RELIGION, WARRIOR ELITES, AND PROPERTY RIGHTS
Hull, Brooks B. and Bold, Frederick
Association for the Study of Religion, Economics, and Culture 2011 Annual Meeting
In 1119 A.D., King Baldwin II of Jerusalem granted nine French knights space in the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount over the ruins of Solomon’s Temple to create the headquarters of a new monastic order: The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici). The Knights Templar, or Templars, as they have become known, grew in wealth and power after that modest beginning to become an influential and pervasive organization throughout Western Europe until the years before their suppression by King Philip of France in 1307.
The Templars were only one of a number of Christian holy orders of “warrior monks” founded after the First Crusade. The Knights Hospitaller (Order of Saint John) and the Teutonic Knights are the most well-known, but at least fourteen other orders were founded in Syria, in Central and Eastern Europe, and in the Iberian Peninsula.
More importantly for this paper, the Templars are only one example of what we label “warrior elites.” Our definition of warrior elites is not precise, but is intended to include pre-industrial full-time specialized soldiers that represent a relatively small part of a region’s military forces but possess disproportionate military strength. In addition, warrior elites often possess significant political and social power.