How the Knights Templar Elected Their Grand Master

February 25, 2016

Ordination of Templar Jacques de Molay in 1265 at the Beaune commandery. Painted by Marius Granet

Templar Jacques de Molay becomes Grand Master in 1265 at the Beaune commandery. Painted by Marius Granet

On the instruction of the grand commander, the commander of the election and his companion chose two more brothers, and then those four together chose two others, and so on, until their number reached twelve “in honor the twelve Apostles.” Next, these twelve appointed a brother chaplain who “will take the place of Jesus Christ” among them. The college of electors thus assembled was necessarily made up of eight knights and four sergeants. Finally, after everyone had prayed together, and after a sermon from the grand commander, reminding them that in carrying out their office they should have “God alone before their eyes, nor seek any other thing save the honor and the benefit of the house and of the Holy Land,” the electors retired and agreed on the knight who should be elected. Then they came back to the chapter, and after having made all those present swear obedience to the master of the Temple, the commander of the election went and found the man who had been appointed and said to him, “We, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, have elected as our master and now choose you, Brother So-and-so;” then turning to the rest, he said: “Fair lords and brothers, give thanks to God, here is our master.” “And straightaway the brother chaplains are to intone Te Deum laudamus.”

Painting by François Marius Granet of The Chapter of the Order of the Templars held at Paris, April 22, 1147

Painting by François Marius Granet of The Chapter of the Order of the Templars held at Paris, April 22, 1147

That is the normal order of this ceremony…. All the same, this way of electing him, which seems complicated to us, corresponded to the customs obtaining elsewhere at that period. In a number of towns and cities, in fact, the duty of electing the mayor or consul was delegated to electors chosen in advance, with everyone else swearing to act in accordance with their decision.

Subscription12

Régine Pernoud, The Templars, trans. Henry Taylor (San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 2009), 42-3.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 513

 

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