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Prof Helen Nicholson 


The Trial of the Templars in the British Isles - The proceedings of the trial of the Templars in the British Isles, 1308-1311, contain a wealth of information about national and international mobility of lay religious, religious beliefs among the lay population, and the activities of the mendicant orders in the British Isles in the early fourteenth century. Although some of the manuscripts have been edited in full, others have not; and those editions which exist are not all easy of access. Scholars have not compared the various manuscripts to produce an overall picture of the trial.

The objective of this project is to make these extensive resources readily available to scholars and, by providing a translation, more accessible to the wider research community. In addition, by comparing these sources and analysing the data that they contain, the project will advance historical knowledge of the internal workings of the Order of the Temple, and of ecclesiastical inquisitorial procedures.

Funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship, this project has a value of £ 27,658.79.

The Knights Templars’ English estates, 1308-1311 - The Templars’ English estates were inventoried at the time of the Templars’ arrests early in January 1308. From that time until the dissolution of the Order in England in July 1311, the estates were administered by royal keepers. Full records were taken and are preserved in the National Archives (TNA). These records have hardly been studied by scholars. They offer a unique opportunity to study how a non-noble institution exploited its landed property and how it related with its local community, at a time when English landowners were just beginning to run their estates indirectly, employing skilled bailiffs, rather than directly.

This project aims to answer a number of questions, including:

  • What property did the Templars in England and Wales hold in January 1308? Is it possible to establish (e.g. through the Inquisitiones post Mortem or the Hundred Rolls) what this property was worth in earlier years? Is it possible to discover what it was worth in future years (e.g. in 1324, 1338, or in later Inquisitiones post Mortem)?
  • Whom did the Templars employ on their estates, on what terms?
  • How was their property exploited/ developed between 1308-11, when the Order was dissolved in England?
  • What did they produce (such as wool, beef, cider, fish, coal)?
  • What were their relations with local communities?
  • To what extent were they dependent on local bailiffs to run their estates? Is it possible to deduce anything of the skills of such bailiffs?
  • Did the form of the documents recording this information vary from one locality to the next? Were they audited?

The Hospitallers in the British Isles in the Fourteenth Century - This project investigates the role of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in England in the 14th century, and attitudes towards it. This builds on my previous research into attitudes towards the Military Religious Orders in the Middle Ages, and my current research into the Order of the Temple in the early fourteenth century. Much research is being done on the Hospital of St John in the fourteenth century, but the Order in the British Isles has been largely overlooked.

Questions include: how did the trial and destruction of the Order of the Temple in 1312 affect attitudes towards its sister order, the Hospital? How far did the Hospital replace the Temple in its various functions, from its role in royal administration to its roles in the local community? What was the state of the Templars’ estates by the time that the Hospital was able to acquire them – how far had their economic value declined?

At the time of the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381, the Prior of the Hospital in England was royal treasurer. He was executed by the rebels and the Order’s lands in Essex and Kent were devastated. Some writers have supposed that opposition to the Hospital in 1381 can be traced back to the trial of the Temple of 1307-12. By tracing the changing role and activities of the Order and attitudes towards it I am attempting to put these events into context in the history of the Order as well as clarifying their true political context.

Research Blog

As my research on the Knights Templars’ estates in England and Wales develops, I am developing a blog which explores my latest research findings. You can follow the blog here:

Research Group

The Cardiff Centre for the Study of the History of the Crusades - The Cardiff Centre for the Crusades was established in 2000 to encourage and develop Cardiff as a focus for research collaboration, conferences and publications in the field of crusading history. The Centre’s interests embrace the history and ideology of the crusading movement, the history and archaeology of the lands conquered by the crusaders, the impact of the crusades on those lands and peoples against which expeditions were directed and from which expeditions were launched, and the history of the Military Orders. All theatres of crusading activity and any crusade from the end of the eleventh century onwards are included.

The Cardiff Centre for Medieval Studies - The Centre for the Study of Medieval Society and Culture is interdisciplinary in approach, bringing together medievalists from a variety of subject areas within the University who wish to co-operate in research and in teaching at graduate level. The Centre runs BA and MA courses in Medieval British Studies, organises seminars, conferences, and workshops, sponsors publications, recruits doctoral students, and brings scholars to the University from overseas. In addition, the Centre organises intellectual and social events for medievalists in the region, enhances resources, and generally promotes the interests of medieval studies at Cardiff University.