Post-classical history

Chapter Eight

THE CRUSADER KINGDOMS

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In order to defend the crusader kingdoms with the very small number of knights available, the Templars and the Hospitallers built superb fortresses such as the Krac des Chevaliers, shown here.
© DeA Picture Library / Art Resource, NY

WHEN THEY BEGAN their journeys east, the crusader princes were not concerned about what would happen once the Holy Land was back in Christian hands. They assumed that it would simply become part of Byzantium, just as they assumed that Alexius Comnenus would lead them into battle. But, of course, the Byzantine emperor had done no leading, and everyone from the West now regarded him as a treacherous fraud who had repeatedly betrayed them. It also was clear that Alexius was not interested in defending the Holy Land and would gladly restore it to Islam if offered an attractive treaty. So, if their victories were to have lasting significance, some crusaders would need to stay in the East, even though their ranks had become precariously slim as most of their comrades went home. The solution was to create a permanent state, ruled and defended by Christians. Thus, in 1099, they founded the kingdom of Jerusalem. It also came to be known at Outremer, the French word for “overseas” (outre-mer).

The kingdom of Jerusalem occupied essentially the same area as ancient Palestine (see map 8.1). It was created by and initially ruled by Godfrey of Bouillon, who had led the capture of Jerusalem and then the defeat of the Egyptian army that tried to recapture the city. Godfrey refused to be crowned king on grounds that he could not wear “a crown of gold” where Christ had worn “a crown of thorns.”1 Instead, he settled for the title of Defender of the Holy Sepulchre.

In addition to the kingdom of Jerusalem, there were three other minor crusader kingdoms. These were the county of Edessa, named for its major city (and the only one of the kingdoms that was landlocked); the principality of Antioch, which surrounded the city of Antioch in what is now southern Turkey; and the county of Tripoli, located just south of Antioch and named for the Lebanese coastal city of that name. To keep a proper perspective, it is useful to note how small these “cities” were. Antioch was much the largest city of the area, having about forty thousand residents. Edessa had about twenty-four thousand; Tripoli, about eight thousand; Jerusalem had only about ten thousand.2

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The foundings of Edessa and Antioch were discussed in the previous chapter. Baldwin of Boulogne rose to power in Edessa in 1098, having marched there with a small force while the main body of crusaders attacked Antioch. When his brother Godfrey died in 1100, Baldwin became king of Jerusalem, and Edessa soon became a fief of the kingdom of Jerusalem. Edessa was not only the first crusader kingdom but also the first to be retaken by Islam, in 1144.

The same year that Baldwin took power in Edessa, Bohemond of Taranto became prince of Antioch after he negotiated the betrayal of a gate that allowed the crusaders to enter and conquer the city, and subsequently he had led the successful defense of Antioch against what seemed like overwhelming odds. The other leading crusaders eventually supported Bohemond’s decision to remain in Antioch because “somebody had to defend the lines back to Asia Minor and Christian territory,”3 and no one wished to trust the emperor Alexius to do so. From the start, Antioch was threatened by the Byzantines as rightfully theirs, but they never got it back. Instead, Antioch remained an independent kingdom until 1119, when it was joined to the kingdom of Jerusalem.

The county of Tripoli was the last of the four crusader states to be established—in 1102. It came into being when Count Raymond IV of Toulouse laid siege to the port city of Tripoli. When Raymond died suddenly in 1105, he left his infant son as heir, and the county became a vassal state of the kingdom of Jerusalem.

The three minor kingdoms will receive only passing mentions; the story of the Christians in the Holy Land following the First Crusade is primarily the story of the kingdom of Jerusalem. That story stretches over nearly two centuries, but this chapter will be limited to sketching the history, economy, and social organization of the kingdom as it developed during the first few decades of the twelfth century. Then the chapter turns to the claim that the crusader kingdoms were the first manifestation of European colonialism and, as such, justifiably still provoke Muslim wrath. What cannot be contested is that, whatever else they may have been, the crusader kingdoms were embattled enclaves surrounded by a large, militant, and powerful Muslim world. In fact, the kingdom of Jerusalem was never entirely cleared of fortified Muslim cities that remained enemy outposts and from which raiding parties continued to attack small settlements and travelers—especially groups of Christian pilgrims. Consequently, defense was the primary preoccupation of rulers of the kingdom. The latter part of this chapter concerns the founding of two knightly religious orders that were dedicated to the defense of the Holy Land.

