On The Tracks Of The Sardinian Templars 0 Comments

On The Tracks Of The Sardinian Templars

The "Pauperes Commilitones Christi Templique Salomonis", (The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon) also known as Knights Templars, were among the first chivalric religious orders of Christianity. The order was founded in 1095, after the First Crusade of Pope Urban II which aimed to free Jerusalem from the "infidels". The Holy Land, with Jerusalem in particular, was a pilgrimage destination for Christians who were often attacked along the way. To defend the holy places and the roads crossed by pilgrims, religious orders of chivalry were born, among which the most important were the Knights Templar, with the double role of monks and fighters.

When the Church officially recognized the Order of the Temple, its fame grew rapidly, as did its power and wealth. King Baudouin II of Jerusalem granted the Templars a wing of the Al-Aqsa mosque, close to what had once been the Temple of Solomon and the knights, acquiring more and more authority and consideration, occupied the entire ancient esplanade of the Temple of Solomon.

The Order was not accountable to anyone except Pope Innocent II, and in a few decades, it became extremely wealthy, carefully managing the huge patrimony, dealing with agriculture and relations, creating the most advanced and widespread banking system of the time, besides to be precursors of the credit card in the name of the European nobles that the Order escorted on the pilgrimage to the Holy Land making them "credit" for the expenses they incurred and collecting at the end of the trip.

Judge Gonario II of Torres returned to Sardinia from Jerusalem in 1149. He had known the Knights in the Second Crusade when he had been accompanied to the Holy Land by the French Templar monk Roberto di Tour. Beneath the walls of Damascus, he met the master of the Templars, Everard Turonensis with whom he became an excellent friend and who probably contributed to Gonario's call to become a monk.

He returned to Sardinia deeply tried by human and spiritual experience in the Holy Land and decided to bring the Templars to Sardinia. Templars were willingly open to accept the invitation also due to the important position of the island between Marseille and the Holy Land, which made it a perfect base to supply the knights on their outward journey and to treat the wounded on their return.

In just over a year, the monastic-military order settled in the most important Sardinian ports and the warrior monks soon wielded the swords of Montiferru riding Sardinian horses.

The passage of the Knights in Sardinia has been subject to controversy because some scholars claimed that the Judges had inhibited their entering and others that had favoured it through, precisely, the Judge of Torres. Today there is a tendency to support the thesis of their passage on the island. Documents of the time prove it and especially do fifteen churches with unmistakably Templar symbols.

Pope Clement V during the Council of Vienne, in 1312, suppressed the Templars' order under the pressure of the king of France Philip IV called "the Beautiful" who, indebted for huge sums with the Order of the Knights Templar, decided to suppress the order by massacring thousands of knight monks. As proof that the Templars were in Sardinia Proving, on that occasion the bishop of Arborea, Oddone Sala, received the order of the pontiff to investigate the Templars of the dioceses of Arborea, Cagliari and Torres.

At the same time, the task of administering the Templars' confiscated assets was assigned to the bishops who, as already happened elsewhere throughout Europe, with a process of "damnatio memoriae" erased numerous signs of the presence of knights in Sardinia. But many testimonies of their passage remain, such as the fifteen churches located in places that united the main ports used by the Crusader fleets by land or located in the Montiferru area where the mines ensured the supply of weapons and the breeding the supply of horses.

The churches have engravings, reliefs and paintings referable to the Templar Order. In addition, the church of San Leonardo in Santulussurgiu is the only one of the Sardinian churches to be included in the "Guide to Italy of the Templars", giving it an undoubted recognition of its belonging to the knights.

As has often happened, the political importance of Sardinia has been minimized in historical texts, but it is precisely these researches that restore its magnificence to its historical importance of which we are always proud supporters.

"[Templars] Perhaps they were all those things: lost souls and saints, horsemen and grooms, bankers and heroes..." (Umberto Eco)


Written by Daniela Toti

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