from the Rolls Series editions by
© Helen Nicholson 1989
Matthew Paris: Chronica Majora
Taken from the edition ed. H. R. Luard, Rolls Series 57, 7 vols, (London,
Trans. and copyright H. J. Nicholson.
Direct translation is in normal type. Paraphrase or summary is in italics.
Explanations and additions are in square brackets.
[Until the arrival of the emperor Frederick II in the Holy
Land in 1228, Matthew` Chronicle account of the military orders follows
that of his predecessor at chronicler at St. Albans, Roger of Wendover.
Then Matthew begins to express his own opinions....]
1229 (Vol. 3 pp.177-9)
About the Templars' and Hospitallers' pride
[Frederick has recovered Jerusalem by negotiation with
the Sultan of Egypt and his army has entered Jerusalem]
So God had arranged for matters to go in this way, but Sathanas, the ancient
sower of discord, resented the Christians’ success, and prompted the inhabitants
of that country, especially the Templars and Hospitallers, to become jealous
of the emperor’s successes. Their jealousy was encouraged by the pope`s
hatred for the emperor when they heard that the pope had already hostily
invaded the empire. They receive so much income from the whole of Christendom
and, only for the defence of the Holy Land, swallow down such great revenues
as if they sunk them into a chasm of the Great Abyss! And now, because
they themselves wished to gain the credit for all these wonderful deeds
which the emperor had done, they craftily and treacherously told the Sultan
of Babylon [Cairo] that the emperor proposed to go to the river where
Christ was baptised by John the Baptist. There he intended to adore the
footsteps of Christ and the feet of His Forerunner - John the Baptist,
of whom Christ said: ‘no mother`s son ever arose greater than him’. He
would go in secret and humbly, dressed in linen, with a few companions.
So the sultan could capture or kill the emperor there as he liked.
When the said sultan heard this and noticed that the letter with this
information was sealed with a familiar seal, he was disgusted at the cunning
tricks, envy and treachery of the Christians, and especially of those
who appear to wear the religious habit with the sign of the cross. Calling
two most reliable and discreet counsellors to him, he poured all this
information into their ears, showing them the letter - to which the seal
was still fixed - and said: ‘See the loyalty of Christians!’
Having inspected the letter, after long and diligent deliberation they
replied like this: ‘Lord, a peace treaty has been made which is pleasing
to both sides, which it would be villainous to violate. To throw all the
Christians into confusion, send this same letter to the emperor, with
the seal attached. He will then be very friendly towards you, and with
good reason.’ The sultan did as they advised and sent the letter to the
emperor, informing him of all the aforementioned trickery.
Now, while this was going on, the emperor had been warned of the treachery
by his efficient and hardworking spies, but he at first hesitated, not
believing that religious men were capable of such great malice. While
he was in doubt, the sultan`s messenger arrived bringing him the said
letter, which made him certain about it. Rejoicing that he had escaped
the hidden snare, he pretended that he knew nothing about any of this
until the time for retribution should come, and made the necessary preparations
for his return to his country. This was the cause of the hatred between
the emperor and the Templars and Hospitallers; although the Hospitallers
drew less shame from what had been done. From this time on the emperor
was bonded to the sultan with an indissoluble glue affection and friendship.
They were allies and sent each other precious gifts, among which the sultan
sent the emperor an elephant.
The Templars and Hospitallers and their accomplices, finding that the
emperor had put off the pilgrimage that he had proposed to make to the
River Jordan, realised through this and other signs that their trick bhad
failed. Therefore they drew the Patriarch of Jerusalem into their conspiracy,
and he is said to have written this letter to defame the emperor.
The letter of Gerald, patriarch of Jerusalem.
‘Gerald, Patriarch of Jerusalem, to all Christ's faithful in the Lord,
greeting. How marvellous and how miserable the emperor's expedition to
this side of the sea has been from beginning to end, in grave prejudice
to Jesus Christ's business and contempt for the Christian faith, may be
clearly seen from his actions here which were rotten from start to finish,
since he arrived excommunicate, bringing scarcely 240 knights with him,
and without money, hoping to support himself by plundering the land of
First he came to Cyprus and captured the nobleman John of Ibelin and his
sons, whom he had summoned to him to deal with the business of the Holy
Land - an uncourteous deed, for he seized them when he had invited them
to dine with him. Afterwards he retained the king [Henry] as if he were
a prisoner, after summoning him. So he completely occupied the kingdom
through violence and treachery. Having done this, he crossed to Syria.
And although at the start he promised to do great things and boasted about
this in the presence of simple people, he at once sent messengers to the
sultan of Babylon [Cairo] asking for peace. On account of this he seemed
contemptible to the sultan and his pagans, especially when they saw that
he had not brought a large enough armed force with him to harm them. Meanwhile,
on the excuse of fortifying Joppa [Tel Aviv/Jaffa] he headed that way
with the Christian army in order to get nearer to the sultan in order
to be better able to negotiate with him for peace or a truce. What more
shall I say? After a long drawn-out negotiation and without taking advice
from anyone in the country he suddenly announced one day that he had made
peace with the sultan. No one saw the peace treaty when the emperor swore
to preserve its terms. However, you can clearly see the malice and fraudulent
dealing in some of the clauses of that truce from the copy of it we have
....for he said, among other things, that the holy city was to be restored
to him. When the Christian army went there on the eve of the Sunday on
which ‘Oculi Mei’ is sung [17 March 1229]. On the disordered and confused
day which followed, Sunday, although he was excommunicate he placed the
diadem [crown] on his own head, in manifest prejudice to the imperial
honour and excellence. The Saracens hold the Lord's Temple and Solomon's
Temple in their hands and proclaim Mohammed's law publicly as before,
not without great confusion and grief for the pilgrims. The same emperor,
although he had promised many times before that he would fortify the city,
the following Monday left the city at the crack of dawn without a word
of farewell to anyone. The brothers of the Temple and Hospital who were
present solemnly insisted that if he wished to fortify the city as he
had promised they would give him counsel and aid as far as they could.
But he, who had no concern to mend matters, seeing that the treaty could
have no strength and the city could not be held or strengthened now that
it had been restored, was content with just the promise of restitution.
That same day he hurried back to Joppa with his household. When the pilgrims
who had entered the city with him saw this they did not want to remain
after he had left.
The next Sunday, i.e. when ‘Laetare Jerusalem’ is sung [25 March] he came
to Acre. And drawing the people to him in the city he conceeded a privilege
of liberty to them, as a means of begging their favour for himself. As
for why he did this, God knows and his following actions showed.
As the time to cross the sea was drawing near and all the pilgrims together,
great and small, had visited the Sepulchre and completed their pilgrimage,
they prepared to go back home. As we did not have a truce with the sultan
of Damascus, we, seeing that the country was destitute and the pilgrims
had abandoned it, called a council and decided that we would hire knights
out of the alms of the king of France of blessed memory [presumably the
money left to the Holy Land by Philip II of France] for the common good.
When the emperor heard this he informed us that he was amazed, since he
had made a truce with the sultan of Egypt. We replied that the iron was
still in the wound because we had no truce or peace with the sultan of
Damascus, the nephew of the said sultan, who was opposed to him; adding
that Damascus could do us a great deal of damage against the will of the
sultan of Egypt. The emperor replied, that since he was king of Jerusalem,
knights should not be hired to fight in the kingdom without his counsel
and leave. We replied to this that we were very sorry to hear this because
we could not wait for his counsel on this and similar things without danger
to our souls, since he was excommunicate. The emperor made no reply to
On the following day he had a public proclamation made that the pilgrims
who were living in the city should assemble outside the city on the sand;
and the prelates and religious were also summoned through special messengers.
