The Order of the Temple was organized on similar lines to the Hospital of St John and the Teutonic Order. Like those Orders, it was governed by a Master who was based at the Order's headquarters in the East, with a number of great officials who were also based at the Order's headquarters and who dealt with specific matters of government. Subordinate officials assisted them. The Order's lands in Europe were divided into provinces, each administered by a provincial commander, who in turn had subordinate officials under him who were responsible for the running of individual houses. A system of general chapter meetings kept the officials of the Order in the East in touch with the Brothers in the West. But as the Order of the Temple existed for less than two centuries, its organization and government never became as sophisticated as those of the other two supra-national Military Orders.

For instance, by the mid-fourteenth century the Brothers at the central convent of the Hospital of St John were divided into tongues-linguistic divisions - for administrative purposes, and the great officials of the Order were each taken from one of these tongues. The same linguistic differences existed among the Templars, but such tongues never became official divisions within the Order. Whereas for the Order of the Hospital the Order's, general chapter proceedings meetings show, such practices in operation, no proceedings of the Templars' general chapter meetings survive. Any such records would have been kept at the central convent, so would have been lost with the rest of the Templars' central archive. In any case, the Order of the Temple was dissolved before such records began to be systematically kept, for the Hospitallers' oldest record of general chapter proceedings dates only from 1330.


The Master of the Order of the Temple was elected for life. The election was made in an assembly of the officials of the Order in the East and the whole convent, that is, the Brothers living in the headquarters of the Order: in Jerusalem before 1187, in Acre from 1191 to 1291, or in Cyprus from 1291. Scholars differ over the best definition of the personnel of 'the convent', but the most recent study describes it as 'a community . . . those who lived and worked at the headquarters,  specifically the high-officials.'


The hierarchical statutes, composed before 1186, laid down the procedure for election. The day was set by an official called 'the Grand Commander', in consultation with the Marshal, the commanders of the land of Jerusalem, of Antioch and of Tripoli and other officials. The statutes give the impression that it was more important to ensure that the right person was elected than to elect quickly. All the Brothers in the West who could not attend the election were to fast and pray that God would advise the electors, and the Brothers also asked other religious Orders for their prayers. At the assembly where the election took place, thirteen electors— eight knight-Brothers, four sergeant-Brothers and one chaplain-Brother — were chosen by a complex procedure which was intended to allow God maximum intervention in the electoral process. These thirteen represented Christ (represented by the chaplain-Brother) arid His twelve disciples. They should be chosen from various nations, but no specific division of nations was laid down. The choice should be a majority decision, and a Brother who was already in the East was preferred over Brothers in Europe. Although the Master was chosen for life, a few Masters eventually resigned the office,. such as Evrard des Barres, who later joined the Cistercian Order, and Philip de Milly, who returned to secular life after his resignation.

The Master was chief executive of the Order, led the Brothers in battle when he was present, and represented the Order to the outside world. He was also the spiritual head of the Order, effectively chosen by God. The Order of the Temple did not experience the vicious quarrels over the constitution of the Order and the role and authority of the Master that beset the Hospital of St John, either because in the Temple the Master always took the great officials' advice and ruled according to custom and precedent as a ruler should, or because the Templars preferred a Master who led from the front, as expected of a military leader.

Officials of religious Orders had their own seals to validate documents approved by the Order. The Master of the Temple's great seal was double sided and showed the circular dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on one side, and the Order's symbol of two knights on one horse on the other. There was also a smaller, single-sided seal which showed the circular dome of the Holy Sepulchre. The images on the seal reminded anyone who looked at it that the Templars defended the Holy Sepulchre, and were the poor knights of Christ.

The Master did not rule the Order alone. The hierarchical statutes refer to general chapters being held in the Order's headquarters or in one of its leading houses in the East. General chapters could also be held in the West. They were meetings of the Master and central convent and leading officials of the Order from Europe, rather like the courts held by secular rulers, at which business was discussed and legal cases heard.

The Templars' general chapter appointed leading officials of the Order, dealt with disciplinary cases and other problems that had been referred to it by the Master and convent or by the provincial chapters, and decided which Brothers were no longer fit for active service in the East and should be retired to western Europe. The only extensive records of the decisions taken at these meetings are the references to them in the collection of legal decisions that accompanies the Rule of the Order. There are also some references to the general chapters in the proceedings of the trial of 1307—12. 


Scholars have not agreed over how frequently Templar general chapters were held. Other religious Orders that held general chapters had different regulations on how often they should meet: the Cistercians held them every year. Jochen Burgtorf has argued that the Hospitallers and Templars held a general chapter meeting in the East every year, but the western officials attended only every five years (for the Hospital) or every four years (for the Temple) when their terms of office expired. No written procedure for the Templars' general chapters survives. To judge from the procedures laid down in the Rule for ordinary weekly chapter meetings and from the practices in the Order of the Hospital, general chapters probably began and ended with prayers led by the chaplain and were presided over by the Master. The provincial officials would surrender the symbols of their office (their seals) and render their accounts. This would be a verbal report, which those present heard (auditum) - in short, their accounts were 'audited'; General regulations were made.


