Thomas Beraud (12??-1273)

Translation : David COBBOLD

Master of the Order from 1252 (or 1257 according to different sources) to 1273.

Thomas Beraud (or Berard) is an enigmatic person within the Order because his career is a mystery to historians. Some say he became Master in 1252 when Renaud de Vichiers was forced to retire. Others say Beraud became Master in 1257 when de Vichiers died.
Regardless of which version of history is correct, it is known that when Beraud was elected he found an Order in decay. Their possessions in the Holy Land were reduced to a mere few some cities and fortresses. In addition the quarrels between the Templars and the Hospitallers were far from over.
If this were not enough, in 1257-1258 a civil war broke out between two important clans. On one side were the Templars and the Venetians, on the other side were the Hospitallers and Genoese merchants.

In 1260, yet another challenge arose when the Mameluk Baïbars murdered Outuz, the Sultan of Caïro. By taking his place Baïbars created the biggest scourge since Saladin.
In April 1263, Baïbars besieged Acre. He seized some districts outside the city, but because of resistance by the Templars and Hospitalers, he left after a few days of fighting.
At the beginning of 1264, the Templars and Hospitalers seized the stronghold of Lizon, between Caïffa and Jenin. In June, both the Orders organised a raid which devastated the region of Ascalon and resulted in the slaughter of a 300 strong mameluk military column.
In July it was the turn of the Egyptians to devastate villages between Cesaree and the fortress of Athlit.
In 1265, Baïbars began a devastating foray in Frankish territories. In March, he seized and destroyed the stronghold of Cesarea. On his way, he seized Caiffa and reduced the city to dust.
At the end of March, he tried to seize Chateau-Pelerin, the Templar fortress, but he failed because of the courage of the Templars defending the walls. Baîbars later tried to attack Arsûf, but the city was defended by 300 Hospitaler Knights who also strongly resisted. The attack by Baîbars lasted a month after which time the city eventually capitulated.
Baîbars promised to free the knights who defended the city, but he actually arrested them and put them in chains as soon as they left the walls.

In 1266, Baîbars returned. This time, he went to the fortress of Safed, held by the Templars. He began the attack on July 7th and immediately suffered huge losses. Baîbars was even forced to execute several of his generals who wanted to abandon the siege an fall back on easier prey.
Around July 25th, Baîbars managed to do overthrow the fortress. Again he promised that the Frankish garrison could retire safely to Acre. On hearing the promise the Templars left the fortress full of confidence. Baîbars encircled them and beheaded each and every man.

Some Chroniclers suggest that Thomas Beraud was a member of the Safed garrison and that he escaped because he denied Christianity. Although this suggestion lacks credibility it nevertheless furthered the accusations by Philippe IV and Grand Inquisitor Nogaret in 1307.
Due to the fall of all these strongholds and fortresses, Thomas Beraud and the Master of the Hospitalers sent a despairing message to the Pope. This message prompted the Pope to preach for the Eighth Crusade.
Only the Kings of France and Aragon responded to this call. The expedition never arrived in the Holy Lands. The fleet of the King of Aragon, which carried a large contingent of Templars from the Spanish Kingdoms, sank during a terrible storm. All hands were lost. Meanwhile Louis IX preferred to push his fight in North Africa, where he eventually died in 1270.
In 1271, after the fall of Crak des Chevaliers Castle, a 10 year truce is signed between the Christians and Muslims.

Thomas Beraud died on March 25th 1273, according to ‘The Chronicle of the Templar of Tyre’

Previous Master : Renaud de Vichiers - Next Master : Guillaume de Beaujeu

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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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