The History of the Knights Templar, by Charles G. Addison, , at sacred-texts.com
The Temple at London–The vast possessions of the Templars in England–The territorial divisions of the order–The different preceptories in this country–The privileges conferred on the Templars by the kings of England–The Masters of the Temple at London–Their power and importance.
Qu’estoient rempli et ample
D’or et d’argent et de richesse,
Et qui menoient tel noblesse,
Ou sont-il? que sont devenu?
Que tant ont de plait maintenu,
Que nul a elz ne s’ozoit prendre
Tozjors achetoient sans vendre
Nul riche a elz n’estoit de prise;
Tant va pot a eue qu’il brise.
Chron. à la suite du Roman de Favel.
THE Knights Templars first established the chief house of their order in England, without Holborn Bars, on the south side of the street, where Southampton House formerly stood, adjoining to which Southampton Buildings were afterwards erected; * and it is stated, that about a century and a half ago, part of the
ancient chapel annexed to this establishment, of a circular form, and built of Caen stone, was discovered on pulling down some old houses near Southampton Buildings in Chancery Lane. * This first house of the Temple, established by Hugh de Payens himself, before his departure from England, on his return to Palestine, was adapted to the wants and necessities of the order in its infant state, when the knights, instead of lingering in the preceptories of Europe, proceeded at once to Palestine, and when all the resources of the society were strictly and faithfully forwarded to Jerusalem, to be expended in defence of the faith; but when the order had greatly increased in numbers, power, and wealth, and had somewhat departed from its original purity and simplicity, we find that the superior and the knights resident in London began to look abroad for a more extensive and commodious place of habitation. They purchased a large space of ground, extending from the White Friars westward to Essex House without Temple Bar, † and commenced the erection of a convent on a scale of grandeur commensurate with the dignity and importance of the chief house of the great religio-military society of the Temple in Britain. It was called the New Temple, to distinguish it from the original establishment at Holborn, which came thenceforth to be known by the name of the Old Temple. ‡
This New Temple was adapted for the residence of numerous military monks and novices, serving brothers, retainers, and domestics. It contained the residence of the superior and of the
knights, the cells and apartments of the chaplains and serving brethren, the council chamber where the chapters were held, and the refectory or dining-hall, which was connected, by a range of handsome cloisters, with the magnificent church, consecrated by the patriarch. Alongside the river extended a spacious pleasure ground for the recreation of the brethren, who were not permitted to go into the town without the leave of the Master. It was used also for military exercises and the training of the horses.
The year of the consecration of the Temple Church, Geoffrey, the superior of the order in England, caused an inquisition to be made of the lands of the Templars in this country, and the names of the donors thereof, * from which it appears, that the larger territorial divisions of the order were then called bailiwicks, the principal of which were London, Warwic, Couele, Meritune, Gutinge, Westune, Lincolnscire, Lindeseie, Widine, and Eboracisire, (Yorkshire.) The number of manors, farms, churches, advowsons, demesne lands, villages, hamlets, windmills, and watermills, rents of assize, rights of common and free warren, and the amount of all kinds of property, possessed by the Templars in England at the period of the taking of this inquisition, are astonishing. Upon the great estates belonging to the order, prioral houses had been erected, wherein dwelt the procurators or stewards charged with the management of the manors and farms in their neighbourhood, and with the collection of the rents. These prioral houses became regular monastic establishments, inhabited chiefly by sick and aged Templars, who retired to them to spend
the remainder of their days, after a long period of honourable service against the infidels in Palestine. They were cells to the principal house at London. There were also under them certain smaller administrations established for the management of the farms, consisting of a Knight Templar, to whom were associated some serving brothers of the order, and a priest who acted as almoner. The commissions or mandates directed by the Masters of the Temple to the officers at the head of these establishments, were called precepts, from the commencement of them, “Præcipimus tibi,” we enjoin or direct you, &c. &c. The knights to whom they were addressed were styled Præceptores Templi, or Preceptors of the Temple, and the districts administered by them Præceptoria, or preceptories.
It will now be as well to take a general survey of the possessions and organization of the order both in Europe and Asia, “whose circumstances,” saith William archbishop of Tyre, writing from Jerusalem about the period of the consecration at London of the Temple Church, “are in so flourishing a state, that at this day they have in their convent (the Temple on Mount Moriah) more than three hundred knights robed in the white habit, besides serving brothers innumerable. Their possessions indeed beyond sea, as well as in these parts, are said to be so vast, that there cannot now be a province in Christendom which does not contribute to the support of the aforesaid brethren, whose wealth is said to equal that of sovereign princes.” *
The eastern provinces of the order were, 1. Palestine, the ruling province. 2. The principality of Antioch. 3. The principality of Tripoli.
1. PALESTINE.–Some account has already been given of the Temple at Jerusalem, the chief house of the order, and the residence of the Master. In addition to the strong garrison there maintained, the Templars possessed numerous forces, distributed in various fortresses and strongholds, for the preservation and protection of the holy territory.
The following castles and cities of Palestine are enumerated by the historians of the Latin kingdom, as having belonged to the order of the Temple.
The fortified city of Gaza, the key of the kingdom of Jerusalem on the side next Egypt, anciently one of the five satrapies of the Lords of the Philistines, and the stronghold of Cambyses when he invaded Egypt.
Towards fair Pelusium, Gaza’s towers ascend.
Fast by the breezy shore the city stands
Amid unbounded plains of barren sands,
Which high in air the furious whirlwinds sweep,
Like mountain billows on the stormy deep,
That scarce the affrighted traveller, spent with toil,
Escapes the tempest of the unstable soil.”
The Castle of Saphet, in the territory of the ancient tribe of Naphtali; the great bulwark of the northern frontier of the Latin kingdom on the side next Damascus. The Castle of the Pilgrims, in the neighbourhood of Mount Carmel. The Castle of Assur near Jaffa, and the House of the Temple at Jaffa. The fortress of Faba, or La Feue, the ancient Aphek, not far from
[paragraph continues] Tyre, in the territory of the ancient tribe of Asher. The hill-fort Dok, between Bethel and Jericho. The castles of La Cave, Marie, Citern Rouge, Castel Blanc, Trapesach, Sommelleria of the Temple, in the neighbourhood of Acca, now St. John d’Acre. Castrum Planorum, and a place called Gerinum Parvum. * The Templars purchased the castle of Beaufort and the city of Sidon; † they also got into their hands a great part of the town of St. Jean d’Acre, where they erected their famous temple, and almost all Palestine was in the end divided between them and the Hospitallers of Saint John.
