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THE WHITE KNIGHTS

The Templars





                
   


The dignitaries of the Templar Order

Here is a small list of the main functions in the Templar Order. By clicking on the different links, you'll get the names ot the Templars who had occupied these functions.



 
    

Hugues de Payns (1070??-1136)

Master of the Templar Order from 1118 to 1136.

The birth of Hugues de Payns, first Master and founder of the Order of the Temple, is shrouded in mystery. Some historians place him in Ardeche, but most agree he originated from Champagne.
He was born around 1070 in the lands of Payens, located around 10 km from Troyes. We know he was dubbed a Knight around 1085, because he is mentioned as Lord of Montigny in a charter from this period.
de Payns seemed to be an important person in the Court of Count of Champagne. His name is mentioned several times as a witness of donations made by Hugues, Count of Champagne. Nobody is able to say with assurance whether Hugues de Payns participated in the First Crusade or not. It is interesting to note though that his name is absent from donation acts until the return of the first Crusaders.
With an element of surety we can say that de Payns accompanied the Count of Champagne on his pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1104. He returned to France the following year only to revisit the Holy Land in 1114 with other secular knights, supported by the Count of Champagne.
Hugues de Payns and his companions entered the service of the Holy Sepulchre Canon to defend and protect pilgrims who came to meditate in Jerusalem.

To this end, one of their first actions was to build the tower of Destroit, on the road from Cesaree to Haifa. In 1118, they created the Order of the Poor Knights of Christ which in 1119, after having taken their monastic vows in front of Jerusalem’s Patriarch they assumed the name “Knights of the Temple of Jerusalem”, or more simply, Knights of the Temple, or just the Templars. Hugues de Payns was the first Master of this burgeoning Order.

Until 1127, Hugues de Payns and his companions provided protection for pilgrims going to Jerusalem. In autumn of this year, Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, and the Patriarch Goromond decided to send Hugues de Payns and five of his companions West to ask for help.
At the same time, Baldwin II sent a missive to Bernard of Clairvaux for two reasons. First, it was important to establish recognition for the Templars.
Second, the new Order required a Rule to live by, and therefore someone to write it.

During the next two years, Hugues de Payns and his companions travelled through France developing their burgeoning Militia. Their travels also served to secure provisions indispensable to their functioning in the Holy Land.
In the spring of 1129, de Payns embarked from Marseille for the journey back to the Holy Land. He was accompanied by his companions and numerous new Knights.
According to chronicles, Hugues de Payns died in 1136. At a respectable 66 years old, his longevity leads many historians to think that he simply died of old age.

 
 

  

Robert de Craon (10??-1149)

Master of the Templar Order from 1136 to 1149

Robert de Craon, originated from the Vitré region. He was the third son of Renaud de Bourgoing (Lord of Craon) and Lady Enagen de Vitré. His birth status as the youngest child automatically dedicated him to the priesthood.

Companion of Hugues de Payns, he is one of the nine founding Knights of the Order.
In June 1136 de Craon succeeded Hugues de Payns at the head of the Order. Prior to this he was Seneschal from 1125.
During his reign as Grand Master, Pope Innocent III allowed Templars generous privileges. These were decreed in the Bull ‘Omne Datum Optimum’ in 1139. The privileges included: independence from all but the Pope’s ecclesiastical supervision; authorization to build chapels, oratories and cemeteries; authorization to have Templar chaplains; exemption on payment of taxes, tithes…
Pope Innocent III also established a method for the election of future Masters of the Order. In addition he encouraged Templars to fight the enemies of Christendom without flinching. As reward, the Order could keep all the booty taken from the Saracens without anybody else claiming a part of it.

Robert de Craon organized the detailed functioning and management systems of preceptories and provinces. With wisdom and rigour, he also administered the donations, seemingly flooding in from everywhere. In fact he even refused the kingdom of Aragon which King Alphonse wanted the Templars to inherit after his dead.
In the East, Robert de Craon took two years to destroy the plunderers and brigands lead by Assouard, Aleppo’s Emir. He also managed to contain several Muslim attacks in the regions of Beaufort and Banyas, despite the Templar’s military weakness.
In 1139, de Craon participated in the disastrous battle in Teqoa, where the Order sacrificed their middle troops in order to protect the retreat of the routed Frankish Army.
At the death of King Foulques, in 1142, de Craon tried to arbitrate between Queen Melissende and her son Baudouin III, but without much susccess. Melissende ruled for 5 years with the goal of simply keeping the Kingdom of Jerusalem safe, without concern for the other Latin states of Edesse or Antioch. Baudouin, as his father before him, was more of the soldier, wanting to protect all the Latin states. During the benign reign of Melissende the Muslim armies under Zengui seized Edesse and a young Nur Al Din rose to power.
It was not until he was 19 years old that Baudouin III ascended to the throne.
In 1144, the Turks took advantage of the continually growing discord amongst Christians. They seized the city of Edesse killing more than 30 000 Christians and transporting a further 15 000 as slaves.
In July 1148, de Craon participated in the Assises of Acre which diverted the Second Crusade to Damas.
Robert de Craon died in January 1149 after the failure of the second crusade, lead by Louis VII, King of France and Konrad III, the Germanic Emperor.

          


    

Evrard des Barres (1113??-1174)

Master of the Templar Order from 1149 to 1151

Born around 1113 in Meaux (Champagne), Evrard des Barres entered the Templar Order while very young. In 1143, he was already the Preceptor of France. At Easter 1147, he convened the General Chapter of the Order in France. They met in the Chieftain house in Paris and decided to actively participate in the newly announced second crusade. The Order joined the army of Louis VII, King of France.

From the very beginning of the French army’s advance through Anatolia (January 1148) the Templars showed their courage and bravery by saving King Louis VII from a Turkish ambush in the gorges of Pisidie, near Mount Kadmos. After this victory, Louis VII handed over his entire army to the control of Evrard des Barres.
des Barres dictated the crusaders with an iron discipline. He divided the royal army into several groups, each lead by a Knight Templar. Thanks to the strict discipline enforced by the Templars, the French army made it through the dangerous gorges with minimal loos of life.

In springtime 1148, Louis VII and the rest of his army arrived in Antioch. Without any financial resources, he sent the Templars a request to borrow 2000 marks to provide for his needs. Evrard des Barres immediately went to Acre to gather the funds. This loan was the first financial act made by Templars who later became bankers for Kings and great Lords.
In Jerusalem, July 1148, Baudouin III gathered the Masters of the Temple and the Hospital, Louis VII and Konrad III for the purpose of besieging the city of Damas. In August the expedition ended in failure.
In January 1149, Robert de Craon died. He left his role as Master of the Order to Evrard des Barres. The latter joined Louis VII when he came back to France following the Easter of 1149. In May 1150, for the first time, Evrard des Barres presided over the General Chapter of the Order in Paris.

Andre de Montbard, at this time Seneschal of the Order, stayed in the East. He sent several letters to his new Master requesting his presence in the Holy Land and asking him to send reinforcements and money.
des Barres never answered these letters, because he decided to abandon his function as Master of the Order.
In April 1151, Evrard entered the Cistercian Order, in Clairvaux Abbey, as an ordinary monk.
He stayed there, lost in contemplation and prayers, until his death in 1174, some 24 years later.

Previous Master : Robert de Craon - Next Master : Bernard de Tremelay

 
 

Bernard de Tremelay (10??-1153)

Master of the Templar Order from 1151 to 1153

Bernard de Tremelay originated from the Earldom of Burgundy, son of Humbert, lord of Tremelay.
The decision of Evrard des Barres to retire to the Clairvaux Abbey surprised the Order’s hierarchy. After months of negotiations the General Chapter decided to elect Bernard de Tremelay as their new Master. At the time he was Preceptor of the Temple-Lès-Dole in Jura, an important preceptory.

