HISTORY OF THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR #7
COMMERCIAL AND ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES
In the mid-thirteenth century an English satirist, writing in Anglo-Norman-French, set out to describe the whole of society in a work entitled 'Surles etats du monde' (on the classes of society). He considered the pope, the clergy the peasantry, and finally the Military Orders of the Temple and Hospital. The clergy were guilty of greed, simony (buying Church appointments), nepotism (croneyism) and immorality. 'If they are saved, then I'm not lost!' declared the poet (lines 119-20). The Hospitallers were not interesting in hiring women's services, he claimed, as long as they had their horses. When he came to the Templars, however, he had only one thing to say:
'The Templars are most doughty men and they certainly know how to look after their own interests. But they are too fond of pennies.When prices are high. They sell their wheat more willingly than they give it to their dependants.'
In short, the Templars were not interested in women, or in anything else apart from money. Given the financial demands upon the Templars, it was hardly surprising that they were anxious to accumulate all possible funds. The previous chapter considered some of the particular problems facing the Order by the mid-thirteenth century: the decline in charitable donations and royal limitations on further donations. Yet commentators in the West and East considered that the Templars' and Hospitallers' concern about money was out of proportion to their needs. The Templars in particular were seen as not simply greedy but miserly.
It is no surprise, then, to find the Templars making money in many different areas. Much of their financial resources came from charitable donations, but the Order also generated much income for itself through independent economic and commercial activities, both in the East and in the West.
CONFLICT OVER WATER WITH TEMPLARS AND HOSPITALLERS
Wherever the Order produced grain from its fields it needed mills to grind it, but mills were also an important means of generating income. Since they were expensive to build and maintain, there were still relatively few mills in the twelfth century and those who owned them could charge highly for their use. In the twelfth century the majority were water-driven. The most notorious of the Templars' water-driven wheat mills was at Da'uk on the Nahr Kurdaneh (the River Belus), which flowed down from Recordane (Kurdaneh) to Acre. Upstream was a mill belonging to the Hospital. It used to be believed that the ruined mill in this area was the Hospital's mill, but, following archaeological survey work in summer 2000 by Idan Shaked of the Israel Antiquities Authority, it transpired that these ruins are the Templars' mill of Da'uk, while the Hospitallers' mill of Kurdaneh was about 380 metres upstream to the east. These were large mills. As the land here is almost flat the mills had horizontal water wheels to make the best of the low head of water, but even then the Brothers had problems getting sufficient head of water to drive the wheels. From the first decades of the thirteenth century the two Orders were in constant dispute over the water supply to their mills.
The Templars used to close the sluices in the weir by their mill to build up a good head of water above the mill, but this flooded the Hospital's fields and stopped the Hospital's mill from operating. The Templars raised the banks on the Hospitallers' land to prevent the Hospital's fields from flooding when they closed their sluices, but the water still backed up against the Hospital's mill wheels. In retaliation, the Hospitallers would hold back the water so that the Templars' mill ran dry. Then, when a good head of water had built up, they would open their sluices, and the water would rush down the Templars' mill race and smash their wheels. The Hospitallers also complained that the Templars' weir prevented them from taking boats up and down the river to and from their mill. So they dismantled the Templars' weir to allow their boats through.
In 1235, following protracted legal actions, which had reached the papal court, an agreement was negotiated. To protect the Hospital's mill wheels from being stopped by the raised water level downstream, a mark was placed on the bottom side of the Hospital's mill, and the Templars were not allowed to raise the level of the water above that mark. In return, the Hospitallers were not to allow the water level to build up in their own millpond, damaging the Templars' mill wheels when it was released. The Hospitallers were to have two boats on the river, one above and one below the Templars' weir, and they were to unload their boats on one side of the weir and reload them on the other side. Neither Order should impede the boats on the river. This was not the end of the dispute, and another settlement had to be negotiated in 1262: the Templars had been obstructing the Hospitallers' boats and blocking the water course so that the river flooded - while the Hospitallers had been channelling off the water from the river. When the Hospitallers' mill had been but of action for a while, they had blocked off the channel of the river so that no water reached the Templars' mill.
