In his book on the trifles of courtiers, Walter Map remarked that even the pure and virtuous religious Order of Grandmont was attracting the attention of prominent people, and the Brothers were being called to royal councils and becoming involved in royal business. For Walter, this showed the decline in the spirituality of a pious religious Order. Yet it was an inevitable development; As all authority was believed to come from God, all rulers wanted God's representatives to stand at their side and give approval to their government. 


Since the beginnings of Christian government, rulers had associated themselves with religious people. During the period from the break-up of the Western Roman Empire to the eleventh century, monks and other religious men were particularly valued by rulers because they were educated and could be relied upon to act as honest, hardworking officials. Despite the efforts of reforming rulers such as the Emperor Charlemagne on the European Continent and King Alfred of Wessex in England to set up schools and produce a more literate society, monks and clergy remained the backbone of secular administration -even the word for a cleric, clericus, became the standard word for a minor official who writes, 'clerk.' With the renaissance in culture and learning that began in the eleventh century and continued into the twelfth, this began to change: people outside the Church learnt to read and write, not only in their own language but also in Latin. Such people were called literati, 'literate'.

From the twelfth century onwards, the literati gradually took over royal government. Unlike monks, they were usually not from a noble background, and relied on the ruler for their promotion rather than on the power, influence and wealth of their own families. This made them reliable and loyal servants. They might be clergy in the lowest priestly orders, able to marry and hardly distinguishable from the non-clergy, the laity. Or they might simply be laity, from poorer knightly families or families from lower social classes. These people were unpopular with the old nobility, who saw that the literati were taking over royal government and winning power and wealth, while the nobility were steadily losing influence at court.

The Military Orders combined the best of all worlds for a ruler who wanted servants with the godly outlook and honesty of monks, the lack of worldly connections and self-interested loyalty of the new literati, and the military skills and traditional loyalty of the warrior class. All the Military Orders were much used by nobles, monarchs and the papacy in their governments. In return, they received donations and protection. The question remains as to whether the patronage of rulers cost the Orders more than it gave them.

Royal service

Because the Military Orders played such a prominent role in royal and papal service, this aspect of their history has been studied in detail by scholars. Some of the Templars' services for the kings of Jerusalem and those of the Iberian Peninsula and eastern Europe have already been described in Chapters 2 and 3. In these areas their service for rulers was primarily military, but in other parts of Europe - the British Isles, France, and Italy - it usually was not.


They were given positions of the utmost trust. From the time of Pope Alexander III onwards, a Templar and a Hospitaller routinely appeared as papal chamberlains, that is, attending on the pope in his own private chambers. This meant that they were constantly in his presence and able to speak to him privately, perhaps to obtain favours from him. They could also offer him support: when Pope Alexander III was struggling against the Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa (1155-90) and a succession of 'antipopes' or false popes appointed by the emperor, he could rely on the loyalty and the advice of Templars, Hospitallers and Cistercians. Hence it is not surprising that the pope did little to appease the Order's critics when the bishops at the Third Lateran Council in 1179 complained bitterly about the privileges, of the Templars and Hospitallers, which enabled them to avoid the bishops' authority.


Templars appeared as papal messengers, treasurers and judge-delegates, as well as holding the office or marshal or porter at the papal court. Similar posts were held by the Hospitallers and the Teutonic Knights. The Templars' most famous services for rulers were financial. As the Order in the West had to raise cash and send it to the East, the Brothers had had to develop systems for handling large sums of cash. This expertise, added to the Order's charitable nature, made its Brothers an obvious choice as papal money carriers, as almoners (officials in charge of charitable donations to the poor), and as treasurers. In July 1220 a Templar and a Hospitaller carried Pope Honorius III's financial contribution to the Fifth Crusade out to Egypt; the pope entrusted it to these carriers, he said, as there was no one he could trust better.

Secular rulers used the Templars in the same sorts of posts. William Marshal, earl of Pembroke, had a Templar as his almoner, one Brother Geoffrey. In 1177 King Henry II of England chose Brother Roger the Templar as his 'almoner,' and
Templars continued to appear as royal almoners in England until 1255. Almoners could be expected to do more than distribute salt herring to the needy of London: during King John's war with his barons (1214-16) he gave his almoner, Brother Roger the Templar, responsibility for overseeing shipping and collecting freight duty. As almoner, Roger would have been used to dealing with money and handing out cash and goods, but the massive expansion of his responsibilities reflected the king's shortage of trustworthy servants during the war. From 1229 John's son Henry III had a particularly influential almoner, Brother Geoffrey the Templar (presumably not the same man as had worked for William Marshal), who became keeper of the wardrobe and thus controlled the king's personal treasury, and acted as a leading minister in the government. Matthew Paris blamed him for many of Henry's misdeeds and declared that he was finally sacked, but in fact Brother Geoffrey retired with honour in 1240. Kings of Scotland also had Templar almoners, as did kings of France.

