The following lineage which traces the Saint Amand lineage from Lord Huston de Saint-Omer in about 1045 to Anne de Saint-Amand, the last known of the Saint-Amand name, who in 1662 married Bernard Daspit who added her name to his to become the first Daspit de Saint-Amand. The information is essentially the Saint-Amand Chapter of the Bergeron book on the Daspit de Saint-Amand family. I have added additional notes and commentary in italics.

The Saint-Amand (or Saint Amant) lineage is the basis for the Daspit family's connection to William the Conqueror and the Emperor Charlemagne. The name Saint-Amand is derived from Saint-Omer and Lord (Huston?) de Saint-Omer (1080 - 1150) and lasted until Anne de Saint-Amand, the last of that name. In 1642, Anne married Bernard Daspit who added her name to his own surname and became the first Daspit de Saint Amand. The Saint-Amand family has several connections to William the Conqueror through William's son Henry I as well as a daughter, Gundred. Although there is some controversy over whether Gundred was actually the daughter of William the Conqueror, it appears stems from the fact that initially, William's marriage to Matilda was not sanctioned by the Pope and Gundred was born during this period. For further information see Gundred - Princess of England

John de Saint-Amand, 2nd Baron De Saint-Amand (1281 - 1330) is descended from the Lord De Saint-Omer in the Seventh Degree. In 1313 he married Joan Margaret Despencer, the daughter of Hugh Despencer, descendent from William the Conqueror through two of William's children, Gundred and Henry I. Gundred's husband, William de Warren, was probably also one of the companions of William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings

The second connection between the Saint-Amand family and the lines of William the Conqueror comes with Elizabeth de Braybrook, Baroness de Saint-Amand (1409 - 1491). Elizabeth de Braybrook (aka Elizabeth de Saint-Amand) was the grand daughter of Alianore de Saint-Amand (1371-1389) who had inherited the Saint-Amand title and married Sir Gerald de Braybrook. In 1449, Elizabeth married William Beauchamp who was also descended from William the Conqueror through William's daughter Gundred and William de Warren.


Saint-Omer is a chief town of an arrondissement in the department of Pas-de-Calais, northern France, and situated near the plain of Flanders on the Aa River at its junction with the Neuffosse Canal. Population (1968) 18,205. Saint-Omer was the seat of a bishopric and the church of Notre Dame was a cathedral from 1563 to 1801. The 13th-15th Century church contains the 8th century tomb of St. Erkembode and the 13th century tomb of St. Omer. There are two museums, the Henri Dupuis Museum of Natural History and Folklore, and the Fine Arts Museum, housed in the 18th century hotel Sandelin, and a municipal library with illuminated manuscripts of the 8th-16th centuries.

St. Omer, bishop of Therouanne, founded a monastery there in the 7th century, and built a small church, Notre Dame, on a hill above the Aa; St. Bertin gave his name to the abbey on the river and a village known as Saint-Omer grew up between the two churches during the 8th century. St. Bertin's abbey fell into ruin at the Revolution, and its tower finally collapsed in 1947. In the 9th century the counts of Flanders erected a fortress and the settlement was enclosed by walls. In the 10th century, under Abbot Odbert, the abbey became a cultural center producing fine illuminated manuscripts in the style of Winchester. In the 11th and 12th centuries the town had important commercial relations with England and Scotland, which provided much of the wool necessary for its cloth trade. In 1154 Henry II gave privileges to the merchants of Saint-Omer to trade in London, privileges which remained in force until Edward III banned the export of English wool. The cloth industry never recovered from this blow or the subsequent wars, famine, and plague, though some cloth was exported to France, Spain, Italy and even Russia. In the early 17th century tobacco processing was introduced, and this new industry continued until the tobacco monopoly was set up in 1810. Saint-Omer now produces paper, glass, cement, and linen goods. The surrounding marshes have been drained since the late 18th century and produce fruit and vegetables which are exported to other parts of France.


Lord de Saint-Omer

b. c. 1080
d. c. 1150
m. ___
  1. Geoffrey
  2. Odo (Eudo) (Eudes)
LORD_____DE SAINT-OMER, 1080-1150 was the feudal lord of the Artois (Agincourt) region's fife of St. Omer. The suzeraine (superior feudal lord) was Count William Clito of Flanders. Lord de Saint-Omer had two sons, Godfrey (born 1100) and a younger son named ) Odo (Eudes). Godfrey and Hugh des Payen were the two founders of the "Templers" in 1119.

