One can trace the recruiting journey of Hugh and his companions by records of the gifts donated to them. Both great lords and minor ones lined up to make donations to the Templars. This was not only because they believed in the cause but, as is still true, the support of important people brought in gifts from the rank and file, who wished to associate themselves in charity with their local rulers.1
After the Council of Troyes, Hugh de Payns returned to Jerusalem, but other Templars continued to crisscross Europe seeking support for the new order.
In the south, Hugh Rigaud, another Templar, was busy canvassing for the order. As early as 1128, he was in Toulouse, where Peter Bernard and his wife, Borella, gave themselves and everything they owned to the Templars, with the provision that, if they had children who wanted to join the order, they would be allowed to.2 Rigaud spent the next several years getting donations for the Temple, ranging from lands, tithes, and vineyards to “a shirt and pants” from a townswoman “and, after her death, her best cloak.”3 Hugh Rigaud can be found accepting donation charters in southern France and northern Spain through the 1130s.
However, unlike other monastic groups, the Templars had no system in place for receiving and maintaining the donations.4 Remember, these mostly didn’t come in the form of money, but goods. It’s all very well to receive grants of fields, houses, vines, horses, old clothes, and even serfs, but these weren’t things that could be put in an online auction for quick cash. Many of the gifts couldn’t be used until the donor had died. Others consisted of a certain part of a harvest each year or so many cheeses.
The nature of the gifts to the order meant that the Templars needed to establish way stations of some sort to receive goods and transfer them from Europe to the Crusader States. Great monastic houses like Cluny and Citeaux would establish priories, which were dependent houses, staffed with only a few monks. But the Templars were desperate for more men of fighting age to join in the battle, so new recruits were encouraged to leave for Jerusalem as soon as possible. That didn’t leave anyone to direct the collection and processing of supplies.
The fact that the earliest Templars weren’t all that well organized is evident by the various titles that Hugh Rigaud is given in the charters. Sometimes he is a brother of the society,5 sometimes he is mentioned only by name, and sometimes by the title “procurator,”6which seems a good description of his work, although it’s not listed in the Rule as an administrative position.
The Templars may have eventually established houses on the model of those already run by the Hospitallers, who had been receiving gifts in the West since just after the First Crusade (around 1100), particularly in Spain and the south of France as well as Italy.7
Eventually, the order organized itself in territories that were grouped according to the languages of the brothers. These were mostly French, Spanish, and English, with some Italians and Germans. The Templars never established themselves in Scandinavia but there were some commanderies in Hungary and Croatia.
For the purpose of this book, I’m defining Occitania as the southern part of France from the Atlantic Ocean on the west, along the Pyrenees Mountains in the south, roughly to Marseille in the east. I’m not interested in precision; the people who lived there in the twelfth and thirteenth century were used to flowing borders. The region was divided among various counties and lordships in the west and a loose attachment to the Holy Roman Empire in the east. The language, called Occitan or Provençal, was closer to that of northern Spain than to France.
The earliest recorded gift to the Templars is from Marseille. There is no indication of how the donor, William of Marseille, even knew about the order, but he gave them a church on the Côte d’Azur in the early 1120s. It shows how strongly the Templars believed in not living the soft life on the beach that they gave it back in 1124.8Actually, it’s likely that the gift was more expensive to maintain than it was worth.
It wasn’t until after Hugh de Payns had secured papal approval for the order that the donations in Occitania started rolling in. This was due in large part to the promotional activity of Templar brothers Hugh Rigaud and Raymond Bernard. After the Council of Troyes they spent several years traveling through the region drumming up support. While Hugh worked north of the Pyrenees, Raymond concentrated on Spain and Portugal.9
Between about 1130 and 1136 Hugh Rigaud seemed to be everywhere in the south. Either on his own or with other brothers of the Temple, he received donations, bought land, and established commanderies .10 The amount of organization this implies makes me think that Hugh must have been a court official in his previous life.
