Catalan Historical Review (Jul 2011)

The Military Orders in Catalonia

  • Josep Maria Sans i Travé

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 4
pp. 53 – 82


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The Jerosolimitan Orders of the Hospital, the Holy Sepulchre and the Temple reached Catalonia at a very early date, among other reasons because of its relationship with Provence through the marriage of Ramon Berenguer III and Dolça de Provença, as well as through the propaganda spread by the Catalan pilgrims who had visited the Holy Land. The counts and the nobility were the main instigators of donations of land, rights and goods to the orders, which encouraged them to move to the Principality. By the second half of the 12th century, they had already set up their respective networks of convents here, with particular influence in Catalunya Nova. Even though they depended institutionally on the central convents in the East (Jerusalem, Saint John of Acre, Cyprus and Rhodes, the latter the headquarters of the Order of the Hospital), the Catalan houses disassociated themselves with their original Provencal provinces and formed their own districts, which encompassed Aragon, as well as Mallorca and Valencia after they were conquered. The provincial Catalan masters, almost all of them from the middle class and petty nobility, represented the central convents. They managed the districts under the advice of the chapterhouses or annual meetings of the knight commanders or heads of the different houses, who also governed and administered the commandries. Part of the revenue was remitted to the central convents each year. Apart from money, the Catalan provinces also sent foodstuffs, horses, weapons and especially staff to the East. Some Catalan brothers would reach the top echelon of the orders, including Brother Arnau de Torroja, Grand Master of the Knights Templar from 1181 to 1184; and Antoni de Fluvià and Pere Ramon Sacosta, Grand Masters of the Order of the Hospital in 1421-1437 and 1461-1467, respectively. The military orders participated in the territorial expansion campaigns in the 12th and 13th centuries and in the military actions of the Catalan monarchy in the 14th and 15th centuries. The Knights Hospitallers and the Order of Saint James founded convents in Catalonia which noble women entered. Only one military order was founded on Catalan soil, the Order of Saint George of Alfama created in 1201 by Peter the Catholic. Despite the protection of the monarchy, it was subsequently incorporated into the Valencia-based Military Order of Montesa in 1400.