Feeny 1 Thomas Feeny Professor Humphrey History 208 February 16, 2011 Daily Life of a Knight Templar: A Higher Calling

June of 1135 Dear mother and father, I am writing to assure you that I am quite well. I apologize for making you worry and for creating more distance between us. I know that it was difficult for both of you when I left home to live on the Lord’s manor.1 However, it was best for my future that I train to become a knight. My refined skills as a warrior have allowed me to join the noble Order of the Knights of Templar2. The brave acts of the crusaders in 1096 inspired me to travel to Jerusalem and help them defend the kingdom.3 The fearless Christians fought valiantly against God’s enemies in order to regain the sacred lands lost in the Turkish conquests. I have heard stories from people who claim to have gone on the original crusade. They say that many people died along the way because of disease, starvation, enemy attacks, and other reasons. When they finally reached their destination, they had to fight a violent and bloody war with the Turks that resulted in even more casualties for the crusaders. Eventually, Christ’s soldiers vanquished the demons of the east and regained the Holy Lands.4 Upon reaching knighthood, I realized that it was my duty to protect these lands from the enemy. I set out for Jerusalem with a large group of other people who had also received the calling. Some of the members of my party lost their faith and returned to France. Others perished on the way due to disease or lack of nourishment. By the

1 2

Jeffrey L. Singman, Daily Life in Medieval Europe (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999), 2. David Edge and John Miles Paddock, Arms and Armor of the Medieval Knight (New York: Crescent Books, 1988), 40-41. 3 Singman, xviii. 4 Michael Foss, People of the First Crusade (New York: Arcade, 1997), 212.

Feeny 2 grace of God, I escaped these perils and arrived in Jerusalem last month. 5 I found some Christians who were able to direct me to the Temple Mount of Jerusalem.6 Once we exchanged greetings and I made clear my desire to join, I was grouped with five other young men who wished to do the same. As we waited in a room adjacent to the chapel, two knights of the Order asked us a series of questions. They first asked if we were prepared to honor God and save our souls. We replied that we were. They asked if we believed in the Catholic faith, to which we replied yes. They then asked if we were in holy orders, married, or promised to another Order. All six of us replied that we were not. Lastly, we were asked to share our background and military experience. The six of us took turns sharing our background information and military history. The knights found these answers to be satisfactory. We were then instructed to enter the chapel and pray that with God’s will, our petition will be granted. The two knights then left us to do as they had asked. After some time, they returned and led us into the presence of the brother priest.7 We knelt before the man and asked for permission to join the Knights of Templar. When he asked why, I said that I wanted to partake in its spiritual and temporal goods. We promised to be servants of the Order and to put aside our own will for that of another. The brother priest administered the oath. We swore our obedience to the Master of the Temple. We promised to preserve our chastity, to live without property, to help preserve the Kingdom of Jerusalem, to conquer the remaining lands, to never allow any Christian man or woman to be killed, and to never leave the Order without permission from the superiors. The brother priest then declared that we had been accepted into the order. He blessed us, raised us to our feet, and kissed us on the mouth.8 He then detailed the routine of our new life.
5 6

Singman, xviii. Foss, 211. 7 Frances Gies, The Knight in History (New York: Harper and Row, 1984), 121. 8 Gies, 122.

Feeny 3 Since becoming a brother knight, I have received many items from the Templars. They have ensured that I will have enough supplies to fulfill my duties without facing any hindrances. All of the newly appointed brothers were given several pieces of clothing and equipment. I received two shirts, a tunic to be worn over them, two pairs of shoes and two pairs of under drawers. We were also given a long cape, a leather belt, a cotton cap, cloak, and a felt hat. In addition, I received two towels, bedding, and a heavy blanket that was striped in the Order’s color. The knights also gave us armor, which included a mail coat and leggings, helmet, shoes, the coat of arms, and a white surcoat with red crosses to be worn over the armor. For weaponry, we each received a sword, a lance, a triangular wooden shield, and three knives, one of which for food.9 The Order has also supplied us with one horse each. I apologize for not telling you more in this letter, but I must stop now because it is nearly time for supper. I truly hope that you will receive these letters. With much love, Theuderic

September of 1135 Hello, mother and father. I hope you received the previous letter that I wrote in June. I am writing to update both of you on my recent experiences as a Knight Templar. There is much that I wish to tell you about my new life. As a brother of the order, I follow a strict routine. At midnight, a bell rings to signify that it is time to perform our morning prayers.10 Upon hearing the bell, I rise out of bed and put on my cloak and under drawers. I also don myself with stockings, shoes and a cap. When I am finished dressing, I join my brothers in silence on our way to the chapel. Once there, we must say thirteen Our Fathers. When the service ends, we visit the stable to make sure that our horses are fed and watered. We also do this task in strict silence.


Gies, 122. Gies, 122.

