Knights Templar In Portugal: Unearthing Their Hidden Legacy
One might be surprised to learn that there are over 50 Templar castles, churches, and other edifices scattered across Portugal. This small European nation played an exceptional role in the history of the Knights Templar, and it’s about time we delve into their fascinating past.
Known for their bravery and military prowess, these warrior monks had a significant hand in shaping Portugal’s history and landscape – from the founding of the country itself to its expansion during the Age of Discoveries.
As you’ll see in this article, the Knights Templar were more than just religious warriors; they were skilled politicians and financiers as well. While their exploits on the battlefields of the Crusades have been widely covered, it’s important not to overlook their profound influence back home in Europe.
In Portugal, they left an indelible mark that can still be seen today – from majestic castles perched on rocky hillsides to intricate carvings nestled within serene monasteries. So join us as we journey through time to uncover how these enigmatic knights shaped one of Europe’s most intriguing nations.
Were the Knights Templar in Portugal?
The Knights Templar indeed had a significant presence in Portugal during the 12th century. They arrived to aid the newly established nation in its fight against the Islamic presence in Iberia, known as the Reconquista. Their first participation was in the siege and fall of Santarém with Afonso Henriques in 1147, followed by the capture of Lisbon later that same year.
The Templars went on to establish strongholds throughout Portugal, playing a crucial role in the Christian Reconquest. In 1160, they founded the castle in Tomar, which was inspired by fortifications in the Holy Land. This castle was considered the most modern and advanced military stronghold in the kingdom at the time.
During the period of 1143-1190, the Knights Templar continued to strengthen their presence in Portugal. For example, the castle of Langrovia was donated by Fernao Mendes and his wife, the Infanta Sancha Henrique, sister of King Henrique. The Templars had worked with the monarchy in previous times, further solidifying their presence and influence.
Following the persecution and disbandment of the Knights Templar in other parts of Europe in the early 14th century, Portugal provided refuge for surviving knights. King Dinis I of Portugal created the Order of Christ in 1319 to accommodate these surviving Templars. This marked a new chapter for the knights, who continued to contribute to Portugal’s development and influence in the global arena.
History of The Knights Templar in Portugal
The Knights Templar first arrived in Portugal in the 12th century to aid the newly established nation in its fight against the Islamic presence in Iberia, a period known as the Reconquista. They played a crucial role in the siege and capture of Santarém by Afonso Henriques in 1147, and later that year, participated in the capture of Lisbon.
Between the years 1143 and 1190, the Knights Templar presence in Portugal grew stronger. They gained Langrovia Castle through donations from Fernao Mendes and his wife, the Infanta Sancha Henrique, sister of King Henrique. The Convent of Christ in Tomar was originally designed as a monument symbolizing the Reconquest. However, during the Manueline period, it came to symbolize Portugal’s opening up to other civilizations.
The Order of Christ, successor to the Knights Templar in Portugal, also played a significant role in the discovery of new territories, with the Convent of Christ in Tomar at the center of their explorations. The Order had beneficial connections with the Jews in Portugal as well, promoting their conservation in the country during the 15th century when Spain was expelling them and confiscating their estates and wealth.
Founding of the Order in Portugal
One of their earliest involvements in Portugal was during the siege and fall of Santarém in 1147, under the leadership of Afonso Henriques. Later that same year, they played a crucial role in the successful capture of Lisbon. In recognition of their contributions, numerous donations and estates were granted to the Templar Order by the Portuguese nobility, allowing them to establish a strong presence in the country.
In 1160, Gualdim Pais, the grand master of the Knights Templar, founded the Convent of Christ in Tomar, which became the Order’s headquarters in Portugal. Over the course of five centuries, the Convent of Christ was expanded and modified, resulting in an impressive architectural complex that showcases a blend of Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Renaissance, Mannerist, and Baroque elements.
