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Re: Re. relationship between Knights of St John and the Knights Templar
The relationship between these two knightly orders is long, complex,
disputacious and mis-understood - it demands much deper study by historians
than it has received up untill now.
The Knights of St John was the earleir of the two ordes to be founded, but,
in its original form was NOT a knightly order but existed to bring succour
to pilgrims suffereing ill health or the hardships and privations caused by
the ligrimage.It was truly a 'Hopsitaller' order.
The formation of the Knights Templar, which was from the outset a knightly
order which only recruited as full members men of legitimate and noble birth
who had already attained knighthood, was to protect pilgrims en route from
Jaffa to the Holy City of Jerusalem. The knights Templar was the first full
time professional standing army since the fall of the Roman Empire.
Not long after the foundation of the Knights Templar, when they were already
being viewed as an essential military arm of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the
nature of the Knights of St John underwent a substative change and they too
became a knightly order.
>From this point on there wasa considerable degree of rivalry between the two
orders which, from time to time, erupted into skirmishing and sometimes
outright warfare in the Holy Land. One might be forgiven for thinking that
as they were both committed to the preservation of the Kingdom off
Jerusalem, that they woulr co-operate. This was rarely the case. The Knights
Templar, as often as not, allied themselves with the Venetians to take arms
against the Pisans and their 'natural allies' the Knights of St John.
After the fall of the Holy Land there were reapeated moves to amalgamate the
two orders sometimes as a result of moves from within both of them,
sometimes following attempts from outside sources. However once it became
apparent that the only way the two orders would even consider amalgamation
was with the autonomy of the Knights Templar - who were responsible through
their grandmaster to the Pope alone - under the aegis of an heriditary
Grandmaster, the Pope and others became alarmed.
After the dissolution of the Knights Templar, their property, in theory at
least and often in fact, passed to the Knights of St John. In Scotland at
least, this was always accounted for as a seperate item in their books -
almost although it was being held in trust. After the dissolution of the
monasteries, most Templar lands in Scotland reverted, by a variety of means,
to the families of the original donors or to families who had been
historical supporters of the banned order.
Despite their apparent rivalry, which resulted in considerable blood-letting
from time to time, there are some authorities who believe that both orders
were simply the military arms of differenet traditions within the family
group known as Rex Deus who had considerable input into other chivaric and
military orders. That is a matter which is under active investigation at the
For further reading on the rivalry and military conflict between the two
groups, a good starting point is 'Born in Blood' by John Robinson. The
various histories of the Crusades and John Julian Norwich's history of
Sorry for such a brief overview, but am somewhat rushed at the moment.
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