James II of Aragon had a Templar, Peter Peyronet, as almoner; he also acted as a crown agent.


The Templars in particular also provided financial services for rulers. This could vary from making loans and looking after valuables, to running the royal treasury, as in France. The Templars were not a bank in the modern sense of the word as their financial operations were merely a sideline, a result of their need to store and move large quantities of cash about Christendom. Money deposited with them was not pooled and reinvested, but remained in its owner's strongboxes within the Order's treasury, and could not be accessed without the owner's permission. In 1148, during the Second Crusade, both the Templars and the Hospitallers lent money to King Louis VII of France, without which (as he wrote to Abbot Suger, the regent in France) he could not have stayed so long in the East. In 1250, during Louis IX's crusade, the Templars allowed Louis to have the money he needed to ransom himself from the sultan of Egypt. The Treasurer initially refused the loan, but Jean de Joinvilie, who had come to borrow the money, threatened to smash open one of the strongboxes in the Templars' safe keeping and take the money he wanted from it. The Marshal of the Temple then stepped in and told the Treasurer to let Jean have the key. Strictly speaking the money should not have been loaned in such circumstances, but Joinyille's threat of violence allowed the Order to bend the rules.

A similar incident occurred in the Temple's headquarters in London in 1263, hut this time without the Templars' connivance. King Henry III was in severe financial straits and his government was under threat from critics among the nobility. The annalist of Dunstable priory explains:

The King came with the Queen [Eleanor of Provence] to the Tower of London on 26 May, while the Lord Edward [their eldest son, later Edward I] was staying at the Hospital [of St John] at Clerkenwell. All of them were short of money, and there was no one in London who would give them a penny on credit. So, since the Lord Edward did not like being in this embarassing position, on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul he assembled, Robert Walrampnum and many others and went to the New Temple when the doors were closed. On his request, he was admitted, and he said that he wanted to see the jewels of the Queen, his mother. The custodian of the treasury was fetched, and the Lord Edward fraudulently entered the Temple's treasury with his men; whereupon they broke-open the chests of certain persons there with iron hammers which they had brought with them, took much money to the value of a thousand pounds, and carried it away. When they heard about this crime; the citizens of London rose up against them and other members of the King's council who were staying in the city.


The Templars had often lent King Henry III money, especially during the crisis years at the beginning of his reign; but clearly they had refused to do so on this occasion and his 'bank raid' was the result. Edward's initial request to see his mother's jewels was perfectly reasonable, in that the jewels were kept in the New Temple for safe keeping; and the Templars, being unarmed, were unable to resist Edward and his men when they used force.

In 1232 the Order had been more, successful in asserting its independence. King Henry had disgraced his former justiciar Hubert de Burgh and had confiscated all his property. According to Roger of Wendover, chronicler of St Albans Abbey, Henry heard that Hubert had a great deal of money deposited in the New Temple in London, and he summoned the Master of the Temple in England, demanding to know if this was so. The Master admitted that it was true, but he had no idea how much. The king insisted that the money be handed over to him, on the grounds that Hubert had embezzled it from the royal treasury, but the Brothers replied that they could not hand over any money deposited with them without the leave of the depositer. The king had to obtain permission from Hubert before the Templars would hand over the keys of his chests to the king.

In England the royal treasury was part of the royal household, and run by royal officials; the New Temple merely provided additional safe deposit space. Although the Templars and Hospitallers were involved in the collection of the 'Saladin tithe' for the Third Crusade, they were not usually involved in royal financial administration. In France, the Templars took on the role of royal treasury. The Treasurer of the Paris Temple would also act as royal treasurer. The Order took in receipts of taxation and organized payment to royal officials, soldiers and so on. Not until 1295 did the king of France establish his own treasury at the Louvre, and even then he continued to use the Temple treasury. In 1303 some of the functions of the royal treasury were transferred back to the Temple. Clearly, the Order was essential to the efficient running of the French royal administration.


As they did for the papacy, Templars regularly acted as messengers for kings and nobles. Like the friars in the thirteenth century and later, the Military Orders could be conveniently used for secret missions because they were inconspicuous. Templars and Hospitallers were always on the road, preaching and collecting alms from the faithful, and because they were religious men they were less likely than secular messengers to be stopped by an enemy and searched or even imprisoned. In 1170 one of Archbishop Thomas Becket's correspondents warned him that the Templars who brought him news were not simple and trustworthy religious men but were actually the agents of his enemy, King Henry II of England.


