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Who Were The Knights Templar?

  1. Read the text and find the answers to the following questions:

· How did the Knights Templar appear?

· What was the Knights Templar’s responsibility?

· What was Bernard of Clairvaux’s role in the Order’s destiny?

· How did the Knights Templar accumulate their wealth?

· Who destroyed the Order and why?

Within two decades of the victory of the First Crusade (1095-1099) a group of knights led by Hugues (Hugh) de Payens offered themselves to the Patriarch of Jerusalem to serve as a military force.

This group – often said to be nine in number – had the mandate of protecting Christian pilgrims who were en route to the Holy Land to visit the shrines sacred to their faith.

Somewhere between the years of AD 1118 – 1120, King Baldwin II granted the group quarters in a wing of the Royal Palace on the Temple Mount (the Al Aqsa Mosque). It has been generally accepted that, for the first nine years of their existence, the Templars – as they came to be known – consisted of nine members.

Although it has been widely speculated that the Templars wished to keep it this way to cover their secret mission of digging for buried treasure on the Temple Mount, the simple fact remains that the lifestyle adopted by the Order was not to everyone’s taste. As such, the Templars had difficulty in recruiting members to their cause in the early years.

In the year 1127 the Cistercian abbot, Bernard of Clairvaux, wrote a rule of order for the Templars that was based on his own Cistercian Order’s rule of conduct. Additionally, Bernard did a great deal to promote the Templars.

Perhaps Bernard’s greatest contribution to the Order was a letter that he wrote to Hugues de Payens, entitled De laude novae militae (In praise of the new knighthood.) This letter swept throughout Christendom drawing many men, of noble birth, who joined the ranks of the Templar Order. Those who were unable to join often gifted the Templars with land and other valuables.

While it is true that the Templars were not permitted, by their rule, to own much of anything personally, there was no such restriction on the Order as a whole. As such, the gifts of land were accepted and put to immediate use by the Templars, who farmed the land generating additional wealth.

Over the years the Templars rose from their humble beginnings to become the wealthiest of the Crusading Orders.

This wealth, generated in the West was put to immediate use in the East to buy arms and raise armies. Although the Templars are regarded as the greatest of the medieval military Orders, the record shows that they lost more battles than they won.

However, after two centuries of defending the Christian faith, the Order met its demise when Philip IV – known as Philip le Belle (the Fair) – sought to destroy the Templars.

Historians are generally in agreement that Philip was motivated by greed rather than his belief that the Templars were corrupt.

Regardless of his motivations, Philip had the Templars arrested on October 13, 1307.

The Templars were tortured and confessions were given.

On March 18th, 1314 the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay, was burned at the stake, for having recanted his earlier confessions of guilt. De Molay is said to have cursed King Philip and Pope Clement as he burned, asking both men to join him in death within a year.

The story is an apocryphal legend; however, it is one that has come to be widely accepted. Although there is no historical truth to the de Molay curse story, both Pope Clement V and Philip IV followed de Molay to their graves within the year.


quarters – жилье, казармы

speculate – размышлять, предполагать

Temple Mount – Храмовая Гора

Cistercian – цистерианский; цистерианец (орден, примыкавший к бенедектинскому)

Christendom – христианский мир; христианские страны и народы

demise – гибель

apocryphal – апокрифический


  1. Look through the text again and find words and constructions you may use in your professional discourse (scientific terms etc.). Translate and memorize them.
  2. Find the transcription of the following words and practise pronouncing them: Crusade, existence, buried, treasure, apocryphal.
  3. Make up a plan of the text.
  4. Prove that:

· The Order was surrounded by speculation and mystery from the beginning to the end of its existence.

· The Order owes much of its popularity to its image.

· The Order had little military success.

Who Were the Vikings?


  1. Read the text and find the answers to the following questions:

· Who do we mean by term “the Vikings”?

· What is the etymology of the word “Viking”?

· Why did the Vikings go to Britain?

· What was the usual pattern the Vikings followed to prepare for their raids?

· Why were the Vikings willing to take the risks of overseas raids?

· Why didn’t all Vikings want to return home after raids?



Whilst the term 'Vikings' is used throughout these pages, it is a generic term used to mean anyone of Scandinavian descent. The word Viking has several meanings. The most usual being a 'pirate', and as such it could be equally well applied to any sea-going raider, even a Saxon, Frankish or Frisian one! Not that it was how the Vikings regarded themselves if you ever had the gall to ask. From the Norse, the term was used in the form of 'to go a-viking', making it sound more like a family day out. The other common translation is 'a man of the bays or inlets' which comes from the name for the fjords in the area called 'Viks', and in this sense it is generally applied to the Scandinavians.

The term Viking covers the Norse (Norwegians), Danes, Svear (Swedes), Rus (Russian Vikings), Anglo-Danes, Anglo-Norse, Hiberno-Norse, Icelanders, and Greenlanders. To confuse matters further, most Vikings would adopt many of the local customs, fashions and social structures of the areas they settled in, so for example, an Anglo-Dane would not look the same as, or act identically to a native Dane. With the naturalisation of Danes and Norwegians in Britain, came divided loyalties and aspirations.

The main question should be as to why they bothered to risk a potentially dangerous crossing to get to Britain. Usually, it was put down to the large population expansion in Scandinavia at the end of a period called the Migration Period. As a result of a small amount of good farming land being available and the practice of sub-dividing land up amongst sons, the pressure was on to find new ways of earning a crust.

This may or may not be the story behind the Viking forays overseas. But the simple fact was that after the Viking trading missions had visited your port, then there was potential threat of a more violent visit as they now knew where you lived, what was on offer and how well your port was defended. There is no reason why the Anglo-Saxons couldn't have gone raiding for themselves to Scandinavia, other than perhaps they were too busy making a good living over in Britain. Even the people who lived on the fringes of Scotland found little time or energy to bother returning to Norway, to give as good as they got.

So perhaps that is the real reason, the chances of huge gains and slices of the cake far outweighed the risk. Farming seemed to be a very tiresome way to earn a living. To young men there was glamour in raiding, and they may not have been that strapped for cash either to begin with, as it has always cost a great deal to arm yourself, cover yourself in mail and put a helmet on your head. Their ships meant that they could pick and choose where and to a certain extent when to visit a settlement, with the advantage of surprise almost all on their side. There was no point in returning home from a long voyage with your equipment rusty, and little to show for your efforts, so that in turn meant that you had to be that little bit more persuasive when your raiding party asked for things of value. No wonder they got a reputation for being ruthless.



gall – опрометчивость, безрассудность

Norse – норвежцы

bay – бухта

inlet – узкий морской залив, небольшая бухта

earn a crust – зарабатывать на кусок хлеба

foray – набег, нападение

fringe – периферия, отдаленная область

mail – кольчуга

persuasive – убедительный

ruthless – беспощадный, жестокий



  1. Look through the text again and find words and constructions you may use in your professional discourse (scientific terms etc.). Translate and memorize them.
  2. Find the transcription of the following words and practise pronouncing them: fjord, pressure, earning, tiresome, persuasive.
  3. Decide whether the following statements are true or false according to the text:

· The Vikings easily assimilated with the locals.

· The Danish and Norwegian Vikings who settled in Britain developed the principles and values different from other Vikings.

· We know precisely the reason why the Vikings went overseas.

· The Viking ships were not good enough to let them go back after the raids.


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