Richard Cur de Lion joins, the Templars before
Acre--The city surrenders, and the Templars establish the chief house of their
order within it--Cur de Lion takes up his abode with them--He sells to them
the island of Cyprus--The Templars form the van of his army Their foraging
expeditions and great exploits--Cur de Lion quits the Holy Land in the
disguise of a Knight Templar--The Templars build the Pilgrim's Castle in
Palestine--The state of the order in England--King John resides in the Temple
at London--The barons come to him at that place, and demand MAGNA CHARTA--The
exploits of the Templars in Egypt--The letters of the Grand Master to the
Master of the Temple at London--The Templars reconquer Jerusalem.
As far as to the sepulchre of Christ
(Whose soldier now under whose blessed cross
We are impressed and engagd to fight,)
Forthwith a power of English shall we levy,
Whose arms were moulded in their mother's womb,
To chase these pagans, in those holy fields,
Over whose acres walked those blessed feet,
Which, fourteen hundred years ago, were naild,
For our advantage, on the bitter cross."
IN the mean time a third crusade had been
preached in Europe. William, archbishop of Tyre, had proceeded to the courts
of France and England, and had represented in glowing colours the miserable
condition of Palestine, and the horrors and abominations which had been
committed by the infidels in the holy city
A.D. 1191. of Jerusalem. The English and
French monarchs laid aside their private animosities, and agreed to fight
under the same banner against the infidels, and towards the close of the month
of May, in the second year of the siege of Acre, the royal fleets of Philip
Augustus and Richard Cur de Lion floated in triumph in the bay of Acre. At
the period of the arrival of king Richard the Templars had again lost their
Grand Master, and Brother Robert de Sablé, or Sabloil, a valiant knight of the
order, who had commanded a division of the English fleet on the voyage out,
was placed at the head of the fraternity.
A.D. 1191. The proudest of the
nobility, and the most valiant of the chivalry of Europe, on their arrival in
Palestine, manifested an eager desire to fight under the banner of the Temple.
Many secular knights were permitted by the Grand Master to take their station
by the side of the military friars, and even to wear the red cross on their
breasts whilst fighting in the ranks.
The Templars performed prodigies of
valour; "The name of their reputation, and the fame of their sanctity," says
James of Vitry, bishop of Acre, "like a chamber of perfume sending forth a
sweet odour, was diffused throughout the entire world, and all the
congregation of the saints will recount their battles and glorious triumph
over the enemies of Christ, knights indeed from all parts of the earth, dukes,
and princes, after their example, casting off the shackles of the world, and
renouncing the pomps and vanities of this life and all the lusts of the flesh
for Christ's sake, hastened to join them, and to participate in their holy
profession and religion."
On the morning of the twelfth of July, six
weeks after the arrival of the British fleet, the kings of England and France,
A.D. 1191. christian chieftains, and the
Turkish emirs with their green banners, assembled in the tent of the Grand
Master of the Temple, to treat of the surrender of Acre, and on the following
day the gates were thrown open to the exulting warriors of the cross. The
Templars took possession of three localities within the city by the side of
the sea, where they established their famous Temple, which became from
thenceforth the chief house of the order. Richard Cur de Lion, we are told,
took up his abode with the Templars, whilst Philip resided in the citadel. *
When the fiery monarch of England tore
down the banner of the duke of Austria from its staff and threw it into the
ditch, it was the Templars who, interposing between the indignant Germans and
the haughty Britons, preserved the peace of the christian army.
During his voyage from Messina to Acre,
King Richard had revenged himself on Isaac Comnenus, the ruler of the island
of Cyprus, for the insult offered to the beautiful Berengaria, princess of
Navarre, his betrothed bride. The sovereign of England had disembarked his
troops, stormed the town of Limisso, and conquered the whole island; and
shortly after his arrival at Acre, he sold it to the Templars for three
hundred thousand livres dor.
During the famous march of Richard Cur de Lion
from Acre to Ascalon, the Templars generally led the van of the christian
army, and the Hospitaliers brought up the rear. Saladin, at
A.D. 1191. the head of an immense force,
exerted all his energies to oppose their progress, and the march to Jaffa
formed a perpetual battle of eleven days. On some occasions Cur de Lion
himself, at the head of a chosen body of knights, led the van, and the
Templars were formed into a rear-guard. They sustained immense loss,
particularly in horses, which last calamity, we are told, rendered them nearly
The Moslem as well as the christian
writers speak with admiration of the feats of heroism performed. "On the sixth
day," says Bohadin, "the sultan rose at dawn as usual, and heard from his
brother that the enemy were in motion. They had slept that night in suitable
places about Cĉsarea, and were now dressing and taking their food. A second
messenger announced that they had begun their march; our brazen drum was
sounded, all were alert, the sultan came out, and I accompanied him: he
surrounded them with chosen troops, and gave the signal for attack." . . . . .
. "Their foot soldiers were covered with thick-strung pieces of cloth,
fastened together with rings so as to resemble coats of mail. I saw with my
own eyes several who had not one nor two but ten darts sticking in their
backs! and yet marched on with a calm and cheerful step, without any
Every exertion was made to sustain the
courage and enthusiasm of the christian warriors. When the army halted for the
night, and the soldiers were about to take their rest, a loud voice was heard
from the midst of the camp, exclaiming, "ASSIST THE HOLY SEPULCHRE," which
words were repeated by the leaders of the host, and were echoed and re-echoed
along their extended lines.