This sorry saga illustrates the economic importance of mills to both Orders, but also the lack of respect that the personnel of each Order could show towards the other. It was this sort of petty incident that earned the two leading Military Orders a reputation for constant rivalry. Because mills played such an important role in agriculture and were an excellent means of generating income, yet were expensive to maintain and operate, religious Orders were given many mills by their benefactors, as well as building their own. Not all water-mills were driven by rivers. Around the British coastline, with its large tidal ranges, many tidal mills were constructed during the Middle Ages. The millpond for these mills was filled by the tide as it came in, and then the head of tidal water in the pond was able to drive the mill for several hours. Tide millponds have to be very large and could cause a serious obstruction on a waterway. The Templars' tide mill on the River Fleet, near the New Temple on the River Thames just to the west of the city of London, was removed early in the fourteenth century for this reason. Temple Mill stood on the head of the tidal water on the River Lea to the north-east of the city of London. The Templars also owned a windmill at Dunwich in Suffolk, given to them by King Richard I of England. It was not always economic for the Templars to operate mills themselves, and sometimes they rented them out to a third party, in return of payments of money or grain or other benefits in kind.
These, mills ground grain produced both by the Order's tenants and by the Order itself. The Order's lands were cultivated in part directly by the Order (as demense) and partly let out to tenants. In areas where the Templars owned only a few small areas of land it was not administratively efficient to cultivate directly, and the Order preferred to let out the property. But even in such cases, in a period of inflation such as the late twelfth and early thirteenth century, when the value of rents fell rapidly, it could be more cost-effective to cultivate the land directly. In areas such as Essex where the Order held a single large area of land, direct cultivation was the more efficient option. The barns for grain storage built by the Templars at their commandery at Cressing in Essex survive and have recently been restored. These are not the only monastic barns surviving from the Middle Ages, but they are amongst the most impressive in Britain. The size, of these barns is an indication that a large income, was expected from-the commandery, but in 1309 the total annual income was estimated at only £43 16s 9d, from which would be taken expenses of £14 14s 5d, including the upkeep of three chaplains who said masses for the souls of donors, the supply of lamps and candles for the chapel, and the cost of bread and wheat, which was given in charity to the poor who came three days a week for alms. What was left might have, been enough to buy a horse (for instance), but not a particularly good one.
NEW LAND INTO CULTIVATION
Apart from cultivating land that was already under the plough all religious orders were involved in bringing new land into cultivation. They had the labour and the ready cash to do this. As a result they were often given marginal land by donors; who could not afford to work it themselves, who hoped for some financial return from the land when it was cultivated - or at least an improvement in the local economic climate. Such donations to the Templars in the Iberian Peninsula and eastern and north-eastern Europe have been considered already. Some of this land was politically rather than agriculturally marginal. In Ireland the Templars received a number of donations from the new Cymro-Norman settlers in the late twelfth century, and while these were not on the frontier with the native Irish, they can be seen as a sort of "thank offering" for the success of the invasion and settlement from Britain, and marginal in the sense that the whole of Ireland was a new conquest. In south Wales it was mainly the Hospital of St John that benefited from this sort of donation, although the Templars' commandery at Garway in Herefordshire does fit the colonization pattern. This was land ripe for development, and the fact that the Templars cleared 2,000 acres of woodland indicates that they went about developing it with enthusiasm.
The Cistercians were the most famous recipients of marginal land, which they used to support huge flocks of sheep. The Templars generally brought in settlers to work the land. At Bruer in Lincolnshire they attracted tenants from the surrounding area and set up a new settlement. The fact that this no longer survives is a testament to the marginal nature of the land. In the Iberian Peninsula they operated a far more extensive settlement policy. Here is a translation of a Templar charter issued in 1151 at Castelldans in Aragon to prospective settlers. The Templars granted the land to two individuals, who would then bring in other settlers.
