Foundation Of The Order Of Knights Templars

Title:       Foundation Of The Order Of Knights Templars

Author:      Addison, Charles G.

 

1118

 

 

 

     Among the military orders of past ages, that of the Knights Templars,

founded for the defence of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem, with its lofty

motive, its superb organization and discipline, and its history extending over

nearly two centuries, is justly accounted one of the most illustrious. At the

period when this extraordinary and romantic order came into existence, the

contrasting spirits of warlike enterprise and monastic retirement were drawing

men, some from the field to the cloister, others from the life of ascetic

piety to the scenes of strife.  There appeared a strange blending of these two

tendencies, which indeed was the leading characteristic of the time.  This

union of the religious with the militant spirit had been promoted by the

enthusiasm of the crusades which had already been undertaken, and among the

crusaders themselves the blended spiritual and military ideal of the holy war

had its complete development.  Let us recall the reasons and the beginnings of

the crusades themselves.

 

     Upon the legendary discovery of the Holy Sepulchre by Helena, the mother

of Constantine, about three hundred years after the death of Christ, and the

consequent erection, as it is said, by her great son - the first Christian

emperor of Rome - of the magnificent Church of the Holy Sepulchre over the

sacred spot, a tide of pilgrimage set in toward Jerusalem which increased in

strength as Christianity gradually spread throughout Europe.  When in A.D. 637

the Holy City was surrendered to the Saracens, the caliph Omar gave guarantees

for the security of the Christian population.  Under this safeguard the

pilgrimages to Jerusalem continued to increase, until in 1064 the Holy

Sepulchre was visited by seven thousand pilgrims, led by an archbishop and

three bishops.  But in 1065 Jerusalem was taken by the Turcomans, who

massacred three thousand citizens, and placed the command of the city in

savage hands.  Terrible oppression of the Christians there followed; the

Patriarch of Jerusalem was dragged by the hair of his head over the sacred

pavement of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and cast into a dungeon for

ransom; extortion, imprisonment, and massacre were indiscriminately visited

upon the people.

 

     Such were the conditions that aroused the indignant spirit of Christendom

and prepared it for the cry of Peter the Hermit, which awoke the wild

enthusiasm of the crusades.  When Jerusalem was captured by the crusaders

under Godfrey of Bouillon in 1099, the zeal of pilgrimage burst forth anew.

But although Jerusalem was delivered, Palestine was still infested with the

infidels, who made it as hazardous as before for the pilgrims entering there.

Some means for their protection must be found, and out of this necessity grew

the great military order of which the following pages treat.

 

     To alleviate the dangers and distresses to which the pilgrim enthusiasts

were exposed; to guard the honor of the saintly virgins and matrons, and to

protect the gray hairs of the venerable palmers, nine noble knights formed a

holy brotherhood-in-arms, and entered into a solemn compact to aid one another

in clearing the highways of infidels and robbers, and in protecting the

pilgrims through the passes and defiles of the mountains to the Holy City.

Warmed with the religious and military fervor of the day, and animated by the

sacredness of the cause to which they had devoted their swords, they called

themselves the "Poor Fellow-soldiers of Jesus Christ."

 

     They renounced the world and its pleasures, and in the Holy Church of the

Resurrection, in the presence of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, they embraced

vows of perpetual chastity, obedience, and poverty, after the manner of monks.

Uniting in themselves the two most popular qualities of the age, devotion and

valor, and exercising them in the most popular of all enterprises, the

protection of the pilgrims and of the road to the Holy Sepulchre, they

speedily acquired a vast reputation and a splendid renown.

 

     At first, we are told, they had no church and no particular place of

abode, but in the year of our Lord 1118 - nineteen years after the conquest of

Jerusalem by the crusaders - they had rendered such good and acceptable

service to the Christians that Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, granted them a

place of habitation within the sacred enclosure of the Temple on Mount Moriah,

amid those holy and magnificent structures, partly erected by the Christian

emperor Justinian and partly built by the caliph Omar, which were then

exhibited by the monks and priests of Jerusalem, whose restless zeal led them

to practise on the credulity of the pilgrims, and to multiply relics and all

objects likely to be sacred in their eyes, as the Temple of Solomon, whence

the "Poor Fellow-soldiers of Jesus Christ" came thenceforth to be known by the

name of "the Knighthood of the Temple of Solomon."

 

     A few remarks in elucidation of the name "Templars," or "Knights of the

Temple," may not be unacceptable.

 

     By the Mussulmans the site of the great Jewish Temple on Mount Moriah has

always been regarded with peculiar veneration.  Mahomet, in the first year of

the publication of the Koran, directed his followers, when at prayer, to turn

their faces toward it, and pilgrimages have constantly been made to the holy

spot by devout Moslems.  On the conquest of Jerusalem by the Arabians, it was

the first care of the caliph Omar to rebuild "the Temple of the Lord."

Assisted by the principal chieftains of his army, the Commander of the

Faithful undertook the pious office of clearing the ground with his own hands,

and of tracing out the foundations of the magnificent mosque which now crowns

with its dark and swelling dome the elevated summit of Mount Moriah.

 

     This great house of prayer, the most holy Mussulman temple in the world

after that of Mecca, is erected over the spot where "Solomon began to build

the house of the Lord at Jerusalem in Mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared

unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the

threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite."

 

     It remains to this day in a state of perfect preservation, and is one of

the finest specimens of Saracenic architecture in existence.  It is entered by

four spacious doorways, each door facing one of the cardinal points: the Bab

el D'Jannat (or "Gate of the Garden"), on the north; the Bab el Kebla, (or

"Gate of Prayer"), on the south; the Bab ibn el Daoud (or "Gate of the Son of

David"), on the east; and the Bab el Garbi, on the west.  By the Arabian

geographers it is called Beit Allah ("the House of God"), also Beit Almokaddas

or Beit Almacdes ("the Holy House").  From it Jerusalem derives its Arabic

name, El Kods ("the Holy"), El Schereef ("the Noble"), and El Mobarek ("the

Blessed"); while the governors of the city, instead of the customary

high-sounding titles of sovereignty and dominion, take the simple title of

Hami (or "Protectors").

 

     On the conquest of Jerusalem by the crusaders, the crescent was torn down

from the summit of this famous Mussulman temple, and was replaced by an

immense golden cross, and the edifice was then consecrated to the services of

the Christian religion, but retained its simple appellation of "the Temple of

the Lord." William, Archbishop of Tyre and Chancellor of the Kingdom of

Jerusalem, gives an interesting account of this famous edifice as it existed

in his time, during the Latin dominion.  He speaks of the splendid mosaic

work, of the Arabic characters setting forth the name of the founder and the

cost of the undertaking, and of the famous rock under the centre of the dome,

which is to this day shown by the Moslems as the spot whereon the destroying

angel stood, "with his drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem."

This rock, he informs us, was left exposed and uncovered for the space of

fifteen years after the conquest of the Holy City by the crusaders, but was,

after that period, cased with a handsome altar of white marble, upon which the

priests daily said mass.

 

     To the south of this holy Mussulman temple, on the extreme edge of the

summit of Mount Moriah, and resting against the modern walls of the town of

Jerusalem, stands the venerable Church of the Virgin, erected by the emperor

Justinian, whose stupendous foundations, remaining to this day, fully justify

the astonishing description given of the building by Procopius.  That writer

informs us that in order to get a level surface for the erection of the

edifice, it was necessary, on the east and south sides of the hill, to raise

up a wall of masonry from the valley below, and to construct a vast

foundation, partly composed of solid stone and partly of arches and pillars.

The stones were of such magnitude that each block required to be transported

in a truck drawn by forty of the Emperor's strongest oxen; and to admit of the

passage of these trucks it was necessary to widen the roads leading to

Jerusalem.  The forests of Lebanon yielded their choicest cedars for the

timbers of the roof; and a quarry of variegated marble, seasonably discovered

in the adjoining mountains, furnished the edifice with superb marble columns.

 

     The interior of this interesting structure, which still remains at

Jerusalem, after a lapse of more than thirteen centuries, in an excellent

state of preservation, is adorned with six rows of columns, from whence spring

arches supporting the cedar beams and timbers of the roof; and at the end of

the building is a round tower, surmounted by a dome.  The vast stones, the

walls of masonry, and the subterranean colonnade raised to support the

southeast angle of the platform whereon the church is erected are truly

wonderful, and may still be seen by penetrating through a small door and

descending several flights of steps at the southeast corner of the enclosure.

