Commonplace Book – Pages 67-70
Knights Templar formed in 12th c., to protect pilgrims on way to Jerusalem from Muslims – Knights vowed to chastity, poverty, and were warrior monks – eventually expanded to defend territories – Templars often took relics into battle to be guided by God, such as fragments of bones or pieces of saint’s clothing – Pilgrims could give money in Europe and receive money in the Holy Land – first international banking system.
Tortosa, Syria: Handed to Knights in 1122, a castle was formed by the monks – the towers were spaced just enough for arches to shoot over the outer wall – 80 ft long, 30 ft wide and 50 ft tall – The Great Hall Chapel – 60 ft sq keep held the cistern and the weapons hold.
Chastel Blanc: A solitary stone tower – Constructed on the middle hill of Safita’s three hills and was a major part of the network of Crusader fortifications in the area. From Chastel Blanc it would have been possible to see the Templar strongholds at Tortosa and Ruad Island to the northwest, Chastel Rouge on the coastline to the southwest, Akkar to the south, and Krak des Chevaliers (the headquarters of the Syrian Knights Hospitallers) to the southeast. The tower is the remaining keep of the original castle. It has the height of 28 meters, a width of 18 meters and a length of 31 meters. A large bell is on the western wall, and its sound can be heard up to 5 kilometers from Safita. The castle had to restored in 1170 and 1202 following damages due to earthquakes. The keep in its current shape probably dates from the reconstruction after 1202.
The chapel on the ground floor was dedicated to St. Michael. Considering the time of its construction during the Crusades, the tower served two purposes, as both a chapel and a fortress, with 3 meter thick walls constructed of massive and carefully-fitted limestone blocks. The second floor, which can be reached by a flight of partially destroyed stairs, served as a dormitory, and contains many small angled windows that were used by archers to defend the tower. Cut into the rock below the tower is a water cistern.
Chastel Rouge: It was part of the network of castles defending the County of Tripoli – The Counts of Tripoli transferred the stronghold to the Hospitallers – In 1188, Saladin attacked the stronghold and destroyed it. The Crusaders retrieved it and kept it until they lost the County one century later. The stronghold consists in a two – floor donjon, 16 meters long and 14 meters wide, enclosed in rectangular outer walls of 42 meters length and 37 width, with towers on the north-western and south-eastern angles. The first floor was divided in two stories by a wooden floor that does not exist any more. Upper floors can be reached through stairs running along the walls inside and outside the donjon.
Krak des Chevaliers: Krak des Chevaliers was the headquarters of the Knights Hospitaller during the Crusades. It was expanded between 1150 and 1250 and eventually housed a garrison of 2,000. The fortress controlled the road to the Mediterranean, and from this base, the Hospitallers could exert some influence over Lake Homs to the east to control the fishing industry and watch for Muslim armies gathering in Syria. The Hospitallers rebuilt it and expanded it into the largest Crusader fortress in the Holy Land, adding an outer wall three meters thick with seven guard towers eight to ten meters thick, to create a concentric castle. The Grand Master of the Hospitallers lived in one of the towers, and the fortress may have held about 50 – 60 Hospitallers plus up to 2,000 other foot soldiers. In the 12th c., the fortress had a moat covered by a drawbridge, leading to postern gates. Between the inner and outer gates was a courtyard, leading to the inner buildings, which were rebuilt by the Hospitallers in a Gothic style. These buildings included a meeting hall, a chapel, a 120-meter long storage facility, and two vaulted, stone stables which could have held up to a thousand horses. Other storage facilities were dug into the cliff below the fortress, and it is estimated that the Hospitallers could have withstood a siege for five years.
Knights Hospitaller: (Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, Knights of Malta, Knights of Rhodes and Chevaliers of Malta) was an organization that began as an Amalfitan hospital founded in Jerusalem in 1080 to provide care for poor and sick pilgrims to the Holy Land. After the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 during the First Crusade it became a religious / military order under its own charter, and was charged with the care and defense of pilgrims to the Holy Land.
Trebuchet: Range up to a 1/4 of a mile, it had the power to break through stonework – a medieval siege engine, a weapon employed either to smash masonry walls or to throw projectiles over them. All trebuchets were made from wood. It could fling 300 lb projectiles at high speeds into enemy fortifications. On occasion, disease-infected corpses were flung into cities in an attempt to cause infection. Trebuchets were invented in China about 4 c. B.C., came to Europe in the 6th c. A.D. and did not become obsolete until the 16th c.
1st Crusade, 1099: Christians seized the Holy Land from Muslim rule and made the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Jerusalem Temple Mount their headquarters – beneath the mosque the warrior monks kept their horses – 60,000 sq feet
Temple Church in London, designed like the Sepulchre – across Europe, men were recruited as Knights Templar by the West Door and then locked in – this took place at dawn – new recruits would take monastic vows (chastity, poverty and obedience) – the statues on the floor represented the rich donors to the Templars and therefore were reassured glory in the eyes of God.
Ruad Island: A resting place for the Templar’s horses during their retreat from Tortosa – the last territory held by the Templar was Tortosa – in 1302 a Muslim force found out their force on Ruad – they drove the Templar back on the island and kept them from the infantry – the knights surrendered.
Oct 13, 1307: The King of France accused the Templar of performing pervasive acts, spitting on the cross and worshiping false idols and said that the Templar failed him and they were punished – the Templars were hung from the ceilings of dungeons and weights tied to certain parts, their feet were burned and the Master finally burned at the stake and they were disbanded.