Remembering the Templars/Age
To understand the Templars one must understand the context that prompted the creation of the order. The age where the events took place is commonly referred as the High Middle Ages the period of European history in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries (AD 1000–1300). The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and followed by the Late Middle Ages, which by convention ends around 1500.
The key historical trend of the High Middle Ages was the rapidly increasing population of Europe, which brought about great social and political change from the preceding era. By 1250, some scholars say, the continent became overpopulated, reaching levels it would not see again in some areas until the 19th century. This trend was checked in the Late Middle Ages by a series of calamities, notably the Black Death but also including numerous wars and economic stagnation.
From about the year 1000 onwards, Western Europe saw the last of the barbarian invasions and became more politically organized. The Vikings had settled in the British Isles, France and elsewhere, whilst Norse Christian kingdoms were developing in their Scandinavian homelands. The Magyars had ceased their expansion in the 10th century, and by the year 1000, a Christian Kingdom of Hungary was recognized in central Europe. With the brief exception of the Mongol incursions, major barbarian invasions ceased.
In the 11th century, populations in the Alps began to settle new lands, some of which had reverted to wilderness after the end of the Roman Empire. In what is known as the "great clearances," vast forests and marshes of Europe were cleared and cultivated. At the same time settlements moved beyond the traditional boundaries of the Frankish Empire to new frontiers in eastern Europe, beyond the Elbe River, tripling the size of Germany in the process. Crusaders founded European colonies in the Levant, Spain conquered from the Moors, and the Normans colonized southern Italy, all part of the major population increase and resettlement pattern.
The High Middle Ages produced many different forms of intellectual, spiritual and artistic works. This age saw the rise of modern nation-states in Western Europe and the ascent of the great Italian city-states. The still-powerful Roman Church called armies from across Europe to a series of Crusades against the Seljuk Turks, who occupied the Holy Land. The rediscovery of the works of Aristotle led Thomas Aquinas and other thinkers to develop the philosophy of Scholasticism. In architecture, many of the most notable Gothic cathedrals were built or completed during this era.
The social structure between the 9th and 15th centuries in Europe, was mostly based in a system for structuring society around the relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labor, defined as Feudalism.
The term "feudal" or "feodal" is derived from the medieval Latin word feodum. It seems that the strongest theory is that the social structure and term evolved from Roman practices, taking in consideration that Rome's power and culture had a major impact in the continent. The basic pillar of power and economic structure of the Roman society was the Roman villa. Roman writers refer with satisfaction to the self-sufficiency of their villas, where they drank their own wine and pressed their own oil, a commonly used literary topos. An ideal Roman citizen was the independent farmer tilling his own land, and the agricultural writers wanted to give their readers a chance to link themselves with their ancestors through this image of self-sufficient villas. The truth was not too far from it, either, while even the profit-oriented latifundia probably grew enough of all the basic foodstuffs to provide for their own consumption. One must also consider that ownership of land (and state taxation) had been one of the major motivators for Rome expansionism.
Another clue is given by the word domicile. The domain of the dominus (the Latin word for master and owner). It was a title of sovereignty the term under the Roman Republic had all the associations of the Greek Tyrannos; refused during the early principate, it finally became an official title of the Roman Emperors under Diocletian (this is where the term dominate, used to describe a political system of Roman Empire in 284-476, is derived from).
It is interesting to note the meaning and concept behind he word spread and evolved. For instance Dominus, in the French language is equivalent of being "sieur", was the Latin title of the feudal, superior and mesne, lords, and later also an ecclesiastical and academical title. It is also origin of the English "sir" prefix. The shortened form "dom" is still used as a prefix of honor for ecclesiastics of the Catholic Church. The English colloquial use of "don" for a fellow or tutor of a college at a university is derived either from an application of the Spanish title to one having authority or position, or from the academical use of dominus. The earliest use of the word in this sense appears, according to the New English Dictionary, in Souths Sermons (1660). An English corruption, "dan", was in early use as a title of respect, equivalent to master.
