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The Expansion of the Order

A fter the Council at Troyes in 1128, things moved fast for the fledgling Order. Rapid development was seen in France, England, Spain, and Palestine.

I n France the Order gained funds and grants, especially in Burgundy, which was to become the heartland of the Order. Besides getting much in revenues, Hugues de Payns nominated Payen de Montdidier as Master of the Temple in France. This was the first sign of the true international aspirations of the Order.

I n England, then, the original Temple of London in High Holborn was constructed in 1128 or 1129. It consisted of a garden, an orchard, a boundary ditch, cemetery, and the first round church, more of which were to follow in the footsteps of the Order around Europe. (In 1161 the Order relocated to the New Temple, between Fleet Street and the River Thames. That was a somewhat larger-scale operation with even a wharf of its own.) True success came to the Order in 1135 when King Stephen ascended to the throne. During his reign, in 1137, the Order received its first major grant of land from Queen Matilda: the Essex manor of Cressing. It was eventually not that big, but at the end of the century it had more than 160 tenants. Furthermore, its location, pasturage, and rich soil gave it true value far beyond its paper value.

T he Order's start in Spain appears to have occurred in 1131, when King Alfonso I gave the Order privileges. Templars gave a helping hand in the Reconquista of Spain from the Moors, so rulers of Catalonia and Aragon gave freely to the knights. (However, some grants were given without mentioning that there were two Moors perched in each tree of the land granted; the knights had to burn the midnight oil for a long time to enjoy their property.) The extent of King Alfonso's gratitude to the Order is seen in the privileges: they were made exempt for 1/5 of any booty from the Moors, and at his death he even attempted to donate a third of the kingdom to the Order. The will was, however, successfully contested by disgruntled family members. At the end of the 12th century, the Order had land in Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia, Mallorca, and later in Andalucia.

I n Italy the start was not that fast, due to the fragmented state of Italy itself. Mostly Templars settled in ports that had trade relations with the Holy Land, such as Lucca, which they entered in the 1130's. Other ports of the Adriatic included Barletta, Bari, Brindisi, Siponto, and Messina.

I n all, some 600 grants are on record as being made out to Hugues de Payen himself. About half of those are for property in Provence and Languedoc in France, some 1/3 are for northeastern France and Flanders, and the rest lies in Spain, Portugal, England, and elsewhere in France. Not just land was given: there are grants for markets, fairs, revenue from land, houses, tithes, rents, annuities, even serfs and their families. It is no wonder the Order soon had its coffers filled and could start its operations in Palestine with full force. All this was due to the effort of St Bernhard at Troyes. The importance of the Order was boosted too, when it could offer many knights to the service of the secular lords of Palestine, ad this they truly did now.

Armory Bailey Barracks Chapel Dungeon Library Pub

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