Guillaume de St. Omer, son of Lord Huston de St. Omerís son Odo de Saint-Amand (see below) became the 8th Grand Master of the Knights Templar.

Some documents give the Lord de Saint Omer's name as Huston de Saint-Omer and a date of birth of about 1045, however 1080 seems the more likely date. Godfrey appears to have been born "Geoffrey" and changed his name to Godfrey - JPD 1997


Godfrey de Saint-Amand

b. 1110
d. 1160
m. 1130 (or 1150)

1. ______ de Saint-Amand

Godfrey de Saint-Amand, ne Goeffrey de St. Omer (1100 - 1118), son of Lord Huston de St. Omer.  Godfrey and Hugh des Payens founded the Knights Templar in 1118.

Odo (Eudes) de Saint-Omer (Saint-Amand)

b. 1110
d. 1180
m. ___
  1. ______ de Saint-Amand
ODO (EUDES) DE SAINT-AMAND was born in 1110. He was christened "Eudes de Saint-Omer" in the Artois region of France. His older brother was "Godfrey de Saint-Amand". Odo was recruited into Templars about 1128 by Hugh and Godfrey as "Odo St-Amand", he and Richard de Hastings had the Bible translated into French. Odo, along with Bernard de Blanquefort, was taken prisoner during the Hospitaller fortress battle. In 1167, he was sent as Ambassador to Byzantine Emperor Manual I by King Amalric I. His close friend Bernard de Blanquefort, 6th Grand Master of Templars died on January 14, 1169. Odo became the 8th Grand Master of Templars in 1170 after Phillip became Ambassador. Odo countenanced (approved) the murder of Assassin Envoys by his knight Walter de Mesnil in 1172. He refused the King's demand for Walter, explaining "only the Pope is my superior" but while Odo was busy with the Grand Chapter in Sidon in 1173, Amalric I and a posse took Walter. In the summer of 1174, Odo gave his permission for the coronation of Baldwin IV. In late November of 1177, he defeated Egyptian King Saladin's army southeast of Ramleh. He ordered the building of a new castle at Jacobs Ford on the Jordan in 1178. In 1179 Odo was attacked by Saldin's army during the construction of the castle and Odo was taken prisoner (Battle of Paneas). He was held prisoner at Damascas, Syria and refusing to be ransomed, he died in 1180. See The Knights Templars.


_____ de Saint-Amand

b. c. 1150
d. 1225
m. _____ DE VERDON (daughter of Walter de Verdon)
  1. Almaric
The family resurfaces in England with _____ DE SAINT-AMAND (1160 - 1225). He was probably the son or possibly the nephew of Odo. He lived during the reign of Richard I, Coeur de Lion (1189-1199). We are not sure what his first name was, but two of his sons were Almaric I and Sir William de Saint-Amand "de Sauxio". He was the son-in-law of Walter de Verdon who was Sheriff of Essex and Herts from 1218 to 1220. He was succeeded by his son and heir Almaric I.