[paragraph continues] The Templars and the
Hospitallers, who were well acquainted with the country, employed themselves
by night in marauding and foraging expeditions. They frequently started off at
midnight, swept the country with their turcopoles or light cavalry, and
returned to the camp at morning's dawn with rich prizes of oxen, sheep, and
In the great plain near Ramleh, when the
Templars led the van of the christian army, Saladin made a last grand effort
to arrest their progress, which was followed by one of the greatest battles of
the age. Geoffrey de Vinisauf, the companion of King Richard on this
expedition, gives a lively and enthusiastic description of the appearance of
the Moslem array in the great plain around Jaffa and Ramleh. On all sides, far
as the eye could reach, from the sea-shore to the mountains, nought was to be
seen but a forest of spears, above which waved banners and standards
innumerable. The wild Bedouins, the children of the desert, mounted on their
fleet Arab mares, coursed with the rapidity of the lightning over the vast
plain, and darkened the air with clouds of missiles. Furious and unrelenting,
of a horrible aspect, with skins blacker than soot, they strove by rapid
movement and continuous assaults to penetrate the well-ordered array of the
christian warriors. They advanced to the attack with horrible screams and
bellowings, which, with the deafening noise of the trumpets, horns, cymbals,
and brazen kettle-drums,
A.D. 1191. produced a clamour that resounded
through the plain, and would have drowned even the thunder of heaven.
The engagement commenced with the left
wing of the Hospitallers, and the victory of the Christians was mainly owing
to the personal prowess of King Richard. Amid the disorder of his troops,
Saladin remained on the plain without lowering his standard or suspending the
sound of his brazen kettle-drums, he rallied his forces, retired upon Ramleh,
and prepared to defend the road leading to Jerusalem. The Templars and
Hospitaliers, when the battle was over, went in search of Jacques dAsvesnes,
one of the most valiant of King Richard's knights, whose dead body, placed on
their spears, they brought into the camp amid the tears and lamentations of
their brethren. *
The Templars, on one of their foraging
expeditions, were surrounded by a superior force of four thousand Moslem
cavalry; the Earl of Leicester, with a chosen body of English, was sent by
Cur de Lion to their assistance, but the whole party was overpowered and in
danger of being cut to pieces, when Richard himself hurried to the scene of
action with his famous battle-axe, and rescued the Templars from their
perilous situation. By the valour and exertions of the
lion-hearted king, the city of Gaza, the ancient fortress of the order, which
had been taken by Saladin soon after the battle of Tiberias, was recovered to
the christian arms, the fortifications were repaired, and the place was
restored to the Knights Templars, who again garrisoned it with their soldiers.
A.D. 1192. As the army advanced, Saladin
fell back towards Jerusalem, and the vanguard of the Templars was pushed on to
the small town of Ramleh.
At midnight of the festival of the Holy
Innocents, a party of them sallied out of the camp in company with some
Hospitaliers on a foraging expedition; they scoured the mountains in the
direction of Jerusalem, and at morning's dawn returned to Ramleh with more
than two hundred oxen.
When the christian army went into winter
quarters, the Templars established themselves at Gaza, and King Richard and
his army were stationed in the neighbouring town of Ascalon, the walls and
houses of which were rebuilt by the English monarch during the winter. Whilst
the christian forces were reposing in winter quarters, an arrangement was made
between the Templars, King Richard, and Guy de Lusignan, "the king without a
kingdom," for the cession to the latter of the island of Cyprus, previously
sold by Richard to the order of the Temple, by virtue of which arrangement,
Guy de Lusignan took possession of the island and ruled the country by the
magnificent title of emperor.
When the winter rains had subsided, the
christian forces were again put in motion, but both the Templars and
Hospitallers strongly advised Cur de Lion not to march upon Jerusalem, and
the latter appears to have had no strong inclination to undertake the siege of
the holy city, having manifestly no chance of success. The English monarch
declared that he would be guided by the advice of the Templars and
Hospitallers, who were acquainted with the country, and were desirous of
recovering their ancient inheritances. The army, however, advanced within a
day's journey of the holy city, and then a council was called
A.D. 1192. together, consisting of five
Knights Templars, five Hospitaliers, five eastern Christians, and five western
Crusaders, and the expedition was abandoned. *
The Templars took part in the attack upon
the great Egyptian convoy, wherein four thousand and seventy camels, five
hundred horses, provisions, tents, arms, and clothing, and a great quantity of
gold and silver, were captured, and then fell back upon Acre; they were
followed by Saladin, who immediately commenced offensive operations, and laid
siege to Jaffa. The Templars marched by land to the relief of the place, and
Cur de Lion hurried by sea. Many valiant exploits were performed, the town
was relieved, and the campaign was concluded by the ratification of a treaty
whereby the Christians were to enjoy the privilege of visiting Jerusalem as
pilgrims. Tyre, Acre, and Jaffa, with all the sea-coast between them, were
yielded to the Latins, but it was stipulated that the fortifications of
Ascalon should be demolished.
