Vrana and its significance for the history of medieval Croatia were soon connected with three religious communities: the Benedictines, Templars and Hospitallers. The arrival of these three ranks to the place of Vrana and their cultural and political influence were conditioned by the current situation in Croatia and the papal policy. We can add to this the richness of Vrana as well as the amount of land under cultivation at that time, which led the place of Vrana to become one of the most significant centers of political life, especially in the period from 1070 to the Turkish conquest of Vrana in 1537. It should be emphasized that the influence of these three ranks is not as significant for the ecclesiastical and culture area itself as it is for the political life of the period. Such influence of these three religious communities is a consequence of their position in society. Namely, those communities were exempted from the jurisdiction of the local bishops, and because of their direct subordination to the Pope, the rulers and the nobility could not encroach on their possessions without consequence. Furthermore, the exemption of these ranks afforded them a privileged position, so that they were directly implicated in the papal policy of that time, and rulers could rely on them especially in the internal struggles for domination over the princes and in the battle for the royal throne.
Since the 12th century, the influence of two ranks of knights, Templars and Hospitallers has been particularly significant over the whole territory of Croatia. However, Vrana holds a special place. In fact, during the period from the 12th to t he 16th century, Vrana has become a significant factor in domestic history just because of the Templars and Hospitallers. Concerning the domestic historiography, there has been a lack of detailed studies on their role and position. However, quite a large number of documents has been preserved, mainly grants and litigations that the Templars conducted with other ranks, local bishops or princes.
The Templars belong to the so-called "knightly ranks" created during the Crusades. They were founded by Hugo des Payens (+1136), who, together with seven French knights, took a vow of poverty, restraint and obedience in Jerusalem in 1119, as well a vow to defend the pilgrims in Jerusalem and on their passage from Jaffa to the Holy Land. This kind of rank is a special novelty in church history, but quite understandable at that time. The Templars united the two most popular idealisms of that time: military and monastic. Balduin II gave them a part of his royal palace called Templum Salomonis. Hence the name Templars or milites (equites) Templi or, as they are called in domestic documents, "Fratres militiae Templi".
Their monasteries, established in the Holy Land or in the West, are called "Templa". Their legal position was arranged at the synod of Troyes (1128) and their rules were drafted by Bernard of Clairvaux. These rules were supplemented by Saint Stephen Jerusalem in 1130. The members of the order were mostly French nobles. They have glorified themselves at the battles of Christians in the Holy Land, at the battle against the Moors in the Iberian Peninsula and in 1241 at the battle near Liegnitz against the Tatars. Later, following the pattern of the Hospitallers, they took care of the sick, while the Hospitallers, along with the care of the sick, from the Templars acquired their military character. The Knights Templar order was finally arranged by the papal bull Omne datum optimum Inocenta II (29 March 1139) and became directly subordinated to the pope and endowed with many privileges. The Knights Templar included three types of members: knights, priests, and serving brothers. They wore distinct types of clothes. The knights wore white and the serving brothers gray or black clothes. Eugen III (1146) added a red cross to their clothes. They were financially assisted by the associated male and female members of the order.
The order was completely imbued with the true military spirit. At the head of the order was the grand master who had been elected from among the knights, while his power was limited by the general chapter. The general chapter also selected great dignitaries, the deputy grand master (senechal), the marshal who directed the military campaigns, as well as the commanders who were the principles of individual cities and Templar provinces of which they also kept order. However, such arrangement of the Templar order was not consistently implemented everywhere. In domestic documents can be found other names too, such as the grand prior, grand preceptor, priors and preceptors.
At the same time, for the elders of certain Templar provinces, the name master (magister) is used. In ime, the Templars began to spread rapidly. Thus, shortly after their founding, they could be found in France, England, Belgium and Germany, as well as in Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Croatia. The problem is whether the Templars in Hungary and Croatia owned one religious province or two. The historical document from 1199 mentions the grand master and brothers of the "Templi de Ungaria". In his deed of donation issued in 1219, by which he donated the land to the Templars, Andrew II called the Templars "per Hungarima et Sclavonima Domus Templi", and as early as in 1217, the grand master Ponzi de Cruce, the protector of Andrew II in Croatia is called "maestro della militia del Tempio per Ungaria et Sclavonia".
