chapter  6
26 Pages

Templar and Hospitaller Establishments in Southern France: The State of Research and New Perspectives

Although it could be said that an archaeology specifically dedicated to the military orders is still only in its infancy, the progress made by two decades of research is not negligible. This article aims to sum up the work done in an area limited to the southern half of France, that is to say, in Provence, Languedoc,

Aquitaine, with some glimpses at Dauphiné and Auvergne. Naturally, there is no question of making an exhaustive presentation of the knowledge gained and the new approaches opened by the study of how the military orders were established here. Nothing will be said about the everyday life of the brethren as revealed in the findings at a number of sites, nor about craft activities or the liturgical arrangement of the cult sites. Nor will there be any mention of the burial practices or the physical anthropological studies of the populations buried in the commanderies. The aim is rather to put forward some suggestions about the organisation of the spaces and about the architecture of the commanderies. Through selected examples, the intention is to demonstrate the difficulty and diversity of the scholarly approaches. While we await the development of university research, on the basis of planned excavations and doctoral theses, the most important results are actually provided by rescue archaeology and building studies. I shall also emphasise that archaeological investigation must always be complemented with the study of written sources. To underline the innovations brought about by current research, it seems useful to begin with a brief statement of the development of historiography (part I). It will suffice here to cite some recent works, or slightly older ones, solely with the ambition of providing the reader with bibliographical references that are often little known, unpublished, or scattered. This will be followed by some considerations of the general organisation of the topography of the commanderies (part II), and a brief look at the question of burial grounds (part III).