Almaric (Amauri) I de Saint-Amand

b. 1190
d. 1241
m. ISEULT PANTULF (daughter of William Pantulf of Breedon, Leics and Joan de Goldington who was the daughter of Piers de Goldington and Eve _____.)
  1. Ralph
ALMARIC (AMAURI) I DE SAINT-AMAND of Liskeard, England was born in 1190 as the third son of ____ de Saint-Amand and ____ de Verdon (daughter of Walter de Verdon). He became the 5th husband of Iseult Pantulf in 1215. She was the daughter of William Pantulf of Breedon, Leics and his wife Joan de Goldington (daughter of Piers de Goldington and Eve ____). Almaric joined "Magna Carta" Barons against King John in 1215. In 1216, he was in service of King Henry III who was in the first year of his reign. He received a grant of the vill of Clafford (Clatford), Hants in 1217. In 1222 he received a grant of two-third of the manor of Liskeard, Cornwall. He received two more grants of land while service the King in Ireland from 1226 to 1229. Later, in 1230, he fought in the King's expedition overseas. Upon returning to Ireland, he inherited Walter de Verdon's (his father-in-law) land and the King cancelled the back taxes. He was Constable of Castles in Co. Pembroke in 1231 and negotiated a truce with Llewelyn, the Welsh war lord, in 1231. He inherited the estate of Ralph, his brother-in-law, at Bloxham, Oxon in 1232 and in the same year he was keeper of St. James de Beuvron (LaManche). During the following year he was the King's envoy to the Duke of Brittany and in July, 1233 was knighted by Henry III. As a knight, he was in the official service for the King in the Marches of Wales that year and was the "Constable of the Marches until 1234. He served as "The King's Steward" from 1233 to 1240 and during that same period was the Warden of the castles of Hereford and St. Briavel and the Sheriff of Hereford. In 1239 he was godfather of Edward I and stood at the font during the christening. He went on a Crusade to the Holy Land with his friend Simon de Montfort in 1240 led by Richard, Earl of Cornwall. He died during the Crusade journey in the summer of 1241. He was succeeded by his son and heir Ralph.

Although Almaric and his son were supporters of the Magna Charta  barons, the were not signers of the Magna Charta itself. JPD - 1997


Ralph de Saint-Amand

b. c 1215
d. 1245
m. June, 1234 - ASCELINE DE ALBINI (DAUBENY) (daughter of Robert de Albini and granddaughter of the Baron of Caynho)
  1. Almaric II
RALPH DE SAINT-AMAND of Bedford, England was born in 1215, the same year his father joined the Magna Carta. He was named after his father's uncle, Ralph de Verdon. Ralph married Asceline de Albini (Daubeny) of Caynho, Beds in June 1234. Asceline was the granddaughter of the Baron of Caynho and daughter of Robert de Albini. Ralph was in overseas service for Henry III in 1242 and served the King of Scotland or Wales in 1244. In 1241 he was paid 25 pounds for relief of a remaining half of the lands of Joane de A. de Beauchamp. He owned land in Devon, Wilts, Glos, Berks, Hants, Herts, Oxon, and Warw. from 1234 to 1246. He died in late July of 1245 and was succeeded by his son and heir Almaric II.


Almaric (Amauri) II de Saint-Amand

b. 1235
d. 1285
m. 1278 - ISABEL _____
  1. Guy married Lucy _____
  2. Almaric II married Mary _____
  3. John
ALMARIC (AMAURI) II DE SAINT-AMAND of Bedford, England was born in 1235. His father, Ralph, died when he was ten years old. Until he was of age, the custody of his land was held by Matthew de Coudray, later Paulyne Peyvre, and finally John de Grey until 1956. He received legal possession of his lands in 1956 and did homage (a ceremony in which a man acknowledges himself the vassal of a lord) on February 20. His lands were in Beds, Bucks, Surrey, Sussex, Notts, and Derbs. He married Isabel _____ in 1278 and was given timber in Savernack Forest. He marched against the Welsh in 1257, 1277, 1282 and 1283 and he was a Banneret (a knight leading his vassals into the field under his own banner and therefore ranking above a knight bachelor). The King summoned Almaric II to his support (cum equis et armis) at London and Oxford in 1261 and 1264. In 1263-1265 he aided Henry III during the "Barons' War", a war against the King. He was summoned to serve in the Assembly at Shrewsbury (not a Parliament) in 1283. he died in the autumn of 1285. At the time of death he had three sons. His first son Guy (1267-1287), his second was Almaric III 1st Baron, and his third was John. Almaric III was born at Milbrook Co, Bedford in March 1268 and died on July 29, 1310. Almaric III signed Barons' letter to Pope Boniface VIII as "Dominus de Wydehaye", married in 1290, was summoned to serve in the Parliament from December 29, 1299 to June 16, 1311, served in Gascony and was Governor of Bordeaux in 1294. Almaric III was held by modern doctrine to become Lord St. Amand and was referred to in King's Writs as "Almarico de Sancto Amando" in 1299. Almaric III was summoned to meet Edward II and Queen Isabel in January 1307 in Dover. Almaric III was the 1st Baron de Saint-Amand and was succeeded by his brother John.