He stood among them in person and first began to complain about us, piling
up false accusations. Then he turned his speech to that venerable man
the master of the Temple, and tried to cloud his public reputation considerably
with various false statements. In this way he intended to twist his own
fault, which was now obvious, on to others. He added that now we were
going to retain mercenaries, to his prejudice and damage. On account of
this he forbad all the pilgrim knights of any nation, as they loved him,
to remain any longer in the country. He ordered Count Thomas [of Acerra]
whom he had assigned to remain as his representative in the country to
use corporal punishment on any he found in the country, so that the punishment
of one would terrify all. When everything was finished, allowing no excuse
or reply to those slanders which had been so ignominiously spread about,
he left. And at once he ordered his crossbowmen to stand at the city gates,
ordering them not to allow the brothers of the Temple to go out or in.
He ordered both the churches and other tall buildings in the city to be
equipped with crossbows, and especially those places which gave access
to us and the house of the Temple. You should know that he had never been
so harsh or harmful towards the Saracens, or so inflamed against them.
Realizing his obvious malice, we decided to convoke the prelates and pilgrims
and excommunicated all those who gave counsel or aid to the emperor against
the Church, the brothers of the Temple and other religious or pilgrims
of the country. The emperor swelled up with anger at this and had every
entrance carefully guarded, forbidding anyone carrying food to approach
us or those who were with us, placing crossbowmen and archers everywhere.They
seriously attacked us and the brothers of the Temple and pilgrims. And
in order to complete his malice, he had the Friars Preacher and some Minors,
who assembled on Palm Sunday [8 April] in set places to preach the Lord's
word, torn out of their pulpits by his men-at-arms and thrown to the ground,
dragged out and beaten through the town like criminals.
Then, when he saw that he could not get what he wanted through siege,
he began to treat for peace. We replied to this that we did not wish to
negotiate for peace until the guards, crossbowmen and other armed men
had been removed, the goods which had been taken from us restored and
all was in the same state and as free as the day he entered the city.
He at once ordered that what we requested be done, but it was not put
into effect and so we placed the city under interdict. The emperor, seeing
that his malice could not make any progress, did not wish to make a longer
stay in the country. However, as if he wanted to destroy everything, he
had the crossbows and weapons which had been reserved for a long time
for the defence of the country placed secretly into ships at Acre; and
he sent many things to the sultan of Egypt, as if to his dear friend.
And sending some of his knights to Cyprus, he had no little money extorted
from the inhabitants. What seemed even more amazing to us was that he
had the galleys which he could not take with him destroyed. When we heard
this we ordered that he be given a warning. But he, despising the warning
and correction, secretly on the feast of the Apostles Philip and James
[1 May] went on board a galley, using a secret road and harbour, and hurried
towards Cyprus. He bade farewell to no one, leaving Joppa abandoned, and
may he never return.
Already the bailiffs of the said sultan have barred the way out of the
city to poor Christians and Syrians; so many have died on the pilgrim
road. The emperor committed these things and many others which we leave
to others to tell which the world knows, in the Holy Land and to the detriment
of his soul. May the merciful Lord deign to moderate them when He pleases.
When this letter reached a western audience it clouded the emperor's renown
considerably and reduced many people's good opinion of him. . The pope
rose up with even more determination to overthrow the emperor and strove
avidly to collect money.
Roger of Wendover`s account ends in 1235 and Matthew continues
1236 p. 374 The Dominicans and Franciscans
preach a new crusade.
And afterwards the lord pope sent into England Brother Thomas the Templar,
his confidant, with a letter bearing the papal seal which said that he
could absolve those who had taken the cross from their vows of pilgrimage
as he wished and saw expedient, in return for a payment which he said
he would spend usefully for the advance of the Holy Land. When those who
had taken the cross heard this they wondered at the insatiable greed of
the Roman Curia, and were very indignant that the Romans strove with so
many arguments to cheat the people`s pockets so impudently. The preachers
added that if anyone had taken the cross or not, who could not complete
so laborious a journey personally but they had the wherewithall in goods,
they should not omit to give something for the relief of the Holy Land,
and so fully enjoy the aforesaid indulgences. But all these things made
the hearers suspicious.
1237 pp. 404-6. The slaughter of the Templars
in the Antioch area.
Around this time, lamentable news spread, drenching the whole Holy Land
with confusion. For the sultan of Aleppo had died and the truce made between
the Templars and the same sultan had expired. Therefore, wishing to enlarge
their boundaries to the honour of Christ, the Templars, girding themselves
for battle, proposed to besiege a certain castle called Guascon [Baghras;
but in fact they were going from Baghras to attack Darbsak/Trapesac] which
is sited to the north of Antioch. They pitched their tents in the grassy
places near the castle, appointing as their leader the preceptor of Antioch,
William of Montferrat, from Auvergne. So as they were approaching the
said castle with their battle lines drawn up, captive Christians held
in chains as well as certain apostates saw them and cried out: ‘Flee,
miserable ones, flee! Why are you rushing to your death? You are all dead.
Your infinite enemies are ready with the forces of the whole province
to bring about your downfall, by the order of the sultan of Aleppo, who
has prepared ambushes for you.’
Hearing this, the preceptor of Antioch spurned the threats of the shouters,
calling them apostates and traitors. However, many of the knighthood of
the Temple, considering the chancy events of war and their small number
and the great number of the enemy, advised him to take precautions by
avoiding ambush until they had investigated the enemy`s strength more
fully. To which the aforementioned preceptor replied that he did not wish
to have fearful people with him in that risky context and allow them to
share in so great a victory, calling them false and cowardly. Thus headlong
and imprudent, although many of his men had gone back, he challenged the
enemy to battle.
Before he had expected the assembled enemy attacked. Surrounded by the
people of the province, he was unable to bear the weight of the battle
and fled, which is against the rule of the Temple. With him fled others
of his men who had more courage than the others; but in that conflict
fell more than 100 knights of the Temple, and 300 crossbowmen, not counting
other laity and no small force of infantry. Of the Turks, up to 3000.
There fell in that disastrous contest an illustrious knight of the Temple,
English by nation, Reginald de Argenton, who was Gonfanier [standard bearer]
that day. Like the others who fell he first inflicted a very bloody slaughter
on the enemy. He held the standard tirelessly until his shins, legs and
hands were broken. Also the preceptor alone, before he was cut to pieces,
sent around 16 of the enemy to hell, not counting those lethally wounded.
This deplorable engagement took place in June.
Thierry, the prior of the Hospital in England,
is sent to help the Holy Land.
