Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The humble knights of the Temple

For those who found the conclusion of this post rather cryptic, here is what Bernard of Clairvaux said in his treatise In Praise of the New Knighthood about the new Knights Templar. This was something of a promotional "press release" meant to aid recruiting and fundraising:

AND NOW AS A MODEL, or at least for the shame of those knights of ours who are fighting for the devil rather than for God, we will briefly set forth the life and virtues of these cavaliers of Christ. Let us see how they conduct themselves at home as well as in battle, how they appear in public, and in what way the knight of God differs from the knight of the world.

In the first place, discipline is in no way lacking and obedience is never despised. As Scripture testifies, the undisciplined son shall perish and rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, to refuse obedience is like the crime of idolatry. Therefore they come and go at the bidding of their superior. They wear what he gives them, and do not presume to wear or to eat anything from another source. Thus they shun every excess in clothing and food and content themselves with what is necessary. They live as brothers in joyful and sober company, without wives or children. So that their evangelical perfection will lack nothing, they dwell united in one family with no personal property whatever, careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. You may say that the whole multitude has but one heart and one soul to the point that nobody follows his own will, but rather seeks to follow the commander.

They never sit in idleness or wander about aimlessly, but on the rare occasions when they are not on duty, they are always careful to earn their bread by repairing their worn armor and torn clothing, or simply by setting things to order. For the rest, they are guided by the common needs and by the orders of their master.

Image: Bernard

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Friday, July 17, 2009

The Old Pilgrim says: Knights, do your own sewing, or better yet, somebody else's

Philippe de Mezieres (14th century):

The army chief must abstain from overeating and drinking and from public luxury... Remember Godfrey de Bouillon at the siege of Antioch. He was sitting on the ground in a little tent mending a saddle belonging to one of his squires when messengers arrived from the Sultan of Egypt. The Count of Toulouse, the Duke of Normandy and the Count of Flanders begged him to receive the embassy in state. Godfrey said he was more concerned that his Squire's horse should not be chafed by the saddle than he was with the Sultan's emissaries. So the latter were brought to Godfrey, who received them briefly but courteously. The Saracens, old and wise, were profoundly impressed and declared that this man would recapture Jerusalem.

Did Philippe take this idea that leading knights should sew in their spare time from Bernard of Clairvaux?

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