2. THE PRINCIPALITY OF ANTIOCH.–The principal houses of the Temple in this province were at Antioch itself, at Aleppo, Haram, &c.
3. THE PRINCIPALITY OF TRIPOLI.–The chief establishments herein were at Tripoli, at Tortosa, the ancient Antaradus; Castel-blanc in the same neighbourhood; Laodicea and Beyrout,–all under the immediate superintendence of the Preceptor of Tripoli. Besides these castles, houses, and fortresses, the Templars possessed farms and large tracts of land, both in Syria and Palestine.
The western nations or provinces, on the other hand, from whence the order derived its chief power and wealth, were,
1. APULIA AND SICILY, the principal houses whereof were at Palermo, Syracuse, Lentini, Butera, and Trapani. The house of the Temple at this last place has been appropriated to the use of some monks of the order of St. Augustin. In a church of the city is still to be seen the celebrated statue of the Virgin, which Brother Guerrege and three other Knights Templars brought
from the East, with a view of placing it in the Temple Church on the Aventine hill in Rome, but which they were obliged to deposit in the island of Sicily. This celebrated statue is of the most beautiful white marble, and represents the Virgin with the infant Jesus reclining on her left arm; it is of about the natural height, and, from an inscription on the foot of the figure, it appears to have been executed by a native of the island of Cyprus, A.D. 733. *
The Templars possessed valuable estates in Sicily, around the base of Mount Etna, and large tracts of land between Piazza and Calatagirone, in the suburbs of which last place there was a Temple house, the church whereof, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, still remains. They possessed also many churches in the island, windmills, rights of fishery, of pasturage, of cutting wood in the forests, and many important privileges and immunities. The chief house was at Messina, where the Grand Prior resided. †
2. UPPER AND CENTRAL ITALY.–The houses or preceptories of the order of the Temple in this province were very numerous, and were all under the immediate superintendence of the Grand Prior or Preceptor of Rome. There were large establishments at Lucca, Milan, and Perugia, at which last place the arms of the Temple are still to be seen on the tower of the holy cross. At Placentia there was a magnificent and extensive convent, called Santa Maria del Tempio, ornamented with a very lofty tower. At Bologna there was also a large Temple house, and on a clock in the city is the following inscription, “Magister Tosseolus de Miolâ me fecit . . . Fr. Petrus de Bon, Procur. Militiæ Templi in curiâ Romanâ, MCCCIII.” In the church of St. Mary in the same place, which formerly belonged to the Knights Templars,
is the interesting marble monument of Peter de Rotis, a priest of the order. He is represented on his tomb, holding a chalice in his hands with the host elevated above it, and beneath the monumental effigy is the following epitaph
Strennus ecce pugil Christi, jacet ordine charus;
Veste ferens, menteque crucem, nunc sidera scandit,
Exemplum nobis spectandi cælica pandit:
Annis ter trinis viginti mille trecentis
Sexta quarte maii fregit lux organ mentis.” *
PORTUGAL.–In the province or nation of Portugal, the military power and resources of the order of the Temple were exercised in almost constant warfare against the Moors, and Europe derived essential advantage from the enthusiastic exertions of the warlike monks in that quarter against the infidels. In every battle, indeed, fought in the south of Europe, after the year 1130, against the enemies of the cross, the Knights Templars are to be found taking an active and distinguished part, and in all the conflicts against the infidels, both in the west and in the east, they were ever in the foremost rank, battling nobly in defence of the christian faith. With all the princes and sovereigns of the great Spanish peninsula they were extremely popular, and they were endowed with cities, villages, lordships, and splendid domains. Many of the most important fortresses and castles in the land were entrusted to their safe keeping, and some were yielded to them in perpetual sovereignty. They possessed, in Portugal, the castles of Monsento, Idanha, and Tomar; the citadel of Langrovia in the province of Beira, on the banks of the Riopisco; and the fortress of Miravel in Estremadura, taken from the Moors, a strong place perched on the summit of a lofty eminence.
[paragraph continues] They had large estates at Castromarin, Almural, and Tavira in Algarve, and houses, rents, revenues, and possessions, in all parts of the country. The Grand Prior or Preceptor of Portugal resided at the castle of Tomar. It is seated on the river Narboan in Estremadura, and is still to be seen towering in gloomy magnificence on the hill above the town. The castle at present belongs to the order of Christ, and was lately one of the grandest and richest establishments in Portugal. It possessed a splendid library, and a handsome cloister, the architecture of which was much admired. *
CASTILE AND LEON. The houses or preceptories of the Temple most known in this province or nation of the order were those of Cuenca and Guadalfagiara, Tine and Aviles in the diocese of Oviedo, and Pontevreda in Galicia. In Castile alone the order is said to have possessed twenty-four bailiwicks. †
ARAGON.–The sovereigns of Aragon, who had suffered grievously from the incursions of the Moors, were the first of the European princes to recognize the utility of the order of the Temple. They endowed the fraternity with vast revenues, and ceded to them some of the strongest fortresses in the kingdom. The Knights Templars possessed in Aragon the castles of Dumbel, Cabanos, Azuda, Granena, Chalonere, Remolins, Corbins, Lo Mas de Barbaran, Moncon, and Montgausi, with their territories and dependencies. They were lords of the cities of Borgia and Tortosa; they had a tenth part of the revenues of the kingdom, the taxes of the towns of Huesca and Saragossa, and houses, possessions, privileges, and immunities in all parts. ‡
The Templars likewise possessed lands and estates in the Balearic Isles, which were under the management of the Prior or Preceptor of the island of Majorca, who was subject to the Grand Preceptor of Aragon.
