The contests between Saladin and the Templars--The
vast privileges of the Templars--The publication of the bull, omne datum
optimum--The Pope declares himself the immediate Bishop of the entire
Order--The different classes of Templars--The knights--Priests--Serving
brethren--The hired soldiers--The great officers of the Temple--Punishment of
cowardice--The Master of the Temple is taken prisoner, and dies in a
dungeon--Saladin's great successes--The Christians purchase a truce--The
Master of the Temple and the Patriarch Heraclius proceed to England for
succour--The consecration of the TEMPLE CHURCH at LONDON.
"The firmest bulwark of Jerusalem was founded
on the knights of the Hospital of St. John and of the Temple of Solomon; on
the strange association of a monastic and military life, which fanaticism
might suggest, but of which policy must approve. The flower of the nobility of
Europe aspired to wear the cross and profess the vows of these respectable
orders; their spirit and discipline were immortal; and the speedy donation of
twenty-eight thousand farms or manors enabled them to support a regular force
of cavalry and infantry for the defence of Palestine."--Gibbon.
A.D. 1170. THE Master, Philip of Naplous,
resigned his authority after a short government of three years, and was
succeeded by Brother Odo de St. Amand, a proud and fiery warrior, of undaunted
courage and resolution; having, according to William, Archbishop of Tyre, the
fear neither of God nor of man before his eyes. *
The Templars were now destined to meet with a
A.D. 1170. opponent than any they had
hitherto encountered in the field, one who was again to cause the crescent to
triumph over the cross, and to plant the standard of the prophet upon the
walls of the holy city.
When the Fatimite caliph had received
intelligence of Amalric's invasion of Egypt, he sent the hair of his women,
one of the greatest tokens of distress known in the East, to the pious
Noureddin, who immediately despatched a body of troops to his assistance,
headed by Sheerkoh, and his nephew, Youseef Ben-Acoub-Ben-Schadi, the
famous Saladin. Sheerkoh died immediately after his arrival, and Youseef
succeeded to his command, and was appointed vizier of the caliph. Youseef had
passed his youth in pleasure and debauchery, sloth and indolence: he had
quitted with regret the delights of Damascus for the dusty plains of Egypt;
and but for the unjustifiable expedition of King Amalric and the Hospitaliers
against the infidels, the powerful talents and the latent energies of the
young Courdish chieftain, which altogether changed the face of affairs in the
East, would in all probability never have been developed.
As soon as Saladin grasped the power of the
sword, and obtained the command of armies, he threw off the follies of his
youth, and led a new life. He renounced the pleasures of the world, and
assumed the character of a saint. His dress was a coarse woollen garment;
water was his only drink; and he carefully abstained from everything
disapproved of by the Mussulman religion. Five times each day he prostrated
himself in public prayer, surrounded by his friends and followers, and his
demeanour became grave, serious, and thoughtful. He fought vigorously with
spiritual weapons against the temptations of the world; his nights were often
spent in watching and meditation, and he was always diligent in fasting and in
the study of the Koran. With the same zeal he combated with carnal weapons
A.D. 1170. the foes of Islam, and his
admiring brethren gave him the name of Salah-ed-deen, "Integrity of
Religion," vulgarly called Saladin.
At the head of forty thousand horse and
foot, he crossed the desert and ravaged the borders of Palestine; the wild
Bedouins and the enthusiastic Arabians of the far south were gathered together
under his standard, and hastened with holy zeal to obtain the crown of
martyrdom in defence of the faith. The long remembered and greatly dreaded
Arab shout of onset, Allah acbar, GOD is victorious, again
resounded through the plains and the mountains of Palestine, and the grand
religious struggle for the possession of the holy city of Jerusalem, equally
reverenced by Mussulmen and by Christians, was once more vigorously commenced.
Saladin besieged the fortified city of Gaza, which belonged to the Knights
Templars, and was considered to be the key of Palestine towards Egypt. The
luxuriant gardens, the palm and olive groves of this city of the wilderness,
were destroyed by the wild cavalry of the desert, and the innumerable tents of
the Arab host were thickly clustered on the neighbouring sand-hills. The
warlike monks of the Temple fasted and prayed, and invoked the aid of the God
of battles; the gates of the city were thrown open, and in an unexpected sally
upon the enemy's camp they performed such prodigies of valour, that Saladin,
despairing of being able to take the place, abandoned the siege, and retired
into Egypt. *
The year following, Pope Alexander's famous
bull, omne datum optimum, confirming the previous privileges of the
Templars, and conferring upon them additional powers and immunities, was
published in England. It commences in the following terms:
"Alexander, bishop, servant of the servants of
God, to his beloved sons, Odo, Master of the religious chivalry of the Temple,
A.D. 1172. which is situated at Jerusalem,
and to his successors, and to all the regularly professed brethren.
