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The Military Orders - 20 credits (HST908)

The leading Military Orders were the Templars, Hospitallers and Teutonic Knights. These were religious orders set up in the 12th century to defend the Christian pilgrim routes and holy sites in Palestine. They rapidly acquired property all over Europe and became influential in royal courts and at the papal curia, as well as being leading bankers and shippers. This course not only studies the Military Orders' role in crusades, but also examines their activity in Europe, from which they drew money, supplies and personnel for their wars in the East. It begins by examining the origins of the controversial concept of the 'monk-knight' in the development of the ideals of knighthood, holy war and monasticism. It goes on to follow the Orders' career in crusades in the Middle East, the Baltic and Spain, and their economic activities, literature and relations with rulers.  The course includes a study of the infamous trial of the Templars, in which the brothers of the most famous Military Order were tried for heresy. Depending on the students’ previous knowledge, the course may be extended to examine the Military Orders’ activities for the whole medieval period until the Reformation, or may be limited to the period 1100-1320. A wide variety of source material will be examined, including chronicles, charters, fictional literature, art and archaeology. As appropriate, and depending on previous language qualifications, candidates may study medieval Latin alongside this course and will be encouraged to read sources in the original languages. There will be the opportunity to learn some paleographical skills.