The Spanish form "Don" is also a title, formerly applicable only to the nobility, and now one of courtesy and respect applied to any member of the better classes. The feminine form "doña" is similarly applied to a lady. Much like in the Portuguese language the title "Dom" is also an honorific, and formerly used by members of the blood royal and others on whom it has been conferred by the sovereign. The Spanish "doña" is also present as "dona".
In Italian, the title Don or Donna is also reserved for diocesan catholic clergymen, former nobles and persons of distinction in Southern Italy. In Romanian, the word "domn" (feminine "doamna") is both a title of the medieval rulers, and a mark of honor.
It is then here we find the roots for the Feudalism system, based not only on Roman culture but dependent on Roman law, even in the evolution and refinement on the separate social casts as they had been first established by the Greeks. It is also interesting to note that seemingly insulated cultures have evolved similar social structures, from the Mayan, in the kingdoms of China and in Japan.
At the bottom the serf, this class has its origins in the the 2nd century AD in the way the Roman latifundia had displaced the small farms as the agricultural foundation of the Roman Empire. This effect contributed to the destabilizing of Roman society as well. As the small farms of the Roman peasantry were bought up by the wealthy and their vast supply of slaves, the landless peasantry were forced to idle and squat around the city of Rome, relying greatly on handouts. This new landless class, incapable of self sustain itself as we discussed earlier was one of the motives for the Roman expansionism. Services to the state were often recompensed with land, especially to the military service man.
And so the social pyramid stats to form, above the serf we have the Nobility. Every Noble starts by belonging to a feudal lord (owner of land) family, often they may have royal blood, nobility is attributed by the state in continuation with the practice by the Romans, were service is rewarded by land an position. Since most borders have now been established, the possession and control of land and people to toil and defend it becomes the cornerstone of power. The abundance of serfs makes past practices of slavery rare, serfs allegiance becomes as important as the recognition and hereditary rights (again in line with previous Roman practices). Religion was used not only as social agglutinator but as a justification for to right of rule, and so the Chuch becomes important validating the rulers of all kingdoms in Christianhood.
The evolution of states in most of Europe after the fall of Rome, started after the fragmentation of the empire. The Church become the only link and keeper of knowledge and culture, the only light during The Dark Ages after the extinguishing of the "light of Rome".
The Church that had in itself a very stratified hierarchical system, that replicated (even if with more freedom) the economic strata of those who joined the service of the Church in the preservation of knowledge, culture and the rule of law. It comes to represent of the Christian God will on Earth, and the ultimate seat of power. And so at the top we have the Clergy, that are the ultimate guarantees of social order and serve as the power not only behind each monarch but each citizen.
The Rise of Chivalry
Household heavy cavalry (knights) became common in the 11th century across Europe, and tournaments were invented. Although the heavy capital investment in horse and armor was a barrier to entry, knighthood became known as a way for serfs to earn their freedom. In the 12th century, the Cluny monks promoted ethical warfare and inspired the formation of orders of chivalry, such as the Templar Knights. Inherited titles of nobility were established during this period. In 13th-century Germany, knighthood became another inheritable title, although one of the less prestigious, and the trend spread to other countries.
It was with the religious military orders, that the fusion of the religious and the military spirit was realized, that chivalry reached its apogee. It was at this apogee that the secular brotherhood was created.
The East-West Schism of 1054 formally separated the Christian church into two parts: Western Catholicism in Western Europe and Eastern Orthodoxy in the east. It occurred when Pope Leo IX and Patriarch Michael I excommunicated each other, mainly over disputes as to the existence of papal authority over the four Eastern patriarchs.
- Franciscans (Friars Minor, commonly known as the Grey Friars), founded 1209
- Carmelites, (Hermits of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Carmel, commonly known as the White Friars), founded 1206–1214
- Dominicans (Order of Preachers, commonly called the Black Friars), founded 1215
- Augustinians (Hermits of St. Augustine, commonly called the austin Friars), founded 1256
The Roman Catholic Christian military orders, society of knights, are intrinsically connected with the Crusades (the protection and expansion of the Roman Catholic Christian faith). The main goal of their creation was to answer the military structure requirements of the time as well with the maintaining of a distinction in regards to ranking of those from noble families called into the service of the Church. They first appeared following the First Crusade in response to the Islamic conquest of the former Byzantine Christian Holy Land. They evolved to propagating or defending the faith and guarantee access to Holy Land. Military actions were mostly against Islamic forces or in the suppression of heretics. Many orders later became secularized.