Later historical documents also mention the Templar province "Ungarie et Sclavoniae", or just "Ungariae", which brings us to the conclusion that the Templar province in Croatia and Hungary are one and the same Templar province. The fact is that the Templars in Hungary did not have any particular influence nor were they quite widespread in a later time, but the claim that they were widespread in Hungary in the first period upon their arrival cannot be rebutted.
From the beginning, the Templars were famed for their great courage. However, by receiving various feudal gifts, the order soon became rich, and the Templars became bankers who lent money to merchants and kings, or managed their money on their own. This allowed them to have a major influence on the policies of individual countries. Since they lost their original goal of defending pilgrims in the Holy Land, there were attempts to unite with the Hospitallers. However, this has never happened.
Because of their great wealth and the reputation they have gained, the Templars were held in very high esteem in many countries and at numerous courts. After the fall of Akon in 1291, the Templars went to Cyprus and later their headquarters was relocated to France. It was here that Philip I, the Handsome, wanted to get their wealth. Therefore he accused them of heresy, perjury and debauchery. Nowadays, historians believe that these accusations of Philip I the Handsome concerning the Templars' perjury and debauchery were exaggerated and based on statements compelled by coercive measures and torture. From the beginning, Clement V wanted to protect the Templars from the allegations of Philip I the Handsome, but later he himself began to believe in them. However, the Francophile policy of the Roman Curia in particular, required at the Council at Vienna in 1312 the revoking of the order despite the opposition of the bishops, while their good deeds were partly attributed to the rulers of certain countries and partly to the Hospitallers or other orders. The last grand master of the order, morally broken James de Molay, persuaded the Templars to plead guilty. He was burned in Paris in 1214.
We do not know the exact time and place of arrival of the Templars to Croatia. There are differing opinions on this among historians. Some say that the Templars came to Croatia at the beginning of the 12th century. However, we consider there to be little evidence for that claim. According to that opinion, the arrival of the Templars to Croatia should be linked to Bela II, who allegedly donated to the Templars the monastery of St. Gregory in Vrana together with the surrounding land. G. Urlić-Ivanović claims that the Templars were forced to migrate from Palestine, after which they dispersed across Europe and thus came to Croatia. According to G. Urlić-Ivanović, Bela II donated the monastery of Vrana to the Templars who had come to do him obeisance, and whom the king himself had invited to come to Vrana in the meantime. Such a claim cannot be justified, since the Templars had to migrate from Palestine only after the fall of Akon in 1291, and had spread to Europe before. However, Bela II could not donate the monastery of Sv. Gregory in Vrana to the Templars by himself because, according to the donation of King Zvonimir, "the monastery forever belonged to St. Peter".
According to Feyer, I. Kukuljević refers to the document that already mentioned "Praeceptoratus Templariorum S. Gregorii in Vrana" in 1165, and there is also the document 1169/1170 dated February 18, in which Pope Alexander III informs the Split archbishop Gerard of the dispute concerning Vrana that arose between the Templars and the Bishop of Skradin, after which he pronounced the judgment in favor of the Templars. J. Butorac mentions this year as the year of the Templars' arrival to Croatia. This means that the arrival of the Templars to Vrana should certainly be placed at least prior to the year 1165.
Nor can we define with certainty the place where the Templars first came to Croatia. Their arrival is mostly associated with the place of Vrana. Of course, it is said that the Knights of Vrana had the greatest influence in the political life of Croatia, but it is impossible to say for sure that Vrana is the place from which they spread to trans-Velebit Croatia and Hungary. For that purpose, it would be necessary to examine the history of the Templar Knights in Hungary. Since the Grand Master of the Templar province in our region is called "Magister Ungariae et Sclavoniae", and at the same time we find the Templars in Vrana and Upper Croatia, it can be stated that the Templars spread partly from Vrana and partly from Upper Croatia or Hungary.
