When you think of the Knights Templar, you probably envision a looming beast of a man in a tunic. There are red crosses on his cape and tunic and you might even imagine him with a crusader helmet covering his entire face. He’s wielding a sword and many of you might envision a stoic beard as well. While these glorious beards weren’t required to become a Knight, it was such a trend for the Templars to sport beards that they were often referred to as an “order of bearded brethren.”
The Knights and their Beards
It was said that a Knight was even more worthy of respect if he wore a full beard and no one, not even his sworn nemesis, would doubt his honor. The beard was a cherished symbol of his virility. There was no mistaking a Templar’s manliness or his willingness to pick up the sword and split the skulls of his enemies. Clearly, the Knights treasured their facial hair and that makes sense, too. It’s a bit more difficult to come off as a mighty defender and fearsome swordsman with a face as smooth as a baby’s bottom. In fact, they loved their man-manes so much that if a Knight’s beard was ever touched or pulled by another, the beardsman would insist on a duel. Despite this being fairly well-known back then, many a man died after foolishly yanking a Templar’s whiskers.
When a beardsman was knighted, he would start preparing a full day in advance. Among other hygienic steps, he would always trim his beard and hair. Eventually, when the Knight-to-be was neat, tidy and smelling great, he’d head into his “accolade” as they called the dubbing. There, he would kneel to have a knighting sword tapped on his shoulders. And thus, a new Templar Knight was born.
Armor Customized to Showcase Facial Hair
Some knights had customized armor made so that at least some of their facial hair could peek out. Often this armor would be in the form of chainmail and it would drape around the neck to protect one of the most vulnerable areas on a human body. There would just be enough room for a mustache to remain visible. Prince Edward of Wales had his tomb decorated with his likeness in full armor, armor which was designed to let his mustache breathe.
The End of Templar Knights and their beards
Everything came to a screeching halt for the Knights when King Philip IV of France decided that, rather than paying his hefty debt to the Templars, he would accuse them of horrendous acts of blasphemy, including worship of a bearded false idol, and call for them all to be arrested, one by one. The King ordered the arrest of every last Templar on October 13th, 1307.
As the hunt for Templars began, French authorities would single out bearded men and when Templars caught on that they were identifiable by their big, bushy beards, they began to shave them. It’s reported that over 130 Knights Templar shaved their beards to avoid capture. Considering how much they valued their luscious locks, there were probably more than a few broken Templar hearts in 1307. Shaving their manes didn’t work for all of them, though. Many Knights were captured and tortured, and some were even tortured to death.
It was a bloody and gruesome end to the order of bearded brethren, but they will forever be remembered as strong, honorable men who defended their glorious beards to the death.
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