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(1)  1066 was a very important year for Anglo-Saxon England. There were 3 Kings, 2 Battles and a comet. There hasn't been another y...


The Primitive Rule of the Templars

Trans. Mrs. Judith Upton-Ward (Reprinted by kind permission of the author)

This translation of the original, or primitive, Rule of the Templars is based on the 1886 edition of Henri de Curzon, La Régle du Temple as a Military Manual, or How to Deliver a Cavalry Charge. It represents the Rule given to the fledgling Knights of the Temple by the Council of Troyes, 1129, although "it must not be forgotten that the Order had been in existence for several years and had built up its own traditions and customs before Hugues de Payens' appearance at the Council of Troyes. To a considerable extent, then, the Primitive Rule is based upon existing practices." (Upton-Ward, p. 11)

This translation is excerpted from Judith Upton-Ward's The Rule of the Templars, Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1992, and is reprinted here with permission. The Rule of the Templars includes an introduction by Upton-Ward; it also contains the Templars' Primitive Rule and the Hierarchical Statutes; regulations governing penances, conventual life, the holding of ordinary chapters, and reception into the Order; and an appendix by Matthew Bennett, "La Régle du Temple as a Military Manual, or How to Deliver a Cavalry Charge." The book is highly recommended to those interested in the Templars or any other military order. It is now available in paperback.

The notes to the Primitive Rule, supplied by Mrs. Upton-Ward in The Rule of the Templars, are not included below. They are of considerable interest and should be consulted by those wishing to study the Rule in more detail, however.


Here begins the prologue to the Rule of Temple

1. We speak firstly to all those who secretly despise their own will and desire with a pure heart to serve the sovereign king as a knight and with studious care desire to wear, and wear permanently, the very noble armour of obedience. And therefore we admonish you, you who until now have led the lives of secular knights, in which Jesus Christ was not the cause, but which you embraced for human favour only, to follow those whom God has chosen from the mass of perdition and whom he has ordered through his gracious mercy to defend the Holy Church, and that you hasten to join them forever.

2. Above all things, whosoever would be a knight of Christ, choosing such holy orders, you in your profession of faith must unite pure diligence and firm perseverence, which is so worthy and so holy, and is known to be so noble, that if it is preserved untainted for ever, you will deserve to keep company with the martyrs who gave their souls for Jesus Christ. In this religious order has flourished and is revitalised the order of knighthood. This knighthood despised the love of justice that constitutes its duties and did not do what it should, that is defend the poor, widows, orphans and churches, but strove to plunder, despoil and kill. God works well with us and our saviour Jesus Christ; He has sent his friends from the Holy City of Jerusalem to the marches of France and Burgundy, who for our salvation and the spread of the true faith do not cease to offer their souls to God, a welcome sacrifice.

3. Then we, in all joy and all brotherhood, at the request of Master Hugues de Payens, by whom the aforementioned knighthood was founded by the grace of the Holy Spirit, assembled at Troyes from divers provinces beyond the mountains on the feast of my lord St Hilary, in the year of the incarnation of Jesus Christ 1128, in the ninth year after the founding of the aforesaid knighthood. And the conduct and beginnings of the Order of Knighthood we heard in common chapter from the lips of the aforementioned Master, Brother Hugues de Payens; and according to the limitations of our understanding what seemed to us good and beneficial we praised, and what seemed wrong we eschewed.

4. And all that took place at that council cannot be told nor recounted; and so that it should not be taken lightly by us, but considered in wise prudence, we left it to the discretion of both our honourable father lord Honorius and of the noble patriarch of Jerusalem, Stephen, who knew the affairs of the East and of the Poor Knights of Christ, by the advice of the common council we praised it unanimously. Although a great number of religious fathers who assembled at that council praised the authority of our words, nevertheless we should not pass over in silence the true sentences and judgements which they pronounced.

5. Therefore I, Jean Michel, to whom was entrusted and confided that divine office, by the grace of God served as the humble scribe of the present document by order of the council and of the venerable father Bernard, abbot of Clairvaux.

