Pierre de Montaigu (11??-1232)

Translation : David COBBOLD

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

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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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