The day-to-day running of the Order was under the government of various administrative officials. Their posts were called bailies (things entrusted to someone), and the officer in charge was the baili (the one to whom things have been entrusted, or the one responsible for them; in English, 'bailiff'). None of these posts was given for life, and there was no clear career structure in the Order. Brothers did not have to complete a set period of service before holding office: both Philip de Milly, lord of Nablus, and Robert de Sable or Sabloel (1191-3) became Master of the Order a very short time after joining the Order. The titles of the great officials of the Order are set out in the hierarchical statutes, but only their roles and relative status before 1187 are recorded; these would have changed as the Order developed. To complicate the picture further, some prominent figures in the Order held offices that do not fit into the pattern laid down by the statutes: the most obvious example is Brother Geoffrey Fulcher, who appears as 'procurator' and 'preceptor' or commander in the 1160s and 'commander of the Order overseas' in the 1170s. None of these offices is listed in the statutes, yet Geoffrey Fulcher was clearly an official of great importance.


In the mid-twelfth century the major officials in the East were, in order of precedence: the Seneschal (dapifer in Latin), the Marshal - the chief military officer, the Draper — in charge of clothing and other household equipment, and the Commander of the Land of Jerusalem - who also acted as Treasurer. At the end of the twelfth century the office of Seneschal was dropped and an officer called the Grand Commander took over some of his functions. This is a confusing title, because the Order also had a 'Grand Commander', who was appointed on a Master's death to govern the Order during the vacancy and organize the election of the new Master. The Order's preference for calling any official 'commander' (Latin: preceptor) causes problems for modern historians trying to work out the Order's leadership structures.

The great officers of the Order at the Central Convent at the end of the Order's history were the Marshal, the Commander of Apulia (southern Italy), the Grand Commander, the Commander of the Land, the Draper and the Turcopolier: these were the officials arrested in Cyprus in 1310. The Turcopolier was originally a subordinate official, under the authority of the Marshal. He was in command of the turcopoles - mercenary cavalry recruited in the East - and the Brother-sergeants.


Another subordinate military official was the Gonfanier (Banner-bearer) who was responsible for carrying the Order's standard in battle. The standard was baucant (piebald), with a black and a white section. Contemporary illustrations differ over which part of the banner was white and which was black. Matthew Paris, the chronicler of St Albans Abbey, shows it with the upper section black and the lower section white; the Order's own frescoes at the church of San Bevignate, Perugia, show it with a white upper section (with cross superimposed) and a black lower section. Possibly the banner shown at San Bevignate was the Master's standard while Matthew Paris drew the smaller piebald banner carried by the Marshal and other commanders in the field. The standard itself played an essential role in the field: it represented the centre of the Order's troops, a place to which the Brothers could withdraw to regroup and charge again; it represented the Order itself. Its loss was a terrible disaster, and the Brothers should die rather than allow it to be captured.


The Order had an Infirmerer, who was responsible for running the infirmary of the central convent, where old Brothers were cared for. Unlike the Hospital of St John and the Teutonic Order, the Order of the Temple did not have a hospital at its central convent for poor pilgrims and the needy, although the Brothers had to give alms (charity to the poor), and in Europe the Order was responsible for the maintenance and administration of some hospices.


It is not clear whether there was a chief chaplain in the Order. In the Hospital of St John, the chief chaplain at the Order's headquarters - the 'conventual prior' - held spiritual authority over all the Order's priests. Within the central convent he was responsible for the Brothers' spiritual health and for the care of the conventual church of St John. The Order of the Temple also had chaplain-Brothers, but the statutes do not mention any prior in charge of them. Yet during the trial of the Order on Cyprus an official with the title 'prior of the Order of the Temple', prior de ordine Templi, was interrogated.

This was Brother Hugh de Bensano. On Cyprus the title prior indicated a priest in charge of a parish, but Brother Hugh was not given a parish location. In contrast, the other prior who appears in the trial records for Cyprus, Brother Stephen de Safed, was 'priest, prior of the house of the Temple at Limossol.' Possibly Brother Hugh's 'parish' was the whole Order, and he was the equivalent of the conventual prior in the Hospital of St John.


The Order's properties in the West, in Europe, were divided into provinces. An officer called the 'Master on this side of the sea' or the 'visitor' could be appointed by the general chapter to; oversee the overseas provinces, but each province also had its own hierarchy of officials. The exact organization of the provinces in the West was fluid and changed during the course of the Order's history. In the Temple, the official in charge of a province was called a master, a 'procurator', or a 'commander'. The provinces developed as the Order acquired territory in the West. By 1143 the Templars had a province covering 'Provence and parts of Spain', but there was no province; for Germany until the 1220s.