THE KINGDOM OF JERUSALEM

The kingdom of Jerusalem hugged the Mediterranean coast; the eastern border was, on average, only about fifty miles from the sea, and aside from Jerusalem, all the principal cities were ports. The coastal plain was mostly a sandy waste, with few farmable areas, but for many centuries it served as a thriving caravan route. Back from the coastal plain were mountain ranges, and most of the good agricultural land lay in a valley between them. Given how narrow the kingdom was, and that populous Muslim nations lay just beyond the eastern and southern borders, all four of the crusader kingdoms “had to be garrison states.”4

The initial steps to create the kingdom of Jerusalem took place against the sense of urgency caused by the massive departures of crusaders and their entourages for home. According to Fulcher of Chartres, soon after the conquest of Jerusalem there were no “more than three hundred knights and as many footmen to defend [the kingdom]…We scarcely dared to assemble our knights when we wished to plan some feat against our enemies. We feared that in the meantime they would do some damage against our deserted fortifications.”5 These totals do not include the troops available in the other three kingdoms, but these would have been only minor forces, too. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this entire era was that the kingdoms were not retaken at once by Muslim armies.

Although the massive departures posed a serious problem for the defense of the Holy Land, they pose two serious questions for the historian: who stayed, and why did they do so?

Just as enlistment in the Crusades was a network phenomenon, so was staying. That is, those who stayed were not scattered individuals but overwhelmingly were members of a domus, or household—a group of noblemen, knights, and retainers associated with a leading figure such as Godfrey of Bouillon. When Godfrey decided to stay, his household stayed with him just as they had followed him when he went on the Crusade. Many who favor the notion that the kingdoms were colonies suggest that it was the landless with little awaiting them back in Europe who opted to stay. But according to a careful “census” of those who stayed by Jonathan Riley-Smith, the decisions to stay that mattered were those made by the heads of households, and these were “rich men who certainly had no financial need to stay in the East.”6 As to why they chose to stay, Riley-Smith concluded that most did so out “of idealism or [in the case of followers] of dependence on the close emotional ties binding lord and vassal, patron and client.”7

This helps to explain why the governance of the kingdoms was based on the European feudal system. This is what they all knew and accepted. Hence, almost at once Godfrey began to assign fiefs to various members of his household, who were thereby committed to supplying a quota of knights and foot soldiers for the defense of the kingdom—which was the basis of feudalism. But there was a crucial difference. European feudalism was based on agricultural land. It was the productivity of this land that paid the bills. But in the kingdom there was very little agricultural land, and the nobility could not base themselves on their “estates” as in Europe; consequently, manor houses “did not exist in the kingdom.”8 Instead, the “overwhelming majority [of knights] were simply salaried warriors,”9 and poorly paid ones at that. The average knight’s salary was barely sufficient to meet the costs of keeping his horses and necessary retainers. Because they were not supported by rural estates, knights and nobles preferred to live in cities and towns as did most everyone else. For the times, the kingdom was remarkably urban: Jerusalem, Antioch, and Edessa were nearly as large as Paris and Venice, and were far larger than London or Rome.10 Acre, Jaffa, Sidon, Gaza, and Tyre also were sizable.

Godfrey lived only long enough to establish feudalism, dying on July 18, 1100, a year and three days after his victory at Jerusalem. His brother Baldwin was called from Edessa to take his place and was crowned king of Jerusalem in Bethlehem on Christmas Day 1100; his cousin Baldwin of LeBourg replaced him as count of Edessa, which subsequently became a fief of the kingdom of Jerusalem. Baldwin was the real founder of the kingdom, and he greatly expanded its territory. Reinforced by a contingent of newly arrived Norwegian crusaders led by Magnus Barefoot, he conquered important port cities such as Acre, Beirut, and Sidon, which enabled the kingdom to establish trade relations with Genoa, Pisa, and Venice.

