The Templars, Hospitallers and Crusaders were all part of the history of medieval Europe and the Crusades in the Holy Land. The Crusades were a series of military campaigns launched by European Christians in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries to reclaim the Holy Land from Muslim control. The First Crusade began in 1096 and resulted in the capture of Jerusalem in 1099, establishing a Christian presence in the region for nearly 200 years. Over the course of the next several centuries, there were several more Crusades launched by European Christians, including the Second Crusade (1147-1149), the Third Crusade (1189-1192), and the Fourth Crusade (1202-1204).
Two major religious and military orders emerged during the Crusades: the Knights Templar and the Knights Hospitaller. These orders were founded in the Holy Land during the 12th century and were initially established to provide medical and logistical support to Christian pilgrims travelling to and from Jerusalem. They played a significant role in the military campaigns to defend Christian territories in the Holy Land. The Templars and Hospitallers were organised as religious orders, focusing on military and medical activities, respectively.
The Crusaders were not a formal organisation, nor were they a military order, but rather a loose coalition made up of soldiers, knights, nobles and volunteers from across Europe who were united in their goal of reclaiming Jerusalem and other holy sites from Muslim control and participated in the Crusades. The Crusaders were motivated by a combination of religious, economic, and political factors, including a desire to gain control of trade routes in the Middle East and to demonstrate their piety and devotion to God. The First Crusade, launched in 1096, resulted in the capture of Jerusalem in 1099. However, subsequent Crusades were less successful and ultimately failed to permanently establish Christian control over the Holy Land.
The Knights Hospitaller in the 13th century
Attribution: © Ralph Hammann – Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Page URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Soultz_Commanderie_09.JPG
The Crusaders were generally a larger and more diverse group of people who undertook military expeditions to the Holy Land for a variety of reasons, including religious devotion, personal gain, and political motives. The Templars and Hospitallers, on the other hand, were specific religious orders that were established during the Crusades to provide support to the Crusaders:
- The Templars were initially founded as a group of knights who took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and were dedicated to protecting Christian pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land.
- Initially, the Hospitallers were founded as a group of monks who provided medical care to pilgrims.
Over time, both the Templars and Hospitallers grew in size and influence, and they became major military and political players in the Crusades. However, their primary focus was always on their specific missions of protecting pilgrims and providing medical care, rather than on the broader goals of the Crusaders.
Despite their differences, the Knights Templar, the Knights Hospitaller, and the Crusaders were all interconnected and played significant roles in the history of medieval Europe and the Holy Land.
The Templars, also known as the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, were a powerful and wealthy military order that played a significant role in the Crusades. They were founded in 1119 by a French knight named Hugues de Payens and were recognised by the Catholic Church in 1129. The Templars quickly became one of the most powerful organisations in Europe, with vast wealth and property throughout the continent. They were skilled warriors and played a significant role in many of the Crusades, serving as a shock force on the battlefield and providing financial and logistical support to the Christian armies.
The Templars obtained their wealth through various means. One of the primary sources of their wealth was donations from wealthy patrons, who were attracted to the order’s reputation for piety and military prowess. Many nobles and monarchs also donated land and money to the Templars, seeing them as an important ally in the fight against Muslim forces in the Holy Land. The Templars also developed a sophisticated banking system, which allowed them to manage the finances of European monarchs and nobles. The Templars could provide loans, transfer money across borders, and safeguard their clients’ wealth. Their banking system was based on the concept of the “letter of credit,” which allowed clients to deposit money with the Templars in one location and withdraw it in another location.
The Templars also gained wealth through their commercial activities, which included farming, trade, and mining. They owned large estates throughout Europe, which they used to grow crops and raise livestock. They also engaged in trade, importing and exporting goods such as wool, wine, and spices. The Templars also owned mines in Europe and the Holy Land, from which they extracted precious metals such as silver and gold.
The Templars’ expertise and wealth allowed them to become one of the most powerful and influential organisations in medieval Europe. However, the Templars’ power and wealth eventually became a source of jealousy and suspicion, and in the early 14th century, they were accused of heresy and other crimes by the Catholic Church. The order was disbanded, and many of its members were arrested and executed.
The Hospitallers were another religious, military order that emerged during the Crusades. They were founded in Jerusalem around 1099. The founder of the order is believed to be a man named Gerard, who was a merchant from Amalfi. Gerard and a group of followers began caring for sick and injured pilgrims shortly after Jerusalem was captured by the Crusaders in 1099. The order grew in size and influence over the next several decades and was formally recognised by the Catholic Church in 1113.
