The founding texts

The Council of Troyes and the rule of the Knights Templar

The Council that opened in the Cathedral of Troyes on January 13, 1129 established the rule of the Order of the Temple, making official the first religious and military order of Christendom.

On his return from Jerusalem with some of his companions, Hugues de Payns mobilized his energy to gain recognition for the innovative status of “soldier monk” that he had created in the Holy City. Among the religious and political support he sought, that of Pope Honorius II was decisive. He promised Hughes that he would convene a provincial council to offer a rule of life to the new community. The council opened in the Cathedral of Troyes on January 13, 1129.

The choice of Troyes owes nothing to chance. Hugues de Payns found a natural echo in his native Champagne, with Count Thibaud II and his aristocracy. Above all, he succeeded in convincing Abbot Bernard de Clairvaux of the merits of the order’s dual religious and military vocation.

On January 13, 1129, under the authority of the Pope’s legate, Matthew of Albano, and around Bernard of Clairvaux, the most influential figure in the assembly, the most important prelates of the ecclesiastical provinces of Sens and Reims were gathered together: the archbishops (Reims and Sens), the bishops (Chartres, Soissons, Paris, Troyes, Orléans, Châlons, Laon, Beauvais), the abbots (Clairvaux, Cîteaux, Vézelay, Pontigny, Trois-Fontaines, Saint-Denis de Reims, Saint-Étienne de Dijon and Molesme). Some lay people are also present: the Count of Champagne Thibaud II with his seneschal André de Baudement, as well as the Count of Nevers, William II.

Adopted at the end of the council, the primitive rule, inspired by the rule of St. Benedict, includes 71 articles in Latin that define the life of the Knights Templar, both monks and warriors. The first articles deal with courage, discipline and humility, their essential and primordial qualities. Quickly translated into French, the rule is enriched with new articles to better solve the daily problems of their community life.

In Praise of the New Chivalry

At the request of Hugues de Payns, Bernard de Clairvaux wrote De laudae novae militiae or In Praise of the New Chivalry, to legitimize the double vocation, both religious and military, of Hugues de Payns and his companions. In it, he asserts that the indispensable protection of the Holy Places and of Christians justifies war against their aggressors, infidels moved by the “Evil One,” hence the term “malicide,” used to describe the murder perpetrated by a Templar.
“I repeat, the knight of Christ gives death safely and receives it with even greater assurance. If he dies, it is for his own good, if he kills, it is for Christ […] In killing a criminal, he does not behave like a murderer, but, if I dare say so, like a malicide […] Not that it is necessary, moreover, to massacre pagans, if there were another way to prevent them from harassing and oppressing Christians too heavily. But it is better, all the same, to kill them than to let the scepter of sinners fall on the share of the just, at the risk, for the just, of extending their hand to iniquity.