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February 02, 2019 2 min read

The Latin Rule of the Knights Templar started out as a document with 72 clauses put together in 1128 and added to the minutes of the Council of Troyes in 1129. It was put together by Hugues de Payens, the first Grand Master of the Knights Templar and his co-founder, Bernard de Clairvaux. In putting together the document they drew mainly on the rule of Saint Benedict, with some added material from the rule of Saint Augustine.

The Latin Rule is also known as the “Specific Behavior for the Templar Order”. It outlined the moral code and expected behavior of a knight in the Order. However, unlike the sources used to create it, which were designed as rules for monks, it was specifically adapted for use by holy knights in military service.  In 1138, the second Grand Master, Robert de Craon directed modifications and translation into French.

In 1139 Pope Innocent II issued the papal bull Omne datum optimum based on James 1:17, “Every perfect gift (omne datum optimum) is from above, coming from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” This officially approved the Latin Rule and granted papal protection. Omne datum optimum also promised all spoils from Muslim conquest to the Order, and made the Order exempt from tithes and taxes: Successive popes in 1144 and 1145 gave further powers, rights and privileges to the Order, including building their own churches with burial rights and collect taxes on other properties annually.

Over time the articles were expanded extensively, covering such things as hierarchy and justice within the Order. They became a detailed code of conduct and chivalry which governed every aspect of daily life, ensuring a highly trained, disciplined Order. Clothing had to be humble and spartan, meals were held in silence, sleeping arrangements were austere and even socialising was moderate. If the Latin Rule was broken, penances were set out and ranged from corporal punishment to banishment from the brotherhood. Lesser punishments included the sinner to eat their meals on the floor.

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