Like the Templars, the Hospitallers became a powerful military force during the Crusades and played a significant role in defending Christian territories in the Holy Land.
The Hospitallers were known for their innovative medical practices and establishing hospitals and infirmaries throughout Europe. They also developed new surgical techniques and were skilled in using medicinal herbs and plants.
The Hospitallers also had:
- A strong influence on European culture and art. They patronised many artists and architects, and their buildings and artworks reflected their religious and humanitarian ideals. One of the most famous examples of Hospitaller architecture is the Hospitaller castle in Krak des Chevaliers, Syria, which is considered one of the best-preserved medieval castles in the world.
- A strong connection to the sea, being skilled sailors and shipbuilders. They played an important role in protecting Christian ships and trade routes in the Mediterranean, and they established a naval base on the island of Rhodes.
Today, the legacy of the Hospitallers lives on through the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which continues to provide humanitarian aid and medical care around the world. The order also maintains its links to the military and the Catholic Church and is recognised as a sovereign entity by many countries.
The Crusaders were not a replacement for the Templars or Hospitallers. While these orders were established to provide military and medical support to Christian forces in the Holy Land, the Crusaders were made up of individuals who volunteered to fight for the cause. The Crusaders were not a formal order or institution but rather a collective term used to refer to the various European armies and individuals who participated in the Crusades. They were necessary because they provided the manpower required to carry out the military campaigns in the Holy Land, and without their participation, the Crusades may not have been possible.
It is worth noting that the Crusaders were not a homogeneous group. They comprised people from many different regions and backgrounds with different motivations for participating in the Crusades. Some were motivated by religious fervour, while others saw the Crusades as an opportunity to gain wealth and power. The motivations of the Crusaders varied, and their actions often reflected these differences.
Overall, the Templars, Hospitallers, and the Crusades were all important parts of medieval European history, and their legacy can still be felt today in many ways.
- The capture of Jerusalem by Christian forces in 1099.
- In the Battle of Hattin in 1187, Muslim forces under Saladin defeated the Christian armies and recaptured Jerusalem.
- The siege of Acre in 1291 marked the end of the Crusader’s presence in the Holy Land.
- The trial and dissolution of the Knights Templar in the early 14th century.
- The fall of Constantinople to the Fourth Crusade in 1204.
- The Albigensian Crusade in the 13th century was a crusade against the Cathar heretics in southern France.
Battle of Hattin in 1187, the turning point leading to the Third Crusade. From a copy of the Passages d’outremer, c. 1490.
Attribution: Jean Colombe, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Page URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Battle_of_Cresson.jpg
- Godfrey of Bouillon became the first ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem after the capture of Jerusalem in 1099.
- Richard the Lionheart, who led the English forces during the Third Crusade.
- Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub (commonly known as Saladin), who led the Muslim forces during the Crusades and recaptured Jerusalem in 1187.
- Pope Urban II, who called for the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont in 1095.
- Jacques de Molay (also spelt “Molai), the last Grand Master of the Templars, was executed in 1314.
The Knights Templar degree in Freemasonry is often considered the culmination of the Masonic York Rite. The Knights Templar degree is a Christian-oriented degree that is based on the history and legends of the Knights Templar, and it is often seen as an extension of the Masonic degrees of the Royal Arch Chapter and the Order of the Temple.
The Knights Templar degree is not a part of mainstream Freemasonry but rather a part of the York Rite, a collection of Masonic degrees often conferred together. The York Rite consists of the Royal Arch, the Cryptic Rite, and the Knights Templar degree.
The Knights Templar degree is often seen as the highest degree in the York Rite, and it is focused on the history and legends of the Knights Templar, as well as the virtues of chivalry and Christian knighthood. The degree is divided into three parts, known as Orders, which correspond to different stages of the history of the Knights Templar.
The first Order focuses on the early history of the Knights Templar, from their founding in the 12th century to their role in the Crusades. The second Order focuses on the persecution and dissolution of the Knights Templar in the 14th century, and the third Order focuses on the resurrection of the Knights Templar as a Masonic order in the 18th century. The Knights Templar degree is often seen as a way for Masons to explore the Christian roots of Freemasonry, as well as the values of chivalry and knighthood. The degree includes rituals and ceremonies designed to teach these values and inspire Masons to embody them in their daily lives.
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that traces its origins to the local fraternities of stonemasons in medieval Europe. While its exact origins are unclear, Freemasonry as it is known today emerged in the late 17th and early 18th centuries in England. The organisation is based on a system of degrees, with members progressing through different levels of knowledge and understanding.