The foundation of the Templars in 1118 provided the first in a series of tightly organized military forces which protected the Christian lands in Outremer. Fighting invading Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula (Reconquista).
The principal feature of the military order is the combination of military and religious ways of life. Some of them, like the Knights of St John and the Knights of Saint Thomas, also cared for the sick and poor. However, they were not purely male institutions, as nuns could attach themselves as convents of the orders. One significant feature of the military orders is that clerical brothers could be, and indeed often were, subordinate to non-ordained brethren.
In 1818 Joseph von Hammer compared the Catholic military orders, in particular the Templars, with certain Islamic models such as the Shiite sect of Assassins. In 1820 José Antonio Conde has suggested they were modeled on the ribat, a fortified religious institution which brought together a religious way of life with fighting the enemies of Islam. However popular such views may have become, others have criticized this view suggesting there were no such ribats around the Outremer until after the military orders had been founded. Yet the innovation of the role and function of the military orders has sometimes been obscured by the concentration on their military exploits in Syria, the Holy Land, Prussia, and Livonia. In fact they had extensive holdings and staff throughout Western Europe. The majority were laymen. They provided a conduit for cultural and technical innovation, for example the introduction of fulling into England by the Knights of St John, or the banking facilities of the Templars.
List of military orders
This list is intended to be comprehensive. The orders are listed chronologically according to their dates of foundation (in parentheses), which are sometimes approximate, and may in significance vary from case to case, the foundation of an order, its ecclesiastical approval, and its militarization occurring at times on different dates.
- Knights Hospitaller (1080)
- Order of Saint James of Altopascio (ca. 1075)
- Sovereign Military Order of Malta (1099)
- Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (1113)
- Knights Templar (ca. 1118)
- Order of Saint Lazarus (ca. 1123)
- Order of Aviz (1128)
- Order of Saint Michael of the Wing (1147)
- Order of Calatrava (1158)
- Order of Aubrac (1162)
- Order of Santiago (1170)
- Order of Alcántara (1177)
- Order of Mountjoy (c.1180)
- Teutonic Knights (1190)
- Hospitallers of Saint Thomas of Canterbury at Acre (1191)
- Order of Monfragüe (1196)
- Order of Sant Jordi d'Alfama (1201)
- Livonian Brothers of the Sword (1202)
- Order of Dobrzyń (1216)
- Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy (1218)
- Knights of the Cross with the Red Star (before 1219)
- Militia of the Faith of Jesus Christ (1221)
- Order of the Faith and Peace (1231)
- Militia of Jesus Christ (1233)
- Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1261)
- Order of Santa María de España (1275)
- Order of Montesa (1317)
- Order of the Knights of Our Lord Jesus Christ (1318)
- Order of the Dragon (1408)
- Order of Saint Maurice (1434)
- Order of Our Lady of Bethlehem (1459)
- Order of Saint George of Carinthia (1469)
- Order of Saint George of Parma (before 1522)
- Order of Saint Stephen (1561)
Golden age of monasticism
The late 11th century/early-mid 12th century was the height of the golden age of Christian monasticism (8th-12th centuries).
Heresy existed in Europe before the 11th century but only in small numbers and of local character: a rogue priest, or a village returning to pagan traditions; but beginning in the 11th century mass-movement heresies appeared. The roots of this can be found with the rise of urban cities, free merchants and a new money-based economy. The rural values of monasticism held little appeal to urban people who began to form sects more in tune with urban culture. The first heretical movements originated in the newly urbanized areas such as southern France and northern Italy. They were mass movements on a scale the Church had never seen before, and the response was one of elimination for some, such as the Cathars, and the acceptance and integration of others, such as St. Francis, the son of an urban merchant who renounced money.
