Military Activities

  • Alan Forey
Part of the New Studies in Medieval History book series (NSMH)


An examination of the orders’ military activities must focus on warfare against infidels in Syria, Spain and the Baltic. Although in the thirteenth century military orders were being used against Christians, little record has survived of their military undertakings in this sphere: their contribution was presumably too limited to merit much comment in narrative sources. Chronicles, charters and letters provide fuller information about fighting in the frontier regions of Christendom. Even in these districts, however, the military activities of some lesser orders, such as St Thomas of Acre or San Jorge de Alfama, have left little trace: they are rarely mentioned in chronicles or letters, and direct references to participation by minor orders in campaigns and sieges are encountered in very few charters. It is only the actions of the more powerful orders which can be discussed at all fully. A consecutive account of these orders’ military operations would necessitate extended narrative surveys of crusades to the Holy Land and of the crusader states, the Spanish reconquest and Baltic expansion. These have been provided by others. Here a more analytical approach will be adopted, and the objective will be to define the orders’ military roles and to assess the importance of their contribution in conflicts between western Christendom and its non-Christian neighbours.


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© Alan Forey 1992

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  • Alan Forey

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