After the conclusion of this treaty, King
Richard being anxious to take the shortest and speediest route to his
dominions by traversing the continent of Europe, and to travel in disguise to
avoid the malice of his enemies, made an arrangement with his friend Robert de
Sablé, the Grand Master of the Temple, whereby the latter undertook to place a
galley of the order at the disposal of the king, and it was determined that
whilst the royal fleet pursued its course with Queen Berengaria through the
Straits of Gibraltar to Britain, Cur de Lion himself, disguised in the habit
of a Knight Templar, should secretly embark and make for one
A.D. 1192. of the ports of the Adriatic.
The plan was carried into effect on the night of the 25th of October, and King
Richard set sail, accompanied by some attendants, and four trusty Templars.
The habit he had assumed, however, protected him not, as is well known, from
the cowardly vengeance of the base duke of Austria.
The lion-hearted monarch was one of the
many benefactors to the order of the Temple. He granted to the fraternity his
manor of Calow, with various powers and privileges.
A.D. 1195. Shortly after his departure from
Palestine, the Grand Master, Robert de Sablé, was succeeded by Brother Gilbert
Horal or Erail, who had previously filled the high office of Grand Preceptor
of France. The Templars, to retain and strengthen their dominion in
Palestine, commenced the erection of various strong fortresses, the stupendous
ruins of many of which remain to this day. The most famous of these was the
Pilgrim's Castle, which commanded the coast-road from Acre to Jerusalem. It
derived its name from a solitary tower erected by the early Templars to
protect the passage of the pilgrims through a dangerous pass in the mountains
bordering the sea-coast, and was commenced shortly after the removal of the
chief house of the order from Jerusalem to Acre. A small promontory which juts
out into the sea a few miles below Mount Carmel, was converted into a
fortified camp. Two gigantic towers, a hundred feet in height and seventy-four
feet in width, were erected, together with enormous
A.D. 1195. bastions connected together by
strong walls furnished with all kinds of military engines. The vast inclosure
contained a palace for the use of the Grand Master and knights, a magnificent
church, houses and offices for the serving brethren and hired soldiers,
together with pasturages, vineyards, gardens, orchards, and fishponds. On one
side of the walls was the salt sea, and on the other, within the camp,
delicious springs of fresh water. The garrison amounted to four thousand men
in time of war. Considerable remains of this famous fortress are still
visible on the coast, a few miles to the south of Acre. It is still called by
the Levantines, Castel Pellegrino. Pococke describes it as "very
magnificent, and so finely built, that it may be reckoned one of the things
that are best worth seeing in these parts." "It is encompassed," says he,
"with two walls fifteen feet thick, the inner wall on the east side cannot be
less than forty feet high, and within it there appear to have been some very
grand apartments. The offices of the fortress seem to have been at the west
end, where I saw an oven fifteen feet in diameter. In the castle there are
remains of a fine lofty church of ten sides, built in a light gothic taste:
three chapels are built to the three eastern sides, each of which consists of
five sides, excepting the opening to the church; in these it is probable the
three chief altars stood." Irby and Mangles referring
at a subsequent period to the ruins of the church, describe it as a double
hexagon, and state that the half then standing had six sides. Below the
cornice are human heads and heads of animals in alto relievo, and the walls
are adorned with a double line of arches in the gothic style, the architecture
light and elegant.
A.D. 1195. To narrate all the exploits of
the Templars, and all the incidents and events connected with the order, would
be to write the history of the Latin kingdom of Palestine, which was preserved
and maintained for the period of ninety-nine years after the departure of
Richard Cur de Lion, solely by the exertions of the Templars and the
Hospitaliers. No action of importance was ever fought with the infidels, in
which the Templars did not take an active and distinguished part, nor was the
atabal of the Mussulmen ever sounded in defiance on the frontier, without the
trumpets of the Templars receiving and answering the challenge.
A.D. 1201. The Grand Master, Gilbert Horal,
was succeeded by Philip Duplessies or De Plesseis. We
must now refer to a few events connected with the order of the Temple in
Brother Geoffrey, who was Master of the
Temple at London at the period of the consecration of the Temple Church by the
Patriarch of Jerusalem, died shortly after the capture of the holy city by
Saladin, and was succeeded by Brother Amaric de St. Maur, who is an attesting
witness to the deed executed by king John, A.D. 1203, granting a dowry to his
young queen, the beautiful Isabella of Angouleme.
Philip Augustus, king of France, placed a vast sum of gold and silver in the
Temple at Paris, and the treasure of John, king of England, was deposited in
the Temple at London. King John, indeed, frequently
resided, for weeks together, at the Temple in London, and many of his writs
and precepts to his lieutenants, sheriffs, and bailiffs, are dated therefrom.
The orders for the concentration of the English fleet at Portsmouth, to resist
the formidable French invasion
A.D. 1213. instigated by the pope, are
dated from the Temple, and the convention between the king and the count of
Holland, whereby the latter agreed to assist king John with a body of knights
and men-at-arms, in case of the landing of the French, was published at the
In all the conferences and negotiations
between the mean-spirited king and the imperious and overbearing Roman
pontiff, the Knights Templars took an active and distinguished part. Two
brethren of the order were sent by Pandulph, the papal legate, to king John,
to arrange that famous conference between them which ended in the complete
submission of the latter to all the demands of the holy see. By the advice and
persuasion of the Templars, king John repaired to the preceptory of Temple
Ewell, near Dover, where he was met by the legate Pandulph, who crossed over
from France to confer with him, and the mean-hearted king was there frightened
into that celebrated resignation of the kingdoms of England and Ireland, "to
God, to the holy apostles Peter and Paul, to the holy Roman church his mother,
and to his lord, Pope Innocent the Third, and his catholic successors, for the
remission of all his sins and the sins of all his people, as well the living
as the dead." The following year the commands of king
John for the extirpation of the heretics in Gascony, addressed to the
seneschal of that province, were issued from the Temple at London, and about
the same period the Templars were made the depositaries of various private and
confidential matters pending between king John and his illustrious
sister-in-law, "the royal, eloquent, and beauteous" Berengaria
A.D. 1215. of Navarre, the youthful widowed
queen of Richard Cur de Lion. *
The Templars in England managed the money transactions of that fair princess.
