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Understanding Dragonte - The Ultimate Templar Tribute

2020 Camino Guides
The route of Dragonte is very rarely discussed in any guidebooks and yet it is a important element of the Camino to understand and respect, but few know the true history of the most difficult alternative route on the French Way.

Let's start with the route's history. It is NOT a historical path for pilgrims. It was one of many defensive ambush paths for the Templar Knights. An ambush path is just as it sounds. A group of knights would act as a lure to get larger groups from an enemy to chase. The knights would run down a long path where eventually they would meet up with other knights who are waiting in ambush to slaughter the enemy. This military strategy was around long before the Templar Knights and is still used today.

Now let's discuss Dragonte. This path is one of many military paths used by the Templar Knights to get much larger enemy groups of bandits or other enemies to give chase. The Templars would move very quickly through the path until the end where they would meet with a smaller group of fellow knights hiding within the trees and brush. The path was designed to be exhausting to the point where enemy knights would put up little or no resistance. Enemies would often not have the energy to lift a sword or draw a bow in their own defense. It was intentionally designed to drain EVERY drop of energy from the enemy before reaching the ambush point. If you look at the trail you will notice it rarely takes an easy route around a hill. It has hard inclines and illogical bends. Often the route doesn't make sense as a path until you realize it is actually an obstacle course with the intent to exhaust soldiers.

The Templars were often outnumbered and routes like this helped to even the odds. You will notice few yellow arrows on this route because it was never intended for pilgrims. That said it was an extremely important part of the ancient Camino as a tool for the Templars.

So the question stands: To walk it or not? There are solid arguments for either answer. The most important thing is to understand it. If you desire to walk this route then take it slowly to be safe.

If you are extremely fit then the ideal experience would be to hike it at the fastest pace possible in full tribute the the Knights Templar and their service to the pilgrims. Push yourself to your absolute limit. It will drain you, but it is the ultimate tribute to the knights who protected the ancient pilgrim.
 

SuperPilgrim

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF June 5, 2013
CF June 5, 2015
CF June 3, 2017
CN May 27, 2019
The route of Dragonte is very rarely discussed in any guidebooks and yet it is a important element of the Camino to understand and respect, but few know the true history of the most difficult alternative route on the French Way.

So the question stands: To walk it or not? There are solid arguments for either answer. The most important thing is to understand it. If you desire to walk this route then take it slowly to be safe.

If you are extremely fit then the ideal experience would be to hike it at the fastest pace possible in full tribute the the Knights Templar and their service to the pilgrims. Push yourself to your absolute limit. It will drain you, but it is the ultimate tribute to the knights who protected the ancient pilgrim.
I first learned about the Dragonte way from an owner of a hotel in Villafranca. She was from the area and her husband loved the Templars. As a young man he used to trek on Dragonte but hasn't done it in over a decade. I didn't choose to take Dragonte but other friends of mine wanted to do it even before they started the Camino. I met up with then at night in Herrerias. One girl was crying because it was so hard and the guys kept pushing to go faster. The guys were all laying on the benches for over an hour before they could even walk to get a bed for the night. They were a wreck. It completed a bucket list item for their lives, but it clearly took a toll and will be burned in their memory forever.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
This is interesting. Do you have some footnotes for additional information?
 
This is interesting. Do you have some footnotes for additional information?
Falcon269, I learned of Dragonte from a group of Templar enthusiasts in California. I will try to track them down and get more documentation. They collect documents on the Templars military and financial history. Apparently this route is one of dozens along the Camino used for the same purpose but it is the only one mentioned in the most popular guidebook. They mentioned a few others along the way but I couldn't remember the names of those paths, I think this is the only one which has somehow become an alternate route because it ends in Herrerias.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
While Ponferrada had Templar Knights and a castle, Villafranca del Bierzo seems to have been autonomous, and protected by other church and civil authorities:

Although legend relates the origins of Villafranca with vaqueiros of Tineo and Luarcacoming down to brañas Valdeprado and Leitariegos and, desiring greater bonanza valleys, trusted search a white cow who came to settle in Villafranca, origin more itself is associated with the monastery of Santa Maria de Cluniacoor Cruñego where French Benedictines of Cluny-the monks settle blacks in 1070 under the reign of Alfonso VI culture, care for French pilgrims, bringing, among other things, vine. It is also associated to hospitals for care arising pilgrims along the route.



