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Holy warriors, worldly war: Military religious orders and secular conflict’

Nicholson, Helen 2019. Holy warriors, worldly war: Military religious orders and secular conflict’. In: France, John, DeVries, Kelly and Rogers, Clifford J. eds. Journal of Medieval Military History, Vol. 17. pp. 61-79.

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Abstract

How far were the military religious orders involved in secular warfare? The vocation of the Knights Templar, Knights Hospitaller, Teutonic Knights and similar medieval institutions bound them to fight in defense of Christians, to prevent injustice to Christians and to lay down their lives for their brothers. Hence modern scholars of the medieval military religious orders have argued that the Templars, Hospitallers and Teutonic knights generally avoided involvement in secular warfare and any warfare outside their own vocation. Yet there were also occasions when the military religious orders were physically involved in hostilities against Christians: not necessarily in battle, but in various forms of conflict. This article examines some of these instances and discuss how the military religious orders saw their role in the West, asking whether the military religious orders’ role in “worldly” conflict was much more fundamental to their overall activity than previous studies suggest. It concludes that the military religious orders, like bishops and abbots, owed military service to the secular authority – be it king or commune – for their lands, and such service was simply part of their duty as land holders. The bulk of the brothers in the west did not take part in this military activity: it was usually the provincial commander of an order, or brothers who were especially trusted by a monarch, who were involved. Like bishops and abbots, these officials were expected to provide military forces and might lead in the battlefield, but the obligation to provide military forces was on the order as a landholder and not on individuals.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
ISBN: 9781783273928
ISSN: 1477-545X
Date of Acceptance: 13 June 2018
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2019 09:15
URI: https://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/123204

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