ASSEMBLING YOUR TEMPLAR KIT
The road I had to take to get my gear in order
By Robertí de Tyre
NEEDLESSto say, most beginners in the Society realize the staggering expense involved in preparing gear for an SCA persona. I have found that as a person gets more educated, the more authentic they want their equipment to look. I had some preconceived notions on what a Templar should look like, and a lot of those were based of watching movies dealing with the Crusades Period (circa 1097-1291).
In the nineteen years of involvement Iíve had in the Society, Iíve had a Templar persona. Most of the research done to make my gear look the part is based on either the Rule of the Temple, the wall frescos of the Templar churches at Cressac and San Bevignate, a map of Jerusalem, circa 1170 C. E. and Matthew Parisí Chronica Majora.
II. GETTING STARTED
If your persona is just starting out, youíll probably want to concentrate on getting your habit assembled first. This will help you to better identify with the persona you wish to work with. The habit consists of : undertunic, braies, chausses, supertunica hooded cloak and skullcap. A belt of cord completes the look. According to the Rule, the cloak is to have a red cross formeeí on the left shoulder measuring about nine inches square, and the supertunica is to have a smaller one on the left breast, at four-and-a-half inches square. Templars of knightly lineage wore white habits, sergeants wore black or brown ones.
For constructing the fighting surcoat, the aforementioned fresco at Cressac shows Templars charging. It also clearly shows the knights wearing the appropriate cross on the left side of the surcoat. Depending on time period, the Cressac fresco shows the surcoat could be either long-sleeved or sleeveless, and the length varies from mid-calf to knee-length. Mail, scale or lamellar armour was used, as well as padded gambesons.
Shields were shown in a variety of ways. In the Chronica Majora, the shields shown are white with a black bar on top, like the Templar banner Baucent. On the Cressac fresco, and on the map of Jerusalem,the shields are shown as white with the Templar cross prominently displayed. One other design shows a Templar cross surmounting a raven displayed, which is indicative of personal heraldry, though the Rule expressly forbids it.
To date, I have found no period source that shows Templar clothing with the cross displayed dead center of the chest, but the Rule states that Brother Sergeants of the order were to wear the red cross front and back of the surcoat. Nor have I been able to document that Templar priests wore a green colored version of the habit with gloves, though it is mentioned in passing by John J. Robinson in Dungeon, Fire and Sword, Chapter 3, pg. 47, and he doesnít site his source.
On the frescos in the Templar church of San Bevignate, the Templars are shown in hooded white habits very much like Cistercian monks, inside a castle, with a raging lion outside. According to Malcomb-Barber, this may be an alliteration to St. Jerome, in which the saint removes a thorn from a lionís paw.
Consequently, if you have a fighting persona, you will want to acquire armor. This subject is covered at length in Pulling it all Together and Pulling it all Together, II, a set of articles you can find here. You will also want to get a list of weapons and other gear appropriate to the Crusades period as you can.
I close this article to point out that in order to be the most accurate, we in the Society are compelled to use actual sources in period. This is what will make us different from the "duct-tape and plastic" crowd that tends to permeate our events. The question we should ask ourselves is "Can we be seen as actually recreating the Middle Ages as it should be?"
If we are not, we should think of how to set ourselves apart from those that donít. Believe me, the people that come to see us will be more attracted to those that "look like knights" rather than someone from Knightriders. I hope this article helps to put you on that road.