In name of the supreme God who is triune and one, Amen. I, Peter de Cartila, and I, Frevol, and I, Aimer, and I, William de Tavernos, and all we Brothers together give our inheritance which we have in Castelldans, except our demense [the land farmed directly by the lord, and not let out to tenants] which we retain, to you Girbert and to you Bernad Ferrer; so that you may colonise it to the honour of God and the Temple, and such is the agreement between us and you that you, Girbert, may have and hold two pareladas of land and a tower with the tithe and first-fruits which you pay, and you, Bernad Ferrer, similarly two pareladas with your tower, paying tithe and first-fruits. We give and concede this to you and your sons and your posterity. But the other colonisers which you will cause to colonise the land to the honour of God and the Temple will pay us tithes and first-fruits and for each parelada they will pay each year one leg of pork worth twelve pence and four unleavened loaves and one day's work at sowing.
Presumably these were favourable terms. Where land was not suitable for the plough it could be turned over to pasture. This is now the case at Garway, where flocks of sheep speckle the rolling green hills. The Templars had large flocks in Yorkshire, England, and also in the Iberian Peninsula. These were both important areas of wool production during the Middle Ages, but the Templars' production of wool was small in comparison with the Cistercians'.
Religious Orders were also involved in industry: the extraction of coal and metal ores, the smelting of metals and manufacture. Evidence for this sort of operation in the Middle Ages is extremely localized, and operations depended on what was available or suitable in the locality. At Castle Pilgrim on the Palestinian coast, the Templars had a salting, where sea water was distilled to produce salt. At the village of as Sumairiya in the kingdom of Jerusalem there was a glass factory; the village belonged to the Templars in 1277. In the West, where the Order was involved in wool production, an obvious industry was cloth manufacture. The process of fulling cloth was one of the first manufacturing processes to be mechanized; instead of cloth being washed and pounded by humans, this was done by huge wooden hammers powered by a water mill. The Templars had two fulling mills in 1185, one at their house at Newsam in Yorkshire and one at Barton on Windrush near Temple Guiting, Gloucestershire.
Like grain mills, industrial sites could be let out to third parties. In 1246 King Henry III of England gave the Templars two forges in Fleet Street, to the west of the city of London. As the Templars should have received 18d rent a year from these, the forges were obviously let out to tenants rather than being operated by the owner.
In short, the Order produced whatever was most suitable for the locality. Just as its church services followed the practice of the local diocese, its church architecture followed the local style of architecture and many of its donors were drawn from the locality, so its production followed local practice. One would not think, visiting a commandery of the Order of the Temple in Europe, that this was an Order based in the Holy Land. One would simply assume that it was a local community of religious. This was why the Order sometimes built churches with circular naves or decorated the interior of its chapels with frescoes of its Brothers fighting in the East: to remind the Brothers and outsiders of the Order's real vocation.
OTHER WAYS OF MAKING MONEY
There were ways of making money other than agriculture and industry. The period from the early eleventh century to the early fourteenth century in Europe was a period of rapid economic and commercial growth. The population grew, new land was brought under cultivation, new towns and cities, were founded, and there was much new building work within these new settlements. Trade and commerce expanded. This period of growth was caused by a variety of factors, including a period of warm, dry climate across Europe, increased political stability and an end to external invasions. The period of growth came to a close in the early fourteenth century, largely because of a change in the climate, which was becoming colder and wetter. The cause of this climate change was a mystery to contemporaries, who either explained, it as God's punishment for sinners (peccatis exigentibus) which was also the standard reason given for the failure of crusades - or blamed it on the secret operations of hostile groups, such as the Jews, the lepers, heretics or witches.
During the period of good climate and economic and commercial growth the Templars rapidly expanded their economic and commercial operations to finance their military commitments in the East. The French historian Damien Carraz has recently reminded us that in most of Europe the Templars were an urban Order as much as a rural one. They made money not only from farming, but also from rents and from commerce and trade. In 1301, for instance, one Lady Aveline of Provins gave the Order four rooms at Provins below 'the Cordeliers' and much other inherited property. She did this in return for the numerous favours that the Order had done her in the past, 'of her own good will, without force or wrangling and without constraint'. Aveline's rooms would be let out, thereby raising revenue for the Order. Her charter does not state exactly what favours the Order had done for her; the most likely explanation: is that the Order had lent her money.
