Sybil, Queen of Jerusalem

A few months late: but as the Conference for the Society for the Study of the Crusades and the Latin East takes place next week, I should mention that my study of Queen Sybil of Jerusalem (queen 1186-92) was published by Routledge in March this year in its series ‘Rulers of the Latin East’. Details here:

Here’s the blurb:

Queen Sybil of Jerusalem, queen in her own right, was ruler of the kingdom of Jerusalem from 1186 to 1190. Her reign saw the loss of the city of Jerusalem to Saladin, and the beginning of the Third Crusade. Her reign began with her nobles divided and crisis looming; by her death the military forces of Christian Europe were uniting with her and her husband, intent on recovering what had been lost. Sybil died before the bulk of the forces of the Third Crusade could arrive in the kingdom, and the Crusade did not recover Jerusalem. But although Sybil failed, she went down fighting – spiritually, even if not physically.

This study traces Sybil’s life, from her childhood as the daughter of the heir to the throne of Jerusalem to her death in the crusading force outside the city of Acre. It sets her career alongside that of other European queens and noblewomen of the twelfth century who wielded or attempted to wield power and ask how far the eventual survival of the kingdom of Jerusalem in 1192 was due to Sybil’s leadership in 1187 and her determination never to give up.

Don’t look at the price! The e-book is cheaper … but still expensive.

Copies of Sybil, Queen of Jerusalem
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Past Imperfect

About a year ago, ARC Humanities Press published a short book on the Knights Templar in their ‘Past Imperfect’ series. The series ‘presents concise critical overviews of the latest research by the world’s leading scholars’. It was an honour to be asked to contribute to the series. Regrettably publication was delayed by the Covid-19 restrictions, but here is the book:

And there’s a lovely review of it here, by Dr Nicholas Morton of Nottingham Trent University:

But don’t try buying it from they’ve mixed it up with my earlier books on the Knights Templar, so if you order it from them they might send you the wrong book.

Cover of The Knights Templar, by Helen J. Nicholson
Cover of The Knights Templar, published in ARC Humanities Press’s Past Imperfect Series.

Update 23.06.22: I’ve contacted Amazon via the ‘author’ page and they’ve sorted out the mix up on the page, although may still be a problem for other countries.

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Road Collision Investigation Branch

Road safety: something we should all pay more attention to, perhaps?

Official Gawain Blog

I fell over this by accident:

You may be a better-informed reader and have already seen it.

Effectively, the Government has noticed that road traffic collisions tend to go uninvestigated except in so far as required for criminal prosecutions, insurance payouts and negligence actions. This creates a rather piecemeal approach that will endeavour to allocate blame (not always very successfully) without considering road safety in the round.

In some cases collisions are made more likely by features of the road. Here’s an example. From this dubious drawing it may look like a standard signal-controlled T-junction.

Who has to stop at the red lights on the far right then?

Now it looks tidy until you discover that the pelican on the right that controls traffic vanishing off down East Road is semi-synchronised with the main junction. It will never show red unless the main set of traffic lights for traffic…

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The Templar Estates in Lincolnshire: new book by Dr Mike Jefferson

It was a great honour to examine the brilliant doctoral thesis which has now been transformed into this book. If you are studying the Templars’ estates, their operations in Europe, their logistics, or studying the economic history of medieval Europe, do read this book!

As well as sorting out what properties the Templars held in Lincolnshire, Mike Jefferson looks at what they produced on their farms, who worked there and what they did, and what became of these properties after the Templars were dissolved. He also includes analytical tables setting out his data, so readers can check how he’s reached his conclusions and do some analysis of their own.

Front cover of Mike Jefferson's new book 'The Templar Estates in Lincolnshire' (Boydell Press, 2020)

Available directly from the publisher at: or from Amazon.

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The Proceedings Against the Templars in the British Isles at knock-down price

If you want a copy of my Proceedings Against the Templars in the British Isles but can’t afford it, the volumes are currently available from Postscript books at £30 the pair:

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Lockdown Extension Day 12

The immortal Ferret Song.

Official Gawain Blog

The lupins are growing. (Well, one of them is growing. The other has been eaten by something. Seems slugs don’t get coronaviruses.)

Garden 12 JPG

The garden has been seeing some work today after I went along to the local hardware store for some essential solvent adhesive (I go through rather a lot of the stuff when bored and a bit depressed and in need of something to do that will cheer me up). While there I picked up some bulbs for the garden. It then turned out they didn’t have the right sort of solvent adhesive for my purposes. Fortunately I managed to find some at the newsagents’ instead. (I’d gone in there for a magazine, which it turned out they hadn’t got in stock. Anyone would think the world had ended.)