One house in the province would be used as the centre of the provincial administration, where records were kept and where the treasury was based. In England this was at London, in northern France it was Paris, in Aragon by the late thirteenth century it was at Miravet. The provincial Master had his own seal for validating legal documents. The provincial seal generally had a standard design: the seal of the French province showed a domed circular building - the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; the seal of the English province showed the agnus Dei, the lamb of God — a symbol of Christ, the head of the Order. The seal of the German provincial Master varied: at the end of the thirteenth century Bertram von Esbeck's seal showed an eagle, but in the 1270s and 1280s the Master of Germany had Christ's head on his seal, just as the head of the king or queen appears on modern British coins. In the same way the provincial prior of the Hospital of St John in England had the head of St John the Baptist on his seal. If the seal were double-sided, the back could show the provincial Master's own symbol, typically his own family coat of arms.


The principal house of a Templar province was also a collection point for all the dues or 'responsions' which were payable by the individual houses within the province, for dispatching to the Order's headquarters in the East. The provincial commander was responsible for ensuring that the responsions, which in theory should amount to a third of annual income, were properly assessed and collected. As the Order had wide possessions in land and much of its income came from rents it could be difficult to establish exactly what its income should be. In England in 1185 the Master of England, Geoffrey fitz Stephen, initiated an investigation into all the Order's incomes in England: these were recorded in a bound volume which would have been kept at the 'New Temple' - the Templars' headquarters just outside the city of London. Confiscated by the king when the Order was dissolved, this volume is now in the UK National Archives, at the Public Record Office at Kew, London. It should have been given to the Hospitallers' provincial prior, but the Hospitallers in England never managed to acquire all the Templars' English documents.

The provincial Master did not necessarily live at the provincial headquarters; in a large province he needed to travel about to visit the individual houses, or he might be resident at the royal court.


Once a year, a provincial chapter meeting was held at a central location, presided over by the provincial Master, for all the heads of individual houses to attend. This was sometimes called a 'general chapter' to distinguish it from the weekly chapter meetings in each individual commandery. King John of England (1199-1216) gave the Order in England ten bucks (male deer) each year for their provincial chapter meeting at Pentecost, to which his son Henry III added a barrel of wine, until the financial crisis of the late 1250s cut his expenditure.

Edward I (1272-1307), a crusader with a keen sense of money's worth, ended the donation of venison. As well as enjoying a good meal, the provincial chapter discussed legal cases, problems of discipline, the collection of monies and other business relating to the province. Difficult cases were referred from the provincial chapter to the general chapter in the East.


At a local level, the basic administrative unit of the Templars in the West was the commandery or preceptory. 'Preceptory' is the Latin term; 'commandery' meant exactly the same thing in French. The commandery was the equivalent of the secular manor, and the commandery buildings looked very like secular manors except that they usually included a chapel. By the papal privilege Omne Datum Optimum of 1139 the Templars were allowed to have their own chapels, provided that they were only for the use of their Brothers. In practice, associate members of the Order and donors also used these chapels, and many became parish churches. Smaller houses, too small to have their own chapel and sometimes let out to tenants, were called camerae, which literally means 'rooms', or membra, 'limbs'.


The commander of the commandery was effectively lord of the manor. He had to look after his tenants, keep law and order and see that justice was done, and ensure that rent was paid (in money, kind or work). He was responsible for collecting the money and other produce and sending the requisite amount to the provincial headquarters.

The commander would also receive gifts made to the Order. Each commandery contained a strong chest holding charters of donation and records of legal cases to prove the Order's ownership of its properties in the commandery; or, if not the originals, copies bound into a single volume. Many of these local collections of charters, called cartularies, survive in local, provincial and national archives in Europe, although centuries of war, fire and accident have taken their toll. Such charters rarely offer any great insights into the Order. Here is a typical charter from the Order's principal house in Champagne, at Provins:   

Concerning how Adam marshal of the church of the Blessed Stephen of Means, gave in alms to the Brothers' of the Knights Templar Mathelina, the daughter of Theobald, his female serf.

I, Adam, marshal of the church of the Blessed Stephen of Meaux and canon of the church of the Blessed, Quiriace of Provins give notice to all who inspect the present document that out of piety I have given and conceded Mathelina, the daughter of Theobald of Boissac, my bondswoman, in perpetuity to the Brothers of the Knights Templar, so that she might henceforth be their bondswoman. So that this may remain fixed, I have had the present document confirmed by my seal: Done at Meaux, the year of Our Lord 1221, the month of May.