When they heard about this, the Templars and Hospitallers living in the
west girded themselves manfully, wishing to avenge the blood of their
brothers which had been shed for Christ. The Hospitallers sent Brother
Thierry [of Nussa], their prior, a most elegant knight of German nationality,
with knights and a hired retinue and no small treasure to help the Holy
Land. Having made the necessary arrangements, they set out elegantly from
their house at Clerkenwell with around 30 uncovered shields, spears raised
and standard going before them, towards the bridge, obtaining the blessing
of all who saw them. The brothers laid back their hoods and bowed their
heads, commending themselves to the prayers of all.
p. 412. Henry III’s three unpopular counsellors
He also had infamous and untrustworthy counsellors who were said to have
encouraged [the king’s bad policies]. The nobles of England hated them
all the more because they were all natives of the kingdom. Their names
were John, earl of Lincoln, Simon, earl of Leicester [Simon de Montfort]
and Brother Geoffrey Templar.
1239 p. 629. How Master Simon Norman and
Brother Geoffrey Templar were ignominiously thrown out of the king`s council
[Simon Norman:] Since the king could no longer tolerate his insolent pride,
he ordered him to be expelled from his council....
....Also, driven by a similar spirit, the king ordered Brother Geoffrey
Templar removed from the court, which many desired. [He adds at the foot
of the page:] The major cause of this was that Simon did not wish to approve
a certain detestable writing which had been made against the interests
of the lord king`s crown, which stated that Count Thomas of Flanders should
receive toll on each sack of wool brought from England through his lands.
This amounted to 4 pence per sack. Nor would Geoffrey Templar agree to
this irregular deed, although the king was very anxious to enact it.
[In fact Geoffrey Templar remained in office after 1239]
1239 pp. 25-6. Letter from Count Amaury
de Montfort to the countess, his wife, regarding the defeat of the French
crusaders at Gaza.
You should know that Damascus was not captured, as was said earlier; instead
everyone returned to Acre. What is more, you should know that the king
of France has moved all his treasure from the Temple [the order's house
in Paris] because the neither the Templars nor the Hospitallers wished
to help in this battle. And know that 80 were captured alive and afterwared
10 noble knights were expected in return for them
1240 p. 139. Letter of Richard, earl of
Cornwall, younger brother of Henry III of England, from the Holy Land
to Baldwin de Redvers earl of Devon, the abbot of Beaulieu and Robert
Clerk in England.
He says that the Holy Land was in a bad state when he arrived:
discord ruled instead of peace, schism instead of unity, hatred instead
of affection, and justice is excluded:
‘The two brother who struggle in their mother`s womb although they were
established in order to defend their mother and whose excessive wealth
has made them followers of pride, foment and encourage these problems,and
cause them to spread far and wide. For their ample supplies of property
only stimulates them to attack each other. Because the scourges of the
presiding father of the Holy See [the pope] is reluctant to be harsher
on them, their bad reputation has long since spread throughout the world.
We put a great deal of effort into making peace between them, but the
path to peace has not yet been trodden because words of peace do not quieten
those who follow discord. They are anxious to win over those who bring
money, while it lasts, but when the time comes to avenge their Mother`s
shame, they swiftly desert their wellwishers, pretending that there are
obstacles to their acting, because they have absolutely no concern to
console their Mother. For this reason, and because recently an enormous
number of French knights - almost double the army of Saracens which attacked
them - was miserably defeated in perverse fashion, the enemies of the
cross have been made unexpectedly confident, so that a few of them think
almost nothing or little of many of us."
[As Matthew Paris notes in his margin, this is an attack
on the Templars and Hospitallers. The Mother is the Church: the Templars
and Hospitallers are the cubs quarrelling in her womb. The image of the
mother beast torn apart by the quarrelling cubs in her womb frequently
appears in the Grail literature of the 13th century. The beast is always
the Church, but the identity of the cubs varies according to whom the
writer wishes to criticise. Note the reference to the pride and greed
of the Templars and Hospitallers and the complaint that they are weakening
the Holy Land. The reference to the recent defeat of the French knights
refers to the defeat at Gaza in 1239.]
1241 pp. 167-8: Of the dishonourable war
and infamous discord between the Templars and the Hospitallers in the
About the same time as the crowd of pilgrims was leaving the Holy Land
after the departure of Earl Richard, the Templars, who alone did not accept
what he had done, were stirred by the stimulus of envy and derided , abused,
disparaged and scoffed at him. Impudently infringing the truce he had
made, they bitterly attacked the Hospitallers, who had accepted the said
peace and truce and kept it without infringing it. The Templars carried
their attack so far that they besieged the Hospitallers` house in Acre
and did not allow them to collect food, nor even to carry their dead out
to burial from their houses in which they were besieged. Also to spite
the emperor the Templars pursued and drove out the brothers of St. Mary
Teuton [the Teutonic knights], leaving scarcely a few whom they regarded
as friends to minister to the church.
The Teutonic brothers placed a grave complaint at the emperor`s feet about
this and took refuge with other ecclesiastical and lay Christian magnates.
Grave scandal arose from these attacks, because those who grow fat on
so many revenues so that they may powerfully attack the Saracens were
impiously turning their forces and strength against their Christian brothers
and gravely provoking God`s anger on themselves. Because of this, when
the earl left the Holy Land, as if aware that these problems would arise,
he did not wish to entrust to the Templars` pride either Ascalon or the
treasury which he left there for completing the construction of that fortress.
For this reason they conceived great rancour against the earl. Instead
he preferred to entrust its safekeeping to the emperor`s procurator.
1242 p. 197 Also in that year the
Templars in the Holy Land triumphed gloriously in unexpected victory by
more miraculous than human strength over many thousands of Saracens sent
from Babylonian [Egyptian] parts.
[Peter Jackson reckons that this was misinformation from
the Templars; the victory was due to Muslim politics, not Christian arms.
See his ‘The Crusades of 1239-41 and their Aftermath’ in the photocopy
1243 p. 256. The Templars, at Acre and
in other places, besiege and gravely harass the Hospitallers.
And during those times, the Templars in the Holy Land besieged and gravely
harassed the Hospitallers, so that they were so shut up that they could
not carry out bodies from their house, which is in Acre, to burial. Over
and above this, the Templars drove out the brothers of the Teutonic church
of St. Mary, in spite of the emperor, and expelled them from their boundaries,
heaping God`s anger on their own heads, and exalting the enemies of the
[This is in fact a repeat of the entry under 1241]
1244 p. 288. Delightful events in the Holy
Land about a peace treaty which had been made. But it had a very sad outcome.
The most joyful news flew through the Christians` regions, confirmed with
‘Hermann de Perigord, humble master of the poor knighthood of the Temple,
to Brother Robert de Sandford, preceptor in England.’
Summary: Hermann says that the sultan of Babylon, Nasr
lord of Kerak, and the Templars discussed a renewal of the truce. The
Muslims promised to restore all the land west of the Jordan to the Christians.
Hermann decided to send some of the Templar brothers, noble and discreet
messengers, to the sultan in Cairo to negotiate on this. He promised to
return what he had held for six months, Gaza, Hebron, Nablus and Darun.
But by divine inspiration the master saw that this was a trap, and that
the sultan wanted a truce so that he could subjugate the sultan of Damascus,
Kamel prince of Emessa and Nasr lord of Kerak and their lands more easily,
and then break the truce. He adds that all the Christians in the Holy
Land could not resist the sultan of Cairo. So the master, the prelates
and some of the barons debated over this. They refused the truce and offered
terms to the sultan of Damascus and Nasr: all the land this side of the
Jordan except Hebron, Nablus and Bethsan should be given up at once to
This was accepted. So at last after 56 years the Holy City of Jerusalem
is inhabited by Christians alone, and in all the holy places reconciled
and purified by the prelates of the churches. Where for 56 years God has
not been invoked, now, God be blessed, the divine mysteries are daily
celebrated. Everyone can go freely and safely to visit the Holy Places.