Time now for a song, and who should be singing it for us but John Cleese? Here he is, accompanied…

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Lockdown Extension Day 2

If you’ve never read James Thurber’s Thirteen Clocks, this may persuade you that you have missed something worth chasing up:

Official Gawain Blog

Still here, and the garden’s still growing. (It’s full of laundry today – a bonus of being stuck at home all day with little else to do is that I save money on the tumbledryer).

The forsythia is busy getting rid of its flowers, so welcome at the end of February as a sign that Spring was nearly here and I should start plotting longer walks, and is layering up with bright green leaves instead. A scruffy plant, but a keen one, and one that will be keeping me busy managing its enthusiasm. (At least sideways. It’s too tall to prune the waving fronds that stretch for the blue sky above.)

Garden 02 JPG

Today’s reading comes from The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber. The Golux is talking to a wandering (and wondering) minstrel:

“Not so fast,” the Golux said. “Half the places I have been to, never were. I make things up…

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Why the UK Coronavirus Lockdown should be lifted on Monday

This is important: read it!

PS: if you are in the UK and you agree with Gawain, write to your MP about this. Your member of Parliament needs to know your views.

Official Gawain Blog

Readers who have had the good fortune to have been living in a cave in Patagonia will not have heard of the coronavirus Covid-19, and it is highly recommended that for the sake of their sanity they return to their cave immediately. Or at least turn off their internet before trying to go any further.

Nearly three weeks ago the Prime Minister imposed a blanket lockdown on the country which permitted leaving the house for:

  • essential supplies (not defined);
  • medicine (not defined);
  • daily exercise of walking, cycling or running (not further defined);
  • work that cannot be done from home (relevance of this work not defined).

The Prime Minister then went and stood within about a foot of his medical professionals repeatedly, while telling the population that they must not see friends or family or go within 2 metres of a human being that they do not live with, and proceeded…

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The Trial of the Templars in Germany

Raynouard Monumens title page trimmedAs I’ve been asked about this, I thought it might be useful to readers of this blog to have a translation of the study by F. J. M. Raynouard, who (so far as I know) was the last scholar to study the manuscripts of the proceedings of the Templars’ trial in Germany before they were lost. What follows is from: François Juste Marie Raynouard, Monumens Historiques, Rélatifs À La Condamnation Des Chevaliers Du Temple (Paris: Adrien Égron, 1813), pp. 124–27, 268–70
From the edition online at

(After discussing the trial in France, Raynouard moves on to Italy, and then Germany:)

