The Military Orders: From the Twelfth to the Early by Alan Forey

By Alan Forey

Booklet by way of Forey, Alan

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Already, before this, the Teutonic order had also been conducting negotiations with the Swordbrethren. These had been begun by the latter, who were experiencing difficulties; but at first little progress was made, partly because the Swordbrethren were anxious to maintain some degree of autonomy within the Teutonie order. But the defeat of the Swordbrethren in 1236 at the battle of the Saule, in which fifty brothers were repürted to have been lost, was apparently decisive in bringing about an amalgamation in the following year, and with it the extension of the Teutonic order's interests to Livonia.

Although by 1143 the Hospitallers appear to have adopted a military role in the Holy Land, it is clear from the negotiations concerning Alfonso I's will - in which the Hospital had also been named as an heir - that they were not then being brought into the Spanish reconquest. In those negotiations, the Hospitallers ac ted not with the Templars but with the third heir, the canons of the Holy Sepulchre; and while in 1143 the Templars received from the count of Barcelona a number of strongholds and a share in future conquests, the Hospitallers - like the canons of the Holy Sepulchre - received only minor concessions in return for the renunciation of their claims to the Aragonese kingdom.

It may be argued, therefore, that the Hospital was already being transformed into a military order in the 1130s. Evidence about the militarisation of the hospital of St Lazarus is even sparser than that relating to the Hospital of St John. Although it has sometimes been assumed that it had taken on military obligations by the middle of the twelfth century, it is almost a hundred years later that the first firm reports of military activity occur: among the earliest engagements in which brethren of St Lazarus are known to have participated are the battle of La Forbie in 1244 (where, according to the patriarch of Jerusalem, they lost most of their forces), and Louis IX's Egyptian crusade six years later: their presence on this campaign was recorded by the English chronicler Matthew Paris.

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