GERMANY AND HUNGARY.–The houses most known in this territorial division of the order are those in the electorate of Mayence, at Homburg, Assenheim, Rotgen in the Rhingau, Mongberg in the Marché of Brandenbourg, Nuitz on the Rhine, Tissia Altmunmunster near Ratisbon in Bavaria, Bamberg, Middlebourg, Hall, Brunswick, &c. &c. The Templars possessed the fiefs of Rorich, Pausin and Wildenheuh in Pomerania, an establishment at Bach in Hungary, several lordships in Bohemia and Moravia, and lands, tithes, and large revenues, the gifts of pious German crusaders. *
GREECE.–The Templars were possessed of lands and had establishments in the Morea, and in several parts of the Greek empire. Their chief house was at Constantinople, in the quarter called Ὀμόνοια, where they had an oratory dedicated to the holy martyrs Marin and Pentaleon. †
Bomgarten, Temple Savigné near Corbeil, Dorlesheim near Molsheim, where there still remains a chapel called Templehoff, Ribauvillier, and a Temple house in the plain near Bercheim in Alsace.
Bures, Voulaine les Templiers, Ville-sous-Gevrey, otherwise St. Philibert, Dijon, Fauverney, where a chapel dedicated to the Virgin still preserves the name of the Temple, Des Feuilles, situate in the parish of Villett, near the chateau de Vernay, St. Martin, Le Chastel, Espesses, Tessones near Bourges, and La Musse, situate between Baujé and Macon in Burgundy. *
Temple Cahor, Temple Marigny, Arras, Le Parc, St. Vaubourg, and Rouen, in Normandy. There were two houses of the Temple at Rouen; one of them occupied the site of the present maison consulaire, and the other stood in the street now called La Rue des Hermites. ‡ The preceptories and houses of the Temple in France, indeed, were so numerous, that it would be a wearisome and endless task to repeat the names of them. Hundreds of places in the different provinces are mentioned by French writers as having belonged to the Templars. Between Joinville and St. Dizier may still be seen the remains of Temple Ruet, an old chateau surrounded by a moat; and in the diocese of Meaux are the ruins of the great manorial house of Choisy le Temple. Many interesting tombs are there visible, together with the refectory of the knights, which has been converted into a sheepfold.
The chief house of the order for France, and also for Holland and the Netherlands, was the Temple at Paris, an extensive and
magnificent structure, surrounded by a wall and a ditch. It extended over all that large space of ground, now covered with streets and buildings, which lies between the rue du Temple, the rue St. Croix, and the environs de la Verrerie, as far as the walls and the fossés of the port du Temple. It was ornamented with a great tower, flanked by four smaller towers, erected by the Knight Templar Brother Herbert, almoner to the king of France, and was one of the strongest edifices in the kingdom. * Many of the modern streets of Paris which now traverse the site of this interesting structure, preserve in the names given to them some memorial of the ancient Temple. For instance, La rue du Temple, La rue des fossés du Temple, Boulevard du Temple, Faubourg du Temple, rue de Faubourg du Temple, Vieille rue du Temple, &c. &c.
All the houses of the Temple in Holland and the Netherlands were under the immediate jurisdiction of the Master of the Temple at Paris. The preceptories in these kingdoms were very numerous, and the property dependent upon them was of great value. Those most known are the preceptories of Treves and Dietrich on the Soure, the ruins of which last still remain; Coberne, on the left bank of the Moselle, a few miles from Coblentz; Belisch, Temple Spelé, Temple Rodt near Vianden, and the Temple at Luxembourg, where in the time of Broverus there existed considerable remains of the refectory, of the church, and of some stone walls covered with paintings; Templehuis near Ghent, the preceptory of Alphen, Braëckel, la maison de Slipes near Ostend, founded by the counts of Flanders; Temple Caestre near Mount Cassel; Villiers le Temple en Condros, between Liege and Huy; Vaillenpont, Walsberge, Haut Avenes near Arras; Temploux near Fleuru in the department of Namur; Vernoi in
In these countries, as well as in all parts of Europe wherever they were settled, the Templars possessed vast privileges and immunities, which were conceded to them by popes, kings, and princes.
ENGLAND: There were in bygone times the following preceptories of Knight Templars in the present kingdom of England.
Aslakeby, Temple Bruere, Egle, Malteby, Mere, Wilketon, and Witham, in Lincolnshire.
North Feriby, Temple Hurst, Temple Newsom, Pafflete, Flaxflete, and Ribstane, in Yorkshire.
Temple Cumbe in Somersetshire.
Ewell, Strode and Swingfield, near Dover, in Kent.
Hadescoe, in Norfolk.
Balsall and Warwick, in Warwickshire.
Temple Rothley, in Leicestershire.
Wilburgham Magna, Daney, and Dokesworth, in Cambridgeshire.
Halston, in Shropshire.
Temple Dynnesley, in Hertfordshire.
Temple Cressing and Sutton, in Essex.
Saddlescomb and Chapelay, in Sussex.
Schepeley, in Surrey.
Temple Cowley, Sandford, Bistelesham, and Chalesey, in Oxfordshire.
Temple Rockley, in Wiltshire.
Upleden and Garwy, in Herefordshire.
South Badeisley, in Hampshire.
Getinges, in Worcestershire.