The Knights Templar degree has been the subject of controversy within the Masonic community and beyond. Some critics have argued that the degree promotes anti-Catholic sentiment, as it portrays the Knights Templar as victims of persecution by the Catholic Church. Others have raised concerns about using Templar imagery by far-right groups, who see the order as a symbol of Christian supremacy. Despite these controversies, the Knights Templar degree remains an important part of the York Rite and is seen by many Masons as a way to explore the history and values of the Knights Templar. The degree is also an opportunity for Masons to reflect on the virtues of chivalry and knighthood, as well as the role of Christianity in the development of Freemasonry.
It is important to note that the Knights Templar degree is not a part of mainstream Freemasonry and is only practised in a few jurisdictions around the world. Additionally, while the degree is Christian-oriented, Freemasonry as a whole is not a religion and does not promote any particular religious beliefs or practices.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Like any organisation, the Templars and Hospitallers had both positive and negative aspects to their history and legacy.
The Knights Templar were a powerful and wealthy military order that played a significant role in the Crusades, and they were known for their bravery, discipline, and skill as warriors. They were also known for their financial and logistical expertise and banking system, which allowed them to amass vast amounts of wealth and property throughout Europe. Additionally, the Templars made significant contributions to medieval architecture, art, and culture. However, the Templars’ wealth and power also made them a target of jealousy and suspicion, and they were accused of heresy and other crimes in the early 14th century. Some historians believe that the charges against the Templars were politically motivated and that their dissolution was part of a larger power struggle between the Church and the monarchy. The persecution of the Templars was brutal, with many members tortured and executed, and their legacy remains controversial to this day.
The Hospitallers, on the other hand, were primarily known for their medical and humanitarian work. They were also skilled warriors and played a significant role in defending Christian territories in the region. Additionally, the Hospitallers made significant contributions to medicine and healthcare and were known for their compassion and dedication to their patients. However, like the Templars, the Hospitallers were also involved in wars and battles, and their history is not without controversy. Some historians criticise the Hospitallers for their role in the Crusades, arguing that their military activities were inconsistent with their mission of caring for the sick and injured. Additionally, the Hospitallers were involved in the Inquisition in the 14th and 15th centuries, which was a period of brutal repression and persecution of heretics and dissenters.
Hospitaller Galley c. 1680 [Cropped].
Attribution: Dulwich Picture Gallery, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Page URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_Castro,_Lorenzo_-_A_Galley_of_Malta_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg
The Templars and Hospitallers had both positive and negative aspects to their history and legacy, and their legacy remains a subject of debate and controversy among historians and scholars today.
The Island of Malta
Malta played an important role in the history of both the Knights Hospitaller and the Knights Templar.
After the fall of Jerusalem to Muslim forces in 1187, the Hospitallers relocated their headquarters to the island of Rhodes, which they controlled from 1309 to 1522. During their time on Rhodes, the Hospitallers continued to provide medical and humanitarian aid, as well as engaging in military activities to defend Christian territories in the region. However, in 1522, the Hospitallers were forced to abandon Rhodes after a long siege by the Ottoman Empire. After leaving Rhodes, the Hospitallers were granted the island of Malta by the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. The Hospitallers established their headquarters on Malta and continued to provide medical care and military defence for the region.
The Knights of Malta, as the Hospitallers became known, continued to play a significant role in European politics and culture, and they were involved in many important historical events, including the siege of Malta by the Ottoman Empire in 1565.
The Templars also had connections to Malta, although they were never officially based there. After the dissolution of the Templars in the early 14th century, many Templars fled to other parts of Europe, including Malta. Some historians believe that the Templars may have had a secret presence on Malta and may have played a role in establishing the Knights of Malta.
Malta has a rich history that is closely intertwined with the Knights Hospitaller and the Knights Templar, and the legacy of these orders continues to be celebrated and remembered on the island today.
Weaponry and Military skills
The Templars and Hospitallers were skilled warriors who relied on various weapons and military skills to defend Christian territories in the Holy Land during the Crusades. Here are some of the weapons and skills that were commonly used by these orders:
- Swords: The sword was the primary weapon used by the knights of the Templars and Hospitallers. They typically used a long, straight sword with a double-edged blade, which was designed for thrusting and cutting.
- Spears and lances: The knights also used spears and lances, which were effective weapons for attacking from horseback. The Hospitallers were known for their use of the ‘lance couched,’ a technique where the spear was held under the arm and aimed at the enemy.