Lord John, 2nd Baron de Saint-Amand

b. 1281
d. 1330
m. 1313 - JOAN MARGARET DESPENCER (daughter of Hugh le Despencer, Earl of Winchester and Isabel, widow of Patrick de Chaurches (Chaworth) and daughter of William de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick and his wife Maud FitzGeoffrey daughter of Sir John FitzGeoffrey and sister of Sir Richard Fitzjohn, Lord Fitzjohn). SEE DESPENCER LINEAGE, SEE MANDEVILLE LINEAGE, SEE FITZPIERS LINEAGE

JOHN, 2nd BARON DE SAINT-AMAND of Bedford, England was born in 1281. A professor of canon law, he did fealty (the fidelity of a vassal or feudal tenant to his lord) and had livery (legal possession) of lands in England and Ireland. Before his barony, he was known as "Magister Johanni de Sancto Amando". He was summoned to serve in the Parliament from January 8, 1313 to October 10, 1326 as Lord St. Amand. He married Joan Margaret, daughter of Hugh le Despencer, Earl of Winchester, in December of 1313. His mother-in-law was Isabel, daughter of William de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. He fought the Scots in 1315 and again in 1323. He fought overseas with his father-in-law, Hugh le Despencer in February 1319. In 1321, he refused to attend assembly of "Good Peers" (Earl of Lancaster). He was summoned to assist Edward II against Lancastrians in 1322 and in 1329 was named the "Commissioner of the Peace" at Bedford. The same year he was made a knight by King Edward III. He died on January 25, 1330 and was succeeded by his son and heir Almaric IV.



b. 1314
d. 1381
m. c. 1340 ALIANORE _____ (heir of the Earl of Hereford)
  1. Almaric V
ALMARIC (AMAURI) IV, 3rd BARON DE SAINT-AMAND of Bedford, England was born in 1314. He was 15 years old when his father died, becoming ward of King Edward III. At 17, he had orders from Edward III to go with him to Ireland to defend the King's lands. He did homage and received orders for livery of seisin (legal possession of a freehold estate in land) on March 16, 1335. He became the 3rd Baron by 1335 and married Alianore (Eleanor) ____. Almaric IV became a knight on February 22, 1337, in the same year went overseas in the King's service with the Earl of Salisbury. The following year he served in Scotland. Hew as designated the Commissioner of Array in Berks in 1338 and 1339 and served in the French wars during 1342, 1345 and 1246. He served in the 1st division at the Battle of Crecy on August 26, 1346 and then served at the seige of Calais during 1346 and 1347. In 1355 and 1357 he fought in the Scottish Campaign with Sir Robert Herle and was named Lord of Gormanstown in Meath, Ireland. Almaric IV was appointed Justiciar (Governor) of all of Ireland on July 14, 1357 (Sir Thomas Rokeby was the Justiciar until that time). From July to November, Maurice Fitzgerald, 4th Earl of Kildare, was a temporary substitute for Almaric IV as Justiciar. Almaric IV served in that position with 100 archers on horseback assigned to him until finally on February 16, 1359, after returning to England, Almaric resigned as Justiciar. He was made Commissioner of the Peace at Berks from 1361 to 1381 and participated in the Irish Affairs Council on March 15, 1361. He served again in France during 1368 the following year was the Baron guaranteeing the renewal of peace in Scotland. The same year he was Captain of Southampton and from January 8, 1371 to August 22, 1381 he served in the Parliament. In 1373 he was Steward of Rockingham Castle and in 1375 was Commissioner to Reform Abuses at St. Frideswide's, Oxon. In 1376 he was J.P. in Bucks and in 1382 was J.P. in Beds and Berks. He died on September 11, 1381 and was succeeded by his son and heir Almaric V.