There were also several smaller administrations established, as before mentioned, for the management of the farms and lands, and the collection of rent and tithes. Among these were Liddele and Quiely in the diocese of Chichester; Eken in the diocese of Lincoln; Adingdon, Wesdall, Aupledina, Cotona, &c. The different preceptors of the Temple in England had under their management lands and property in every county of the realm. †
In Leicestershire the Templars possessed the town and the soke of Rotheley; the manors of Rolle, Babbegrave, Gaddesby, Stonesby, and Melton; Rothely wood, near Leicester; the villages of Beaumont, Baresby, Dalby, North and South Mardefeld, Saxby, Stonesby, and Waldon, with land in above eighty others! They had also the churches of Rotheley, Babbegrave, and Rolle; and the chapels of Gaddesby, Grimston, Wartnaby, Cawdwell, and Wykeham. ‡
In Hertfordshire they possessed the town and forest of Broxbourne, the manor of Chelsin Templars, (Chelsin Templariorum,) and the manors of Laugenok, Broxbourne, Letchworth, and Temple Dynnesley; demesne lands at Stanho, Preston, Charlton, Walden, Hiche, Chelles, Levecamp, and Benigho; the church of Broxbourne, two watermills, and a lock on the river Lea: also property at Hichen, Pyrton, Ickilford, Offeley Magna, Offeley Parva, Walden Regis, Furnivale, Ipolitz, Wandsmyll,
In the county of Essex they had the manors of Temple Cressynge, Temple Roydon, Temple Sutton, Odewell, Chingelford, Lideleye, Quarsing, Berwick, and Witham; the church of Roydon, and houses, lands, and farms, both at Roydon, at Rivenhall, and in the parishes of Prittlewall and Great and Little Sutton; an old mansion-house and chapel at Sutton, and an estate called Finchinfelde in the hundred of Hinckford. †
In Lincolnshire the Templars possessed the manors of La Bruere, Roston, Kirkeby, Brauncewell, Carleton, Akele, with the soke of Lynderby Aslakeby, and the churches of Bruere, Asheby, Akele, Aslakeby, Donington, Ele, Swinderby, Skarle, &c. There were upwards of thirty churches in the county which made annual payments to the order of the Temple, and about forty windmills. The order likewise received rents in respect of lands at Bracebrig, Brancetone, Scapwic, Timberland, Weleburne, Diringhton, and a hundred other places; and some of the land in the county was charged with the annual payment of sums of money towards the keeping of the lights eternally burning on the altars of the Temple church. ‡ William Lord of Asheby gave to the Templars the perpetual advowson of the church of Asheby in Lincolnshire, and they in return agreed to find him a priest to sing for ever twice a week in his chapel of St. Margaret. §
In Yorkshire the Templars possessed the manors of Temple
[paragraph continues] Werreby, Flaxflete, Etton, South Cave, &c.; the churches of Whitcherche, Kelintune, &c.; numerous windmills and lands and rents at Nehus, Skelture, Pennel, and more than sixty other places besides. *
In Warwickshire they possessed the manors of Barston, Shirburne, Balshale, Wolfhey, Cherlecote, Herbebure, Stodleye, Fechehampstead, Cobington, Tysho and Warwick; lands at Chelverscoton, Herdwicke, Morton, Warwick, Hetherburn, Chesterton, Aven, Derset, Stodley, Napton, and more than thirty other places, the several donors whereof are specified in Dug-dale’s history of Warwickshire (p. 694;) also the churches of Sireburne, Cardinton, &c., and more than thirteen windmills. In 12 Hen. II., William Earl of Warwick built a new church for them at Warwick. †
In Kent they had the manors of Lilleston, Hechewayton, Saunford, Sutton, Dartford, Halgel, Ewell, Cocklescomb, Strode, Swinkfield Mennes, West Greenwich, and the manor of Lydden, which now belongs to the archbishop of Canterbury; the advowsons of the churches of West Greenwich and Kingeswode juxta Waltham; extensive tracts of land in Romney marsh, and farms and assize rents in all parts of the county. ‡
In Surrey they had the manor farm of Temple Elfand or
[paragraph continues] Elfante, and an estate at Merrow in the hundred of Woking. In Gloucestershire, the manors of Lower Dowdeswell, Pegsworth, Amford, Nishange, and five others which belonged to them wholly or in part, the church of Down Ammey, and lands in Framton, Temple Guting, and Little Rissington. In Worcestershire, the manor of Templars Lawern, and lands in Flavel, Temple Broughton, and Hanbury. * In Northamptonshire, the manors of Asheby, Thorp, Watervill, &c. &c.; they had the advowson of the church of the manor of Hardwicke in Orlington hundred, and we find that “Robert Saunford, Master of the soldiery of the Temple in England,” presented to it in the year 1238. † In Nottinghamshire, the Templars possessed the church of Marnham, lands and rents at Gretton and North Carleton; in Westmoreland, the manor of Temple Sowerby; in the Isle of Wight, the manor of Uggeton, and lands in Kerne. ‡ But it would be tedious further to continue with a dry detail of ancient names and places; sufficient has been said to give an idea of the enormous wealth of the order in this country, where it is known to have possessed some hundreds of manors, the advowson or right of presentation to churches innumerable, and thousands of acres of arable land, pasture, and woodland, besides villages, farm-houses, mills, and tithes, rights of common, of fishing, of cutting wood in forests, &c. &c.
There were also several preceptories in Scotland and Ireland, which were dependent on the Temple at London.
The annual income of the order in Europe has been roughly estimated at six millions sterling! According to Matthew Paris,
the Templars possessed nine thousand manors or lordships in Christendom, besides a large revenue and immense riches arising from the constant charitable bequests and donations of sums of money from pious persons. * “They were also endowed,” says James of Vitry, bishop of Acre, “with farms, towns, and villages, to an immense extent both in the East and in the West, out of the revenues of which they send yearly a certain sum of money for the defence of the Holy Land to their head Master at the chief house of their order in Jerusalem.” † The Templars, in imitation of the other monastic establishments, obtained from pious and charitable people all the advowsons within their reach, and frequently retained the tithe and the glebe in their own hands, deputing a priest of the order to perform divine service and administer the sacraments.