Members of the Military Orders also gave advice to popes, kings and other rulers. The Templars had permanent representatives at the papal court from the 1230s, while the kings of England had since the twelfth century provided for the upkeep of a knight of the Order at their courts, with horses and servants. The Military Orders' advice would be particularly appropriate in holy war, so that we find Brothers of the Military Orders advising the kings of Jerusalem and the kings of Portugal and Aragon in their military strategies. Brothers of the Military Orders also acted in an advisory capacity during the Fourth Crusade, which did not actually reach the Holy Land but instead captured Constantinople. In June 1205, after the death of the first Latin emperor Baldwin of Flanders and the crowning of a second, his brother Henry, the new emperor Henry wrote to Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) explaining that the Templars and Hospitallers in his council agreed that the conquest of Constantinople by Latin Christians would produce unity in Christendom and help the war effort against the Muslims in the Holy Land.


But Templars could also give advice in secular matters. King Henry II relied on the advice of Templars during his dispute with Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury. King John of England (1199-1216) stated in his will that the Master of the Temple in England, Brother Aimery de St Maur, was one of those whose advice he trusted and followed: high praise from this notoriously suspicious king. King Louis IX of France made great use of the preceptors or commanders of the Temple in France and was so anxious to obtain the service of Brother Amaury de la Roche that he enlisted the help of Pope Urban IV to force the Order in the East to send Amaury to him. The Order at first refused, agreeing only after the pope had repeated his demand more strongly. Pope Urban declared that Louis wanted the commandery of France, to be committed to a man whose sincerity of faith and probity he could trust, and that Louis believed Brother Amaury to be prudent and conspicuous for his wise advice. What was more, he was an old friend. In 1266 Pope Clement IV moved Brother Amaury on both he and Brother Philip d'Eglis of the Hospital were to be put at the disposal of Louis's brother Charles of Anjou, king of Naples, who required their service in Naples and Sicily to administer the houses of their Orders in that area. Charles also wanted their support in his wars against the supporters of the descendants of Frederick II of Hohenstaufen. In the following year, Clement authorized Brother Philip to take up arms against the enemies of Charles, but it is not clear whether the Templars were encouraged to do-likewise. Brother Philip and his Hospitallers did take up arms and the Hospital's properties in Sicily suffered heavily as a result, but as the Templars did not suffer in the same way Brother Amaury must have managed to keep out of the war.


Brother Amaury appeared again during Louis IX's second crusade, to Tunis, in which both he and Brother Philip d'Eglis took part. Brother Amaury acted as a commander, and was responsible for laying out ditches around the Christian camp and for overseeing those who guarded the diggers. He also took part in military action and was part of the king's council. Amaury advised that the Christian army needed larger forces before attacking the city of Tunis, and that King Louis should wait for the arrival of his brother, King Charles of Naples, who was late arriving. In the event, Charles did not arrive until Louis was on his deathbed.

The services performed for the king of England by the Templars in Ireland are a particularly good illustration of the usefulness of the Order in an area where the king had few administrators whom he could trust. The Templars, and the Hospitallers went to Ireland in the second half of the twelfth century with the Anglo-Norman, Welsh/Scottish and French colonists and invaders. They were given: various donations of land and founded a number of commanderies. The Military Orders first appear in the English royal administrative records for Ireland in September 1220 when Henry III's government instructed the justiciar(viceroy) of Ireland to deposit the proceeds of an 'aid' (a royal exaction) with the Templars and Hospitallers. The two Orders were then to send it to England, and would be held responsible for it. This responsibility for the care of cash was the sort of duty the Orders regularly performed in England.


By 1234 the Templars' role had widened. In 1234 two Templars acted as intermediaries between the royal officials in Ireland and Richard Marshal, who was leading a rebellion. They persuaded Richard to come to a meeting, but the talks ended in battle, in which Richard was fatally wounded. The Templars therefore failed as negotiators, but had shown themselves to be trustworthy royal servants. In the same year Henry III instructed the archbishop of Dublin, the justiciar of Ireland (Maurice fitz Gerald) and the Master of the Knights Templar in Ireland that, every year, after the treasurer and barons of the exchequer had audited the accounts of Ireland, they were to go to the exchequer, view the accounts, and send a copy to the king. Care of cash and acting as negotiators or ambassadors for a king were typical, duties of Templars, and during the 1230s they were very much in favour with Henry III, perhaps because of the influence of Henry's almoner, adviser and official Brother Geoffrey the Templar. In 1236, however, the Master of the Temple in Ireland, Brother Ralph of Southwark, abandoned the Order. Henry III wrote to the justiciar of Ireland ordering him to arrest Brother Ralph if he arrived in Ireland, and to receive Brother Roger le Waleis ("the Welshman") as the new Master.