"Every good gift and every perfect
cometh from above, descending from the Father of light, with whom there is no
change nor shadow of variety. Therefore, O beloved children in the Lord, we
praise the Almighty God, in respect of your holy fraternity, since your
religion and venerated institution are celebrated throughout the entire world.
For although by nature ye are children of wrath, and slaves to the pleasures
of this life, yet by a favouring grace ye have not remained deaf hearers of
the gospel, but, throwing aside all earthly pomps and enjoyments, and
rejecting the broad road which leadeth unto death, ye have humbly chosen the
arduous path to everlasting life. Faithfully fulfilling the character of
soldiery of the Lord, ye constantly carry upon your breasts the sign of the
life-giving cross. Moreover, like true Israelites, and most instructed
fighters of the divine battle, inflamed with true charity, ye fulfil by your
works the word of the gospel which saith, 'Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man lay down his life for his friends;' so that, in obedience to the
voice of the great Shepherd, ye in nowise fear to lay down your lives for your
brethren, and to defend them from the inroad of the pagans; and ye may well be
termed holy warriors, since ye have been appointed by the Lord defenders of
the catholic church and combatants of the enemies of Christ."
After this preamble, the pope earnestly exhorts
the Templars to pursue with unceasing diligence their high vocation; to defend
the eastern church with their whole hearts and souls, and to strike down the
enemies of the cross of Christ. "By the authority of God, and the blessed
Peter prince of apostles," says the holy pontiff, "we have ordained and do
determine, that the Temple in
A.D. 1172. which ye are gathered together
to the praise and glory of God, for the defence of the faithful, and the
deliverance of the church, shall remain for evermore under the safeguard and
protection of the holy apostolic see, together with all the goods and
possessions which ye now lawfully enjoy, and all that ye may hereafter
rightfully obtain, through the liberality of Christian kings and princes, and
the alms and oblations of the faithful.
"We moreover by these presents decree, that the
regular discipline, which, by divine favour, hath been instituted in your
house, shall be inviolably observed, and that the brethren who have there
dedicated themselves to the service of the omnipotent God, shall live together
in chastity and without property; and making good their profession both in
word and deed, they shall remain subject and obedient in all things to the
Master, or to him whom the Master shall have set in authority over them.
"Moreover, as the chief house at Jerusalem hath
been the source and fountain of your sacred institution and order, the Master
thereof shall always be considered the head and chief of all the houses and
places appertaining thereunto. And we further decree, that at the decease of
Odo, our beloved son in the Lord, and of each one of his successors, no man
shall be set in authority over the brethren of the same house, except he be of
the religious and military order; and has regularly professed your habit and
fellowship; and has been chosen by all the brethren unanimously, or, at all
events, by the greater part of them.
"And from henceforth it shall not be permitted
to any ecclesiastical or secular person to infringe or diminish the customs
and observances of your religion and profession, as instituted by the Master
and brethren in common; and those rules which have been put into writing and
observed by you for some time past, shall not be changed or altered except by
A.D. 1172. authority of the Master, with
the consent of the majority of the chapter.
". . . . No ecclesiastic or secular person
shall dare to exact from the Master and Brethren of the Temple, oaths,
guarantees, or any such securities as are ordinarily required from the laity.
"Since your sacred institution and religious
chivalry have been established by divine Providence, it is not fit that you
should enter into any other order with the view of leading a more religious
life, for God, who is immutable and eternal, approveth not the inconstant
heart; but wisheth rather the good purpose, when once begun, to be persevered
in to the end of life.
"How many and great persons have pleased the
lord of an earthly empire, under the military girdle and habit! How many and
distinguished men, gathered together in arms, have bravely fought, in these
our times, in the cause of the gospel of God, and in defence of the laws of
our Father; and, consecrating their hands in the blood of the unbelievers in
the Lord, have, after their pains and toil in this world's warfare, obtained
the reward of everlasting life! Do ye therefore, both knights and serving
brethren, assiduously pay attention to your profession, and in accordance with
the saying of the apostle, 'Let each one of you stedfastly remain in the
vocation to which you have been called.' We therefore ordain, that when your
brethren have once taken the vows, and have been received in your sacred
college, and have taken upon themselves your warfare, and the habit of your
religion, they shall no longer have the power of returning again to the world;
nor can any, after they have once made profession, abjure the cross and habit
of your religion, with the view of entering another convent or monastery of
stricter or more lax discipline, without the consent of the brethren, or
Master, or of him whom the Master hath set in authority over them; nor shall
A.D. 1172. any ecclesiastic or secular
person be permitted to receive or retain them.