Pilgrims continued to be a major source of revenue, and they also often served as a temporary source of defenders.11 Additional funds were raised by taxing the large Muslim caravans that had long followed the coastal route north from Arabia and Egypt to Damascus. Several major castles, including the famous Krak de Montréal, were built along the caravan route for this purpose. Given the constant warfare that marked the entire history of the kingdom, booty also played a significant role in the kingdom’s economy, 12 and by the end of the twelfth century the spice trade became quite profitable—passing through the kingdom’s ports to merchants from the Italian city-states. But in early days, the rulers of the kingdom and their retainers relied greatly on their own European wealth, and when Baldwin’s funds ran low he recouped by marrying a rich widow from Sicily, who brought him “a huge treasure of money, weapons, and supplies.”13 The bottom line was that the kingdom could be sustained in Christian hands only, as it was supported by subsidies sent from Europe, many of them raised by special “crusader” taxes (see chap. 10).

After King Baldwin of Jerusalem died in 1118 during a campaign against Egypt, once again the barons turned to Edessa for a new king, and Baldwin of LeBourg was crowned as Baldwin II. He reigned for thirteen years and added the city of Tyre to the kingdom.

In 1144 Islam struck back when Imad al-Din Zangi took the city of Edessa, but that part of the Edessan County west of the Euphrates River remained in Christian hands. The city was recaptured by Christian forces in 1146 when Zangi died but was quickly retaken by the Muslims. Meanwhile, partly in response to this Muslim incursion, the Second Crusade had been proclaimed back in Europe, and a great expedition was gathering, to be led by Louis VII, king of France, and the German king, Conrad III. That story awaits in chapter 9.

Not only were the kingdoms sustained by a very small number of resident men-at-arms; even when their noncombatant relatives are added in, “there can only have been from two to three thousand adult members of the Frankish upper classes”14 in the kingdoms. Even so, many of them had come as pilgrims after the conquest of Jerusalem, and many others were pullani—the children or grandchildren of crusaders.15 As time passed, even many of the original crusaders began to think of themselves as easterners (Orientals). Fulcher of Chartres, who had served as chaplain to Baldwin of Boulogne, wrote in about 1124: “For we who were Occidentals have now become Orientals. He who was a Roman or a Frank has in this land been made into a Galilean or a Palestinian. He who was of Rheims or Chartres has now become a citizen of Tyre or Antioch. We have already forgotten our places of birth; already these are unknown to many of us or not mentioned any more.”16 Fulcher went on to note that they now all spoke Greek and many spoke Arabic as well, and that they were often married to Eastern Christians.

Although many attempts were made to attract settlers from Europe, few came, and so people of Western backgrounds always were only a small minority of residents of the kingdom. A substantial number of residents were Eastern Christians, not only Greek Orthodox but also Jacobites, Maronites, Nestorians, Copts, and Armenians.17 Many other residents were Jews, but the majority were Muslims, split between Sunnis and Shiites. Of course, the proportions of these various groups differed by area.18

Although, as noted, there were enclaves of Muslims who continued to rob and attack Christians, most Muslims in the kingdom were peasants who reportedly were quite content under Christian rule. For one thing, there were no land-hungry Christians eager to confiscate their fields or animals. For another, taxes were lower in the kingdom than in neighboring Muslim countries. Fully as important, the Christian rulers tolerated the Muslims’ religion and made no effort to convert them.19 (So much for modern claims that the crusaders went in search of converts and new religious “markets.”) Finally, the Christians “administered justice fairly.”20 Thus, a Muslim pilgrim who passed through the kingdom while returning from Mecca to Spain wrote that Muslims “live in great comfort under the Franks; may Allah preserve us from such a temptation…[Muslims] are masters of their dwellings, and govern themselves as they wish. This is the case in all the territory occupied by the Franks.”21

CRUSADER COLONIES?

Colonialism refers to the exploitation of one society by another, by which the stronger society forces the weaker society into an unfair economic arrangement and thus enriches itself at the expense of the weaker society. The stronger nation achieves this by exerting direct political control over its colony; hence colonialism involves a resident ruling class of persons from the colonizing society (the colonials).22 This is the definition of colonialism assumed by many modern writers who identify the crusader kingdoms as Western colonies.

However, many historians of the Crusades who routinely refer to the crusader kingdoms as “colonies” and the Christians who remained in the Holy Land as “colonists” seem unaware of the negative, political implications of these words. In their usage these terms seem synonymous with settlements and settlers. In fact, although Joshua Prawer (1917–1990) is regarded as the major proponent of the crusader colonialism thesis, he nowhere suggests that these were colonies as that term is defined here and as it is used in modern economic and political discourse.23 All Prawer seems to have meant by colonialism is that the crusader kingdoms were ruled by people having a culture different from that of the previous rulers and many of the residents—that the rulers were westerners whereas most residents were easterners or Muslims. If that suffices to define a colony, then all conquests are colonies, and the crusaders merely seized a colony from the Turks (since they, too, were a ruling minority).