She directed her dower to be paid in the house of the New Temple at London,
together with the arrears due to her from the king, amounting to several
John was resident at the Temple when he
was compelled by the barons of England to sign MAGNA CHARTA. Matthew Paris
tells us that the barons came to him, whilst he was residing in the New Temple
at London, "in a very resolute manner, clothed in their military dresses, and
demanded the liberties and laws of king Edward, with others for themselves,
the kingdom, and the church of England.
King John was a considerable benefactor
to the order. He granted to the fraternity the Isle of Lundy, at the mouth of
the river Severn; all his land at Radenach and at Harewood, in the county of
Hereford; and he conferred on the Templars numerous. privileges.
A.D. 1217. The Grand Master Philip
Duplessies was succeeded by Brother WILLIAM DE CHARTRES, as appears from the
following letter to the Pope:
"To the very reverend father in Christ, the
Lord Honorius, by the providence of God chief pontiff of the Holy Roman
Church, William de Chartres, humble Master of the poor chivalry of the Temple,
proffereth all due obedience and reverence, with the kiss of the foot.
A.D. 1217. "By these our letters we hasten
to inform your paternity of the state of that Holy Land which the Lord hath
consecrated with his own blood. Know that, at the period of the departure of
these letters, an immense number of pilgrims, both knights and foot soldiers,
marked with the emblem of the life-giving cross, arrived at Acre from Germany
and other parts of Europe. Saphadin, the great sultan of Egypt, hath remained
closely within the confines of his own dominions, not daring in any way to
molest us. The arrival of the king of Hungary, and of the dukes of Austria and
Moravia, together with the intelligence just received of the near approach of
the fleet of the Friths, has not a little alarmed him. Never do we recollect
the power of the Pagans so low as at the present time; and may the omnipotent
God, O holy father, make it grow weaker and weaker day by day. But we must
inform you that in these parts corn and barley, and all the necessaries of
life, have become extraordinarily dear. This year the harvest has utterly
disappointed the expectations of our husbandmen, and has almost totally
failed. The natives, indeed, now depend for support altogether upon the corn
imported from the West, but as yet very little foreign grain has been
received; and to increase our uneasiness, nearly all our knights are
dismounted, and we cannot procure horses to supply the places of those that
have perished. It is therefore of the utmost importance, O holy father, to
advertise all who design to assume the cross of the above scarcity, that they
may furnish themselves with plentiful supplies of grain and horses.
"Before the arrival of the king of Hungary and
the duke of Austria, we had come to the determination of marching against the
city of Naplous, and of bringing the Saracen chief Coradin to an engagement if
he would have awaited our attack, but we have all now determined to undertake
an expedition into Egypt
A.D. 1218.to destroy the city of Damietta, and we
shall then march upon Jerusalem. . . ."
It was in the month of May, A.D. 1218,
that the galleys of the Templars set sail from Acre on the above-mentioned
memorable expedition into Egypt. They cast anchor in the mouth of the Nile,
and, in conjunction with a powerful army of crusaders, laid siege to Damietta.
A pestilence broke out shortly after their arrival, and hurried the Grand
Master, William de Chartres, to his grave. He was
succeeded by the veteran warrior, Brother PETER DE MONTAIGU, Grand Preceptor
James of Vitry, bishop of Acre, who accompanied
the Templars on this expedition, gives an enthusiastic account of their famous
exploits, and of the tremendous battles fought upon the Nile, in one of which
a large vessel of the Templars was sunk, and every soul on board perished. He
describes the great assault on their camp towards the middle of the year 1219,
when the trenches were forced, and all the infantry put to flight. "The
insulting shouts of the conquering Saracens," says he, "were heard on all
sides, and a panic was rapidly spreading through the disordered ranks of the
whole army of the cross, when the Grand Master and brethren of the Temple made
a desperate charge, and bravely routed the first ranks of the infidels. The
spirit of Gideon animated the Templars, and the rest of the army, stimulated
by their example, bravely advanced to their support. . . . . Thus did the Lord
on that day, through the valour of the Templars, save those who trusted in
Him." Immediately after the surrender of Damietta, the Grand Master of the
A.D. 1222. returned to Acre to repel
the forces of the sultan of Damascus, who had invaded the Holy Land, as
appears from the following letter to the bishop of Ely.