Castle of Villafranca del Bierzo.
Along with this, they were forming a borough francs, French pilgrims who remain in this land, and give the name "Villa francorum"and importance to the population.Definitely be established also Jews, Galicians and people from other lands.There is also talk of town with no deductibles.For several centuries would have two magistrates, one for the Franks and another for the place.

The rise of the path bends to King Alfonso VIto issue a decree on 17 December1072, exempting them from tolls pilgrims demanded the castle of Santa María de Autares, near Villafranca in "offering the Apostle under whose power is all Spain".

It is also mentioned in a document Vico Francorum of1120and other transactions that collect urban (preserved1147) or licenses (of Dona Urracato Pedro Brunoin1152to build an oven).In1186, the bishop of Astorga obtained a papal bull to found a church in soil near Villafranca, which could be that of Santiago, where the "concheiros"unable to conclude the pilgrimage route here will win the Jubilee.

Lordship and Marquis[edit]


Coat the Marquis of Villafranca.

Before the end of XII century,Emperor Alfonso VII granted the lordship, placing the front of his sister, the Infanta Sancha Raimúndez.We continued Dona Urraca, wife of Ferdinand II, king who repopulated the town and date on it twenty letters, and Dona Teresa, wife ofAlfonso IX of León, King visited the villa in nineteen occasions and gives Feb. 1 in1192the first Jurisdictions, confirmed in1230, Dona Maria de la Cerda(Countess of Medinaceli) untilPedro Fernandez de Castro, chief steward of Alfonso XI, then Count of Benavente, who was confiscated Henry III, to grant it Don Pedro Enriquez de Castilla,Count de Lemos, in 1394.


Ponferrada has been around since Celtic times and grew in importance and prosperity during the Roman occupation because of the gold mines in the El Bierzo region, then it was known as Interamnium Flavium. In the Middle Ages it became known as Puebla de San Pedro named after its church and became a major stopping point along the Camino de Santiago. However, getting to the village across the river, which had been set up by Fernando III the king of León, was no mean feat so towards the end of the 11th century Obispo Osmudo, Bishop of Astorga orders a bridge to be built making the Camino easier for the pilgrims. Unlike many bridges of this time which were usually constructed out of stone, this bridge was constructed from iron or ferro as it is called in Spanish. This bridge became known as the Pons-Ferrata (iron bridge) and it was this that eventually gave the city its modern day name of Ponferrada.

The Knights Templar began to settle in the region during the 12th century and the town of Ponferrada was given over to the Knights by King Alfonso IX with the mandate that they protect the pilgrims who were walking the Camino de Santiago through León.

The Knights began to construct el Castillo de los Templarios over the remains of a Roman fortress and completed it in the late 13th century.

Google translation of es.wikipedia.org
galiciaguide.com
 
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From what I was told and read the Templars were involved in O'Cebreiro from the earliest days of the Templars in Spain. This is significantly documented and footnoted in Gitlitz and Davidson's "The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago, The Complete Cultural Handbook". There defiantly needs to be more research done and footnotes sited for the exact involvement of military and Dragonte. While this military tactic is well documented I'd like to see what the Templar Society was using as a basis for their discussion. However, what I've read online and seen in your post above does seem to be in line. These ambush paths were needed in areas where they didn't have a proper settlement. The path is located near the Camino. The path has all the design elements for military use and it is close to an important point of interest for the Templars (O'Cebrero). Your post does solidify a case for where this type of path would be needed by the Templars or even the local military. It is very well written.

I've put in a call to try and get more details. I'll post again when I have something substantial. I love research.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
O Cebreiro was run by monks of a French order:

O Cebreiro or Pedradita do Cebreiro to give it its full name owes much of its existence to the Camino de Santiago as well as to the many roman roads that passed this way. It is the first town you reach on the Camino Frances as you enter Galicia.