- Bows and arrows: The archers in the Templar and Hospitaller armies used longbows and crossbows to fire arrows at enemy troops.
- Axes and maces: Axes and maces were used as secondary weapons by the knights and were effective for breaking through armour or shields.
- Horsemanship: The knights of the Templars and Hospitallers were skilled horsemen and often fought from horseback. They were trained to ride at high speed and to manoeuvre their horses in close combat.
- Tactics: The knights were skilled in the art of warfare and used a range of tactics to defeat their enemies. They often used the ‘charge and break’ tactic, where they would charge at the enemy, break through their lines, and then turn around and attack from behind.
- Siege warfare: The Templars and Hospitallers were also skilled in siege warfare and often used trebuchets, battering rams, and other siege engines to breach enemy fortifications.
- Hand-to-hand combat: In addition to their weapons, the knights were also skilled in hand-to-hand combat and were trained in grappling, wrestling and unarmed combat techniques.
The weaponry and military skills of the Templars and Hospitallers were well-suited to the challenges of warfare in the medieval period. Their use of weapons such as the sword, spear, and bow, as well as their skill in horsemanship, tactics, and siege warfare, made them formidable opponents on the battlefield.
Recruitment, Training and the Involvement of Women
The recruitment and training of men in the Templars and Hospitallers varied depending on the order and the time period. Women were not typically involved in the military aspects of these orders, although they played important roles in the administration and support of the orders.
- Recruitment: Men who joined the Templars were usually younger sons of noble families who did not inherit their family estates or sought adventure and opportunity. Prospective members had to undergo a rigorous selection process, which included a probationary period and an oath of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
- Training: Once accepted into the order, the Templars underwent a period of training and education, which included military training, religious instruction, and practical skills such as horsemanship and swordsmanship. The training was designed to instil discipline, courage, and a sense of purpose in the knights.
- Recruitment: Men who joined the Hospitallers were often younger sons of noble families, as well as men who had experienced illness or injury and wished to devote their lives to caring for the sick and injured. Prospective members had to undergo a rigorous selection process, which included a probationary period and an oath of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
- Training: Once accepted into the order, the Hospitallers underwent a period of training and education, which included medical training, religious instruction, and practical skills such as horsemanship and swordsmanship. The training was designed to prepare the knights for both medical and military duties.
The Role of Women:
Women were not officially part of the Hospitallers, although some women played important roles in the administration and support of the order. For example, some women were members of the Hospitaller household staff, and others were involved in the order’s financial and legal affairs.
It should be noted that while women were not officially part of these orders, some women did play important roles in their history. For example, there were cases of women who fought alongside the knights during battles or who acted as spies or messengers. However, these cases were the exception rather than the rule, and women’s involvement in the orders was limited.
The Hospitallers in the 13th century.
Attribution: © Ralph Hammann – Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Page URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Soultz_Commanderie_07.JPG
The Templars and Hospitallers provided a range of services to Christian pilgrims visiting the Holy Land. They operated hospitals and infirmaries to care for the sick and injured and provided safe passage for travellers through dangerous territories. The Hospitallers also established hostels where pilgrims could rest and receive food and water. Other religious orders, such as the Teutonic Knights, also provided similar services to travellers and pilgrims, focusing on providing protection and safe passage for those travelling to and from the Baltic region.
The motivations behind the Crusades were complex and multifaceted. While religious factors played a significant role in launching the Crusades, economic and political factors were also important. European monarchs and nobles saw the Crusades as an opportunity to expand their power and influence, while merchants and traders saw the possibility of new markets and trade routes. Religious leaders also saw the Crusades as a way to strengthen their influence and authority, both within Europe and in the Holy Land.
The Crusades had a significant impact on European society, bringing new ideas, technologies, and trade networks to the continent. The contact between Europeans and the cultures of the Middle East and North Africa helped to expand European knowledge and understanding of the world. The Crusades also led to the introduction of new crops, such as sugar cane and cotton, to Europe, and helped to stimulate economic growth and development.
The Albigensian Crusade was a campaign launched by the Catholic Church against the Cathars, a religious group in southern France who were considered heretics. The campaign was marked by religious and political conflicts, with the Church seeking to suppress the Cathar movement and assert its authority over the region of Languedoc. The campaign resulted in the deaths of thousands of Cathars and the destruction of many of their communities.
There is evidence to suggest that the Templars had contact with the Cathars and may have shared some of their beliefs. Some scholars believe that the Templars may have been influenced by Catharism and that this influence may have contributed to their eventual downfall. However, the exact nature of the relationship between the Templars and the Cathars remains a hot topic of debate among historians and scholars.
