Liber ad milites templi de laude novae militiae

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The Liber ad milites templi de laude novae militiae (Latin for Book to the Knights of the Temple, in praise of the new knighthood) was a work written by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 – August 20, 1153). From its tone, content, and timing, its main purpose appears to have been to boost the morale of the fledgling Knights Templar in Jerusalem.[1]

Background[edit]

The Knights Templar were most likely formed in January 1120, at the Council of Nablus.[2][3]

Bernard begins the Liber de laude by directly addressing Hugh of Payens, the founder and first Master of the Templars, saying that Hugh has asked him three times to write an 'exhortation' (exhortatio) to his knights.

The reason for Hugh's persistence almost certainly lies in the fact that in the early 1120s, some of the first Templars were having doubts about the idea of an order of monks devoted to military combat in the crusades. A letter from around this time written to the Templars by one 'Hugh the Sinner' (Hugo Peccator) spells out these doubts explicitly, noting that the Templars were worried about whether there was a genuine theological justification for monk-warriors.[4]

Publication[edit]

The date of the Liber de laude is uncertain, although the fact it was addressed to Hugh of Payens, the first Master of the Templars, means it was written between 1120 (when the Templars were founded) and 1136, when Hugh died.[5]

Content[edit]

The Liber de laude is divided into two parts:

  • The first section deals directly with the Knights Templar. Bernard puts his weight firmly behind the Templars by comparing them with the regular knights of the age. He criticizes the ordinary knights for their vanity, wanton violence, and pointlessness. In contrast, he praises the Templars as noble, following a higher calling, fearless, and holy.
  • The second section is a description of the holy places in the crusader states. By linking the Templars to these sacred sites, Bernard was presenting them as custodians of a key aspect of Christian heritage.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Barber, Malcolm (1995). The New Knighthood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 44. ISBN 0521558727.
  2. ^ Meyer, Hans E (October 1982). "The Concordat of Nablus". Journal of Ecclesiastical History. 33 (4): 531–543.
  3. ^ Hiestand, Rudolph (1988). "Kardinalbischof Matthäus von Albano, das Konzil von Troyes und die Entstehung des Templerordens". Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte. 99: 295–325.
  4. ^ Selwood, Dominic (1996). M Balard, ed. "Quidem autem dubitaverunt: The Saint, the Sinner, the Temple and a Possible Chronology". Autour de la Première Croisade, Publications de la Sorbonne: 221–230.
  5. ^ Barber, Malcolm (1995). The New Knighthood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 44. ISBN 0521558727.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bernard of Clairvaux, In Praise of the New Knighthood M Conrad Greenia and Malcolm Barber
  • Peter Dinzelbacher, Bernhard von Clairvaux, second ed. Darmstadt 2012.