Adam did not explain exactly why he was giving Mathehna to the Templars. 'Out of piety' could mean that it was a pious deed to give something to a religious Order, or could mean that he was acting out of pity for Mathelina -perhaps her husband or boyfriend already belonged to the Templars. Nor does he
explain what he expected Mathehna to do for the Templars. As religious houses usually employed women as dairymaids and laundresses, it is likely that Mathehna would take on that sort of essential work. The 'serf' or 'bondswoman' was a person without full legal rights, effectively in permanent unpaid employment. In practice, as their owner was responsible for meeting all their needs, they might have a better quality of life than free, paid workers.


Donors expected a spiritual reward from God for themselves and their family in return for supporting His knights. Their charters often said nothing about the Order's work defending Christendom, and referred to the Templars as if they were simply a group of religious people following a 'religious rule' like any other monastic Order. Yet donors were clearly impressed by the Templars' spiritual standards, for otherwise they would not have given their land to this Order. After all, there were plenty of religious Orders around, and one would not want to 'waste' a donation by giving it to a second-rate Order. Only first-rate religious Orders would attract the best rewards from God for their donors.


Many charters included a list of witnesses who were present when the donation was made and could later testify that it had taken place as set out in the charter. These included both members of the Order of the Temple and outsiders. In a larger house, the charter would list only the names of the principal Templars present, and then lump the lesser-members together as 'others'. For example, on 11 August 1198, at the commandery of Rourell in Catalonia, one Bererigier Duran gave himself to be an associate of the Order of the Temple, and gave a piece of partly cultivated land at Robarroja. This was given to Lady Ermengard-de Oluja, sister of the Order of the Temple and at that time preceptrix (female commander) of the House at Rourell, and Brother Raymon de Solson, and Brother John, and Brother William Escansset, Titborgs (a woman's name) and other Brothers and Sisters present and future. Apparently Rourell was too large to list all the members present, but there were at least nine members.


The quality of life at a commandery would have varied according to its location and importance. Except in lawless areas such as Ireland and the south of France, it would not be enclosed by a tall outer wall as a monastery would be. Houses at a distance from the frontiers of Christendom did not have stores of weapons, which meant that the Brothers were open to attack from their lawless neighbours. The commandery was not a wealthy place; most commanderies were small, and all possible resources were sent to the East.


When the Templars were arrested from October 1307 onwards, royal officials made a record of what was found at each house. Chapels were well stocked with valuable plate and the necessary books, for services and the maintenance of religious life: the Masters of the Temple were rightly proud of the quality of their Order's religious observance. But the houses themselves were not generally well supplied with the comforts of life, even at this period when furnishing was generally minimal. The Templars lived at the same sort of level as the farmers who were their tenants. At the small house of Llanmadoc on the Gower Peninsula in south Wales no furnishings of any sort were listed; there were a few utensils in the kitchen, and a few animals in the barns, including two dead oxen. Broken equipment was left lying around. The commander was expected to send any surplus income to the provincial Master for despatch to the East rather than spend it on making the Templars' lives more comfortable.


The commandery was the basic unit of life for the members of the Order in Europe. The people living in a commandery would be of different status: some were fully professed members of the Order; others were associates or pensioners of the Order; while others were servants - both free, employed servants and unfree serfs or slaves. The fully professed members of the Order were the chaplains, knight-Brothers, Sergeant or serving Brothers (armed or non-armed) and Sisters. They had taken the three monastic vows of poverty (no personal property), chastity (no sexual relations with anyone) and obedience (obeying God through the Master of the Order, their immediate commander and the Rule of the Order). Associates of the Order had taken only a vow of obedience.


Some modern writers have been uncertain what Templars actually looked like. Bernard of Clairvaux indicates that they wore their hair short, but their beards long, and this is supported by other contemporary accounts: an anecdote in Jacques de Vitry's sermon indicates that they shaved their heads completely. I have not been able to trace any medieval pictures of Templars without their armour from before the mid-thirteenth century. The picture of Templars in Alfonso X of Castile's book of chess, and a contemporary sculpture on the tomb of the infante Don Felipe in the church of the Templars' commandary at Villasirga, Palencia, show the Templars as bearded, with their hair short but neatly curled in the current fashion, and wearing the caps usually worn by religious men. They wear ankle-length, dark-coloured tunics, with a white mantle which has a red cross on the left breast. A Templar illustrated in a manuscript of Jacquemart Gielee's Renart le Nouvel wears a red tunic with a-white mantle. He wears a white cross on the chest of his tunic, and the characteristic soft cap on his head. Another manuscript of the same work shows both the Masters of the Hospital and Temple. The Templar mantle here: appears more grey-blue than white, but perhaps it has become tarnished through association with Renart the Fox. The red cross appears on the left breast of the mantle. Under the mantle is a dark tunic.

These pictures show that the knight-Brothers of the Temple were not dressed wholly in white but wore a long tunic of a darker shade with a white mantle over it. None of these pictures shows other members of the Order, only knights.