Brother Roger le Waleis appears in 1241 and 1242 with the archbishop of Dublin, the archdeacon of Dublin (who was royal treasurer) and Walerand of Wales auditing the accounts of the justiciar, Maurice fitz Gerald, and in June 1243, 1244 and 1250 he was one of those auditing the treasurer's accounts. From this time the Master of the Temple in Ireland appeared sporadically auditing the treasurer's and justiciar's accounts: in 1253, 1270, 1278, 1280 and 1281. In 1301 the Templars were involved in the collection of 'the new custom duty of Waterford'.

It is clear that the Templars were regarded as trustworthy, and particularly suited to holding responsibility in financial matters. However, they were not given as many responsibilities in Ireland as the Hospitallers were. Prominent Hospitallers in Ireland were given administrative posts, such as lieutenant justiciar. All the Cymro-Normans and Anglo-Normans holding land in Ireland were expected to give military sendee when necessary to defend the land, and all religious houses in Ireland had to be fortified against possible Irish attack. Of the two Military Orders in Ireland, however, it was the Prior of the Hospital in Ireland who was sometimes given military command.


As we have seen, the Templars did not usually take part in military operations against Christians, which were contrary to their vocation and absorbed resources which were needed in the East. In the Iberian Peninsula this sort of service was becoming increasingly difficult to avoid by the end of the thirteenth century. The Military Orders were given a share of the lands conquered by the Fourth Crusade in 'Romania' (now Greece) in 1205-10, for which they were expected to give military service in the same way as secular landholders. It is not clear whether the Military Orders had played a military role in the conquest of Greece, or whether the gifts to them and to other religious Orders and the Church were a 'thank offering' for the conquest. In any case, many of the Templars' properties were taken back by the second generation of settlers, although they kept their properties in the Morea (Achaea).

In 1298-9 King Edward I of England summoned the English Templars to join his army for his campaign in Scotland, and the Master in England, Brian le Jay, was killed at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298. In the fourteenth century the Hospital of St John would find it impossible to avoid this sort of service for the kings of England and France. King Edward I also demanded homage from the Masters of the Temple in England and Scotland, which the Order was not bound to pay according to the privileges it held from the pope. Again, the Hospital of St John would meet similar problems during the fourteenth century. These developments reflect the growing power of 'national' monarchs by the late thirteenth century, which demanded that the supranational religious Orders place the interests of their 'natural' monarch above those of their Order.

Many members of the Military Orders were quite happy to put service to their king first, or to combine it with service to their Order. In 1163-4 Thierry Galeran, 'trusted friend' of King Louis VII of France, became a Templar. Thierry had been prominent in the king's service since at least 1140. As a Templar, he asked various favours of the king for the Order, which were granted. In 1164 Brother Geoffrey Fulcher of the Order of the Temple wrote to Louis VII of France, addressing him as 'his dearest lord' and reporting that he had faithfully discharged a mission which Louis had given him when he left France for the East:

Don't think that the instructions which I rejoiced to receive from your mouth when I left you have slipped your servant's mind. For you said to me that I should greet the holy places on your behalf, and I should visit each of them and remember you there. I have not forgotten this. I have carried this ring which you sent me around the holy sites and placed it on each of the holy places in memory of you. I pray that you keep the ring safe in reverence of this.

He enclosed the ring with the letter: Louis could keep it as a relic, a physical memento of the holy places. Even as a Templar official in the East, Geoffrey Fulcher remained the vassal and servant of his 'natural' sovereign, the king of France. In short, the extensive services that the Templars performed for kings, in particular the kings of England and France, led to the Order becoming virtually an arm of the royal government. In 1244 Henry III of England made arrangements for the conferral of knighthood on Thomas of Curtun, a young man in his service who planned to join the Order of the Temple. Henry went to considerable expense in equipping Thomas, so it seems reasonable to assume that he expected Thomas to remain in his service even after he had joined the Templars.


Donations to the Order

Catch  22

Rulers and popes not only demanded service, but also gave donations and assistance to the Military Orders. The primary motivation for a religious donation was the hope of receiving salvation. Donations also brought social prestige; the fact that one could afford to make a donation showed one's wealth. In addition, donations gave the donor influence over the recipient. Gifts were essential to the Orders' survival, but also restricted them in their actions because they had to keep their donors happy in order to continue receiving their support. Because the Orders could not afford to offend their donors, they could not refuse the demands their donors made on them, even when these were a considerable drain on their resources and prompted criticism from others.