It is certain that during the time of Andrew II it was called "per Hungarians et Sclavons Domus Militae Templi Magistrum". Such an opinion regarding the spread of Templars from two centers is also represented by A. de Benvenuti. He relies on Farlati's claim that Bela II founded two Knights Templar priories, one of them in Bela and the other one in Vrana. According to him, The Priory of Vrana was subordinate to the Priory of Bela. This is also supported by the document mentioned by I. Kukuljević, but there is some doubt of the accuracy of its transcript. According to this document, the Templars already owned the town of Bela near Varaždin in 1165.
Throughout history, the Knights of Vrana became the most influential order, while the Priory of Vrana was the most important priory in the whole area of Croatia after the abolition of the Templars in the time of the Hospitallers. Due to this privileged position of Vrana, it was believed that the Templars had moved from the place of Vrana, as "the original site and home territory", had moved to trans-Velebit Croatia and Hungary. The very name "the Priory of Vrana" is known only by the documents published in the 14th century and refers to the Hospitallers, not the Templars. In further exposition we will dwell on the Knights of Vrana and their spread, as far as we could determine from the documents at our disposal.
If we exclude the document issued in 1165, which mentions "Praeceptoratus Templariorum S. Gregorii in Vrana", the Knights of Vrana were first mentioned in the above-mentioned document issued in 1169/1170, referring to the dispute between the Diocese of Skradin and the Knights of Vrana. After the destruction of Biograd by the Venetians in 1126 during the war with Croatian-Hungarian king-Croatian king, the surrounding land area of Vrana was annexed to the Diocese of Skradin. For this reason, the Diocese of Skradin wanted to preserve "jus parochiale" over the piory of Vrana, i.e. he wanted his power to extend as far as the estate itself.
In this dispute, Alexander III ordered the Archbishop of Split and his legate Gerard to Protect the Templars, and prohibited the Bishop of Skradin from disturbing their possessions and their dominion in Vrana. In doing so, Pope Alexander III referred to the grant of King Zvonimir, which he cites according to the regression of Pope Eugene III (1136-1138). With this grant, king Zvonimir donated (dono, concedo, confirmo) the monastery of St. Gregory in Vrana "with all its movable and immovable goods to the Roman Church, in order to serve forever to the St. Peter's Legacy as a hospile uhder their authority (in eorum potestate) on condition that it could not be handed over to any other authority but for all time to be in the property of St. Peter's Legacy". From those data, we can relate the arrival of the Templars in Vrana with the Benedictine monastery of St. Gregory, which king Zvonimir donated to the Roman Church and was thus ruled only by the pope. It is obvious from the document that Alexander III does not defend the Templars, but refers to the property that is “owned by St. Peter".
Hence the opinion of Bianchi that the monastery was bestowed on them by Bela II and that it was confirmed by Alexander III is considered to be unsustainable. Whereas it is true that the grant provided that the monastery "should not be handed over to any other authority" than to be wholly in the authority of the pope's legacies. However, since the monastery “was at all times given to St. Peter, when the Croatian rulers and the pope's legacies disappeared from their court, the pope was free to dispose of this monastery. It is therefore acceptable that Farlati and Pray claim that the place of Vrana was given to the Templars by the Roman Church. I. Kukuljević also supported this claim by stating that it would have been improbable that the king at that time could have disposed of ecclesiastical goods, and especially of the monasteries without the admission of the Roman Chair.