The Templars’ influence in Portugal continued to grow, even after the Order was disbanded in the early 14th century by Pope Clement V, following persecution by the King of France. In 1319, King Dinis I of Portugal established the Order of Christ as a successor to the Knights Templar, ensuring that their legacy would endure in Portugal.
What Were The Knights Templar Called In Portugal?
In Portugal, the Knights Templar were known by their full name, the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (Latin: Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonici). They were primarily recognized as a Catholic military order and played a significant role in Portugal’s history, particularly during the Reconquista period of the 12th century.
The Order of Christ (Ordem de Cristo) is another name associated with the Knights Templar in Portugal. It was founded by King Dinis I in 1319 as a result of the original Templar order’s disbandment throughout Europe. The Order of Christ was established to integrate the surviving members of the Knights Templar, and it played a crucial role in Portugal’s Age of Discoveries.
What happened to the Templars in Portugal?
Throughout their time in Portugal, the Templars significantly contributed to the country’s development and expansion. They helped usher in the Portuguese Age of Discovery and played a role in creating the Portuguese Empire.
However, their presence in Europe waned as they faced persecution from the French king, and in 1312, the Pope disbanded the Order. Despite their widespread decline, the Templars in Portugal managed to survive this period under King Dinis I’s protection. In 1319, he established the Military Order of Christ, which served as a sanctuary for the surviving Templars in Portugal.
The Order of Christ went on to inherit the Templars’ properties and wealth, becoming quite powerful and influential during the Age of Discoveries. Thus, while the Knights Templar were disbanded and persecuted in other parts of Europe, they managed to transition into a new order and thrive in Portugal under the protection and guidance of the Portuguese monarchs.
Related: What Happened To The Knights Templar On Friday The 13th
What Is The Oldest Knights Templar Church In Portugal?
The oldest Knights Templar church in Portugal is the Igreja de Santa Maria dos Olivais, also known as the Church of Santa Maria do Olival. Located in Tomar, this historic church has strong associations with the Knights Templars. The name “Olival” means “olive grove” and is connected to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, further emphasizing its historical significance to the Knights Templar1.
Established in the 12th century, the Church of Santa Maria do Olival served as the spiritual center for the Knights Templars in Portugal1. It is situated close to the Convent of Christ in Tomar, another prominent site associated with the Knights Templar and the Order of Christ. The convent was originally designed as a symbol of the Reconquest but later came to represent the opening up of Portugal to other civilizations during the Manueline period.
The architectural design of the Church of Santa Maria does Olival features a combination of Gothic and Manueline styles. Its interiors display various historical elements, including the tombs of important Templar figures like Gualdim Pais, the founder of the city of Tomar and a prominent Knight Templar1. The church has undergone several restorations over the centuries, ensuring the preservation of its rich history and unique architectural elements.
Was Portugal Founded by Templars?
The Knights Templar was a religious and military order that played an important role in medieval Europe. In Portugal, they arrived in the 12th century, during the period of the Christian Reconquest against the Moors, but the country’s founding cannot be attributed solely to the Templars. Portugal’s history began before their arrival, and they were one of several key contributors to the nation’s development.
Portugal’s origins can be traced back to the County of Portugal, which came under the rule of Count Henry of Burgundy in the late 11th century. The country’s first king, Afonso Henriques, who was a descendant of Count Henry, declared independence from the Kingdom of León in 1139. Although the Knights Templar supported Afonso Henriques in their fight against the Moors, Portugal’s foundation as an independent nation predates their arrival.
As we journey through the echoes of history, we find ourselves entwined in the shadowy tales of the Knights Templar in Portugal. Their valiant deeds and enigmatic presence continue to leave an indelible mark on this ancient land, whispering secrets that may forever remain untold.
Yet, as we delve into their legacy, we cannot help but feel a connection to these noble warriors who shaped Portugal’s destiny.
Let us honor their memory and embrace the mysteries they have left behind – for within them lies a story that transcends time itself.
Discover the ‘real’ history of the Knights Templar Order in Portugal