Papal support for the Templars stemmed from the Order's role in the defence of Christendom. Papal bulls compared the Templars to the Maccabees; the Templars were also athletae Christi, 'Christ's champions' (that is, fighting on Christ's behalf), and pugiles Christi, 'Christ's fighters'. The Templars showed Christ's love, for they were prepared to lay down their lives for their fellow-Christians. Successive popes confirmed the Order's ecclesiastical privileges, and ordered the bishops to ensure that these were acknowledged They tried to protect the Order from the casual violence endemic in society and gave the Brothers the right to defend themselves if attacked. They dealt with legal cases relating to the Order, and encouraged the Templars to continue in their fight against the enemies of Christendom. The primary motivation for secular rulers giving to the Military Orders was the wish to support the defence of Christendom in the East. As the crusade was seen as the particular responsibility of all Christian kings, there was a great deal of moral pressure on them to support the Military Orders. For nobles, the crusade brought prestige and was an essential part of knighthood. If one could not go on crusade, one should give to a Military Order instead; if one could go on crusade, it was in one's interests to give to a Military Order, because the Order gave practical help to crusaders while they were in the East.

Reasons for preferring the Templars over another Military Order can only be guessed at. 

Family tradition was an important factor in religious donations: individuals kept up links with religious houses which were already connected to their family. Servants and vassals often gave to the same Order as their lord or employer. Some donors, particularly the poorer ones who were less able to travel, gave to the nearest attractive religious house. Sometimes family relationship or a personal friendship could be a factor. In the spring of 1137, Matilda of Boulogne, queen of England, gave Cressing in Essex to the Templars. Her uncles Godfrey of Bouillon and Baldwin of Edessa had been the first two Latin rulers of the kingdom of Jerusalem, while her father Eustace had been the closest heir to the kingdom on the death of Baldwin in l118. Matilda had a strong dynastic interest in the kingdom of Jerusalem and wanted to support the religious Order that was helping to defend it. However, she did not give to the Hospital of St John. We can only speculate as to whether her family had other links with the Templars that led her to prefer the Templars over the Hospitallers: for instance, some of the early Templars, such as Godfrey of Saint Omer and Archembald of Saint Amand, came from the Low Countries and the area around Boulogne. Godfrey was a vassal of the counts of Boulogne.

Matilda later gave the Templars Witham, in Essex and Cowley, in Oxfordshire. All her donations were confirmed by her husband, King Stephen of England, who himself was the son of one of the leaders of the First Crusade. Although Stephen's predecessor, Henry I of England, had given Hugh de Payns money in 1128 and had allowed him to collect donations in England, it was Matilda's generosity to the Order that laid the foundations of a long and close relationship between the Templars and the kings of England.

Donations from the kings of England varied. They preferred to give income and privileges rather than land. The Order was allowed to clear royal forest for agriculture, a practice that normally incurred a heavy fine. Henry II pardoned the Brothers for clearing extensive areas of royal forest: 

Henry, by the grace of God king of England [etc.], greeting.

Know that I have conceded, and by this our charter confirmed, to the Brothers of the knighthood of the Temple at Jerusalem quittance of the assarts [clearances] of the lands listed below, viz: 2,000 acres of land in Wales at Garway [Herefordshire]; 40 acres in Shropshire at Botewood [a village which no longer exists]; 10 acres in Oxfordshire at Merton; 7 acres in Northamptonshire at Brandendene; 100 acres in Bedfordshire at Sharnbrook; and 7 acres in Huntingdonshire at Ogerston.

Therefore I wish and firmly command that the aforesaid Brothers of the knighthood of the Temple may have the aforesaid lands and hold them freely and quit of [all fines for] assarts. And I forbid that they be troubled or harassed over this, or that anyone should do them violence. Witness: Richard bishop of Winchester, etc.

The pardon for the enormous clearances at Garway seems extraordinarily generous. Possibly Henry saw the Templars' presence at Garway as advantageous. Garway is in the Welsh March, an area administered by powerful nobles who did not always pay as much attention to royal authority as the king would have liked. The Templars, as faithful royal servants, would remind the local lords of royal authority, although as they were unarmed and the commandery at Garway was unfortified they could not actually enforce it.


The Templars held very little property in this part of Britain, where the Hospitallers were far better represented. They held a few other properties in Monmouthshire and Glamorgan. In the Gower, they held the church and manor of Llanmadoc, given to them by Countess Margaret of Warwick, lady of the Gower, in 1156. They also had a mill at the bridge of Pembroke Castle and the village of Templeton in Pembrokeshire.

This was all disputed territory, fought over by the Anglo-Norman marcher lords and the Welsh princes of Deheubarth. As in eastern Europe, giving disputed land to the Military Orders was a way of settling disputed frontiers while at the same time winning God's favour. But most such donations in south Wales and the Welsh March were given to the Hospitallers of St John,, not the Templars. Possibly the Templars were seen as being too close to the king of England - and neither marcher lords nor Welsh princes wished to give the king of England more influence in the area than necessary.