The moment he arrived in the Holy Land, Bernard de Tremelay was entertained by King Baudouin III. Baudouin gave him the command and property of the fortified city of Gaza, which at the time was in ruins.
de Tremelay rebuilt the city walls and built new towers and entrenchments to ensure the city was impregnable.
He also reinforced the system of coastal defences by fortifying the cities of Jaffa, Arsus, La Roche Taillée and Le Daron. These cities were indispensable to the survival of the East Latin Kingdom.

Baudouin III decided to take advantage of several military victories over Nur-al-Din armies and the internal disputes between some Muslim dignitaries. Baudouin gathered his troops and left for the fortified city of Ascalon to besiege it.
In January 1153, Franks besieged the city but failed to enter it. In the zone occupied by Templars, an assault tower was placed near the city walls, causing death and terror amongst the defenders.
During the night of August 15th the city’s defenders tried to set fire to the tower by lighting a big woodshed at its foot.
Unfortunately for the defenders, the wind turned the fire against the city walls. The walls were already damaged by mines and the constant assaults of war. A big part of the walls collapsed, opening a breach in the defences. Straight away, Bernard de Tremelay and forty Temple knights rush through this opening and entered the city. At the same time they impeded the access of others assailants.
The Turkish defenders, initially in fear of Christians entering their city, regrouped and killed or captured all the Templars, including the Master, Bernard de Tremelay. On the evening of 16th, the decapitated corpses of the forty Templar Knights were hung by their feet at the top of the city walls.
The view of these massacred bodies tortured Christians minds and provoked wrath in their ranks. The city fell 3 days later.

The original siege saw the first death of a Master of the Temple in fighting. As a consequence, an argument was created regarding the Templars’ acts.
Some chroniclers, such as Guillaume de Tyr (William of Tyre), interpreted the acts as the Templars’ desire to seize the city alone and therefore keep the plunder for themselves.
Others chroniclers saw a brilliant feat whereby Knights Templar entered the city as scouts to protect the progress of the rest of Frankish army.

According to most texts, it seems the second version is more logical, but perhaps History will remember the interpretation of the great chronicler Guillaume de Tyr; a man with a particular dislike of the Templars.

 
  

André de Montbard (10??-1156)

Master of the Temple from 1154 to 1156.

Source : http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andr%C3%A9_de_Montbard

André de Montbard was the last of the Knights who initially founded the Templar Order.
He occupied the position of Seneschal for more than fifteen years before he accepted his nomination as Master of the Order. This occurred after Bernard de Tremelay died during the siege of Ascalon.
de Montbard accepted his nomination with the sole intention of blocking the election of Guillaume de Chanaleilles, who was a favorite of Louis VII, King of France.

The election of de Chanaleilles would have permitted King Louis VII to control the Order of the Temple. In turn, that control could have been used settled the delicate problem of Aquitaine

When André de Montbard became Master he was already an old Knight. He was tired after spending around 25 years in the ranks of the Militia of the Temple of Jesus-Christ. As Master, he wasn't particularly active and in 1156, he forsook his station and retired to the Claivaux Abbey, just as Evrard des Barres had done before him. André de Montbard died some months later, in October 1156.

Previous Master : Bernard de Tremelay - Next Master : Bertrand de Blanchefort

              

Bertrand de Blanchefort (1109??-1169)

Master of the Temple from 1156 to 1169.

Born around 1109, Bertrand de Blanchefort was the youngest son of Lord Godefroy de Blanchefort from the region of Guyenne.
Some chronicles show de Blanchefort becoming Master of the Order some days after the death of Andre Montbard, which presupposes his election was prepared in advance by the General Chapter.

In 1157, de Blanchefort fought beside Baudouin III against Nur-al-Din in the battle near Paneas. Returning from this expedition, Baudouin III dismissed his entire army and went quietly to Jerusalem. Nur-al-Din, informed of the dispersal of the Frankish army, organized an ambush at the Ford of Jacob, along Hule Lake.
The surprise was so great that most of the Frankish knights were killed or captured. Only Baudouin III and a handful of knights managed to escape.
Among the captive knights, were two dignitaries of the Order: Eudes de Saint-Amand, the Marshal of the Order, and Bertrand de Blanchefort.
They stayed prisoners of Nur-al-Din in Damas for 3 years, until the Byzantium Emperor, Manuel 1st Comnene negotiated a Peace Treaty and bought the liberty of the imprisoned Frankish knights.

Once liberated, Bertrand de Blanchefort undertook a small but deep reform of the rule. He wrote the ‘Retraits’, which specified the hierarchical usages and actions of the Master.
In other words, de Blanchefort differentiated the Templar ranks based on the status and mission of each dignitary and member. It also specified that the Master could no longer decide the collective future of the Order without the agreement of the General Chapter.

In 1163, Amaury 1st succeeded his brother Baudouin III as King of Jerusalem. He immediately decided to concentrate all his efforts fighting Cairo’s Caliphate, who already fell prey to a civil war between the Sunnites and Shiites.
Bertrand de Blanchefort, as well as Master of the Hospital, accompanied Amaury 1st in his Egyptian campaign. In September 1163, the Frankish army arrived in at Bilbais (ancient Pelouse), the key city of the Nile delta, and besieged it.
The city was about to fall when Dirghâm, the chief of the Egyptian army, destroyed the river embankments and so flooded the plains where the Franks were entrenched. This left the Franks with no option but to retreat.

The following year, Amaury revisited his campaign against the Egyptians and returned to besiege Bilbais. The armies of the two Orders were a constant help. During this time, Nur-al-Din undertook a great diversionary manoeuvre against the Earldom of Tripoli and the Principality of Antioch. He also seized the city of Harîm (or Harenc).
To counter the expansion of Nur-al-Din the Franks sent a knight of the Temple, Geoffroi Foucher, to the sultan of Cairo. The mission of Foucher was to act as an emissary of Amaury 1st and to strike an alliance against Ayyubids of Nur-al-Din.

In 1168, Amaury decided to again revisit his campaign against the Egyptians, but this time Bertrand de Blanchefort refused to accompany him because of the treaty negotiated by the Templar emissary the previous year.
According to the Reims Obituary, Bertrand de Blanchefort passed away from tiredness and old age on January 2nd 1169.

 
    

Philippe de Milly or Naplouse (1128??-1178)

Master of the Temple from 1169 to 1170.

Philippe de Milly was the eldest son of Guy de Milly.He was born a ‘Foal’, which is to say a Christian born in the Holy Land.

Before settling down in the Holly Land Philippe’s father participated in the First Crusade beside the Duke of Normandy.
Married to a rich heiress, Philippe became lord of the cities of Kerak and Montreal, both located in Arabia Petra, at the South-East end of the Dead Sea. Philippe exchanged the lordship of Montreal with King Amaury for the lordship of Naplouse. That is where he derived the name Philippe de Naplouse.

Becoming a widower, Philippe left his lands and entered the Order of the Temple in 1168. he was elected Master in January 1169.
To the King of Jerusalem, Amaury 1st, the election of Philippe de Milly, sounded the renewal of a strong relationship between himself and the Order. The previous reign of Bertrand de Blanchefort as Master of the Order had somewhat damaged that relationship.
The relationship was strengthened but Philippe de Milly resigned in 1171 and retired to a Cistercian convent.
The death of Philippe de Milly is noted in one text as being April 1178, but other historians, suggest he died in April 1171, just after he resigned.

