Knights Templar

Knights Templar in Czech Kingdom

Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia (Currently the Czech Republic)

 

Even though in the 12th and 13th century, fame of the Templar order by far exceeded all the other Orders, the Poor Soldiers of Christ came to Bohemia and Moravia later much later, at the beginning of the 30’s. Although the position of Knights Templar in medieval history of our country, operations of this ecclesiastic knightly Order in Bohemia and Moravia illustrates the view on its society and remains us of often unpredictable fates of both individuals and institutions.

 

The Middle Ages – 13th and 14th century

1231 CZ_Praha_Vavrinec (640x542)Knights Templar arrived in Bohemia and Moravia. Beginning of the reign of King Wenceslas I. (1230–1252). Formation of the first Templar Commandery called “Jerusalem” situated in Prague, the capital of the Czech Kingdom, where Knights of the Templar Order were given a monastery and a rotunda of St. Lawrence (927) later that year situated in the Old Town where Courtyard of St. Anna can be found now. The Commandery became known according to the name of the Rotunda as “Commandery of St. Lawrence” Bohemia was part of the Aleman-Slavic Grand Priory, Bohemian-Moravian-Austrian Grand Priory was formed later. The first commander of the Jerusalem Commandery was a nobleman Brother Petr Ostrewa de Duba (Petr Berka z Dubé).
1232 Reconstruction of the Rotunda into a Church began in the spirit of the Order traditions to resemble Jerusalem Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Knights Templar widened the Rotunda and built buildings for their Jerusalem Commandery nearby. The Templar residence in Prague is situated where there is a group of houses between the Church of St. James and Celetná street 589 today.
1241 Knights Templar participated in the Battle of Lehnice in South West Silesia that was fought between Silesian and Polish knights and Mongols on the other hand who dominated most of the Russian kingdoms and headed further West. The battle was held on May 9, 1241 and Christian armies were defeated. The duke of Krakau, Henry II, did not wait for his brother in law, the Czech King Wenceslas I, who was in hurry to help him with his army marching from the Czech lands, he took his smaller army and fought against Mongols alone which caused his defeat. The Czech troops did not have a chance to influence the Battle. However Wenceslas I managed to stop the enemy in Kladsko, prevent them from entering Bohemia and turn the enemy army to the South. Mongols went to Moravia where they depredated everything and joined Batu’s troops which were plundering Hungary.
LegnicaSix Brothers of the Order participated in the Battle, three Knights, two sergeants and five thousand vassals from the Order’s tenancies. The three surviving Knights of the
Temple gave their reports at the meeting of the Capitola in France. They informed that the enemy destroyed all that the Templar Order owned in Silesia and Moravia. The Grand Prior of the Templar Order for Bohemia, Hungary, Poland, Germany and Moravia did not participated in the meeting, because he was busy planning attack against the enemy.
1243 Knights Templar widen their influence in Moravia and acquire new tenancies.
1244 Brother Fridericus became the new Commander. The second Commanderie of the Order was built in a Moravian village Cejkovice near Hodonin.
1245 Knights Templar built monasteries in Prague at St. Guy’s.
1248 Oldřich of Spatheim donated four  farmhouses in Rakvice to the Commandery in Cejkovice.
1250 Templar Knights in Bohemia, Moravia, Germany and Silesia were granted a papal Bulla confirming their freedoms in Lehenice.
1251 Brother Jan became the Grand Prior of the Templar Order for Germany, Bohemia, Moravia and Poland.
1261 Fr_Widekind_1271Fr_Widekind_1279Brother Widekind became the Grand Prior of the Templar Order for Germany and Slavic lands (domorum militie Templi in Alemania et Slauia preceptor: preceptor per Germania et Slauiam). He remained his position until 1279.
1267 Construction of a group of houses at the end of Celetna street called Templ belonging to the Prague Jerusalem Commandery was finished.
1268 Templar Prior for Germany Bohemia and Moravia, Brother Jan, resided in Bohemia.