The Names of the Fathers who Attended the Council

6. First was Matthew, bishop of Albano, by the grace of God legate of the Holy Church of Rome; R[enaud], archbishop of Reims; H(enri), archbishop of Sens; and then their suffragans: G(ocelin], bishop of Soissons; the bishop of Paris; the bishop of Troyes; the bishop of Orlèans; the bishop of Auxerre; the bishop of Meaux; the bishop of Chalons; the bishop of Laon; the bishop of Beauvais; the abbot of Vèzelay, who was later made archbishop of Lyon and legate of the Church of Rome; the abbot of Cîteaux; the abbot of Pontigny; the abbot of Trois-Fontaines; the abbot of St Denis de Reims; the abbot of St-Etienne de Dijon; the abbot of Molesmes; the above-named B[ernard], abbot of Clairvaux: whose words the aforementioned praised liberally. Also present were master Aubri de Reims; master Fulcher and several others whom it would be tedious to record. And of the others who have not been listed it seems profitable to furnish guarantees in this matter, that they are lovers of truth: they are count Theobald; the count of Nevers; Andrè de Baudemant. These were at the council and acted in such a manner that by perfect, studious care they sought out that which was fine and disapproved that which did not seem right.

7. And also present was Brother Hugues de Payens, Master of the Knighthood, with some of his brothers whom he had brought with him. They were Brother Roland, Brother Godefroy, and Brother Geoffroi Bisot, Brother Payen de Montdidier, Brother Archambaut de Saint-Amand. The same Master Hugues with his followers related to the above-named fathers the customs and observances of their humble beginnings and of the one who said: Ego principium qui et loquor vobis, that is to say: 'I who speak to you am the beginning,' according to one's memory.

8. It pleased the common council that the deliberations which were made there and the consideration of the Holy Scriptures which were diligently examined with the wisdom of my lord H[onorius], pope of the Holy Church of Rome, and of the patriarch of Jerusalem and with the assent of the chapter, together with the agreement of the Poor Knights of Christ of the Temple which is in Jerusalem, should be put in writing and not forgotten, steadfastly kept so that by an upright life one may come to his creator; the compassion of which Lord [is sweeter] than honey when compared with God; whose mercy resembles oine, and permits us to come to Him whom they desire to serve. Per infinita seculorum secula. Amen

Here Begins the Rule of the Poor Knighthood of the Temple

9. You who renounce your own wills, and you others serving the sovereign king with horses and arms, for the salvation of your souls, for a fixed term, strive everywhere with pure desire to hear matins and the entire service according to canonical law and the customs of the regular masters of the Holy City of Jerusalem. 0 you venerable brothers, similarly God is with you, if you promise to despise the deceitful world in perpetual love of God, and scorn the temptations of your body: sustained by the food of God and watered and instructed in the commandments of Our Lord, at the end of the divine office, none should fear to go into battle if he henceforth wears the tonsure.

10. But if any brother is sent through the work of the house and of Christianity in the East--something we believe will happen often--and cannot hear the divine office, he should say instead of matins thirteen paternosters; seven for each hour and nine for vespers. And together we all order him to do so. But those who are sent for such a reason and cannot come at the hours set to hear the divine office, if possible the set hours should not be omitted, in order to render to God his due.

The Manner in which Brothers should be Received

11. If any secular knight, or any other man, wishes to leave the mass of perdition and abandon that secular life and choose your communal life, do not consent to receive him immediately, for thus said my lord St Paul: Probate spiritus si ex Deo sunt. That is to say: 'Test the soul to see if it comes from God.' Rather, if the company of the brothers is to be granted to him, let the Rule be read to him, and if he wishes to studiously obey the commandments of the Rule, and if it pleases the Master and the brothers to receive him, let him reveal his wish and desire before all the brothers assembled in chapter and let him make his request with a pure heart.