Hugh Rigaud was present in 1132 when one of the most powerful families in the region, the Trencavels, gave the Templars the services of a person, Pons the Gascon, along with his family.11 Pons had a house and other property near the town of Carcassonne, which the Trencavels promised never to harass.12
Members of this family were strong supporters of the Templars in those early years and their prestige in the area meant that others were encouraged to donate, as well. In 1133, the families of Bernard de Canet and Aymeric of Barbaira gave the Templars the castle of Douzens, which was to become a major commandery in Occitania.13 More importantly, Aymeric and his brother William Xabert gave themselves to the Templars. They did not agree to serve right away but at some future date, and if they weren’t able to, the Templars would get one hundred sous.14
These families continued to give land to the Templars for at least twenty years and perhaps longer.15
Hugh de Rigaud vanishes from the records in 1136, presumably because he died. His successor was Arnold of Bedocio. Arnold came from Catalonia and so there was no problem with language when he came to Occitania. Arnold lived at the commandery at Douzens but continued the work of acquiring more property in the area. He received the donation of Hugh de Bourbouton that would become the other great commandery in Occitania, Richerendes.16
As in other regions, most of the Templars living at the commanderies came from the region. Young men were sent east as soon as they could be ready and older or infirm recruits stayed behind to provide the fighting men with provisions.
CROATIA AND HUNGARY
Templar commanderies first began appearing in Croatia a few years after the Second Crusade (1148-1150). At the same time, the first Hospitallers were also established there.17It’s not at all clear what prompted this, although it’s possible that the master of the Templars in France, Everard de Barres, who accompanied the army of Louis VII, saw the need to protect pilgrims taking the route through Croatia on their way to the Holy Land and the lords there agreed.18
By 1169, the pope had given the Templars the old Benedictine monastery of Vrana. The only catch to this gift was that the Templars had to house any papal legates who happened to be passing through along with their sometimes large entourages. The bishop of Zagreb, Prodanus, also gave the Templars property in and around Zagreb which had no strings attached since the bishop already had a place to sleep there.19
In 1173, Bela III became king of Hungary and Croatia. Instead of allying himself totally with the Byzantine Empire, as earlier kings had done, Bela looked to the West. He was a strong supporter of the Third Crusade (1189-1192) and took an oath to go on crusade himself, although he never did.20In 1185, Bela sent ambassadors to Philip II, the king of France, asking for the hand of the king’s sister, Margaret. Bela had been “lured by the honor of an alliance with the ancient house of the kings of France and by the good reputation for religion and wisdom of this princess.”21 Margaret was the widow of Henry Plantagenet, “the Young King” whose death had made Richard the Lionheart heir to the throne of England. She and Philip agreed to the marriage and she returned with the ambassadors to Hungary.
Bela III died in 1192 and was succeeded by Emeric, his son from a previous marriage.22 Margaret, widowed again, with no children of her own, sold her dower. Then “she took the cross and, bringing a fine company of knights, came with the Germans to Syria and arrived at Tyre.”23 She died shortly after, presumably not in battle. The chronicler doesn’t mention any Templars in her company but it would have been strange if there hadn’t been any.
The highest responsibility ever accorded to a Templar was in Croatia when, in 1217, King Andrew II went on crusade and, instead of taking the Templars with him, left them in charge of the kingdom. Pontius de Cruce, Grand Master of Hungary and Croatia, governed the countries from the commandery in Vrana.24
It is intriguing that, while there must have been native Templars and Hospitallers, most of the commanders in Croatia were French or Italian.25 Croatian Templars also served in other countries, bringing to mind the lines from the ceremony of reception into the order warning that Templars went where they were posted.26
THE BRITISH ISLES
While King Henry I is reported to have given gifts to the Templars, it was his successor, Stephen, who donated the first land in England. Stephen was Henry’s nephew and the son of Stephen-Henry, the count of Champagne who had died while on his second crusade.27 Stephen’s wife, Matilda, was the niece of the heroes of the First Crusade, Godfrey of Bouillon and Baldwin I. The king and queen were already predisposed to give what they could to aid in the defense of the Holy Land. Matilda gave the first donation in 1135, in honor of her father, Eustace, count of Boulogne, who had almost become king of Jerusalem when his brother Baldwin had died.28Stephen confirmed the donations of his vassals and then gave property himself.