In any event, to identify the crusader kingdoms as colonies in the usual sense is absurd, as Prawer clearly understood. In terms of political control, the kingdoms were fully independent of any European state. In terms of economic exploitation, it would be more apt to identify Europe as a colony of the Holy Land, since the very substantial flow of wealth and resources was from the West to the East!

THE MILITARY ORDERS

Given the many unsuppressed Muslim strongholds, the kingdom remained a dangerous place, especially the roads over which pilgrims had to pass in order to reach Jerusalem. According to a Norse pilgrim, the road from the port of Jaffa to Jerusalem was “very dangerous. For the Saracens, always laying snares for Christians, lie hidden in the hollow places of the mountains, and the caves and rocks, watching day and night, and always on the look out for those whom they can attack on account of the fewness of their party, or those who have lagged behind…On that road not only the poor and the weak, but even the rich and the strong are in danger.”24 The prior of a Russian monastery agreed that along this road “the Saracens issue and massacre the pilgrims on their way.”25

Hence, the chronic problem: an acute shortage of military manpower. It was this situation of “endemic insecurity”26 that prompted the rise of a new kind of monastic order: military monks.

KNIGHTS TEMPLARS

At Easter 1119, a group of pilgrims was set upon by Muslims from Tyre. Three hundred were murdered, and sixty were taken into slavery.27 Perhaps in direct response to this massacre, two veterans of the First Crusade, the Frankish knights Hugues de Payens and his relative Godfrey de Saint-Omer, proposed the creation of a monastic order for the protection of pilgrims. That may be how the Knights Templars began. But another account has it that “Hou[g] de Payn” led thirty knights to Jerusalem at the start of the reign of Baldwin II, having sworn to fight for the kingdom for three years and then to take holy orders. He and his knights proved to be such superb fighters that, after the Easter disaster, Baldwin talked them out of taking holy orders and into helping defend the pilgrim routes. Baldwin gave them a wing of his palace known as the House of Solomon (sited where Solomon’s Temple was believed to have stood) for their residence and the taxes of some villages for their support.

What is certain is that Hugues de Payens and his knights—numbering from nine to thirty, depending on the account—did enter Baldwin’s service around 1119 and were not yet a religious order, military or otherwise. Apparently, it was not long before Hugues de Payens and his knights began to consider themselves an order and to refer to their domicile as the Temple. But they had no Rule and no official standing, although they already had begun to acquire funding: in 1121 Count Fulk V of Anjou seems to have given them “an annual subsidy of 30 Angevin livres.”28 References to other substantial gifts and subsidies made at this time also are known. Then in 1126, Hugues de Payens left Jerusalem and went back to Europe to seek new recruits and, more urgently, to seek official standing for an order embracing the seemingly contradictory concepts of the warrior monk.

Fortunately for him, he was able to secure the support of the most powerful man in Europe: Bernard of Clairvaux, 29 head of the rapidly growing Cistercian order, the most respected theologian of the day, and so highly revered that he was able to publicly rebuke archbishops, popes, and kings without any fear of reprisal. In fact, he wrote a long treatise to specify the duties of the pope.30

Bernard was born into the nobility and raised to be a knight, but at age twenty he entered the Church. His knightly background was clearly reflected in the military structure he created for the Cistercians. Bernard also was an early and compelling advocate of chivalry, and many have suggested that he served as the model for the legendary Sir Galahad.31 Perhaps no one in Europe would have responded more favorably to the proposal to create an order of knightly monks, and he quickly did the two things that needed to be done. First, he wrote a Rule for the order. It consisted of seventy-two articles (or paragraphs), and, as with the rule for most orders, it was quite detailed. Not only did it prescribe the schedule for prayers and worship and commit the members to chastity, but it prohibited “reminiscences about past sexual conquests.”32 It also dealt with menus (meat could be served three times a week), with dress (the knights would wear white robes; the red cross on the robes came later), and with modesty (there could be no gold or silver decorations on their armor), and it even limited each knight to three horses and a squire. In addition to writing the Rule, Bernard arranged in 1128 for a Church council to be convened at Troyes were the Rule was accepted and official Church recognition was given to the Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon—soon to be known as the Knights Templars.