The first pilgrim hospital to appear in the town was built in the mid 9th century and was run from the late 11th century by the monks of Saint Gérard De’Aurillac, a French order. Also in the 9th century the monastery of el Santuario de O Cebreiro was built, not much remains other than the Iglesia Santa Maria la Real, considered to be the oldest intact church along the whole Camino.

The church was founded by Benedictine monks but came under the control of the French monks in the 11th century after the monastery was given to the French order by King Alfonso VI. It was to remain in their control until the monastery was handed back to the Benedictines by the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella. The monastery was abandoned in the 19th century following the Mendizabal disentailment in 1853, a similar act to that of the dissolution of the monasteries which occurred in the United Kingdom in the mid 16th century. The church underwent a major renovation in the 1960’s and 70’s initiated by Don Elias Valiña Sampedro, the parish priest. A little bit more on this remarkable man later.

Various books tell that "the” Holy Grail was believed to have been hidden in this church during the Middle Ages but what they are actually referring to is a miracle that is believed to have occurred here during the 14th century. The story tells of a single parishioner from a nearby village called Barxamaior who climbed up to the church through heavy snow and a blizzard in order to hear mass. As the priest was performing the Eucharist he had a momentary lapse of faith and whilst he was consecrating the bread and wine he thought to himself, whilst looking at the parishioner sat in front of him “what is this man doing here in this cold weather, just to see a piece of bread and a little wine?”. It was at this point that the miracle occurred, the bread turned to flesh and the wine became blood. This became known locally as el Santo Grial Gallego or the Galician Holy Grail. The relics are kept in the church in a reliquary given to the church by the Catholic Monarchs whilst they were undertaking the Camino to Santiago in 1486, along with the chalice and paten used in that mass. In the church you will also find the tombs of the priest and the parishioner who were involved in this miracle along with that of Don Elias Valiña Sampedro.

Just outside the church is a bust of Don Elias Valiña Sampedro who was the parish priest at Santa Maria Real from 1959 until his death in 1989 who took it upon himself to restore the church and the ancient hospital (now the Hostal San Giraldo de Aurillac). During his studies at la Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca he wrote a thesis on the Camino’s history. He promoted this thesis at various universities across Europe and promoting the Camino de Santiago. Even more remarkable it what he did next.

If you were wondering how the signs and markers that point your way on the Camino de Santiago came about then look no further than Don Elias Valiña Sampedro. This amazing man decided to undertake the Camino but found that many of the original paths had virtually disappeared, on his trip he decided to write a book and his Camino guide book was published in 1982. It was then in 1984, along with his nephews, that he started to mark the entire Camino with the big yellow arrows you see today with yellow paint he managed to commandeer from the Spanish department of transport.

In 1985 he became a member of the Comisario del Camino de Santiago who were tasked with promoting the Camino and getting others involved and from this came the association known as Amigos del Camino de Santiago (Friends of the Camino).

To give you an idea of just how important this man was you just have to look at the numbers who now undertake the Camino. In the early 70’s less than 10 Compostelanas were issued, in 1989 when Pope John Paul II visits Santiago over 5,700 Compostelanas were given out and it is estimated that in the holy year of 2010 over 300,000 pilgrims will have received one of these hard earned certificates. Galicia Guide

Spain had six Templar locations:

Barcelona – Chapel of the Church of Santa Maria del Palau
Granyena (Catalonia in medieval Aragon) – a castle was donated in 1131 by Ramon Berenguer III, Count of Barcelona
Peniscola – Templar castle
Ponferrada – Castillo d los Templarios
Tarragona – Templar castle
Xivert – Templar fortress
Knights Templar Encyclopedia, pg. 253

Most of the Templar presence was in Jerusalem, but they may very well have helped in the area west of Ponferrada when needed.
 
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BevBeevers

Bevbee
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Sept. 2014
From what I was told and read the Templars were involved in O'Cebreiro from the earliest days of the Templars in Spain. This is significantly documented and footnoted in Gitlitz and Davidson's "The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago, The Complete Cultural Handbook". There defiantly needs to be more research done and footnotes sited for the exact involvement of military and Dragonte. While this military tactic is well documented I'd like to see what the Templar Society was using as a basis for their discussion. However, what I've read online and seen in your post above does seem to be in line. These ambush paths were needed in areas where they didn't have a proper settlement. The path is located near the Camino. The path has all the design elements for military use and it is close to an important point of interest for the Templars (O'Cebrero). Your post does solidify a case for where this type of path would be needed by the Templars or even the local military. It is very well written.