Eudes de Saint-Amand (11??-1180)

Master of the Order from 1171 to 1180.

Originating from the province of Limousin, Eudes de Saint-Amand was Marshal of the Order when he was elected to succeed Philippe de Milly as Master of the Temple.

The Order needed a vivacious, active and courageous chief. In 1172, Gauthier du Maisnil, a Templar Knight, was accused by King Amaury 1st of killing an Ismaelian dignitary. The King demanded that Eudes de Saint-Amand delivered du Maisnil, but the new Master, asserting the Templars’ freedom from all but the Pope, categorically opposed the move.
The unexpected death of du Maisnil, followed some months later but it was the death of Amaury 1st that put an end to the quarrel.
Throughout the stand-off Eudes de Saint-Amand gained a reputation for being a strong, intransigent and inflexible man.

During his rule, Eudes de Saint-Amand lead several expeditions against Saladin’s armies. These included missions to Naplouse, Jericho and Djerach, where he achieved several victories. The most notable victory in which he participated was without doubt the battle in Montgisard.
After this glorious victory against Saladin’s forces, the Order received important donations, including one by Renaud, Lord of Margat, which attributed half of the income from several cities to the Order.

In March 1179, Templars built the ‘Chastellet’ fortress, at the Jacob Ford. Saladin tried to negotiate the destruction of this fortress, because its building violated the peace treaty he signed with Baudouin IV after the battle in Montgisard.
The Franks refused, despite Saladin’s promise to give 100 000 dinars for the destruction of the fortress.

In May 1179, Saladin wanted to invade the Kingdom of Jerusalem, but the ‘Chastellet’ resisted and the Muslim assaults broke on the walls, fiercely defended by Templars and the men of Constable Onfroi de Toron.
A short time later, King Baudouin IV, Raymond III de Tripoli, Eudes de Saint-Amand and Roger des Moulins, the Master of the Hospital, battled Saladin in the region of Marj’ Ayûn. Despite some Frankish victories, Saladin crushed the Christian armies and captured Eudes de Saint-Amand.

Without taking advantage of his victory at the end of August 1179, Saladin contented himself with besieging and destroying the Templars’ Chastellet fortress. Saladin executed the Templars present and their Turcoples.
Eudes de Saint-Amand died in October 1180 in one of Saladin’s jail. Shortly before his death it was proposed that he be exchanged for Saladin’s nephew who was a prisoner in a Frankish prison.

Previous Master : Philippe de Milly - Next Master : Arnaud de Toroge

Arnaud de Toroge (1110??-1184)

Master of the Order from 1180 to 1184.

Arnaud de Toroge was the Master of the Provinces Provence and Aragon when he was elected to the head of the Order at the end of 1180.
He succeeded Eudes de Saint-Amand, who died in captivity in Damas.

Arnaud de Toroge was more than 70 years old when he was elected, but he was a man experienced in the discipline and functioning of the Order. His knowledge centred on Spain, because of the "Reconquista", meaning de Toroge didn't really know the political situation of the Latin States.
His term as Master was marked by quarrels between Templars and Hospitalers, as the power and influence of the former constantly grew. As a result Arnaud de Toroge accepted mediation by Pope Lucius III and King Baudouin IV to put an end to the fratricidal quarrels.

In 1184, the political situation deteriorated further when Renaud de Châtillon, helped by Templar and Hospitaler knights, devastated Muslim territories in Transjordania for his own benefit.
Arnaud de Toroge had to show great political wisdom in his successful peace negotiations with Saladin who was ready to avenge Renaud de Chatillon's mortal raids.
Still in 1184, Arnaud de Toroge and the Master of the Hospital went to Europe to plead before the Pope
and Kings for a new Crusade. They hoped to reinforce the Latin States that were increasingly at the mercy of Saladin and the growing power of a reunified Muslim world.

During this trip, Arnaud de Toroge was taken ill and died in Verone on September 30th 1184 before having met Pope Lucius III.

Previous Master : Eudes de Saint-Amand - Next Master : Gérard de Ridefort

Gerard de Ridefort (1141??-1189)

Master of the Order from 1184 to 1189

Born in Flanders around 1141, Gerard de Ridefort arrived in The Holly Land as an adventurer wanting to try his luck.
His first move was to form a friendship with Raymond III, Count of Tripoli. He soon angered though when the Count refused to arrange his marriage to the rich heiress of an important fief of the Earldom.
Gerard de Ridefort then turned to the Kingdom of Jerusalem, where he became an intimate of Guy de Lusignan, who, at that time, was in a good position to succeed Baudouin IV, the young dying king.

de Ridefort succeeded to enter the Order of the Temple where he was elected Seneschal in 1183.
At the end of 1184, he was elected Master of the Order much to the surprise of the Barons of the Holy Land.
In 1185, after the death of Baudouin IV, de Ridefort resolutely sided with Guy de Lusignan against Raymond III for the succession to the throne. Gerard de Ridefort and Guy de Lusignan manoeuvred so well that the latter seized the crown in July 1186.

The political situation in the East was very confused at this time. Saladin wanted to invade Territories of the Kingdom of Jerusalem because the new king refused to chastise Renaud de Chatillon for the raids he committed in Muslim territories.
But to enter the Kingdom, Saladin had to pass through lands belonging to Raymond III with whom he was at peace. This made the situation of Raymond III rather uncomfortable. On one side he had to respect the negotiations he concluded with Saladin and on the other side he had to allow Muslims to pass through his domain even though he knew they wanted to slaughter Christians.

Raymond III found a compromise with Saladin’s messengers. He accepted that only the advanced guard of Saladin’s army could enter Galilee and only for one day.
They would be allowed to appear before the cities of Nazareth and Tiberiade but without doing any damage. To avoid conflict Raymond III informed the garrisons and the inhabitants of these regions to shelter behind the walls during the Muslim’s demonstration of force.

The compromise by Raymond III would have been successful if it was not for the pride of Gerard de Ridefort. On May 1st, de Ridefort alerted the Templar garrison of Qaqûn (between Acre and Chateau Pelerin) about the approaching force.
The alert prompted 90 Templar knights to go to Nazareth and rally defenders of the city.
They immediately advanced towards the Muslins, meeting them near Sephoria’s fountain (Saffûrya).

The pride of de Ridefort resulted in the slaughter of all the Frankish knights. Despite attempts by Roger des Moulins, Master of the Hospital and Jacques de Mailly, Marshall of the Temple, to reason with Gerard de Ridefort, the Master wanted to lead his 150 knights against 7000 Aiyubids warriors.
The ensuing battle saw only three knights escape. Gerard de Ridefort was one of them. The Master of the Hospital, Marshal of the Temple and other Templar knights who weren’t killed on the battlefield were captured and beheaded immediately.
In the beginning of July, Gerard de Ridefort was once again before the armies gathered by Guy de Lusignan and the reconciled Raymond III.

The pride and madness of de Ridefort were elements which provoked the disaster of Hattin Horn.
In this battle, 30000 Crusaders were killed or captured, with only a few managing to escape. Saladin captured and executed 230 Templar knights. Gerard de Ridefort was also captured, but for an unknown reason, by order of Saladin, he was set free.
After this great victory, Saladin continued his advance through the Kingdom of Jerusalem and seized several cities. These included Gaza and Ascalon, which were defended by Templars who surrendered without fighting.