Most of the people living in a commandery in the West would never have fought the Muslims and were not expected to do so. The chaplains' role was to provide spiritual services to the members of the Order, to celebrate mass and to pray. Priests were not to shed blood, so the chaplains were not supposed to fight. The non-military sergeants or serving-Brothers did manual work, such as carpentry, looking after animals, acting as smiths or stone masons. The Sisters' and associates' role was to pray; their warfare was spiritual warfare - the warfare of all religious people.


The papal bull Omne Datum Optimum of 1139 allowed the Brothers to have priest-Brothers, who were not subject to their local bishop. The priests were of high status within the Order, and the Order's statutes and 'retrais' frequently refer
to them. They did not have to be of knightly birth to become chaplains.


The other members of the Order were laity - unlike traditional monastic Orders where the majority of the fully professed Brothers would be priests. The knight-Brothers were the most prominent, although there were far fewer knight-Brothers than sergeant-Brothers in the Order. In theory, only the knight-Brothers could hold the highest offices in the Order, but in fact some sergeant-Brothers also obtained high offices. For instance, Jochen Burgtorf has noted that Peter de Castellon, who was treasurer of the Order in the early fourteenth century, was a sergeant-Brother, not a knight-Brother.


In the early twelfth century, when the Order was founded, the status of 'knight' was not well defined. Knights were trained professional warriors who typically fought on horseback, fully armed, with their preferred weapons the sword and the lance. Yet they also often fought on foot, and using battleaxes or bows and arrows. They were sometimes, but not necessarily, of noble birth: the Latin word used to mean 'knight' in the Middle Ages was 'miles', which meant simply 'soldier' in classical Latin and even 'servant' in early medieval times.


But during the twelfth century knights rose in social status. This was partly because becoming a professional, fully armed warrior became more difficult: new fighting techniques, particularly the cavalry charge with couched lance, required long hours of training which were possible only for those with the time and money to spare - either professional warriors or the nobility. As chainmail armour became more specialized and swords improved in quality they became more expensive. Knights also grew to be more important in government, particularly in local government: King Henry II of England (1154-89) gave knights important responsibilities in the running of the shires. At the same time, knightly culture began to develop. Warriors were under pressure from hostile forces: the Church attacked them as mindless bloodthirsty murderers (as in Bernard of Clairvaux's letter 'The new Knighthood') and merchants sneered at them for being impractical, without business sense, and having no idea of the value of money.


In response — although not consciously so - the warriors developed their own culture: 'knighthood', chevalerie in the common language of Trench, now called 'chivalry' in English. Already by the mid-twelfth century a warrior went through a special ceremony in order to become 'a knight', which involved his laying his sword in the altar and then taking it up again, showing that he was God's knight. Those who regarded themselves as knights had their own invented tradition, the stories of the emperor Charlemagne and Roland, of William 'Shortnose' of Orange and of King Arthur. In these, stories a knightly culture was developed, often contradictory and inconsistent, but with certain common features. The most important thing for a warrior was to preserve his honour. He should be active and he should die fighting, not in his bed. Knights should be wise, but sometimes it was more honourable to take risks.

It was shown in Chapter 1 that when the Order of the Temple was founded some commentators regarded the Templars as representing what knighthood should really be: they were the most perfect form of knighthood. Whether this was ever true or not, knightly ideals did not stop developing after the Templars were founded, and by the early thirteenth century knights were claiming that they could serve God as individuals, simply by being knights, and they did not need to join a religious Order. The Templars' ideal of working as a community for God was still accepted as one way for a knight to serve God, but it certainly was not the only way.


Rather than the Templars affecting the development of knighthood, developments in knighthood affected the Templars. One area of obvious influence was in the Brothers' self-image. Knightly culture demanded that a knight should have a strong sense of self-esteem. Outsiders saw this as pride. All the supra-national Military Orders were accused of being proud, a particularly knightly sin. Another obvious area of influence was in the Order's policy on admitting knights. In the thirteenth century, as becoming a knight became more expensive and more onerous, fewer men were prepared to take up knighthood. If only nobles could afford to be knights, then knighthood must be a sign of nobility. Not all knights were from the high nobility, but all regarded themselves as being of higher social status than merchants, who had to lie and cheat in order to make money, and clerics, who never got their hands dirty. During the thirteenth century the Military Orders started to insist that only the sons of knights or of knights' daughters could enter their Orders as knight-Brothers, and the judgements recorded with the Rule of the Temple note a case of a knight-Brother who was demoted because he was not from a knightly family.


Men of lesser social status joined the Military Orders as a way of rising in the world. The Brothers were often employed as royal and papal officials, and individual commanders and officers could hold considerable power and authority. These Orders provided a route for a young warrior from a non-noble knightly family or a family of just below knightly status to win high office by hard work and dedication.