The manors of the Templars produced them rent either in money, corn, or cattle, and the usual produce of the soil. By the custom in some of these manors, the tenants were annually to mow three days in harvest, one at the charge of the house; and to plough three days, whereof one at the like charge; to reap one day, at which time they should have a ram from the house, eight-pence, twenty-four loaves, and a cheese of the best in the house, together with a pailful of drink. The tenants were not to sell, their horse-colts, if they were foaled upon the land belonging to the Templars, without the consent of the fraternity, nor marry their daughters without their license. There were also various
We have previously given an account of the royal donations of King Henry the First, of King Stephen and his queen, to the order of the Temple. These were far surpassed by the pious benefactions of King Henry the Second. That monarch, for the good of his soul and the welfare of his kingdom, granted the Templars a place situate on the river Fleet, near Bainard’s Castle, with the whole current of that river at London, for erecting a mill; † also a messuage near Fleet-street; the church of St. Clement, “quæ dicitur Dacorum extra civitatem Londoniæ;” and the churches of Elle, Swinderby and Skarle in Lincolnshire, Kingeswode juxta Waltham in Kent, the manor of Stroder in the hundred of Skamele, the vill of Kele in Staffordshire, the hermitage of Flikeamstede, and all his lands at Lange Cureway, a house in Brosal, and the market of Witham; lands at Berghotte, a mill at the bridge of Pembroke Castle, the vill of Finchingfelde, the manor of Rotheley with its appurtenances, and the advowson of the church and its several chapels, the manor of Blalcolvesley, the park of Haleshall, and three fat bucks annually, either from Essex or Windsor Forest. He likewise granted them an annual
The principal benefactors to the Templars amongst the nobility were William Marshall, earl of Pembroke, and his sons William and Gilbert; Robert, lord de Ros; the earl of Hereford; William, earl of Devon; the king of Scotland; William, archbishop of York; Philip Harcourt, dean of Lincoln; the earl of Cornwall; Philip, bishop of Bayeux; Simon de Senlis, earl of Northampton; Leticia and William, count and countess of Ferrara; Margaret, countess of Warwick; Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester; Robert de Harecourt, lord of Rosewarden; William de Vernon, earl of Devon, &c. &c. †
The Templars, in addition to their amazing wealth, enjoyed vast privileges and immunities within this realm. In the reign of King John they were freed from all amerciaments in the Exchequer, and obtained the privilege of not being compelled to plead except before the king or his chief justice. King Henry the Third granted them free warren in all their demesne lands; and by his famous charter, dated the 9th of February, in the eleventh year of his reign, he confirmed to them all the donations of his predecessors and of their other benefactors; with soc ‡ and sac §, tol ¦¦ and theam, ¶ infangenethef, ** and unfangenethef, †† and hamsoca, and grithbrich, and blodwite, and flictwite, and hengewite, and learwite, and flemenefrith, murder, robbery, forestal, ordel, and oreste; and he acquitted them from the royal and
sheriff’s aids, and from hidage, carucage, danegeld and hornegeld, and from military and wapentake services, scutages, tallages, lastages, stallages, from shires and hundreds, pleas and quarrels, from ward and wardpeny, and averpeni, and hundredespeni, and borethalpeni, and thethingepeni, and from the works of parks, castles, bridges, the building of royal houses and all other works; and also from waste regard and view of foresters, and from toll in all markets and fairs, and at all bridges, and upon all highways throughout the kingdom. And he also gave them the chattels of felons and fugitives, and all waifs within their fee. *
In addition to these particular privileges, the Templars enjoyed, under the authority of the Papal bulls, various immunities and advantages, which gave great umbrage to the clergy. They were freed, as before mentioned, from the obligation of paying tithes, and might, with the consent of the bishop, receive them. No brother of the Temple could be excommunicated by any bishop or priest, nor could any of the churches of the order be laid under interdict except by virtue of a special mandate from the holy see. When any brother of the Temple, appointed to make charitable collections for the succour of the Holy Land, should arrive at a city, castle, or village, which had been laid under interdict, the churches, on their welcome coming, were to be thrown open, (once within the year,) and divine service was to be performed in honour of the Temple, and in reverence for the holy soldiers thereof. The privilege of sanctuary was thrown around their dwellings; and by various papal bulls it is solemnly enjoined that no person shall lay violent hands either upon the persons or the property of those flying for refuge to the Temple houses. †
Sir Edward Coke, in the second part of the Institute of the Laws of England, observes, that “the Templars did so overspread
throughout Christendome, and so exceedingly increased in possessions, revenues, and wealth, and specially in England, as you will wonder to reade in approved histories, and withall obtained so great and large priviledges, liberties, and immunities for themselves, their tenants, and farmers, &c., as no other order had the like.” * He further observes, that the Knights Templars were cruce signati, and as the cross was the ensign of their profession, and their tenants enjoyed great privileges, they did erect crosses upon their houses, to the end that those inhabiting them might be known to be the tenants of the order, and thereby be freed from many duties and services which other tenants were subject unto; “and many tenants of other lords, perceiving the state and greatnesse of the knights of the said order, and withall seeing the great priviledges their tenants enjoyed, did set up crosses upon their houses, as their very tenants used to doe, to the prejudice of their lords.”
This abuse led to the passing of the statute of Westminster, the second, chap. 33, † which recites, that many tenants did set up crosses or cause them to be set up on their lands in prejudice of their lords, that the tenants might defend themselves against the chief lord of the fee by the privileges of Templars and Hospitallers, and enacts that such lands should be forfeited to the chief lords or tò the king.
Sir Edward Coke observes, that the Templars were freed from tenths and fifteenths to be paid to the king; that they were discharged of purveyance; that they could not be sued for any ecclesiastical cause before the ordinary, sed coram conservatoribus suorum privilegiorum; and that of ancient time they claimed that a felon might take to their houses, having their crosses for his safety, as well as to any church. ‡ And concerning these conservers or keepers of their privileges, he remarks, that the Templars and Hospitaliers “held an ecclesiasticall court before a
canonist, whom they termed conservator privilegiorum suorum, which judge had indeed more authority than was convenient, and did dayly, in respect of the height of these two orders, and at their instance and direction, incroach upon and hold plea of matters determinable by the common law, for cui plus licet quam par est, plus vult quam licet; and this was one great mischiefe. Another mischiefe was, that this judge, likewise at their instance, in cases wherein he had jurisdiction, would make general citations as pro salute anima, and the like, without expressing the matter whereupon the citation was made, which also was against law, and tended to the grievous vexation of the subject.” * To remedy these evils, another act of parliament was passed, prohibiting Hospitaliers and Templars from bringing any man in plea before the keepers of their privileges, for any matter the knowledge whereof belonged to the king’s court, and commanding such keepers of their privileges thenceforth to grant no citations at the instance of Hospitaliers and Templars, before it be expressed upon what matter the citation ought to be made. †
Having given an outline of the great territorial possessions of the order of the Temple in Europe, it now remains for us to present a sketch of its organisation and government. The Master of the Temple, the chief of the entire fraternity, ranked as a sovereign prince, and had precedence of all ambassadors and peers in the general councils of the church. He was elected to his high office by the chapter of the kingdom of Jerusalem, which was composed of all the knights of the East and of the West who could manage to attend. The Master had his general and particular chapters. The first were composed of the Grand Priors of the eastern and western provinces, and of all the knights present in the holy territory. The assembling of these general chapters,
however, in the distant land of Palestine, was a useless and almost impracticable undertaking, and it is only on the journeys of the Master to Europe, that we hear of the convocation of the Grand Priors of the West to attend upon their chief. The general chapters called together by the Master in Europe were held at Paris, and the Grand Prior of England always received a summons to attend. The ordinary business and the government of the fraternity in secular matters were conducted by the Master with the assistance of his particular chapter of the Latin kingdom, which was composed of such of the Grand Priors and chief dignitaries of the Temple as happened to be present in the East, and such of the knights as were deemed the wisest and most fit to give counsel. In these last chapters visitors-general were appointed to examine into the administration of the western provinces.