SAFE DEPOSIT BANK-TYPE
All religious orders were used by lay people as a safe deposit for valuables, and were asked to lend money when lay people needed cash. The Templars in particular became well known for these sorts of financial services for the same reasons as they were used by kings as almoners, treasurers, and money carriers; the Order had developed systems for the collection, safe storage and transport of large sums of cash and other valuables in the West, for carrying to the East. Merchants made much use of the New Temple in London and in Paris for depositing their valuables.
The security of the Templars' systems was well known, and was taken for granted in the account in the Dunstable annals about the Lord Edward's 'bank raid' on the Temple, as well as Roger of Wendover's story about the Templars refusing to hand over Hubert de Burgh's money to the king. There were remarkably few complaints about the Templars mishandling money deposited with them. The only specific criticism I have found is Jean de Joinville's bitter account of how the Templars 'mislaid' his wages of £360, which he had deposited with one Brother Stephen, the commander of the Templars palace at Acre, soon after he arrived in the Holy Land in 1250. When Jean sent his representative to withdraw £40, the commander denied all knowledge of Jean and his money. Jean went to Brother Renaut de Vichiers, who had been Marshal when Louis IX was in prison in Egypt and who had allowed Jean to take the money needed for Louis's ransom.
Thanks to Brother Renaut's compliance on that occasion, Louis had used his influence to encourage the Order to elect him as Master. Jean told Brother Renaut what had happened, but he refused to believe it: When he heard this, he became very alarmed and said to me: 'Lord Joinville, I am very fond of you. But be certain that if you will not withdraw this claim, I will never have any more affection for you. For you wish to make people think that our Brothers are thieves. And I said to him that, God willing, I would never withdraw my claim.'
Jean passed an anxious four days before the Master came to him call laughingly and said that he had found Jean's money. The commander of the palace had been transferred, and Jean's money was returned to him. Although no other contemporary made such complaints, the repeated general accusation that the Templars were greedy may have been partly based on other such instances of mismanagement.
All religious orders lent money, but as Christians were not allowed to levy interest (this practice was called 'usury') they had to find other ways of covering the cost of the loan. There were various ways in which this could be done. Some Templar loans from southern France included a clause in the loan agreement that if the coin depreciated in value between the time of the loan and the repayment then the borrower must add a fixed sum to compensate the lender. As the fixed sum would remain the same however much the coin depreciated, it is likely that an interest charge lay buried in this fixed sum. Again, if land was given as the pledge for the debt it might be stipulated in the loan conditions that the produce from the land did not count towards the repayment of the loan. Complaints of Templar greed could conceivably have sprung from such clauses, but the complainers did not specify loans as a particular cause of grief.
PRIVILEGES FROM RULERS…..TRADE IMPORTANT
Among the privileges and exemptions that the Templars received from rulers were many rights connected with trade. For example, they were granted the right to hold weekly markets and annual fairs at many of their commanderies. They had royal permission to hold annual fairs at Witham in Essex and at Baldock in Hertfordshire; in 1212-13. King John conceded them the right of holding a market at their new town of 'Wulnesford' in the parish of Witham, and his son Henry III added an annual fair. In 1227 Henry III granted the right to hold a weekly market on Tuesdays at their town of Walshford in the parish of Ribston in Yorkshire, and to hold a yearly fair there, but in 1240 this was changed to Wetherby, Henry also changed the Templars' market at Temple Bruer, granted by Henry II, from a Thursday to a Wednesday, and granted the right to hold an annual fair. These markets and fairs would form a focus for local trade and bring much income to the Order both from dues paid by those taking part and also through boosting the local economy generally. The large number of markets and fairs granted to the Templars in England indicates that here at least trade was an important, source of income for the Order.
COMMERCIAL PRIVILEGES AND DISPUTES
The Templars' commercial privileges could sometimes cause disputes, as in the case of around the 1260s at Provins, in Champagne, France. The counts of Champagne had given the Templars rights to levy certain tolls on produce entering Provins. According to the merchants of the town, the Templars were exploiting these rights far beyond what was granted. The letter below was originally written in simple French; the tone throughout one of desperation.
These are the complaints of the bourgeois of Provins; about the treatment they have received from the Templars, contrary to the usages and customs of Provins. (Addressed to Theobald, Count, of Champagne).
