaliers devised a mode of attaching secular persons to their interest, and of deriving advantages from their connexion with them, in which they were afterwards imitated by the mendicant orders of the Franciscans and Dominicans; the Jesuits also, who were always so keen at discerning what might be for the advantage of their society, adopted it; and it is, we believe, still. practised in Catholic countries. This system is styled affiliation.

The affiliated were persons of various ranks in society, and of both sexes, who, without giving up their secular mode of life, or wearing any peculiar habit, joined the order, with a view to the advantages, both spiritual and temporal, which they expected to derive from it. These advantages will appear to have been very considerable when we recollect that all who joined the order were admitted to a share in the merits of its good works, which were what those times esteemed of the highest order. Nothing could have more contributed to the extent of affiliation than the exemption which the Templars enjoyed from the effects of interdict. At a time when it was in the power of every bishop to lay entire towns under this formidable sentence it must have been highly consolatory to pious or superstitious minds to belong to a society who disregarded this spiritual thunder, and who could afford them an opportunity of at least occasionally hearing mass and receiving the sacraments, and secured them, if they should die while the interdict continued, the advantage of Christian burial. In those days also, when club-law prevailed so universally, and a man's safety depended not so much on his innocence or the justice of his cause as on the

p. 240

strength of his party, it was a matter of no small consequence to belong to so powerful a body as the Templars, and it must have been highly gratifying to both the secular and spiritual pride of a lawyer or a burgher to be a member of the same body with the high-born soldier-monks of the Temple.

These important advantages were not conceded by the Templars without equivalent considerations. This ambitious and covetous order required that he who sought the honour of affiliation with them should, besides taking the three vows, pledge himself to lead a reputable life, to further the interests of the order to the best of his power, and leave it the entire of his property at his death. If he was married, and died before his wife, he might leave her a competent provision for life; but from the day of his admission into the order he was to abstain from her bed, though he might continue to reside in the same house with her; for were he to have children, he might provide for them to the disadvantage of the order, or on his death they might give trouble to it by claiming his property. For a similar reason tie affiliated were forbidden to be sponsors, lest they might covertly or openly give some of their property to their godchildren. They were not even permitted to give offerings to the clergy. If they dared to violate these injunctions, a severe punishment--in general, confinement for life--awaited them.

All orders of men were ambitious of a union with this honourable and powerful society. We find among the affiliated both sovereign princes and dignified prelates: even the great Pope Innocent III., in one of his bulls, declares himself to stand in this relation to the order. Many of the knights who dwelt with the Templars, and fought under their banner, were also affiliated, and the history of the order more than once makes mention of the sisters--that is, women

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who were affiliated to it, for there were no nuns of the Temple similar to those of the order of Malta in later times.

In less intimate connexion with the order than the affiliated stood those who were styled Donates and Oblates. These were persons who, as their titles denote, were given or presented to the order. They were either children whom their parents or relations destined to the service of the order when they should have attained a sufficient age, or they were full-grown persons who pledged themselves to serve the order as long as they lived without reward, purely out of reverence to it, and with a view to enjoying its protection, and sharing in its good works. Persons of all ranks, princes and priests, as well as others, were to be found among the oblates of the Temple.


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Footnotes
324:* When we use the word "Master," we would always be understood to mean the Master or his representative.

227:* That is. never to quit the order.

234:* This influence of the clergy excited the spleen of the knights. Gerard de Caux, in his examination hereafter to be noticed, said, "The aged men of the order were unanimous in maintaining that the order had gained nothing in internal goodness by the admission of learned members."

238:* Sir W. Scott is perfectly correct in making the smith so important a character in his St. Valentine's Eve.

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« Reply #81 on: February 01, 2009, 08:46:31 pm »

p. 242

CHAPTER VI.

Provinces of the Order--Eastern Provinces--Jerusalem--. Houses of this Province--Tripolis--Antioch--Cyprus--Western Provinces--Portugal--Castile and Leon--Aragon--France and Auvergne--Normandy--Aquitaine--Provence--England--Germany--Upper and Central Italy--Apulia and Sicily.

WE have thus seen what a number of persons of all ranks were more or less intimately connected with the order of the Temple, and how powerful its influence must have been throughout the Christian world. To enable the reader to form some conception of its wealth and power, we shall, previous to explaining its system of internal regulation, give a view of its possessions in various countries.