Feeny 4 Afterwards, we return to our beds and say another Our Father before going back to sleep. At six o’clock in the morning, we rise again, dress, and return to the chapel to hear Mass. When Mass ends, we each complete random chores around the monastery until it is time to eat. Dinner is our first meal of the day. The knights and sergeants are served first and the squires and servants are served after us. After a bell rings, the knights take their seats. After a second bell rings, the sergeants follow suit. The other knights and I are given a cup and large bowl. We are told to bring our own knife and spoon to the table. The meal usually consists of a meat of your choice. For example, you may choose between beef and mutton. In good times, there are three kinds of meat to choose from. I have seen some of the brother knights ask for substitutes if they are not satisfied with the cut of meat they received. Everyone receives equal portions, and those that receive extra are expected to share. Any leftover food is given to the poor. We are not to speak during the meal. Instead, we must listen while a priest reads Bible passages aloud. I have found this as a difficult rule to follow. Also important to mention is that no one is to leave the dinner early.11 There are mandatory afternoon services at two or three and five or six. All knights are expected to go except the brother of the bakery, the brother boiling iron on the fire, and the brother blacksmith. However, they are expected to come and pray if they are free.12 After the afternoon services, supper is served in the same manner that was dinner. On days in which we are very busy, only one meal is served and we do not have supper. However, the brothers have stressed to me the importance of eating two meals a day in order to stay in peak physical condition.13 At the most recent supper, after the preacher gave his sermon, he told us a story about a brother knight of our House who was so weak from fasting that it affected his

11 12

Gies, 123. Gies, 123. 13 Gies, 123.

Feeny 5 performance on the battlefield. Though he was a very pious knight, he fell off his horse after receiving a strike from a Saracen. He was helped back onto the saddle by one of his brothers and charged the Saracens, only to be knocked off his horse again. The same brother knight raised him onto the horse and said “Look out for yourself henceforth, Sir Bread-and-Water, for if you are knocked off again, I won’t be the one to pick you up!”14 At nine o’clock at night, we reconvene to drink diluted wine and receive our orders for the next day. My most recent assignment was to aid the brother blacksmith in his occupation. After I receive the information, I check on my horse and explain to the squire how I wish for the steed to be taken care of. 15 The squire acknowledges that he understands my instructions, and I retreat to my bed. Here I pray one Our Father so that God will pardon me of any sins I have committed since the evening prayer. The other knights and I must keep silent until the morning prayer barring an emergency.16 There are strict penalties for those who do not comply with the rules. The most severe of these is the dismissal and exile from the Order. These punishments are reserved for a knight who has committed any of the following crimes: giving or accepting a bribe in order to secure admission to the Order, killing or injuring Christians, committing theft, embezzlement, or intercourse with a woman, giving false witness, refusing aid to a brother knight, or giving away or wasting the Order’s property. We are also not to have money of our own or even carry it without permission. Knights must refrain from fighting or striking one another. If blood is shed as a result of such an incident, the violator may be imprisoned. The Master stresses obedience above all else. We are not to do anything without permission, not even bathe, go to town, or gallop a horse. If we are in battle, we cannot attack until the leader has given the command. The

14 15

Gies, 124. Gies, 124. 16 Gies, 124.

Feeny 6 exception to this is if we are helping a Christian who is pursued by a Turk. We must maintain our line while we march. If we disobey the leader during combat, we will be severely punished. I was told of a knight who separated himself from his squadron and was sent back to camp on foot. He was forced to stand trial by the Justice of the House. Even a Commander was once punished for ordering an unauthorized raid that ended in disaster. Another Commander who made a similar mistake was forced to flee the country.17 Although the Master has said that severe penalties will follow any knight who commits one of the crimes above, the worst crime that a Templar can commit is to deny the Cross. A knight was expelled from the Order for reciting from the Koran while he was a prisoner of the Turks. Despite his protest and his powerful connections, he was still punished.18 Hopefully I can avoid getting into trouble with my fellow knights. I will make sure to follow all of the rules, even the most stringent. Our daily routine must be strictly adhered to. As a Knight Templar, I have many responsibilities to both the Order and Christianity.19 I miss you both very much and hopefully I will be able to see you again one day. You can be proud of the great cause that your son is fighting for. We will defend the holy lands from God’s enemies and help any Christians who are in need.20 I have no regrets in leaving to pursue this calling. I must go now as morning prayers begin in only a few hours. Good bye, mother and father. May God’s will protect me. Sincerely, Theuderic

17 18

Gies, 125. Gies, 125. 19 Foss, 214. 20 Foss, 213.

Feeny 7 Bibliography Edge, David, and John Miles Paddock. Arms & Armor of the Medieval Knight. New York: Crescent Books, 1988. Foss, Michael. People of the First Crusade. New York: Arcade, 1997. Gies, Frances. The Knight in History. New York: Harper & Row, 1984. Lamb, Harold. The Crusades: Iron Men and Saints. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Doran, 1930. Singman, Jeffrey L. Daily Life in Medieval Europe. Westport, CT.: Greenwood Press, 1999. Turnbull, Stephen R. The Book of the Medieval Knight. New York: Crown Publishers, 1985.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful