http://alandpeters.tripod.com/knightstemplarera1188to1312/id4.htmlTEMPLAR COMMERCIAL ACTIVITIES IN EUROPE
The Templars were great builders. On their own estates they built and maintained fortified castles and farms, barns, outbuildings and mills as well as dormitory blocks, stables and workshops. Some Templar castles, particularly in southern Europe and the Holy Land, were built on defensive sites which posed incredible difficulties of construction.
The transformative effect of Templar activity upon European culture and commerce was remarkable and yet many modern Church historians still accuse the order of being formed of illiterate knights. The so-called 'illiterates' developed sophisticated and coded means of communication which transcended the linguistic barriers which otherwise would have fragmented and diffused the commercial impact of their activities. Among the principal items of their trading activities were those which we would describe in modern terms as 'technology and ideas'. The Templar communication network was the principal route by which knowledge of astronomy, mathematics, herbal medicine and healing skills made their way from the Holy Land to Europe. Among the technological advances brought back by the warrior knights were mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, the telescope and a financial instrument which they acquired from the Sufis of Islam, known as 'the note of hand'.
The Templars were great builders. On their own estates they built and maintained fortified castles and farms, barns, outbuildings and mills as well as dormitory blocks, stables and workshops. Some Templar castles, particularly in southern Europe and the Holy Land, were built on defensive sites which posed incredible difficulties of construction. They were particularly renowned for building strategically situated castles with water gates on coasts and rivers. The classic round Templar church, founded on octagonal geometry and supposedly based on the design of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, became such a distinctive feature of Templar construction that it became almost diagnostic of their activity or involvement. This type of building formed only a small part of their church construction programme, albeit of very special and cabalistic significance. The vast majority of Templar churches, especially those in the southern regions of Europe, are small, undecorated, rectangular structures often with apsidal ends.
According to many scholars, including the ecclesiastical historian Fred Gettings, the Templars were openly involved in the financing and construction of the Gothic cathedrals. The sudden flowering of the Gothic style of architecture, which enabled cathedrals to be built of far greater height with more windows, brought about a new era in church design and art that allowed larger naves and greater spaces, uncluttered by pillars, to be created within church buildings. It is no coincidence that this architectural form, which cannot be explained as an evolutionary development from the Romanesque style that preceded it, arose after the knights returned from their excavations in Jerusalem.
While many of the great cathedrals were heavily influenced by Templar thinking, geometry and design, one above all others is a hymn to their direct involvement and belief, the Cathedral of Chartres. Constructed with almost unbelievable speed, Chartres Cathedral is portrayed by the Church as the product of co-operative effort by the townspeople, financed by the pilgrim trade. This totally fails to explain the massive and immediate input of financial resources that must have been necessary in order to pay for the quarrying and transport of the stone and the enormous expenditure on the vast numbers of stonemasons, sculptors and other craftsmen who would have been employed to complete such a vast and complex edifice at such speed. It is highly doubtful if the proceeds of the pilgrimage to Chartres over the period of its construction would have paid for the creation and installation of the stained-glass windows, much less for the construction and decoration of the entire building. The only source of finance in Europe at that time which could have produced the resources necessary was the Order of the Knights Templar.
In England, craftsmen who work in stone are known as stonemasons. In France they are known collectively as members of the Compannonage who, in the twelfth century, were broadly divided into three groups. These fulfilled separate functions under the umbrella of the same craft: the Children of Father Soubise were responsible for the construction of ecclesiastical buildings in the Romanesque style; the Children of Maitre Jacques were also known as Les Compagnons Passant and one of their primary functions was the art of bridge building. The craftmasons who built the Gothic cathedrals were known as the Children of Solomon, named after King Solomon who, according to the scriptures, commissioned the first temple in Jerusalem. This branch of the Compannonage were instructed in the art of sacred geometry by Cistercian monks and it was the Knights Templar who, acting with the agreement of Bernard of Clairvaux, gave a 'rule' to the Children of Solomon in March 1145, which laid down the conditions required for living and working. The preface to his rule contains words which have been intimately associated with the Knights Templar ever since:
We the Knights of Christ and of the Temple follow the destiny that prepares us to die for Christ. We have the wish to give this rule of living, of work and of honour to the constructors of churches so that Christianity can spread throughout the earth not so that our name should be remembered, Oh Lord, but that Your Name should live. [our emphasis]
Another major cause of criticism was the orders` wealth. Clearly the orders did have considerable assets, but arguably they needed them to support their military activities in the East. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries there two schools of thought on this question. One, expressed by William of Tyre in particular, was that the military orders` extensive possessions had made them proud, and this was why they had become defiant of royal and episcopal authority and caused so much disruption in the Holy Land rather than protecting it. Walter Map and Guiot of Provins (a poet who became a Cluniac monk) thought that the Hospitallers` wealth had caused them to lose their charity and become proud. Generally, the complaint was that good religious orders should not be so wealthy. The other school of thought was that although the military orders were obviously extremely wealthy, for everyone knew how extensive their possessions were and that they paid no tithe or tax (or so people believed) they must be using their resources very inefficiently, because they were always claiming to be poor. Matthew Paris expressed this opinion most forcibly in around 1245:
The Templars and Hospitallers... receive so much income from the whole of Christendom, and, only for defending the Holy Land, swallow down such great revenues as if they sink them into the gulf of the abyss....(Chronica Majora, 3, pp. 177-8).
Richard Mepham, dean of Lincoln, summed up the general royal attitude to the order`s wealth at the second council of Lyons in 1274. This council had been convened by Pope Gregory X to plan a great crusade for the relief of the Holy Land. Richard Mepham claimed to speak for many kings and princes. He stated that the military orders already had extensive possessions. If these were turned into cash, they would be enough for the defence of the Holy Land, and there was no need for the pope to ask for still more money.
Following the loss of Acre in 1291, Pope Nicholas IV summoned church councils in every province, to advise on how the Holy Land could be recovered (Registres, nos. 7626, 7628, 6794, 7381). In 1292 the archbishop of Canterbury wrote to the pope to report on the decision of the council at London:
The properties of the Templars and Hospitallers were originally conferred on them by the generosity of kings and princes and others for the defence of the said land in pious devotion, and it is truly believed that many thousands of strong men could be permanently stationed in the Holy Land and suitably supported from them... The common assertion is that these incomes will suffice to recover the Holy Land and preserve it against the enemy`s attack, so long as Christ`s warriors hold themselves humbly and devotedly towards God... (Councils and Synods, 2 part 2, p. 1112).
The archbishop believed that the military orders had not been using their wealth effectively in the defence of the Holy Land. It had also made them proud, so that God allowed them to be defeated. This brings us to accusations that the orders had failed to live up to their religious vocation, because they were proud, greedy and quarrelsome.