The Military Orders During the Holy Crusades (Short Notes)  

LoyaltyandHonor 36M/32F
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8/9/2005 3:40 am

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3/5/2006 9:27 pm

The Military Orders During the Holy Crusades (Short Notes)

Notes on the military orders

These are just a few notes on the military orders organized and founded during the crusades. I know there are some people who would be interested in this stuff so i am posting a short bit on it.

The Knights Templar

Hugh Payns, a knight of Champagne and eight of his friends founded the first of the crusades military orders, the objective was to protect the lands of Christ.

Patriarch of Jerusalem, Gormund, administered them the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. They were also given a fourth vow to protect pilgrims on their way from the port of Jaffa to Jerusalem.

They were given rooms in the former mosque of al-Aqsa, which the crusaders named “the Temple of Solomon”. It is here that they achieved the name “the Knights Templar”.

(These armored men wore a white tunic emblazoned with a Red Cross).

Bernard of Clairvaux helped the Templars gain papal acceptance in 1128.

Various kings took an interest in this order and assigned them various areas to safeguard, thus within a short time their duties expanded across the Mediterranean. The Templars constructed massive fortresses, dwarfing everything that could be found within Western Europe. Along both sides of the Mediterranean they built houses and round churches that were modeled after the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The primary function of the churches was to raise money for the activities in the East. With the exchange of deposits they were able to take small fees for the transfer and thus put them in the business of banking.

On October 13, 1307, Philip IV ordered the mass arrest of all Templars in France. (The Templars were at this point the wealthiest organization in France and the King wanted their treasury after having just recently robbed the Jews and his clerical tithes of everything that they had). Under torture, Templar leaders admitted to a host of trumped up-charges, including sodomy, black magic, and heresy. Any of the knights that refused to confess were burnt alive at the stake. Needless to say, many of the Knights Templar confessed to the false charges in order to escape a cruel death.

Later, in an attempt to please Philip, Clement V ordered the arrest of all Templars in Europe and made a formal inquiry into the charges. Under heavy pressure from Philip, Clement finally suppressed the Knights Templar on April 3, 1312. The grand master of the order recanted his forced confession and was burnt at the stake in 1314.

The Knights Hospitallers

The second order established during the crusades was the Hospital of St. John, or the Hospitallers. Unlike the Knights Templar, the Hospitallers were not founded as a military order.

Monks from the Abbey of St. Mary of the Latins founded the Hospital of St. John; an institution dedicated to the care of sick pilgrims. The primary function was to give every luxury available to the “holy poor”. They made beds, wine, meat, and vegetables available to the sick and wounded pilgrims. (Many of the residents had never before slept on an actual bed, or eaten many of the finer foods available).

In 1113, the Hospitallers became a religious order separate from the monastery of St. Mary of the Latins.

In 1136, King Fulk gave control of a fortress near Ascalon to the Hospitallers.

During the twelfth century, additional castles were given to the Hospitallers, forcing them to create a military arm to the order.

After what happened to the Templars the Hospitallers began to fear that they would be the next victims. In an attempt to prove their effectiveness the Hospitallers began a joint attack on the Island of Rhodes with the Genoese in 1307. Within three years the Hospitallers took control of the island and thus became known as the Knights of Rhodes.

Suleiman ejected the Knights of Rhodes from the island of Rhodes in 1522.

Charles V later donated the island of Malta to them; thus the Knights of Rhodes became the Knights of Malta.

On June 13, 1798, Napoleon captured the Island of Malta and expelled the knights.

In 1834 the Knights of Malta permanently settled in Rome, where it still exists today. They still offer care to those who are poor and sick.

TheTeutonic Knights

During the siege of Acre a group of German merchants from Bremen and Lubeck began caring for the sick and wounded. Later they took charge of a hospital in Acre and named it “the Hospital of St. Mary of the German House of Jerusalem”. They adapted a very similar code of ethics to that the Hospitallers used.

In 1198 the order militarized itself and added the defense of the Holy Land to their duties as well.

Pope Clement III approved this new order.

In 1233 the Teutonic Knights and a German army of crusaders primarily focused on an inland fight against Prussia. Over the next 50 years to follow the knights conquered the entire region.

In 1237 the Brothers of the Sword were merged into the Teutonic Knights.

Poland and Lithuania defeated the Teutonic knights in 1410, thus leading the order to a slow demise.

In 1525 the grand master took hold of the land in Prussia and dismissed the knights.

In 1809 the ordered was almost extinct but still held a few lands in Austria.

The order was fully re-established in Vienna in 1834.

In 1871 and 1929, new rules were established.

Today they continue to care for the poor and the sick as well as doing other charitable work.

In the End

Out of the three orders only the Knights Templar where a military order from the beginning to the end. The Knights Hospitallers and Teutonic Knights were a religious group who began as caretakers of the poor and sick and ended as caretakers for the poor and sick. While the Teutonic Knights were not established as a military order, they achieved the greatest success in combat out of the three. Often they are still known as the “real tanks” of warfare. Their military skills and intelligence are unmatched still today and will probably forever remain that way.


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