Henry II also gave to the Templars one mark of silver each year from each county of England, and the same from each city, town and castle that rendered to the king more than 100 pounds each year. One of their tenants (called a hospes) in each borough was free from all royal exactions. The Order received fifty marks a year (£33) to maintain a knight in the Holy Land. Henry's gift of three carcasses of stags a year became ten carcasses under King John, specifically for the Order's provincial chapter at Pentecost. Only the gift of fifty marks a year was continued by Edward I of England.


The Order also received various, legal privileges, which meant that its tenants were partially exempt from royal jurisdiction. On 6 October 1189 Richard I gave the Templars extensive exemptions from royal jurisdiction and exactions.


These exemptions enabled the Order to engage in trade within England more easily and also carry their goods to port for export overseas. They did not have to pay traditional dues such shield tax, tallage and castle guard, which would have drained the resources needed for the defence of the Holy Land. They would not lose resources through having to wait for the king's judges when they needed to obtain justice, but could try thieves and lesser malefactors themselves. Only major crimes punishable by hanging or mutilation would still have to go to the king's courts. During his crusade of 1189-92, Richard worked closely with the Templars, but this: was not an equal relationship. While Richard valued the Templars' and Hospitallers' military advice, he was in command and their purpose (in his eyes) was to assist him. After his capture of the island of Cyprus, Richard sold the island to the Templars, who thus provided him with much needed cash. Yet the Templars were unable to administer the island and tried to sell it back to Richard, who refused to return their money. He gave the island to Guy of Lusignan, who may have repaid the Templars, or given them extensive holdings in the island. Richard also gave the Templars a new Master, Robert de Sable or Sabloel, who had previously been one of his admirals and vassals. At around the same time, the Hospital of St John also elected an English Master, Gamier de NabMs. According to some reports, Richard disguised himself as a Templar on his journey home from the East in autumn 1192, in order to avoid falling into the hands of his enemies - a scheme that failed. This story is probably not true, but Richard certainly had Templars in his entourage.


The Templars' close relationship with the kings of England continued under King John and his son Henry III. The Templars' priests said masses for the soul of both kings, and in 1231 Henry III and his queen, Eleanor of Provence, promised that their bodies would be buried in the New Temple in London. This would mean that the New Temple became a royal mausoleum, and would receive-extensive long-term financial support from the king's heirs. The Templars extended their church at the New Temple in anticipation, with a fine new rectangular nave in the latest architectural style. But in 1246 Henry reversed his donation and decided that he and his queen would be buried in his own new foundation of Westminster-Abbey. During the 1250s the Templars gradually declined in the royal favour; they were still a favoured Order, but they received fewer gifts and were not as close to the king as they had been. The royal almoner was no longer a Templar. The Hospitallers, on the other hand, continued to to be close to the monarch, and from 1273-80 the treasurer of England was a Hospitaller, Brother Joseph de-Chauncey. But even the Hospitallers received favour, rather-than gifts.


Why did royal policy towards the Templars change? 

This is not an easy question to answer. It changed not only in England but also in Ireland, where the prior of the Hospital was given important administrative, financial and military responsibilities in the late thirteenth century while the Templars were asked only to audit the treasurer's accounts. It may be that by the second half of the thirteenth century the Hospitallers in the British Isles were attracting the sort of recruits who made good administrators, while the Templars were not: the Hospitals' dual military-hospitaller vocation may have attracted more adaptable recruits than the Templars' all-military vocation. Perhaps the Hospitallers were more willing to be used as administrators while the Templars concentrated more single-mindedly on the defence of the Holy Land. It may be that as Henry III developed his own patterns of patronage, rebuilding Westminster Abbey and developing his own image as a pious ruler: he felt that he no longer needed to rely on his forefathers' patterns of patronage. It may be that he was not as interested in the crusade as his predecessors had been; although he took the cross three times, thereby undertaking to go on crusade, he never actually went.

It is also possible that after the retirement of Brother Geoffrey the Templar as almoner and keeper of the royal wardrobe Herrry's personal link with the Templars had gone, and Henry no longer had a personal interest in the Order. It also appears that Henry began to regard the Military Orders as being as obstructive and difficult to work with as other religious Orders in England, and considered that they had already been given so much property and privileges that they undermined his royal authority. His financial problems certainly took their toll. The chronicler Matthew Paris depicted Henry criticizing the Hospitallers and Templars for having so many privileges and stating that he would take back what his predecessors had given them, because the Orders had become too proud. On this occasion Matthew took the side of the Military Orders against the king, depicting the Prior of the Hospital in England standing up to Henry and reminding him that he would only be king as long as he acted justly.

