Thibaud Gaudin (12??-1292)

Translation : David COBBOLD

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

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for a bibliography more complete... 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
  3. "Histoire des Croisades et du Royaume Franc de Jerusalem (3 volumes)"
    René Grousset ; Librairie Académique Perrin 1991
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Translation : Andrew Zolnai
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