Although the Templars were in existence in England from at least 1135 and certainly before, the first master of the Templars in England we know of is Hugh of Argenten in 1140.29
In 1185, the Templars took a census of their properties in England. This document has survived and shows that the Templars’ property was much like that of other religious houses. They had fields and flocks of sheep, tithes from churches and rents from land and houses. They were as much a part of the community as the monks and nuns of traditional monastic orders. In the town of Bristol, the weavers’ guild even had their chapel in the Templar church.30
In Ireland the Templars held most of their property in the east after the land was conquered by King Henry II of England. Henry gave the first gift of land in 1185. The Anglo-Norman settlers in Ireland followed his lead and by 1308 “the Irish lands were the third most valuable of all the Templar holdings and worth over L400 a year.”31
The master of the Templars in Ireland was one of the financial overseers of the Irish exchequer. Although the native Irish probably saw the Templars as part of the English invasion, the master seems to have acted as a mediator between the Irish and the English from time to time.32
Apart from collecting the usual tithes and rents in Ireland, the Templars also used their land to breed and raise horses for the knights.33
At the time of the first Templar foundations, Scotland was an independent nation, although the royal family was tied to that of England through intermarriage. King David I (1124-1153) gave the Temple the tithes of the church in Renfrewshire.34 He must have given them other property but most of the charters have been lost. There doesn’t seem to have been a master for Scotland at the beginning, all administration coming from England.
The most important commandery in Scotland was Balantrodoch, just south of Edinburgh. It was not a wealthy community; most of the income was from sheep and a water mill the Templars operated. In the partial list of preceptors of the commandery, all the names are Norman. 35
Evelyn Lord comments that “We know less about the Templars in Scotland than elsewhere in the British Isles. . . . Perhaps because of this a panoply of myth has developed around them that has obscured reality and cloaked them in mystery.”36
We shall look at the myths and mysteries later in this book.
SPAIN AND PORTUGAL
Many of the earliest and largest donations to the Templars came from the Iberian Peninsula. This is not surprising. The rulers of Aragon, Navarre, Castile, and what would soon be Portugal had been slowly retaking territory from the Moslems for over four hundred years. The crusading fervor focused on Jerusalem had increased interest in the struggle nearer to home. One of the earliest Iberian gifts to the Templars is from Queen Teresa of Portugal, daughter of Alfonso of Castile. She gave them the castle of Saur with all the surrounding lands.37 Presumably, she intended them to maintain it personally and supply warriors in her battles against the Moors.
In 1122, when few, if any, had heard of the Order of the Temple, Alfonso I, king of Aragon, had founded a military confraternity at Belchite.38It wasn’t as structured as the Templars and other military orders would be and it was under the control of the king, not a bishop. Members could join for a limited time and could participate in the spiritual benefits without fighting.
“The cofradía of Belchite is clearly a military religious institution, composed of brothers who defended Christendom against its Muslim enemies. Anyone rendering this meritorious service or any other assistance in the form of pilgrimages, donations of alms, bequests of horses and weapons, and bequests to houses of captives, received indulgences. In addition, the members of the confraternity could retain any lands they had captured from the Muslims.”39
It’s unlikely that Alfonso had heard about the Templars when he founded the order. This is an indication that the crusading ideal of fighting for God was leading to the formation of military orders not just in Jerusalem. The Templars might have become so popular and so widely imitated because they filled a long felt need.
Unlike the gifts from other parts of Europe, which were intended to produce funds and supplies for the support of the Templars in the Latin kingdoms, the donations in Spain and Portugal were often fortified castles. Often these were either on the borders of Moslem Moorish territory or even inside it. The Iberian rulers expected the Templars to fight the Saracens on their own doorstep, not on the other side of the sea.
In 1130, the count of Barcelona gave the Templars the castle of Grañena. This was “in my frontier opposite the Saracens.”40It’s clear that the count expected the Templars to defend the castle and participate in the reconquest of Spain. This was many years before the Templars were assigned the defense of border castles in the Latin kingdoms.41
The Templars don’t seem to have been eager to take on a war on two fronts. They were pulled into the defense of Spain eventually, partly through the will of King Alfonso of Aragon, who left his entire kingdom to the Hospitallers, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and the Templars, to share. All three of the heirs eventually settled for large donations rather than control of Aragon.
The Templars were the last to do so. As part of the settlement with the new ruler, Raymond Berengar, count of Barcelona and “lord of Aragon,” they acquired several castles in Spain, a tenth of all the royal income from taxes and judicial fees, and a thousandsolidos a year. Count Raymond also promised them one-fifth of all land conquered from the Moors, if they took part in the expeditions. Raymond Berengar encouraged the Templars to build new castles and promised not to make a treaty with the Moors without their approval.42
The Order of the Temple was now firmly committed to the Spanish cause.