‘It is not to be doubted, that it may remain long in this fortunate and
prosperous state, if only the Christians on this side of the sea were
of one mind and in accord. But many are opposed to the truce. As a result
we alone, with our convent and the prelates of the churches, and with
a few barons of the land giving us what help they can, bear on ourselves
the weight of its defence..... However we fear that God will take grave
revenge on those who gave no support for this undertaking and opposed
it.’ He will punish them for their ingratitude.
The Templars propose to build a very strong castle on Toron, near Jerusalem,
if they can get good help. It is hoped that through this castle they will
be able to hold and defend the whole land more easily forever against
the enemy. But they can in no way defend what they hold for long against
the sultan, who is a most powerful and astute man, unless Christ and His
faithful give them effective support.
When this letter reached the hearing of many Christians they could
hardly believe the words which had been written, because of:
1)The ancient infamy of the Templars and Hospitallers, for it is said
that they keep the Christians and Saracens constantly fighting and prolong
the war so that they can collect money from the pilgrims who come from
2)Their fighting between themselves;
3)Their plot to capture the emperor.
The Templars have nine thousand manors in Christendom and the Hospitallers
have nineteen thousand plus emoluments and various profits from the confraternity,
income from preaching and gains from their privileges. Each manor could
without any difficulty find a knight to help defend the Holy Land without
any loss to the community, plus everything that a knight needs. The Christians,
remembering this, assert that they always cloak their fraud and hide wolfish
traps under their sheepskin cloaks. If there had not been pretence and
fraud, so many energetic Western knights would have violently penetrated
the obstacles of the whole East by now.
The battle of La Forbie, 1244.
1244, pp. 300-305.
The Kharizmians, who have been expelled from their own
lands by the Tatars, are sent by the Sultan of Cairo against the Christians.
They attack Jerusalem and capture it. Frederick II writes to Richard,
Earl of Cornwall, his "beloved brother-in-law" about the disaster.
The Christians, urged on by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, went to engage
the Kharizmians in battle, but hardly any escaped alive. From all the
barons of the land and the knights of the kingdom of Jerusalem, all the
convent of the knighthood of the Temple, viz., 300 brothers, and 200 Hospitallers
of St. John, and all the forces of the house of St. Mary of the Teutons,
none returned except the aforesaid Patriarch, and the lord of Montfort
(Philip) the constable of Acre who was the kingdom`s standard bearer,
and four knights and a handful of sergeants of the Temple, nineteen Hospitallers
and only three sergeants from the brothers of the Teutons, by the aid
of fortune or flight, O sorrow. He learnt this from a letter sent to him
by the convent of St. Mary of the Teutons. He goes on to look for reasons,
and says that apart from the ‘proud religion of the Temple and the idleness
of the barons’, the sultan of Cairo summoned the Kharizmians to attack
them, belittling the treaty he had with the emperor and the brothers of
St. John and St. Mary of the Teutons. The Brothers called the sultan of
Damascus and the lord of Kerak to help them, but they did not come, contrary
to the treaty they had made with the Christians. ‘...as it has
been clearly stated to us by some religious men who came from Overseas,
the Templars eagerly received the aforesaid sultans and others within
the cloisters of the houses of the Temple and allowed them to perform
their superstitions with invocation of Mohammed and worldly revelry.’
Letter to M. de Merlai, from Brother William de Chateauneuf, humble master
of the holy house of Jerusalem and custodian of Christ`s poor.
He also describes the above disaster. He begins by describing
the agreement with the sultans of Damascus and Kerak and how the Christians
recovered Jerusalem in return for helping them against the sultan of Egypt.
He describes the approach of the Kharizmians and the decision by the Christians
to evacuate Jerusalem and march to Jaffa, because they could not defend
the city, although the Christian standards were left on the walls of Jerusalem
to fool them. They escaped but the city was sacked.
The Christians went to attack the enemy, but nightfall ended the fight.
They had lost many men but they believed that the enemy had lost four
times as many. The next day, 18 Oct. 1244, the brothers of the Knights
Templar and the Hospital and all other religious men dedicated to war
and their forces and the general army of the Christians of the Holy Land
gathered under the Patriarch`s public edict, began ‘the most bloody
battle’ with the Kharizmians and five thousand Saracen
knights from Egypt. ‘And they attacked on both sides with so strong
a charge that we could not escape them.’ He admits: ‘unable to resist
such a multitude.... wounded and exhausted, still feeling the effects
of the previous battle, we gave way, leaving them the field and the victory.…’
‘It was granted to us by Him Who is the Saviour of souls that not even
a hundred slipped away and fled. Instead, as long as we could stand we
struggled on indefatigably and eagerly, encouraging and comforting each
other in Christ, so that the enemy were amazed, until we were captured
- which many of us avoided - or were cut down and expired. The enemy were
extremely amazed at this, and said afterwards to the captives, "Did
you voluntarily give yourself up to the dangers of death, and why?"
The captives replied, "We prefer to die in battle and our bodies
to be slain and glorified rather than to give way to shameful flight."
Such were certainly extremely formidable warriors.’
The master of the Knights Templar, the master of the Hospital
(Peter de Vieillebride), and the masters of the other orders and the convents
and their followers fell, and Lord Walter de Brienne was captured and
lord Philip de Montfort killed. 18 Templars escaped and 16 Hospitallers
‘who however afterwards repented having escaped.’
pp. 337-44: Matthew
then gives another letter on the same battle, this one from Robert, Patriarch
of Jerusalem, Henry archbishop of Nazareth, J. bishop-elect of Caesarea,
Rodulf bishop of Acre, the bishop of Sidon, Brother William of Montfort,
vicemaster of the house of the Temple and the convent of the house, H.
prior of the Holy Sepulchre, the abbot of St. Samuel, the abbot of the
Premonstratensian order of the Blessed Mount of Olives, J. of the Lord`s
Temple, P. of Mount Thabor, and R. of Mount Sion, abbots. This describes
events of late 1244 yet again and gives a different number of survivors
from the battle. Their Saracen allies fled and left them to fight alone.
33 Templars survived, 26 Hospitallers, 3 Teutonic knights. There is no
news of the archbishop of Tyre, the bishop of St. George (Lydda), the
abbot of St. Mary of Jehosaphat, the master of the Temple and the preceptor
of St. Mary of the Teutons, and many other religious men and clergy. The
Master of the Hospital and Count Walter de Brienne were taken as captives
‘Also we have received messengers and letters of the 22nd Nov. from the
castellan and brothers of the Hospital who are in the castle of Ascalon,
that the army of Saracens of Babylonia [Egypt] had already besieged the
castle and held it under siege, imploring relief and speedy help from
us and Christendom.’
1245. p. 416. Earl Richard of Cornwall,
from his innate munificence, sent ?1000 to the Holy Land via the Hospitallers.
The king of France, the Hospitallers and Templars sent knights and money.
1246. pp. 524-6. How the Templars and Hospitallers
wished to redeem their captives.
..Realizing the bad state they were in, the Templars and Hospitallers
were reconciled to each other, although late in the day. They decided
between themselves that they should pray and fast should be done more
devotedly than usual for the specific purpose of liberating the Holy Land.