Adjoining the sacred edifice the Emperor erected hospitals, or houses of

refuge, for travellers, sick people, and mendicants of all nations; the

foundations whereof, composed of handsome Roman masonry, are still visible on

either side of the southern end of the building.

 

     On the conquest of Jerusalem by the Moslems this venerable church was

converted into a mosque, and was called D'Jame al Acsa; it was enclosed,

together with the great Mussulman "Temple of the Lord" erected by the caliph

Omar, within a large area by a high stone wall, which runs around the edge of

the summit of Mount Moriah and guards from the profane tread of the unbeliever

the whole of that sacred ground whereon once stood the gorgeous Temple of the

wisest of kings.

 

     When the Holy City was taken by the crusaders, the D'Jame al Acsa, with

the various buildings constructed around it, became the property of the kings

of Jerusalem, and is denominated by William of Tyre "the Palace," or "Royal

House to the south of the Temple of the Lord, vulgarly called the 'Temple of

Solomon.'" It was this edifice or temple on Mount Moriah which was

appropriated to the use of the "Poor Fellow-soldiers of Jesus Christ," as they

had no church and no particular place of abode, and from it they derived their

name of "Knights Templars."

 

     James of Vitry, Bishop of Acre, who gives an interesting account of the

holy places, thus speaks of the temple of the Knights Templars: "There is,

moreover, at Jerusalem another temple of immense spaciousness and extent, from

which the brethren of the Knighthood of the Temple derive their name of

'Templars,' which is called the 'Temple of Solomon,' perhaps to distinguish it

from the one above described, which is specially called the 'Temple of the

Lord.'" He moreover informs us in his oriental history that "in the 'Temple of

the Lord' there is an abbot and canons regular; and be it known that the one

is the 'Temple of the Lord,' and the other the 'Temple of the Chivalry.' These

are clerks; the others are knights."

 

     The canons of the "Temple of the Lord" conceded to the "Poor

Fellow-soldiers of Jesus Christ" the large court extending between that

building and the Temple of Solomon; the King, the Patriarch, and the prelates

of Jerusalem, and the barons of the Latin kingdom assigned them various gifts

and revenues for their maintenance and support, and, the order being now

settled in a regular place of abode, the knights soon began to entertain more

extended views and to seek a larger theatre for the exercise of their holy

profession.

 

     Their first aim and object had been, as before mentioned, simply to

protect the poor pilgrims on their journey backward and forward from the

sea-coast to Jerusalem; but as the hostile tribes of Mussulmans, which

everywhere surrounded the Latin kingdom, were gradually recovering from the

stupefying terror into which they had been plunged by the successful and

exterminating warfare of the first crusaders, and were assuming an aggressive

and threatening attitude, it was determined that the holy warriors of the

temple should, in addition to the protection of pilgrims, make the defence of

the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem, of the Eastern Church, and of all the holy

places a part of their particular profession.

 

     The two most distinguished members of the fraternity were Hugh de Payens

and Geoffrey de St. Aldemar, or St. Omer, two valiant soldiers of the cross,

who had fought with great credit and renown at the siege of Jerusalem.  Hugh

de Payens was chosen by the knights to be superior of the new religious and

military society, by the title of "the Master of the Temple"; and he has, in

consequence, been generally called the founder of the order.

 

     The name and reputation of the Knights Templars speedily spread

throughout Europe, and various illustrious pilgrims of the Far West aspired to

become members of the holy fraternity.  Among these was Fulk, Count of Anjou,

who joined the society as a married brother (1120), and annually remitted the

order thirty pounds of silver.  Baldwin, King of Jerusalem, foreseeing that

great advantages would accrue to the Latin kingdom by the increase of the

power and numbers of these holy warriors, exerted himself to extend the order

throughout all Christendom, so that he might, by means of so politic an

institution, keep alive the holy enthusiasm of the West, and draw a constant

succor from the bold and warlike races of Europe for the support of his

Christian throne and kingdom.