On the eve of the Third Crusade only some cities and fortresses were defended in the rest of the four Latin States.
In 1189, the Franks, with renewed zeal from the presence of Conrad de Montferrat and thanks to the arrival of numerous troops preceding the Third Crusade, undertook the siege of Acre. The city had been previously seized by Muslims after their victory at Hattin.
During the siege, Saladin arrived at Acre with a reinforcement army and encircled the Frankish army which surrounded the city.
The battle was violent, and the Franks, galvanized by the presence of the Templars, managed to break down Saladin’s lines and make their way to his tent. Saladin only just succeeded to escape, protected by the sacrifice of his Mameluks.
The fight however remained indecisive. The Templars, lead by their Master Gerard de Ridefort, managed to contain and fight off the Muslims. Nevertheless, on October 1st 1189, Gerard de Ridefort died at the foot of Mount Toron, on the plain near the walls of Acre.



 
 
 
 
  

Robert de Sable (11??-1193)

Master of the Order from 1191 to 1193.

Following the death of Gerard de Ridefort, the position of Master stayed vacant for more than a year. This hiatus was probably necessary for the Order legists to amend the rule and the ‘Retraits’ concerning actions of the Master. These changes would ensure that a case like Gerard de Ridefort’s would not happen again.

In 1191, Robert de Sable, Knight of Anjou and ally of Richard Lion Heart, was elected Master despite belonging to the Order for less than one year.
Robert de Sable participated in the third crusade; the siege and the seizure of Acre along side Richard 1st and Philippe II Auguste (July 1191).
In August of the same year Robert de Sable joined Richard Lion Heart for the re-conquest of fortresses on the Palestinian coast.
On September 7th Richard 1st, the Masters of the Temple and the Hospital, plus several Knights from Anjou, Gascony and Flanders went to combat Saladin’s armies on the Arsûf plains.
As a genius military strategist, Richard Lion Heart, with his entire cavalry, succeeded in breaking the Muslim lines and put Saladin’s army to flight.
This glorious victory made a distant memory of the demoralising loss at Hattin Horn four years prior.

Later in 1191, for an amount of 25000 silver marks, Richard Lion Heart sold the Templars the Island of Cyprus which he had plundered from the Byzantine Army some months earlier.
Robert de Sable didn’t take advantage of the chance to establish a solid base for the Order on the Island as the Hospitallers later did with Rhodes and Malta. In fact the following year de Sable retroceded the island to Guy de Lusignan, as the King of Jerusalem was without a kingdom.
Robert de Sable did however establish the Chieftain House of the Order in Saint-Jean d’Acre where it remained for around one century.
Robert de Sable died in January 1193 after spending all his time as Master waging war against the armies of Saladin.

Gilbert Horal (1152??-1200)

Master of the Order from 1193 to 1200

Gilbert Horal was probably of Aragonian origin. He was a member of the Order of the Temple from his earliest days.
He stayed in Provence and Aragon where he participated in several battles of the ‘Reconquista’. After some years, he became Master of Aragon Province, then in 1190, he was appointed Visitor of France.
In 1193, after the death of Robert de Sable, he was appointed Master of the Order.

In 1194, Pope Celestin III confirmed the Papal Bull ‘Omne Datum Optimum’ and so extended all privileges previously allowed to the Order.
Prudent and rational, he tried to keep a politic of equilibrium between Christians and Muslims. He strongly committed himself so that the Treaty between Saladin and Richard Lion Heart was respected by Christians.
Pope Innocent III and several Frankish lords denounced the attitude of Horal, accusing the Order of treason and collusion with the enemy. Gilbert Horal had to use all his diplomatic art to calm their minds.

During the time Horal was Master, quarrels between Templars and Hospitalers assumed gigantic and disastrous proportions. The two Orders engaged in armed fights about possession of cities and castles.
In the quarrels, Pope Innocent III arbitrated in favour of the Hospitalers. It seemed as though he couldn’t forgive the Templars for the treaties they signed with Malek-Adel, brother of the deceased Saladin.

On the European scene, Gilbert Horal took time to organise and to strengthen Templar possessions in France and in the Pouilles.
In Spain, the Templars actively participated in the ‘Reconquista’. In 1196 Alphonse, King of Aragon, gave them the fortress of ‘Alhambra’ to reward the Order for their efforts in battle.

During the reign of Horal as Master the monastic Order of the Hospitalers of Holy Virgin of the German became a military order like Templars and Hospitalers. This new Order would soon be called the Teutonic Order.
Gilbert Horal died in December 1200, at the beginning of the Fourth Crusade.

Previous Master : Robert de Sablé - Next Master : Philippe de Plessis


Philippe du Plessis (1165??-1209)

Master of the Order from 1201 to 1209.

Born around 1165 in the castle of Plessis-Macé near Angers, Philippe du Plessis was borne from an old Angevin family. In 1189, he participated in the Third Crusade as a secular knight.

Arriving in the Holy Land, he discovered the Order of the Temple. He was impressed by the discipline and the bravery the Order showed in the battles so he decided to take on their white mantle.
He was elected Master of the Order in the spring of 1201, some months after the death of Gilbert Horal.

Upon election du Plessis adopted the same guiding principles of his predecessor, in that he upheld the truce between Saladin and Richard Lion Heart. What is more, at the end of this treaty in 1208, du Plessis proposed to the Masters of the Hospitalers and Teutonics that they make a new peace treaty with Malek-Adel, the new Muslim leader.
Pontifical legates harshly criticised this new accord and a political crisis ensued between the Templars and Pope Innocent III. The Pope went so far as to threaten the Templars with apostasy if they refused to obey the legates.

During the term of du Plessis as Master, the Templars rarely participated in military actions. The Fourth Crusade was taken out of his control as was the finish of the siege of Constantinople. This may well have suited du Plessis as he generally tried to keep a good and peaceful relationship with the Muslims.
Despite his best efforts, a serious crisis nevertheless broke out between the Order of the Temple and the King of Armenia regarding the fortress of Gastein.
The King of Armenia took advantage of the conflict to evict the Templars from his kingdom and to seize their properties. The Pope had to intervene and pass judgement in favour of the Templars. The Order was therefore regained their unduly seized domains.
The relationship between the Templars and the Hospitalers was still less than amicable. Their relationship was another dispute in which the Pope had to constantly intervene in order to settle problems.
In these inter-Order conflicts, the Pope passed judgement in favour of the Hospitalers. This led the Templars into an association of increasing distrust with the Papacy as the Templar interests seemed dismissed too easily.

To the credit of du Plessis, during his term as Master, the Order reached the pinnacle of its development in Europe. Gifts and recruits poured in from each and every Templar province.
The name of du Plessis appeared for the last time in an act signed in 1209. Reims obituary mentions his death on November 12th 1209.

Previous Master : Gilbert Horal - Next Master : Guillaume de Chartres


             

 
    

Guillaume de Chartres (11??-1218)

Master of the Order from 1210 to 1218.

Originating from Champagne, Guillaume de Chartres entered the Order when he was very young. He was admitted by the brothers of the Preceptory of Sours, located near Chartres.
The route of de Chartres in the Order before his election as Master is somewhat unknown. What is known is that he was elected Master at the beginning of 1210, some time after the death of Philippe du Plessis at the end of 1209.
He was also maybe preceptor of the castle of Saped before 1188, when Saladin's armies took it off.
The first official act of de Chartres came in his first year as Master when he was called upon to assist at the crowning of Jean de Brienne as the new king of Jerusalem. This was of course just an honorific title for de Brienne as Saladin had controlled the city since 1187.