Above this, realising that their masters, along with certain knights Templar
and others, were held alive as captives in the prison of the sultan of
Babylon, they sent certain of their brothers whom they had found to be
more prudent than the rest to the said sultan to negotiate with him over
a ransom for the liberation of the above captives. They should not spare
any quantity of gold and silver to this end, even if the ransom was high
and very expensive.
Having obtained a truce for safe negotiations, they first offered precious
gifts to the sultan`s chief ministers, begging that they should diligently
intercede for them with the sultan, and that he would receive as much
gold and silver as he liked for the ransoms of their masters and the brothers
whom he held incarcerated. However, when the sultan realised this, he
reproved his interpretors and criticised the same Templars and Hospitallers.
‘Those Christians whom we call Templars and Hospitallers are a poor lot,’
he said. ‘They break their own law and order. For first they wished a
few years ago to fraudulently hand over their emperor Frederick when he
was a pilgrim in the service of his Christ, but through our propitious
piety they did not succeed.
‘Again, although they who are bound to love each other like brothers and
help each other in necessity they have maintained hostilities and inexorable
hatred between each other for five years now, and not even Earl Richard,
brother of the king of England, who is regarded as most illustrious among
the Christians, could make peace between them. The Templars claimed that
he was no more than a boy, and in contempt of him they shamelessly broke
the truce he had prudently begun, in spite of their brothers, viz. the
Hospitallers. Again, recently in a battle between us and them their standard
bearer, whom they call the Gonfanier, retreated in battle and ran away,
against the decree of their order. So now, adding evil to evil, and heaping
up transgression of their rule on transgression, they are striving to
ransom their captive masters and brothers by paying a large sum of money,
although we know that they should not be ransomed except for a belt or
‘Therefore their God has deservedly given them into the hands of those
who hate them, to be given up to prison.’ And thus, with severe expression
and grim aspect he ordered those interceding for the brothers to retire,
adding that the condition of the prisoners would at once be made worse.
When the messengers received the news, they sadly made ready to leave.
They said to the said mediators: ‘And what is to be done now? Did we waste
our gifts to you, when we hoped you could help us? Give us effective advice
as to how our prisoners whom we are seeking can be freed.’
The interpretors replied, ‘It is true that you conferred desirable gifts
on us, and we will give you faithful advice in return. This is all you
can do. Arrange for the lord emperor Frederick, whom our lord loves and
reveres above all mortal men, to pass a small request on to our lord either
by messenger or in writing and undoubtedly all those whom you seek will
be freed directly.’ The messengers replied, ‘Never as long as we have
ears to listen will we agree to go along with this advice.’ And thus they
returned in confusion without hope for the liberation of their captives
and bitterly criticised. It can be gleaned from the course of these events
how great was the friendship between Frederick and the sultan.
1247 p. 640. A portion of the Lord`s blood
was sent from the Holy Land by the masters of the Temple and Hospital,
the Patriarch of Jerusalem, the archbishops and bishops, abbots and other
prelates and magnates of the Holy Land in a phial of the most beautiful
crystal, via a certain well-known brother of the Templars, for the church
of St. Edward, Westminster [i.e. Westminster Abbey].
[p. 643.] On the occasion of the Lord`s Blood being carried by King Henry
III from St. Paul`s to Westminster Abbey, Walter bishop of Norwich preached
a sermon. Some people doubted that the blood was real. Then Lord Thierry,
prior of the Hospital of Jerusalem, said to the bishops and those seated
around, ‘Dearest lords, why are you still wavering? Did any of us, Templar
or Hospitaller or even the brother who carried it, ask the lord king or
any other for any repayment or any little gift of gold or silver in exchange
for this gift?’ And the king replied, ‘By no means.’ The brother continued,
‘Why then are so many great men speaking in damnation of their souls in
support of such a claim [that it is the Lord`s Blood], and have affixed
their seals to it, which are evident pledges of faith?’ And his words
were approved by all, both bishops and other listeners, although they
were from a layman.
....Matthew himself was present on this occasion and the
king ordered him to write an account of the day`s events.
LOUIS IX`S CRUSADE
1249 pp. 70-1. Louis
attempted to reconcile Frederick II and the pope and failed, but he was
more successful elsewhere. The king of the French, relying on sound
and holy counsel, fully pacified many warring magnates in Cyprus and other
parts of Christendom, and the Templars and Hospitallers. He did this so
that he could take up the journey he had begun [to the Holy Land] more
safely, leaving no problems behind him.
p. 87. Rumours spread
that the king of the Tatars had been converted to Christianity. Matthew
says that these were to console the Christians and encourage the crusaders,
and were spread principally by the bishop of Marseilles and certain leading
Templars. Many believed the tales because they came in letters under their
seal, but when they discovered the truth, they were more seriously upset.
The military orders' exemptions from the
authority of bishops.
1250 p. 97.
The... bishop of Lincoln [Robert Grosseteste], although he was old, laboured
vigilantly to bend more strictly to his will those who had appealed to
the pope against his unheard of severity. [His regular visitations]. For
the exempt orders, the Templars, Hospitallers and many others, had appealed
and later bought exemption [from his visitations] for themselves from
the lord pope.
p. 108. In Egypt, the crusaders
are starving and many have deserted to the Saracens. So many whose
faith was not strong began to be worn down with desperation, blasphemy
and hunger; and the faith of many, alas, alas, began to waver, and they
said to each other: ‘Why has Christ abandoned us? We have always fought
through Him and for Him. For we have been defeated many times during our
lifetimes, and our enemies - no, Christ's enemies - have triumphed and
gloried in our blood...’ They list their defeats by the Muslims since
the 5th crusade... ‘But now which is worst of all, our most Christian
king has was miraculously brought back from the dead and all the nobility
of France are in shameful danger. Our Lord has become like an enemy to
us... what is the point of our devotion, the prayers of religious people,
the alms of our friends? Isn`t the law of Mohammad better than the law
of Christ?’ (Matthew calls these ‘delirious words’.)
p. 118. More false
rumours from Egypt: letters from the bishop of Marseilles and certain
Templars spread the rumour that Cairo and Babylon have been captured and
the fleeing Saracens have left Alexandria undefended. These letters exhilerated
credulous listeners but left them more pained at the end and as a result,
Matthew says, we refused to believe other letters after that, even true
p. 140. The origin
of the false reports. Damietta has been captured by the French. Its lord
is hanged. His brother, custodian of Cairo, had a long time before consented
to the Christian law in his heart and secretly had some of those whom
he held captive in chains brought to him, i.e.Templars, Hospitallers and
French recently captured at Gaza in battle (1239 or 1244). He made a speech
to them, offering to surrender Cairo to them, and in first guarentee of
this he freed them. They went joyfully to the king at once, secretly,
and informed him of the offer. Louis refused to act until he was more
certain of the truth of it, but he recalled the English nobleman William
Longespee from Acre, where he had retired after a quarrel with the French
crusaders. (William was leader of the English contingent on Louis` crusade.)
The French then set out to advance from Damietta.
The battle of Mansurah, Feb. 1250.
1250 p. 147. Count
Robert of Artois, Louis` brother, and William Longespee went to attack
Mansurah. The count proposed to attack it, but when he entered he was
almost smothered in stones and had to retire. They then discussed what
to do next. Robert, hoping to inspire the rest to advance, said to the
then master of the Temple in the hearing of William Longespee that they
would follow the fugitives from Mansurah while they had the advantage.