Although the Templars were never so close to the king of England after 1240 as they had been earlier, they remained valued servants. Edward I expected the Master in England to do homage to him and to provide military service, as other religious Orders and lay lords did; the Templars were his loyal vassals. His son Edward II (1307-27) valued the Templars for their past and present service. When in November 1307 Pope Clement V ordered Edward II to have all the Templars arrested, Edward replied: 'The aforesaid Master and Brothers have been constant in the purity of the Catholic faith and have been commended many times by us and all of our realm both for their way of life and for their customs. We cannot believe suspicions of this sort until we are given more evidence of them.' He begged the pope not to believe the lies that had been told about the Order.

The changing relationship between the Templars and the kings of England was mirrored by developments in France. The Templars continued to serve the kings of France until the arrests of 1307, and supported Louis IX during both his crusades, as did the Hospitallers. However, although Philip II (1180-1223) had bequeathed 150,500 marks of silver to the Templars, Hospitallers and King John of the kingdom of Jerusalem in his will of September 1222, neither Louis IX nor his son Philip III made any bequests to the Templars or the Hospitallers in their wills. They concentrated instead on donations to more traditional monastic Orders such as the Cistercians, to new Orders such as the friars, to religious houses founded by the kings of France, such as La Victoire at Senlis (commemorating the victory at Bouvines in 1214), to lay Orders such as the beguines of Paris, and to hospitals and religious Orders set up to help the poor, poor ladies and orphans.

The changing attitude of the kings of France towards the Military Orders reflected both the new religious climate of the thirteenth century and royal policy. Important reasons for donations to religious Orders were to gain influence and to win the support of that Order, but as political stability in western Christendom increased, so the social need for such donations was reduced. In the thirteenth century patterns of piety shifted from the institutional to the personal. Pious donors were now less likely to give to a large, institutionalized Order, and more likely to give to a local hospice where the local poor and sick were cared for, or to endow a chantry chapel for the benefit of their own soul alone. As a result, by the mid-thirteenth century donations to all religious Orders had declined.

Royal policy also reduced all donations to religious Orders during the thirteenth century. Legislation enacted by kings across Europe forbad donations in 'mortmain' - that is, to a religious institution — without royal licence. This was to prevent lands that owed dues to the king from passing into the hands of institutions that did not pay these dues, thereby causing royal revenues to be lost. In Sicily, Frederick II of Hohenstaufen set about recovering royal lands and rights in the 1220s.

We have already seen Henry III of England growing anxious about the threat posed to royal authority by religious Orders' privileges and possessions. His son Edward I passed the Statute of Mortmain in 1279: anyone wanting to make a donation to a religious Order must first apply for licence to do so. The king would then have an investigation made to discover whether his rights and interests would suffer any damage from the donation. Only if his interests would not be infringed could the donation go ahead. Edward also had extensive enquiries made throughout England into who held the various rights and privileges of the crown, and how they had come to pass to other persons. Those claiming possession of rights which ought to belong to the king had to produce the charter of donation, or at least have the support of the testimony of local jurors that they had possessed these rights from time out of mind.

All these changes reduced the income enjoyed by all religious Orders by the early fourteenth century. They came at the same time as (and partly as a result of) inflation, which reduced the value of money, rents, and encouraged landlords to take land under cultivation themselves rather than renting it out to tenants—although this meant increased costs of cultivation. These changes caused particular problems for the Military Orders, whose expenses in the East were increasing as the level of donations in the West fell. They therefore had to go to greater lengths to exploit their lands and privileges in the West to the full in order to get the greatest possible income from them but this led to criticism.

The Military Orders' association with popes and kings led them into a considerable amount of criticism, one way and the other. Their exemption from episcopal jurisdiction annoyed the bishops; their right to exempt their own tenants from some aspects of episcopal and royal jurisdiction caused even more annoyance. The Templars placed a cross on the house of their tenant in each royal borough who was free from royal exactions, and Templar associates living in their own houses placed crosses on their houses to show that they claimed exemption from episcopal jurisdiction. The Hospitallers, who had the same exemptions, did the same. During the trial of the Temple in England one of the charges that received particular attention from non-Templar, witnesses was that the Templars denigrated the cross. 'Denigrating the cross' would have included misusing the cross by placing it on houses that were not entitled to display it.

Matthew Paris's dislike of the Military Orders of the Temple and Hospital stemmed partly from their connection with King Henry III, whose policies Matthew disapproved of. In the same way, William of Tyre's and Walter Map's criticism of the Orders stemmed partly from the Orders connection with the papacy and exemptions from the bishops' authority. As the Orders relied on these rulers for their continuing existence and protection, this was criticism they could hardly avoid.

