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Knights Templar Grand Masters

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Grand masters of the Knights Templar

1119-1136 Hugh de Payen, one of the nine founding knights of the Order
was the first master of the Order of the Temple, Hugh was a vassal of the Count of Champagne from Payns, northwest of Troyes in France. Hugh settled in the kingdom of Jerusalem sometime after 1113, and in 1119, together with Godfrey of Saint-Omer and several other companions, began to patrol the road from Jaffa  to Jerusalem in order to protect pilgrims from Muslim attack. The knights were sustained by benefices centred on the Temple complex in Jerusalem. In 1127, Hugh was part of a delegation sent by King Baldwin II of Jerusalem to accompany Fulke V, count of Anjou, to Jerusalem, where he was to marry Melisande, Baldwin’s eldest daughter. While in the West, Hugh travelled extensively in France, Normandy, Flanders, England, and Scotland in order to recruit forces for an attack on Damascus planned for late 1129. In January 1129 the Templars received their rule at the Council of Troyes following an oral explanation of their original customs by Hugh himself. At about the same time, Hugh asked Bernard of Clairvaux to write in their support, a request that resulted in the treatise 'De laude novae militiae.'

1137-1149 Robert de Craon.
Robert, a son of Rainald Burgundio of Craon and
Ennoguena of Vitré, belonged to the Angevin high nobility. Robert de Craon was also known as Robert the Burgundian. After several years in the service of the count of Angoulême and at the court of the dukes of Aquitaine, he dissolved his engagement to the heiress of Chabannes and Confolens and traveled to Outremer. By about 1125 he had joined the Templars and became Seneschal of the Order. He travelled to the west, 1132-4, where he received important donations including the castle of Barbera in Spain. Robert became the second grand Master of the Order in 1137 after the death of Hugh de Payen. Robert returned to the West in 1138 and when on 29 March 1139,
Pope Innocent II issued the Papal Bull Omne Datum Optimum, the Templars’ most important papal privilege, it named Robert as its recipient. William of Tyre listed Robert among the participants of the Second Crusade’s general curia held in Acre on 24 June 1148 and gave an unusually friendly assessment of him. Robert died on 13 January 1149.

1149-1152 Everard de Barres. Everard de Barres was for a period in charge of receiving donations to the Templars around Barcelona. Everard de Barres was the Master of the Temple in France at the time of the launch of the Second Crusade (1147). He and his fellow knights from Portugal and Spain accompanied King Louis of France on the overland journey to Outremer. The King relied heavily on the diplomatic and military advice of Everard de Barres to get his forces across Byzantine territory to Outremer and then for financial aid when he got there. In return Louis supported Everard's subsequent election as Grandmaster. In 1152 Everard de Barres resigned his post as Grand Master of the Temple to become a monk at the abbey of Clairvaux.

1152-1153 Bernard de Tremelay Bernard was a Burgundian from near Dijon. On the 15th August 1153, during the siege of Ascalon, Bernard was killed leading a group of Templars in an unsuccessful assault on a breach in the walls of the city. The chronicler Walter of Tyre in describing this episode used the occasion to attribute the deaths of the attackers to Templar pride and greed, but then he wasn't much of a fan of the Templars.

1153-1156 Andrew de Montbard. Andrew was one of the original nine members of the Order; born sometime before 1105 in Burgundy, his father was Bernard I of Montbard,
his sister Aleth was the mother of Bernard of Clairvaux. Before being elected Grand Master Andrew served as the Seneschal of the Kingdom of Jerusalem for the Order. According to the fake 'Dossiers Secrets' of the Priory of Sion Andrew de Montbard was not a Grand Master of the Templars.

'between 1130 and 1135 carried out missions between the West and Outremer for Bernard of Clairvaux and the king of Jerusalem (either Baldwin II or Fulk). After the death of Fulk (1143), Bernard recommended Andrew to Queen Melisende, and by 1148 he had been appointed seneschal of the Templars. He was in charge of the central convent of the order while Master Robert Burgundio took part in the Second Crusade (1148) and while Robert’s successor, Everard of Barres, travelled to France (1149–1151). On the death of Master Bernard of Tremelay during the siege of Ascalon (1153), Andrew was elected master. His career illustrates the strong ties between the Templars’ leadership and the royal court of Jerusalem'. –Jochen Burgtorf
- The Crusades; An Encyclopedia

1156-1169 Bernard de Blanquefort. In 1158 Bernard, accompanied by 87 Brother-Knights and 300 secular knights, was ambushed by a force of Saracens while travelling down the Jordan valley. Bernard was taken captive. He was freed in 1159 as a result of a treaty between Emperor Manuel of Byzantium and Nur ed-Din, ruler of Aleppo. In 1168 Bernard refused to join King Amalric of Jerusalem and the Grand  Master of the Hospitallers, Gilbert of Assailly, in a planned invasion of Egypt.  According to the fake 'Dossiers Secrets' of the Priory of Sion Bertrand de Blanquefort is not the sixth Grand Master of the Templars but the fourth.