[p. 124] In Germany, a council had been assembled at Mayence/Mainz, to pronounce on the fate of the Templars.
While the council was occupied with this business, suddenly the commander Hugues Sauvage presents himself, accompanied by twenty knights, all in arms and in the habits of the Order; they enter the assembly; the fathers are in astonishment and fear; the archbishop [p. 125] who was presiding politely orders the commander to seat himself, and to explain what he desires.
The commander replies, with a firm and tranquil voice:
“These knights and I, we have learned [p. 126] that, by commission of the Roman Pontif, this synod has assembled to abolish our Order. We are accused, it’s said, of horrible crimes and of vices which would even dishonour the pagans; it would be too painful for us, it would even be unbearable for us, to state them in public; but what we complain about above all is that the Knights are to be condemned without being either heard or convicted. We declare to this assembly that we will appeal to the future pope and his Church. We attest loudly that those of our Order who have been condemned to the flames, on the pretext of such crimes, have constantly denied them, without exception and have suffered torture and death while persisting in their denials.” [Raynouard notes at the bottom of p. 126: ‘He finishes his discourse with these words: “An extraordinary miracle manifested the judgement of God in their favour: the fire which consumed them spared their white habits and their red crosses”. This assertion is bizarre; but at the very least it stems from a spirit convinced of the victims’ innocence.’]
The archbishop admitted this protestation, promising to act on their behalf with the pope to ensure that they would not be disturbed, and sent them away; [p. 127] afterwards he received a new commission from the pope and he proceeded anew.
[note 1, p. 124, gives the Latin source for this, which also tells us that the archbishop’s second commission found them innocent: Comparuit autem in synodo, quemadmodum refert manuscriptus liber, Hugo Comes Silvestris et Rheni, qui morabatur in Grumback prope Meysenheim, cum viginti fratribus sub habitu Ordinis, probe armatis.
Hi omnes non quidem vocati, sed ultro et subito in concessum patrum irrumpunt, omnibus attonitis; archiepiscopus viros considerans ac violentiam timens, placide jubet commendatory ut sedeat; et si quid habeat in medium ad ferendum, ut depromat. [p. 125]. Qui clara et libera voce exorsus, se suosque confratres inquit intellexisse, hanc synodum sui Ordinis delendi gratia potissimum congregatam ex commissione Romani pontifices. Enormia enim quaedam scelera, et plusquam ethnica flagitia illis objecta, quae in privato designarent, quod ipsis sane esset gravissimum et intolerabile; maxime quod non ordinarie auditi, nec convicti condemnarentur.
Quare coram ista partum congregatione se appellare et provocare ad futurum pontificem ejusque universum clerum, publice quoque protestari, eos qui propter talia flagitia alibi igni traditi essent et combusti, constanter pernegasse, sed (nec) quidquam eorum designasse, atque in ea confessione tormenta et mortem perpessos, immo Dei optimi maximi singulari judicio et miraculo, eorum innocentiam comprobatam, quod albae chlamides, ac rubricatae cruces igni non potuerunt absumi.
Archepiscopus, his auditis, ne tumultus suboriretur, protestationem eorum admisit, seque cum romano pontifice, acturum respondit, ut quieti esse possint. Atque ita ad propria sunt dimissi.
Postea vero Petrus aliam commisionem obtinuit; juxta quam procedens, praedictos censuit absolvendos. Serarius, Hist. Preti. Archiep.]
[p. 127: main text continues] Forty-nine witnesses appeared [at Mainz], of which thirty-eight were Templars and the others strangers to the Order, and commendable by the rank that they held in the world or in the Church. All equally testified to the innocence of the Order, and the council pronounced in favour of the accused.
[note 1 on p. 127: Inquisitio facta Moguntiae per Dominos archiepiscopum Moguntiae et Robertum, decanum ecclesiae Sti Servarii ……. inquisitores a sede apostolica deputatos contra ordinem et magnum magistrum seu preceptorem Allamanniae Militiae Templi. Arch. Du Vatican.]
The information taken at Trèves (Trier) also justified the Order and the Knights. Of sixteen witnesses who comprised this, only three were Templars.
[note 2 on p. 127: Inquisitio facta in diocesi Treverensi per Dominum Treverensem archiepiscopum et Dominum Robertum, decanum ecclesiae Sti-Servarii contra Ordinem Militiae Templi et magnum preceptorem regni Allamanniae. Arch du Vatican.
These two unpublished pieces have been known by a historian who has already cited them. M.S. Vatic, sig., no. 92, ex inferior arch. pal. Aven. Romam perlatum.
Judiciariaque acta edita Moguntiae hoc anno atque in memorato archeo palatii avenionensis reperta consignata [p. 128] no. 68, referunt, quadraginta novem testes adductos nil adversos Templariorum Ordinem de sceleribus ipsis impositis respondisse.
Alterius pariter judiciariae actionis tabulae in Trevirensi archiepiscopatu confectae transmissaeque ad Clementem narrant septemdecim testes interrogatos de flagitiis Templariorum nullum confessos. Odericus Raynaldus, Annales Ecclesiasticae, 1310.]