 

     St. Bernard, the holy abbot of Clairvaux, had been a great admirer of the

Templars.  He wrote a letter to the Count of Champagne, on his entering the

order (1123), praising the act as one of eminent merit in the sight of God;

and it was determined to enlist the all-powerful influence of this great

ecclesiastic in favor of the fraternity.  "By a vow of poverty and penance, by

closing his eyes against the visible world, by the refusal of all

ecclesiastical dignities, the abbot of Clairvaux became the oracle of Europe

and the founder of one hundred and sixty convents.  Princes and pontiffs

trembled at the freedom of his apostolical censures; France, England, and

Milan consulted and obeyed his judgment in a schism of the Church; the debt

was repaid by the gratitude of Innocent II; and his successor, Eugenius III,

was the friend and disciple of the holy St. Bernard."

 

     To this learned and devout prelate two Knights Templars were despatched

with the following letter:

 

     "Baldwin, by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, King of Jerusalem and

Prince of Antioch, to the venerable Father Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux; health

and regard.

 

     "The Brothers of the Temple, whom the Lord hath deigned to raise up, and

whom by an especial providence he preserves for the defence of this kingdom,

desiring to obtain from the Holy See the confirmation of their institution and

a rule for their particular guidance, we have determined to send to you the

two knights, Andrew and Gondemar, men as much distinguished by their military

exploits as by the splendor of their birth, to obtain from the Pope the

approbation of their order, and to dispose his holiness to send succor and

subsidies against the enemies of the faith, reunited in their design to

destroy us and to invade our Christian territories.

 

     "Well knowing the weight of your mediation with God and his vicar upon

earth, as well as with the princes and powers of Europe, we have thought fit

to confide to you these two important matters, whose successful issue cannot

be otherwise than most agreeable to ourselves.  The statutes we ask of you

should be so ordered and arranged as to be reconcilable with the tumult of the

camp and the profession of arms; they must, in fact, be of such a nature as to

obtain favor and popularity with the Christian princes.

 

     "Do you then so manage that we may, through you, have the happiness of

seeing this important affair brought to a successful issue, and address for us

to Heaven the incense of your prayers."

 

     Soon after the above letter had been despatched to St. Bernard, Hugh de

Payens himself proceeded to Rome, accompanied by Geoffrey de St. Aldemar and

four other brothers of the order: namely, Brother Payen de Montdidier, Brother

Gorall, Brother Geoffrey Bisol, and Brother Archambauld de St. Armand.  They

were received with great honor and distinction by Pope Honorius, who warmly

approved of the objects and designs of the holy fraternity.  St. Bernard had,

in the mean time, taken the affair greatly to heart; he negotiated with the

pope, the legate, and the bishops of France, and obtained the convocation of a

great ecclesiastical council at Troyes (1128), which Hugh de Payens and his

brethren were invited to attend.  This council consisted of several

archbishops, bishops, and abbots, among which last was St. Bernard himself.

The rules to which the Templars had subjected themselves were there described

by the master, and to the holy abbot of Clairvaux was confided the task of

revising and correcting these rules, and of framing a code of statutes fit and

proper for the governance of the great religious and military fraternity of

the temple.

 

     The Rule of the Poor Fellow-soldiers of Jesus Christ and of the Temple of

Solomon, arranged by St. Bernard, and sanctioned by the holy Fathers of the

Council of Troyes, for the government and regulation of the monastic and

military society of the Temple, is principally of a religious character and of

an austere and gloomy cast.  It is divided into seventy-two heads or chapters,

and is preceded by a short prologue addressed "to all who disdain to follow

after their own wills, and desire with purity of mind to fight for the most

high and true King," exhorting them to put on the armor of obedience, and to

associate themselves together with piety and humility for the defence of the

Holy Catholic Church; and to employ a pure diligence, and a steady

perseverance in the exercise of their sacred profession, so that they might

share in the happy destiny reserved for the holy warriors who had given up

their lives for Christ.

 

     The rule enjoins severe devotional exercises, self-mortification,

fasting, and prayer, and a constant attendance at matins, vespers, and on all

the services of the Church, "that, being refreshed and satisfied with heavenly

food, instructed and stablished with heavenly precepts, after the consummation

of the divine mysteries," none might be afraid of the Fight, but be prepared

for the Crown.

 

     If unable to attend the regular service of God, the absent brother is for

matins to say over thirteen pater-nosters, for every hour seven, and for

vespers nine.  When any Templar draweth nigh unto death, the chaplains and

clerk are to assemble and offer up a solemn mass for his soul; the surrounding

brethren are to spend the night in prayer, and a hundred pater-nosters are to

be repeated for the dead brother.  "Moreover," say the holy Fathers, "we do

strictly enjoin you, that with divine and most tender charity ye do daily

bestow as much meat and drink as was given to that brother when alive, unto

some poor man for forty days."

