Scotlands History

Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller

A monastic military order is a religious group set up to defend the Christian faith by force of arms. The most famous monastic military orders are the Knights Templars and the Knights Hospitaller which were both founded in Jerusalem c.1119AD.

Military orders combined training for battle with religious devotion. The responsibility for defending the pilgrim routes fell to the monasteries so the military orders were created.

In Scotland, King David I gave land to the Knights Templars and the Knights Hospitaller. The Hospitallers were invited to Scotland by David I in 1132. They were granted a charter to build a headquarters - a ‘Preceptory’ - at Torphichen c.1140. David granted the Templars ‘the manor and chapelry of Balantradoch’ (now the Midlothian village of Temple) in 1153.

According to Aelred, Master of the Household in David I’s court and later Abbot of Rievaulx, King David I:

...entrusted himself entirely to the guidance of religious [monks], retaining beside him the most noble brethren of the distinguished military order of the Temple of Jerusalem, he made them both by day and night custodians of his morals.

The Templars were arrested in 1307. Their buildings and wealth was seized. In Scotland the Templars were brought to trial at Holyrood in 1309. When the order was finally dissolved the Templars’ land and properties were given to the Knights Hospitaller.

  • Medieval illustration of two armoured knights on horseback

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