"And since those who are defenders of the
church ought to be supported and maintained out of the good things of the
church, we prohibit all manner of men from exacting tithes from you in respect
of your moveables or immoveables, or any of the goods and possessions
appertaining unto your venerable house.
"And that nothing may be wanting to the
plenitude of your salvation, and the care of your souls; and that ye may more
commodiously hear divine service, and receive the sacraments in your sacred
college; we in like manner ordain, that it shall be lawful for you to admit
within your fraternity, honest and godly clergymen and priests, as many as ye
may conscientiously require; and to receive them from whatever parts they may
come, as well in your chief house at Jerusalem, as in all the other houses and
places depending upon it, so that they do not belong to any other religious
profession or order, and so that ye ask them of the bishop, if they come from
the neighbourhood; but if peradventure the bishop should refuse, yet
nevertheless ye have permission to receive and retain them by the authority of
the holy apostolic see.
"If any of these, after they have been
professed, should turn out to be useless, or should become disturbers of your
house and religion, it shall be lawful for you, with the consent of the major
part of the chapter, to remove them, and give them leave to enter any other
order where they may wish to live in the service of God, and to substitute
others in their places who shall undergo a probation of one year in your
society; which term being completed, if their morals render them worthy of
your fellowship, and they shall be found fit and proper for your service, then
let them make the regular profession of life according to your rule,
A.D. 1172. and of obedience to their
Master, so that they have their food and clothing, and also their lodging,
with the fraternity.
"But it shall not be lawful for them
presumptuously to take part in the consultations of your chapter, or in the
government of your house; they are permitted to do so, so far only as they are
enjoined by yourselves. And as regards the cure of souls, they are to occupy
themselves with that business so far only as they are required. Moreover, they
shall be subject to no person, power, or authority, excepting that of your own
chapter, but let them pay perfect obedience, in all matters and upon all
occasions, to thee our beloved son in the Lord, Odo, and to thy successors, as
their Master and Bishop.
"We moreover decree, that it shall be lawful
for you to send your clerks, when they are to be admitted to holy orders, for
ordination to whatever catholic bishop you may please, who, clothed with our
apostolical power, will grant them what they require; but we forbid them to
preach with a view of obtaining money, or for any temporal purpose whatever,
unless perchance the Master of the Temple for the time being should cause it
to be done for some special purpose. And whosoever of these are received into
your college, they must make the promise of stedfastness of purpose, of
reformation of morals, and that they will fight for the Lord all the days of
their lives, and render strict obedience to the Master of the Temple; the book
in which these things are contained being placed upon the altar.
"We moreover, without detracting from the
rights of the bishops in respect of tithes, oblations, and buryings, concede
to you the power of constructing oratories in the places bestowed upon the
sacred house of the Temple, where you and your retainers and servants may
dwell; so that both ye and they may be able to assist at the divine offices,
and receive there the rite of sepulture; for it would be unbecoming and very
dangerous to the
A.D. 1172. souls of the religious brethren,
if they were to be mixed up with a crowd of secular persons, and be brought
into the company of women on the occasion of their going to church. But as to
the tithes, which, by the advice and with the consent of the bishops, ye may
be able by your zeal to draw out of the hands of the clergy or laity, and
those which with the consent of the bishops ye may acquire from their own
clergy, we confirm to you by our apostolical authority."
The above bull further provides, in
various ways, for the temporal and spiritual advantage of the Templars, and
expressly extends the favours and indulgences, and the apostolical blessings,
to all the serving brethren, as well as to the knights. It also confers upon
the fraternity the important privilege of causing the churches of towns and
villages lying under sentence of interdict to be opened once a year, and
divine service to be celebrated within them. *
A bull exactly similar to the above
appears to have been issued by Pope Alexander, on the seventh id. Jan. A.D.
1162, addressed to the Master Bertrand de Blanquefort. †
Both the above instruments are to a great extent merely confirmatory of the
privileges previously conceded to the Templars.