The Cathars formed the Catharism movement with Gnostic elements that originated around the middle of the 10th century, branded by the contemporary Roman Catholic Church as heretical. It existed throughout much of Western Europe, but its home was in Languedoc and surrounding areas in southern France.
The name Cathar most likely originated from Greek catharos, "the pure ones". One of the first recorded uses is Eckbert von Schönau who wrote on heretics from Cologne in 1181: "Hos nostra germania catharos appellat."
The Cathars are also called Albigensians. This name originates from the end of the 12th century, and was used by the chronicler Geoffroy du Breuil of Vigeois in 1181. The name refers to the southern town of Albi (the ancient Albiga). The designation is hardly exact, for the centre was at Toulouse and in the neighbouring districts.
- Dualists believed that historical events were the result of struggle between a good force and an evil force and that evil ruled the world, but could be controlled or defeated through asceticism and good works.
- Albigensian Crusade, Simon de Montfort, Montségur, Quéribus
Peter Waldo of Lyon was a wealthy merchant who gave up his wealth around 1175 and became a preacher. He founded the Waldensians which became a Christian sect believing that all religious practices should have scriptural basis.
Literature and art
At this time Medieval literature included a variety of cultures that influenced the literature of the High Middle Ages, one of the strongest among them being Christianity. The connection to Christianity was greatest in Latin literature, which influenced the vernacular languages in the literary cycle of the Matter of Rome. Other literary cycles, or interrelated groups of stories, included the Matter of France (stories about Charlemagne and his court), the Acritic songs dealing with the chivalry of Byzantium's frontiersmen, and perhaps the best known cycle, the Matter of Britain, which featured tales about King Arthur, his court, and related stories from Brittany, Cornwall, Wales and Ireland. There was also a quantity of poetry and historical writings which were written during this period, such as Historia Regum Britanniae by Geoffrey of Monmouth.
Southern France gave birth to Provençal literature, which is best known for troubadors who sang of courtly love. It included elements from Latin literature and Arab-influenced Spain and North Africa. Later its influence spread to several cultures in Western Europe, Portugal, the Minnesänger in Germany, Sicily and Northern Italy, later giving birth to the Italian Dolce Stil Nuovo of Petrarca and Dante, who wrote the most important poem of the time, the Divine Comedy.
Medieval art at this age included these major periods or movements:
- Romanesque art - traditions from the Classical world (not to be confused with Romanesque architecture)
- Gothic art - Germanic traditions (not to be confused with Gothic architecture).
- Byzantine art - Byzantine traditions.
- Christian art
- Anglo-Saxon art
- Jewish art - for example in the areas of specialty such as Illuminated manuscripts.
During the 12th and 13th century in Europe there was a radical change in the rate of new inventions, innovations in the ways of managing traditional means of production, and economic growth. In less than a century there were more inventions developed and applied usefully than in the previous thousand years of human history all over the globe. The period saw major technological advances, including the adoption or invention of printing, gunpowder, the astrolabe, spectacles, a better clock, and greatly improved ships. The latter two advances made possible the dawn of the Age of Exploration.
Alfred Crosby described some of this technological revolution in The Measure of Reality : Quantification in Western Europe, 1250-1600 and other major historians of technology have also noted it.
- The earliest written record of a windmill is from Yorkshire, England, dated 1185.
- Paper manufacture began in Italy around 1270.
- The spinning wheel was brought to Europe (probably from India) in the 13th century.
- The magnetic compass aided navigation, first reaching Europe some time in the late 12th century.
- Eyeglasses were invented in Italy in the late 1280s.
- The astrolabe returned to Europe via Islamic Spain.
- Leonardo of Pisa introduces Arabic numerals to Europe with his book Liber Abaci in 1202.
- The West's oldest known depiction of a stern-mounted rudder can be found on church carvings dating to around 1180.
