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.
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