The exercise or the abuse of these powers and
immunities speedily brought the Templars into collision with the
ecclesiastics. At the general council of the church, held at Rome, (A.D.
1179,) called the third of Lateran, a grave reprimand was addressed to them by
the holy Fathers. "We find," say they, "by the frequent complaints of the
bishops our colleagues, that the Templars and Hospitaliers abuse the
privileges granted them by the Holy See; that the chaplains and priests of
their rule have caused parochial churches to be conveyed over to themselves
without the ordinaries’
A.D. 1172. consent; that they administer
the sacraments to excommunicated persons, and bury them with all the usual
ceremonies of the church; that they likewise abuse the permission granted the
brethren of having divine service said once a year in places under interdict,
and that they admit seculars into their fraternity, pretending thereby to give
them the same right to their privileges as if they were really professed." To
provide a remedy for these irregularities, the council forbad the military
orders to receive for the future any conveyances of churches and tithes
without the ordinaries’ consent; that with regard to churches not founded by
themselves, nor served by the chaplains of the order, they should present the
priests they designed for the cure of them to the bishop of the diocese, and
reserve nothing to themselves but the cognizance of the temporals which
belonged to them; that they should not cause service to be said, in churches
under interdict, above once a year, nor give burial there to any person
whatever; and that none of their fraternity or associates should be
allowed to partake of their privileges, if not actually professed. *
Several bishops from Palestine were present at
this council, together with the archbishop of Cæsarea, and William archbishop
of Tyre, the great historian of the Latin kingdom.
The order of the Temple was at this period
divided into the three great classes of knights, priests, and serving
brethren, all bound together by their vow of obedience to the Master of the
Temple at Jerusalem, the chief of the entire fraternity. Every candidate for
admission into the first class must have received the honour of knighthood in
due form, according to the laws of chivalry, before he could be admitted to
the vows; and as no person of low degree could be advanced to the honours of
knighthood, the brethren of the first class, i. e. the Knights Templars,
were all men of noble birth and of high courage.
[paragraph continues] Previous to the
council of Troyes, the order consisted of knights only, but the rule framed by
the holy fathers enjoins the admission of esquires and retainers to the vows,
in the following terms.
"LXI. We have known many out of divers
provinces, as well retainers as esquires, fervently desiring for the salvation
of their souls to be admitted for life into our house. It is expedient,
therefore, that you admit them to the vows, lest perchance the old enemy
should suggest something to them whilst in God's service by stealth or
unbecomingly, and should suddenly drive them from the right path." Hence arose
the great class of serving brethren, (fratres servientes,) who attended
the knights into the field both on foot and on horseback, and added vastly to
the power and military reputation of the order. The serving brethren were
armed with bows, bills, and swords; it was their duty to be always near the
person of the knight, to supply him with fresh weapons or a fresh horse in
case of need, and to render him every succour in the affray. The esquires of
the knights were generally serving brethren of the order, but the services of
secular persons might be accepted.
The order of the Temple always had in its
pay a large number of retainers, and of mercenary troops, both cavalry and
infantry, I which were officered by the knights. These were clothed in black
or brown garments, that they might, in obedience to the rule,
be plainly distinguished from the professed soldiers of Christ, who were
habited in white. The black or brown garment was directed to be worn by all
connected with the Templars who had not been admitted to the vows, that the
holy soldiers might not suffer, in character or reputation, from the
irregularities of secular men their dependents.
The white mantle of the Templars was a regular
A.D. 1172. habit, having the red cross on
the left breast; it was worn over armour of chain mail, and could be looped up
so as to leave the sword-arm at full liberty. On his head the Templar wore a
white linen coif, and over that a small round cap made of red cloth. When in
the field, an iron scull-cap was probably added. We must now take a glance at
the military organization of the order of the Temple, and of the chief
officers of the society.
Next in power and authority to the Master stood
the Marshal, who was charged with the execution of the military arrangements
on the field of battle. He was second in command, and in case of the death of
the Master, the government of the order devolved upon him until the new
superior was elected. It was his duty to provide arms, tents, horses, and
mules, and all the necessary appendages of war.
The Prior or Preceptor of the kingdom of
Jerusalem, also styled "Grand Preceptor of the Temple," had the immediate
superintendence over the chief house of the order in the holy city. He was the
treasurer general of the society, and had charge of all the receipts and
expenditure. During the absence of the Master from Jerusalem, the entire
government of the Temple devolved upon him.