Almaris (Amauri) V, 4th Baron de Saint-Amand

b. 1341
d. 1402
1m. 1361 - IDDA _____

  1. Sir Almaric VI (died)
  2. Alainore
2m. 1390 - ALAINORE LAVYNTON (widow of Sir Thomas Wodelok of Owslebury, Hants and daughter of Richard Lavynton and heir of St. Elen)
  1. Idda married Thomas West
ALMARIC (AMAURI) V, 4th BARON DE SAINT-AMAND of Bedford, England was born in 1341. He was 40 years old when his father died. He did homage and fealty and received livery of his lands on September 24, 1381. He was made a knight in September 1363 by Edward III. He married IDDA ____ in February 1369 and Alainore Lavynton about 1390. He was summoned to serve in Parliament from August 9, 1382 to December 2, 1401. He moved to one of his castles near the coast to defend Devon for the King in 1385. Almaric V was Commissioner of Array at Beds in 1386 and 1392, J.P. of Oxon in 1386 and J.P. of Wilts in 1391. He was P.C. to Richard II and Henry IV from 1387 to 1401. In 1399, King Henry IV made him a Knight of the Bath at the King's coronation. He died on June 13, 1402 leaving no living sons, only two daughters. His widow, Alainore, was given order for dower (the part of or interest in the real estate of a deceased husband given by law to his widow during her life) in March of 1403. Alainore died Mary 17, 1426. Almaric V's daughters were named Alainore (by Idda, his first wife) and Idda (by Alainore, his second wife). His only son, by Idda was Sir Almaric VI de Saint-Amand who died in 1401. Upon the death of the 4th Baron, the Barony fell into abeyance (temporary inactivity) between the coheirs, Gerald de Braybrook who was the son of his daughter Alainore by his first wife Idda, and Idda the daughter of his second wife Alainore. But the de Saint-Amand family line continued through his second daughter Alainore.


Alainore de Saint-Amand, Dame de Saint-Amand

b. 1371
d. 1389

  1. Gerald
ALAINORE (ELEANOR) DE BRAYBROOK DAME DE SAINT-AMAND of Bedford, England was born in 1371 and married Sir Gerald de Braybrook about 1388. He was a knight. She died on December 24, 1389, probably during the birth of Gerald.


Gerald de Braybrook, Lord de Saint-Amand

b. 1389
d. 1422

  1. Elizabeth
  2. Maude m. John Babington
  3. Alainore never married
2m. 1421 - Joan Raleigh (daughter of Thomas Raleigh and sister of William Raleigh)
  1. Alainore
GERALD DE BRAYBROOK, LORD (DE JURE) DE SAINT-AMAND of Bedford, England was born on December 24, 1389 and was grandson of the 4th Baron. When his aunt Idda died on December 15, 1416, he was left with full heirship. He proved his age on February 17, 1414 and his first wife was Pernelle de Grey who died in 1414. He married in 1421 to his second wife, Joan, daughter of Thomas Ralegh. Upon his death in 1422, the coheirs were three daughters by Pernelle, his first wife: Alainore (1408 - 1426), Elizabeth (1409 - 1491) and Maude (1411 - 1428); and one daughter by Joan his 2nd wife. This daughter was also named Alainore (1422 - 1428).


Elizabeth de Braybrook, Baroness de Saint-Amand

b. 1409
d. 1491

  1. Richard
2m. Roger Tocotes (Tocketts)

ELIZABETH DE BRAYBROOK, BARONESS DE SAINT-AMAND of Bromham, England was born in 1409. She married William Beauchamp before 1426, the son of Sir Walter Beauchamp. William became the 5th Baron de Saint-Amand by Elizabeth's right. William was made a knight by Henry VI in 1433 and was one of the King's Carvers. He was Sheriff of Wilts in 1436, 1442 and 1447. William was appointed Chamberlain of North Wales in April 1437 and in 1442 was keeper of Beaumaris Castle. He was steward and constable of Barnard Castle in 1446 and was Constable of Painscastle in Co. Radnor in 1446. He was summoned to serve in Parliament from January 2, 1449 to May 26, 1455. The summons was directed to "Willelmo Beauchamp de Sancto Amando". After 1449 he was address as "Lord de Saint-Amand". His wife, Elizabeth was "Lady de Saint-Amand". He was appointed Keeper of Kennington manor as Lord de Seint-Amond" in 1451. Their son, Richard, was born in September 1453. William died on March 19, 1457 and his last will and testament was dated March 18, 1457 and bequeathed to be buried in the chantry of Steple Lavynton in Wilts. Lady St-Amand obtained marriage license on April 10, 1458 and married for the second time to Roger Tocotes (or Tocketts) in July of 1458. Roger was a knight by 1461, and by 1485 was a sheriff, constable, steward, etc. Lady Elizabeth, the Baroness de Saint-Amand died on December 2, 1491. She was buried at Bromham, Wilts. Roger died shortly after on November 2, 1491 and was also buried at Bromham.