The Templars played a significant role in the Crusades, serving as a shock force on the battlefield and providing financial and logistical support to the Christian armies. They were skilled warriors and played a vital role in many Crusades, including the siege of Jerusalem. The Templars also developed a sophisticated banking system, which allowed them to manage the finances of European monarchs and nobles.
The Hospitallers and Templars significantly influenced medieval art, literature, and culture. They patronised many artists and architects, and their buildings and artworks reflected their religious and humanitarian ideals. The Hospitaller castle in Krak des Chevaliers, Syria, and the Temple Church in London, England, are just two examples of the many impressive buildings constructed by these orders. The Templars and Hospitallers also had a significant impact on medieval literature, with many works of chivalric romance featuring knights and heroes inspired by the ideals of these orders.
Battles Fought in the Crusades
As we have learned, the Crusades were a series of military campaigns launched by European Christians in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries to reclaim the Holy Land from Muslim control. During these campaigns, many battles were fought, and some of the most significant ones are listed below:
- Battle of Dorylaeum (1097): Crusader forces defeated the Seljuk Turks, securing a route for the Crusaders to march towards Jerusalem.
- Siege of Antioch (1097-1098): After a long and difficult siege, the Crusaders captured the city of Antioch, a key strategic location.
- Battle of Ascalon (1099): The Crusaders defeated the Fatimid army in the final battle of the First Crusade, securing their hold on the Holy Land.
- Battle of Damascus (1148): The Crusaders could not capture the city of Damascus despite a lengthy siege, marking a significant failure of the Second Crusade.
- Siege of Acre (1189-1191): The Crusaders successfully captured the port city of Acre after a two-year siege, securing a foothold in the Holy Land.
- Battle of Arsuf (1191): The Crusaders won a decisive victory over Muslim forces, allowing them to continue their march towards Jerusalem.
- Siege of Jerusalem (1187-1191): Despite initial successes, the Crusaders could not retake Jerusalem during the Third Crusade.
- Siege of Zara (1202-1203): The Crusaders diverted from their original plan and attacked the Christian city of Zara, sparking controversy and division among the Crusader forces.
- Siege of Constantinople (1203-1204): The Crusaders captured the Byzantine capital of Constantinople, leading to the establishment of a Latin Empire in the region.
- Siege of Damietta (1218-1221): The Crusaders captured the city of Damietta in Egypt but were ultimately defeated by Muslim forces.
- Treaty of Jaffa (1229): Rather than fighting a major battle, the Crusaders negotiated a treaty with the Muslim ruler of Egypt, allowing Christians access to Jerusalem.
- Battle of Mansurah (1250): The Crusaders were defeated by Muslim forces, resulting in the capture of the Crusader leader, King Louis IX of France.
- Siege of Tunis (1270): The Crusaders attempted to capture Tunis but were plagued by disease and ultimately forced to withdraw.
While the Crusades had some successes, they ultimately failed to achieve their primary objective of permanently recapturing the Holy Land from Muslim control.
Detail of a medieval miniature of the Siege of Antioch from Sébastien Mamerot’s Les Passages d’Outremer
Attribution: Jean Colombe, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Page URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SiegeofAntioch.jpeg
Things of Interest
Guillaume de Clermont défend Ptolémaïs
Attribution: Louis-Dominique Papety, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Page URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1291_si%C3%A8ge_d%27Acre.jpg
Here are some interesting things you may not have known about the Knights Templar, the Knights Hospitaller, the Crusaders, and the Crusades:
- The Knights Templar were originally called the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon.
- The Hospitallers were originally known as the Order of Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem.
- The Hospitallers were founded before the Templars, in Jerusalem in 1080. The Hospitallers were originally a hospice for pilgrims, and only became a military order after the First Crusade.
- The Templars were founded after the First Crusade, in Jerusalem in 1119. The Templars were initially tasked with protecting Christian pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land.
- The Templars became one of the most powerful organisations in Europe, with vast wealth and property throughout the continent.
- The Hospitallers also became a powerful military force during the Crusades and played a significant role in defending Christian territories in the Holy Land.
- The Crusaders were not a formal organisation but a loose coalition of soldiers, knights, nobles, and volunteers from across Europe united to reclaim the Holy Land from Muslim control.
- The First Crusade began in 1096 and resulted in the capture of Jerusalem in 1099.
- Over the course of the next several centuries, there were several more Crusades launched by European Christians, including the Second, Third, and Fourth Crusades.