1269 Bishop Bruno of Schauenburk was solving a dispute between Templar Knights from Cejkovice and Cistercian monastery in Zdar concerning tithes from the village Vrbice. He decided in favour of Templar Order..
1276 Czech Templar Knights, Johanites and Teutonic knights are freed from their duty to pay tithes as aid for Holy Land by pope, because they pay with their own blood.
1279 Templar Knights from  Cejkovice were granted their claim for villages Horni Dubnany, Dukovany an Bohuslavice by Bishop Bruno of Schauenburk.
1280 Sometime after this year murder of Commander of Prague Jerusalem Commandery was commited. The slayer was Templar Sergeant Slavek who was severely bullied by the Commander. The Church spoke for Slavek with Templar Grand Prior and stated that he subdued to the punishments of the Order and repented his crime. Slavek thus escaped death penalty.
1281 Bishop Theodoricus of Olomouc confirmed Templar Knights from Jamolice Commandery charts concerning Horni Dubňany, Dukovany a Bohuslavice.
1288 Fredericus Silvestr became Prior of the Order for Germany and Slavic lands.
1290 Siegfried became Commander of Southern Moravia and sold a hereditary estate and two and a half acres of land in Svatoslav to Jan, abbot of the Benedictine monastery in Trebic with consent of a godly man, brother Ekko, witnessed by three Brothers – Brother Beghard, Gottfrid and Konrád of Černín.
1290 New Czech Templar Prior Bertold of Gepzenštein came to Bohemia. He was a favourite advisor of Czech King Wenceslas II.
1292 Lady Budiše of Loučka sells village Senstraz to Commander of Templar Order in Cejkovice, Brother Ekko for 150 talents of silver and lands them village Hrušky.
1292 Commander of Knights Templar in Cejkovice, Brother Ekko, defended orphan Siefried of Neitek as a witness in a dispute with Cistercian monastery in Velehrad. The dispute concerned a farmhouse and meadows and forests between the village Pritluky and the Castle Nejtek that were used without permission.
1292 Village Uhrineves near Prague was chosen as the second administrative residence of Bohemian Templar Order even though it consisted of only few houses at that time. It proved to be a strategic decision because a route to Prague led through Uhrineves and therefore this new Commandery was created in an important intersection. Today we know about Uhrineves Commandery thanks to well preserved Charter from 1292 when Czech King Wencesslas II ruled in Bohemia when this Order bought church in Stodulky from Marie Baroness of Hardeg, widow after Oldrich from Hradec. In the Charter, Uhrineves is mentioned as Hungari villa (Hungarian village). In those days, a residence of the Commandery was built by the Order in the village. It was shaped as a fortified manor. Templar Knights in Uhrineves were granted posting right for the church in Stodulky near Prague.
1294 Bertram of Ezbek was selected as a new Grand Prior for Germany, Bohemia, Poland and Moravia.
1294 Brother Ekko was Commander of the Prague Jerusalem Commandery (Ekko, magister domus S. Laurentii). In that year, he sold village Vodochody to Bishop Tobias for 200 talents of Silver. Brother Ekko also had power in Cejkovice and Uhrineves at that time.
1295 Grand Prior for Germany, Bohemia, Poland and Moravia – Bertram of Ezbek confirmed the sale of Vodochody.
1295 In a Charter of Jerusalem Commandery is mentioned frater Berthramus dictus Czwek, domorum militiae Templi per Almaniam, Schlaviam, Boemiam et Moraviam humilis preceptor and in the same year Ekko commendator in Schaykowichs et in Uhrinaves (in Cejkovice and Uhrineves) is mentioned again.
CZ_Ekko_pecetBrother Ekko used to sign „from Uhrineves and Cejkovice“ at that time. (His seal with the inscription S. Fratris Ekkonis from the year 1295 was preserved). Knights Templar built wide complex of basements and thus created a labyrinth several kilometres long. Today approximately 700 metres of those basements is still in use. Basements were constructed for a man riding a horse or a farm waggon from the very beginning.
1297 Oldrich of Hradec donated mansion Rudgerslag known also as Novy Dvur to Knights Templar. The act was witnessed by appointed Commander Ekko. Oldrich of Hradec was also honoured with honorary membership of the Templar Order. On the Charter confirming the donation there is among twelve witnesses signed Brother Bransod – Commander of the Templar Order in Jindrichuv Hradec (this is the only time that Commandery is mentioned). In that year, Brother Ekko is mentioned as Templar Prior for Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia and Austria already. The name of Brother Ekko appears in the archives of Templar ministry in Bohemia since 1290, after the arrival from the Holy Land where he served under the Grand Prior Bertram of Esbecke.