This is also confirmed by the purpose of the Templar order. At that time, they were not yet forced to migrate from the Holy Land, but were aiding the Crusades. And the place of Vrana was just in a prominent position where important thoroughfares intersect, both coastal and inland, serving the Crusaders to bring reinforcements and supplies. Therefore, the reason for the Templar's arrival in Vrana must be sought in connection with the Papal Policy of that time and concern for the conquest of the Holy Land. This is corroborated by the document from 1198 by which Emerik, King of Hungary and Croatia, at the request of the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Friar Francis and other brothers of the Templar Order exempted them from paying levies and gave them the freedom to enjoy water, grazing and fuel throughout the kingdom. The document explicitly mentions the merits of the Templars for fighting the "enemy of the cross of Christ." Only gradually, when they became rich, did the Templars have an impact on the economic and political life of Croatia and their main purpose fell under a shadow. At that time, the Templars of Vrana were embroiled in a policy of fighting for the royal crown and became a counterweight to powerful nobles.
Besides numerous possessions in Dalmatia,the Templars of Vrana soon gained great power. However, because of this they also entered into conflicts, especially with the Benedictines, with whom they also litigated. As early as 1183, hungarian-croatian king Bela gave them the city of the Croatian littoral - Senj and the church of Sv. George. The document issued in 1184/1185 was preserved, by which Pope Lucius III confirms to the Templars the donation of the city of Senj and the church of St. George. Near the church, they arranged a cloister that was mentioned in 1248 in two settlements between the Venetians and the Templars. The settlement with the Venetians was concluded by the envoy of the Templar Grand Master Gulielmo from Sonar or Sinai, knight Jakov de Tornellis. Present were Herman of the Burg, the preceptor of Campania and the province of Treviso and Jordan, the preceptor of Vrana and Senj.
This indicates that the town of Senj at that time fell within the preceptory of Vrana. The fate of the Templar monastery in Senj is not entirely clear. In the document issued in 1314, after the abolition of the Templars, Krk dukes Duraj and Frederick declared the monastery to be their property, while J. Frančišković stated that the monastery of St. George belonged to the Templars until 1260, and later the dukes might have handed it over to the Benedictines, who reportedly remained there until the Turkish invasion. However, A. Rački thinks it's pretty likely that the monastery of St. George was handed over to the Benedictines or the Cistercians.The destiny of the Templars of Senj can be better determined from the Deed of Gift by King Bela IV issued in 1269, which was confirmed a year later by his eldest son, King Stephen V, in 1272, at the request of Master Guilelmo, confirmed by King Ladislav IV, as well as in 1274, confirmed by Pope Gregory X.
In Dubica, they were summoned by the Bishop of Zagreb, Timothy, the Palatine of Hungary Mate, chaplain at the artillery Mate, and the Master Gerardo functioning as conciliators. According to the King's request, they reconciled the feuding parties. The sons of Ban Stjepan forgave the Babonić counts for the murder of their brother Ban Jaćim. After the abolition of the Templars, Dubica was given into the hands of the Hospitallers and governed by their prior called "sacrae domus hospitalis S. Johannis prior humilis et comes Dubycke", acting as a mayor of their prior. It was the only monastery of trans-Velebit Croatia for which we were able to establish a direct connection with the convent of the Vrana Knights Templar.
The Vran Templars also received estates in the immediate vicinity. Bianchi mentions the fortress of Sinj, which is confirmed and documented in 1194. Some argue that the town of Ljuba (Ljubač) also once belonged to the Templars of Vrana and that they also had a monastery there.54 At the beginning of the 13th century, they were given Klis, but they were never able to rule Šibenik, even though it was given to them. Nor is there any evidence that there was a Templar monastery on the islands of Kornati in Tarac (Torette), as C. Iveković suggests.56 Nor can be proven the Serafin Razzi's news that Lastovo Island belonged to the Templar Order.