Sir, we are showing you the wrongs that have been done to us as you are our earthly lord to whom we have recourse, for we have no recourse to anyone except to you. So, sir, we beg you for the sake of God that you help us so that we can live under your authority in the same way that we and ours have lived under your ancestors in the past.
Sir, the freedoms of Provins are such that in exchange for a payment of 1d on Tuesdays when the market is at Provins the bourgeois are quit of paying toll on everything they buy and sell of anything to do with drapery in any place where they buy or sell in Provins.
Sir, we are accustomed and ought to have the right to weigh the wool; each person who can and wishes to, may weigh it in their house, and weigh it freely, without opposition. The weighers who weigh the wool are appointed by the bourgeois of Provins and are on oath; and if the bourgeois notice that the weighers are cheating they remove them and put in others.
Sir, what is more, in the three fairs which there are at Provins, that is to say the May fair, St Ayoul's fair and St Martin's fair, we are free of all tonnage [toll on weight of goods] for the first seven days of each of these fairs.
Sir, what is more, we have the following freedoms: if we have bought wool in some abbey, and it has been delivered to us and comes at our risk, we pay no toll. But we have been forced, to pay, sir, so that we tell you that we have never since been able to get wool from the abbeys but they take it to Chalons and elsewhere, sir, and we have suffered great loss. The people in the abbeys tell us why: because when they sell their wool at Provins, wool which is still at their abbeys or still to be sheared, they shouldn't pay tonnage on it, or pesage, nor any other customs duty, and never have done, and for this reason they are taking their wool elsewhere, and have left the trade of Provins because they are being forced to pay pesage and tonnage.
Sir, we have complained several times about this, and Lord Lorant has been ordered to look into it, and we believe, sir, that the investigation was made, and if nothing was discovered, we beg you to command that it be made again. Sir, as it was your pleasure that we inform you, we wish to beg you [to do this] as you are our supreme lord, and we can have recourse to, no one else but you.
Sir, we know truly that if you knew the great damage which you are suffering here from loss of rents, from your ovens, your mills, your fabric manufacturers and your other factories which you have at Provins, and the great damage which your bourgeois are suffering, which is also damage to you, for what your bourgeois have is also yours, and they cannot suffer damage without affecting you. Sir, even the wool which the merchants used to bring they now bring nothing, and the little which they do bring us is so expensive that we can't make any profit on it, so that the drapery industry in the town is in decline because of the lack of wool merchants coming from the abbeys, and they don't come because they can't enjoy the practices which they are used to.
Sir, we have held all the liberties which are recorded above from ancient times and enjoyed them in peace, and our lord your father, whom God absolve! confirmed them to us in his charter. Sir, for God's sake help us, because we have been suffering this on a daily basis for a good nine years or more before your people's very eyes and suffering losses in our businesses.
In this instance, if the Templars over-exploitation of their rights was damaging trade as much as the tradespeople of Provins claimed, the Templars were in fact damaging their own long-term interests. If the wool trade of Provins was destroyed, then the Templars would lose money. We may hope that the count of Champagne was able to persuade them of this, but regrettably we do not know the outcome of this complaint.
MONEY IN WEST OUT TO EAST…..AND SHIPS
When the Templars had made their money in the West, they had to get it out to the East. There has been some debate among scholars as to whether any actual transfer of coin took place, but the current view is that coin was actually carried from, the West to the East. This meant that the Templars needed ships to carry their coin, as well as agricultural produce, horses and personnel for the East. They also provided a secure carrying service for pilgrims - safer and cheaper than hiring a commercial carrier. These would have been heavy transport vessels rather than warships. Much of the surviving evidence for Templar shipping comes from the relevant port records or royal records giving permission for the export of produce. At La Rochelle on the west coast of France during the twelfth century the Templars were given several vineyards and produced wine for their own consumption and for export; although the cartulary of their house at La Rochelle is lost, the records of the port of La Rochelle show that the Templars were exporting wine by ship. This was not a fleet in any modern sense. Again, these would have been transport vessels rather than warships, and the Templars probably hired them as they needed them, rather than buying their own.