The master of the Temple, who was a very discreet and circumspect man
and skilled and experienced in military matters, replied, ‘O magnificent
lord count, we commend your great energy and innate high spirit and bold
willingness to further the honour of the Lord and His universal Church,
which we know and have often seen in practice. However we desire and beneficially
advise and pray that you should prefer to restrain this fervour with the
rein of modesty and discretion so that after this triumph which the Lord
has conferred on us we may also recover a little honour. For we are tired
with the heat and labour of battle, we are wounded, hungry and thirsty,
and although the honour and glory of the desired victory may comfort us,
no honour and glory can revive our horses, which are failing and wounded.
It would be better advised to return now to be reinforced by the counsel
and aid of the lord king`s united army and so that we and our horses may
rest. When our enemy see this they will praise our prudence and fear us
more. When we have consulted our own people we may all assemble in the
battle we have already begun and attack more strongly and with our collected
forces we will be strengthened with more confidence. For the shouts of
the fugitives can now be heard - those who escaped on very swift horses
and are informing the sultan and our other enemies, who are confident
in their strength and numbers, both about our small numbers and the small
size of the whole army. They always want us to be divided and when we
are divided they are stronger and more encouraged and will attack us more
confidently and boldly when they have been informed of it. Now they are
pouring out their forces to harm and confuse us. For they know that if
they are crushed now they and their wives and children will be completely
disinherited and irrevocably reduced to nothing.’
The count of Artois was extremely indignant, and blown up and inflated
with anger and pride he retorted: ‘Oh ancient treachery of the Temple!
O old plotting of the Hospitallers! O long-hidden trickery, how clearly
it now bursts out into full view! This is what we have predicted for a
long time. and it was truly predicted, that this whole land of the East
would have been won long ago if we laity had not been impeded by the frauds
of the Temple and Hospital and of others who proclaim themselves to be
religious. Behold, it is as clear as your hand that this Templar here
is trying to impede the capture of the sultan and the confusion of all
paganism and the perpetual exaltation of the Christian law with his contrived
and fallacious speeches. For the Templars fear and the Hospitallers are
afraid and so are their accomplices that if the land is subdued to the
Christian law the domination which they feed with ample revenues will
expire. This is why they use various potions to poison faithful Christians
who come here girded for the business of the cross, and, in alliance with
the Saracens, they kill them with different sorts of treacheries. Isn’t
Frederick, who has experienced their snares, a most reliable witness of
At these satirical and biting words the said master of the Knighthood
and his brothers and the master of the Hospital similarly with his brothers,
bitterly hurt, unanimously replied: ‘For what reason, O generous count,
did we receive the religious habit? Surely not to overturn the Church
of Christ, and to lose our souls by plotting treacheries? Far be it, far
be it from us, no, from every Christian!’ And the angry master of the
Temple uttered a great shout, bellowing to the gonfanier, ‘Unfurl and
raise our standard, and we shall advance to battle, so that today we may
enter together the uncertain dangers of battle and death. We would be
invincible, if we remained inseparable. But we are unfortunately divided,
like sand without lime, unfit to be built into a spiritual building with
the cement of charity, and like a wall pushed down we shall be ruined.’
Hearing these things, William Longespee was very much afraid of a division
in the army. Wishing to calm the count of Artois’s impetuousity and mitigate
the master of the Temple’s anger, he replied: ‘The Lord’s Word says that
desolation follows schism and division.’ [Matthew 12, v.25] ‘Therefore,
most serene count, we believe this man to be holy and honest. He has lived
in this country a long time and he knows the Saracen's strength and strategies,
taught by long experience. We are young and strangers; it is not surprising
if we don't know the dangers of the East. As far as the East is from the
West, so are the Westerners different from Easterners.’ And, turning to
the master of the Temple he spoke to him with calm and sweet words, trying
to calm him down. But the count of Artois interrupted him, cursing and
swearing in the French way, and let loose the following insults in the
hearing of many:
‘O fearful timid tailed ones, how blessed, how pure would the present
army be if it was purged and curtailed of tails.’
When William heard this he was shocked, wounded and angered by the offensive
words. He replied: ‘O Count Robert, I will certainly advance unafraid
to whatever fate awaits me. I shall be today, I believe, where you will
not dare to touch my horse's tail.’ And they put on their helmets, unfurled
their banners and advanced towards the enemy, which covered the plains,
mountains and valleys all around...
The sultan rejoiced at the divisions in the Christian army
and attacked the Christians. William and Robert de Vere, his standard
bearer, were killed with many of the English. The count fled, tried to
cross the river on his horse and was drowned by the weight of his armour.
Only 2 Templars, 1 Hospitaller and one ‘contemptible person’ escaped.
William is a martyr: his mother Ela, countess of Salisbury, had a vision
of him ascending to Heaven.
p. 165. Matthew blames
the disaster on the count of Artois’s pride.
p. 196. All the Christian army was
cut to pieces in Egypt, alas, consisting of all the nobility of the French,
Temple, Hospital, Saint Mary of the Teutons and St. Lazarus.
The military orders and Henry III
1252 p. 339.
About the same time [13 Oct.] the master of the Hospital of Jerusalem
[Robert de Manneby] in the house of Clerkenwell, who had been waiting
patiently until he found a quiet suitable time to talk with the king,
lodged a complaint about a certain blatant injury which had been done
to him. He also showed the king charters given by kings and by Henry himself
which guaranteed the order’s protection.
The king uttered a great oath and replied angrily to him in a raised voice:
‘You prelates and religious, but especially Templars and Hospitallers,
have so many liberties and charters that your superfluous possessions
make you proud, and your pride makes you insane. Therefore, as they were
imprudently conceded to you they should be prudently recalled, and what
was scattered carelessly about without consultation should be advisedly
taken back.’ And he added, ‘Doesn’t the lord pope sometimes, no, often,
revoke his acts? Isn’t this tag applied, "Notwithstanding breach
of earlier charters"? So I also may infringe this and other charters
which my ancestors and I have rashly conceded.’
The master of the Hospital, whom they call the ‘prior’ replied with alacrity
with head held high: ‘What are you saying, lord king? God forbid that
such churlish and absurd statements should come from your mouth. As long
as you do justice, you may be king; and as soon as you infringe it, you
cease to be king.’ To which the king very unwisely replied: ‘O what does
that mean, you English? Do you want to throw me down from the kingdom,
as you once did my father, and kill me when I have fallen?’
1253. p. 363.
Henry persuaded Richard de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, to
marry his son to Alice, daughter of Guy of Lusignan, count of Angouleme,
Henry`s half-brother. Henry promised Richard 5000 marks for the marriage.
The count, stimulated by avarice, agreed. Henry did not have the money
to hand because he was accustomed to spend it quickly on everything. So
he imperiously begged the abbot of St. Albans and the abbot of Reading
and the abbot of Waltham to guarantee this money to the earl of Gloucester,
which they in no way should or would do. For who can force a recalcitrant
king to pay? He also pressingly begged the Templars and Hospitallers to
take on the said obligation. When they refused, asserting that they could
not do this, the king was angry and threatened them horribly. And
in this anger he chased Brother Roger Templar from the office of Almoner
and ordered him to leave the court; and on other excuses which he found
he laid new traps for the Templars and Hospitallers.