Unlike the conventional religious orders, the Templars did not permit young recruits; only mature, qualified knights need apply.33 They did, however, accept many lacking noble birth and knightly training to serve in many subsidiary roles. First among these were the sergeants, some of whom also were mounted, but most of whom served as infantry. Sergeants could not wear the white robes of the knights and were not expected to fight with the same degree of bravery.34 In addition were the squires, who were the personal servants of the knights, each knight having a squire to care for his horses and his armor. Squires sometimes served as infantry in battles. Beyond sergeants and squires were the serving brothers, a huge array of servants and support staff, from blacksmiths to cooks. Consequently, those who qualified as knights made up a very small proportion of any Templar garrison. By the middle of the twelfth century, the largest Templar garrisons in the kingdom “consisted of perhaps 50–60 knights, with as many as 400–500 other members.”35 The Templar garrison at Le Chastellet in 1178, when it was destroyed by Saladin, consisted of 80 knights and 750 sergeants.36 In fact, some castles were entirely manned by sergeants and servants.

In addition to members of the order, the Templars’ military forces often were augmented by temporary volunteers and by mercenaries. Apparently, serving with the Templars struck many European fighting men as very appealing, and it also brought them prestige upon their return, so a steady flow of men “volunteered for temporary membership.”37 In addition, the Templars often hired troops to expand their ranks. Not only were a large number of their crossbowmen mercenaries; they also hired knights and sergeants as well. Even so, the number of fighting men available to the Templars in the Holy Land was relatively modest; there were seldom more than three hundred knights and several thousand sergeants, scattered in many small garrisons.38 The reason their numbers remained small was the need to retain large numbers of members in Europe to staff the huge establishment that soon developed there.

In the immediate aftermath of the Council of Troyes, the order “underwent a rapid expansion throughout Europe,”39 some of these recruits having been motivated by Bernard’s eloquent treatise In Praise of the New Chivalry (1128), which stressed that anyone who served in “Christ’s Knighthood” was certain to be saved; hence: “Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s…Rejoice, brave fighter, if you live and conquer in the Lord; but rather exult and glory, if you die and are joined to the Lord.”40 That was directed to fighting men, but the “glamour” of the order was sufficient to also attract large numbers of lay brothers as well. The total enrollment of the order at its height is unknown, but it is quite credibly estimated that during their two centuries of existence almost twenty thousand Templars (knights and sergeants) died in combat.41

A huge wave of contributions also began at this time, some of it in precious metals, but most of it in land, forests, and estates: by 1150 the Templars owned more than forty castles and preceptories in Europe.42 It is estimated that eventually the Templars possessed nine thousand estates in England and France.43 Thus did the Templars quickly become immensely rich, but at the cost of needing to station large numbers of their members in Europe in order to manage these huge holdings. And because they sent large amounts of their income east to the kingdom of Jerusalem, they became experts in storing and moving wealth. In addition, they soon found that they could greatly add to their incomes by lending money, especially to nobility and other religious orders, at interest rates varying from 33 to 50 percent a year, although they often used a variety of means for disguising interest lest they be accused of usury. And so the Templars became, if not the central financial institution of Europe, at least a serious competitor to the international Italian banks.44 Consider but a few examples of their wealth and influence.

The Templar house in London has been characterized as the “medieval precursor of the Bank of England”45 and began holding the royal treasure in about 1185. In 1204, King John placed the crown jewels in the vault of the London Templars. Many others in England also placed large deposits of precious metals and jewels with the Templars, confident that there they would be safe from robbers, if not from the king: in 1263 King Edward confiscated the huge sum of ten thousand livres that had been deposited with the Templars by barons who had revolted against him.

The Templars also often served as middlemen in affairs of state: In 1158 the king of England arranged a marriage of his son to the daughter of the king of France. To ensure there was no cheating on paying the promised dowry, “some castles were given to the Templars”46 by the king of France, and in return the Templars paid the king of England the dowry after the marriage had taken place.