I've put in a call to try and get more details. I'll post again when I have something substantial. I love research.
Glitz and Davidson´s handbook is brilliant and as it says Complete... my copy goes along with me in Sept... A tad bulky yet indispensable, a must..
 

scruffy1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Holy Year from Pamplona 2010, SJPP 2011, Lisbon 2012, Le Puy 2013, Vezelay (partial watch this space!) 2014; 2015 Toulouse-Puenta la Reina (Arles)
Templers? It is so difficult to separate fact from legend and folktale, they have become a touristic attraction like the Cathars in Southern France and unfortunately very commercial. The Castillo d los Templarios in Ponferrada has become a tad DisneyLandish, I find the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Encina, a much more interesting and moving narration. Should one be interested, "The Monks of War" written by Desmond Seward will give a good introduction including the Reconquista.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
Gitlitz and Davidson have a good bibliography, but no footnotes. That makes it a bit difficult to verify their anecdotes.

Of the Valcarce Valley, they say:

Because of the rugged geography of the Valcarce Valley, in medieval times bandits made the 10-km stretch of the Road just beyond Villafranca extremely dangerous. Two castles were erected to guard the route and to control the bandit problem: Casgtro de Veiga and Sarracin, both today in ruins.

Benedictine monks were given the privileges to run the hospice in O Cebreiro by Alfonso VI in 1072.

Templar knights do not appear in their book except in Ponferrada and Cornatel.
 

Felice

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to Santiago Sept 2014
Templers? It is so difficult to separate fact from legend and folktale, they have become a touristic attraction like the Cathars in Southern France and unfortunately very commercial. The Castillo d los Templarios in Ponferrada has become a tad DisneyLandish, I find the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Encina, a much more interesting and moving narration. Should one be interested, "The Monks of War" written by Desmond Seward will give a good introduction including the Reconquista.
Agreed about Ponferrada. I saw it in the late 1970s, when it was rugged, weathered and incredibly impressive. It feels neutered now, no longer speaking of strength and power.
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
Templars had CASTLES in those places. They had fortifications and establishments in tons of other places all along the camino. Terradillos de los Templarios, for instance. There's a local legend that says a thousand years ago, a small monastery existed along what is now the Rio Templarios, between Terradillos and Moratinos. The monks joined the dark side, and started kidnapping, robbing and killing the pilgrims who passed there. The Templar knights set up shop in Terradillos (they say) specifically to accompany pilgrims past the bad monks' territory.
The Templars are still here in name only, nothing of them is left in Terradillos. The bad monastery has given Moratinos a couple of Visigothic stone sarcophaguses (sarcophagi?) which are now used as watering troughs for animals. Sic transit gloria.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - May/June 2014
Do you have details of where the route starts, duration of stages etc or where this information can be accessed if at all?
 

scruffy1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Holy Year from Pamplona 2010, SJPP 2011, Lisbon 2012, Le Puy 2013, Vezelay (partial watch this space!) 2014; 2015 Toulouse-Puenta la Reina (Arles)
Sorry to be a wet rag, the Order of Santiago, the Knights of Calatrava, the Knights Hospitaller of Saint John (Malta if you will) were all very active and all helped protect the Pilgrim Routes - often more than the Templars could even dream since they had many more knights in company. The real center of Templar presence and influence was in Tarragona and Cataluña south of Barcelona, stretching to Segovia. None of the orders ever possessed large numbers of knights, excepting the Knights Hospitaller, all were frequently involved in battle and often killed to the last man in different battles of the Reconquista. The ever popular Saint James Cross, was the symbol of the Santaguista, the Order of Santiago, worn on their tunics and brandished on their shields. upload_2014-8-10_16-36-42.png
Ponferrada? The Templars didn't build the somewhat French styled fortress, it was given to them, and thirty years later they were proscribed. The spikey bits on the top of the walls? See Maqueda, a fortress taken by the Calatrava Knightsupload_2014-8-10_16-39-11.png
The Templar association in my eyes is at best a free interpretation and only makes for a good yarn at the end of the day.
 