Bela IV wanted to reward the Princes of Krk and Modruš for their fight against the Tatars by giving them the city of Senj and the Gacka region (Senj and Modruš), held by the Templars. The Templars therefore sued the Pope. They acknowledged that the citizens of Senj did not show their obedience, but they could not accept the fact to be confiscated from Senj and the Gacka region. When Duke Bela became lord of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia, he promised the Templars that he would settle the costs of litigation, and the condition of the settlement was to give them other possessions. Instead of Senj, Bela gave them the city of Dubica and the County of Dubica. From this we can conclude that the Senj Templars, which were under Vrana, remained there until 1299 at the latest, when we were guaranteed the news of a lawsuit against the Templars. Senj and the County of Gacka then came under the rule of the Princes of Krk and Modruš. According to the document issued in 1314, this Templar monastery was the property of the Princes of Modruš. However, there is also a document showing that during the pontificate of Pope John XXII (1316-1334), there was a Benedictine monastery in Senj, which confirms the assertion of Frančišković that the Princes of Krk handed over the monastery to the hands of Benedictines.
The Templars of Dubica are also mentioned in the year 1278, when Gerardo, the then master and the prior of Vrana received the sons of Ban, Captain of Styria Stephen and princes Ivan Babonić, the Ban of Slavonia, his brother Radoslav and relatives Nikola and Stjepan.
In the Vrana area, the Templars litigated for their possession. We have already mentioned the dispute which they had with the Bishop of Skradin, which was settled by Pope Alexander III in favor of the Templars, defending the right of possession of the Roman Church.
The Templars of Vrana had discussions with the Benedictines about the monastery of St. Kuzma and Damjan. The document issued in 1194 in Tinj shows that the parties agreed. In 1200, Pope Innocent III reconciled the Templar Order with the monastery of st. Kuzma and Damjan and reaffirmed the document issued in Tinj on July 9, 1194. With the same monastery, the Templars also litigated later. From a document issued in 1229 we learn that the lawsuit in connection with the vineyard and properties in Rogovo was led by Archbishop Guncel of Split. Unless there is a settlement, it was determined to bring legal proceedings. In the absence of a settlement, a court was established and in December 1229 the jury returned he a verdict in favor of the Benedictines who proved their right by three documents. In the same year the abbot of Rogovo promised to the archbishop of Split to be always faithful to him and defend him against the allegations of Pope and the King if the Templars rebel against the Roman pope. This shows us how great a reputation the Templars had for the Pope. The Popes at that time almost regularly defended the interests of the Templars. Thus, in the debate between the Templars on the one hand and the Bishop of Knin and Nin on the other, the Bishop of Nin reconciled with the Templars in their favor.
Because of this, the Bishop of Knin quarreled with the Bishop of Nin. The Templars reported the case to Pope Innocent III. On 11 June 1208 he ordered the Archbishop of Dubrovnik and the Archdiocese of Trogir to investigate the Archbishop of Knin. The consequences of this investigation are unknown to us. The Popes at that time almost regularly defended the interests of the Templars. Thus, in the debate between the Templars on the one hand and the Bishop of Knin and Nin on the other, the Bishop of Nin reconciled with the Templars in their favor. Because of this, the Bishop of Knin quarreled with the Bishop of Nin. The Templars reported the case to Pope Innocent III. On 11 June 1208 he ordered the Archbishop of Dubrovnik and the Archdiocese of Trogir to investigate the Archbishop of Knin. The consequences of this investigation are unknown to us.
The wealth of the Templars of Vrana is evidenced by the case after the destruction of Zadar by the Venetians in 1202. At that time, Zadar was also supported by Archbishop Bernard of Split and the Templars of Vrana. In Gaeta, the Archbishop paid 10 galleys from the Templars of Vrana's money to liberate Zadar from the Venetians. With this navy, the exiled citizens of Zadar conquered the city again in 1203.
The reputation of the Templars of Vrana reached its peak in the early decades of the 13th century, especially under the Grand Master of the Knight Templars Pontius de Cruce. However, before discussing the development of the Templars of Vrana from that period and their significance for Croatian history at that time, we will briefly return to the Templars in trans-Velebit Croatia.