pp. 268–70
Chapter 4: Germany
1. Information produced by the Archbishop of Mayence (Mainz).
This information is composed from forty-nine witnesses.
1) Thirty-seven Templars testify in favour of the Order.
The fifteenth, Fleury de Dulguan, received [into the Order] nine years ago, attests that having travelled overseas, having gone to Paris and several other places, he has never seen anything or learned anything about the horrible errors which were brought against the Order. (Note 1, p. 268, gives the original Latin: Quod ix anni sunt elapse vel circiter quod fuit receptus in ordine et quod fuit ultra mare, Parisiis et in pluribus aliis locis, tanquam frater dicti Ordinis, nec unquam aliquid de horrendis erroribus percipere potuit vel audire.)
The sixteenth, Alberic de Vendenge, received twenty-eight years ago, having passed twelve years overseas, and having been present at Chapter meetings, both overseas and at [p. 269] Paris and in many other countries, makes the same declaration. (note 1 on p. 269: xii anni vel circiter stetisset ultra mare tanquam Frater Ordinis Templi et interfuisset capitulis Fratrum tam ibidem quam Parisiis et in aliis multis locis, et dicit se fuisse in Ordine xxviii annis vel circiter, nec aliquid de horrendis defectibus in articulis contentis scire vel percipere potuit quoquo modo.)
Count Frederick, thirty-third witness, master preceptor of the Temple in the parts of the Rhine, has passed, he says, more than twelve years overseas; and he expresses himself like the preceding witnesses. Champion of the Order’s innocence, he offers to undergo the Ordeal and to carry the hot iron.
In the East, this witness has for a long time lived with the grand master, whose official assistant [socius] he was; having returned with him, he has always held him and still holds him to be a good Christian, as good as a person may be. (note 2 on p. 269: Licet fuerit in partibus ultra marinis xii annis et amplius tanquam Frater dicti Ordinis, nunquam tamen aliquid de horrendis erroribus scivit, audivit vel intellexit.
Et super hoc paratus esset experientiam subire et ferrum ardens portare.
Conversatus fuit cum magno magistro Ordinis ultra mare et fuit socius suus et cum ipso reversus fuit de partibus ultra marinis, et tunc tenuit et adhuc tenet eum pro bono christiano, si aliquis bonus christianus esse possit.)
2) The twelve others, among whom were three counts and other persons of distinguished rank, testify equally in favour of the Order.
[p. 270] The fortieth witness, Jean, arch-priest, expresses himself thus:
“I remember one year when there was a great scarcity of grain: the measure which commonly sold for ten sous and less, sold for thirty-three, in these times of scarcity; as long as it lasted, the house of the Templars of Masteire fed each day a thousand people or hardly less.”
[Note 1 on p. 270: Recolit quod magna fuit carestia bladi videlicet quod mensura bladi qui communi estimatione vendi solet pro x solidis vel infra, vendebatur xxxiii, et illo tempore mille vel paulo pauciores pauperes reficiebatur singulis diebus in domo predicta (de Mostaire) dicta carestia durante.]

2. Information produced by the Archbishop of Treves (Trier).
This comprises seventeen witnesses, only three of whom are Templars. All testify in favour of the Order.

* * *

Comments by the translator: Raynouard’s analysis is not necessarily accurate. For example, on p. 200 he refers to the ‘grand prior’ of the Templars of Scotland (Écosse), ‘Henri de la Moore’. No such person was mentioned during the proceedings against the Templars in Scotland, or in the whole of Britain and Ireland (see my edition, translation and analysis, The Proceedings against the Templars in the British Isles, 2 vols, Farnham: Ashgate, 2011). Is ‘Henry de la Moore’ a confusion of Henry Danet, commander in Ireland, and William de la More, grand commander of England & Wales? Incidentally, ‘grand prior’ was a title of the Hospitallers’ provincial commander – not the Templars’. If Raynouard was exaggerating the importance of Scotland within the Templar order for the benefit of the Freemasons, perhaps he also did the same for Germany.
Where the full records of proceedings have survived, it is possible to judge how far Raynouard has reduced them. In his summary of the proceedings in England, Ireland and Scotland, pp. 259–63, he reduced over seventy hostile witness-statements set out in the English proceedings to just over two pages, a third of which is given over to the testimony of Agnes Louekete, which is not representative of the rest. Under Ireland (p. 263) he states that none of the Templars in Ireland had sworn the vows demanded, but does not mention that Brothers Henry Danet and William Kilros did give damaging evidence against the Order, and some of the hostile evidence mentioned names and specific instances. Under Scotland (p. 263) he again states that the evidence against the Order was ‘insignificant’, but as some of it was included in the hostile witness-statements assembled in England the inquisitors clearly did not agree with him. All of this suggests that in his determination to present the Templars as innocent, he understated the hostile witness-statements against them.

If any reader of this blog knows the whereabouts of the manuscripts of the German proceedings against the Templars, do let the rest of us know!


Malcolm Barber sets out the evidence for the trial of the Templars in Germany in his The Trial of the Templars, 2nd edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 250-252. His sources are Raynouard’s account (as set out above) and the proceedings of the council of Mainz published by G. D. Mansi in Sacrorum conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio, vol. 25 (Venice, 1782), pp. 297-98. He also states that ‘Hugues Sauvage’ was Hugh of Salm, Templar preceptor of Grumbach.

New publication!

Jochen Burgtorf has just published an article, ‘The Trial of the Templars in Germany’, pp. 234-48 of The Templars: The Rise, Fall and Legacy of a Military Religious Order, ed. Jochen Burgtorf, Shlomo Lotan, and Enric Mallorquí-Ruscalleda (London: Routledge, ISBN 9781138650626), Find the book online here:

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‘New’ manuscript of the Templars’ trial in England

In vol. 1, p. xxix of my edition of the Proceedings against the Templars in the British Isles (2011) I wrote that the only manuscripts of the testimonies from the trial of the Templars in Britain and Ireland were Oxford, Bodleian Library MS 454, London, British Library MS Julius B xii fols 67-82, and Additional MS 5444 (copy of Otho B iii), and Vatican, Archivio secreto Vaticano, Armarium XXXV, 147. I noted, however, that there might be others as some testimonies are missing.