- The Crusaders established a Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, which lasted from 1099 to 1291.
- The Crusaders also established several other Crusader states in the Holy Land, including the County of Tripoli, the Principality of Antioch, and the Kingdom of Cyprus.
- The Crusades had a significant impact on European society, introducing new ideas, technologies, and trade networks.
- The Templars were accused of heresy and other crimes by the Catholic Church in the early 14th century, leading to their disbandment and the execution of many members.
- The Hospitallers survived the end of the Crusades and continue to exist today as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a Catholic religious order that provides humanitarian aid around the world.
- The legacy of the Templars continues to be felt in popular culture, with numerous books, movies, and TV shows featuring the order as a central theme.
- The Templars have been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories, including claims that they possessed secret knowledge or were the true guardians of the Holy Grail.
- The Hospitallers were known for their innovative medical practices and for establishing hospitals and infirmaries throughout Europe.
- The Hospitallers also developed new surgical techniques and were skilled in using medicinal herbs and plants.
- The Teutonic Knights were another religious military order that emerged during the Crusades and were founded in 1190. The Teutonic Knights played a significant role in the Baltic Crusades, which were aimed at converting the pagan peoples of the Baltic region to Christianity.
- The Albigensian Crusade was a military campaign launched against the Cathars, a religious group in medieval Europe who were considered heretics by the Catholic Church.
- The Albigensian Crusade had a significant impact on the region of Languedoc in southern France, leading to the destruction of many Cathar communities and the consolidation of royal power in the area.
Review and Closing Words
The legacy of the Templars and Hospitallers continues to be felt and celebrated in modern times in various ways. One example is the continued fascination with their history and mythology in popular culture. Books, movies, and television shows featuring the Knights Templar and the Hospitallers have been popular for decades and continue to attract audiences today.
The symbolism and imagery of these orders also continue to impact modern times. The iconic images of the Templars, such as their distinctive red cross, are still used today in various contexts, from logos and branding to military insignia and tattoos. In addition, the legacy of these orders is preserved through various organisations and societies. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which traces its lineage back to the Hospitallers, continues to exist today as a Catholic religious order dedicated to humanitarian work. The Order of the Temple of Solomon, a modern-day fraternity that claims to be the direct descendant of the historical Knights Templar, also continues to operate today, albeit without any official recognition from the Catholic Church or other authorities.
The legacy of the Templars and Hospitallers is also celebrated through various festivals and reenactments. In many parts of Europe, particularly in France and Spain, there are annual festivals and parades that celebrate the history and mythology of these orders. These events often include reenactments of battles and ceremonies, as well as exhibitions of historical artefacts and costumes.
The legacy of the Templars and Hospitallers continues to be a source of fascination and inspiration for people around the world. Their impact on history and culture is undeniable, and their story continues to be told and celebrated in various ways.
However, the Templars and Hospitallers also had their flaws and caused controversies. They were involved in wars and battles that led to death and destruction, and their involvement in the Inquisition and persecution of heretics and dissenters remains a stain on their legacy. Nevertheless, it is important to recognise the positive aspects of their history and legacy, including their contributions to medicine, architecture, and culture, as well as their dedication to their respective missions.
The island of Malta, which played an important role in the history of both orders, continues to be a living testament to their legacy. Visitors to Malta can see firsthand the impressive architecture and cultural heritage left behind by the Knights of Malta and learn about the island’s rich history and role in the Crusades.
In conclusion, the Knights Templar and the Knights Hospitaller were complex and multifaceted organisations that continue to captivate our imagination and inspire scholarly debate. Despite their differences in mission and focus, both orders played significant roles in the Crusades and made important contributions to medieval society and culture. They were both known for their bravery, discipline, and military skills, and their legacy continues to be celebrated and studied to this day. While we cannot erase the negative aspects of their history, we can learn from their successes and failures and appreciate the lasting impact they had on medieval Europe and beyond.