"Brother Peter de Montaigu, Master of the
Knights of the Temple, to the reverend brother in Christ, N., by the grace of
God bishop of Ely, health. We proceed by these letters to inform your
paternity how we have managed the affairs of our Lord Jesus Christ since the
capture of Damietta and of the castle of Taphneos." The Grand Master describes
various military operations, the great number of galleys fitted out by the
Saracens to intercept the supplies and succour from Europe, and the arming of
the galleys, galliots, and other vessels of the order of the Temple to oppose
them, and clear the seas of the infidel flag. He states that the sultan of
Damascus had invaded Palestine, had ravaged the country around Acre and Tyre,
and had ventured to pitch his tents before the castle of the Pilgrims, and had
taken possession of Cĉsarea. "If we are disappointed," says he, "of the
succour we expect in the ensuing summer, all our newly-acquired conquests, as
well as the places that we have held for ages past, will be left in a very
doubtful condition. We ourselves, and others in these parts, are so
impoverished by the heavy expenses we have incurred in prosecuting the affairs
of Jesus Christ, that we shall be unable to contribute the necessary funds,
unless we speedily receive succour and subsidies from the faithful. Given at
Acre, xii. kal. October, A.D. 1222."
The troops of the sultan of Damascus were
repulsed and driven beyond the frontier, and the Grand Master then returned to
Damietta, to superintend the preparations for a march upon Cairo. The results
of that disastrous campaign are detailed in the following letter to Brother
Alan Marcel, Preceptor of England, and Master of the Temple at London.
A.D. 1222. "Brother Peter de Montaigu,
humble Master of the soldiers of Christ, to our vicegerent and beloved brother
in Christ, Alan Marcel, Preceptor of England.
"Hitherto we have had favourable information to
communicate unto you touching our exertions in the cause of Jesus Christ; now,
alas! such have been the reverses and disasters which our sins have brought
upon us in the land of Egypt, that we have nothing but ill news to announce.
After the capture of Damietta, our army remained for some time in a state of
inaction, which brought upon us frequent complaints and reproaches from the
eastern and the western Christians. At length, after the feast of the holy
apostles, the legate of the holy pontiff, and all our soldiers of the cross,
put themselves in march by land and by the Nile, and arrived in good order at
the spot where the sultan was encamped, at the head of an immense number of
the enemies of the cross. The river Taphneos, an arm of the great Nile, flowed
between the camp of the sultan and our forces, and being unable to ford this
river, we pitched our tents on its banks, and prepared bridges to enable us to
force the passage. In the mean time, the annual inundation rapidly increased,
and the sultan, passing his galleys and armed boats through an ancient canal,
floated them into the Nile below our positions, and cut off our communications
with Damietta." . . . . " Nothing now was to be done but to retrace our steps.
The sultans of Aleppo and Damascus, the two brothers of the sultan, and many
chieftains and kings of the pagans, with an immense multitude of infidels who
had come to their assistance, attempted to cut off our retreat. At night we
commenced our march, but the infidels cut through the embankments of the Nile,
the water rushed along several unknown passages and ancient canals, and
encompassed us on all sides. We lost all our provisions, many of our men were
swept into the stream, and the further progress of our
A.D. 1222. christian warriors was forthwith
arrested. The waters continued to increase upon us, and in this terrible
inundation we lost all our horses and saddles, our carriages, baggage,
furniture, and moveables, and everything that we had. We ourselves could
neither advance nor retreat, and knew not whither to turn. We could not attack
the Egyptians on account of the great lake which extended itself between them
and us; we were without food, and being caught and pent up like fish in a net,
there was nothing left for us but to treat with the sultan.
"We agreed to surrender Damietta, with all the
prisoners which we had in Tyre and at Acre, on condition that the sultan
restored to us the wood of the true cross and the prisoners that he detained
at Cairo and Damascus. We, with some others, were deputed by the whole army to
announce to the people of Damietta the terms that had been imposed upon us.
These were very displeasing to the bishop of Acre, to the chancellor, and some
others, who wished to defend the town, a measure which we should indeed have
greatly approved of, had there been any reasonable chance of success; for we
would rather have been thrust into perpetual imprisonment than have
surrendered, to the shame of Christendom, this conquest to the infidels. But
after having made a strict investigation into the means of defence, and
finding neither men nor money wherewith to protect the place, we were obliged
to submit to the conditions of the sultan, who, after having exacted from us
an oath and hostages, accorded to us a truce of eight years. During the
negotiations the sultan faithfully kept his word, and for the space of fifteen
days furnished our soldiers with the bread and corn necessary for their
A.D. 1223. "Do you, therefore, pitying our
misfortunes, hasten to relieve them to the utmost of your ability. Farewell."
Brother Alan Marcell, to whom the above
letter is addressed, succeeded Amaric de St. Maur, and was at the head of the
order in England for the space of sixteen years. He was employed by king Henry
the Third in various important negotiations; and was Master of the Temple at
London, when Reginald, king of the island of Man, by the advice and persuasion
of the legate Pandulph, made a solemn surrender at that place of his island to
the pope and his catholic successors, and consented to hold the same from
thenceforth as the feudatory of the church of Rome.
At the commencement of the reign of Henry the
Third, the Templars in England appear to have been on bad terms with the king.