1297 Protiva of Doubravnice sold a smaller part of his village on both sides of the river Becva in Moravia to the Templar Order for 250 talents of silver. The bigger part was given to Brother Ekko who was Templar Prior for Bohemia, Moravia and Austria.
Brother Ekko’s operations can be rightfully seen as the peak of Templar activities in the territory of Bohemia and Moravia. Commander Ekko was a nobleman therefore it eas easy for him to reach a good position within the Order quickly. In four years he became a master over the properties of the Order in Moravian and Bohemia, in seven years he became a representative of the entire region consisting of Bohemia, Moravia and a part of Silesia and of properties in Austria. As a representative of the Order and a skilled diplomat, he often spent time at the court of Czech kings – Wenceslas I and
Wenceslas II as well as at the ducal court in Vienna. After the death of the last king of the Premysl dynasty, he became a supporter of Jindřich Korutansky. When he did not succeed, Knights Templar supported Jan Lucembursky who ruled since 1310 to 1346 and was crowned in 1311.
Life of Brother Ekko, who was a Commander at first and subsequently a representative of the entire province, is very interesting and it can be said that he made a deep imprint in the Czech history. During his operations in Bohemia and Moravia, the Order gained many new properties. One of the directions of this property expansion was Vsetinsko, where the Order acquired large holdings of land and participated in colonisation of those properties.  Part of this land was donated to the Order, part of it was bought for 250 talents of silver. Knights Templar built, among other buildings, castle Freudenberg. It is possible that the fifth Commandery of the Order was supposed to be established there.
1298 Eberhard of Steindorf with his wife sold 4,5 acre of vineyards in Dobrinsko (Znojmo) to Brother Theodorik of the Templar Order, his brother Ingram of Steindorf sold nine vineyards in Petrovice to the Order and two of their brothers Abel and Wyzemitas gave 10,5 acres of vineyards, six farmhouses, half of the forest and meadows in Dobrinsko, nine vineyards in Petrovice and a vilkage Vysoke Popovice to the Order when they became members. Witness to that was Moravian a majordomus from Veveri, Matojs of Cerna Hora.
1302 Reconciliation between Templar for Bohemia, Moravia and Austria, Prior Brother Ekko, and Abbot of Scottish Benedictines Vilem. The dispute concerned a year salary of 48 Vienna Denars from the mansion Domvogthof in Vienna.  Brother Siegfrid, Templar Commander from Brno, is signed as a witness.
1303 Two Brothers Templar are mentioned as witnesses to the last will and testament of Lord Bosko of Hodice in Jihlava, Brothers Abel and Pertold from the House of the cross in Templestain.
1308 Political and Financial prudence and foresight of Brother Ekko was illustrated by the rent of the Vsetin properties to a nobleman Vok of Kravare for 31 years. This act took place in 1308 when all the representatives of the order were already arrested in France, including most of the members, and in Bohemia wild debates about the succession after kings Wenceslas III died. Ekko seemed to hope that the Order will be able to regain back the properties that they were unable to secure at the moment when the situation stabilises.
1309 This year signifies the last written document mentioning Brother Ekko, subsequently he and other members of the Order vanished without a trace.
1312 Message about the abolition of the Order by the Vienna Council May 2, 1312 was brought to Bohemia by Bishop Jan IV of Dražice. Later he supposedly helped Knights Templar in our country enter the Order of St. John with all their properties without any problems even though Templar regulations did not allow such a thing.
1313 Bertold of Henneberk, Prior of the Order of St. John in Bohemia, Moravia, Poland and Austria sold the Templar mansion and the Church of St. Lawrence in Prague to nuns from the Order of St. Dominic and St. Anna under Petrin for 130 threescore.