The Draper was charged with the clothing
department, and had to distribute garments "free from the suspicion of
arrogance and superfluity" to all the brethren. He is directed to take
especial care that the habits be "neither too long nor too short, but properly
measured for the wearer, with equal measure, and with brotherly regard, that
the eye of the whisperer or the accuser may not presume to notice anything."
The Standard Bearer (Balcanifer) bore
the glorious Beauseant, or war-banner, to the field; he was supported
by a certain number
A.D. 1172. of knights and esquires, who
were sworn to protect the colours of the order, and never to let them fall
into the hands of the enemy.
The Turcopilar was the commander of a body of
light horse called Turcopoles (Turcopuli.) These were natives of Syria
and Palestine, the offspring frequently of Turkish mothers and christian
fathers, brought up in the religion of Christ, and retained in the pay of the
order of the Temple. They were lightly armed, were clothed in the Asiatic
style, and being inured to the climate, and well acquainted with the country,
and with the Mussulman mode of warfare, they were found extremely serviceable
as light cavalry and skirmishers, and were always attached to the
war-battalions of the Templars.
The Guardian of the Chapel (Custos Capellæ)
had charge of the portable chapel and the ornaments of the altar, which were
always carried by the Templars into the field. This portable chapel was a
round tent, which was pitched in the centre of the camp; the quarters of the
brethren were disposed around it, so that they might, in the readiest and most
convenient manner, participate in the divine offices, and fulfil the religious
duties of their profession.
Besides the Grand Preceptor of the kingdom of
Jerusalem, there were the Grand Preceptors of Antioch and Tripoli, and the
Priors or Preceptors of the different houses of the Temple in Syria and in
Palestine, all of whom commanded in the field, and had various military duties
to perform under the eye of the Master.
The Templars and the Hospitallers were the
constituted guardians of the true cross when it was brought forth from its
sacred repository in the church of the Resurrection to be placed at the head
of the christian army. The Templars marched on the right
A.D. 1172. of the sacred emblem, and the
Hospitaliers on the left; and the same position was taken up by the two orders
in the line of battle. *
An eye-witness of the conduct of the
Templars in the field tells us that they were always foremost in the fight and
the last in the retreat; that they proceeded to battle with the greatest
order, silence, and circumspection, and carefully attended to the commands of
their Master. When the signal to engage had been given by their chief, and the
trumpets of the order sounded to the charge, then," says he, "they humbly sing
the psalm of David, Non nobis, non nobis, Domine, sed nomini tuo da gloriam,
'Not unto us, not unto us, O Lord, but unto thy name give the praise;' and
placing their lances in rest, they either break the enemy's line or die. If
any one of them should by chance turn back, or bear himself less manfully than
he ought, the white mantle, the emblem of their order, is ignominiously
stripped off his shoulders, the cross worn by the fraternity is taken away
from him, and he is cast out from the fellowship of the brethren; he is
compelled to eat on the ground without a napkin or a table-cloth for the space
of one year; and the dogs who gather around him and torment him he is not
permitted to drive away. At the expiration of the year, if he be truly
penitent, the Master and the brethren restore to him the military girdle and
his pristine habit and cross, and receive him again into the fellowship and
community of the brethren. The Templars do indeed practise the observance of a
stern religion, living in humble obedience to their Master, without property,
and spending nearly all the days of their lives under tents in the open
fields." Such is the picture
A.D. 1172. of the Templars drawn by one of
the leading dignitaries of the Latin kingdom.
We must now resume our narrative of the
principal events connected with the order.
In the year 1172, the Knight Templar
Walter du Mesnil was guilty of a foul murder, which created a great sensation
in the East. An odious religious sect, supposed to be descended from the
Ismaelians of Persia, were settled in the fastnesses of the mountains above
Tripoli. They devoted their souls and bodies in blind obedience to a chief who
is called by the writers of the crusades "the old man of the mountain," and
were employed by him in the most extensive system of murder and assassination
known in the history of the world. Both Christian and Moslem writers enumerate
with horror the many illustrious victims that fell beneath their daggers. They
assumed all shapes and disguises for the furtherance of their deadly designs,
and carried, in general, no arms except a small poniard concealed in the folds
of their dress, called in the Persian tongue hassissin, whence these
wretches were called assassins, their chief the prince of the assassins; and
the word itself, in all its odious import, has passed into most European
Raimond, son of the count of Tripoli, was slain
by these fanatics whilst kneeling at the foot of the altar in the church of
the Blessed Virgin at Carchusa or Tortosa; the Templars flew to arms to avenge
his death; they penetrated into the fastnesses and strongholds of "the
mountain chief," and at last compelled him to purchase peace by the payment of
an annual tribute of two thousand crowns into the treasury of the order. In
the ninth year of Amalric's reign, Sinan Ben Suleiman, imaun of the
assassins, sent a trusty counsellor to Jerusalem, offering, in
A.D. 1172. the name of himself and his people, to
embrace the christian religion, provided the Templars would release them from
the tribute money. The proposition was favourably received; the envoy was
honourably entertained for some days, and on his departure he was furnished by
the king with a guide and an escort to conduct him in safety to the frontier.
