It is unknown why religious knights came into being. Either the church wanted a viable army for itself or those knights who wanted to enter a more religious life but could not give up fighting, no one is sure.
The most famous and successful of these 12th century military monks were the:
The members of the orders of Religious knights were both monks and knights; that is, to the monastic vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience they added a fourth vow, which bound them to protect pilgrims and fight the infidels. Such a combination of religion and warfare made a strong appeal to the medieval mind. The religious knights became so feared among their enemies that they were rarely, if ever, taken prisoner and killed on the spot.
Religious Knights - A Dangerous Life
The religious knights who served these orders, whether in a military or servitude capacity gave up status, family, and wealth for the dangerous life of the Religious knights. Religious knights in the crusades or on battle fronts were supported by their fellow knights who based all over Europe who sent money and supplies to the Knights in battle. As a result, these orders soon became powerful and rich, and very influential.
The States of the Religious Knights
These orders of religious knights, much like the Vatican today, ended up having their own states
- The Hospitallers held the island of Rhodes and then took the Island of Malta
- The Teutonic Knights order held northern Poland, Latvia, and Estonia
The ability of the crusaders' states to maintain themselves for many years in Syria was largely due to the foundation of the military-religious orders. The Templar knights became so rich and powerful that the Pope and the king of France considered them a threat. The leaders of the Templars were executed by being burned at the stake.
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