In 1211, the conflict with the king of Armenia finished and the Templars returned to their fortresses. At the beginning of his term as Master, de Chartres built the fortress of Chateau-Pelerin (Athlit), on the road between Cesaree and Haïfa. According to Chronicles, this fortress caused more damage to the Muslims than the whole fighting army.
As well as fortress building Guillaume de Chartres also made himself busy with the problems of the ‘Reconquista’ on the Iberian Peninsula. He sent a lot of reinforcements and equipments to the area.
In 1212, the Templars victoriously participated in the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa. This battle marked an important step in the ‘Reconquista’.
In 1217, the Templars participated in the battle and the siege of Alcazar in Segovia.
During this time the Templar influence in the kingdom of Spain reached its pinnacle. Kings and great lords offered a lot of domains and fortresses to the Order, such as the city of Tortosa (South of Catalogne) and the castle of Azuda (Sudda).

Other events of 1217 included the departure of the armies of the Fifth Crusade to the Holy Lands. In addition Jean de Brienne (King of Jerusalem), Andre II (King of Hungary), and Pelage (the pontifical legate) decided to invade Egypt by the sea, beginning at Damiette. Against his judgment, Guillaume de Chartres was obligated to follow this conquest.
The siege of the city of Damiette lasted eighteen months. During this time all the assaults failed. To make matters worse conflict between Pelage and Jean de Brienne regarding the commandment of the army allowed the Muslims to send a reinforcing army to Damiette.
Guillaume de Chartres headed the Templar army as they went to meet these reinforcements in an attempt to save the Christian troops from a big disaster.
Guillaume de Chartres died in front of Damiette in August 1218, not at the hands of the Muslims but because of the plague which spread throughout the Frankish armies.

Previous Master : Philippe de Plessis - Next Master : Pierre de Montaigu

Pierre de Montaigu (11??-1232)

Master of the Order from 1218 to 1232.

Master of the province of Aragon since 1211, Pierre de Montaigu participated beside Guillaume de Chartres at the siege of Damiette.
At the death of de Chartres in August 1218, Pierre de Montaigu was immediately elected Master by the Knights gathered for a General Chapter.
The siege of Damiette continued, but a discord seemed to occur within Muslim ranks. The Franks took advantage of this to cross the Nile River and to make raids in the fertile plains of the Nile delta.
There, Frankish forces found themselves face to face with the Muslim troops of the Sultan of Caïro and the Sultan of Damas, who put their quarrels aside to unite against the Christian menace.

Pierre de Montaigu, with Guerin de Montaigu, Master of the Hospital (and maybe his brother), and Herman von Salza, Master of the Teutonic Order, set forth to meet the Muslim army. The iron wall created by the knights of the three Orders repelled the Muslim assault without problem. In fact the assault only resulted in Mulsim soldiers smashing against the Frankish spears and shields. (Chronicler Mathieu Paris described the Frank force as ‘a brass wall which covered all the Christian soldiers’)
A while after this battle, Hakim the Sultan of Damas proposed a truce to the Christians. He negotiated a deal with the Master of the Temple. The deal included an end to the siege of Damas, in exchange for: the retrocession of the Kingdom and the city of Jerusalem, the return of the wood of the True Cross captured during the Battle of Hattin, and the liberation of a thousand Frank prisoners.
The majority of the Frankish Lords agreed with this proposition, but Pierre de Montaigu, in obedience to the pressure exerted by the Legate Pelage, refused the generous offer.
So the siege of the city continued and the Franks captured it on November 5th 1219. The occupation only lasted for two years though.

In 1221, the city was recaptured by the Muslims and an 8 year truce was signed between Muslims and Christians. This truce enabled the Templars to send a lot of reinforcements from the Holy Land to Spain in order to participate in the ‘Reconquista’.
On several occasions Pierre de Montaigu also had to play the role of arbitrator between Jean de Brienne, Legate Pelage and the Hospitalers.
In the course of these occasions, he showed a great diplomatic sense as he managed to conciliate the different parties.

In 1227, the Master of the Temple and the Master of the Hospital harshly criticised the attitude of the Germanic Emperor Frederic II. The Emperor preferred to stay in Italy rather than visiting the Holy Land as he had promised to Pope Honorius III and his successor Gregoire IX. Frederic II was excommunicated and as revenge, he attacked the Templar and Hospitaler domains within his European territories. Several preceptories were plundered and some Templars and Hospitalers were killed.
Both Masters were also outspoken against Frederic II when he alone negotiated the retrocession of the city and the kingdom of Jerusalem with the Muslims. The treaty was signed in Jaffa at the beginning of 1229 by Frederic II and the Sultan of Egypt. The city was returned to Frederic II, except for the Omar Mosque, an Islam holy place.
Pierre de Montaigu accused Frederic II of wanting to establish his temporal power by seizeing for himself alone all the wealth of Palestine. This accusation did nothing to calm the strained relationship between the two antagonists.

After signing the treaty Frederic entered Jerusalem to be sacred King in the Church of the Saint-Sepulchre, despite being excommunicated by Pope Gregoire IX at the time. Jean de Brienne was obligated to abdicate in favour of Frederic because Frederic had married his daughter Yolande, in 1225, four years earlier.
When Frederic II arrived in Jerusalem, a riot broke out and he had to leave the city hurriedly. The Germanic Emperor accused the Master of the Temple of instigating the revolt.
Frederic II fled back to Europe hurriedly, because his possessions in Italy were being threatened by an army raised by the Pope and lead by the dethroned King, Jean de Brienne.

After these episodes, Pierre de Montaigu organised several raids against Muslims armies which encircled the few remaining cities of the Latin States. According to Reims obituary, de Montaigu died in January 1232.

Previous Master : Guillaume de Chartres - Next Master : Armand de Périgord

Armand de Perigord (1178-1247)

Master of the Order from 1232 to 1247.

Armand de Perigord, also called ‘Hermann de Pierre-Grosse’, came from the family of the Count of Perigord. Born in 1178, he enters very soon the Order and takes the function of Master of the Province of Apulia and Sicily from 1205 to 1232, when he is elected Master of the Order.

From 1232, he lead his knights in important offensives against cities of Cana, Saphet and Saphorie and against Muslims positions around Tiberiade Lake.
But all these expeditions only resulted in an important decrease in numbers of Templars in all the Latin States.

In 1236, the Syrio-Cilician border is the theatre of a Templar military disaster. 120 knights with several hundred bowmen and Turcopoles try to seize the city of Darbsâk (Terbezek) by surprise.
At first, the Templars succeeded in entering the lower town. But quickly, the Ayubids soldiers pull themselves together and, with reinforcements from the city fortress, they offer fierce resistance to Templars. At the same time, the cavalry from Aleppo arrived from behind the Templars and slaughtered them.
Of the 120 knights, less than 20 managed to escape and return to the Templar fortress of Baghrâs, 15 kilometres distant.
That battle is also one of the few where the Beauceant fell into Muslims hands, after its bearer, the courageous knight William of Argenton, was cut down trying to save it.

Aside from these conflicts, the beginning of Grand-mastery of Armand de Perigord is kept busy with quarrels about interest and diplomacy that preoccupied the three Orders. Templars wished to establish an alliance with the sultan of Damas, while Hospitalers and Teutons preferred to approach to sultan of Cairo.