 

     The brethren are, on all occasions, to speak sparingly and to wear a

grave and serious deportment.  They are to be constant in the exercise of

charity and almsgiving, to have a watchful care over all sick brethren, and to

support and sustain all old men.  They are not to receive letters from their

parents, relations, or friends without the license of the master, and all

gifts are immediately to be taken to the latter or to the treasurer, to be

disposed of as he may direct.  They are, moreover, to receive no service or

attendance from a woman, and are commanded, above all things, to shun feminine

kisses.

 

     "This same year (1128) Hugh of the Temple came from Jerusalem to the King

in Normandy, and the King received him with much honor and gave him much

treasure in gold and silver, and afterward he sent him into England, and there

he was well received by all good men, and all gave him treasure, and in

Scotland also, and they sent in all a great sum in gold and silver by him to

Jerusalem, and there went with him and after him so great a number as never

before since the days of Pope Urban." Grants of land, as well as of money,

were at the same time made to Hugh de Payens and his brethren, some of which

were shortly afterward confirmed by King Stephen on his accession to the

throne (1135).  Among these is a grant of the manor of Bistelesham made to the

Templars by Count Robert de Ferrara, and a grant of the Church of Langeforde

in Bedfordshire made by Simon de Wahull and Sibylla his wife and Walter their

son.

 

     Hugh de Payens, before his departure, placed a Knight Templar at the head

of the order in England, who was called the prior of the temple and was the

procurator and viceregent of the master.  It was his duty to manage the

estates granted to the fraternity, and to transmit the revenues to Jerusalem.

He was also delegated with the power of admitting members into the order,

subject to the control and direction of the master, and was to provide means

of transport for such newly-admitted brethren to the Far East, to enable them

to fulfil the duties of their profession.  As the houses of the Temple

increased in number in England, subpriors came to be appointed, and the

superior of the order in this country was then called the "grand prior," and

afterward master, of the temple.

 

     Many illustrious knights of the best families in Europe aspired to the

habit and vows, but, however exalted their rank, they were not received within

the bosom of the fraternity until they had proved themselves by their conduct

worthy of such a fellowship.  Thus, when Hugh d'Amboise, who had harassed and

oppressed the people of Marmontier by unjust exactions, and had refused to

submit to the judicial decision of the Count of Anjou, desired to enter the

order, Hugh de Payens refused to admit him to the vows until he had humbled

himself, renounced his pretensions, and given perfect satisfaction to those

whom he had injured.  The candidates, moreover, previous to their admission,

were required to make reparation and satisfaction for all damage done by them

at any time to churches and to public or private property.

 

     An astonishing enthusiasm was excited throughout Christendom in behalf of

the Templars; princes and nobles, sovereigns and their subjects, vied with

each other in heaping gifts and benefits upon them, and scarce a will of

importance was made without an article in it in their favor.  Many illustrious

persons on their death-beds took the vows, that they might be buried in the

habit of the order; and sovereigns, quitting the government of their kingdoms,

enrolled themselves among the holy fraternity, and bequeathed even their

dominions to the master and the brethren of the temple.

 

     Thus, Raymond Berenger; Count of Barcelona and Provence, at a very

advanced age, abdicating his throne and shaking off the ensigns of royal

authority, retired to the house of the Templars at Barcelona, and pronounced

his vows (1130) before Brother Hugh de Rigauld, the prior.  His infirmities

not allowing him to proceed in person to the chief house of the order at

Jerusalem, he sent vast sums of money thither, and immuring himself in a small

cell in the temple at Barcelona, he there remained in the constant exercise of

the religious duties of his profession until the day of his death.

 

     At the same period, the emperor Lothair bestowed on the order a large

portion of his patrimony of Supplinburg; and the year following (1131),

Alphonso I, King of Navarre and Aragon, also styled Emperor of Spain, one of

the greatest warriors of the age, by his will declared the Knights of the

Temple his heirs and successors in the crowns of Navarre and Aragon, and a few

hours before his death he caused this will to be ratified and signed by most

of the barons of both kingdoms.  The validity of this document, however, was

disputed, and the claims of the Templars were successfully resisted by the

nobles of Navarre; but in Aragon they obtained, by way of compromise, lands

and castles and considerable dependencies, a portion of the customs and duties

levied throughout the kingdom, and the contributions raised from the Moors.