Sources and Further Reading
- The Templars: The Rise and Spectacular Fall of God’s Holy Warriors by Dan Jones, published by Viking (2017), available from: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Templars-Rise-Spectacular-Fall-Warriors/dp/0525428305/
- The Templars and the Shroud of Christ by Barbara Frale, published by Maverick House (2011), available from: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Templars-Shroud-Christ-Barbara-Frale/dp/1905379730
- The New Knighthood: A History of the Order of the Temple by Malcolm Barber, published by Cambridge University Press (2012), available from: https://www.amazon.co.uk/New-Knighthood-History-Temple-Classics/dp/1107604737
- The Templars: Knights of Christ by Regine Pernoud, published by Ignatius Press (2009), available from: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Templars-Knights-Christ-Regine-Pernoud/dp/1586173022
- The Templar Revelation: Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, published by Corgi (2007), available from: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Templar-Revelation-Secret-Guardians-Identity/dp/0552155403
- The Knights Templar: A New History by Helen Nicholson, published by Sutton Publishing (2001), available from: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Knights-Templar-New-History/dp/B0013VEJU2
- The Knights Hospitaller by J. Delaville Le Roulx, published by Pen & Sword Military (2023), available from: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Knights-Hospitaller-Military-History-John/dp/1399024825/
- The Hospitallers, the Mediterranean and Europe: Festschrift for Anthony Luttrell edited by Karl Borchardt and Nikolas Jaspert, published by (2007), available from: https://www.routledge.com/The-Hospitallers-the-Mediterranean-and-Europe-Festschrift-for-Anthony/Borchardt-Jaspert/p/book/9780754662754
- The Knights of Rhodes: The Palace and the City by Jean-Pierre Van Staëvel, published by Ekdotike Athenon (2005), available from: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Knights-Rhodes-Palace-City/dp/9602132426
- The Knights Templar and Their Legacy edited by Malcolm Barber, published by Inner Traditions Bear and Company (2000), available from: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Knights-Templar-Their-Myth/dp/0892812737
- The Knights Templar in Britain by Evelyn Lord, published by Routledge (2004), available from: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Knights-Templar-Britain-Evelyn-Lord/dp/1405801638/
- The Sword and the Grail: The Story of the Grail, the Templars, and the True Discovery of America by Andrew Sinclair, published by Birlinn Limited (2002), available from: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sword-Grail-Templars-Discovery-America/dp/1841582182/
- Crusaders in the Holy Land: The Archaeology of Faith, Paperback, by Jack Meinhardt (Editor), published by Biblical Archaeology Society (2005), available from: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crusaders-Holy-Land-Archaeology-Faith/dp/188031780X
- The Crusades: The War for the Holy Land, Paperback, by Thomas Asbridge (Author), published by Simon & Schuster UK (2012), available from: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crusades-War-Holy-Land/dp/1849836884/
CAUTION: This paper is compiled from the sources stated but has not been externally reviewed. Parts of this paper include information provided via artificial intelligence which, although checked by the author, is not always accurate or reliable. Neither we nor any third parties provide any warranty or guarantee as to the accuracy, timeliness, performance, completeness or suitability of the information and materials covered in this paper for any particular purpose. Such information and materials may contain inaccuracies or errors and we expressly exclude liability for any such inaccuracies or errors to the fullest extent permitted by law. Your use of any information or materials on this website is entirely at your own risk, for which we shall not be liable. It shall be your own responsibility to ensure that any products, services or information available through this paper meet your specific requirements and you should neither take action nor exercise inaction without taking appropriate professional advice. The hyperlinks were current at the date of publication.
End Notes and Explanations
- Source: Compiled from research using information at the sources stated throughout the text, together with information provided by machine-generated artificial intelligence at: bing.com [chat] and https://chat.openai.com ↑
- Explanation: The Battle of Hattin took place on 4th July 1187, between the Crusader states of the Levant and the forces of the Ayyubid sultan Saladin. It is also known as the Battle of the Horns of Hattin, due to the shape of the nearby extinct volcano of that name. The Muslim armies under Saladin captured or killed the vast majority of the Crusader forces, removing their capability to wage war. As a direct result of the battle, Muslims once again became the eminent military power in the Holy Land, re-capturing Jerusalem and most of the other Crusader-held cities and castles. These Christian defeats prompted the Third Crusade, which began two years after the Battle of Hattin. Source: Madden, Thomas (2000), A Concise History of the Crusades, Rowman & Littlefield, ISBN 978-0-8476-9430-3 Cited at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hattin ↑
