Tortosa in History


(1152 - 1291)

The Templars Largest Fortress

The Templar Presence in the County of Tripoli, Centered on there Great Castles in Tortosa and Chastel-Blanc,was created almost contemporaneously with their establishment at Gaza. The castle was given to the Templars in April 1152 by William, Bishop of Tortosa - after the city had been temporarily captured and burned by Nur-ed-Din.

The castle had originally been owned by a secular Lord, Raynouard de Maraclea, but after the destruction of Tortosa he seems to have lacked the money to make it viable again. At the heart of the Tortosa installation was a keep, about 35 meters square, which was situated near the coastline. It was surrounded by two sets of walls incorporating eleven guard towers.

The city contained the Cathedral of Notre Dame, revered as the place of St. Peters first Mass, which housed a painting of the Virgin which was believed to have been painted by Luke. This obviously drew a lot of pilgrim traffic to Tortosa.

The Templar "Palatinates" around Tortosa and Bagras were heavier in their responsibilities than those borne of any single individual Lordship. Extensive privileges gave the Templars control of the Churches in the lands they held in the Diocese of Tortosa,as well as the tithe exemption on produce from their own demesne land. The distribution of incomes and the control of Churches were important issues that can clearly be demonstrated by the situation in the Dioceses of Tortosa. The large Templar enclave of Tortosa inevitably ment a diminution in the power and resources of the Bishops,as for they could not avoid some kind of Pariage with their new neighbors, especially after the privileges granted in Omne datum optimum. In fact the agreement with the Bishop of Tortosa in 1152 is the most extensive of its kind which survives for the Templars of the East.

In the diocese the Templars had full authority over churches and chapels in their castles and over all churches outside Tortosa itself !!...Except in seven specific places. Although no document today survives recording their secular rights, it seems rather certain that the counts of Tripoli, Raymond (d.1152) and Raymond III, would have ceded privileges very similar to those enjoyed by the Hospitallers around Krak des Chevaliers in the east of the county. In the Period of (1144-1186) Tortosa was allowed to establish what Jonathan Riley-Smith has Rightly called a "Palatinate", Which included Full Lordship over the population of their estates, the right to share spoils, and the freedom to have independent dealings with neighboring Muslim Powers.

Now the Templars Since about 1152 with their powerful enclave around Tortosa, not far from the bases of the Syrian Assassins, had been a receiving a annual tribute of 2,000 bezants from, as a kind of....well "Protection money". As the Temple was not vulnerable to a organization which relied upon the Murder of individuals to individuals to achieve it's ends. So one see's the Power that this area had and why the Templar gained many enemies.

In 1282 the order, sufficiently weakened in the Holy Land by this time, entered a truce with Sultan al Mansur. However the end eventually came after the fall of Acre      


Guilds of Tortosa