Attachments

Travellingman

Active Member
The Dra
Do you have details of where the route starts, duration of stages etc or where this information can be accessed if at all?
The route starts at Villafranca del Bierzo - easily found, just walk across the last bridge towards the new motorway tunnel. Then, a steep climb and more hard climbing - the route is well described in Brierley's guide. You will need waterproof footwear, as in places some wading needs to be done, as the path has been taken over by streams.
BUT - it is a lovely, albeit hard, walk, and I highly recommend it. I walked October last year, and apart from 3 or 4 locals, saw no-one else all day. The way marking is good, if you follow Brierley, and you will have the experience of walking the camino as it was 30 years ago. And, the stop at Herrerias will be most welcome!
Edit. It took me 7 hours.
 
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janecaroline

Devonstreams
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (May 2013) Camino de Madrid -( Aug/ Sept 2014)
Camino Frances - Leon to Santiago - Dec 2014
I first learned about the Dragonte way from an owner of a hotel in Villafranca. She was from the area and her husband loved the Templars. As a young man he used to trek on Dragonte but hasn't done it in over a decade. I didn't choose to take Dragonte but other friends of mine wanted to do it even before they started the Camino. I met up with then at night in Herrerias. One girl was crying because it was so hard and the guys kept pushing to go faster. The guys were all laying on the benches for over an hour before they could even walk to get a bed for the night. They were a wreck. It completed a bucket list item for their lives, but it clearly took a toll and will be burned in their memory forever.
Hi! always interested to hear about the Dragonte route. I did this route last May, on my own and it was the most incredible day of mystery and magic. I experienced every emotion possible - I hardly saw one other person, and certainly nobody to talk to, let alone another Peligrino until I found the wonderful Celia who opened her 'cafe' in Vilasinde and I sat with her and cried and drank and ate the biscuits she offered brought out for me!
It was an immense day in every way and if it had not been such a superb day weather wise I would not have attempted it as even for someone as 'mountain fit' as I was, it was a big ask physically and mentally on my own. Walking over the high tops past abandoned villages and through ancient woods of huge Spansh Chestnuts or wading through streams that had taken over the path, or waving at an old woman staring out at me from an ancient house - I felt that I was in another age and a totally different Spain.
I loved that day and will never forget Celia's kindness or the intoxicating scent of white broom and the sheer relief of finding the path again when I thought I was lost.
A route for anyone wanting to push themselves mentally or emotionally or physically or for anyone who needs space and peace off the beaten track for a day.
I first learned about the Dragonte way from an owner of a hotel in Villafranca. She was from the area and her husband loved the Templars. As a young man he used to trek on Dragonte but hasn't done it in over a decade. I didn't choose to take Dragonte but other friends of mine wanted to do it even before they started the Camino. I met up with then at night in Herrerias. One girl was crying because it was so hard and the guys kept pushing to go faster. The guys were all laying on the benches for over an hour before they could even walk to get a bed for the night. They were a wreck. It completed a bucket list item for their lives, but it clearly took a toll and will be burned in their memory forever.
 

SuperPilgrim

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF June 5, 2013
CF June 5, 2015
CF June 3, 2017
CN May 27, 2019
Loving the conflict on this thread and trying to sort through it all.

If anyone reads this thread from top to bottom you will see loads of claims, counter claims and conflict. As a person who truly loves the camino I wanted to know the truth and sort right from wrong. I did some reading, some Google searches, and even placed a few calls to CALU which maintains the most advanced program on templars under Dr. Paul Crawford. To list all the conflicting claims in this thread and then take them apart is actually not that difficult. There are several things known about the templars and the communities along the camino. Most of what is written is based upon structured ASSUMPTIONS based on limited documented history. Let's break some things down from start to finish:

Claim on this thread: The Dragonte Route was a Knights Templar military route
Known Facts: The Templars, like most other military orders of the day, often used this standard military technique. We also know the Templars wrote about using these techniques while protecting pilgrams on the camino and the road from Jaffa to Jerusalem. The ruins and markings along the Dragonte route are military in nature and were typical of this military usage during the time of the Templars but were most likely used by other orders as well. There are no specific markings of the Templars on the trail, but there are also no markings of any other military order so it is unkown which or how many different military orders used Dragonte.