The latter made heavy complaints against them to the pope, and the holy
pontiff issued (A.D. 1223) the bull "DE INSOLENTIA TEMPLARIORUM REPRIMENDA,"
in which he states that his very dear son in Christ, Henry, the illustrious
king of the English, had complained to him of the usurpations of the Templars
on the royal domains; that they had placed their crosses upon houses that did
not belong to them, and prevented the customary dues and services from being
rendered to the crown; that they undutifully set at nought the customs of the
king's manors, and involved the bailiffs and royal officers in lawsuits before
certain judges of their own appointment. The pope directs two abbots to
inquire into these matters, preparatory to further proceedings against the
guilty parties; but the Templars soon became reconciled to their sovereign,
and on the 28th of April of
A.D. 1224. the year following, the Master,
Brother Alan Marcell, was employed by king Henry to negotiate a truce between
himself and the king of France. The king of England appears at that time to
have been resident at the Temple, the letters of credence being made out at
that place, in the presence of the archbishop of Canterbury, several bishops,
and Hubert, the chief justiciary. *
The year after, the same Alan Marcell was sent into Germany, to negotiate a
treaty of marriage between king Henry and the daughter of the duke of
At this period, Brother Hugh de Stocton
and Richard Ranger, knights of the convent of the New Temple at London, were
the guardians of the royal treasure in the Tower, and the former was made the
depositary, of the money paid annually by the king to the count of Flanders.
He was also intrusted by Henry the Third with large sums of money, out of
which he was commanded to pay ten thousand marks to the emperor of
Among the many illustrious benefactors to
the order of the Temple at this period was Philip the Second, king of France,
who bequeathed the sum of one hundred thousand pounds to the Grand Master of
The Grand Master, Peter de Montaigu, was
A.D. 1236. Brother HERMANN DE PERIGORD.
Shortly after his accession to power, William de Montserrat, Preceptor of
Antioch, being "desirous of extending the christian territories, to the honour
A.D. 1237. and glory of Jesus Christ,"
besieged a fortress of the infidels in the neighbourhood of Antioch. He
refused to retreat before a superior force, and was surrounded and
overwhelmed; a hundred knights of the Temple and three hundred cross-bowmen
were slain, together with many secular warriors, and a large number of foot
soldiers. The Balcanifer, or standard-bearer, on this occasion, was an
English Knight Templar, named Reginald dArgenton, who performed prodigies of
valour. He was disabled and covered with wounds, yet he unflinchingly bore the
Beauseant, or war-banner, aloft with his bleeding arms into the thickest of
the fight, until he at last fell dead upon a heap of his slaughtered comrades.
The Preceptor of Antioch, before he was slain, "sent sixteen infidels to
As soon as the Templars in England heard of
this disaster, they sent, in conjunction with the Hospitaliers, instant
succour to their brethren. "The Templars and the Hospitaliers," says Matthew
Paris, "eagerly prepared to avenge the blood of their brethren so gallantly
poured forth in the cause of Christ. The Hospitaliers appointed Brother
Theodore, their prior, a most valiant soldier, to lead a band of knights and
of stipendiary troops, with an immense treasure, to the succour of the Holy
Land. Having made their arrangements, they all started from the house of the
Hospitaliers at Cleekenwell in London, and passed through the city with spears
held aloft, shields displayed, and banners advanced. They marched in splendid
pomp to the bridge, and sought a blessing from all who crowded to see them
A.D. 1239. brothers indeed uncovered, bowed
their beads from side to side, and recommended themselves to the prayers of
Whilst the Knights Templars were thus
valiantly sustaining the cause of the cross against the infidels in the East,
one of the holy brethren of the order, the king's special counsellor, named
Geoffrey, was signalising his zeal against infidels at home in England, (A.D.
1239,) by a fierce destruction and extermination of the Jews. According to
Matthew Paris, he seized and incarcerated the unhappy Israelites, and extorted
from them immense sums of money. Shortly afterwards,
Brother Geoffrey fell into disgrace and was banished from court, and Brother
Roger, another Templar, the king's almoner, shared the same fate, and was
forbidden to approach the royal presence. Some of the brethren of the order
were always about the court, and when the English monarch crossed the seas, he
generally wrote letters to the Master of the Temple at London, informing him
of the state of the royal health.
It was at this period, (A.D. 1240,) that
the oblong portion of the Temple church was completed and consecrated in the
presence of King Henry the Third.
The Grand Mastership of Brother Hermann de
A.D. 1242. celebrated for the treaty
entered into with the infidels, whereby the holy city was again surrendered to
the Christians. The patriarch returned thither with all his clergy, the
churches were reconsecrated, and the Templars and Hospitaliers emptied their
treasuries in rebuilding the walls.
The following account of these gratifying
events was transmitted by the Grand Master of the Temple to Robert de Sanford,
Preceptor of England, and Master of the Temple at London.
"Brother Hermann de Perigord, humble
minister of the knights of the poor Temple, to his beloved brother in
Christ, Robert de Sanford, Preceptor in England, salvation in the Lord.
"Since it is our duty, whenever an opportunity
offers, to make known to the brotherhood, by letters or by messengers, the
state and prospects of the Holy Land, we hasten to inform you, that after our
great successes against the sultan of Egypt, and Nassr his supporter and
abettor, the great persecutor of the Christians, they were reluctantly
compelled to negotiate a truce, promising us to restore to the followers of
Jesus Christ all the territory on this side Jordan. We despatched certain of
our brethren, noble and discreet personages, to Cairo, to have an interview
with the Sultan upon these matters. . . . . ."