Because of the ban from the Church, Templar Commanderies were closed also in Bohemia in 1312. Brothers from the Order therefor remained alone, nevertheless some of them joined the Order of St. John. This did not mean a permanent end of Templar Knights in Bohemia, the history of Bohemian Templar Order continued in a close connection to France.

 

Continuance of the Order in France

1314 Grand Master of the Order Jacques de Molay and Prior of the Order Geoffrey de Charney were burned at a stake in Paris at Île de la Cité in the shadow of the Parisian Church of Notre–Dame. Ecclesiastic Templar Order practically vanished.
1314 The Order became illegal. Secret meetings of the remaining representatives of the Order signified a hidden functioning of the Order.
French King did not realise the consequences of arresting Templar Knights in his country at first. Templar Order was the most prestigious and the most powerful knightly Order of the world in that time. Many important noble families lived in France and for them it was an honour to have their representatives in this Order. During the arrest of Knights Templar also thirty members of most powerful French Princely families and French King thus completely antagonised his aristocracy. Members of those families were soon released from prison, nevertheless they were not willing to accept the disgracing and dishonouring of the Order.
1314 A new Grand Master of the Order was selected after the death of the Grand Master Jacques de Molay and Prior of the Order Geoffrey de Charney in Cyprus, his name was Jean-Marc Larménius from Jerusalem.
1314 – 1705 Templar Order functioned secretly in France.
1705 Functioning and Operating of Knights Templar in France was allowed by Filip II duke of Orleans, known also as duke of Valois, Montpensier, Nemours and Joinville,  earl of Beaujolais and French pair. He confirmed the Order as secular and granted their by-laws. The Order became official in April 11, 1705 under the name „Ordre du Temple“. Next functioning of the Order was influenced by the French History, for example arrival of Catholic Stuart noble family to France (initiated by English protestants) or French Revolution and Napoleon.
1838 In May 29, 1838 regency of the order is given to a Catholic Earl of Moréton and the Council of the Order named a new Executive Board which confirms a new charter that renew some of the Knightly traditions and also Catholic constituency of the Order.
1841 It was decided that Christian believers of all denominations can join the Order in February 11, 1841 in Paris. Official religion, however, still remains Roman Catholic.
1848 French Constitutional Assembly stopped the operations of all the Orders in July 28, 1848.
1850 With the new political change – second realm of Napoleon III in 1850, this ban is cancelled.
1853 Emperor officially allowed „Ordre du Temple“ to publicly wear insignia of the Order by a decree from June 13, 1835.

 

Czech lands 1848

1848 – 1849 Quotation from the newspapers “Austrian government made precautions against the protestant movement that arose in Bohemia. Protestant movement spread through the Austrian empire. Influenced by Lajos Kossutha (19. 9. 1802 Monok – 20. 3. 1894 Turin), who was the most prominent representative of the Hungarian revolution and fight for freedom and independence, 848 – 1849 and who attracted large audience wherever he preached, those highly talented and skilled priests left the Roman Catholic community in Bohemia:

  1. in 1848 Walther, Templar Order 
  2. in 1849 Smetana, doctor of philosophy, same Order as above 
  3. in 1849 Michel, Piaristic priest 
  4. in 1849 Barbeck, same Order as above
  5. in 1849 Kašpar, same Order as above
  6. in 1849 Šrámek, secular priest
  7. in 1849 Worliczek, Templar Order 
  8. in 1849 Hromadrick, same Order as above
  9. in  1849 Kleszor, Premonstrian Order
  10. in 1849 Nowolny, Doctor of Theology, Secular Priest
  11. In 1849 Fliczek, Secular Priest.

This describes the state of clergy of that era.”

[Bulletin of Evangelical Christianity]

From the article quoted above, it is obvious that the Templar Order called „Ordre du Temple“ spread in Czech Kingdom again after the year 1705. Czech Kingdom was a part of the Austrian Empire in 18. and 19. century. It is assumed that the Commandery that surely had to operate there before the year 1848 perished under the pressure of the political and social happenings of 1848-1853 in France and Austria.

 

Presence

2005 Two members of the Grand Capitula of the Knightly Order „Ordo Militaris Teutonicus Levantis“ (Petr Vojtíšek Prince von Hahn – secretary of the Order and Svatopluk Prince of Haugwitz – marshal of the Order) have decided to find the true lineage of the Templar Order and to bring the Order back to Bohemia.
2009 Cross_108x105Two knights mentioned above succeeded. The only historically legitimate branch of the Templar Order are Scottish Knights Templar (Militi Templi Scotiae, now Scottish Knights Templar) The Autonomous Grand Priory of Scotland (more on history of the Templar Order in Scotland).
2012 Thanks to the support of friends and with the consent of the Grand Master of the Order SE. Chev. George Stewart KGCTpl. Commandery for Central and Eastern Europe was established in Bohemia in 2012.

Temlarsky-Erb-CZ-pruhledny-maly

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