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A Hospitaller Consilium (1274) and the Explanations Advanced by Military Orders for Problems Confronting them in the Holy Land in the Later Thirteenth Century

A Hospitaller Consilium (1274) and the Explanations Advanced by Military Orders for Problems Confronting them in the Holy Land in the Later Thirteenth Century

By Alan Forey

Ordines Militares: Colloquia Torunensia Historica / Yearbook for the Study of the Military Orders, Vol. 16 (2011)

Introduction: In 1977 an allegedly unedited document from the Archives Départementales des Bouches-du-Rhône was published, which provided advice about what should be said on behalf of the writer’s military order at the Council of Lyon in 1274. The editor concluded that it was a Templar composition, emanating from the house of Arles, and this attribution has been generally accepted by Templar and Hospitaller historians who have since commented on the document. Yet Prutz, who had in fact already edited this consilium in 1888, considered it a Hospitaller work.

The text does not explicitly state which order was responsible for the document, but the consilium provides two indications that it was in fact drawn up by a Hospitaller. The first occurs in the opening paragraph, where it is suggested that the master of the Temple (Magister militie Templi) and leading brothers of both orders should make an approach to each of the cardinals at the Council. The way in which the Templar master is mentioned is significant. When referring elsewhere to his own order and its members and houses, the compiler uses the word noster (fratres nostri ordinis, nostra religio, ordo noster, domuum nostrarum). As he does not allude to the Templar master in this way (e.g. magister noster, magister nostri ordinis), it may be concluded that he was not referring to the head of his own order. The master of the Temple was mentioned because he was likely to speak on behalf of the military orders at the Council, since the Hospitaller master, Hugh Revel, did not go to Lyon in 1274. As is apparent from L’ Estoire de Eracles and from a comment made by the later Templar master James of Molay, the leading Hospitaller present was William of Courcelles, who had at one time held the post of marshal.

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