On Excommunicated Knights

12. Where you know excommunicated knights to be gathered, there we command you to go; and if anyone there wishes to join the order of knighthood from regions overseas, you should not consider worldly gain so much as the eternal salvation of his soul. We order him to be received on condition that he come before the bishop of that province and make his intention known to him. And when the bishop has heard and absolved him, he should send him to the Master and brothers of the Temple, and if his life is honest and worthy of their company, if he seems good to the Master and brothers, let him be mercifully received; and if he should die in the meanwhile, through the anguish and torment he has suffered, let him be given all the benefits of the brotherhood due to one of the Poor Knights of the Temple.

13. Under no other circumstances should the brothers of the Temple share the company of an obviously-excommunicated man, nor take his own things; and this we prohibit strongly because it would be a fearful thing if they were excommunicated like him. But if he is only forbidden to hear the divine office, it is certainly possible to keep company with him and take his property for charity with the permission of their commander.

On Not Receiving Children

14. Although the rule of the holy fathers allows the receiving of children into a religious life, we do not advise you to do this. For he who wishes to give his child eternally to the order of knighthood should bring him up until such time as he is able to bear arms with vigour, and rid the land of the enemies of Jesus Christ. Then let the mother and father lead him to the house and make his request known to the brothers; and it is much better if he does not take the vow when he is a child, but when he is older, and it is better if he does not regret it than if he regrets it. And henceforth let him be put to the test according to the wisdom of the Master and brothers and according to the honesty of the life of the one who asks to be admitted to the brotherhood.

On Brothers who Stand Too Long in Chapel

15. 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, should sing the psalm which is called Venite, with the invitatory and the hymn sitting down, and say their prayers in silence, softly and not loudly, so that the proclaimer does not disturb the prayers of the other brothers.

16. But at the end of the psalms, when the Gloria patri is sung, through reverence for the Holy Trinity, you will rise and bow towards the altar, while the weak and ill will incline their heads. So we command; and when the explanation of the Gospels is read, and the Te deum laudamus is sung, and while all the lauds are sung, and the matins are finished, you will be on your feet. In such a manner we command you likewise to be on your feet at matins and at all the hours of Our Lady.

On the Brothers' Dress

17. We command that all the brothers' habits should always be of one colour, that is white or black or brown. And we grant to all knight brothers in winter and in summer if possible, white cloaks; and no-one who does not belong to the aforementioned Knights of Christ is allowed to have a white cloak, so that those who have abandoned the life of darkness will recognise each other as being reconciled to their creator by the sign of the white habits: which signifies purity and complete chastity. Chastity is certitude of heart and healthiness of body. For if any brother does not take the vow of chastity he cannot come to eternal rest nor see God, by the promise of the apostle who said: Pacem sectamini cum omnibus et castimoniam sine qua nemo Deum videbit. That is to say: 'Strive to bring peace to all, keep chaste, without which no-one can see God.'

18. But these robes should be without any finery and without any show of pride. And so we ordain that no brother will have a piece of fur on his clothes, nor anything else which belongs to the usages of the body, not even a blanket unless it is of lamb's wool or sheep's wool. We command all to have the same, so that each can dress and undress, and put on and take off his boots easily. And the Draper or the one who is in his place should studiously reflect and take care to have the reward of God in all the above-mentioned things, so that the eyes of the envious and evil-tongued cannot observe that the robes are too long or too short; but he should distribute them so that they fit those who must wear them, according to the size of each one.

19. And if any brother out of a feeling of pride or arrogance wishes to have as his due a better and finer habit, let him be given the worst. And those who receive new robes must immediately return the old ones, to be given to the squires and sergeants and often to the poor, according to what seems good to the one who holds that office.

On Shirts

20. Among the other things, we mercifully rule that, because of the great intensity of the heat which exists in the East, from Easter to All Saints, through compassion and in no way as a right, a linen shirt shalt be given to any brother who wishes to wear it.