A sermon of Jacques de. Vitry, bishop of Acre, pointed out some of the problems: that arose when Brothers from poorer backgrounds came into the relative prosperity of the Order of the Temple. He had heard of a Brother who never in his whole life in the outside world had laid his head on a pillow, but when he entered the Order he got so used to having a pillow that one night when it was taken away, because the pillow case was being washed, he kept the whole house awake with his muttering and complaining. Other Brothers who used to be poor and needy became so proud when they entered the Order and were given some minor office that they became rude and abusive to secular knights.


The problems could also work the other way: Brothers from higher social groups despised those of lesser birth, and those with power despised those without. Jacques told his listeners not to despise Brothers who were the children of humble parents. In November 1309 Brother Ponzard de Gizy, commander of Payns (Aube) in France, put forward as part of his evidence against his Order that the lesser Brothers were victimized by the officials of the Order. Such attitudes reflected the conflicts in the society from which the Brothers came.


When the Order was founded, its squires and servants were not members of the Order. This policy soon changed and auxiliaries were admitted to full membership. It was also possible to join the Order for a fixed period only, as did Count Fulk V of Anjou and Ramon Berenguer IV. 

Sergeant-Brothers or serving-Brothers could act as warriors or unarmed servants. Although the Rule restricted their access to high office, many acted as commanders and held subordinate offices. The vast bulk of the Brothers were sergeants; The Rule stated that only knight-Brothers could wear white mantles (symbolizing purity) while sergeants and associates of the Order should wear black (the traditional colour of monastic habits, symbolizing-human sin). If this ruling was enforced, it is not surprising that contemporaries so often muddled the Hospitallers' black mantles with the Templar sergeants' black mantles and could not tell the two Orders apart. The non-fighting sergeants were essential to the running of the Order, but whereas warriors would be sent to the Holy Land, where fighting men were always needed, servants such as shepherds would probably stay in their homeland, in the house which they originally joined. They were not expected to attend provincial chapter meetings, and if they were running a camera where there was no chapel and there were fewer than four Brothers they might, never even attend a Sunday chapter meeting. Such Brothers lived lives hardly different from those of their farming neighbours.     


The Rule of the Order forbad the reception of Sisters. This made good sense for a military force, because women in the army would distract the men and disrupt discipline. But in the West, away from the battle lines, military considerations were not important. The reason given in the Rule for excluding women from the Order was that they would lead the Brothers astray from their spiritual path. Other religious Orders of the twelfth century had the same ruling for the same reason. The Cistercian Order would not accept women, while the Premonstratensian Order at first accepted women and then forbad their admission. The Rule of the Teutonic Order stated that women should not be admitted because they would make the Brothers 'go soft'; women could only be accepted as 'half-Sisters' and had to live separately from the Brothers. 


Yet in practice both the Cistercians and the Premon-stratensians continued to admit women on a regular basis, while the Teutonic Order accepted women as full Sisters and their houses were sometimes attached to the Brothers' houses. In fact, it was not possible for a religious Order to keep women out if they wanted to join, because they brought with them money, influence and other valuable gifts such as the favour and support of their families. Any Order that refused to accept all women would lose much more than it would gain, and no religious Order would want to refuse entry to pious women who could improve the spirituality of the Order.


The Templars had at least one nunnery. In 1272 Bishop Eberhard of Worms gave the Order of the Temple ownership and responsibility for the administration of the nunnery of Muhlen (between Osthofen and Westhofen in the diocese of Worms), and the duty of supporting the women there. After the dissolution of the Order of the Temple the nuns of Muhlen, quondam ordinis Templi, 'formerly of the Order of the Temple', were transferred to the Order of the Hospital, although the Sisters did not want to be transferred. There were also a number of women living in commanderies of men. Presumably there was some form of segregation within the house, although we have no information about this. Sister Adelheide of Wellheim is recorded at the Templar house of Mosbrunnen (now Moritzbrunn) in the diocese of Eichstatt in the early fourteenth century. She was the former wife of Templar Rudiger of Wellheim, and had chosen 'continual habitation' in the house of the Temple of Moritzbrunn for the rest of her life in order to serve God better. However, because of her physical weakness she could not bear living under the Rule, and she was moved out of the house to a separate dwelling. The charter setting out her situation indicates that she had been living in the commandery before the decision was taken to move her elsewhere, and that she had been following the complete Rule, as a Sister of the Order.

Adelheide entered the Order as the wife of a Brother of the Order. The Rule did permit married couples to become associate members, but stated that wives could not become full Sisters and could not live in a house of the Order. Yet the Brothers stretched the Rule to meet the needs of the Order and its donors. While scholars have identified some couples whose association with the Order fitted the requirements of the Rule, other arrangements expected either the man or the woman to enter the Order eventually, whichever outlived the other.

