Templar Cronicles I

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Hello,

I’m the Chancellor of the OSMTHU, editor of these pages.

For a long time I have been researching the net to bring you the latest about Templar news, research, debates and activities from a wide range of sources. I have had great encouragement from most of our readers and a few interesting suggestions have been taken on board and will be incorporated in the Templar Globe in the future.

It has been my wish since the beginning to help our readers access information about the Order – past and present – that is not readily available in a systematic way from other sources. I always thought that the readers should benefit from the fact that I was born in Portugal and that – as many of you know – in my country we hold some of the most interesting and unexplored Templar sources, stories, traditions, documents, sites and treasures that have been left from ancient times and sometimes defy our understanding.

After you have dwelled a bit into the Templar legacy, it is clear that, while France was the political, financial centre of the historical Templar Order, Portugal became, alongside Scotland and provinces of Spain, their refuge and harbour of retreat. The sea power that the Templars were in 1307 – then vanishing from sight – reappeared in the visionary work of Prince Henry the Navigator, head of the Order of Christ, a few decades later.

However, there are many details that are not available to the researcher because only Portuguese historians, publishing in Portuguese, have written about them, and although many of these are extremely significant and provide explanations to many of the questions remaining about the Order of the Temple, there is no trace of them in most of the reference books about the subject.

With this series of postings generally titled Templar Chronicles, I want to take our readers in a few voyages around Portugal, to sites of great interest and portions of history that are – except for locals – partially unknown. We had a poet called Fernando Pessoa who said that we are born in Portugal either with a mission or as a punishment. The mission is closely tied with the Templars. The punishment is to fail the mission.

conde-d-henrique.jpg

Background Information
First let me present Portugal during the XII century (edited from wikipedia articles for convenience):

Portugal is a European nation whose origins go back to the Early Middle Ages. In the 15th and 16th centuries, it ascended to the status of a world power during Europe’s “Age of Discovery” as it built up a vast empire including possessions in South America, Africa, and Asia.

At the end of the 11th century, after having taken part in the conquest of Jerusalem alongside Geofrey de Bullion, the Burgundian knight Henry became count of Portugal, a small territory in the west, under the kingdom of Leon. Henry wanted it to become independent, but died without achieving his aims. His son, Afonso Henriques, took control of the county. In 1126, before the Council of Troyes or Saint Bernard’s proclamation, the Templars are granted the first possessions in Portugal.

On June 24, 1128, Afonso Henriques, Count of Portugal, fearing that the pending marriage of his widow mother with a nobleman from Leon would pose a threat to his ambitions, fought and defeated his mother, Countess Teresa, and her lover, Fernão Peres de Trava, in battle – thereby establishing himself as sole leader and Prince of Portugal. His claim wasn’t recognized by neighboring nations or the Pope for a long time. However Afonso Henriques forged close alliances with military Orders – the strongest of which the recently formed Templars -, pushing southward conquering territory to the Moors, during the Reconquista. At a certain stage, the Templars were granted 2/3 of all conquered land. They built a defensive line of castles along the Tagus river – which included Tomar and Almourol  – that was strategic and crucial for the Kings success.

Afonso Henriques proclaimed himself king of Portugal on July 25, 1139, after the Battle of Ourique where he defeated 5 Moorish rulers after the legendary vision of Christ crucified assured him victory despite numeric disadvantage. He was recognized as such in 1143 by Alfonso VII, king of Leon and Castile, and in 1179 by Pope Alexander III.

afonso-henriques.jpg

The independence of Portugal as a Kingdom and rise of his first – and for many reasons – legendary King Afonso Henriques, parallels the growth of the Templar Order in Europe. It’s not the same project, but one is the visible fruits of the other. If the Templars wouldn’t have been established in 1118, it’s very likely that there had never been a Portugal in 1128. If Bernard of Clairvaux wouldn’t have moved his personal influence near the Pope on behalf of Portugal (as he did on behalf of the Templars), Prince Afonso would have been excommunicated by the Pope. Indeed there is a letter from Bernard to Afonso in which he acknowledges that influence, written when, after the conquest of Santarém (1147), King Afonso donates the surrounding lands to the Cistercian Order, where they will establish the magnificent Alcobaça Monastery, that we will visit in the second of our chronicles.

Count Henrique, King Alfonso’s father, was a cousin of Bernard. And Bernard was, according to many accounts, a cousin of Hugh de Payens. The influence of both Bernard and the Templars in the upbringing of young Alfonso Henriques, tutored by Egas Moniz, one of the noblest families of the county, a mysterious character himself, is incontrovertible.

egas-moniz.jpg

Most of the chronicles I will be illustrating with a few photos will reflect places, events and stories that took place between 1118 and 1314 or the transition between the end of the historical Order, the creation of the Order of Christ (1319) and up until the Discoveries age (that we will conclude in 1500 with the discovery of Brazil by Pedro Alvarez Cabral).

See you soon!

LM

Images (from the top): Count Henrique of Burgundy, King Afonso Henriques (foto LM) and Egas Moniz.

5 thoughts on “Templar Cronicles I

    Most Popular Posts « Templar Globe said:
    June 19, 2007 at 12:17 am

    […] 10. Templar Cronicles I […]

    Templar Chronicles III - Alcobaça 2 « Templar Globe said:
    September 1, 2007 at 1:31 am

    […] significance and singularity. A story that deserves to be told. You can find those posts here: Templar Cronicles I; Templar Chronicles II – Alcobaça 1. If you haven’t read them yet, it is a good starting […]

    J said:
    July 21, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    You should also mention that Count Raymond was his uncle by marriage(Elvira of Leon was his mother’s younger sister). The conquest of Lisbon is most significant to the Templar favour in Pt. His vision also included the Arch Angel St. Michael handing his sword to him. He did not establish himself as Prince of Pt, but rather the title duke or count of Pt. is more approp.

    Agostinho Moniz said:
    August 30, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Dear Luis
    Well done, fantastic website, keep up the good work. Our world requires a new order similar to the order of our fathers.
    In Jesus we trust and for Jesus we must fight again.
    Via com Deus
    Agostinho

    N da Rocha Vieira said:
    November 10, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Hello, I hope you don’t mind my viewing your website. I’m passionate about Templar history, with special interest as it pertains to Templar activities and influences throughout the history of Portugal. Great work!!!!

    Just a couple of small corrections to the above (if you don’t mind…I hope you don’t). Count Henry and his cousin Raymond were on their way to the holy land on crusade, when they were diverted by request of the King of Leon to assist in his battle with the moors in what is now Spain. Henry and Raymond never made it to the holy land, because upon Leon’s conquest of the moors, Raymond was offered in marriage to Infanta Urraca, heir to the throne of Leon, and Henry was offered in marriage to Teresa, illegitimate daughter of the King, whose dowry was Galicia and the lands that now form the north of Portugal (down to the Douro I believe).

    The second (minor) correction is that Teresa’s lover, after the death of Count Henry, was a Galician (not Leonese) nobleman. Teresa had envisioned claiming independence of Galicia and Portugal (such as it was at that time), from her sister Urraca. Afonso Henriques waged war on his mother and won, and negotiated with Urraca to keep Portugal. We lost Galicia in this transaction.

    For me, the story of young Afonso Henriques, educated by the bishop of Oporto, successful military leader since the age of 18, and leading successful military campaigns well into his 60s, is one of the proudest moments in our history.

    Of course, we can’t discount our valient Prince Henry the Navigator and all our superb explorers during the age of discovery, who brought worlds to the world!

    Thanks again! I really enjoy your site!

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