The extensive possessions of the order of the Temple, in Asia and in Europe, were divided into provinces, each containing numerous preceptories or temple-houses, and each under its appointed governor. These provinces may be classified under the heads of Eastern and Western.

The eastern provinces of the order were,

I. JERUSALEM.--This province was always regarded as the ruling one; the chief seat and capital of the order. The Master and chapter resided here as long as the Holy City was in the hands of the Christians. This being the province which was first established, its regulations and organization served as a model for all others. Its provincial Master, or, as he was styled, the Preceptor of the Land and Kingdom

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of Jerusalem, took precedence of all others of the same rank.

The bailiwicks, or commanderies, in this province, were,--

1. The Temple of Jerusalem, the cradle of the order, and the original residence of the Master and the chapter.

2. Chateau Pélerin, or the Pilgrim's Castle, renowned in the history of the crusades. This castle was built by the Templars in 1217, in order that it might be their chief seat after the loss of Jerusalem. It was situated on the east side of Mount Carmel, which runs out into the sea between Caipha and Cæsarea. The Templars had long had a tower at a pass of this mountain, called Destruction, or the Tower of the Pass, for the defence of pilgrims against the robbers who lurked in the gorges of the mountains They were aided in building the castle, which was also designed to be a defence to Acre, by Walter D’Avesnes and by the German knights and pilgrims who were at that time in the Holy Land, and hence, perhaps, they called it Chateau Pélerin. The Cardinal de Vitry, who was at that time bishop of Acre, thus describes it. It was built on the promontory, three sides of which were washed by the sea. As they were sinking the foundation, they came to two walls of ancient masonry, and to some springs of remarkably pure water; they also found a quantity of ancient coins with unknown inscriptions, given, as the bishop piously deems, by God to his beloved sons and warriors, to alleviate the toil and expense which they were at. The place had probably been fortified in former times by the Jews or the Romans. The builders raised two huge towers of large masses of rock on the landward side, each 100 feet high, and 74 broad; these were united by a lofty wall, broad enough at its summit for

p. 244

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« Reply #82 on: February 01, 2009, 08:46:50 pm »

an armed knight to stand at his ease upon it. It had a parapet and battlements, with steps leading up to them. In the space within this wall were a chapel, a palace, and several houses, with fish-ponds, salt-works, woods, meads, gardens, and vineyards. Lying at a distance of six miles from Mount Tabor, it commanded the interjacent plain and the sea-coast to Acre. There the Master and the chapter took up their final abode, after having dwelt from 1118 to 1187 at Jerusalem, from 1187 to 1191 at Antioch, and from this last year till 1217 at Acre. "The chief use," says D’Vitry, "of this edifice is, that the whole chapter of the Templars, withdrawn from the sinful city of Acre, which is full of all impurity, will reside under the protection of this castle till the walls of Jerusalem are rebuilt." A prophecy never to be fulfilled! On the fall of Acre, in 1291, Chateau Pélerin was abandoned by the knights, and its walls were levelled by the infidels.

3. The castle of Safat, at the foot of Mount Tabor. This strong castle was taken by Saladin. It was demolished in 1220, by Coradin, but afterwards rebuilt by the Templars, who then held it till 1266, when they lost it finally.

4. The temple at Acre, a remarkably strong building, the last place taken in the capture of that town.

5. The hill-fort, Dok, between Bethel and Jericho.

6. Faba, the ancient Aphek, not far from Tyre, in the territory of the ancient tribe of Ashur.

7. Some small castles near Acre, mentioned in the history of the war with Saladin, such as La Cave, Marle, Citerne-rouge, Castel-blanc, La Sommellerie du Temple.

8. The house at Gaza.

9. The castle of Jacob's-ford, at the Jordan, built in 1178 by King Baldwin IV., to check the incursions

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« Reply #83 on: February 01, 2009, 08:47:03 pm »

of the roving Arabs. When Saladin took this castle, he treated the Templars whom he found in it with great cruelty.

10. The house at Jaffa.

11. The castle of Assur, near this town.

12. Gerinum parvum.

13. The castle of Beaufort, near Sidon, purchased by the order, in 1260, from Julian, the lord of that town.

We may observe that most of these abodes of the Templars were strong castles and fortresses. It was only by means of such that possession could be retained of a country like Palestine, subject to the constant inroads of the Turks and Saracens. The Templars possessed, besides these strongholds, large farms and tracts of land, of which, though their names are unknown, frequent mention is made in the history of the order.

