You may have heard about the Templars but who were they? What were they doing in Sardinia? Did they leave any traces?
Following the first Holy War (1096-1099), in 1119 a group of eight knights belonging to the French nobility founded in Jerusalem the order of The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon. Their purpose was to protect and assist pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land. This double purpose was achieved by setting up an armed branch of the order and by building monasteries, churches and refuges open to pilgrims.
Their reputation and their organization allowed them to collect vast donations from believers throughout Europe. Did you know they invented a credit method thereby becoming a powerful banking institution with branches dotting the whole of the Mediterranean?
Sardinia at that time was a major place of passage for pilgrims travelling from West Europe to the Holy Sepulchrum. The Templars financed many constructions by building completely new structures or upgrading existing ones. How did they do that? Simple, they worked closely with Sardinian Judges.
A Judge in Medieval Sardinia had regency power exactly like a sovereign. Each Judge ruled over one of the four Giudicati into which the island was divided. That’s the case of Judge Gonario II of Torres, who reigned over North-West Sardinia and was always accompanied by a mysterious figure. The latter was Roberto de Tour, also know as Templar Robertus Turonensis, who offered his services as magister curiae – an all-encompassing administrator.
Gonario will later travel with Roberto to the Holy Land. In fact, he intended to annul his excommunication after having spilt the blood of his enemies behind the altar of the monastery of Saint Nicholas of Trullas. Once back in Europe both will become monks at the monastery of Citeaux in Burgundy, France. But before all that Gonario and Robert worked together on many projects.
Let’s start off on the trail of the Templars in Sardinia and visit 9 places that still cherish their traces.