The Grand Master proceeds to relate the
progress of the negotiations, and the surrender of the holy city and the
greater part of Palestine to the soldiers of Christ. . . . "whence, to the joy
of angels and of men," says he, "Jerusalem is now inhabited by Christians
alone, all the Saracens being driven out. The holy places have been
reconsecrated and purified by the prelates of the churches, and in those spots
where the name of the Lord has not been invoked for fifty-six years, now,
blessed be God, the divine mysteries are daily celebrated. To all the sacred
places there is again free access to the faithful in Christ, nor is it to be
doubted but that in this happy and prosperous condition
A.D. 1242. we might long remain, if our
Eastern Christians would from henceforth live in greater concord and
unanimity. But, alas! opposition and contradiction arising from envy and
hatred have impeded our efforts in the promotion of these and other advantages
for the land. With the exception of the prelates of the churches, and a few of
the barons, who afford us all the assistance in their power, the entire
burthen of its defence rests upon our house alone. . . . . . . . . . . . .
"For the safeguard and preservation of
the holy territory, we propose to erect a fortified castle near Jerusalem,
which will enable us the more easily to retain possession of the country, and
to protect it against all enemies. But indeed we can in nowise defend for any
great length of time the places that we hold, against the sultan of Egypt, who
is a most powerful and talented man, unless Christ and his faithful followers
extend to us an efficacious support."
142 Hist. de la maison de Sablé, liv. vi. chap.
5. p. 174, 175. Cotton MS. Nero, E. vi. p. 60. folio 466, where he is called
Robert de Sambell. Lart de Verif. p. 347.
142 Jac. de Vitr. cap. 65.
143 Le roi de France ot le chastel dAcre, ot
le fist garnir et le roi dAngleterre se herberja en la maison du Temple.--Contin.
Hist. bell, sacr. apud Martene, tom. v. col. 634.
143 Cron. Ottonis a S. Blazio, c. 36.
apud Scriptores Italicos, tom. vi. col. 892.
143 Contin. Hist. bell. sacr. apud
Martene, tom. v. col. 633. Trivet, ad. ann. 1191. Chron. de S. Denis,
lib. ii. cap. 7. Vinisauf, p. 328.
143 Primariam aciem deducebant Templarii et
ultimam Hospitalarii, quorum utrique strenue agentes magnarum virtutum
prĉtendebant imaginem.--Vinisauf, cap. xii. p. 350.
144 Ibi rex prĉordinaverat quod die sequenti
primam aciem ipse deduceret, et quod Templarii extremĉ agminis agerent
custodiam.--Vinisauf, cap. xiv. p. 351.
144 Deducendĉ extremĉ legioni prĉfuerant
Templarii, qui tot equos eâ die Turcis irruentibus, a tergo amiserunt, quod
fere desperati sunt.--Ib.
144 Bohadin, cap. cxvi. p. 189.
144 Singulis noctibus antequam dormituri
cubarent, quidam ad hoc deputatus voce
p. 145 magnâ clamaret
fortiter in medio exercitu dicens, ADJUVA SEPULCHRUM SANCTUM; ad hanc vocem
clamabant universi eadem verba repetentes, et manus suas cum lacrymis
uberrimis tendentes in cĉlum, Dei misericordiam postulantes et adjutorium.--Vinisauf,
cap. xii. p. 351.
145 Ibid. cap. xxxii. p. 369.
145 Bedewini horridi, fuligine
obscuriores, pedites improbissimi, arcus gestantes cum pharetris, et ancilia
rotunda, gens quidem acerrima et expedita.--Vinisauf, cap. xviii. p.
146 Vinisauf, cap. xxii. p. 360.
Bohadin, cap. cxx.
146 Expedite descenderunt (Templarii) ex equis
suis, et dorsa singuli dorsis sociorum habentes hĉrentia, facie versâ in
hostes, sese viriliter defendere cperunt. Ibi videri fuit pugnam acerrimam,
ictus validissimos, tinniunt galeĉ a percutientium collisione gladiorum, igneĉ
exsiliunt scintillĉ, crepitant arma tumultuantium, perstrepunt voces; Turci se
viriliter ingerunt, Templarii strenuissime defendunt.--Ib. cap. xxx. p. 366,
147 Vinisauf, cap. xxxii. p. 369.
147 Ib. cap. xxxvii. p. 392. Contin. Hist.
Bell. Sacr. apud Martene, v. col. 638.
148 Vinisauf, lib. v. cap. 1, p. 493.
Ibid. lib. vi. cap. 2, p. 404.
148 Ib. cap. iv. v. p. 406, 407, &c. &c.; cap.
xi. p. 410; cap. xiv. p. 412. King Richard was the first to enter the town.
Tunc rex per cocleam quandam, quam forte prospexerat in domibus Templariorum
solus primus intravit villain.--Vinisauf, p. 413, 414.
149 Contin. Hist. Bell. Sacr. apud
Martene, tom. v. col. 641.
149 Concessimus omne jus, omne dominium quod ad
nos pertinet et pertineat, omnem potestatem, omnes libertates et liberas
consuetudines quas regia potestas conferre potest. Cart. Ric. 1. ann.
5, regni sui.
