Guillaume de Chartres (11??-1218)

Translation : David COBBOLD

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

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More references... Bibliography
  1. "Armorial des Maîtres de l'Ordre du Temple"
    Bernard Marillier; Editions Pardès 2000
  2. "Histoire des Templiers"
    J.-J.-E. Roy ; Editions Pardes 1999
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