By Jochen G. Schenk
Journal of Medieval History, Vol. 34:1 (2008)
Abstract: The present study investigates the development of three concepts of lay association with the Order of the Temple that have hitherto often been considered as distinctive from each other but that are, in fact, in many ways interconnected: the confrater, the donatus and the miles ad terminum. Examining the motivation of lay men and women to associate with the Temple, as well as the various implications of the forms of association they chose, the study argues that at the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the constellation of the Order’s confraternities underwent drastic changes and that these had been instigated by canon lawyers and formulated in the decrees of Lateran III and IV.
As a response the donats, as a particular category of confratres, established themselves as the most prominent expression of lay association with the Temple. What is more, since the concept of the donat gained prominence when that of the Templar novice was in decline, it will also be argued that, for very different reasons, the concept of the Templar donat as well as that of the ‘temporary knight’ (miles ad terminum), which was as old as the Order itself, could eventually have been conceived and employed as two forms of novitiate in disguise, which helped attract the attention of laymen who would have otherwise been reluctant to profess fully into a military order.