The papal commissioners examinations of the French Templars during the trial of the Order suggest how one man and wife could have entered the Order together. On 23 February 1310 Raynand Bergeron, a serving-Brother, told the papal commissioners that he had been invited to join the Order by the local commander and had refused unless his wife was allowed to enter with him. The commander agreed, because (said Raynand) he wanted to gain Raynand's property for the Order. Raynand did not say whether his wife went through the same admission ceremony as he did, nor did he explain what her standing was in the Order.

However, because torture was used during the initial interrogations in France, and because once a person had confessed to heresy they could not go back on their confession without being condemned as an obdurate heretic, the evidence from the French trial is, to use the modern phrase, 'unsafe'. This applies even where the accused produced evidence that contradicted the charges, as modern scientific psychological research has demonstrated that those under interrogation may invent information in order to distract the interrogator. Brother Raynand seems to have wanted to convince the commissioners that the Order had tricked him into joining for the wrong motives, and so his membership of the Order was invalid. Hence his story is probably untrue.

More certain examples of men and women joining the Order together are known from the donations they gave the Order when they joined. Gombau and Ermengarda d' Oluja joined the Order as donats, a type of association with the Order. Gombau was lord of the castle of Vallfogona and held other properties in the area of Tarragona. On 31 December 1196 the couple gave their property and themselves to the house of the Temple at Barbera, and entered the house as resident donats. Gombau disappears from the record: presumably he died. We next encounter Ermengarda as commander of the nearby house of Rourell, where there were also other Sisters. We do not know whether Ermengarda carried out all the duties of a commander herself, such as attending provincial chapters, or whether she sent a male representative in her place, but her title of preceptrix - commander is beyond doubt.

In 1288 Geoffrey de Vichier, Visitor of the Order of the Temple in France, England and Germany, noted that Adelisa, widow of Henry Morsels, 'our associate sister' (consoror), who was living (manens) in the Order's house at Ghent, had asked him to receive lord Arnulph of Assche, priest, to serve in the second chapel in the house at Ghent, which Adelisa had founded.

As Geoffrey specifically stated that Adelisa was living in the house it is possible that she had paid for a second chapel so that she would have somewhere to worship separately from the Brothers.   


Although Adelisa was living in the commandery, she was not a fully professed Sister but an associate. There was a wide range of possible levels of association. Various terms were used for associates: these include familiars (friends), conversi and conversae (literally 'converts'), confratres and consorores (fellow-Brothers and Sisters), donati and donatae (men and women who had 'given' themselves to the Order). At one end of the spectrum were those who had promised to take the Order's habit if they decided to enter a religious Order. They gave the Order their possessions but retained the income from them for their lifetime, and chose to be buried in the Order's cemetery. In return the Order promised them a share in its spiritual and worldly benefits, and gave them economic assistance if required.


Then there were those who had made a firmer commitment with a vow of obedience, but not the full profession of the three monastic vows. They would be associated with their local house (for example, making a small annual donation in return for the Brothers' prayers and a share in their good works), but remained in their own home. If they later joined a religious Order, they would join the Order to which they were associated, but they need not actually join any Order and they need not wear a habit. The Order would undertake to take care of them in their old age, and bury them on their death. In effect they had made an arrangement to give a regular donation to a worthwhile charity, with pension and burial insurance benefits in return. The most committed had made a vow of obedience to the Master, had the definite intention of entering the Order, and might actually be living within a house of the Order, waiting for the opportunity to make their final vows. They wore a special habit, different from the habit of fully professed members of the Order: perhaps the cross on their mantle would be a different design from that worn by full members.


The Templars had many male and female associates, some so closely associated that they are all but indistinguishable from fully professed members of the Order. It is possible that the Brothers and Sisters at Rourell were actually associate members of the Order and not fully professed, but if they were living a religious life, following the Rule and attending Church services, there was no difference in practice between them and the fully professed members of the Order. Berengaria of Lorach, whom Alan Forey found cited in a number of thirteenth-century documents relating to the Templars' house of Barb era, was described as both donata (associate) and soror (full Sister), her name appears in the witness-lists of Brothers of the Order (as if she, too, were a 'Brother') and she gave counsel to the commander of the house.

The fact that she was acting as a witness does suggest that she was living within the precinct of the commandery, but it is not clear what her status was within the Order.

It is noticeable that many of the women recorded as being Sisters or associates of the Order of the Temple were in houses in Catalonia. This may be because extensive records survive from Catalonia and scholars have studied them in detail; but the same could be said of England, where only one female associate of the Order is known, and no full Sisters.