 

     To increase the enthusiasm in favor of the Templars, and still further to

swell their ranks with the best and bravest of the European chivalry, St.

Bernard, at the request of Hugh de Payens, took up his powerful pen in their

behalf.  In a famous discourse, In Praise of the New Chivalry, the holy abbot

sets forth, in eloquent and enthusiastic terms, the spiritual advantages and

blessings enjoyed by the military friars of the temple over all other

warriors.  He draws a curious picture of the relative situations and

circumstances of the secular soldiery and the soldiery of Christ, and shows

how different in the sight of God are the bloodshed and slaughter of the one

from that committed by the other.

 

     This extraordinary discourse is written with great spirit; it is

addressed "To Hugh, Knight of Christ, and Master of the Knighthood of Christ,"

is divided into fourteen parts or chapters, and commences with a short

prologue.  It is curiously illustrative of the spirit of the times, and some

of its most striking passages will be read with interest.

 

     The holy abbot thus pursues his comparison between the soldier of the

world and the soldier of Christ - the secular and the religious warrior: "As

often as thou who wagest a secular warfare marchest forth to battle, it is

greatly to be feared lest when thou slayest thine enemy in the body, he should

destroy thee in the spirit, or lest peradventure thou shouldst be at once

slain by him both in body and soul.  From the disposition of the heart,

indeed, not by the event of the fight, is to be estimated either the jeopardy

or the victory of the Christian.  If, fighting with the desire of killing

another, thou shouldst chance to get killed thyself, thou diest a manslayer;

if, on the other hand, thou prevailest, and through a desire of conquest or

revenge killest a man, thou livest a manslayer. ...  O unfortunate victory!

when in overcoming thine adversary thou fallest into sin, and, anger or pride

having the mastery over thee, in vain thou gloriest over the vanquished. ...

 

     "What, therefore, is the fruit of this secular, I will not say militia,

but malitia, if the slayer committeth a deadly sin, and the slain perisheth

eternally?  Verily, to use the words of the apostle, he that plougheth should

plough in hope, and he that thresheth should be partaker of his hope. Whence,

therefore, O soldiers, cometh this so stupendous error?  What insufferable

madness is this - to wage war with so great cost and labor, but with no pay

except either death or crime?  Ye cover your horses with silken trappings, and

I know not how much fine cloth hangs pendent from your coats of mail.  Ye

paint your spears, shields, and saddles; your bridles and spurs are adorned on

all sides with gold and silver and gems, and with all this pomp, with a

shameful fury and a reckless insensibility, ye rush on to death.  Are these

military ensigns, or are they not rather the garnishments of women?  Can it

happen that the sharp-pointed sword of the enemy will respect gold, will it

spare gems, will it be unable to penetrate the silken garment?

 

     "As ye yourselves have oftened experienced, three things are

indispensably necessary to the success of the soldier: he must, for example,

be bold, active, and circumspect; quick in running, prompt in striking; ye,

however, to the disgust of the eye, nourish your hair after the manner of

women, ye gather around your footsteps long and flowing vestures, ye bury up

your delicate and tender hands in ample and wide-spreading sleeves.  Among you

indeed naught provoketh war or awakeneth strife, but either an irrational

impulse of anger or an insane lust of glory or the covetous desire of

possessing another man's lands and possessions.  In such cases it is neither

safe to slay nor to be slain. ...  But the soldiers of Christ indeed securely

fight the battles of their Lord, in no wise fearing sin, either from the

slaughter of the enemy or danger from their own death.  When indeed death is

to be given or received for Christ, it has naught of crime in it, but much of

glory. ...

 

     "And now for an example, or to the confusion of our soldiers fighting not

manifestly for God, but for the devil, we will briefly display the mode of

life of the Knights of Christ, such as it is in the field and in the convent,

by which means it will be made plainly manifest to what extent the soldiery of

God and the soldiery of the World differ from one another. ... The soldiers of

Christ live together in common in an agreeable but frugal manner, without

wives and without children; and that nothing may be wanting to evangelical

perfection, they dwell together without property of any kind, in one house,

under one rule, careful to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of

peace.  You may say that to the whole multitude there is but one heart and one

soul, as each one in no respect followeth after his own will or desire, but is

diligent to do the will of the Master.  They are never idle nor rambling

abroad, but, when they are not in the field, that they may not eat their bread

in idleness, they are fitting and repairing their armor and their clothing, or

employing themselves in such occupations as the will of the Master requireth

or their common necessities render expedient. Among them there is no

distinction of persons; respect is paid to the best and most virtuous, not the

most noble.  They participate in each other's honor, they bear one another's

burdens, that they may fulfil the law of Christ.