- Explanation: The siege of Acre (also called the fall of Acre) took place in 1291 and resulted in the Crusaders losing control of Acre to the Mamluks. It is considered one of the most important battles of the period. Although the crusading movement continued for several more centuries, the capture of the city marked the end of further crusades to the Levant. When Acre fell, the Crusaders lost their last major stronghold of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. They still maintained a fortress at the northern city of Tartus (today in north-western Syria), engaged in some coastal raids, and attempted an incursion from the tiny island of Ruad, but when they lost that as well in 1302 in the siege of Ruad, the Crusaders no longer controlled any part of the Holy Land. Source: Burgtorf, Jochen (2006). “Acre, Siege of (1291)”. In Alan V. Murray (ed.). The Crusades: An Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. pp. 13–14. OCLC 70122512. Cited at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Acre_(1291) ↑
- Explanation: The Knights Templar trace their beginnings to the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem in c. 1120 when nine Christian knights, under the auspices of King Baldwin II and the Patriarch Warmund, were given the task of protecting pilgrims on the roads to Jerusalem, which they did for nine years until elevated to a military order at the Council of Troyes in 1129. They became an elite fighting force in the Crusades known for their propensity not to retreat or surrender. Eventually, their rules of secrecy, their power, privileges and their wealth, made them vulnerable to the King of France‘s accusations and, with the Pope‘s unsuccessful attempts to prevent it, their destruction. The Templar leader, Master Jacques de Molay, had recently come to the Kingdom of France for meetings with the Pope. In 1307, members of the Templar order in France were suddenly charged with heresy and arrested. In France, many ultimately, including their leader, were burned at the stake while others were sentenced to perpetual imprisonment. The events in France led to a series of trials in other locations, not all of which had the same outcome. Cited at: ↑
- Explanation: The Fourth Crusade (1202–1204) was a Latin Christian armed expedition called by Pope Innocent III. The stated intent of the expedition was to recapture the Muslim-controlled city of Jerusalem, by first defeating the powerful Egyptian Ayyubid Sultanate, the strongest Muslim state of the time. However, a sequence of economic and political events culminated in the Crusader army’s 1202 siege of Zara and the 1204 sack of Constantinople, the capital of the Greek Christian-controlled Byzantine Empire, rather than Egypt as originally planned. This led to the partitioning of the Byzantine Empire by the Crusaders. The Republic of Venice contracted with the Crusader leaders to build a dedicated fleet to transport their invasion force. However, the leaders greatly overestimated the number of soldiers who would embark from Venice, since many sailed from other ports, and the army that appeared could not pay the contracted price. In lieu of payment, the Venetian Doge Enrico Dandolo proposed that the Crusaders back him in attacking the rebellious city of Zadar (Zara) on the eastern Adriatic coast. This led in November 1202 to the siege and sack of Zara, the first attack against a Catholic city by a Catholic Crusader army. The city was then brought under Venetian control. When the Pope heard of this, he temporarily excommunicated the Crusader army. Cited at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Crusade ↑
- Explanation: The Albigensian Crusade or the Cathar Crusade (French: Croisade des albigeois; 1209–1229) was a military and ideological campaign initiated by Pope Innocent III to eliminate Catharism in Languedoc, southern France. The Crusade was prosecuted primarily by the French crown and promptly took on a political aspect. It resulted in the significant reduction of practicing Cathars and a realignment of the County of Toulouse with the French crown. The distinct regional culture of Languedoc was also diminished. The Cathars originated from an anti-materialist reform movement within the Bogomil churches of the Balkans calling for what they saw as a return to the Christian message of perfection, poverty and preaching, combined with a rejection of the physical to the point of starvation. The reforms were a reaction against the often perceived scandalous and dissolute lifestyles of the Catholic clergy in southern France. Cited at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albigensian_Crusade ↑
- Explanation: The York Rite, sometimes referred to as the American Rite, is one of several Rites of Freemasonry. It is named for, but not practiced in York, Yorkshire, England. A Rite is a series of progressive degrees that are conferred by various Masonic organizations or bodies, each of which operates under the control of its own central authority. The York Rite specifically is a collection of separate Masonic Bodies and associated Degrees that would otherwise operate independently. The three primary bodies in the York Rite are the Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, Council of Royal & Select Masters or Council of Cryptic Masons, and the Commandery of Knights Templar, each of which are governed independently but are all considered to be a part of the York Rite. There are also other organizations that are considered to be directly associated with the York Rite, or require York Rite membership to join such as the York Rite Sovereign College but in general the York Rite is considered to be made up of the aforementioned three. The Rite’s name is derived from the city of York, where, according to one Masonic legend, the first meetings of Masons in England took place. The York Rite is one of the appendant bodies of Freemasonry that a Master Mason may join to further his knowledge of Freemasonry. But, it is postulated, the York Rite is not found as a single system worldwide, and outside of the United States there are often significant differences in ritual, as well as organization. However, in most cases, provided that the Grand Body in question regards the parent “Craft” jurisdiction as regular, each distinct Order has recognised fraternal inter-relations with the respective Grand Body within the York system. Cited at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/York_Rite ↑