In contrast, in Germany, where the records of the Templars are scanty, one nunnery and a Sister are known to have been members of the Order. Women in the Iberian Peninsula had more extensive property rights than those in most of western Europe, and so were better placed to endow religious houses, and were able to take their property with them when they entered a religious Order; likewise, in much of Germany women were able to inherit property and dispose of it as they wished. This made them more attractive recruits to a religious house, and more difficult to turn away. In England, in contrast, married women did not control their own property, so they were less attractive recruits.


Religious Orders and religious houses usually had lay people associated with them in a 'confraternity,' an organized association of spiritual brothers and-sisters, something similar to the modern supporters' club. A charter of the Templars' confraternity at Metz in Lorraine (or Lotharingia) has survived. Dated to January 1288, this is an agreement between Martin, commander of the Templars' bailie of Lorraine, and a number of men and women representing the confraternity of the Temple at Metz. The confraternity ceded an area of vineyard to the Templars at Metz. In exchange, the Templars of Metz had to keep a lamp burning before the statue of Our Lady in the chapel of the house of the Temple at Metz. This lamp represented the people's prayers to God through Our Lady. The confraternity had also given the Templars sixty sous ('shillings' in English) to buy property which Would give them rents and dues. The Templars should use this income to buy three sesters (a large measure) of middling good wine each year for the 'mayor' and associates of the confraternity. Presumably the confraternity had an annual religious service: and meal, at which the wine would be consumed.


All the people listed above were members, of the Order to a greater or lesser degree, and were admitted to the Order in an special ceremony. Although the Rule of the Order indicates that there would be a period of training before an applicant was admitted to full membership the Order — the novitiate - in fact this training period was dropped, because the Order needed to be able to recruit military personnel quickly to replace losses in the East. The same happened in other Military Orders.


The admission ceremony for Brothers was laid down as part of the Rule and Statutes of the Order. Although the Brothers were accused in 1307 of conducting admissions in secret and at night, the evidence given during the trial indicates that admission procedures varied according to local practice. Relatives and other outsiders might be present at the ceremony, which usually took place at dawn. In the outside world by the late thirteenth century, the ceremony for making a new knight consisted of an all-night vigil, followed by a service starting at dawn. Presumably the Templars were following common practice.


Those entering as full members of the Order should not have any commitments outside the Order, they should not belong to anyone as a serf, or as a husband, or owe money they could not repay. The new member was warned that life in the Order would be harsh; he would have to do what he was told, and he might find his work demeaning or consider it beneath him. He had to promise, as all religious, did, to live chastely, without any personal property, and to obey the Master and the Rule of the Order. In addition, he promised to work to help to conquer the Holy Land. His promises were made to God and 'Our Lady St Mary'. He was given the white mantle, and told that he should always wear a cord tied over his shirt, under his tunic, as a sign of chastity. During the trial proceedings many Brothers explained that they had to supply their own cord. A few said that their own families supplied them, although one noted that his girlfriend supplied his.


Commanderies also contained people who were not members of the Order. These could be religious persons, such as hermits or anchoresses living holy lives in separate cells cut off from humanity. Such persons were often attached to religious houses. There were also servants, who could be men or women. The Rule of the Temple forbad the employment of women, but nevertheless there are records that dairymaids were employed at some houses, although they might never actually have entered the precinct of the house. At the Templars' estate at Rockley in Wiltshire, England, a woman was employed to milk the cows, but it was the duty of the tenants to employ her. In 1307 there were three dairymaids working in the dairy at the Templar house at Baugy in France. There were also two women servants living in the hostel at the commandery of Corval, in Normandy, perhaps to care for the sick. Another job routinely done by women in the Middle Ages was the laundry, and women were generally employed by religious houses for this purpose.


A final group who might be living at a Templar commandery comprised those who held pensions from the Order; either because they were elderly servants of the Order, now too old to work, or because they had given the Order a gift in return for support in their old age. This support came in the form of food, clothes and money, and was called a corrody. Men, women and married couples could be recipients of corrodies. Such people seldom appear in day-to-day records, but are mentioned in the documentation surrounding the trial and dissolution of the Order of the Temple. They were still entitled to receive their corrodies even though the Order was under investigation, and when the Order's property passed to the Hospital of St John in 1312 the Hospital had to support them. Some lived in the Order's houses, while others lived in their own houses but were supported by the Order.

Such people could be enthusiastic supporters and donors to the Order. In the 1320s the Franciscan friar Nicholas Bozon recorded a story about a Templar pensioner, a parish priest who had been a 'procurator' for the Templars at Bow in London. He was entitled to receive from the Order food, a servant, a horse, clothes and an annual pension, but he spent nothing on himself, instead saving all his income and handing it over to the Templars whenever he was able to go up to London. He died in poverty, but after his death 8,000 pounds was found hidden in his house, which he had intended to hand over to the Order during his next visit to London. Nicholas Bozon told the story as an example of miserliness, but it also illustrates how dedicated the Templars' supporters could be to helping the Order.