In September 1239, what History called ‘the Crusade of the French’ disembarked in Acre. Poorly lead by the Count of Champagne Theobald IV and some others extremely famous knights, Crusaders will take no advice from either Master of the Orders, nor from the Latin State lords .
In September, this crusade was annihilated by Muslim forces. Templars, Hospitalers and Teutons, who had refused to join the conquering madness of these French crusaders, could only recover few survivors and shelter them in Acre.
Armand de Perigord managed to obtain a truce with the Sultan of Damas and the Hospitalers do the same with the sultan of Egypt.
In 1244, the sultan of Damas asked for help from the Templars to fight off Kharismians, a tribe originating from Minor Asia pushed away to Syria by Mongol invasion.
In October 1244, Templars, Hospitalers and Teutons, reconciled at last, and the Sultan of Damas brave near the city of La Forbie the allied armies of the Sultan of Cairo and of Kharismians.
On October 18th, the French-Muslim coalition is defeated. More than 30000 death of the two sides strew the battlefield. Armand de Perigord is one of the few knights captured. Only about thirty Templars and Hospitalers will succeed to join Ascalon, still in Christian hands.

Some historians mention that Armand de Perigord was killed during this battle near La Forbie, same as the Master of Hospitalers. Some others, on the other hand, mention that he is captured and he dies in captivity in 1247. Altought, Guillaume de Sonnac appears only as Master of the Temple in 1247, not before.

Previous Master : Pierre de Montaigu - Next Master : Guillaume de Sonnac

Guillaume de Sonnac (11??-1250)

Master of the Order from 1247 to 1250 Guillaume de Sonnac came from a great family in the French Region of Rouergue. He was elected Master of the Order in 1247 when serving as Master of Pouilles and Poitou, a position he held since 1236.
Wise and careful, excellent in politics and in art of war, Guillaume de Sonnac reorganised the hierarchy of the Order. He also codified the archives of the Order before storing them in a safe place.

In 1249, de Sonnac participated in the siege of the city of Damiette while accompanying King Louis IX of France on the seventh crusade.
On February 8th 1250, Guillaume de Sonnac and his Knights fought as the rearguard for the Frankish army during the battle of La Mansourah. The recklessness of the Count of Artois, brother of King Louis IX, resulted in the destruction of a great part of this rearguard.
More than 280 Templar Knights lost their lives in the battle. Only five Knights, including Guillaume de Sonnac, despite deep wounds to the head, succeeded in reaching the main ranks of the army.

Guillaume de Sonnac died on April 11th 1250, during a battle along the river Bahr al-Saghir, near Damiette.

Previous Master : Armand de Périgord - Next Master : Renaud de Vichiers

 

 
 
 
  

Renaud de Vichiers (1198??-1252)

Master of the Order from 1250 to 1252.

Renaud de Vichiers was born around 1198 in the familial domain of Vichiers, Champagne.
He was successively Preceptor of Saint-Jean d’Acre(1240), Master of France and finally Marshal when he was elected Master in May 1250. His appointment took place in the middle of Templar reinforcements which arrived just before the battle of Bahr al-Saghir.
Some days after this battle, Louis IX was captured by Mameluks. The captive was to be liberated upon the payment of a 200000 livres ransom. Lord of Joinville, the King’s chronicler, did all he could to gather the sum, but he fell 30000 livres short.

Joinville called on the Master of the Temple to grant him a loan to complete the ransom money.
Renaud de Vichiers, to the astonishment of the Frankish chiefs, refused to loan the money, giving as a pretext that the money present in the Temple Galley off Damiette did not belong the Temple but to a third party.
Nevertheless, Renaud de Vichiers notified Joinville that he would not try anything if he wanted to take the money by force. Joinville complied immediately. He entered the Galley of the Temple, took the 30000 livres and gave the complete ransom to Mameluks.

Some historians mention that the General Chapter of the Order judged the attitude of Renaud de Vichiers as scandalous. They go on to suggest that the General Chapter asked for and obtained the resignation of de Vichiers in 1252. Whether this was true or not, in 1252 Renaud de Vichiers did retire to a monastery where he stayed until his death in 1257.
Another version of history mentions that despite his attitude, de Vichiers accompanied King Louis IX to Saint-Jean d’Acre where he disembarked a short time after his liberation from Mameluks.
de Vichiers apparently then lead several raids to contain the Muslim hordes who were busy destroying the last Frankish possessions. In this version of history de Vichiers lead these raids until his death in 1257.

Previous Master : Guillaume de Sonnac - Next Master : Thomas Béraud

Thomas Beraud (12??-1273)

Master of the Order from 1252 (or 1257 according to different sources) to 1273.

Thomas Beraud (or Berard) is an enigmatic person within the Order because his career is a mystery to historians. Some say he became Master in 1252 when Renaud de Vichiers was forced to retire. Others say Beraud became Master in 1257 when de Vichiers died.
Regardless of which version of history is correct, it is known that when Beraud was elected he found an Order in decay. Their possessions in the Holy Land were reduced to a mere few some cities and fortresses. In addition the quarrels between the Templars and the Hospitallers were far from over.
If this were not enough, in 1257-1258 a civil war broke out between two important clans. On one side were the Templars and the Venetians, on the other side were the Hospitallers and Genoese merchants.

In 1260, yet another challenge arose when the Mameluk Baïbars murdered Outuz, the Sultan of Caïro. By taking his place Baïbars created the biggest scourge since Saladin.
In April 1263, Baïbars besieged Acre. He seized some districts outside the city, but because of resistance by the Templars and Hospitalers, he left after a few days of fighting.
At the beginning of 1264, the Templars and Hospitalers seized the stronghold of Lizon, between Caïffa and Jenin. In June, both the Orders organised a raid which devastated the region of Ascalon and resulted in the slaughter of a 300 strong mameluk military column.
In July it was the turn of the Egyptians to devastate villages between Cesaree and the fortress of Athlit.
In 1265, Baïbars began a devastating foray in Frankish territories. In March, he seized and destroyed the stronghold of Cesarea. On his way, he seized Caiffa and reduced the city to dust.
At the end of March, he tried to seize Chateau-Pelerin, the Templar fortress, but he failed because of the courage of the Templars defending the walls. Baîbars later tried to attack Arsûf, but the city was defended by 300 Hospitaler Knights who also strongly resisted. The attack by Baîbars lasted a month after which time the city eventually capitulated.
Baîbars promised to free the knights who defended the city, but he actually arrested them and put them in chains as soon as they left the walls.

In 1266, Baîbars returned. This time, he went to the fortress of Safed, held by the Templars. He began the attack on July 7th and immediately suffered huge losses. Baîbars was even forced to execute several of his generals who wanted to abandon the siege an fall back on easier prey.
Around July 25th, Baîbars managed to do overthrow the fortress. Again he promised that the Frankish garrison could retire safely to Acre. On hearing the promise the Templars left the fortress full of confidence. Baîbars encircled them and beheaded each and every man.

Some Chroniclers suggest that Thomas Beraud was a member of the Safed garrison and that he escaped because he denied Christianity. Although this suggestion lacks credibility it nevertheless furthered the accusations by Philippe IV and Grand Inquisitor Nogaret in 1307.
Due to the fall of all these strongholds and fortresses, Thomas Beraud and the Master of the Hospitalers sent a despairing message to the Pope. This message prompted the Pope to preach for the Eighth Crusade.
Only the Kings of France and Aragon responded to this call. The expedition never arrived in the Holy Lands. The fleet of the King of Aragon, which carried a large contingent of Templars from the Spanish Kingdoms, sank during a terrible storm. All hands were lost. Meanwhile Louis IX preferred to push his fight in North Africa, where he eventually died in 1270.
In 1271, after the fall of Crak des Chevaliers Castle, a 10 year truce is signed between the Christians and Muslims.

Thomas Beraud died on March 25th 1273, according to ‘The Chronicle of the Templar of Tyre’

Previous Master : Renaud de Vichiers - Next Master : Guillaume de Beaujeu

Guillaume de Beaujeu (1233??-1291)

Master of the Temple from 1273 to 1291.

