Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The Knights Templar in Gaultier

Dr Dr Niall Byrne opens the BGHS  lecture season with his talk
The Knights Templar in Gaultier.

Knights' Seal -  horse shared  indicating poverty
An audience of over 50 people was present at the Ocean Hotel, Dunmore East on September 27 to hear Dr Niall Byrne give the opening talk of the Barony of Gaultier Historical Society’s  2010-11 lecture season.  Dr Byrne’ s topic was the story of the Knights Templar in Gaultier,  particularly their connections to Crooke and Leperstown.   Dr Byrne’s scholarship came through in his detailed and well illustrated presentation which was very well received by the audience.  The talk was followed by refreshments generously provided by the Ocean Hotel.  This was a great start to our season and really whetted the appetite for the talks to come over the next  seven months. 

The story of the Templars is a  gripping, multilayered slice of history reaching across almost all the countries of Europe and into the Middle East during the time of the Crusades.  The Templars although outlawed by the principal monarchs of Europe in the early 1300s morphed into other quasi military orders such as the Knights Hospitallers and even coming down to the present day in the origins of the Knights of Malta.  They are mostly remembered for their presence in the Middle East during the wars of conquest  between Europeans and Muslims, always  in the guise of saviours  under their respective religious banners. 
The Templars were granted lands on either side of Waterford Harbour by a grant of Henry 11 soon after his arrival here in Gaultier in 1171,  Crooke being the site of a substantial  manor of thousands of acres.  No doubt they had a military presence in Waterford  Harbour but their main recorded contribution seems to have been in agriculture, the 1328 audit of their Crook lands giving detailed testimony to this.  They grew large quantities of cereals , probably bringing much of Gaultier under cultivation.  It is thought that this was grown as feed for the horses used by the Knights across Europe and especially in the Holy Lands.  This opens up a fascinating story of shipping and trade that would have been an important part of Gaultier life in those years.

Dr Byrne concluded his talk by tracing the origins of Waterford County and City Infirmary in Leperstown with the rents and produce of this area going to finance the Leper Hospital of the medieval period, it s successor, the Fever Hospital of Waterford which eventually became the Infirmary. 

The Society wishes to thank Dr Byrne for this fascinating and important contribution to the history of Gaultier and to a great start to our current season.

More information on the knights in Ireland here 

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