The Holy Land after 1250
p. 387 Matthew tells
a story of a good French knight in the Holy Land who was insulted by one
of his rivals - he called him ‘fugitivus et victus,’ (fleeing and conquered:
= coward) which is in French ‘recreant,’ and this word is the greatest
insult among them - his son then slew the insulter. The son fled to a
church but was taken out and hanged without his father`s knowledge or
Louis` intervention. The father went over to the Saracens. Matthew then
A very similar misfortune to this had happened 40  years before,
when a certain Templar, for the sake of one desirable horse which had
been violently taken from him, deserted to the Saracens. His name was
Ferrand and he was energetic in arms and wise in counsel. Through him
the Christians unfortunately lost Damietta and all honour; but at last
when they were exposed to drowning his compassion stirred and so that
the sin of one should not redound on so many thousands, he aided those
who were about to perish.
1254. pp. 457-8. After Richard of
Cornwall had refused the kingdom of Sicily, the pope offered it to Henry
III, who wanted it for his son Edmund. He turned all the crusaders from
their first intention viz., they were not to go to the Holy Land but to
follow the king of England and swear to recover Sicily and Apulia. Hearing
this the Templars and Hospitallers, the patriarch of Jerusalem and all
the prelates and inhabitants of the Holy Land who oppose the enemies of
Christ and already feared the worst were grieved to death, detesting Roman
1257. p. 655.
The Tatars and Saracens were raging in the East with tyrannical
and hostile enmity, and forced many peoples, such as sultans, emirs, princes
and even caliphs, to pay them tribute. When the Tatars wished to force
the Christians to pay tribute in the same way, the brothers of the Temple
and Hospital and all the inhabitants of the Holy Land assembled to take
on the insupportable yoke. When they had had a long and very diligent
nocturnal debate, as if with one mouth they all replied to the Tatar`s
messengers that they would not free themselves from God`s service for
the sake of an easy life. They would rather die for Christ, who did not
refuse to bear the punishment of death in that land in order to restore
the human race. Therefore let the Tatars, demons of Tartaros, come and
they would find servants of Christ prepared in the field for battle to
defend the Christian law against them.
1259. pp. 745-6.
How the Templars and Hospitallers killed
Also at the same time, the Templars, brothers of St. Lazarus and St. Thomas,
the men of Acre, Hospitallers and their fellow-provincials, also others
like the Genoese and Pisans, quarrelled in the Holy Land. They used to
be legitimate defenders of the Church, but then became destroyers of it
and of peace, and even became its cruel exterminators. For a certain lethal
dissension arose between the Hospitallers and the Templars, and the Hospitallers
unanimously rose up against the Templars. They wiped out the greater part
of themselves but, it is said, completely destroyed the Templars. So as
it is said scarcely one of the Templars’ side survived, but many of the
Hospitallers. Never among Christians, especially religious, was such a
great and miserable slaughter reported.
For this reason all the Templars remaining on this side of the sea took
counsel together and urgently informed all the brothers of their order
dwelling in their houses spread everywhere, as it is said, that with no
excuses allowed, they should assign necessary guards to each house and
hastily congregate in the Holy Land. This was to make some small restoration
of their houses in the regions of Acre which had been emptied and an infinite
number of brothers destroyed, and in order to inflict horrible vengeance
and hostile retribution on the Hospitallers. It was greatly feared that
unless the Almighty should alleviate the situation, the peace and great
stability of the Christians should largely perish on account of their
(This was one of the last things Matthew wrote. There are
only three further paragraphs in his Great Chronicle. It seems to refer
to the war of St. Sabas, which was between Genoa and Venice. The Hospital
gave support to the Genoese and the Temple supported the Venetians, but
no other source mentions them fighting. The Temple`s appeal for help from
the West was due to the great danger from the approaching Tatars.)
Flores Historiarum [Flowers of History]
Taken from the edition ed. H. R. Luard, Rolls Series 95, 3 vols (London,
Trans. and copyright Helen Nicholson, 1989.
(To be used with reference to the extracts from Matthew Paris’ Chronica
1229 pp.194-5: He describes the
emperor Frederick II`s departure from the Holy Land, as in Chronica Majora
vol. 3 pp. 177-9; summarizing the plot to have the emperor seized when
he went to the Jordan to pray, but without mentioning the military orders.
He only talks of ‘domestics, whom he had thought were friends....Ever
after he regarded the Templars as most hateful, as persons who were under
suspicion, and regarded the sultan as most friendly, seeing fidelity in
infidels, and detesting the infidelity of the faithful...’
having not mentioned the Templars’ involvement in the plot, he gives no
reason for Frederick hating the Templars.)
1241 p. 250. (Summary
of the year) It was most inimical to the Holy Land, because the
Templars hostilely attacked the Hospitallers, and they could not be pacified
by the even most diligent efforts of Earl Richard. (See
Chronica Majora vol. 4 pp. 167-8.)
1243 p. 264. The Templars besieged
the Hospitallers at Acre, and in their contempt and contumacy impudently
broke the truce prudently concluded by Earl Richard with the sultan of
Babylon on the Hospitallers’ advice. They did not fear to attack the sultan
himself, in alliance with other sultans, thinking to find good faith in
the faithless. This showed the threat of the Gospels, ‘Every kingdom divided
against itself will perish.’ (See Chronica Majora, vol. 4 p. 256.)
1243 p. 268 [The year] generated
schism and scandal for the Templars and Hospitallers.
1244 p. 272.
The battle at Gaza or La Forbie between the
Christians and the Kharizmians, and the miserable slaughter,
forever to be deplored and the capture of the masters of the Temple and
...and almost all the Templars and Hospitallers and other brothers of
various orders e.g. the house of the Germans, of St. Lazarus, and almost
all the nobles of the Holy Land either fell in battle or were thrust into
captivity by the Saracens. The sultan of Babylon, whom the Templars had
attacked after breaking the truce begun by Earl Richard, had directed
the Kharizmians to exterminate them in order to avenge the a great injury.
(See Chronica Majora, vol. 4 pp. 300-5.)
1245 p. 287. In those days the Templars
and Hospitallers, in order to restore the loss of their brothers, received
as many laity as they could elect into their order, and sent succour to
the Holy Land to defend the desolate cities and castles which were already
besieged or waiting to surrender to the Muslims. (Not in
1250 p. 365. (Does
not mention the role of the Templars and Hospitallers at the Battle of
Mansourah. Compare Chronica Majora vol. 5 pp. 147-65.)
Summary of 1250: Louis IX`s army was scattered,
Louis was captured and so were many of his magnates, and the convents
of the Temple, Hospital, Teutons and St. Lazarus.
Matthew Paris: Historia Anglorum [History
of the English]
from the edition ed. by Frederick Madden, 3 vols, Rolls Series 44 (London,
1866-9) Trans. and copyright Helen Nicholson.
pp. 222-4 Of the origins of the order of
the Temple (as in Roger of Wendover and thus in Matthew`s own Chronica
Majora. But adds:) the first of them were Hugh de Pagans and Godfrey de
St. Omer. At first they were so poor, although they were energetic, that
they had only one warhorse between two. So in memory of their primitive
poverty and their observance of humility, on their seal is engraved two
riding one horse.