On Bed Linen

21. We command by common consent that each man shall have clothes and bed linen according to the discretion of the Master. It is our intention that apart from a mattress, one bolster and one blanket should be sufficient for each; and he who lacks one of these may have a rug, and he may use a linen blanket at all times, that is to say with a soft pile. And they will at all times sleep dressed in shirt and breeches and shoes and belts, and where they sleep shall be lit until morning. And the Draper should ensure that the brothers are so well tonsured that they may be examined from the front and from behind; and we command you to firmly adhere to this same conduct with respect to beards and moustaches, so that no excess may be noted on their bodies.

On Pointed Shoes' and Shoe-Laces

22. We prohibit pointed shoes and shoe-laces and forbid any brother to wear them; nor do we permit them to those who serve the house for a fixed term; rather we forbid them to have shoes with points or laces under any circumstances. For it is manifest and well known that these abominable things belong to pagans. Nor should they wear their hair or their habits too long. For those who serve the sovereign creator must of necessity be born within and without through the promise of God himself who said: Estote mundi quia ego mundus sum. That is to say: 'Be born as I am born.'

How They Should Eat

23. In the palace, or what should rather be called the refectory, they should eat together. But if you are in need of anything because you are not accustomed to the signs used by other men of religion, quietly and privately you should ask for what you need at table, with all humility and submission. For the apostle said: Manduca panem tuum cum silentio. That is to say: 'Eat your bread in silence.' And the psalmist: Posui ori meo custodiam. That is to say: 'I held my tongue.' That is, 'I thought my tongue would fail me.' That is, 'I held my tongue so that I should speak no ill.'

On the Reading of the Lesson

24. Always, at the convent's dinner and supper, let the Holy Scripture be read, if possible. If we love God and all His holy words and His holy commandments, we should desire to listen attentively; the reader of the lesson will tell you to keep silent before he begins to read.

On Bowls and Drinking Vessels

25. Because of the shortage of bowls, the brothers will eat in pairs, so that one may study the other more closely, and so that neither austerity nor secret abstinence is introduced into the communal meal. And it seems just to us that each brother should have the same ration of wine in his cup.

On the Eating of Meat

26. It should be sufficient for you to eat meat three times a week, except at Christmas, All Saints, the Assumption and the feast of the twelve apostles. For it is understood that the custom of eating flesh corrupts the body. But if a fast when meat must be forgone falls on a Tuesday, the next day let it be given to the brothers in plenty. And on Sundays all the brothers of the Temple, the chaplains and the clerks shall be given two meat meals in honour of the holy resurrection of Jesus Christ. And the rest of the household, that is to say the squires and sergeants, shall be content with one meal and shall be thankful to God for it.

On Weekday Meals

27. On the other days of the week, that is Mondays, Wednesdays and even Saturdays, the brothers shall have two or three meals of vegetables or other dishes eaten with bread; and we intend that this should be sufficient and command that it should be adhered to. For he who does not eat one meal shall eat the other.

On Friday Meals

28. On Fridays, let lenten meat be given communally to the whole congregation, out of reverence for the passion of Jesus Christ; and you will fast from All Saints until Easter, except for Christmas Day, the Assumption and the feast of the twelve apostles. But weak and sick brothers shall not be kept to this. From Easter to All Saints they may eat twice, as long as there is no general fast.

On Saying Grace

29. Always after every dinner and supper all the brothers should give thanks to God in silence, if the church is near to the palace where they eat, and if it is not nearby, in the place itself. With a humble heart they should give thanks to Jesus Christ who is the Lord Provider. Let the remains of the broken bread be given to the poor and whole loaves be kept. Although the reward of the poor, which is the kingdom of heaven, should be given to the poor without hesitation, and the Christian faith doubtless recognises you among them, we ordain that a tenth part of the bread be given to your Almoner.

On Taking Collation

30. When daylight fades and night falls listen to the signal of the bell or the call to prayers, according to the customs of the country, and all go to compline. But we command you first to take collation; although we place this light meal under the arbitration and discretion of the Master. When he wants water and when he orders, out of mercy, diluted wine, let it be given sensibly. Truly, it should not be taken to excess, but in moderation. For Solomon said: Quia vinum facit apostatare sapientes.ÃÃ ÄÄThat is to say that wine corrupts the wise.

