The crusading movement was from the first a frontier activity. The establishment of the ‘Crusader States’ in Syria and the capture of Jerusalem in 1099 gave the Christians a permanent border with the Muslims which they had to defend with tenuous lines of communication to western Europe for the supply of manpower, horses, and arms.1 Hence the need for a trained and stable group of warriors to defend the frontiers was apparent early in the twelfth century. The Templars were founded in 1118 as a military religious order in Latin Syria. Five years earlier, Pope Paschal II had granted recognition to the Order of St John of Jerusalem for their role as protectors of the pilgrim routes and carers of sick pilgrims. Even this role implied the use of arms, and it was not long before they joined the Templars as organised holy warriors. The military orders were technically not crusaders; they did not take crusading vows.2 Their rules discuss their conduct and their organisation rather than their aims and purposes, but nevertheless, the crusading movement provided their raison d’être. The Order of St John, the Knights Hospitaller, provide a particularly good barometer for the changes in the idea of crusade because this very ‘medieval’ institution remained in action until it was overthrown by Napoleon in Malta in1798. They patrolled the frontier between Islam and Christendom in the Mediterranean for five centuries.
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