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the first slight indications of the coming storm, and its after-fury. Although, by the peace first concluded with Scotland, and yet more by the tardy homage which at length was paid by the earl of Gloster (that most devoted of the empress's partizans), Stephen seemed assured in the quiet possession of his throne: still he was soon taught that the power which Henry had so beneficially exerted in quelling the turbulence of the barons, and the rude and lawless habits of their followers, was not his to wield. Naturally mild and yielding—for not one of his opponents ever charged him with cowardice—Stephen delayed those sterner measures too long; while unwillingness to originate causes of discontent among a class which stood ready, on the slightest pretext, to transfer their allegiance from him to his rival, gave to his even more vigorous efforts a character of weakness and indecision, which that very class were not slow to perceive. Encouraged, therefore, by the inadequate power of the king, each great feudal lord commenced fortifying his castle, and organising his vassals; and, with coat of mail ready to be braced on, with lance ready to be placed in rest, and with banner ready to fling out its blazonry from the battlements when the first war-trumpet should sound, each awaited, with feverish impatience, the coming of that day, when the battle-field should decide the contest, and the crown of England be the prize of the victor.
The events of these two years of comparative tranquillity present little to attract our attention; and the only notice we find respecting the queen during* this time, is of her having, together with the king, been present at the dedication of Godstowe nunnery. But about this time—for the exact year of their settlement has not been ascertained—the Knights Templars first arrived in England. Their founder (Hugo de Payen), toward the close of Henry's reign, had visited England, for the purpose of soliciting the charity of the faithful toward his benevolent project of providing for the pilgrims through Palestine a regular escort; and we learn, both from Malmsbury and the Saxon Chronicle, that in this appeal he was eminently successful. On his return to Palestine, in 1129, he brought with him three hundred knights of the noblest families in Christendom; and, encouraged by this illustrious patronage, and yet more by that of him, whose sanction (if high devotional feeling and lofty Christian attainments, bear any weight) would have been hailed by any Christian community—the abbot of Clairvaux, St. Bernard—he proceeded to organise his followers, and lay the foundation of that proud and wealthy, but most chivalrous order, "the Brethren of the Temple of Solomon at Jerusalem." These knights, in their general rules of government, and especially in their apparent combination of the chivalrous and priestly character, bore a close resemblance to their elder brethren, the Hospitallers. They were, however, more decidedly military, since no hospital duties were required of them; but, like true and right valiant knights, they were expected to keep the lance ever placed in rest, for the protection alike of the unarmed pilgrim, and the "holy and beautiful city," to whose shrines he was bound. By the rule of their order, each knight was allowed one servant to attend him, and three horses: these were probably the palfrey, used by knights on ordinary occasions; the destrere, that gallant steed, which was never mounted save on the battle-field; and one of an inferior kind, for the servant. The armour, both of these knights and of their war-horses, was to be good, but plain; no crest was permitted on the helmet, no blazonry on the surcoat; nor were any ornaments, either of gold or silver, allowed on the horse furniture, save one only superfluity, the collar of bells, whose inspiriting chime was considered well suited "to inspire confidence in a knight, and terror in his enemy." Unlike the other orders, either of knights or monks, the Templars suffered their beards to remain uncut; but, like the priestly orders, they were prohibited from hunting and hawking, and generally from those amusements which were considered to partake of a secular character.* Their distinguishing dress was the stainless white mantle, the type of purity, with the red cross blazoned on the left breast, the symbol of glorious martyrdom; and the great banner of the order, the "Beau sceant," was of black and white linen, "parted per pale," expressive of the stern and determined contest to be maintained by the soldiers of the kingdom of light, against those of the kingdom of darkness. Much misapprehension, in regard to the peculiar character and functions of these military monks,
has arisen from the circumstance of their being termed, in phraseology more poetical than correct, a "militant priesthoodand many writers, who have adopted the term without sufficient inquiry, have exhibited the rise of these warlike orders as among the strangest and most startling of the anomalies of a strange and extravagant age. If, however, we take a closer view of the peculiar character and exigencies of the period, and observe, too, the wide distinction always made in the Roman church between those who took merely the conventual vows, and those who took the priestly * much of the apparent anomaly vanishes. The three-fold vow of poverty, chastity, and obedience, was pronounced both by Templar and Hospitaller; although, unlike the mere monk, they were not tied down to those wearisome repetitions of the daily service, which formed the very business of the conventual orders. But priests they never were; the White, or the Red cross knight, never stood within the altar's pale, pronouncing benediction over the kneeling congregation; far less did hands that had wielded the mace, or poised the lance, lift the chalice, or present the consecrated wafer. For all these—the peculiar functions of the priesthood— regular chaplains were appointed. The institution of these chivalrous orders seems, therefore, to have originated in the clear and far-reaching views of their founders, in the dictates of a sober judgment, and not in the fancies of an enthusiastic visionary. They felt that, by separating a body of warriors from the common cares, and interests, and relation
ships of human life, by the obligations of their three-fold vow,—they should erect a confraternity whose members, bound to each other more strongly by that very bond which severed them from the rest of the world, and pledged them to a life-long service, should cast the full and undivided weight of their influence into that project, for more than two centuries the fondest wish of Christendom, the rescue of the Holy Land from the sway of the Paynim. The experience of ages had even then shewn Europe how important and formidable a class were the conventual orders, although in an age when the sword was expected to decide all controversies, they wielded neither lance nor brand. What, therefore, might not be expected from an order which, separated from worldly interests as wholly as the inhabitant of the cloister, should not, like him, be confined to the same narrow limits, nor restricted, like him, to the mere war of words; but who, combining the honour of knighthood, with the sanctity of the holy vow, should stand forth pledged and devoted to that one service, "the avenging the wrongs of our Lord in his own land." What wonder was it, that, actuated by such views, and impelled by such feelings, at a period too when men acted enthusiastically because they felt strongly, the fame of the unconquered chivalry of the Red and of the White cross struck terror and dismay into the hearts of the Moslem, and forced even the remotest regions of central Asia to quail at the name of Templar and Hospitaller. Never, perhaps, did the world behold such devoted soldiers, (for the praise of unconquered valour was