The missing testimonies haven’t yet come to light, but another manuscript does exist. Early in 2017 a French scholar of classical literature, Marie-Lise Tosi, wrote to me that the Bibliothèque nationale MS Lat 5376, fols 33-40, includes an extract from the English proceedings against the Templars.

BN MS Lat 5376 fol. 33r

Paris, Bib. Nat. MS Lat. 5376 fol. 33r

Folios 33 and 40 of the MS Lat. 5376 correspond to Oxford: Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 454 fols 88v–90r and London: British Library, Cotton MS Julius B xii fol. 77r–v; folios 34 to 39 correspond to MS Bodley 454 fols 74r–81r. The corresponding sections in my edition of these documents are Proceedings Against the Templars in the British Isles, vol. 1, pp. 141–158, 173–178 (pp. 138–156, 176–82 of my translation in vol. 2).

The testimonies on fols 34–39 of MS Lat. 5376 relate to the twenty-five additional charges investigating the Templars’ organisational structure, while those on fols 33 and 40 deal with the remission and absolution of sins in Chapter meetings.

For the text in folios 33 and 40, there are remarkably few differences between the various manuscripts. Where the text on folios 33 and 40 differs from MS Bodley 454 fols 88v–90r it is usually the same as Cotton MS Julius B xii fol. 77, but there is an additional ‘Actum’ statement on fol. 33v (just after the testimony of Brother Radulphus de Barton) reading: “Actu’ in prioratu sce Trinitatis Lond’ vj ydus Junij presentibus domino Sicardo de Vauro + Pontio de Curte not[ario]” and another ‘Actum’ statement on 40r gives more information than the equivalent statement in MS Bod. 454 fol. 89r, as a second scribal hand added details of who was present at this hearing of 8 June 1310: “Actu’ in prioratu trinitatis Lond’ vj ydus junij Presentibus domino Episcopo London’ \prior’ dicti loci/ et Adam de lindeseye not[ario] publico lond’.”

There are more differences between the texts on folios 34–39 and MS Bodley 454. The introductions to each testimony are different, although the meaning amounts to the same. MS Bodley 454 includes the opening words of each ‘article’ (or charge), which MS Lat. 5376 does not. ‘Raimundo de Monte Alto monacho’ appears more frequently in the ‘Actum’ statements in MS Lat. 5376 – the equivalent points in MS Bodley 454 are the ‘Act’ statements on fol. 74 and on fol. 78v. The testimony of John of Sutton is in a different place in each manuscript: in MS Lat. 5376 fol. 39r his testimony is at the end of a group of four testimonies, after Brother Thomas de Camera, just before the statement ‘Acta in ecclesia Sancti Botulphi extra Alegate’, while in MS Bodley 454 it occurs at the start of this group of four testimonies, on fol. 78v, just after the ‘Acta in ecclesia Sancti Botulphi extra portam Episcopi London’. In MS Lat. 5376 John of Sutton states that he is not willing stare spontaneis confessionibus et depositionibus of the Templars (to stand by the Templars’ spontaneous confessions and depositions), whereas in MS Bodley 454 fol. 79r he was willing to do this.

Although there is very little difference between the testimonies in MS Lat. 5376 and those I published in the Proceedings Against the Templars in the British Isles, this additional manuscript is important evidence for the procedures adopted during the proceedings against the Templars, and how the testimonies were recorded.

Perhaps these English testimonies were sent to the inquisitors in France by the papal inquisitors in England, as part of the latters’ attempts to assemble a case against the Templars in England. The rest of MS Lat. 5376 suggests a different purpose, however. Folios 41r-64v of BN MS Lat. 5376 contain a series of notes, which form concordances of the Templar testimonies from Florence, Cyprus and France. These could have been created by the papal commissioners as they assembled consolidated reports of the evidence they had gathered from the proceedings against the Templars in different countries, in preparation for the Council of Vienne, which would decide the Templars’ fate.

Vatican, Archivio Segreto Vaticano Armarium XXXV, 147 is a consolidated report on the trials in Britain and Ireland. I do not know of any other surviving consolidated reports like this, but the notes in MS Lat. 5376 suggest that such reports could have been produced for each country. So MS Lat 5376 fols 33-64 may provide valuable evidence for the process of the trial of the Templars and the detailed work behind the scenes in which the evidence from the trial was assembled and analysed.

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