Claim on this thread: Villafranca del Bierzo seems to have been autonomous, and protected by other church and civil authorities
Known Facts: The church in this area was operated by the French Benedictine monks. An order that ran hotels and hospitals. The biggest misconception in this thread seems to have been cleared up by my calls to CALU. It appears that most of us in the thread assume that governmental authority in a region by anyone other than the Templars would exclude the knights Templar from operating in the area. That seems perfectly logical under today's society, but was not the case in the time of the Templars. Even the castle of Ponferrada is not important to the discussion. The castle had little to do with the Templars protecting pilgrams. It seems confusing so I will break it down in simple terms the way it was explained to me. With simple facts:
  • The Templars were an order from Jerusalem who started with more soldiers than monks. They focused on protection of pilrgams on the road from Jaffa to Jerusalem.
  • Through most of their existance the Templars were the only order of monks to carry weapons.
  • In 1139 Pope Innocent II's papal bull Omne Datum Optimum exempted the Order from obedience to local laws. This ruling meant that the Templars could pass freely through all borders, were not required to pay any taxes, and were exempt from all authority except that of the pope.
  • The knights were working every inch of the Camino de Santiago in all regions regardless of other local governments, christian missions or rogue kingdoms. The area had conflict between spanish, french, and smaller kingdoms but all of these governments remained loyal to the pope.
  • The templars were the elite, but small, warrior monks of the church. The best trained soldiers of their time.
  • While it is true that King Alfonso did make the Templar knights the "official authority" in certain areas from time to time, this was just ceremony. My papal decree the knights were the authority on the camino and all other christian pilramage routes, everyday, every inch.
  • There were often larger orders of knights in the area, but this was not a conflict but more of a synergy. There is always macho posturing between military orders but they were on the same side. Many posts here claim things which are simply an error of assumption. When you talk with the experts who have dedicated their lives to finding the facts it all comes together. In many ways all of these posts are accurate.
Open discussion is a good thing. I've learned more about Dragonte and theTemplars than I could have ever imagined. I remain thankful to everyone on this thread and in this forum.
 

SafariGirl

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Vía de la Plata, Primitivo, Norte, Lebaniego & Vadiniense,
Aragonés
Loving the conflict on this thread and trying to sort through it all.

If anyone reads this thread from top to bottom you will see loads of claims, counter claims and conflict. As a person who truly loves the camino I wanted to know the truth and sort right from wrong. I did some reading, some Google searches, and even placed a few calls to CALU which maintains the most advanced program on templars under Dr. Paul Crawford. To list all the conflicting claims in this thread and then take them apart is actually not that difficult. There are several things known about the templars and the communities along the camino. Most of what is written is based upon structured ASSUMPTIONS based on limited documented history. Let's break some things down from start to finish:

Claim on this thread: The Dragonte Route was a Knights Templar military route
Known Facts: The Templars, like most other military orders of the day, often used this standard military technique. We also know the Templars wrote about using these techniques while protecting pilgrams on the camino and the road from Jaffa to Jerusalem. The ruins and markings along the Dragonte route are military in nature and were typical of this military usage during the time of the Templars but were most likely used by other orders as well. There are no specific markings of the Templars on the trail, but there are also no markings of any other military order so it is unkown which or how many different military orders used Dragonte.