The-hierarchical statutes attached to the Templars Rule, dating from the twelfth century before 1187, refer to the Order's ships at Acre, but do not state how many ships the Order owned. After 1312 the Hospital of St John was mainly involved in sea-based warfare and had an admiral in command of its marine operations, but only had four galleys (warships), with other vessels. It is unlikely that the Templars had any more galleys than the Hospitallers. The ships would have been very small by modern standards, too shallow in draught and sailing too low in the water to be able to withstand the heavy waves and winds of the open Atlantic, and suited for use only in the relatively shallow waters of the continental shelf. Nor could they carry enough water to be at sea for long periods.
Although navigation and shipping was improving rapidly from the twelfth century onwards, at this period European sailors could not venture far. Regular trading voyages to the Viking colonies on Greenland by British and Scandinavian merchants were made by 'island hopping' across the North Atlantic along a well-used route. In 1291 the Vivaldi Brothers of Genoa set out to sail down the African coast, but were never seen or heard of again. Still, developments in shipping; continued, encouraged by hopes of finding new sources of trade and gold, as well as of converting pagans to Christ and winning honour and glory. By the 1330s the sailors of western Europe had ships that were able to sail out of the straits of Gibraltar, turn south and keep going with the currents and the wind. Only then were the Canary Islands rediscovered and mapped - they had been known to the classical world, but since lost sight of. But these developments came too late to have involved the Templars; by the late thirteenth century they had no spare resources to use in Atlantic exploration, even if they had wished to do so, and by the 1330s the Order had been, dissolved. The earliest references to Templar ships outside the kingdom of Jerusalem come in the first decades of the thirteenth-century, when they were operating at Constantinople and in the Bay of Biscay. In 1224 King Henry III of England hired a Templar ship, 'the Great Ship', and its captain, Brother Thomas of the Temple of Spain, for use in his wars in France. Henry later bought the ship from the Master of the Temple in Spain for 200 marks and kept it. Presumably at that time the Templars in Spain had a few ships, if they could spare this one. However, as mentioned in Chapter 3, when the Templars of Aragon accompanied James I of Aragon as he set sail for the East, their ship's rudder broke, and they did not have a spare. This does not indicate great naval expertise or investment. When Berenguer of Cardona, Templar master of Aragon and Catalonia, set out in summer l300 for, a meeting with the Grand Master Jacques de Molay in Cyprus, he hired a merchant ship for the voyage, and another for the voyage home in spring 1301. If one of the leading Templars in the Iberian Peninsula could not find a Templar ship for his transport, clearly the Order did not have many ships at its disposal.
Roger de Flor, who founded the notorious Catalan mercenary company that terrorized the Aegean in the early fourteenth century, began his career working on a Templar ship commanded by a Templar sergeant Brother named Brother Vassayll of Marseille. When he was aged twenty the Master 'gave him the mantle', as Roger's biographer Ramon Muntaner put it, and made him a sergeant-Brother. A little while later the Templars acquired from the Genoese a great ship, 'the biggest-made in those times', called the Falcon. Brother Roger was put in command. In this ship-Roger made a lot of money for the Order Ramon does, not explain how, but presumably Roger was practising the same sort of licensed piracy against the Muslims and those who traded with them as the Hospital of St John later practised in the Mediterranean. He also assisted in the evacuation of Acre in May 1291. In the aftermath of defeat, however, he was accused of keeping a great deal of money from the evacuation for himself. Ramon reports that 'the Master took from him all that he found on him, and later wanted to hang him'. Probably this was the judgement of the chapter: that Roger be stripped of his habit and hanged in punishment. When he heard of the judgement, Roger left the Falcon at Marseilles, borrowed money and bought his own ship, and went to offer his services to various secular rulers.
The fact that the Templars' Spanish great ship also came equipped with its own captain, Brother Thomas, who remained with it after Henry III had bought it, indicates that this was the normal form of organization for the Templars' ships. Theoretically they belonged to the Order, but were run as individual units under Brothers who were experienced sailors. When they were not being used by the Order, for example for carrying pilgrims or produce, they engaged in privateering and other commercial enterprises. This was the normal method of organizing ships during the Middle Ages. Ships were owned and run by their captains, and hired by others as they were needed. Kings and others had no 'standing fleet' as such, as the timber ships were expensive to maintain and did not last for many years even if they were looked after.