The western nations or provinces of the order were presided over by the provincial Masters, * otherwise Grand Priors or Grand Preceptors, who were originally appointed by the chief Master at Jerusalem, and were in theory mere trustees or bare administrators of the revenues of the fraternity, accountable to the treasurer general at Jerusalem, and removeable at the pleasure of the Chief Master. As the numbers, possessions, and wealth of the Templars, however, increased, various abuses sprang up. The members of the order, after their admittance to the vows, very frequently, instead of proceeding direct to Palestine to war against the infidels, settled down upon their property in Europe, and consumed at home a large proportion of those revenues which ought to have been faithfully and strictly forwarded to the general treasury at the Holy City. They erected numerous
convents or preceptories, with churches and chapels, and raised up in each western province a framework of government similar to that of the ruling province of Palestine.
The chief house of the Temple in England, for example, after its removal from Holborn Bars to the banks of the Thames, was regulated and organised after the model of the house of the Temple at Jerusalem. The superior is always styled “Master of the Temple,” and holds his chapters and has his officers corresponding to those of the chief Master in Palestine. The latter, consequently, came to be denominated Magnus Magister, or Grand Master, * by our English writers, to distinguish him from the Master at London, and henceforth he will be described by that title to prevent confusion. The titles given indeed to the superiors of the different nations or provinces into which the order of the Temple was divided, are numerous and somewhat perplexing. In the East, these officers were known only, in the first instance, by the title of Prior, as Prior of England, Prior of France, Prior of Portugal, &c., and afterwards Preceptor of England, preceptor of France, &c.; but in Europe they were called Grand Priors and Grand Preceptors, to distinguish them from the Sub-priors and Sub-preceptors, and also Masters of the Temple. The Prior and Preceptor of England, therefore, and the Grand Prior, Grand Preceptor, and Master of the Temple in England, were one and the same person. There were also at the New Temple at London, in imitation of the establishment at the chief house in Palestine, in addition to the Master, the Preceptor of the Temple, the Prior of London, the Treasurer, and the Guardian of the church, who had three chaplains under him, called readers. †
The Master at London had his general and particular, or his
ordinary and extraordinary chapters. The first were composed of the grand preceptors of Scotland and Ireland, and all the provincial priors and preceptors of the three kingdoms, who were summoned once a year to deliberate on the state of the Holy Land, to forward succour, to give an account of their stewardship, and to frame new rules and regulations for the management of the temporalities. * The ordinary chapters were held at the different preceptories, which the Master of the Temple visited in succession. In these chapters new members were admitted into the order; lands were bought, sold, and exchanged; and presentations were made by the Master to vacant benefices. Many of the grants and other deeds of these chapters, with the seal of the order of the Temple annexed to them, are to be met with in the public and private collections of manuscripts in this country. One of the most interesting and best preserved, is the Harleian charter (83, c. 39,) in the British Museum, which is a grant of land made by Brother William de la More, the martyr, the last Master of the Temple in England, to the Lord Milo de Stapleton. It is expressed to be made by him, with the common consent and advice of his chapter, held at the Preceptory of Dynneslee, on the feast of Saint Barnabas the Apostle, and concludes, “In witness whereof, we have to this present indenture placed the seal of our chapter.” † A fac-simile of this seal is given above. On the reverse of it is a man’s head, decorated with a long beard, and surmounted by a small cap, and around it are the letters TESTISVMAGI. The same seal is to be met with on various other indentures made by the Master and Chapter of the Temple. ‡ The more early seals are surrounded with the
words, Sigillum Militis Templi, “Seal of the Knight of the Temple;” as in the case of the deed of exchange of lands at Normanton in the parish of Botisford, in Leicestershire, entered into between Brother Amadeus de Morestello, Master of the chivalry of the Temple in England, and his chapter, of the one part, and the Lord Henry de Colevile, Knight, of the other part. The seal annexed to this deed has the addition of the word Militis, but in other respects it is similar to the one above delineated. *
The Master of the Temple was controlled by the visitors-general of the order, † who were knights specially deputed by the Grand Master and convent of Jerusalem to visit the different provinces, to reform abuses, make new regulations, and terminate such disputes as were usually reserved for the decision of the Grand Master. These visitors-general sometimes removed knights from their preceptories, and even suspended the masters themselves, and it was their duty to expedite to the East all such knights as were young and vigorous, and capable of fighting. Two regular voyages were undertaken from Europe to Palestine in the course of the year, under the conduct of the Templars and Hospitaliers, called the passagium Martis, and the passagium Sancti Johannis, which took place respectively in the spring and summer, when the newly-admitted knights left the preceptories of the West, taking with them hired foot soldiers, armed pilgrims, and large sums of money, the produce of the European possessions of the fraternity, by which means a continual succour was afforded to the christian kingdom of Jerusalem. One of the grand priors or grand preceptors generally took the command of these expeditions, and was frequently accompanied by many valiant secular
knights, who craved permission to join his standard, and paid large sums of money for a passage to the far East. In the interval between these different voyages, the young knights were diligently employed at the different preceptories in the religious and military exercises necessary to fit them for their high vocation.
On any sudden emergency, or when the ranks of the order had been greatly thinned by the casualties of war, the Grand Master sent circular letters to the grand preceptors or masters of the western provinces, requiring instant aid and assistance, on the receipt of which collections were made in the churches, and all the knights that could be spared forthwith embarked for the Holy Land.
