A Brief History of the Knights Templar - James Burnes - ebook
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It was in the year 1119, the twentieth of the Christian dominion in Syria, that nine pious and valiant Knights, the greater part of whom had been the companions of Godfrey de Bouillon, formed themselves into an association, the object of which was to protect and defend Pilgrims on their visits to the holy places. These Knights, of whom the two chief were Hugo de Payens and Godfrey de St. Omer, vowed, in honour of the sweet Mother of God, to unite Monkhood and Knighthood; their pious design met with the warm approbation of the King and the Patriarch, and in the hands of the latter they made the three ordinary vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience; and a fourth, of combating without ceasing against the heathen, in defence of Pilgrims and of the Holy Land; and bound themselves to live according to the rule of the canons of St. Augustine, at Jerusalem. The King assigned them for their abode a part of his palace, which stood close by where had stood the Temple of the Lord. He and his barons contributed to their support, and the abbot and canons of the Temple assigned them for the keeping of their arms and magazines the street between it and the royal palace, and hence they took the name of the soldiery of the Temple, or Templars. When Fulk, Count of Anjou, in the year following the formation of the society, made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the Order was even then in such repute that he joined it as a married brother, and on his return home remitted them annually thirty pounds of silver to aid them in their pious labours, and his example was followed by several other Christian princes.            For the first nine years after their institution, the Templars lived in poverty and humility, and no new members joined their society, which was eclipsed by that of St. John. Their clothing consisted of such garments as were bestowed on them by the charity of the faithful, and so rigorously were the gifts of pious princes applied by them to their destination—the benefit of pilgrims and of the Holy Land in general—that in consequence of their poverty, Hugo de Payens and Godfrey de St. Omer had but one war-horse between them. When the Order had arrived at wealth and splendour, its seal, representing two Knights mounted on one charger, commemorated this original poverty of its pious founders...

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A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR

James Burnes

ENDYMION PRESS

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Copyright © 2016 by James Burnes

Published by Endymion Press

Interior design by Pronoun

Distribution by Pronoun

ISBN: 9781531292980

TABLE OF CONTENTS

THE HOSPITALLERS

THE TEMPLARS

PERSECUTION OF THE TEMPLARS

CONTINUATION OF THE ORDER

TEMPLARS OF SCOTLAND

APPENDIX

THE HOSPITALLERS

~

CHAP. I.

The natural desire to visit places which have been the scene of memorable actions, or the abode of distinguished personages, had from a very early period drawn pious pilgrims from the east and the west to view those spots which had been hallowed by the presence of the Son of God. The toils and the dangers of the journey were unheeded, when set in comparison with the bliss of pouring forth prayer on Calvary, and bathing in the waves of Jordan, whose waters had consecrated the Saviour to his holy office. And, accordingly, we find that, so early as the ninth century, there was in the valley of Jehoshaphat, near the church of the Holy Virgin, an Hospital composed of twelve dwellings, for pilgrims from the west, which possessed corn lands, vineyards, and gardens, and an excellent library, established by the bounty of Charlemagne.

In the eleventh century, when the apprehension of the approaching end of the world, and appearance of Christ to judge mankind, had once more fanned the flame of pious pilgrimage which had been previously dying away, and men were hastening to the land where they expected to meet their Lord and Judge, there was built within the walls of Jerusalem an Hospital for the reception of Catholic pilgrims. This hospital stood within a very short distance of the church of the Holy Sepulchre, and, by the favour of the Egyptian Khalif, a church, dedicated to the Virgin, and afterwards called St. Maria de Latina, was erected close by it; there an abbot and several monks, who followed the rule of St. Benedict, received and entertained the pilgrims who arrived each year from the west, and furnished such of them as were poor or had been plundered by the roving Bedouins, with the means of paying the tax exacted by the unbelievers. Decorum not permitting the reception of female pilgrims, the brethren established without their walls a convent, dedicated to Mary Magdalene, where a pious sisterhood entertained the pilgrims of their own sex. The number of the pilgrims still continuing to increase, the abbot and his monks erected a new Hospitium near their church, which they placed under the patronage of St. John, the Patriarch of Alexandria, named Eleemon, or the Compassionate. This last Hospital had no independent revenues, but derived its income from the bounty of the abbot of the monastery of the Holy Virgin, and the alms of the pious.