Guillaume de Beaujeu is elected at the head of the Order on May 13th 1273.
Entered in the Order from the age of 20, he is successively Preceptor of the Province of Tripoli in 1271, preceptor of the Province of Pouilles in 1272 before being elected.
He came from a powerful family of Beaujolais and had family ties with king of France Louis IX and Charles of Anjou, king of Sicily.
As soon he is elected, Guillaume de Beaujeu undertakes to visit the main preceptories in the Occident and is convened by Pope Gregory X to the Council of Lyon during the summer of 1274. The pope seeks opinions of both of the Master of the Templars and of the Hospitaliers to organise a new crusade. Occidental barons aren’t very enthusiastic about the idea of a new expedition to the Holy Lands. The death of the pope in 1276 definitively interrupts the preparations for this expedition.
Despite of repeated calls from the Templars of the Orient, Guillaume de Beaujeu only arrives in Acre in September 1275.
In 1279, he enters into conflict with Hugh III King of Cyprus, who has the Templar properties on the Island confiscated. This crisis will last more than 20 years, and only with the Master Jacques de Molay will it find the beginnings of resolution.

In 1282, Guillaume de Beaujeu, whose politics toward the Muslims was to gain time, profited of the Mongol Invasion in the East and in the North to extend for ten years the truce signed in 1271 with Baybars.
The Frankish politics are however divided on the relationship with the Mongols and the Muslims. On one side, Armenian Christians seek an alliance with the Tartar hordes and on the other side, Christians from south prefer to stay neutral.
Guillaume de Beaujeu, on the other hand, maintains friendly relationships with Cairo.
In 1288, Kalâwun, the successor of Baybars, decides in spite of the truce to attack Tripoli.
Guillaume de Beaujeu, thanks to close relations he holds with the Sultan of Cairo’s court, gets wind of the impending preparations, and warns the dignitaries of the city, who don’t believe him because they think that they are protected by the truce. On the contrary, they think that the Master of the Templars want them to flee, because he may easily seize the city to transform it into a Templar site.
Despite warnings from Guillaume de Beaujeu, the city falls into muslim hands on April 26th 1289.

Not satisfied with the fall of Tripoli, Kalawun initiates at the end of 1289 the preparations to besiege the city of Acre.
The slaughter of Muslim merchants on the road to Acre by recently disembarked Lombard troops gives him a justification he doesn’t really need. In order to hide his preparations, Kalawun requires that those responsible for the slaughter be surrendered to him under penalty of awful reprisals.
Guillaume de Beaujeu proposes to the dignitaries of Acre to empty the prisons of thise condemned to die and deliver them to Kalâwun to save time.
The notables reject the decision of the Master of the Order of the Temple and remain deaf at the requests of Kalâwun, thinking them also of being protected by the truce concluded in 1282.
The Christians benefit nevertheless from a few weeks of respite with the death of Kalâwun in November 1290 in Cairo.
A civil war starts for the succession of the emir, but Al-Ashraf Khalil the son of the latter, manages to thwart the plot and orders the execution of the General Turuntaî, head of the rebels.
Only in April 1291 does Al-Ashraf Khalil arrive with his army, estimated by the chroniclers of the time at 200 000 men, in front of the walls of the city.
On April 05th, the city is completely encircled, and the Muslim machines of war are installed.
Templars and Hospitalers ordered by their Masters, Guillaume de Beaujeu and Jean de Villiers, forget all their dissensions and organize the defence of the northern part of the ramparts of the city, while Konrad von Feutchwangen, Master of the Teutonic Order and Amaury, the brother of king of Cyprus Henry II ordering the Syrian and Cypriot knighthood, deal with the Western part of the ramparts.
The night of the 15 to April 16, Guillaume de Beaujeu tries an exit with 300 knights. He surprises a contingent which camps opposite his positions, massacres several hundreds of combatants, but must retreat to the shelter of the ramparts of the city before being able to destroy all the war machinery located in the enemy camp.

On May 16, in spite of the arrival a few days before of king of Cyprus Henri II and of a thousand of combatants, part of the wall breaks down under as a result of the enemy sappers. The Muslims enter the breach, but the combined attacks of the three Orders prevents them from progressing further into the city, and the defenders even manage to repel the Muslims beyond the ramparts.
On May 18, Al-Ashraf Khalil launches the final attack, thousands of Muslim infantrymen arrive in front of the breach in the wall and launch the attack of the towers and the remaining walls.
Guillaume de Beaujeu gathers ten knights and as many Hospitalers including their Master, and launches into the terrible murderous storm.
With his twenty-odd knights, Guillaume de Beaujeu manages to temporarily stem the enemy flood that spread into the city. Just as he manages to push back the enemies who had seized the door of Saint-Antoine, he is mortally wounded. The arrival of several contingents of reinforcement enables him to regain the templar fortress located at the south of the city and he dies there.

The city falls into the hands of Muslims a few days later, in spite of the heroic defence of the Templars who will fight until the last, cut off in their strengthened bastion, in the south of the city. This keen defence allows nevertheless a good many inhabitants of the city and several knights to leave Acre safely and to take refuge in Cyprus.
Thibaud Gaudin and Pierre de Sevry, the highest two dignitaries still alive in Acre decide to separate. Thibaut Gaudin, commander of Acre, retreats to the sea towards Sidon still in Christian hands, while Pierre de Sevry, Marshall of the Order, continue to resist the Muslims tidal wave.
Pierre de Sevry succeeds in maintaining thousands of Muslims combatants with only a handful of defenders. The city capitulates finally on May 28, after the Templar bouse collapses on tens of defenders and over 2000 Turks who attack it.

Previous Master : Thomas Béraud - Next Master : Thibaud Gaudin

Thibaud Gaudin (12??-1292)

Master of the Order from 1291 to 1292.

The origin of Thibaud Gaudin within the Order is rather mysterious. He originated from a noble family of the area of Chartres or Blois, and entered the Order well before 1260. We know this because on that date he was captured during a raid on Tibériade. We also know his great piety earned him the nickname "Monk Gaudin".

In 1279, Gaudin occupied the position of "Preceptor of the Land of Jerusalem", the fourth most significant position in the Templar hierarchy. In 1291, he was at the side of Guillaume de Beaujeu defending the town of Acre as it was besieged by the formidable Al-Ashraf Khalil army.

On May 18th of the same year, upon the death of Guillaume de Beaujeu, a mere handful of the 500 strong Templar garrison remained in Acre. Thibaut Gaudin and Pierre de Sevry, Marshal of the Order, were the last two dignitaries of the Temple to defend Acre.
Al-Ashraf Khalil sent messengers to the Templar defenders in order to negotiate an honourable surrender. Thibaut Gaudin and Pierre de Sevry agreed to yield under the conditions dictated by the sultan, which included allowing a detachment of Muslims riders into their enclosure.
As soon as the Muslim detachment entered they began to attack the Frankish women. Considering this a betrayal of the agreement, Thibaut Gaudin and Pierre de Sevry ordered the garrison to drive out the Muslims and to secure themselves behind barricades.
The two dignitaries decided that Thibaut Gaudin would exit the city by sea and carry with him the treasure of the Temple. Pierre de Sevry continued the combat, but Acre fell the following day.

Thibaut Gaudin, accompanied by some knights, arrived at Sidon where he was elected Master. He decided to defend the city and his insular castle for as long as possible. Just before the arrival of emir Al-Shujâ'i, the inhabitants evacuated the city and took refuge behind the walls of the Templar stronghold.
Some time later, and with the assistance of Cypriot, the majority of the inhabitants and garrison evacuated the fortress to take refuge in Cyprus. The reinforcements that Thibaut Gaudin tried to gather on his arrival at Cyprus never arrived in the Holy Land. Sidon fell into Muslims hands on July 14th, 1291.