Speaking about the arrival of the Templars in Croatia, we emphasized that it is impossible to say with certainty that the Templars spread only from Vrana as from their original center in trans-Velebit Croatia. According to I. Kukuljević, besides Hungary and Slavonia, as early as 1165 the Templars also owned the town of Bela near Varaždin. According to Krčelić, the Archbishop of Zagreb Bernaldus (around the year 1163), or as The Statutes of Zagreb Chapter call him Bernard, was also a Templar. In his discussion "Bishops and Archbishops of Zagreb", J. Butorac does not adopt that opinion of Kukuljević.
In a document from 1175, by which Bela III, King of Croatia and Hungary, confirmed to the Zagreb Chapter the area of Zelina and Novum predium, which was given to them by Bishop Prodan, he also me ntioned that Prodan had donated the Templars the place of Glogovnica in Križevci Diocese. For Glogovnica, King Andrew II mentions in a document that, by permission of Bela III, he gave it to the Templars an endowment. I. Kukuljević claims that Bishop Prodan brought the Templars to Zagreb as well.
The spread of Templars in trans-Velebit Croatia is also evidenced by the document from 1201. It statee that in the village of Ezdel Zdelia there was a Templar land donated to them by Borić of Bosnia during the years 1160 to 1163. With the confirmation of King Bella III, Ban's grandchildren later added other places as well. Under the Bishop of Zagreb, Gothard (during the years 1205 to 1214), the Templars in Croatia gained immense possessions and privileges. In 1226, Stephen II, bishop of Zagreb, gave them the land of Tkalec near Križevci. The kings gave the Templars plenty of possessions, confirmed their earlier grants, and gave them various privileges. The Hungarian-Croatian King Emerik, his brother Andrew II and Bela IV, were particularly well known in this regard.
Emerik confirmed to the Templars in 1198 all the movable and immovable possessions and exempted them from paying levies. He also confirmed to them a land grant made by his father Bela III for land called Pisana (Pisanica) in the County of Gorizia. At that time, the Templars also had a large estate near Vlaška, which was given to them by the Deputy Ban Benko in 1199. There they built a monastery with the church of St. Martin. In 1230, Bishop Stephen II of Zagreb settled the dispute with the Templars and left them Rašačka (Rassecha) west of Psunj, while Vaška near the river Drava remaind in his property. In the village of Novaki are also mentioned the Templar monastery and the church of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
At the tie of the Croatian-Hungarian kings Andrew II (1205-1235) and Bela IV (1235-1270), the Templars in Croatia, and especially Preceptory Vrana reached the peak of their powers. Andrija wanted to sell his rights to Croatia and Dalmatia for hundred thousand ducats, considering that by doing so, he would have more easily realized his claims upon the royal crown, which after the death of his father Bela III (11721196) belonged to his older brother Andrew, Emerik. He also sparked an armed conflict with his brother.
The Templars supported him in doing so. After the death of Ladislav III he legally came to the Croatian-Hungarian throne. He also gave donations to the nobility and monasteries.
In 1209 he confirmed to the Templars all the previous grants. In this document he also mentioned the possessions of the Templars in the County of Gorizia, which were donated to them by the mayor of the County of Gorizia, Godmir. In addition, he endowed the Templars with new possessions, freed them from the court of Ban and exempted them from paying levies. He also gave them the property of St. Martin near Zagreb.
This property Andrew II first donated to the valpot Krakon. But when he failed him, Andrew II took the possession back and executed him. In 1210, Andrew II also confirmed to the Templars the possession of Liesnica in the County of Požega. This property was left to the Templars by the great prefect of the County of Bačka, Šćepan. By the same document, he also gave them the Rateš or Raceš estate which he had taken from Petar, son of Tatar because of some of his previous crimes, and confirmed to them other possessions that the Templars had received as a gift in the County of Vodice and Gorizia.
Before going on the Crusade in Palestine in 1217, he installed the Master of the Templars, Ponzi de Cruce, as royal governor of Croatia and Dalmatia. In a document dating from 1217, which includes provisions of the dispute between the citizens of Trogir and Prince Domald, he called himself "hulocotenente regio in Croatia e Dalmatia". I. Kukuljević calls Poncius de Cruce the "prior of Vrana". However, there is no evidence that he, in addition to his duties as a "master", also acted as a prior of the Priory of Vrana.
