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Below is a brief synopsis of the Religious Military Orders of the Crusades.  There are numerous facts and details about each order, and in the future, as this site grows, more information will be provided. 


Originally founded as The Poor Knights of the Temple of Jerusalem, in the year 1118. The name was later shortened to The Knight of the Temple, or just Templar for short. The Order (while not the first Religious Order in the Holy Land) was the fisrt one to be sanctioned by the Pope as a Religious Military Order. The primary purpose was to gaurd the roads of the Holy Land and defend Pilgrime to and from Jerusalem. 


The origin of the Hospitallers was an 11th-century hospital founded inJerusalem by Italian merchants from Amalfi to care for sick and poor pilgrims. The order, The  Hospitallers of Saint John of Jerusalem, or The Knights Hospitaller,  was formally named and recognized on February 15, 1113, by Pope Paschal II. In 1309 they acquired Rhodes, and Became known as The Knights of Rhodes. In 1530 the Holy Roman emperor Charles V gave them the Maltese archipelago, thus becoming The Knights of Malta, as they are still known to this day.


Bretheren of the German Hospital of Saint Mary, also called Teutonic Knights, was founded in 1189/90, by Papal recognition. This established them as an independent MIlitary Order. In 1229, they were recognized as an independent internation Order of the Church. the  Although active in the Holy Land until tha fall of Acre in 1291, the Order is most notable for it's role in the Baltic Crusades. The Order survived until 1561 when it's properties were secularized under Polish suzerainty. 

Check out research done by one of our own, Jonathan Hodge, M.S., LMFT, on this Order at: Teutonic Portrayal Foundations - The Environment of Teutonic Prussia



The Military Order of Calatrava was a religious military order founded in the kingdom of Castile in the year 1158, when King Sancho III of Castile ceded the fortress of Calatrava to Raymond, abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Fitero.  The initial objective was protecting the village of Calatrava la Vieja from the Moors. The order was formally recognized by the pope in 1164. It became closely affiliated with the Cistercian abbey of Morimond in 1187. The order participated in the Christian Reconquest of Andalusia. The Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, with papal sanction, took over the administration of the order in 1489.


Originally founded as Milites Sancti Sepulcri,  attached to the Augustinian Canons of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, recognized in 1113 by Papal bull of Pope Paschal II and of Pope Calistus II in 1122. It traces its roots to circa 1099 under the Frankish Duke Godfrey of Bouillon, "Defender of the Holy Sepulchre", leader of the First Crusade and first ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Early members included secular canons (Sergeants) and armed knights chosen from the crusader troops. Together they vowed to obey the Augustinian Rule of poverty and obedience, and undertook specifically to defend the Holy Sepulchre and the holy places under the command of the King of Jerusalem. 


The Order of Santiago also known as "The Order of St. James of the Sword," was founded in the 12th century, and owes its name to the national patron of Galicia and Spain, Santiago (St. James the Greater).  Its initial objective was to protect the pilgrim of St. James' Way and to defend Christendom.

After the death of the Grand Master Alfonso de Cárdenas in 1493, the Catholic Monarchs incorporated the Order into the Spanish Crown and the pope Adrian VI forever united the office of the grandmaster of Santiago to the crown in 1523.  The Order of Santiago was restored as a civil association with the kingship of Juan Carlos I with the character of a nobiliary, honorable, and religious organization that remains as such.


Order of the Brothers of the Sword, or Knights Of The Sword, Livonian Order, was an organization of crusading knights that began the successful conquest and Christianization of Livonia (most of modern Latvia and Estonia) between 1202 and 1237.  It was consecrated by the pope in 1204, as a permanent military body in Livonia to protect the church’s conquests and to forcibly convert the native pagan tribes to Christianity.  The order adopted the rules of the Knights Templar; the order’s knights (called Knights of the Sword because their white cloaks were decorated with red crosses and swords) were required to be of noble birth and to take vows of obedience, poverty, and celibacy.


The Order of Dobrzyń, also known as the Brothers of Dobrzyń, was a military order created in the borderland of Masovia and Prussia (today's Dobrzyń Land, Poland) during the 13th century Prussian Crusade.  The Order was created by Christian of Oliva, the first Bishop of Prussia (1216–1228), and confirmed by Pope Gregory IX in 1228.  It mission was to protect Masovia and Kuyavia against raids from the pagan Prussians who defied Duke Konrad I of Masovia's attempts to subjugate them.  They also provided assistance and protection to the Cistercian missionaries in Prussia.

      Their ideology was represented by their clothing - over their armor they had white cloaks, with symbols of a red sword raised up and a red star representing the revelations of Jesus to non- Christians.  The rules of their orders were based on those of the Livonian Order and the Knights Templar. It was the only military order created in the territory of Poland.



The Military Order of Aviz, as a monastic military order, was founded in emulation of such military orders as the Knights Templar, which existed in Portugal as early as 1128.  The Order received a grant from Theresa, Countess of Portugal in the year of the Council of Troyes, which confirmed their early statutes.  Afonso, the first King gave to it the town of Évora, captured from the Moors in 1166, and the Knights were first called "Friars of Santa Maria of Évora".  Pedro Henriques was the first grand master.

     After the conquest of Aviz, a castle erected there became the motherhouse of the order, and they were then called "Knights of St. Benedict of Aviz", since they adopted the Benedictine rule in 1162.  Like the Knights of Calatrava, they took the white mantle of the Cistercians, adding a green fleur-de-lysed cross.

The mission of the military orders in Portugal seemed to end after the overthrow of Muslim domination.  In 1551, the grand mastership of the order had been vested in the King in perpetuity.


The religious military Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem was founded by crusaders around 1119 at a leper hospital in Jerusalem, Kingdom of Jerusalem, whose care became its original purpose.  If any members of the other military orders contracted leprosy, they were transferred to the Order of Lazarus.  Named after patron saint Lazarus, it was recognized by King Fulk of Jerusalem in 1142.  It was canonically recognized as hospitaller and military order of chivalry under the rule of Saint Augustine in the Papal bull Cum a Nobis Petitur of Pope Alexander IV in 1255.  The titular seat was successively situated at Jerusalem, Saint-Jean-d'Acre and, after the fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the Château Royal de Boigny-sur-Bionne in France.   After several centuries, the order went into decline and ceased to perform its original functions after the French Revolution.

Knights of Christ

The Military Order of Christ (Ordem Militar de Cristo), previously the Order of the Knights of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Ordem dos Cavaleiros de Nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo), was the former Knights Templar order as it was reconstituted in Portugal after the Templars were abolished on 22 March 1312 by the papal bull, Vox in excelso, issued by Pope Clement V. The Order of Christ was founded in 1319, with the protection of the Portuguese king, Denis I, who refused to pursue and persecute the former knights as had occurred in all the other sovereign states under the political influence of the Catholic Church.


Heavily swayed by Philip IV of France, Pope Clement had the Knights Templar annihilated throughout France and most of Europe on charges of heresy, but Denis revived the Templars of Tomar as the Order of Christ, largely for their aid during the Reconquista and in the reconstruction of Portugal after the wars. Denis negotiated with Clement's successor, John XXII, for recognition of the new order and its right to inherit the Templar assets and property.

© 2016 by Beausant Brotherhood

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