The best study of this is Stephen D. White, Custom, Kinship and Gifts to Saints (University of North Carolina Press, 1988). For a more specific study, Barbara H. Rosenwein, To Be the Neighbor of St. Peter: The Social Meaning of Cluny’s Property, 909-1049(Cornell University Press, 1989).
Marquis d’Albon, Cartulaire Général de l’Ordre du Temple 1119?-1150 (Paris, 1913) p. 12, no. 18.
Ibid., p. 14, “camisiam et bracas et, ad obitum suum meliorem mantellum.”
I am grateful to Professor Malcolm Barber for pointing this out to me. Private correspondence, July 18, 2006.
“Fratris societatis Templi Salomonis,” Albon, p. 25, no. 33.
Ibid., p. 45, no. 62. “Procurator” is actually a cross between a lawyer and a business manager.
Helen Nicholson, The Knights Hospitaller (Woodbridge, Eng.: Boydell and Brewer, 2001) p. 9.
D’Albon, pp. 1-2, charter 1.
Ibid., pp. 7-8, charters 10 and 11. See below, “Spain and Portugal.”
Cartulaires des Templiers de Douzens ed. Pierre Gérard et Élisabeth Magnou (Paris, 1965) charters A 1, 21, 36, 38, 40, 115, 171, 185, 186, C 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.
Douzens, charter A 171, p. 158.
I think there is more to this story, but the charter is all we have.
Douzens, charter A 1, p. 3
Ibid., charter A 1, p. 5.
I’m not sure if the William Sigari de Canet, who witnessed a charter in 1170, is a relative or just from the same place. Douzens, B 71, p. 246.
Dominic Sellwood, Knights of the Cloister: Templars and Hospitallers in Central-Southern Occitania c. 1100-1300 (Woodbridge, Eng.: Boydell and Brewer, 1999) p. 67.
Leija Dobronic, “The Military Orders in Croatia,” in Vladimir P. Goss, ed., The Meeting of Two Worlds: Cultural Exchange between East and West during the Period of the Crusades (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute, 1986) p. 432.
For Everard de Barres, please see chapter 15, Grand Masters 1136-1191.
Dobronic, p. 433. (The bishop may have dropped by for dinner now and then, though.)
Ibid., p. 432.
Eudes Rigord, Vie de Philippe Auguste ed. and tr. M. Guizot (Paris, 1825).
Some sources say his brother.
The Continuator of William of Tyre, in The Conquest of Jerusalem and the Third Crusade tr. Peter W. Edbury (Ashgate, Aldershot 1998) p. 143.
Thomas of Spalato, ExThomae Historia Pontificum Salonitanorum et Spalatinorum, Monumenta Germania Historia Scriptores, ed. G. H. Pertz, Vol. 29, p. 578. “Sed accersito quodam Pocio, cui erat magister milicie domus Templi per regnum Hungarie, comsisit ad manus eius custodiam et tutelam ispius castri.”
Dobronic, p. 435. I found no more information on this but would like to know if anyone has done more research.
Ibid., p. 437.
See chapter 4, Hugh, Count of Champagne.
D’Albon, p. 86, charter no. 123.
Evelyn Lord, The Knights Templar in Britain (London: Longman, 2002) p. 16.
Lord, p. 119.
Ibid., p. 138.
Ibid., p. 140.
The Charters of David I, ed. G. W. S. Barrow (Woodbridge, Eng.: Boydell Press, 1999) p. 164.
Lord, p. 145.
Ibid., p. 143.
Ibid., p. 7, no. 10.
Alan Forey, The Templars in the Corona of Aragon (London, 1973) p. 15.
Theresa M. Vann, “A New Look at the Foundation of the Order of Calatrava,” in Crusaders, Condottieri, and Cannon: Medieval Warfare in Societies around the Mediterranean, ed. Donald J. Kagay and L. J. Andrew Villalon (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2003) p. 110.
Marquis d’Albon, p. 25, charter no. 33, “in mea marchia contra Sarracenos.”
Forey, p. 16.
D’Albon, pp. 204-5, document 314, November 27, 1143.