Five Strange Rules of the Templars

First page of the Rule of the Templars

The Knights Templar, like all medieval monastic orders, kept strict rules on how their members could behave. Issues such as maintaining discipline on the battlefield, to how one should eat at the table, were all codified in their Rule. Looking at them with modern eyes, one could find some of them would be very unusual for us. Here are five strange rules of the Templars:

1. No Shoe Laces

We prohibit pointed shoes and shoe-laces and forbid any brother to wear them…For it is manifest and well known that these abominable things belong to pagans.

2. They could only hunt one animal

While the Templar had a rule banning most forms of hunting, they had one exception:

This above-mentioned prohibition is by no means intended to include the lion, for he comes encircling and searching for what he can devour, his hands against every man and every man’s hand against him.

3. Can’t be a Godfather

We forbid all brothers henceforth to dare to raise children over the font and none should be ashamed to refuse to be godfathers or godmothers; this shame brings more glory than sin.

4. Can’t bet with money, but one can wager with candles

The Rule forbids the Templars from making bets with money, or with goods like lanterns, mallets or tent pegs. However:

Each brother of the Templar may wager against another brother, with his crossbow, ten pieces of candles without permission, but no more; and he may lose as much in a day; and he may wager the worn string of his crossbow for the pieces; but he may under no circumstances leave the string overnight without permission.

5. Don’t stand up for too long in church (and don’t pray too loudly)

It has been made known to us and we heard it from true witnesses that immoderately and without restraint you hear the divine service whilst standing. We do not ordain that you behave in this manner, on the contrary we disapprove of it. But we command that the strong as well as the weak, to avoid a fuss, once the psalm which is called Venite, with the invitatory and the hymn have been sung, should sit down, and say their prayers in silence, softly and not loudly, so that the proclaimer does not disturb the prayers of the other brothers.

The French version of The Rule of the Templars has been edited and translated by J.M. Upton-Ward (Boydell Press, 1992)

You can learn more about the topic in John Howe’s article “The Rule: Military Secrets of the Knights Templar” which is part of the latest issue of Medieval Warfare magazine.

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