Getting to grips with Knight Templar terminology!

Are you confused by Templar terminology? Do you wonder what on earth a Seneschal is or a Turcopole? Is a commandery the same thing as a preceptory?

Getting Templar terminology right!

Some friends reading my latest book (click HERE to view Quest For The True Cross) have pointed out that the terminology the Templars used can be quite confusing.

Let’s have a look at some terms that come up very often.

Preceptory – Also referred to as a Commandery. These were the Templar estates dotted all over Europe and consisting of some form of manor house or fortified building, place of worship, agricultural buildings like barns and dovecotes and possibly even water wheels, mills, etc. They were essentially an agri-business, factory, monastery and bank rolled into one. Their economic activities financed the crusades in the east. And the man in charge was – a preceptor.

Gonfanier – This was the chap who held the Templar standard in battle – a standard bearer in other words. So long as the standard was raised, no Templar could leave the battlefield.

Infirmarer – This medic-cum-soldier-cum-monk looked after the sick and dying Templar brothers. Many Templars, as they advanced in years, might have lived out their final days in quiet preceptories eventually succumbing to the ravages of old age and being cared for by the infirmarer.

Chapter – Like all tightly knit organisations, the Templars had regular meetings held behind closed doors where important matters were discussed and officials elected. These might be held at a country level where, for example, the Master of England might preside – but every few years, the Order would try to hold a global meeting overseen by the Grand Master, who was based in Jerusalem – when that city was under crusader control.

Responsion – I only came across this term recently. This was a percentage of the income from preceptories that had to be paid over to the Order in the holy land.  Estimated to be about a third of revenue made but it’s believed the figure varied quite a bit.

Knights and serjeants – A fully blown Templar was a knight brother. He was allowed to wear the white mantle and was fully trained in the arts of war. Essentially, he was a medieval knight who had taken religious vows. A serjeant was a junior rank who might fight in the holy land but in the preceptories across Europe, a serjeant might be a glorified farm hand. They wore black mantles and the helmets typical of lower ranks like the kettle helmet. They ate separately from the knights.

Turcopole – In my book, the hero Sir William de Mandeville has a turcopole called Pathros. He is a Syrian who is skilled with the bow – as many turcopoles were.  Most books on the Templars portray turcopoles as eastern goat herders turned mercanary auxiliaries for the Order. By creating Pathros, I depicted an easterner who actually came from a well-to-do Syrian background but his family had fallen on hard times. I also made Pathros a Christian who felt rejected by the Saracens and crusaders alike.

There is a Glossary section on this blog which gives you more Templar terminology. If anything confuses – ask me to explain!

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