The Master of the Temple in England sat in parliament as first baron of the realm, (primus baro Angliæ) but that is to be understood among priors only. To the parliament holden in the twenty-ninth year of King Henry the Third, there were summoned sixty-five abbots, thirty-five priors, and the Master of the Temple. * The oath taken by the grand priors, grand preceptors, or provincial Masters in Europe, on their assumption of the duties of their high administrative office, was drawn up in the following terms:–
“I, A. B., Knight of the Order of the Temple, just now appointed Master of the knights who are in ——, promise to Jesus Christ my Saviour, and to his vicar the sovereign pontiff and his successors, perpetual obedience and fidelity. I swear that I will defend, not only with my lips, but by force of arms and with all my strength, the mysteries of the faith; the seven sacraments, the fourteen articles of the faith, the creed of the Apostles, and that of Saint Athanasius; the books of the Old and the New Testament, with the commentaries of the holy fathers, as received by the church; the unity of God, the plurality
of the persons of the holy Trinity; that Mary, the daughter of Joachim and Anna, of the tribe of Judah, and of the race of David, remained always a virgin before her delivery, during and after her delivery. I promise likewise to be submissive and obedient to the Master-general of the order, in conformity with the statutes prescribed by our father Saint Bernard; that I will at all times in case of need pass the seas to go and fight; that I will always afford succour against the infidel kings and princes; that in the presence of three enemies I will fly not, but cope with them, if they are infidels; that I will not sell the property of the order, nor consent that it be sold or alienated; that I will always preserve chastity; that I will be faithful to the king of ——; that I will never surrender to the enemy the towns and places belonging to the order; and that I will never refuse to the religious any succour that I am able to afford them; that I will aid and defend them by words, by arms, and by all sorts of good offices; and in sincerity and of my own free will I swear that I will observe all these things.” *
Among the earliest of the Masters, or Grand Priors, or Grand Preceptors of England, whose names figure in history, is Richard de Hastings, who was at the head of the order in this country on the accession of King Henry the Second to the throne, † (A.D. 11540 and was employed by that monarch in various important negotiations. In the year 1160 he greatly offended the king of France. The Princess Margaret, the
daughter of that monarch, had been betrothed to Prince Henry, son of Henry the Second, king of England; and in the treaty of peace entered into between the two sovereigns, it was stipulated that Gizors and two other places, part of the dowry of the princess, should be consigned to the custody of the Templars, to be delivered into King Henry’s hands after the celebration of the nuptials. The king of England (A.D. 1160) caused the prince and princess, both of whom were infants, to be married in the presence of Richard de Hastings, the Grand Prior or Master of the Temple in England, and two other Knights Templars, who, immediately after the conclusion of the ceremony, placed the fortresses in King Henry’s hands. * The king of France was highly indignant at this proceeding, and some writers accuse the Templars of treachery, but from the copy of the treaty published by Lord Littleton † it does not appear that they acted with bad faith.
The above Richard de Hastings was the friend and confidant of Thomas â Becket. During the disputes between that haughty prelate and the king, the archbishop, we are told, withdrew from the council chamber, where all his brethren were assembled, and went to consult with Richard de Hastings, the Prior of the Temple at London, who threw himself on his knees before him, and with many tears besought him to give in his adherence to the famous councils of Clarendon. ‡
Richard de Hastings was succeeded by Richard Mallebeench, who confirmed a treaty of peace and concord which had been entered into between his predecessor and the abbot of Kirkested; * and the next Master of the Temple appears to have been Geoffrey son of Stephen, who received the Patriarch Heraclius as his guest at the new Temple on the occasion of the consecration of the Temple church, He styles himself “Minister of the soldiery of the Temple in England.” †
In consequence of the high estimation in which the Templars were held, and the privilege of sanctuary enjoyed by them, the Temple at London came to be made “a storehouse of treasure.” The wealth of the king, the nobles, the bishops, and of the rich burghers of London, was generally deposited therein, under the safeguard and protection of the military friars. ‡ The money collected in the churches and chapels for the succour of the Holy Land was also paid into the treasury of the Temple, to be forwarded to its destination: and the treasurer was at different times authorised to receive the taxes imposed upon the moveables of the ecclesiastics, also the large sums of money extorted by the rapacious popes from the English clergy, and the annuities granted by the king to the nobles of the kingdom. § The money and jewels of Hubert de Burgh, earl of Kent, the chief justiciary, and at one time governor of the king and kingdom of
[paragraph continues] England, were deposited in the Temple, and when that nobleman was disgraced and committed to the Tower, the king attempted to lay hold of the treasure.
Matthew Paris gives the following curious account of the affair:
“It was suggested,” says he, “to the king, that Hubert had no small amount of treasure deposited in the New Temple, under the custody of the Templars. The king, accordingly, summoning to his presence the Master of the Temple, briefly demanded of him if it was so. He indeed, not daring to deny the truth to the king, confessed that he had money of the said Hubert, which had been confidentially committed to the keeping of himself and his brethren, but of the quantity and amount thereof he was altogether ignorant. Then the king endeavoured with threats to obtain from the brethren the surrender to him of the aforesaid money, asserting that it had been fraudulently subtracted from his treasury. But they answered to the king, that money confided to them in trust they would deliver to no man without the permission of him who had intrusted it to be kept in the Temple. And the king, since the above-mentioned money had been placed under their protection, ventured not to take it by force. He sent, therefore, the treasurer of his court, with his justices of the Exchequer, to Hubert, who had already been placed in fetters in the Tower of London, that they might exact from him an assignment of the entire sum to the king. But when these messengers had explained to Hubert the object of their coining, he immediately answered that he would submit himself and all belonging to him to the good pleasure of his sovereign. He therefore petitioned the brethren of the chivalry of the Temple that they would, in his behalf, present all his keys to his lord the king, that he might do what he pleased with the things deposited in the Temple. This being done, the king ordered all that money,
faithfully counted, to be placed in his treasury, and the amount of all the things found to be reduced into writing and exhibited before him. The king’s clerks, indeed, and the treasurer acting with them, found deposited in the Temple gold and silver vases of inestimable price, and money and many precious gems, an enumeration whereof would in truth astonish the hearers.” *
The kings of England frequently resided in the Temple, and so also did the haughty legates of the Roman pontiffs, who there made contributions in the name of the pope upon the English bishoprics. Matthew Paris gives a lively account of the exactions of the nuncio Martin, who resided for many years at the Temple, and came there armed by the pope with powers such as no legate had ever before possessed. “He made,” says he, “whilst residing at London in the New Temple, unheard of extortions of money and valuables. He imperiously intimated to the abbots and priors that they must send him rich presents, desirable palfreys, sumptuous services for the table, and rich clothing; which being done, that same Martin sent back word that the things sent were insufficient, and he commanded the givers thereof to forward him better things, on pain of suspension and excommunication.” †
The convocations of the clergy and the great ecclesiastical councils were frequently held at the Temple, and laws were there made by the bishops and abbots for the government of the church and monasteries in England. ‡
82:‡ We read on many old charters and deeds, “Datum apud vetus Templum Londoniæ.” See an example, Nichols’ Leicestershire, vol. iii. p. 959; see also the account, in Matt. Par. and Hoveden, of the king’s visit to Hugh bishop of Lincoln, who lay sick of a fever at the Old Temple, and died there, the 16th November, A.D. 1200.