1169-1171 Philip de Nablus. Philip de Nablus was the Lord of Outrejourdain before he joined the order in 1166, bringing  certain fortresses with him.

1171-1179 Odo de Saint-Amand. Before he joined the Order Odo had been a prisoner of the Moslems between 1157 and 1159. He had also served in several important official posts in the royal service. This did not stop him seriously falling out with King Amalric over the attack by a group of Templars, led by Walter of Mesnil, on an envoy to the King from the Assassins. Odo de Saint-Amand was captured in 1179 by Saladin during an attempt to relieve the Templar fortress at Jacob's Ford. He refused to be ransomed and subsequently died in captivity.

1180-1184 Arnold de Torroja. Arnold had been the Templar Master of Spain and of Provence before his election as Grand Master. Arnold died in Verona while on an embassy with the Grand Master of the Hospitallers, Rogers de Moulin, and Patriarch of Jerusalem Hericlais seeking for support from Europe.

1185-1189 Gerard de Ridefort. A knight of Flemish or Anglo-Norman origin, Gerard entered the service of Count Raymond III of Tripoli in the early 1170s and had risen to be marshal of the kingdom of Jerusalem by 1179.  However, in 1180 he joined the Templars and rapidly rose within the order. By 1184 Gerard de Ridefort was the Knights Templar Seneschal in the Kingdom of Jerusalem  and master by 1185.

 'Gerard supported the claims of Princess Sibyl and her husband Guy of Lusignan to the throne of Jerusalem after the death of the young Baldwin V in 1186; he was thus in opposition to the party led by Raymond of Tripoli. Gerard facilitated the coronation of Sibyl and Guy by surrendering the Temple’s key to the royal treasury (where the crowns were located) and by collecting the key that the master of the Hospital, Roger of Les Moulins, had discarded. The chronicle known as Eracles ascribes Gerard’s actions to his enmity toward Raymond of Tripoli. Raymond had promised Gerard an advantageous marriage, and around 1180 Gerard had expected to marry the heiress of
Botron in the county of Tripoli; however, Raymond had given her to a wealthy Pisan merchant
instead. It is possible that this disappointment prompted Gerard to join the Templars.'  –Theresa M. Vann
- The Crusades; An Encyclopedia


Faced with the growing threat from Saladin, King Guy
selected Gerard as one of a delegation that was intended to
make peace with Raymond of Tripoli in April 1187. At the
Templar castle of La Fève, he and Roger of Les Moulins
learned of a large Muslim force in Nazareth. Accounts vary
as to whether both masters decided to attack or whether Gerard
persuaded Roger against his better judgment. Roger was
killed, along with most of the Christian forces, at the ensuing
battle of the Springs of Cresson (1 May 1187); Gerard was
one of only three Templar knights who escaped. The defeat
reduced Christian forces, and Gerard hired mercenaries
with the money that King Henry II of England had deposited
with the Templars.
When Saladin mounted his great invasion of Galilee later
that year, Gerard advised King Guy to fight Saladin, contrary
to Raymond of Tripoli’s counsel. Gerard was the only Templar
to survive the defeat at Hattin (4 July 1187), and was
apparently ransomed in exchange for the Templar castle at

Gerard de Ridefort died in battle outside Acre on October 4th 1189.

1191-1193 Robert de Sable. Robert de Sable was both a vassal of and a trusted friend of King Richard the Lionheart. He joined the Templars and was elected Grand Master under the sponsorship of Richard. On behalf of the Templars, Robert de Sable bought the island of Cyprus from King Richard.

1194-1200 Gilbert Erail

1201-1209 Philip de Plessiez

1210-1219 William de Chartres. William died of fever outside Damietta during a crusade against Egypt.

1219-1232 Peter de Montaigu.

1232-1244 Armand de Perigord. In 1242 Armand led the Templars in breaking the treaty with Egypt when they attacked Hebron and sacked Nablus. Armand was captured and subsequently died in prison after leading his Templars at the disastrous, for the crusaders, Battle of La Forbie against the Egyptians from which only thirty-three Templars survived from a force of hundreds.

1244-1247 Richard de Burres.

? William de Sonnac directly replaces Armand de Perigord in some lists ?

1247-1250 William (Guillaume) de Sonnac. William lost an eye at the ill-fated Battle of Mansurah. He was said to have been one of only two Templar survivors out of 280. William lost his other eye and died on a further day of battle.

