Were There Reforms in the Order of the Temple?

Jochen Burgtorf

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/OM.2017.001

Abstract


The downfall of the Templars in the early fourteenth century has on occasion been explained as a consequence of the Order’s supposed inability to reform, particularly when compared to the Hospitallers and Teutonic Knights. However, a close reading of the Templars’ normative texts (rule and statutes) suggests that the Order implemented timely administrative and disciplinary reforms throughout its history. Secondly, the thirteenth- century papal registers indicate that the pontiffs viewed the Brothers as suitable reformers for ecclesiastical institutions deemed to be in need of both spiritual and temporal renewal, for example in Italy and Frankish Greece. Thirdly, according to the post-1307 records of the trial against the Order, particularly those from Cyprus and the British Isles where torture was not (or hardly ever) used during the respective proceedings, the Brothers rejected the accusations leveled against them, arguing that such errors, had they existed, would have been addressed by the Order, and emphasizing that their allegedly objectionable practices were, in fact, in full accordance with normative texts sanctioned by both the Order and the papal curia. Given the Templars’ near unequivocal deference to the pope and the latter’s historically proactive role in promoting the Order, the Brothers ultimately may have looked to the pontiff (albeit in vain) to bring about those reforms that he would have deemed necessary.


Keywords


Templars; reform; discipline; normative texts; papal registers; trial records

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References


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