The last Frankish occupations in the Kingdom of Jerusalem fell one after the other. Beirut was taken on July 21st. The area of Caïffa was invaded and the monasteries of Mount Carmel were destroyed on July 30th. At the beginning of August, the Franks had nothing except two fortified towns, occupied by the Templars, Tortose, and Chateau-Pelerin. The first town was evacuated on August 3rd and the second on August 14th.
All Templars retreated to Cyprus and the islet of Ruad, on the south of Tortose. The latter remained in their hands until 1303.
In October 1291, a general chapter of the Order met in Cyprus. This chapter confirmed the election of Thibaut Gaudin as Master. It also appointed new dignitaries to significant positions within the hierarchy of the Order. On this occasion, Jacques de Molay was named Marshal to succeed Pierre de Sevry, who died under the walls of Acre.

Due to the large number of deaths within the upper ranks of the Templars, one mission for Thibaud Gaudin was to rebuild the organisation.
While doing so, Gaudin also found it necessary to defend the Kingdom of Little Armenia, encircled by Seldjoukides, and the island of Cyprus, occupied by a multitude of refugees.
At the beginning of 1292 Thibaut Gaudin died of exhaustion. However, he left behind an enormous building site for his successor.

Previous Master : Guillaume de Beaujeu - Next Master : Jacques de Molay

Jacques de Molay (1244??-1314)

Master of the Order from 1292 to 1312.

The absence of correct archives prevents the exact establishment of the places and date of birth of Jacques de Molay. Nevertheless, indications found in the minutes of the lawsuit, in the archives of European kingdoms of that time, suggest that Jacques de Molay was born about 1245 in the French region of Haute-Saône, in the County of Burgundy, always vassal to the Germanic Empire.

In 1265 ,he is received in the Order at the city of Beaune by Humbert de Pairaud, visitor of France and England and by Amaury de la Roche, Master of France.

Around 1270, he is in the Orient where his activity remains very discrete. It is not known if he is among the survivors of Acre who managed to escape with Thibaud Gaudin to Cyprus, but he participates a chapter which is held in the island in autumn 1291. He is elected Master of the Order before April 1292, shortly after the death of Thibaud Gaudin.
No sooner was elected that Jacques de Molay attends to the most pressing issues, to set up both the government and the defences of the island of Cyprus and the Kingdom of Little Armenia, the last Frankish possessions in the East.

In the spring of 1293, he undertakes a long trip to Europe, where he settles various issues in the realm of the Order, and in particular seeks help from the Western princes and the Church to protect the last Christian States.
During this trip, he forges close ties with several monarchs, among them Edward 1st of England, Jacques II of Aragon and the pope Boniface VIII.
He returns to Cyprus in the fall of 1296 to settle issues that had arisen with the king Henri II.
In 1298, he organises a raid in Cilicia after the fall of Roche-Guillaume, the last fortified town of the kingdom. Unfortunately, the Christian force were unable to benefit from the victory of Ghâzân, Khan of Persia, over the Mameluks at the Homs in December 1299.
In 1300, he continues to reinforce the small island of Ruad opposite Tortose to make it a base of advanced operations together with the Mongols. But they too, preoccupied with their own tribal wars, will never be able to combine with the Christians against the Mameluks.
In September 1302, the Templars of Ruad are massacred by the Egyptian Mameluks.
Jacques de Molay then gives up this strategy of the Mongolian alliance which proves to be a total failure.

In 1305, the new pope Clement V, seeks the opinion of the Masters of the religious Orders in preparation for a new crusade and the unification of the Orders.
On June 6, 1306, Clement V officially convenes them in Poitiers, but because of the pope's ill health, he only meets Jacques de Molay in May 1307.
As he had told the pope before, Jacques de Molay categorically rejects the prospect of uniting the Orders.
This stance will have serious repercussions for the future Order of the Temple. At first, the King of France takes umbrage to this decision, because it interferes not only with his ambitions but also wth the negotiations between Clement V and Philippe IV to condemn the memory of Boniface VIII, and also in organizing new crusades.
On his trip west, Jacques de Molay finds that libellous rumours were spread about the Templars. Philippe IV and his advisers immediately take advantage of this weakness, and set a plan to destroy this uncompromising Order.
On June 24, Jacques de Molay is in Paris to meet with the King of France and discuss the charges against the Order. He returns to Poitiers, reassured by his interview with Philippe IV, but requests of the Pope an investigation to clear Order of any suspicion.
On August 24, Clement V informs Jacques de Molay of a board of inquiry. Philippe IV seeks to precipitate events and remove them from the Pope’s control. On September 14, with the help of Nogaret, he orders in utter secrecy all his bailiffs and seneschals to arrest all Templars of the Kingdom and the confiscation of all their goods.

This wide-ranging operation begins on October 13, 1307 at dawn. All Templars of the kingdom of France are arrested. In some preceptories, Templars are massacred by treachery, because the royal men-at-arms are afraid to face these fierce warriors in direct combat.
Jacques de Molay is arrested in the headquarters of the Order, in Paris.
Something strange occured during the first interrogation of Jacques de Molay on October 24. Instead of denying the charges, he confesses to certain facts, thus giving credence to royal propaganda against the Order.
In December 1307, Clement V sends cardinals in Paris to question the Master of the Order. In front of those, This puts Philippe IV and Clement V at loggerheads, and is only resolved in August 1308 through a compromise sealed by the papal bull "Faciens Misericordiam". In this bull, the pope reserves the right to judge the dignitaries of the Order.
Transferred to Chinon with several other dignitaries of the Order, like Geoffroy de Charney, Hugues de Pairaud and Geoffroy de Gonneville, Jacques de Molay is now interrogated by royal agents. During this interrogation, he will renew his admissions made in October 1307.
Over more than a year, the pontifical commission is set up and begins audiences. Jacques de Molay will be able to make depositions there only twice towards the end of November 1309. On this occasion, he changes his defence strategy, stays silence and relies solely on the judgement from the pope, trusting the contents of the bull "Faciens Misericordiam".

In 1310, several tens of Templars seek to testify before the pontifical commission in favour of the Order and thus cast in doubt the entire indictment.
This protest movement is utterly broken by the sentencing to be burnt at the stake of 54 Templars, judged to have recanted by Philippe de Marigny on May 10, 1310.
Moreover, the leaders of this protest movement disappear without traces from the jails of Philippe IV.
On March 22, 1312, Clement V announces the official abolition of the Order of the Temple at the Council of Vienna.
In spite of his strong will and insistent demands toward his jailers, Jacques de Molay lingers in prison without audience from the pope. The latter nevertheless agrees to send three cardinals to Paris in December 1313 to decide on the fate of the dignitaries.
Arriving in Paris in March 1314, the three cardinals dispense an irrevocable verdict, to condemn the dignitaries of the Order to life imprisonment.
Jacques de Molay and Geoffroy de Charnay hotly contest this verdict, understanding that they had been played since the beginning by a Pope who did not want to hear them. They both revoke all admissions made and proclaim the Order innocent of any charge carried against it.
Jacques de Molay and Geoffroy de Charnay are immediately charged of recanting, and are delivered by the Cardinals to the secular law. A pyre is build the very same day on an island (Île de la Cité) of the Seine, at the foot of Notre-Dame Cathedral.
In the evening of March 11, 1314, (or March 18 according to some historians) Jacques de Molay and Geoffroy de Charnay are set alight.

Previous Master : Thibaud Gaudin



                     
 
 

 















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