The Known World
Climate and agriculture
The Medieval Warm Period, the period from 10th century to about the 14th century in Europe, was a relatively warm and gentle interval ended by the generally colder Little Ice Age. Farmers grew wheat well north into Scandinavia, and wine grapes in northern England, although the maximum expansion of vineyards appears to occur within the Little Ice Age period. This protection from famine allowed Europe's population to increase, despite the famine in 1315 that killed 1.5 million people. This increased population contributed to the founding of new towns and an increase in industrial and economic activity during the period. Food production also increased during this time as new ways of farming were introduced, including the use of a heavier plow, horses instead of oxen, and a three-field system that allowed the cultivation of a greater variety of crops than the earlier two-field system - notably legumes, the growth of which prevented the depletion of important nitrogen from the soil.
Trade and commerce
In Northern Europe, the Hanseatic League was founded in the 12th century, with the foundation of the city of Lübeck in 1158–1159. Many northern cities of the Holy Roman Empire became hanseatic cities, including Amsterdam, Cologne, Bremen, Hannover and Berlin. Hanseatic cities outside the Holy Roman Empire were, for instance, Bruges and the Polish city of Gdańsk (Danzig). In Bergen, Norway and Novgorod, Russia the league had factories and middlemen. In this period the Germans started colonizing Eastern Europe beyond the Empire, into Prussia and Silesia.
Westerners became more aware of the Far East, works like the presumably documented voyage of Marco Polo in Il Milione is an example. Followed by numerous Christian missionaries to the East, such as William of Rubruck, Giovanni da Pian del Carpini, Andrew of Longjumeau, Odoric of Pordenone, Giovanni de Marignolli, Giovanni di Monte Corvino, and other travellers such as Niccolo Da Conti.
France and Germany
By the time of the High Middle Ages, the Carolingian Empire had been divided and replaced by separate successor kingdoms called France and Germany, although not with their modern boundaries. Germany was under the banner of the Holy Roman Empire, which reached its high-water mark of unity and political power.
Much of the Iberian peninsula, had been occupied by the Moors after 711, although the northernmost portion was divided between several Christian states. In the 11th century, and again in the thirteenth, a coalition of Christian kings under the leadership of Castile drove the Muslims from central and most of southern Spain. The County of Portugal ceased to be a vassal of the Kingdom of Asturias in 868. Spain started to be defined by the marriage in 1469 of future Queen Isabella and future King Ferdinand, joined together the royal houses of the Kingdom of Castile and the Kingdom of Aragon, but was only recognized in 1479 upon they ascendancy to their thrones.
The High Middle Ages saw the height and decline of the Slavic state of Kievan Rus' and the emergence of Poland. Later, the Mongol invasion in the 13th century had great impact on Eastern Europe, as many countries of that region were invaded, pillaged, conquered and vassalized.
During the first half of this period (c.1025-1185) the Byzantine Empire dominated the Balkans south of the Danube, and under the Comnenian emperors there was a revival of prosperity and urbanization; however, the unity of the region came to an end with a successful Bulgarian rebellion in 1185, and henceforth the region was divided between the Byzantines in Greece, Macedonia and Thrace, and the Serbians and Bulgarians to the north. The Eastern and Western churches had formally split in the 11th century, and despite occasional periods of co-operation during the twelfth century, in 1204 the Fourth Crusade used treachery to capture Constantinople. This severely damaged the Byzantines, and their power was ultimately usurped by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century.
From the mid-tenth to the mid-eleventh centuries, the Scandinavian kingdoms were unified and Christianized, resulting in an end to Viking raids, and greater involvement in European politics. King Cnut of Denmark ruled over both England and Norway. After Cnut’s death in 1035, England and Norway were lost, and with the defeat of Valdemar II in 1227, Danish predominance in the region came to an end. Meanwhile, Norway extended its Atlantic possessions, ranging from Greenland to the Isle of Man, while Sweden, under Birger jarl, built up a power base in the Baltic Sea.
In Britain and Scotland, the Norman Conquest of 1066 resulted in a kingdom ruled by a French-speaking nobility. The Normans invaded Ireland in force in 1169 and soon established themselves throughout most of the country, though their stronghold was the southeast. Likewise, Scotland and Wales were subdued to vassalage at about the same time, though Scotland later regained her independence. The Exchequer was founded in the 12th century under King Henry I, and the first parliaments were convened. In 1215, after the loss of Normandy, King John signed the Magna Carta into law, which limited the power of English monarchs.