 

     "An insolent expression, a useless undertaking, immoderate laughter, the

least murmur or whispering, if found out, passeth not without severe rebuke.

They detest cards and dice, they shun the sports of the field, and take no

delight in the ludicrous catching of birds (hawking), which men are wont to

indulge in.  Jesters and soothsayers and story-tellers, scurrilous songs,

shows, and games, they contemptuously despise and abominate as vanities and

mad follies.  They cut their hair, knowing that, according to the apostle, it

is not seemly in a man to have long hair.  They are never combed, seldom

washed, but appear rather with rough neglected hair, foul with dust, and with

skins browned by the sun and their coats of mail.

 

     "Moreover, on the approach of battle they fortify themselves with faith

within and with steel without, and not with gold, so that, armed and not

adorned, they may strike terror into the enemy, rather than awaken his lust of

plunder.  They strive earnestly to possess strong and swift horses, but not

garnished with ornaments or decked with trappings, thinking of battle and of

victory, and not of pomp and show, studying to inspire fear rather than

admiration. ...

 

     "Such hath God chosen for his own, and hath collected together as his

ministers from the ends of the earth, from among the bravest of Israel, who

indeed vigilantly and faithfully guard the Holy Sepulchre, all armed with the

sword, and most learned in the art of war. ...

 

     "There is indeed a temple at Jerusalem in which they dwell together,

unequal, it is true, as a building, to that ancient and most famous one of

Solomon, but not inferior in glory.  For truly the entire magnificence of that

consisted in corrupt things, in gold and silver, in carved stone, and in a

variety of woods; but the whole beauty of this resteth in the adornment of an

agreeable conversation, in the godly devotion of its inmates, and their

beautifully ordered mode of life.  That was admired for its various external

beauties, this is venerated for its different virtues and sacred actions, as

becomes the sanctity of the house of God, who delighteth not so much in

polished marbles as in well-ordered behavior, and regardeth pure minds more

than gilded walls.  The face likewise of this temple is adorned with arms, not

with gems, and the wall, instead of the ancient golden chapiters, is covered

around with pendent shields.

 

     "Instead of the ancient candelabra, censers, and lavers, the house is on

all sides furnished with bridles, saddles, and lances, all which plainly

demonstrate that the soldiers burn with the same zeal for the house of God as

that which formerly animated their great Leader, when, vehemently enraged, he

entered into the Temple, and with that most sacred hand, armed not with steel,

but with a scourge which he had made of small thongs, drove out the merchants,

poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables of them that sold

doves; most indignantly condemning the pollution of the house of prayer by the

making of it a place of merchandise.

 

     "The devout army of Christ, therefore, earnestly incited by the example

of its king, thinking indeed that the holy places are much more impiously and

insufferably polluted by the infidels than when defiled by merchants, abide in

the holy house with horses and with arms, so that from that, as well as all

the other sacred places, all filthy and diabolical madness of infidelity being

driven out, they may occupy themselves by day and by night in honorable and

useful offices.  They emulously honor the temple of God with sedulous and

sincere oblations, offering sacrifices therein with constant devotion, not

indeed of the flesh of cattle after the manner of the ancients, but peaceful

sacrifices, brotherly love, devout obedience, voluntary poverty.

 

     "These things are done perpetually at Jerusalem, and the world is

aroused, the islands hear, and the nations take heed from afar. ..."

 

     St. Bernard then congratulates Jerusalem on the advent of the soldiers of

Christ, and declares that the Holy City will rejoice with a double joy in

being rid of all her oppressors, the ungodly, the robbers, the blasphemers,

murderers, perjurers, and adulterers; and in receiving her faithful defenders

and sweet consolers, under the shadow of whose protection "Mount Zion shall

rejoice, and the daughters of Judah sing for joy."

Home Page

World History Center