Inner Bailey Graphic

The Structure of the Order

T he Order was initially very small, consisting of a few strong knights who embarked on recruiting tours around Europe. After receiving a significant boost from St Bernhard (see Saint Bernard and the Rules of the Order, new recruits flocked in fast, lured by both the spoils and adventure of war, and also the adjoining salvation promised to their souls. The Knights Templar provided a vent for the leftover sons of knightly families, who did not inherit the title of their father but wanted to live the high life anyway.

I nitially it was not required that the recruit be a son of a knight, but this later became a standard requirement. The hierachy and ranks of the Order are somewhat confusing. Names of officials vary considerably from one province to another. For example, the head of the Order in England was at times called Grand Prior, Grand Preceptor, and Master. Below him in rank were the Priors of large estates, which were subdivided into Preceptories, governed by Preceptors. These in turn ruled over the knights and Servientes. The head of the Order in Ireland was never called Prior, though. The Masters travelled their provinces and participated in major affairs, and also in the reception of new recruits into the Order. The Master was not a life-time appointment as can be seen from lists of Irish Masters, in which some names first appear as Master and later as Preceptor.

A s it grew, the Order was arranged into ten provinces: Jerusalem, Tripoli, Antioch, France, England, Poitou, Anjou, Portugal, Apulia, and Hungary. Each province was headed by a master and a commander, and above these officials were only the Grand Master of the Order and his seneschal (deputy).

Structure in a GIF

T he office of the Visitor of the Order is a 13th century addition. It was created for the master of the provinces in Europe, and it was considered second to none but the Grand Master. Still, not even the Visitor had the power to call the chapter of the Order.

I t must be noted here that although the total number of members in the Order probably reached some 15,000 to 20,000 brothers, by far not all of them were knights. On the contrary, some researchers have put it forward that there probably was a 1 to 10 ratio between knights and other members. Consequently, at any given preceptory there may have been one to ten knights and up to a couple of hundred serving brothers. One Templar house in France is on record as being very proud of its support of one (1) knight, and yet the total staff was in the eighties. Being a knight was expensive.

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