Claim on this thread: Villafranca del Bierzo seems to have been autonomous, and protected by other church and civil authorities
Known Facts: The church in this area was operated by the French Benedictine monks. An order that ran hotels and hospitals. The biggest misconception in this thread seems to have been cleared up by my calls to CALU. It appears that most of us in the thread assume that governmental authority in a region by anyone other than the Templars would exclude the knights Templar from operating in the area. That seems perfectly logical under today's society, but was not the case in the time of the Templars. Even the castle of Ponferrada is not important to the discussion. The castle had little to do with the Templars protecting pilgrams. It seems confusing so I will break it down in simple terms the way it was explained to me. With simple facts:
  • The Templars were an order from Jerusalem who started with more soldiers than monks. They focused on protection of pilrgams on the road from Jaffa to Jerusalem.
  • Through most of their existance the Templars were the only order of monks to carry weapons.
  • In 1139 Pope Innocent II's papal bull Omne Datum Optimum exempted the Order from obedience to local laws. This ruling meant that the Templars could pass freely through all borders, were not required to pay any taxes, and were exempt from all authority except that of the pope.
  • The knights were working every inch of the Camino de Santiago in all regions regardless of other local governments, christian missions or rogue kingdoms. The area had conflict between spanish, french, and smaller kingdoms but all of these governments remained loyal to the pope.
  • The templars were the elite, but small, warrior monks of the church. The best trained soldiers of their time.
  • While it is true that King Alfonso did make the Templar knights the "official authority" in certain areas from time to time, this was just ceremony. My papal decree the knights were the authority on the camino and all other christian pilramage routes, everyday, every inch.
  • There were often larger orders of knights in the area, but this was not a conflict but more of a synergy. There is always macho posturing between military orders but they were on the same side. Many posts here claim things which are simply an error of assumption. When you talk with the experts who have dedicated their lives to finding the facts it all comes together. In many ways all of these posts are accurate.
Open discussion is a good thing. I've learned more about Dragonte and theTemplars than I could have ever imagined. I remain thankful to everyone on this thread and in this forum.
Thank you for this ‘pulling together and clarifying’ post. I did read the thread from top to bottom, was absolutely fascinated by it, and a little confused/perplexed by some of the claims and counter-claims. Your post helped to untangle them and I’m grateful to you (and everyone else) for the information shared here. Muchísimas gracias 😊 🙏
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
The Knights Templar didn't exist for very long. They started out strong with the Crusades, but became very rich very quickly, they were bankers and great wheeler-dealers. They looked after pilgrims' money while they were out journeying, and eventually lent money to European royalty to fund their many wars. This, and the loss of big territories in the Holy Land when the Crusades failed, was their downfall. By getting rid of the templars, the kings and princes could then get rid of their debts... which they did.
The Templars' strutting around and flouting local law got old pretty fast, and it wasn't so hard to employ local princes as well as churchmen to purge them. With support of Pope Clement V, there was a big roundup of Templar Knights on Friday the 13th, 1307. They were horribly tortured and executed, their funds and property seized, their papal approval removed. Their role as guardians of pilgrims was taken over by the Knights Hospitallers, who still exist on the Camino in the form of Knights of Malta -- they run pilgrim albergues in Villacazar de Sirga and Cizur Menor.
The Templar legend lives on, a whole lot of it is pure moonshine and guys playing dress-up with swords and armor and tall tales no one can source historically. A few guys in Templar garb still actually help pilgrims -- meet Tomas, the "Templar Knight" of Manjarin.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Nice thread.

My understanding is that in when the king of France maneuvered for the dissolution of his debt and seizure of Templar assets in France, he arranged for the head of the order to be arrested and charged with a number of crimes. After the ensuing ‘investigations’, the pope apparently actually wrote a bull exonerating the last Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, but this was never published and he was allowed to be executed.
 

SuperPilgrim

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF June 5, 2013
CF June 5, 2015
CF June 3, 2017
CN May 27, 2019
Thank you for this ‘pulling together and clarifying’ post. I did read the thread from top to bottom, was absolutely fascinated by it, and a little confused/perplexed by some of the claims and counter-claims. Your post helped to untangle them and I’m grateful to you (and everyone else) for the information shared here. Muchísimas gracias 😊 🙏
SafariGirl, Thank you for acknowledging the work I've done on this post. I wanted to figure it out for myself and then post my findings. With any open forum you will find lots of opinions and 100% of the people think they are 100% correct 100% of the time. In this case all of the people had some of the info correct and there wasn't any major disagreements. I've not walked the Dragonte route, but some friends have and they said it was brutal. I'll walk it one day, it is a "bucket list" item!
 

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