Pontius de Cruce supported Andrew with his knights and money from Vrana. In his day, the Templars had a very big influence in Croatia. In the aforementioned document of 1217, Pontius de Cruce defended the citizens of Trogir from Prince Domald Kačić. On August 23, 1217 in Split, king Andrew donated to Ponzi de Cruce the Klis fortress, which was the headquarters of the Templars until 1229. That year, the fortress was taken away by Domald Kačić. Instead of the Klis fortress, king Andrew donated them Šibenik. But the Templars could never dominate Sibenik. According to the document issued on July 5, 1255, we learn that Pope Alexander IV wrote to the Archbishop of Zadar and other clergy that King Andrew gave the Templars in return for Klis the fortress of Sibenik and that the people of Sibenik had to obey.
In the place Kamensko of the County of Gorizia, Poncie de Cruce built the monastery, while Andrew II, after returning from the Crusade in 1218, granted the Templars the county of Gacka, which remained under their administration until the year 1269. That year, Bela IV donated it to the princes of Krk and Modruš.
At the time, the Templars had a dispute with the Cistercians over the Mogoš estate in the County of Gorizia. Before the arrival of the Cistercians, Bella III donated the Templars many of the estates in the county of Gorizia. The Templars wanted to obtain by fraud Mogoš, and for this reason they forged a grant by which Prince Domald Kačić, as compensation, gave the Templars the estate of Mogoš in the County of Gorizia.
The abbot of the Cistercian abbey in Topusko complained to the young King Bela IV who ordered that on May 26, 1224 this dispute should have been resolved. On that occasion, Domald Kačić admitted publicly before Bela IV and other noblemen that he had never owned anything in the County of Gorizia. At that time, the Templars also had a dispute with the monastery of St. Kuzma and Damjan, as we have shown above, as well as with Zagreb's Bishop Stjepan. When Bela IV wanted to restore the estates that Andrew had bestowed on feudal lords and monasteries, the Pope rose in defense of the Templars. Thus, by the document dated 16 January 1236 Pope Gregory IX asked Bela to return some of the goods in Hungary and Croatia to the monks, among them the Templars, while in the document dated January 25, 1236 Gregory IX wrote to Coloman, King of Galicia and Duke of Slavonia, asking from him to live in harmony with the Templars. The same year, on July 30, the Pope wrote to the bishop of Pécs asking from him to reconcile Coloman with the Templars.
The conflict with Koloman arose when he seized some of the possessions in Croatia from the Templars. When the pope wrote to the bishop of Pécs Bartol and the Zagreb's Bishop Stjepan to force Coloman to return the properties to the Templars, did he issue a charter in 1236. in which he undertook to defend in advance their possessions and privileges. During the battle against the Tatars, the Templars fought on the Sajó river in 1241. and almost everyone died there. In the battle against the Tatars in both Hungary and Croatia, the Templars were on the side of Coloman and Bela.
At that time, there was also a mention of the Prior of Vrana, Deša Spignaroll, a native of Zadar. I. Kukuljevic believed that he was the first Croatian prior. This position was mainly held by the French and Italians. Since the danger of the Tatars ceased, Bela IV returned to Croatia more often. His place of residence mentions Zagreb, Virovitica, Vaska, Split, Trogir and Vrana. Bela met the newly elected Archbishop Ugrin in Vrana, on Easter 1245. There he reconciled the citizens of Split and Trogir. However, at that time the reputation of the Templars began to decline. The king was increasingly reliant on nobility. That's exactly when Bela IV donated the princes of Krk and Modruš the County of Gacka. During the reign of the last members of the dynasty Arpadović and their battles with the Angevines, the Templars were for a short time on the side of the dynasty Arpadović. Then the power of the Templars also started to decline, so they were forced to pledge some of their possessions. At the time of Master Gerard in 1293, the Templars opted for the Angevins and mediated in Naples, first through the Master Gerard and later through the preceptor Robert de Cuda regarding the succession to the Croatian-Hungarian throne.