149 Hispania Illustrata, tom. iii. p.
59. Hist. gen. de Languedoc, tom. iii. p. 409. Cotton, MS. Nero E. VI.
149 Castrum nostrum quod Peregrinorum dicitur,
see the letter of the Grand Master Matt. Par. p. 312, and Jac. de
Vitr. lib. iii. apud Gest. Dei, p. 1131.
150 "Opus egregium," says James of Vitry,
"ubi tot et tantas effuderunt divitias, quod mirum est unde eas accipiunt."--Hist.
Orient. lib. iii. apud Gest. Dei, tom. i. pars 9, p. 1131. Martene,
tom. iii. col. 288. Hist. capt. Damietĉ, apud Hist. Angl. script. XV. p. 437,
438, where it is called Castrum Filii Dei.
150 Pococke, Travels in the East, book i.
151 Dufresne, Gloss. Archives dArles.
Cotton, MS. Nero E. VI.
151 Acta et Fdera Rymeri, tom. i. p.
134, ad. ann. 1203, ed. 1704.
151 Rigord in Gest. Philippi. Acta
Rymeri, tom. i. p. 165, 173.
151 Itinerarium regis Johannis, compiled from
the grants and precepts of that monarch, by Thomas Duff Hardy,
published by the Record Commissioners.
152 Acta Rymeri, tom. i. p. 170, ad.
152 Matt. Par. ad. ann. 1213, p. 234,
236, 237. Matt. Westr. p. 271, 2. Bib. Cotton. Nero C. 2. Acta
Rymeri, tom. i. p. 172, 173. King John resided at Temple Ewell from the
7th to the 28th of May.
152 Teste meipso apud Novum Templum London . .
. . Acta Rymeri, tom. i. p. 105. ad. ann. 1214, ed. 1704.
153 "Formam autem rei prolocutĉ inter nos et
ipsos, scriptam et sigillo nostro sigillatam . . . in custodiam Templariorum
commisimus."--Literĉ Regis sorori suĉ Regina Berengariĉ, ib. p. 194.
153 Berengaria Dei gratiâ, quondam humilis
Angliĉ Regina. Omnibus, &c. salutem. . Hanc pecuniam solvet in domo Novi
Templi London. Ib. p. 208, 209, ad. ann. 1215.
153 Matt. Par. p. 253, ad. ann. 1215.
153 Monast. Angl. vol. vi. part ii.
155 Ital. et Raven. Historiarum Hieronymi
Rubei, lib. vi. p. 380, 381, ad ann. 1217. ed. Ven. 1603.
155 Jac. de Vitr. lib. iii. ad. ann.
1218. Gesta Dei, tom i. 1, pars 2, p. 1133, 4, 5.
155 Gall. Christ nov. tom. ii. col. 714,
tom vii. col. 229.
155 Jac. de Vitr. Hist. Orient. ut sup.
p. 1138. Bernard Thesaur. apud Muratori, cap. 190 to 200.
156 Epist. Magni Magistri Templi apud Matt.
Par. p. 312, 313.
158 Our historian, James de Vitry; he
subsequently became one of the hostages. Contin. Hist. apud Martene,
tom. v. col. 698.
159 Matt. Par. ad ann. 1222, p. 314. See
also another letter, p. 313.
159 Actum London in domo Militiĉ Templi, II.
kal. Octob. Acta Rymeri, tom. i. p. 234, ad ann. 1219.
159 Acta Rymeri, tom. i. ad ann. 1223,
160 Mittimus ad vos dilect. nobis in Christo,
fratrem Alanum Marcell Magistrum milltiĉ Templi in Angliâ, &c. . . . . Teste
meipso apud Novum Templum London coram Domino Cantuar--archiepiscopo, Huberto
de Burgo justitiario et J. Bath--Sarum episcopis. Acta Rymeri, tom. i.
p. 270, ad ann. 1224.
160 Ib. p. 275.
160 Ib. p. 311, 373, 380.
160 Sanut, lib. iii. c. a. p. 210.
160 Cotton, MS. Nero E. VI. p. 60. fol.
466. Nero E. VI. 23. i.
161 Cecidit autem in illo infausto certamine
illustris miles Templarius, Anglicus natione, Reginaldus de Argentomio, eâ die
Balcanifer; . . . indefessus vero vexillum sustinebat, donec tibiĉ cum
cruribus et manibus frangerentur. Solus quoque eorum Preceptor priusquam
trucidaretur, sexdecim hostium ad inferos destinavit.--Matt. Par. p.
443, ad ann. 1237.
162 A Clerkenwelle domo sua, quĉ est
Londoniis, per medium civitatis, clypeis circiter triginta detectis, hastis
elevatis, et prĉvio vexillo, versus pontem, ut ab omnibus videntibus,
benedictionem obtinerent, perrexerunt eleganter. Fratres verò inclinatis
capitibus, hinc et inde caputiis depositis, se omnium precibus commendaverunt.--Matt.
Par. p. 443, 444.
162 Et eodem anno (1239) . . . passi sunt Judĉi
exterminium magnum et destructionem, eosdem arctante et incarcerante, et
pecuniam ab eisdem extorquente Galfrido Templario, Regis speciali consiliario.--Matt.
Par. p. 489, ad ann. 1239.
162 In ipsâ irâ aufagavit fratrem Rogerum
Templarium ab officio eleemosynariĉ, et a curiâ jussit elongari.--Ib.
162 Rymer, tom. i. p. 404.
164 Matt. Par. p. 615.