However, the popes and monarchs also criticized the Military Orders for not carrying out their vocation or not serving them well. From the time of Alexander III onwards the papacy nagged the Brothers for abuses of their privileges. In 1207 Pope Innocent III reproved the Templars for abusing their privileges during interdicts. When all the churches were closed as spiritual punishment to a community, the Templars were allowed to hold services in their chapels, but they should not admit outsiders. Once a year, they could also open churches that were under interdict, in order to preach there and collect alms for the Holy Land. The problem was that they did admit outsiders to their chapels and opened churches more than once a year. They also allowed anyone to collect alms for them without checking their credentials; admitted all and sundry to their confraternity, including known criminals, murderers and adulterers, and they ignored the instructions of papal legates. Innocent was not singling out the Templars for criticism: he made similar complaints to the Hospitallers, and he also brought severe charges against the Cistercians. He wanted to reform these religious Orders because he was anxious to improve the spirituality of the Church, so that it would be able to fight heresy and recover the holy places.


As the thirteenth century went on, popes became more concerned about the Military Orders' quarrels and dedication to the defence of the Holy Land. Gregory IX complained in March 1238 that he had heard that the Templars were not defending the pilgrim routes effectively (in fact there was a truce in operation at this time, which prevented the Templars from raiding against the Muslims). In 1278 Pope Nicholas III (1277-80) wrote to the Hospital, Temple and Teutonic Order. He said that they, before all other 'sons of light' (Christians), ought to be determined to clean the Holy Land of pollution (the Muslims) as they were specially assigned to the defence of the land. So that they would not be blamed for anything, he urged them to turn their attention to God and His land. If they did not, he would punish them. He must have been referring to the Military Orders' involvement in the various political disputes in the crusader states, but he was also ignoring the Orders' need for money and personnel to fight the Muslims. He himself concentrated on the political situation in Italy, and made no effort to send them aid. Unlike Gregory IX, who was genuinely concerned to promote the cause of the Latin Christians in the Holy Land, Nicholas III seems to have been more anxious to deflect criticism from himself.


Henry III's reported complaints about the Templars' and Hospitallers' privileges echo the reported criticism by his uncle Richard I. Roger of Howden recorded that the famous preacher Fulk of Neuilly took Richard to task for his sins, and advised him to marry off his three daughters: pride, greed and sensuality (luxuria). Richard deftly picked up the allegory and turned it against the Church, retorting that he would marry pride to the Templars, greed to the Cistercians and sensuality to the bishops. In short, let the Church put its own house in order before criticizing him. As Richard valued the Templars during his crusade for their knighthood and military skills, it is interesting to find him here depicting-them as members of the clergy - although the accusation of pride was particularly appropriate for knights.


Criticism also arose when rulers were in conflict with one another. As faithful servants of the papacy, the king of France and the king of England, what were the Templars, to do when these three quarrelled - as they did during the pontificate of Innocent III, for instance? The Brothers would choose which ruler should take precedence, but were then in danger of suffering repercussions from the others. Or they could try to serve all three and hope to preserve their official neutrality: this is what they did when Innocent III was in conflict with both King Philip II of France and King John of England. On an earlier occasion they had been less successful. In 1158 King Henry II of England and King Louis VII of France made an alliance whereby Louis's daughter Margaret, then still an infant, and Henry's eldest surviving son Henry, then aged three, were betrothed, to marry as soon as they were old enough. Margaret's dowry (the share of wealth she brought to the marriage) would be the Vexin, the disputed border lands between Henry's duchy of Normandy (for Henry was duke of Normandy as well as being king of England), and Louis's domains. As was usual, Margaret was sent to live with her future in-laws, but Louis was to keep the Vexin until the wedding took place. In 1160 the terms were renegotiated, and the castles were entrusted to the Templars, whom both parties regarded as neutral. However, later that year Henry had Margaret and young Henry married, and the Templars handed over the castles to him. Louis retaliated by driving the Templars in question out of France: they were Brothers Osto de St Omer, who had been the Master of the Temple in England, Richard of Hastings, who was at that time Master of the Temple in England, and Robert de Pirou, later commander of Temple Hirst in Yorkshire. Roger of Howden explains that they went to Henry, who welcomed them and rewarded them. In the records of Henry's reign, Brothers Osto and Richard frequently appear in the royal entourage. Although their Order was supposed to be neutral in disputes between Christian monarchs, their first loyalty was to their 'natural' king.


Initially the papacy and monarchs had selected the Templars as trustworthy servants because of their piety and dedication to Christendom. Yet in papal and royal service the resources of their Order were distracted from the defence of Christendom; so, for example, the Templars in the East lost the service of the prudent and wise Amiury de la Roche. What is more, serving popes and kings involved the Order in political affairs, which "brought the Brothers into disrepute"— for instance, Matthew Paris's hatred of Brother Geoffrey the Templar, servant of King Henry III of England. And the more deeply involved the Templars were in papal and royal service, the more tarnished their pious and devoted image became. The Templars relied on papal and royal protection and patronage, which did much to give the Order its wealth and influence, but in the end would prove fatal to the Order.





Keith Hunt