At that time, the reputation of the Templars was declining in other countries as well. At the Council of Lyon, Gregory X wanted to unite the Templars and the Hospitallers. Nicholas IV tried to do the same. Pope Nicholas IV also wrote to the Archbishop of Split asking him to hold a provincial council at which the clergy should have supported the pope's wish. However, this effort of Gregory X and Nicholas IV was unsuccessful. Benvenuti states that on August 26, 1291 Nicholas IV ordered Ivan, the Archbishop of Zadar, to hold a provincial council and decide whether it was appropriate to unite the Templars and the Hospitallers.
Since the Templars opted for the Angevins and sided with the Šubić princes, so they had their support. In 1298 we find in Vrana Paul III Šubić, the Ban of Croatia. On December 28, he reconciled in Vrana the princes and nobles of Krbava with the noble tribe Gušić. Together with Paul, the Templars brought Karl Robert to Zagreb, where in 1300 he was crowned King of Croatia. The Templars of Zagreb were also attached to Karlo, whom Pope Boniface VIII, considering Hungary to be one of the Pope's mission, proclaimed him the king of Croatia and Hungary. Boniface VIII wanted to mediate in Croatia and Hungary in the fight for the royal throne, and therefore asked the Bishop of Zagreb, Mihalj, to declare in his diocese the Pope's ruling that the right of the Croatian-Hungarian throne was granted to Karlo Robert Anjou. Bishop Mihalj granted the Pope's request. The proclamation of Boniface VIII of 1303 also mentions the Templars as faithful to the Pope.
After the abolition of the Templar order, all the Templars' possessions were handed over to the Hospitallers. The order of Pope Clement V in Dalmatia was received by the archbishops of Split and Zadar. I. Kukuljević claims that the order was also received by the Bishop of Senj. However, we know from the sources that the Templars of Senj welcomed Dubica in 1269. and after that there is no more talk of the Templars in Senj.
The Liber privilegiorum of the Archdiocese of Zagreb has preserved a document by which the Pope invited the Archbishop of Kalocsa and the Bishop of Zagreb to the Council of Vienne. It also mentions the merits of the Templars in the defense of the Holy Land, as well as the lawsuits brought against them in France by Philip the Handsome.
On February 15, 1310 the Archbishop of Kalocsa, Vinko, sent a letter to Bishop Augustine Kažotić and urged him to come to an agreement on such an important matter. It is not known whether Augustine Kažotić attended the Council at all. Of course, when he later received the Pope's letter about the abolition of the Templars, in 1314 he held the provincial council. Krčelić maintains that after the abolition of the order, Augustin Kažotić collected the Templars in Nova Ves near Sv. Ivan, where he supported them as well, and reported on the management of their assets every year from the pulpit. Later, all the Templars' possessions were handed over to the Hospitallers.
We do not know anything about the fate of the Templars after the order was abolished. According to Bianchi, who refers to Rohrbacher, the Templars in Vrana actually changed only the name, not the persons.
Benvenuti claims that although it may seem illegal, the nobility there wanted to have the support of the Templars of Vrana. Certainly, from 1312 onwards we can no longer speak of the Templars of Vrana, but of the Hospitallers. The Prior of Vrana (magnus prior) becomes the main prior of the Hospitallers throughout Croatia. The arrival of the Hospitallers in Vrana meant the increasing connectivity of the monastic monasteries in upper Croatia with those in the coastal region. This also raised the reputation of the Vrana Prior, which is best seen at the time of Ivan Paližna and his influence on the then politics throughout Croatia. At the beginning of the 16th century, the Vrana priory passed into the hands of the laity. However, this lasted for short time, since in 1538 the Turks conquered Vrana, which remained in Turkish hands until the mid-17th century. After the liberation from the Turks, the monks no longer returned to Vrana, and from the second half of the 17th century the title of the Vrana Prior was named after the Zagreb Capitol.