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The First Templars

T he Order was initially just a band of nine knights who had the plight of the pilgrims on their heart. They are named as follows (please note that orthography varies in sources):

Hugues de Payns
Godefroi de Saint Omer
Andrè de Montbard
Geoffrey Bisol
Payen de Montdesir
Archambaud de Saint Aignan

H ugues de Payns and André de Montbard were both vassals of Hugh, Count of Champagne, who was a very major player in 12th century France. The Count may have been with the First Crusade, and the connection with him was an important thing to the fledgling Order.

T he first 20 years into the life of the Order can be seen as a continuous battle against oblivion, constant financial hardships, and an ideological war within the Order itself. The two purposes, the military and monastic callings were not very easy to combine. For instance, monks were required to spend considerably more time in contemplation than what the warrior monks could afford, and the killing business too was a bit confusing. Therefore, when St Bernard lauded the Order at the Council at Troyes in 1128, it was a very welcome boost to the morale too.

T he severity of the Order's trouble can be seen in a letter Hugues de Payns wrote to his companions who remained in Jerusalem when he and André de Montbard went to Europe on a recruiting and fundraising trip in 1126. In it he outlines (in poor but powerful Latin) seven paragraphs of pep talk:

The Devil is constantly battling to weaken the vocation of the Templars, and must be fought with all possible means.
Although the military nature of the Order was publicly held questionable, the knights must see themselves first as religious and only then warriors.

The best way to fight the Devil is humility; no rank or fancy clothes will help.

No Christian can be heightened by rank or dress - consequently such things should not be sought.

Even monks in contemplation must labour a bit; knights should not worry too much for this as they do service to God even when fighting.

Sense of duty and perseverance are the two things that will aid the Templars in their tasks.

Working in a free organization of brothers is a sure way to salvation.

A s can be seen from the letter, the early years were not easy for the Order. Wide recognition was not yet theirs, money was a problem, and even the ideological foundation rocked as the knights contemplated their reason for existence. Fortunately St Bernard was able to set the record straight and launch the Order into the path to glory.

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