Apart from terrorizing enemy shipping, the Templars' ships appear in the surviving records carrying pilgrims, grain, military personnel and equipment from the western Mediterranean to the East. Getting permission to sail from a western European port was not always a straightforward matter. There could be costly harbour dues to pay, and the local shippers resented the competition from outsiders. During times of war, rulers would normally close the ports and forbid all exports overseas, including those by the Templars to the East. The Templars would then have to negotiate to obtain permission to export their essential supplies. The evidence indicates that the Templars regularly shipped people, cash and produce from Marseilles from at least 1216. Brother Vassyll, who trained Brother Roger de Flor as a sailor, was from Marseilles. The Templars also shipped from Sicily and southern Italy, especially from the late 1260s when this area came under the control of Charles I of Anjou and his successors. This was the period when Brother Vassylh came to Brundisiand met the young Roger de Flor.
WEST IMPORTANT FOR THE EAST
Ramon's account of Brother Roger's sudden departure from the Order of the Temple reminds us of the other side of the Templars' economic and commercial activities. The Order was dedicated to obtaining as much money as possible in the West in order to carry on the defence of the East. This, sometimes meant causing offence and distress in the West as the Order strove to make the most of its exemptions and privileges. It also meant that the Order took a very harsh line against any Brother accused of embezzlement or wasting resources. Theft was punished by being expelled from the Order for ever. Theft might include breaking a key or a lock, leaving the house and taking anything belonging to the Order (a few exceptions were specified) and misappropriation of property for any purpose. Brothers would lose their habit and be imprisoned in iron chains if they gave away the Order's property without permission, stole from people outside the house, or caused any loss to the Order, even for breaking a lock. Examples of causing loss to the Order included the case of a Brother throwing a mace after a bird and the mace falling into the river; a Brother who damaged a horse that had been entrusted to the Order's care when it was sick; a-Brother who was trying out a sword' (this usually involved hitting it on something hard, such as an anvil) and broke it; and a Brother who dropped a set of glass goblets and smashed one, then lost his temper, and shouting: 'No thanks to God and His Mother for that' proceeded to smash the rest of the set.
One of the reasons for the harshness of the Order's discipline was to impress upon outsiders that the Order was genuine in its determination to serve God and His Mother. In the examples cited above, it is striking that the Order punished only the Brother who had damaged an outsider by injuring their horse (his habit was taken from him), and excused the others. Yet because chapter proceedings could not be discussed with outsiders, outsiders would only know that one Brother had lost his habit and not about the others who had been excused.
Brothers who stole from, struck or otherwise harmed outsiders, were very severely punished. Three Templars at Antioch who murdered some Christian merchants were sentenced to be whipped through Tripoli, Tyre and Acre, to restore public confidence in the Order's discipline. They were finally imprisoned in Castle Pilgrim, where they died. Brother Gilbert of Ogerstan, who stole part of the Saladin tithe collected in England in 1188, was put in chains and disappeared into the Order's prison. Roger of Howden commented that no one knew what happened to him afterwards. In 1301 Walter le Bachelor, Master of the Temple in Ireland, was accused of theft from the Order. As he had been a prominent figure in public life in Ireland this would have been a major scandal -but what followed made the scandal worse. He was stripped of his habit and imprisoned at the New Temple in London, where he died. Rumour said that he was starved to death. The Order would not even bury his body in its cemetery, on the grounds that he was excommunicate (formally cut off from the rest of Christianity) when he died. Such harsh discipline should have impressed Christendom, but in fact it seems to have shocked contemporaries. The fate of Walter le Bachelor was one of the scandals brought against the Order in the British Isles during the trial of the Order. Master Gilbert of Bruer, a clerk who had been employed by the Templars, drew attention in his testimony to the Order's harsh dealings, observing that he has never regarded any of their dealings as suspect, except for the excessive punishment of their Brothers. At a period when religious belief was increasingly emphasizing the mercy of God, the humanity of Christ and the benign intervention of His Mother, the Templars' harsh and apparently merciless discipline could have seemed to outsiders to be not only inhuman but even ungodly.
TO BE CONTINUED