When, in 1099, Jerusalem was invested by the Crusaders, the Hospital of St. John was presided over by Gerhard, a native of Provence, a man of exemplary piety, and of a spirit of mild and universal benevolence, rarely to be found in that age; for while the city was pressed by the arms of the faithful, who sought for future glory by the extermination of those whom they deemed the enemies of God on earth, not merely the orthodox Catholic, but the schismatic Greek, and even the unbelieving Moslem, shared without distinction the alms of the good director of the Hospital of St. John. When the city was taken, the sick and wounded of the Crusaders received all due care and attention from Gerhard and his monks. The general favour they enjoyed with Godfrey de Bouillon and the other pilgrims now emboldened them to separate themselves from the monastery of St. Mary de Latina; and to pursue their labour of love alone and independent, they drew up a rule for themselves, to which they bound themselves to obedience in the presence of the patriarch, and assumed as their distinguishing dress, a black mantle, with a white cross of eight points on the left breast. They still remained obedient to the abbot of St. Maria de Latina, and according to the law of the church, they paid tythes to the patriarch.

This continued while the brotherhood was poor; but riches soon began to flow in upon them. Godfrey, whose very name suggests the ideas of virtue and piety, pure, if not always well-directed, struck with their simple and unassuming charity, bestowed on them his domain of Monboire, in Brabant, with all its appurtenances. His brother and successor, Baldwin, gave them a portion of the booty gained from the infidels; several pious princes and nobles followed these examples, and the Hospital of St. John soon saw itself in possession of extensive estates, both in Europe and Asia, which were managed by members of the society named Preceptors. Pope Pascall II, in 1113, relieved the Hospitallers from the burden of paying tythes to the patriarch of Jerusalem—confirmed by his Bull all donations made and to be made to them—and gave them authority to appoint a successor on the death of Gerhard, without the interference of any other secular or spiritual authority. The society now counted among its members many gallant knights who had come to the Holy Land to fight in the cause of their Saviour; and there, actuated by a spirit more accordant to his, had flung aside their swords, and devoted themselves to the attendance on the sick and poor among the brethren of St. John. One of the most distinguished of these was Raymond Dupuy, a knight of Dauphiné, who, on the death of the worthy Gerhard, was chosen to succeed him in his office.

It was Raymond who organized the order of the Hospitallers, and established the discipline of the order. His regulations afford a specimen of the manners and modes of thinking of his time; and some of them require to be noticed here, on account of their similarity with those of the Templars, shortly to be mentioned. The usual monkish duties of chastity and obedience were strictly enjoined; the brethren, both lay and spiritual, were directed to wear at least a linen or woollen shirt, but no expensive dress of any kind; above all, no furs; when they went to collect alms, they were, for fear of temptation, never to go alone, but always in parties of two or three; they were not, however, to select their companions, but to take such as the director should appoint them; wherever there was a house belonging to their order, they were to turn in thither, and nowhere else, and to take whatever was given them, and ask for nothing more; they were also to carry their lights with them, and wherever they passed the night, to set these burning before them, lest the enemy should bring on them some deadly danger. When the brethren were in the church, or in a private house, in the company of women, they were to take good heed to themselves and avoid temptation; for the same reason, they were never to suffer women to wash their head or feet, or to make their bed. If a brother had fallen into carnal sin, and his offence was secret, a silent penance was deemed sufficient; but if it had been public, and he was fully convicted of it, he was on Sunday, after mass, when the people were gone out of church, to be stript of his clothes, and there, by the director himself, or such of the brethren as he appointed, severely beaten with thongs or rods, and then expelled the order. Any brother possessed of money or valuables, who concealed them from the master, was severely punished, the money which he had secreted was hung about the offender’s neck, and he was scourged by one of the brethren, in the presence of all those belonging to the house; he had then to do penance for forty days, during which time, on Wednesdays and Fridays, he had nothing but bread and water to support him. These regulations were made by Raymond, in the year 1118; a circumstance to be attended to, as some similar rules have been since made a ground of accusation against the Templars.