II. TRIPOLIS.--The principal houses of the order in this province were at Tripolis itself; Tortosa, the ancient Antaradus; Castel-blanc, in the same neighbourhood; Laodicea, Tyre, Sidon, and Berytus.

III. ANTIOCH.--Of this province but little is known. There was a house at Aleppo; and the jurisdiction of the prior probably extended into Armenia *, where the order had estates to the value of 20,000 byzants.

IV. CYPRUS.-AS long as the Templars maintained their footing on the continent, Cyprus, it would appear, formed no distinct province, but belonged either to that of Tripolis or of Antioch. At the time when Richard, King of England, made the conquest of this island, he sold the sovereignty of it for 25,000 marks of silver to the Templars, who had already extensive possessions in it. The following year, with the consent of the order, who were, of course, reimbursed, he


p. 246

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« Reply #84 on: February 01, 2009, 08:47:34 pm »

transferred the dominion to Guy de Lusignan, King of Jerusalem. On the capture of Acre the chief seat of the order was fixed at Limesal, also called Limissa and Nemosia, in this island, which town, having an excellent harbour, they strongly fortified. They had also a house at Nicosia, and one at the ancient Paphos, named Gastira, and, at the same place, the impregnable castle of Colossa.

Some idea of the value of the possessions of the Templars in Cyprus may be formed from the circumstance, that when, in 1316, after the suppression of the order, the Pope directed the Bishop of Limissa to transfer their property there to the Hospitaliers, there were found, in the house in that town, 26,000 byzants of coined money, and silver plate to the value of 1,500 marks. As the last Master, when setting out for France ten years before, had carried with him the treasure of the order, this property must have been accumulated during that time out of the surplus revenue of the possessions of the order in the island

The Western provinces of the order were--

I. PORTUGAL.--So early as the year 1130 (a strong proof of the rapid increase of the order) Galdin Paez, the first provincial master of the Temple in Portugal, built the castles of Tomar, Monsento, and Idanna. The Templars had also settlements at Castromarin, Almural, and Langrovia. Tomar was the residence of the great-prior.

II. CASTILE AND LEON.--In this province the possessions of the order were so extensive as to form twenty-four bailiwicks in Castile alone. It is needless to enumerate their names *.

III. ARAGON.--In this province, which abounded in castles, several belonged to the Templars; and the bailiwick of Majorca, where they were also settled,


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« Reply #85 on: February 01, 2009, 08:47:50 pm »

was under the jurisdiction of the great-prior of Aragon.

It is to be observed that most of the castles possessed by the order in Spain and Portugal were on the borders of the Moorish territory. Some of these had been given to the Templars as the inveterate foes of the infidels; others had been conquered by them from the Moors.

France, where the possessions of the order were so considerable, was divided into four provinces, namely--

IV. FRANCE AND AUVERGNE, including Flanders and the Netherlands,

V. NORMANDY.

VI. AQUITAINE, or POITOU.

VII. PROVENCE.

The residences of the great-priors of these four provinces were, for France, the capacious and stately Temple at Paris, which was, as we are informer! by Matthew Paris, large and roomy enough to contain an army; for Normandy, as is supposed, La ville Dieu en la Montagne; for Poitou, the Temple at Poitiers; for Provence, that at Montpellier.

VIII. ENGLAND.--The province of England included Scotland and Ireland. Though each of these two last kingdoms had its own great-prior, they were subordinate to the great-prior of England, who resided at the Temple of London.

The principal bailiwicks of England were--1. London; 2. Kent; 3 Warwick; 4. Waesdone; 5. Lincoln; 6. Lindsey; 7. Bolingbroke; 8. Widine; 9. Agerstone; 10. York. In these were seventeen preceptories; and the number of churches, houses, farms, mills, &c., possessed by the order was very considerable *.


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« Reply #86 on: February 01, 2009, 08:49:18 pm »



Interior of Round Tower, in Temple Church, London.
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« Reply #87 on: February 01, 2009, 08:50:23 pm »



Saxon Doorway, Temple Church, London.
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« Reply #88 on: February 01, 2009, 08:51:35 pm »



Details of Saxon Capitals.
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« Reply #89 on: February 01, 2009, 08:52:54 pm »



Round Temple Church, Cambridge.
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