1250-1256 Reginald (Renaud) de Vichiers. At the time, 1248, when King Louis IX of France was preparing his Crusade, Reginald de Vichiers was the Temple Preceptor of France. He had arranged the shipping of the troops, was Louis' Marshal in Cyprus and a friend to the king. Reginald was Marshal of the Templars when King Louis IX of France supported his election as Templar Grand Master. Reginald and the King quarrelled soon after.

1256-1273 Thomas Berard.

1273-1291 William (Guillaume) de Beaujeu. William was born around 1230, the fourth son of Guichard of Beaujeu, lord of Montpensier, and had joined the Templar Order by 1253. William was a career Templar with considerable experience of fighting in Palestine and administering the Order. In 1261 he had been captured in a raid and he was subsequently ransomed becoming the Templar Preceptor in the County of Tripoli in 1271 and was Master of the Province of Apulia in southern Italy / preceptor of the Kingdom of Sicily at the time of his election. However, his elevation almost certainly came about because of his links with the French Crown. His uncle had fought with Louis XI on the Nile, and through his paternal grandmother, Sybil of Hainault, he was related to the Capetian royal family. He retained close ties with Charles I of Anjou, king of Sicily, to whom he was related, until Charles’s death in 1285. William was elected master in 1273 and spent nearly two years travelling through France, England, and Spain, recruiting men and collecting funds, before speaking at Pope Gregory Xs Second Council of Lyons in 1274.

 'He returned to the Holy Land in September 1275, and from that time on he was identified with the claim of Charles of Anjou to the kingship of Jerusalem in opposition to Hugh III of Cyprus. This stance contributed significantly to the political divisions within Outremer but also ensured Charles’s continued material support, much needed at this time. William’s partisan role certainly contributed to his lack of credibility in the years 1289 to 1291, when his warnings of impending Mameluke attacks, derived from spies in the Egyptian army, were ignored. William was killed during the siege of Acre by the Mamelukes on 18 May 1291'. –Malcolm Barber  - The Crusades; An Encyclopaedia

1291-1293 Theobald (Thibaud) Gaudin.
Thibaud belonged to a family from the Ile-de-France which had supplied several members of the order in the thirteenth century. His early career as a Templar is unknown but in 1260 he and several other Templars (including the future Master William of Beaujeu, who probably supported his career) were captured by the Muslims during an ill-planned raid in northern Galilee and released upon payment of ransom. Thibaud subsequently served as Turcopolier and as Commander of Acre. After a spell in France (1279) Thibaud became Commander of Outremer (1283–1291). Thibaud embarked from Acre with the surviving Templars in 1291 and went to the fortress of Sayette in Cyprus where he was elected Grand Master, allegedly having managed to rescue the order’s treasure and relics.

1293-1314 Jacques de Molay. Jacques de Molay was received into the order at Beaune in Burgundy in 1265 by Amaury de la Roche, Master of France, and Humbert de Pairaud, Visitor General of Templar Houses in France, England, France and Provence. Jacques de Molay's uncle, Guillaume de Molay, was Marshal of the Templars at the time. From around 1275, Jacques served in the East, and in 1292 he was elected Grand Master at the new headquarters in Cyprus from where he organized naval raids against the Palestinian coast, and in 1301–1302 he attempted to reoccupy the island of Ruad, off the coast of Syria near Tortosa. In October 1307, in Paris, Jacques was among the Templars arrested by officials of King Philip IV for a range of heretical crimes. Jacques de Molay after years of imprisonment and torture was finally burned as a relapsed heretic on 18 March 1314.

 At the same time, he obtained privileges and material help from
the papacy and leading secular rulers.
James twice visited the West for these purposes, in
1293–1296 and in 1306–1307. On the second occasion, he
was responding to a request from Pope Clement V for advice
on two controversial issues: the union of the military orders
and the organization of a new crusade. James wrote short
reports on both of these subjects. In October 1307, in Paris,
James was among the Templars arrested by officials of King
Philip IV for a range of heretical crimes. He confessed to the
denial of Christ and to spitting on a crucifix, a confession he
repeated before an assembly of university masters. However,
at Christmas, in the presence of papal representatives, he
recanted, leading Clement to suspend the whole trial. Nevertheless, when the proceedings were restarted in
August 1308, James apparently returned to his original confession,
and in November 1309, in three appearances before
the papal commission appointed to investigate the order as
a whole, he failed to offer any convincing defense, instead
relying on a personal hearing. It was not until March 1314,
when he was brought before three cardinals representing the
pope, that he was condemned to life imprisonment. He then
denied the charges again, asserting that the order was pure
and holy. Handed over to the secular authorities at Paris, he
was burned as a relapsed heretic on 18 March 1314.
–Malcolm Barber - The Crusades; An Encyclopaedia

Jacques de Molay was suggested as the subject of the image on the Turin Shroud when the Carbon Date testing which was done on the Shroud redated it.






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