Edward I and the Crown of France

King Edward as a historical figure looms large over my books, both the After Cilmeri series and my new book, Crouchback. Because in the middle ages, the King of England was also the Duke of Aquitaine, not to mention Norman, Edward had ties to France even before he became king. “France”, however, didn’t exist as we know it today, in that Aquitaine was a separate kingdom and the people there were not “French.” Aquitaine had come under the auspices of the kings of England after the marriage of King Henry II to Eleanor of Aquitaine in the late 12th century, as an addition to Henry’s already extensive “French” estates, which included Brittany and Normandy. Over the next century, the Kingdom of France wrested all but Aquitaine away from the Kings of England. Thus, when Edward left for Crusade from Aigues Read more…

The Templar Order

The Templars were formed in 1118, when nine knights took holy vows to defend Jerusalem. In 1128, their founder received a blessing from the pope to formally form a new order of warrior knights. They adopted the order of St. Benedict and the white robes of the Cistercians and began recruiting. Men flocked to join, and were accepted in a hierarchical system of knights, sergeants (who wore black robes), farmers, and chaplains. Within fifty years, the order became one of the largest landowners not only in the Holy Land but in France and England. They became money lenders in the major cities, and were one of the finest fighting forces in the world. On the way to accumulating land, wealth, and the power that came with it, they established monasteries throughout Europe, called commanderies. We visited five such commanderies on Read more…

The Fall of the Templars

Other than a few unsuccessful raids on the Syrian and Egyptian coasts, after 1291, the Templar Order deteriorated into one of bankers and moneylenders. A series of verbal attacks was launched against all military orders, the Templars in particular, suggesting they no longer had a purpose for existence since they failed to take steps to regain the Holy Land. Nothing came of these attacks until a renegade Templar, Esquiu de Floyrian, made specific charges of blasphemy, idolatry and sodomy against the Order to Philip the Fair (Philip IV) of France.” http://www.mostly-medieval.com/explore/temphist.htm (for previous discussion on the origin of the Templar Order see: http://www.sarahwoodbury.com/the-knights-templar/ This was the beginning of the end for the Templars.  On Friday the 13th (and this is the reason the day is said to be unlucky, or so I understand), Philip of France arrested all of the Read more…

The Templars and Hospitallers in Wales

There’s not much in the way of evidence that The Templars made inroads into Wales.  They are very much associated with the Normans and the Holy Land … not that Welshmen didn’t go on Crusade, because many did, but that the institution didn’t attract much of a following among the native Welsh. “In 1156 the Countess of Warwick gave the Templars the church of Llanmadoc in the Gower, and until the early 1280s they held Templeton in Pembrokeshire – contemporary documents call it “Villa Templar”, “Templars’ village”. The famous William Marshal may have given them the mill they owned outside Pembroke castle, and he may have been the donor who gave them the church of Kemeys Commander on the River Usk. The Templars were also given small parcels of land in Glamorganshire and Gwent. But although the Templars received extensive Read more…