1229 pp. 312-14 See
the Chronica Majora vol. 3 pp. 177-9. Recounts the emperor Frederick II`s
intention to go to the Jordan to bathe. The inhabitants of the Holy Land,
‘especially the Templars and Hospitallers, envious of the emperor`s magnificent
deeds,’ decide to claim the credit for his great deeds
and to please the pope, who has invaded Frederick’s empire. So they write
to the sultan to tell him of the emperor’s plans. (There are no complaints
here of the enormous funds swallowed up by the orders.) The sultan detests
the Christians’ treachery, ‘and especially of those who seem to
bear the cross-signed habit of religion.’ He sends the letter to the emperor,
who thanks God and the sultan and pretends that he has not been offended
‘until the time of fit retribution.’ He then prepared to
This is said to have sown hatred between the emperor and the Temple and
Hospital. However, the Hospital incurred a smaller stain of infamy over
this because they later purged themselves by oath. After this the sultan
and emperor were great friends, and the sultan sent the emperor an elephant.
(These sentences are marked with red letters in the margin):
Erase, because offensive to the Templars.
pp. 314-15. The Templars, learning
that the emperor`s pilgrimage to the Jordan was deferred, realised through
this and other indications that their uncovered strategem lacked the intended
effect. Therefore they attracted the Patriarch of Jerusalem to their conspiracy,
who is said to have written this letter to defame the emperor, and sent
it to various eastern [sic] princes:
‘Gerold, Patriarch of Jeruslaem, to all Christ`s faithful, greetings in
(see Chronica Majora, vol. 3 pp. 179-85).
1237 p. 399. Summarized
account of the battle at Guascun (should be Darbsak) castle between the
sultan of Aleppo and the Templars, Hospitallers and some companions under
the leadership of the preceptor of Antioch, William of Montferrat. There
fell in the battle more than 100 knights of the the Temple, and 300 crossbowmen.
Others fled, against the rules of their order. But 3000 Turks died, although
because of their great numbers this scarcely showed. There fell in that
unfortunate struggle an illustrious Knight Templar, of English nationality,
Reginald of Argentan, to whom that most bloody day the task of bearing
the banner which is called ‘Baucan’ had been committed on account of his
singular prowess. He bore it untiringly until with his horse maimed and
his arms severed, and drilled with many other wounds, he fell covered
in blood and thus commended his spirit to God. However, by his hand around
60 of the enemy were sent to Tartaris.
This engagement took place in June. To revenge this injury and loss there
was sent from England Thierry, prior of the Hospital, with a great number
of knights and much wealth, because in that sad conflict both Hospitallers
and Templars fell. Also the Temple poured out what forces it could, in
order powerfully to avenge its brothers’ blood.
1239 p. 433. Letter from Count Amaury
de Montfort to his wife regarding the defeat of the French crusaders at
Chronica Majora, vol.4 pp. 25-6, but adds: ‘and also many of the
Templars and Hospitallers were captured and killed when they wanted to
redeem their reputation, and their magistrates and elite knights were
captured and their standards thrown down.’
1243 p. 472. Detestable discord between
the Templars and Hospitallers
The Templars gravely attacked the Hospitallers, besieging them so that
they were not allowed to carry bodies out of their house in Acre to be
buried. To spite the emperor the Templars also drove out the Teutonic
brothers of the church of St. Mary from their territories, heaping up
God`s anger on their heads and exalting the enemies of the cross by their
discord. (See Chronica Majora, vol. 4 p. 256.)
1243 p. 477. (Summary
of year.) It generated schism and scandal for the Templars and
1244 pp. 483-4. Summary
of a letter from the prelates of the Holy Land telling of the defeat of
the Christians at La Forbie - this is in the Chronica Majora vol. 4 pp.
1247 p. 29. Brief
notice of the phial of Christ`s Blood sent to Westminster from the Holy
Land.Described at length in Chronica Majora vol. 4 p. 640ff..
1250 pp. 83-4. Richard
earl of Cornwall is brought news at the Exchequer in London that the whole
Christian army in the Holy Land i.e. the army of the king of the French
and of certain English, Templars, Hospitallers, Teutons and St. Lazarus
has fallen defeated. This is blamed on the ‘unfortunate and proud’
count of Artois. At the end of his list of the slain, Matthew
adds in the margin: ‘Besides them, the knighthood of the
Temple and Hospital was thrown into confusion.’
p. 90. Summary of
events 1200-1250: ....There were captured, killed and scattered
the convents of the Temple, Hospital, St. Mary Teutonics, and St. Lazarus,
p. 92. Also the same emperor [Frederick
II] persecuted the Templars, accusing them of treachery.
p. 95. The Saracens triumphed many
times as they wished: the general army of the Christians, viz. of the
French, with the king present, of Templars, Hospitallers, Teutonics, brothers
of St. Lazarus and inhabitants of the Holy Land, was conquered, captured,
p. 102. On the numbers which died
at Mansourah through the pride of the count of Artois, brother of the
king of the French, he notes in the margin: according to the assertion
of the master of the Temple in Scotland. (i.e. the master
of the Temple in Scotland provided Matthew with his details of the casualties).
Abbreviato Chronicorum Angliae - [Abbreviation
of the Chronicles of England].
in same volumes as Historia Anglorum.
1229 p. 259. Now, when he had made
peace, the emperor very much wished to visit the holy places to pray before
he crossed back over the sea to his own lands. And when he was proceeding
to the river Jordan, the sultan was informed by the emperor`s betrayers
that he could capture him easily, as he would have bare feet and be dressed
in wool with no one to protect him. When the sultan heard this he marvelled
at such great enormity of treachery. However, those who do not love the
honour of the Temple and the Hospital lie when they accuse them of this.
For it is not credible that religious men could be capable of such great
wickedness, although it would seem to help the pope`s cause..
The sultan sent the letters to the emperor, as a result
of which he and the emperor were henceforth the best of friends. However,
this was what sowed the hatred between the emperor and Templars and also
See Chronica Majora, vol. 3, pp.177-9.
1237 p. 274 Same
account of the battle of 1237 as in the Historia Anglorum vol. 2, p. 399.
1239 p. 280 Notice
of defeat at Gaza but no details given and the orders are not mentioned.
1243 p. 287 The Templars gravely
harassed the Hospitallers, besieging them so that they were not allowed
to carry bodies out of their house in Acre to be buried. To spite the
emperor, the Templars also drove out the Teutonic brothers of the church
of St. Mary. Then the infidels, rejoicing, laughed aloud and derided their
religion. (See Chronica Majora, vol. 4 p. 256.)
1244 p. 289. Notice
of the bishop of Beirut bringing a letter from the Holy Land about the
disaster at La Forbie. Same figures as the Historia Anglorum vol. 2 p.
484 and the Chronica Majora vol. 4 pp. 337-44.
1247 p. 302 Notice
of the phial of Christ`s blood sent to Westminster from the Holy Land.
The testimonial letters guaranteeing its authenticity include letters
from the masters of the Temple and Hospital. See Chronica Majora, vol.
4 p. 640.
1250 p. 313 Notice
of the battle of Mansourah and the deaths of Robert of Artois and William
Longespee and other English nobles, but no mention of the military orders.
1250 p. 317 Notice
of the destruction of King Louis’ army and the scattering of the convents
of the Temple, Hospital, Teutonic knights and St. Lazarus.