The Knights Templar were the most powerful military monastic order which took part in the Crusades. The Knights Templar were formed from several groups of knights by Hugh de Payens for the express purpose of protecting Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land. The incorporation of these groups of knights created a powerful military force which formed the nucleus of the Crusading Army. However, these military aspects only formed a portion of their identity. The order adopted a monastic way of life based on that of St. Benedict when not in battle. This dual identity brought about the famous description of them as "fiercer than lions and gentler than lambs." The monastic life of the Knights Templar granted them the peace of mind and soul to fulfill their prescribed mission. The military successes of the Knights Templar were numerous, especially in the Third Crusade where they fought in the ranks at Arsuf under Richard the Lionhearted. The Knights Templar fought fiercely against Saracen encroachment into territory held by the Latin Kingdoms of Palestine, but were driven into Cyprus when Acre fell in 1291. From Cyprus, the Knights Templar achieved financial success which in turn brought them the wrath of King Philip IV of France. The order was persecuted from 1308-1314 and destroyed with the death of the last Grandmaster, Jaques de Molay.
The Logo of The Knights Templar
The Knights Hospitalers were another powerful military order which formed a vital part of the Crusading Army. The Knights Hospitalers, much like the Knights Templar, began as several groups of knights joined together. However, before the formation of the Knights Hospitalers as a military order, its primary purpose included caring for sick and wounded knights of the Crusading Army. The Knights Hospitalers joined the Knights Templar in becoming the powerful, centralized body of monastic soldiers which became the basis for the Crusading Army and the Crusading Movement itself. The Order distinguished itself at Arsuf as did the Knights Templar. The Knights Hospitalers withdrew to Cyprus after the fall of Acre in 1291. From this Medetiarren outpost, the Knights Hospitalers became a major blockade against Turkish seapower in that area. A massive offensive by the Knights Hospitalers resulted in the conquest of Rhodes in 1310, and its defense against the forces of Mohammed II after the fall of Constantinople. The Grandmaster of the Knights Hospitalers, Pierre d' Aubusson, greatly distingushed himself in the defense of this important outpost. However, a Turkish counteroffensive drove them from Rhodes and the Knights Hospitalers withdrew to Malta which was presented to them in 1530 by Charles V, The Holy Roman Emperor. The order remained an opposing force against Turkish seapower, fighting in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. The order was removed from Malta in 1798 by Napoleon Bonaparte and reinstated by the Pope in 1879. It still continues today as a charitable semi-religious order.
The Logo of The Knights Hospitalers
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