The Ismaelite had reached the borders of the Latin kingdom, and was almost in
sight of the castles of his brethren, when he was cruelly murdered by the
Knight Templar Walter du Mesnil, who attacked the escort with a body of armed
The king of Jerusalem, justly incensed at
this perfidious action, assembled the barons of the kingdom at Sidon to
determine on the best means of obtaining satisfaction for the injury; and it
was determined that two .of their number should proceed to Odo de St. Amand to
demand the surrender of the criminal. The haughty Master of the Temple bade
them inform his majesty the king, that the members of the order of the Temple
were not subject to his jurisdiction, nor to that of his officers; that the
Templars acknowledged no earthly superior except the Pope; and that to the
holy pontiff alone belonged the cognizance of the offence. He declared,
however, that the crime should meet with due punishment; that he had caused
the criminal to be arrested and put in irons, and would forthwith send him to
Rome, but till judgment was given in his case, he forbade all persons of
whatsoever degree to meddle with him.
Shortly afterwards, however, the Master found
it expedient to alter his determination, and insist less strongly upon the
privileges of his fraternity. Brother Walter du Mesnil was delivered
A.D. 1177. up to the king, and confined in
one of the royal prisons, but his ultimate fate has not been recorded.
On the death of Noureddin, sultan of Damascus,
(A.D. 1175,) Saladin raised himself to the sovereignty both of Egypt and of
Syria. He levied an immense army, and crossing the desert from Cairo, he again
planted the standard of Mahomet upon the sacred territory of Palestine. His
forces were composed of twenty-six thousand light infantry, eight thousand
horsemen, a host of archers and spearmen mounted on dromedaries, and eighteen
thousand common soldiers. The person of Saladin was surrounded by a body-guard
of a thousand Mamlook emirs, clothed in yellow cloaks worn over their shirts
In the great battle fought near Ascalon,
(Nov. 1, A.D. 1177,) Odo de St. Amand, the Master of the Temple, at the head
of eighty of his knights, broke through the guard of Mamlooks, slew their
commander, and penetrated to the imperial tent, from whence the sultan escaped
with great difficulty, almost naked, upon a fleet dromedary; the infidels,
thrown into confusion, were slaughtered or driven into the desert, where they
perished from hunger, fatigue, or the inclemency of the weather. *
The year following, Saladin collected a vast army at Damascus; and the
Templars, in order to protect and cover the road leading from that city to
Jerusalem, commenced the erection of a strong fortress on the northern
frontier of the Latin kingdom, close to Jacob's ford on the river Jordan, at
the spot where now stands Djiss’r Beni Yakoob, "the bridge of the sons
of Jacob." Saladin advanced at the head of his forces to oppose the progress
of the work, and the king of Jerusalem and all the chivalry of the Latin
kingdom were gathered together in the plain to protect the Templars and their
workmen. The fortress was erected notwithstanding
A.D. 1179. all the exertions of the
infidels, and the Templars threw into it a strong garrison. Redoubled efforts
were then made by Saladin to destroy the place.
At a given signal from the Mussulman
trumpets, "the defenders of Islam" fled before "the avengers of Christ;" the
christian forces became disordered in the pursuit, and the swift cavalry of
the desert, wheeling upon both wings, defeated with immense slaughter the
entire army of the cross. The Templars and the Hospitallers, with the count of
Tripoli, stood firm on the summit of a small hillock, and for a long time
presented a bold and undaunted front to the victorious enemy. The count of
Tripoli at last cut his way through the infidels, and fled to Tyre; the Master
of the Hospital, after seeing most of his brethren slain, swam across the
Jordan, and fled, covered with wounds, to the castle of Beaufort; and the
Templars, after fighting with their customary zeal and fanaticism around the
red-cross banner, which waved to the last over the field of blood, were all
killed or taken prisoners, and the Master, Odo de St. Amand, fell alive into
the hands of the enemy. *
Saladin then laid siege to the newly-erected fortress, which was of some
strength, being defended by thick walls, flanked with large towers furnished
with military engines. After a gallant resistance on the part of the garrison,
it was set on fire, and then stormed. "The Templars," says Abulpharadge,
"flung themselves some into the fire, where they were burned, some cast
themselves into the Jordan, some jumped down from the walls on to the rocks,
and were dashed to pieces: thus were slain the enemy." The fortress was
reduced to a heap of ruins, and the enraged sultan, it is said,
A.D. 1180. ordered all the Templars taken
in the place to be sawn in two, excepting the most distinguished of the
knights, who were reserved for a ransom, and were sent in chains to Aleppo. *
Saladin offered Odo de St. Amand his
liberty in exchange for the freedom of his own nephew, who was a prisoner in
the hands of the Templars; but the Master of the Temple haughtily replied,
that he would never, by his example, encourage any of his knights to be mean
enough to surrender, that a Templar ought either to vanquish or die, and that
be had nothing to give for his ransom but his girdle and his knife.
The proud spirit of Odo de St. Amand could but ill brook confinement; he
languished and died in the dungeons of Damascus, and was succeeded by Brother
Arnold de Torroge, who had filled some of the chief situations of the order in
The affairs of the Latin Christians were
at this period in a deplorable situation. Saladin encamped near Tiberias, and
extended his ravages into almost every part of Palestine. His light cavalry
swept the valley of the Jordan to within a day's march of Jerusalem, and the
whole country as far as Panias on the one side, and Beisan, D’Jenneen, and
Sebaste, on the other, was destroyed by fire and the sword. The houses of the
Templars were pillaged and burnt; various castles belonging to the order were
taken by assault; but the immediate destruction of the
Latin power was arrested by some partial successes obtained by the christian
warriors, and by the skilful generalship of their
A.D. 1184. leaders. Saladin was compelled
to retreat to Damascus, after he had burnt Naplous, and depopulated the whole
country around Tiberias. A truce was proposed, (A.D. 1184,) and as the
attention of the sultan was then distracted by the intrigues of the Turcoman
chieftains in the north of Syria, and he was again engaged in hostilities in
Mesopotamia, he agreed to a suspension of the war for four years, in
consideration of the payment by the Christians of a large sum of money.
Immediate advantage was taken of this
truce to secure the safety of the Latin kingdom. A grand council was called
together at Jerusalem, and it was determined that Heraclius, the patriarch of
the Holy City, and the Masters of the Temple and Hospital, should forthwith
proceed to Europe, to obtain succour from the western princes. The sovereign
mostly depended upon for assistance was Henry the Second, king of England, *
grandson of Fulk, the late king of Jerusalem, and cousin-german to Baldwin,
the then reigning sovereign. Henry had received absolution for the murder of
Saint Thomas a Becket, on condition that he should proceed in person at the
head of a powerful army to the succour of Palestine, and should, at his own
expense, maintain two hundred Templars for the defence. of the holy
The Patriarch and the two Masters landed in
Italy, and after furnishing themselves with the letters of the pope,
threatening the English monarch with the judgments of heaven if he did not
forthwith perform the penance prescribed him, they set out for England. At
Verona, the Master of the Temple fell sick and
A.D. 1185. died, but his companions
proceeding on their journey, landed in safety in England at the commencement
of the year 1185. They were received by the king at Reading, and throwing
themselves at the feet of the English monarch, they with much weeping and
sobbing saluted him in behalf of the king, the princes, and the people of the
kingdom of Jerusalem. They explained the object of their visit, and presented
him with the pope's letters, with the keys of the holy sepulchre, of the tower
of David, and of the city of Jerusalem, together with the royal banner of the
Latin kingdom. Their eloquent and pathetic narrative of
the fierce inroads of Saladin, and of the miserable condition of Palestine,
drew tears from king Henry and all his court. The English sovereign gave
encouraging assurances to the patriarch and his companions, and promised to
bring the whole matter before the parliament, which was to meet the first
Sunday in Lent.
The patriarch, in the mean time,
proceeded to London, and was received by the Knights Templars at the Temple in
that city, the chief house of the order in Britain, where, in the month of
February, he consecrated the beautiful Temple church, dedicated to the blessed
Virgin Mary, which had just then been erected.
60 Will. Tyr. lib. xxi. cap. 29.
62 Will. Tyr. lib. xx. xxi. xxii.
63 Omne datum optimum et omne
donum perfectum desursum est, descendens a Patre luminum, apud quem non est
transmutatio, nec vicissitudinis obumbratio.
68 Acta Rymeri, tom. i. ad ann. 1172, p.
30, 31, 32.
68 Wilcke, Geschichte des
Tempelherrenordens, vol. ii. p. 230.
69 3 Concil. Lat. cap. 9.
70 Regula, cap. 20.
70 Cap. 21, 22.
71 Cap. 20, 27, of the rule.
73 Jac. de Vitr. Hist. Orient.
apud Martene thesaur. nov. anecdot. tom. iii. col. 276, 277.
73 Narratio Patriarchæ Hierosolymitani
coram summo Pontifice de statu Terræ Sanctæ. ex M. S. Cod. Bigotiano, apud
Martene thesaur. nov. anecdot. tom. iii. col. 276, 277.
74 Dissertation sur les Assassins,
Académie des Inscriptions, tom. xvii. p. 127, 170. De Guignes. Hist.
des Huns.--Will. Tyr. lib. xx. cap. 31.
75 Jac. de Vitr. Hist. Orient.
lib. iii. p.1142. Will. Tyr. lib. xx. cap. 32.
75 Adjecit etiam et alia a spiritu superbiæ,
quo ipso plurimum abundabat, dictata, quæ præsenti narrationi non multum
necessarium est interserere.--Will. Tyr. lib. xx. cap. 32.
76 Will. Tyr. lib. xxi. cap. 20,
22, 23. Abulfeda Abulpharadge, Chron, Syr. p. 379.
77 Capti sunt ibi de nostris, Otto de
Sancto Amando militiæ Templi Magister, homo nequaquam superbus et arrogans,
spiritum furoris habens in naribus, nec Deum timens, nec ad homines habens
reverentiam.--Will. Tyr. lib. xxi. cap. 29. Abulpharadge, Chron. Syr.
p. 380, 381.
78 Abulpharadge, Chron. Syr. ut
sup. Menologium Cisterciente, p. 194. Bernardus Thesaurarius de acq.
Terr. Sanc. cap. 139.
78 Dicens non esse consuetudiuis militum
Templi ut aliqua redemptio daretur pro eis præter cingulum et cultellum. Chron.
Trivet apud Hall, vol. i. p. 77.
78 Eodem anno quo captus est in vinculis
et squalore carceris, nulli lugendus, dicitur obiisse.--Will. Tyr. lib.
xxi. cap. 29. Ib. lib. xxii. cap. 7. Gallia christiana nova, tom. i. col. 258;
ibid p. 172, instrumentorum.
78 Abulfeda, ad ann. 1182, 3.
Will. Tyr. lib. xxii. cap. 16-20.
79 Unde propter causas prædictas generali
providentia statutum est, ut Jerosolymitanus Patriarcha, petendi contra
immanissimum hostem Saladinum auxilii gratia, ad christianos principos in
Europam mitteretur; sed maxime ad illustrem Anglorum regem, cujus efficacior
et promptia opera sperabatur.--Hemingford, cap. 33; Radulph de
Diceto, inter; Hist. Angl. X. script. p. 622.
79 Concil. Magn. Brit. tom. iv. p. 788,
80 Arnauld of Troy. Radulph de
Diceto, ut sup. p. 625.
80 Eodem anno (1185,) Baldewinus rex
Jerusalem, et Templares et Hospitalares, miserunt ad regem Angliæ Heraclium,
sanctæ civitatis Jerusalem Patriarcha, et summos Hospitalis et Templi
Magistros una cum vexillo regio, et clavibus sepulchri Domini, et turris
David, et civitatis Jerusalem; postulantes ab eo celerem succursum. . . . qui
statim ad pedes regis provoluti cum fletu magno et singultu, verba
salutationis ex parte regis et principum et universæ plebis terræ
Jerosolymitanæ proferebant. . . . . tradiderunt ei vexillum regium, etc. etc.
Hoveden, ad ann. 1185; Radulph de Diceto, p. 626.
80 Matt. Westin. ad ann. 1185;
Guill. Neubr. tom. i. lib iii. cap. 12, 13. Chron. Dunst.
80 Speed. Hist. Britain, p. 50G.