83:* Anno ab incarnatione Domini MCLXXXV. facta est ista inquisitio de terrarum donatoribus, et earum possessoribus, ecclesiarum scil. et molendinorum, et terrarum assisarum, et in dominico habitarum, et de redditibus assisis per Angliam, per fratrem Galfridum filium Stephani, quando ipse suscepit balliam de Anglia, qui summo studio prædicta inquirendo curam sollicitam exhibuit, ut majoris notitiæ posteris expressionem generaret, et pervicacibus omnimodam nocendi rescinderet facultatem. Ex. cod. MS. in Scacc. penes Remor. Regis. fol. i. a.; Dugd. Monast. Angl. vol. vi. part ii. p. 820.
84:* Quorum res adeo crevit in immensum, ut hodie, trecentos in conventu habeant equites, albïs chlamydibus indutos: exceptis fratribus, quorum pene infinitus est numerus. Possessions autem, tam ultra quam citra mare, adeo dicuntur immensas habere, ut jam non sit in orbe christiano provincia quæ prædictis fratribus suorum portionem non contulerit, et regiis opulentiis pares hodie dicuntur habere copias.–Will. Tyr. lib. xii. cap. 7.
85:* Dominus Baldwinus illustris memoriæ, Hierosolymorum rex quartos, Gazam munitissimam fratribus militiæ Templi donavit, Will. Tyr. lib. xx. cap. 21. Milites Templi Gazam antiquam Palæstinæ civitatem reædificant, et turribus eam muniunt, Rob. de Monte, appen. ad chron. Sig. p. 631.
90:* Script. rer. Germ. tom. ii. col. 584. Annales Minorum, tom. vi. p. 5, 95, 177. Suevia and Vertenbergia sacra, p. 74. Annal. Bamb. p. 186. Notitiæ episcopatûs Middelb. p. 11. Scrip. de rebus Marchiæ Brandeburg, p.13. Aventinus annal. lib. vii. cap. 1. n. 7. Gall. christ. nov. tom. viii. col. 1382; tom. i. col. 1129.
93:* Annales Trevir. tom. ii. p. 91; 197, 479. Prodromes hist. Trevir. p. 1077. Bertholet hist. de Luxembourg, tom. v. p. 145. Joh. Bapt. Antiq. Flandriæ Gandavum, p. 24, 207. Antiq. Bredanæ, p. 12, 23. Austroburgus, p. 115. Aub. Miræi Diplomat. tom. ii. p. 1165, &c.
98:* Habuerunt insuper Templarii in Christianitate novem millia maneriorum . . . . præter emolumenta et varios proventus ex fraternitatibus et prædicationibus provenientes, et per privilegia sua accrescentes. Mat. Par. p. 615, ed. Lond. 1640.
98:† Amplis autem possessionibus tam citra mare quam ultra ditati sunt in immensum, villas, civitates et oppida, ex quibus certain pecuniæ summam, pro defensione Terræ Sanctæ, summo eorum magistro cujus sedes principalis erat in Jerusalem, mittunt annuatim.–Jac. de Vitr. Hist. Hierosol. p. 1084.
99:† The Templars, by diverting the water, created a great nuisance. In A.D. 1290, the Prior et fratres de Carmelo (the white friars) complained to the king in parliament of the putrid exhalations arising from the Fleet river, which were so powerful as to overcome all the frankincense burnt at their altar during divine service, and had occasioned the deaths of many of their brethren. They beg that the stench may be removed, lest they also should perish. The Friars preachers (black friars) and the bishop of Salisbury (whose house stood in Salisbury-court) made a similar complaint; as did also Henry Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, who alleges that the Templars (ipsi de novo Templo) had turned off the water of the river to their mills at Castle Baignard.–Rot. Parl. vol. i. p. 60, 200.
109:† Ricardus de Hastinges, Magister omnium militum et fratrum Templi qui sunt in Angliâ, salutem. Notum vobis facimus quod omnis controversia quæ fuit inter nos et monachos de Kirkested . . . . terminata et finita est assensu et consilio nostro et militum et fratrum, &c., anno ab incarnatione Domini 1155, 11 die kal. Feb. The archbishop of Canterbury, the papal legate, the bishop of Lincoln, and several abbots, are witnesses to this instrument.–Lansdown MS. 207 E, fol. 467, p. 162, 163; see also p. 319, where he is mentioned as Master, A.D. 1161.
110:* Et paulo post rex Angliæ fecit Henricum filium suum desponsare Margaritam filiam regis Franciæ, cum adhuc essent pueruli in cunis vagientes; videntibus et consentientibus Roberto de Pirou et Toster de Sancto Homero et Ricardo de Hastinges, Templariis, qui custodiebant præfata castella, et statim tradiderunt ilia castella regi Angliæ, unde rex Franciæ plurimum iratus fugavit illos tres Templarios de regno Franciæ, quos rex Angliæ benigne suscipiens, multis ditavit honoribus.–Rog. Hoveden, script. post Bedam, p. 492. Guilielmei Neubrigiensis hist. lib. ii. cap. 4, apud Hearne.
111:* Ricardus Mallebeench, magister omnium pauperum militum et fratrum Templi Salomonis in Angliâ, &c. . . . Confirmavimus pacem et concordiam quam Ricardus de Hastings fecit cum Waltero abbate de Kirkested.–Lansdown MS. 207 E., fol. 467.
111:† Gaufridus, filius Stephan, militiæ Templi in Angliâ Minister, assensu totius capituli nostri dedi, &c., totum illud tenementum in villâ de Scamtrun quod Emma uxor Walteri Camerarii tenet de domo nostrâ, &c. Ib. fol. 201.