It is uncertain whether Raymond had any ulterior design of making the order of the Hospitallers a military one, but if such was his intention, he was anticipated. The kingdom of Jerusalem, over which Baldwin II. now ruled, had been in a very extraordinary state from the date of its conquest. It lay between two enemies, the Egyptians on the south, and the Turks on the north; and these Moslems, though of opposite and hostile sects, agreed in hatred of the Christians, and a desire to take Jerusalem—which was to them also the Holy City—out of the hands of the western infidels; the independent Arabs of the desert were also inimical to the Christians, and as fond of plunder as they have been at all periods of their history. Hence, the Holy Land was continually infested by predatory bands, who robbed and plundered all who fell in their way; the pious pilgrim who disembarked at Joppa or Acre, was fortunate if he reached the ultimate object of his journey in safety; and when he had visited all the consecrated places within the sacred walls, new perils awaited him on his way to bathe in the purifying waters of the Jordan, or to pluck in the gardens of Jericho the palm branch which he was to suspend in the church on his return.

THE TEMPLARS

~

CHAP. II.

It was in the year 1119, the twentieth of the Christian dominion in Syria, that nine pious and valiant Knights, the greater part of whom had been the companions of Godfrey de Bouillon, formed themselves into an association, the object of which was to protect and defend Pilgrims on their visits to the holy places. These Knights, of whom the two chief were Hugo de Payens and Godfrey de St. Omer, vowed, in honour of the sweet Mother of God, to unite Monkhood and Knighthood; their pious design met with the warm approbation of the King and the Patriarch, and in the hands of the latter they made the three ordinary vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience; and a fourth, of combating without ceasing against the heathen, in defence of Pilgrims and of the Holy Land; and bound themselves to live according to the rule of the canons of St. Augustine, at Jerusalem. The King assigned them for their abode a part of his palace, which stood close by where had stood the Temple of the Lord. He and his barons contributed to their support, and the abbot and canons of the Temple assigned them for the keeping of their arms and magazines the street between it and the royal palace, and hence they took the name of the soldiery of the Temple, or Templars. When Fulk, Count of Anjou, in the year following the formation of the society, made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the Order was even then in such repute that he joined it as a married brother, and on his return home remitted them annually thirty pounds of silver to aid them in their pious labours, and his example was followed by several other Christian princes.

For the first nine years after their institution, the Templars lived in poverty and humility, and no new members joined their society, which was eclipsed by that of St. John. Their clothing consisted of such garments as were bestowed on them by the charity of the faithful, and so rigorously were the gifts of pious princes applied by them to their destination—the benefit of pilgrims and of the Holy Land in general—that in consequence of their poverty, Hugo de Payens and Godfrey de St. Omer had but one war-horse between them. When the Order had arrived at wealth and splendour, its seal, representing two Knights mounted on one charger, commemorated this original poverty of its pious founders.

During the reign of Baldwin II. the kingdom was hard pressed by the Turks of Damascus, Mossul, and the neighbouring states, and the king had been a captive in their hands. On his liberation he sought every means of strengthening his kingdom, and as the Templars had displayed such eminent valour and devotion wherever they had been engaged, he resolved to gain them all the influence and consideration in his power. Accordingly he dispatched two of their members as his envoys to the Holy See, to lay before the Pope the state of the Holy Land, and also furnished them with a strong letter of recommendation to the celebrated Bernard of Clairvaux, the nephew of one of the envoys. Bernard approved highly of the object and institution of the Order. Hugo de Payens and five other brethren soon arrived in the west, and appeared before the fathers, who were assembled in council at Troyes, to whom Hugo detailed the maxims and the deeds of the Templars. The fathers expressed their approbation of all he said, the Order was pronounced good and useful, and same additions, taken from that of the Benedictines, were made to their rule. By the direction of Pope Honorius, the council appointed them a white mantle as their peculiar dress, to which Pope Eugenius some years afterwards added a red cross on the breast—the symbol of martyrdom. Their banner was of the black and white stripe, called, in old French, Bauseant (which word became their war-cry,) and bore the pious inscription, Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tua da gloriam. St. Bernard, if he did not himself draw up the rule of Order, had at least a considerable participation in it; throughout his life he cherished the Templars; he rarely wrote a letter to the Holy Land, in which he did not praise them, and recommend them to the favour and protection of the great.