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Walters Ms. W.132, Rule of the Knights Templar

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Rule of the Knights Templar

Text title
Règle des Templiers


This early copy of the Rule of the Knights Templar was created in the last quarter of the thirteenth century in the Arras-Douai region of French Flanders. Its original owner may have been a member of the Order of Dourges, and may have had a familial connection to "Gery dit de Bay," cited in a charter dated 1266 and inserted in the back of the manuscript. The addition of the charter, as well as later notations on the history of the manuscript and of the Templars themselves, make this a rich document.


Last quarter of the 13th century CE


Northeast France (Flanders at the time), probably Arras-Douai region






The primary language in this manuscript is French, Old (842-ca.1400).

Support material


Medium-weight, unevenly selected and finished parchment, with hair still visible on some folios; early nineteenth-century paper bifolium inserted between front flyleaf and first folio, attached originally with red sealing wax (now loose)


Foliation: i+98+ii

Modern pencil foliation, upper right corners, rectos; the first three folios are later added parchment and are not integral to the quire structure of the original manuscript, so while they received folio numbers when the book was foliated, they are technically flyleaves; the charter attached between fols. 97 and 98 may have been part of the manuscript from an early date, and is treated here as a skipped folio


Formula: Quire 1: 4, with first folio cancelled (fols. 1-3); Quires 2-8: 12 (fols. 4-87); Quire 9: 12, with fifth folio cancelled, and with charter bound in between fol. 97 and fol. 98

Catchwords: None

Signatures: None

Comments: Fifteenth-century collator's note, fol. 97r: "94m foliu scriptu traditio 21. augusti anno domini 1455."


11.6 cm wide by 16.2 cm high

Written surface

8.9 cm wide by 13.3 cm high

fols. 1r - 98v:
  1. Columns: 1
  2. Ruled lines: 20
  3. Ruled in light brown ink
fols. Insert1r - Insert2v:
  1. Layout varies from rest of manuscript; no standard structure to pages

fols. 1r - 98v:
  1. Title: Règle des Templiers
  2. Hand note: Rounded textura; several hands evident, with definite change of hand fol. 86r
  3. Decoration note: Enlarged initials, in alternating red and blue and flourished with the opposite color, indicate text divisions (2-3 lines); only figurative images are occasional faces found in pen flourishes (i.e. fol. 22v); line-fillers consist of connected red circles; rubrics in red; text in dark brown ink
fols. Insert1r - Insert2v:
  1. Title: Inserted note on contents of manuscript
  2. Contents: Paper insert, originally affixed to fol. 1 with red sealing wax at gutter, dated Douai, June 6, 1831; writer has initialed it "GH," and identifies the owner of the manuscript at that time as "Monsieur Barrois de Lille"; text refers to the history of the manuscript, referring especially to the charter in the back and offering information about the land holdings of the de Bay family, who are connected to the charter; Randall has suggested (p. 85) that this knowledge of the region and its history indicates that the book was still in the possession of descendants of the original owner at least until the French Revolution
  3. Hand note: Nineteenth-century hand
fols. 1v - 2r:
  1. Title: Added history of the Knights Templar
  2. Incipit: L'Ordre des Templiers
  3. Contents: Brief history of the Order of the Knights Templar on added parchment leaves; written in early twentieth century, around time manuscript was purchased by Julius D. Ichenhauser
  4. Hand note: Early twentieth-century hand
  5. Decoration note: Red ink
fols. 4r - 7r:
  1. Title: Prologue
  2. Rubric: Ci comence le prologue de la regle dou temple.
  3. Incipit: Nos parlons premierement atos ceaus qui mesprizent segre luer propres volentes
fols. 7r - 97r:
  1. Title: Rule of the Knights Templar
  2. Rubric: Ci comence le regle dou temple.
  3. Incipit: Vos abrenuncians vos propres volentes
  4. Contents: Text is abridged, varying in contents and order from editions such as that published by L. Dailliez (1972); Randall points out, for example, that W.132 matches Dailliez closely through fol. 7v, then the contents of fols. 7v-9v is found scattered throughout many sections of Dailliez's edition; an article in which Dailliez explores a variety of textual recensions (1974) includes eight Latin and three French manuscripts, but omits W.132
fols. 97v - 97v:
  1. Title: Added love poem
  2. Incipit: Se ie ne chant si souvent comme iou faire soloye
  3. Contents: Love poem added in thirteenth or fourteenth century to originally blank back of folio; written in ballad format, with three rhyming couplets containing four lines each; Randall points out this is an unusual addition given the rule to not keep company with women (fol. 24r)
  4. Hand note: Charter hand
fols. 97bisr - 97bisv:
  1. Title: Charter from 1266
  2. Contents: Charter dated October 21, 1266, tipped in between fols. 97 and 98; written in Latin, and has slits for attachment of seal (now missing); records gift of land in Dourges, Noyelles, and Courcelles to Augustinians of Mont-Saint-Eloy (in Arras) by Gery "dit de Bay"; charter created by Héluin de Béthune, clerk at Arras; several notes on back of charter, dating from the thirteenth through the seventeenth century, repeat Héluin's name, as well as names of locations in the area and of the Bay family: "Bay XVI"
  3. Hand note: Charter hand


fol. 4r:

  1. W.132, fol. 4r
  2. Title: Decorated initial "N" with penwork face in lower margin
  3. Form: Decorated initial "N," 2 lines
  4. Text: Prologue: Rule of the Knights Templar


The binding is not original.