On Keeping Silence

31. When the brothers come out of compline they have no permission to speak openly except in an emergency. But let each go to his bed quietly and in silence, and if he needs to speak to his squire, he should say what he has to say softly and quietly. But if by chance, as they come out of compline, the knighthood or the house has a serious problem which must be solved before morning, we intend that the Master or a party of elder brothers who govern the Order under the Master, may speak appropriately. And for this reason we command that it should be done in such a manner.

32. For it is written: In multiloquio non effugies peccatum. That is to say that to talk too much is not without sin. And elsewhere: Mors et vita in manibus lingue. That is to say: 'Life and death are in the power of the tongue.' And during that conversation we altogether prohibit idle words and wicked bursts of laughter. And if anything is said during that conversation that should not be said, when you go to bed we command you to say the paternoster prayer in all humility and pure devotion.

On Ailing Brothers

33. Brothers who suffer illness through the work of the house may be allowed to rise at matins with the agreement and permission of the Master or of those who are charged with that office. But they should say instead of matins thirteen paternosters, as is established above, in such a manner that the words reflect the heart. Thus said David: Psallite sapienter. That is to say: 'Sing wisely.' And elsewhere the same David said: In conspectu Angelorum psallam tibi. That is to say: 'I will sing to you before the angels.' And let this thing be at all times at the discretion of the Master or of those who are charged with that office.

On the Communal Life

34. One reads in the Holy Scriptures: Dividebatur singulis prout cuique opus erat. That is to say that to each was given according to his need. For this reason we say that no-one should be elevated among you, but all should take care of the sick; and he who is less ill should thank God and not be troubled; and let whoever is worse humble himself through his infirmity and not become proud through pity. In this way all members will live in peace. And we forbid anyone to embrace excessive abstinence; but firmly keep the communal life.

On the Master

35. The Master may give to whomsoever he pleases the horse and armour and whatever he likes of another brother, and the brother to whom the given thing belongs should not become vexed or angry: for be certain that if he becomes angry he will go against God.

On Giving Counsel

36. Let only those brothers whom the Master knows will give wise and beneficial advice be called to the council; for this we command, and by no means everyone should be chosen. For when it happens that they wish to treat serious matters like the giving of communal land, or to speak of the affairs of the house, or receive a brother, then if the Master wishes, it is appropriate to assemble the entire congregation to hear the advice of the whole chapter; and what seems to the Master best and most beneficial, let him do it.

On Brothers Sent Overseas

37. Brothers who are sent throughout divers countries of the world should endeavour to keep the commandments of the Rule according to their ability and live without reproach with regard to meat and wine, etc. so that they may receive a good report from outsiders and not sully by deed or word the precepts of the Order, and so that they may set an example of good works and wisdom; above all so that those with whom they associate and those in whose inns they lodge may be bestowed with honour. And if possible, the house where they sleep and take lodging should not be without light at night, so that shadowy enemies may not lead them to wickedness, which God forbids them.

On Keeping the Peace

38. Each brother should ensure that he does not incite another brother to wrath or anger, for the sovereign mercy of God holds the strong and weak brother equal, in the name of charity.

How the Brothers Should Go About

39. In order to carry out their holy duties and gain the glory of the Lord's joy and to escape the fear of hell-fire, it is fitting that all brothers who are professed strictly obey their Master. For nothing is dearer to Jesus Christ than obedience. For as soon as something is commanded by the Master or by him to whom the Master has given the authority, it should be done without delay as though Christ himself had commanded it. For thus said Jesus Christ through the mouth of David, and it is true: Ob auditu auris obedivit mihi. That is to say: 'He obeyed me as soon as he heard me.'

40. For this reason we pray and firmly command the knight brothers who have abandoned their own wills and all the others who serve for a fixed term not to presume to go out into the town or city without the permission of the Master or of the one who is given that office; except at night to the Sepulchre and the places of prayer which lie within the walls of the city of Jerusalem.

Copyright (C) 1992, J. M. Upton-Ward. Excerpted here by kind permission of the author. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.

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