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The Templiers at Provins

The order of the Temple was founded about 1119 by two knights including one, "Hugues de Payns", who was from Provins. They had two objectives: to fight the inaccurate and to protect the pilgrim from the Palestine on the ways which carried out to Holy Sepulchre. The Champagne largely supported the establishment of the "poor knights of the Temple", in Occident.
The first properties of the Order were rested by the bishops of Champagne, supported financially by the noble ones of the province, in "Chatellenie de Sézanne" and "Baillie de Provins".
The rule text drafting of The Order of the Temple was entrusted to Saint Bernard, abbot of Clairvaux. The seal of the Temple represents two riders on a horse: current interpretation is the symbol of the poverty of the Order (a horse for two) and of the spiritual union of its the first two members ("Hugues de Payns" and "Godefroi de Saint Omer"). 

Lords, middle-class men, commoners, unpleasant came, sometimes in spite of their lack of military preparation, to be offered to the religious ideal of the Order of the Temple. It was decided whereas some would exploit the properties of the Order while the others would be used the Knights for the war.
After 7 or 8 years, the goods of the Order of the Temple extended prodigiously: the received donations of the aristocracy and the episcopate were not waste lands, but castles, strongholds, villages with their dependences as well as the people who worked there, then said were yielded.

Provins, opulent and popular city, favourite residence of the Counts of Champagne attracted Templiers: at the end of the 12th century, the Order of the Temple had two houses at Provins: the "Val of Provins" called later the Hospital with "Fontaine-Riante" and the Madeleine, located into the Ville-Haute nearby the "Porte de Jouy".
The commanderie of the Val was located in a greenery park with natural sources, nearby the slope Fountaine-Riante. A main dwelling built out of stone border on buildings which were used as markets or warehouses. One builds there a vault, contiguous with the cemetery, placed under the invocation of Saint-Jean. Inside, it was a followed of interior courses, gardens, and sources which fed a fountain now called Fontaine of Templiers and an arable land.
The foundation date of the Madeleine is unknown. It was in the beginning a strengthened house. Two beautiful ogive arched rooms remain there, as well as the turret of angle probably built at the same time as the close fortifications (12th - 13th centuries). The cattle as well as wools were sold nearby, in the "Cours aux bêtes" (the course with cattle). Located in the new , market town, in this house was established and created the weight of wools for the Ville-Haute. 
Less old than the preceding ones, the House of the Temple in front of the church "Sainte-Croix" (Holy Cross) has a history even more obscure. Its donation with the Order goes back to 1193. In 1300, we called it "the Temple" without precision. An office of weighing of wools was established into the "Ville-basse". In Provins, These three Houses established firmly the Order. Until 1225, the donations flowed then slowed down.

The poor Knights of Christ  became a powerful and estimated Order, but rich and envious. The Count "Thibault the Chansonnier" disputed the legitimacy of their possessions in Champagne and in Brie. 
In 1228, the Count made seize the goods in question. The Templiers resisted by submitting the business to the Holy See which arbitrated the disagreement with the profit of Thibault: the Knights would have to obtain Thibault's assent to validate their each new acquisition. This agreement was followed of no effect. The Queen Regent closed this business in 1255.

The Commanderie of Provins thus indicated in 1205, was consisted of the convents of the Val and the Madeleine. The administration was reduced by it to the essential one, only a Commander called "Master" managed the entirety of the field and finances. The monks placed under his orders were very few. The documents mention a chaplain or male nurse, a marshal, a receiver of the "tonlieu" of the city, a treasurer who had the guard of the keys and ensured the monitoring of the servants as well as a brother employed to the sale of the wines (it was apparently their commercial speciality). These monks could not wear the dresses and white coats reserved to the brothers combatant, but their costume were black or brown.


The inheritance of the Templiers of Provins was very diverse: grounds, houses, wood, serfs, "dîme", mills, revenues, rights and frankness. The field of the Commanderie was composed of grounds in north and in south of Provins, cultivated fields, vines, meadows: on the parish of Savigny, in Gimbrois, "Plessis-poil-de-chien", "Saint Martin des champs", "Rouilly", "Fleigny", "Saint Brice", "Clos Patel", "Poigny", "Hennepont", "Soudun", "Léchelle", "Villegruis", "Melz sur Seine", as well as wood for the heating and the masonry in the forests of "Jouy le Châtel" and "Soudun".
In Provins, it was owner: "rue Courloison" , "rue de Jouy" (streets), in the "cours aux chevaux", "rue Sainte-Croix", close to the "Palais des Contes", to "Fontaine-Riante", to "Grès", "rue des marais", "Porte de la Chaussée Sainte-Croix", close to the "
Moulin Moucine", in front of the old vices of the butchers, close to the "Buat", in the "Gatelerie", "rue de Changis", "Grand'rue de Provins", 'rue des Buzançois", in front of "Four des Raines", "rue aux Aulx", "rue d la Bretonnerie", these dwellings were often surrounded of orchards and meadows. During the last years of the Order, the Censier of Commanderie mentions more than 70 houses. 
Most important were the Temple opposite the gate of the church "Sainte-Croix" and the "Vicomté" on the "Grand'rue" with the corner of the "rue du Moulin de la ruelle".

In October 1307, on royal order of "Philippe le Bel" send secretly to the baillis, all Templiers from France were almost stopped the same day. Very little succeeded in fleeing.
The monks stopped in Provins were taken along to the Castle of Melun where all Templiers of the area were gathered . After their arrest, the prisoners underwent an interrogation where they discovered that they were shown of disavowal of Christ, spittles on the Cross, obscene kisses, sodomy and worship of an idol. They were tortured and they acknowledged... many brothers succumbed to their wounds, the lie bringing the safe life. They were then transferred to the "Temple de Paris" and were questioned in November.
The pope "Clement V" indignant by this enquiry made carry out a further enquiry. A full movement of retract broke. Clement V decided to personally hear some flexible witnesses chosen by the king, among them "Provinois": Simon Chrétien who had certainly the safe life.
In spite of that the lawsuit and tortures began again in July 1308, but the individuals and the Order last being distinctly judged.

The tower of the "Temple de Paris"

 Several of the Templiers from Provins were questioned separately in February 1310. They stated to want to avenge the Order for the Temple of calumny. They were at  the bishopric of Paris gardens among the 546 Templiers which offered to constitute a defence to the Order: since their arrest, all the brothers were deprived of sacraments, dispossessed of the religious habit and their goods and update the immorality of the average employees to obtain consents.
Under the influence of the king of France, a provincial council was convened in Paris. It decided that any retract would be regarded as a case more serious than the protest of innocence and would lead them to the sorrow of fire. In May, the council condemned to roughing-hew 54 Templiers being retracted. The majority of the brothers who had offered themselves to plead the cause of the Order gave up. The defence destroyed, an unfavourable report to Templiers was sent to the Council of Vienna. This one refused to condemn an Order which they had not heard defence. Calumniated, this religious order could not, from this moment, serve the cause any more of the Church without scandal.
The Pope removed from his own authority, conciliating the justice rights which did not yield to the requirements of "Philippe le Bel", in 1312. The majority of the goods was allotted to the Order of Hospital Saint-Jean of Jerusalem and not to the King of France, as this one would have wished. No document informs about the sudden by the last Templiers of Provins.

From the book: "Histoire et cartulaire des templiers de Provins" / Victor Carrière.- Marseille, Laffite reprints, 1978.

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Dernière modification : 09 August 2007