Rebound in France, early nineteenth century; brown morocco with gold tooled designs around edges of covers, spine, and on turn-ins; edges of pages gilded; gilt inscription on spine reads: "REGLE DOU TEMPLE 1128"


Created in the Arras-Douai region of French Flanders in the last quarter of the thirteenth century: references within the manuscript help date it, such as a mention of the Tartar invasion on fol. 84r which provides a terminus post quem of 1257, and a reference to the Commander as being the head of the organization in France alone, as opposed to France and England together, suggests it must have been made before 1290; original owner may have been a member of the Order of Dourges, a region referred to in the charter, and may have had a familial connection to "Gery dit de Bay," cited in the charter as a donor of lands in the Arras region, and whose family surname is also written on the back of the charter; Randall suggests (cat. no. 36) that the manuscript likely was retained by descendants of the original owner until at least the French Revolution, given the knowledge of the region and the de Bay family mentioned in the inserted note of 1831 (see below)

Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Barrois of Lille, indicated as owner on inserted note about contents of manuscript before first folio, dated June 6, 1831, and initialed "GH"; small paper note attached to front pastedown, which refers to the authorship of the "Rule" and to a book about French literature, may be by the hand of Barrois himself; Barrois number given on spine and on front pastedown as "234"

Earl of Ashburnham, England, purchased from Barrois sale, 1849

Julius D. Ichenhauser, New York, purchased for £23.10 from Ashburnham sale, Sotheby's, London, June 10, 1901, lot 56 (number "56" in circle written at bottom of front pastedown in blue crayon; price noted on front flyleaf i, r)

Henry Walters, Baltimore, purchased from bookseller Ichenhauser between 1901 and 1931


Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters' bequest


De Ricci, Seymour. Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. Vol. 1. New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1935, n. 502; 845

Dailliez, Laurent. Les Templiers et les Règles de l'Ordre du Temple (Paris, 1972).

Dailliez, Laurent. "Le plus ancien texte de la Règle du Temple. Le Manuscrit 131 de la Bibliothèque de Bruges," Handelingen van het Genootschap voor Geschiedenis. Societe d'Emulation te Brugge 3-4 (1974): 175-200. W.132 is not included in this study, but it is textually related to the works discussed.

Judith Oliver. "The Rule of the Templars and a Courtly Ballade." Scriptorium 35, no. 2 (1981): 303-306; pp. 303-306.

Randall, Lilian M.C. Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Walters Art Gallery: France, 875-1420. Baltimore: Walters Art Museum, 1989, pp. 83-86, cat. no. 36

Cerrini, Simonetta. "La tradition manuscrite de la regle du Temple: Études pour une nouvelle édition des versions latine et française." In Autour de la premiere croisade: Actes du Colloque de la Society for the Study of the Crusades and the Latin East (Clermont-Ferrand, 22-25 juin 1995). Edited by Michel Balard, 203-219. Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1996; 215.

Kirstein, Klaus-Peter. Die lateinischen Patriarchen von Jerusalem: von der Eroberung der Heiligen Stadt durch die Kreuzfahrer 1099 bis zum Ende der Kreuzfahrerstaaten 1291. Berlin: Duncker and Humblot, 2002; p. 226.

Complément Bibliographique 2007 to the Dictionnaire Étymologique de l'Ancien Français. Edited by Frankwalt Möhren. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 2007; p. 570.

Vogel, Christian. Das Recht der Templer: Ausgewählte Aspekte des Templerrechts unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Statutenhandschriften aus Paris, Rom, Baltimore und Barcelona. Münster: LIT Verlag, 2007; pp. 74, 82, 375.

Riley-Smith, Jonathan. "An Ignored Meeting of a Templar Chapter-General." In Profesör Doktor Işın Demirkent anısına. Edited by Işın Demirkent; Abdülkerim Özaydın, et al. İstanbul : Dünya yayıncılık, 2008; p. 390.

Riley-Smith, Jonathan. "The Templars and Their Legislation." In Law as Profession and Practice in Medieval Europe: Essays in Honor of James A. Brundage. Edited by Kenneth Pennington and Melodie Harris Eichbauer, 359-370. Surrey: Ashgate, 2011; p. 364.


Principal cataloger: Randall, Lilian M.C.

Cataloger: Herbert, Lynley

Editor: Herbert, Lynley

Copy editor: Dibble, Charles

Conservators: Owen, Linda; Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Emery, Doug; Herbold, Rebekah; Noel, William; Schuele, Allyson; Tabritha, Ariel; Toth, Michael B.; Wiegand, Kimber


The Walters Art Museum


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.