Inner Bailey Graphic

The Killing Fields (Templars in Action)

T he French Rule gives us a very clear picture of the Templars riding into action. The Rule allows them to have three horses, and if they were good friends with the Master, they could have a fourth one. He wore a mail helmet, protected his legs with cloth at first but later with mail, and a helmet on top of the mail helmet. He also had some additional pieces of armour shielding the shoulders and feet, and the shield he wore was triangular and lightly curved.

F urthering the setup, the knight had a straight two-sided sword as his main weapon. He also had a spiked ball called a Turkish mace. Should he become stripped of these two weapons, he still had recourse to a long dagger worn on the belt, a small pocket knife, and yet another small knife.

S o then, the tactics that worked just fine in Europe went like this: the knights took hold of yet another instrument of war, namely the lance, and charged at the enemy with the lance pointed at the vulnerable foot soldiers. Sometimes he also swung the lance like a somewhat oversized baseball bat. If the lance was lost, the long sword was then wielded with hacking movements. All this worked against stationary targets.

B ut the theater of war was different in the East. The Seljuq Turks' main attraction was the mounted archer who could wreak havoc with his agility. To fight these quick riders, the Templars' famed discipline came in handy. The Turks tried four modes of operation: they did not go close to the Franks but remained distant, ready to retreat if the Franks attacked; they sometimes feigned retreat to lure in knights eager for instant glory; they attacked the Franks on the rear or the flanks, which was a wholly new experience to the unlucky Europeans; and they forced the Christians to fight on the march, preventing them from mustering and preparing for attack.

T"" he Templars and the Hospitallers were the first forces able to maintain formation in the field. The Templars' Rule stated that to break rank was worthy of losing one's habit. Consequently, they were often placed in the rear guard. Having men in ranks also meant having men under command and able to respond to enemy action, and the introduction of discipline improved the field record of the Franks significantly. Another main thing that helped Templars and Hospitallers to gain fame was unswerving courage in battle, often especially when fighting a losing one. The brave knights were held in high esteem even by their enemies, a fact recorded in many Muslim sources of the period.

Armory Bailey Barracks Chapel Dungeon Library Pub

Portcullis | Quick Tour | Search the Preceptory