Because of their immense wealth, the Templars soon were “amongst the greatest money-lenders of Christendom.”47 Not only did the Templars lend to kings and nobles; they also undertook to manage their financial affairs. This management function rapidly expanded to such an extent that the Templars began to collect the nobility’s rents and taxes for them and either place the receipts on deposit or accept them as payment against previous loans. Indeed, the Templars became financially “indispensible to the French throne…the Paris Temple was literally the centre of financial administration in France. It offered a complete financial service, administering finances and collecting taxes, transmitting money, controlling debts, and paying pensions.”48

As Eleanor Ferris summed up: “In the unwarlike atmosphere of the counting-room, the soldiers of the Temple, for over a century, handled much of the capital of western Europe, becoming expert accountants, judicious administrators, and pioneers in that development of credit and its instruments, which was destined to revolutionize the methods of commerce and finance.”49 Not surprisingly, the Templars soon were extremely influential in political life: Grand Masters were routinely consulted on pending decisions of state, both in Europe (especially in England and France) and in the Holy Land.

What seems most remarkable is that, despite their many duties and financial functions, the Templars remained focused on their basic mission to defend the Holy Land, financially and with their arms. Consider the immense outlays involved in building and sustaining castles in Palestine. When they rebuilt the castle at Safad in the 1240s, even when the income from the nearby villages is subtracted, the cost ran to 1.1 million Saracen besants. A knight could be hired as a mercenary (furnishing his own horses and squire) for 120 besants a year; thus the initial cost of refurbishing this castle would have paid about 9,100 knights for a year. The best estimate is that it would have cost another 40,000 besants a year to maintain the castle, or 333 knights’ salaries. At this time the Templars had seven castles in Palestine, and the Hospitallers had three.50 Castles served as secure strongholds from which an area could be controlled. The military orders needed exceptionally strong castles that could be defended by very small garrisons because they always were so short of men.

Clearly, the military orders needed huge European incomes in order to sustain their commitments in the East. So long as that mission was sustained, their immense wealth and power in Europe went unchallenged. But in 1291, with the fall of the last Christian foothold in Palestine and the massacres that ensued, the Templars no longer had an unquestionable mandate and soon became vulnerable to those who coveted their wealth and resented their power—most particularly King Phillip of France, who had Grand Master Jacques de Molay and other leading Templars burned as heretics on March 18, 1314.

KNIGHTS HOSPITALLERS

It all began with a hospital founded around 1070 to nurse wounded and sick pilgrims in Jerusalem. Initially, those staffing the hospital were not members of a recognized religious order, although they may have worn distinctive clothing and might have taken “some sort of religious vows.”51 At some point they began referring to theirs as the Hospital of St. John, but there is very little known of its early days—although elaborate myths were later generated to help with fund-raising. Following the crusader conquest of Jerusalem, reliable references to the hospital begin to appear. It was an enormous undertaking, open to everyone, and able to accommodate about two thousand patients. Not only that; it accommodated its patients, including the desperately poor, in luxury that not even many of the rich enjoyed: a separate feather bed for everyone, and lavish meals.52 Soon those in charge became as concerned about escorting pilgrims safely on the way from the coast to Jerusalem as they were with treating the wounded who made it to the city. Another military order was born.

How the transformation took place “remains a mystery.”53 All we know is that they began to take over castles and provide them with garrisons, to wear black robes with a white cross on their breasts, and to otherwise appear as rivals to the Templars during the 1120s. Their participation in the major battles of the era also was noted, and it is estimated that they soon had as many knights in the Holy Land as did the Templars, albeit this amounted to only about three hundred men.54 Officially known as the Order of St. John, the Knights Hospitallers also equaled the Templars in terms of their fighting abilities and the casualties they suffered. But when driven from the Holy Land, the Hospitallers did not withdraw to Europe, but only to Rhodes, whence they continued to fight the Muslims. And when driven from Rhodes, they took over Malta and there repelled repeated Muslim attacks—despite being outnumbered by as much as forty thousand to six hundred.

Also like the Templars, the Hospitallers assembled a vast amount of property in Europe and thereby became involved in financial affairs and money lending, although on a far smaller scale than the Templars. That they continued to be engaged in military resistance to Islam gave them a protective legitimacy that prevented the political conspiracy that overwhelmed the Templars. Indeed, now known as the Knights of Malta, the Hospitallers still exist.55

CONCLUSION

The raison d’être of the military orders was the defense of the kingdom of Jerusalem, and they played a leading role in that task. That part of their stories is best told as a facet of the more general effort to protect the kingdom—an effort that also involved the secular knights of the kingdom and the periodic arrival of new crusading armies from Europe.

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