Templar Castles: La Rochelle, France

Templar Castles: La Rochelle, France

The port of La Rochelle in western France was an important base for the Templars, being home to their main naval base. 

The Knights Templar had a strong presence in La Rochelle since before the time of Eleanor of Aquitaine, who exempted them from duties and gave them mills in her 1139 Charter. La Rochelle was for the Templars their largest base on the Atlantic Ocean, and where they stationed their main fleet. From La Rochelle, they were able to act as intermediaries in trade between England and the Mediterranean. 

When the order was issued by Pope Clement V to disband the Templars and arrest its leaders, it is rumoured that the fleet of ships used to transport the Templar leader, Jaques de Molay, to La Rochelle from Cyprus was used to secretly whisk a band of knights and large quantities of Templar treasure safely away.

Today, the Templar presence in La Rochelle can still be seen. The entranceway to their preceptory (headquarters) can still be seen on the Rue des Templiers in La Rochelle’s old town. An original Templar cross can still be seen on the wall, and the courtyard beyond the entranceway houses a large Templar cross commemorating the Templar’s time in the city.