Richard, 6th Baron Beauchamp de Saint-Amand

b. 1453
d. 1508
m. Anne _____

no children, after Richard's death, she married Sir John Hussey

Richard's mistress was MARY WROUGHTON who gave birth to:

  1. Anthony
RICHARD, 6th BARON BEAUCHAMP DE SAINT-AMAND of Wilts, England was born on in September 1453. He was 3 1/2 years old at his father's death and 38 when his mother died. He married Anne _____ in 1457. She is referred to as Dame Anne. He was convicted (attainted) by the "Act of 1484", but soon pardoned. He was made a Knight by King Henry VII about 1485, perhaps during the coronation. He received a grant of property forfeited by his stepfather, Roger, in March of 1485. Richard was appointed Keeper of Blackmore Forest, Wilts, as "Sir Richard Beauchamp" in 1486. In 1488, he was Commissioner of Musters in Wilts and in 1501 he was an officer supervising the official welcome of Katherine of Aragon. In 1504 "Richard Beauchamp, Knight, Lord St-Amand" served as Steward of Malborough, Wilts. He had no children by Dame Anne but he did have a "natural son", Anthony, by his lover, Mary Wroughton about 1470. He made his last will and testament on June 14, 1508 and died in July 1508. Some probate papers spell his name "Lord Seynatamand". He desired to be interred in the Black Friers' Church near Ludgate, within the City of London. Dame Anne married again to Sir John Hussey on June 4, 1509 and later died on March 2, 1511, but made Anthony the heir before her death. The title "Lord Saint-Amand" died with Richard but was restored to another branch of the family, only to die shortly thereafter. Anthony did not use the Beauchamp name but instead assumed the name of Saint-Amand.


Anthony de Saint-Amand

b. 1470
d. 1540
m.  __________

Anthony de Saint-Amand was born in 1470 by Richard and his lover Mary Wroughton. Anthony was the natural son of Richard but not the lawful son. Perhaps this explains why the family sort of disappears from the royal lineages at this time and little is written about them. Anthony received a life-grant as Keeper of Blackmoor and steward of Malborough in July of 1508. He also received livery (legal possession) of the Saint-Amand lands in Wilts, Bedford, Berks, Huntington and Hereford after the death of Lady Anne in 1511. Anthony died in 1540.  No longer royalty, the family stayed in England for a while but eventually left for France.


N. _____ de Saint-Amand , circa. 1505 - 1565

m. _____

  1. N. _____ de Saint-Amand
He as well as many other of French ancestry fled to France due to politics.


  1. N. _____ de Saint-Amand

  2. m. _____

    1. N. _____ de Saint-Amand, c 1565 - 1625


N. _____ de Saint-Amand , circa. 1520 -

m. _____

  1. Paul d'Alleman de Saint-Amand, born c 1595  died c 1660


Paul d'Alleman de Saint-Amand

m.  August 7, 1625  Anne  deRostagnis

  1. Marguerite  Charlotte de Saint-Amand  born  c.1620 died c. 1670
  2. Henri de Saint-Amand
Paul d'Alleman de Saint-Amand was the high page (comrade in arms) of Henri de Bourbon (Prince of Condé).  His son, Henri, b 1626, died with no issue.  His daughter, Marguerite, is documented in records dated 1650.  His Seigneuris was probably located at the village of St-Amand which is 9 miles west of Avignon on Route D-19.

This Saint-Amand is quite possibly the nobleman who sponsored and gave the Saint-Amand name to Marc-Antoine Gerard (1594 - 1661).


_____ , circa 1600 -

m. Marguerite  Charlotte de Saint-Amand

  1. Anne de Saint-Amand


Anne de Saint-Amand

m. Bernard Daspit

  1. Jacques
ANNE DE SAINT-AMAND was born in 1642. She was the great great granddaughter of Anthony de Saint-Amand. She was the noble demoiselle and heiress of the ancient family of de Saint-Amand. The family probably lived at St-Amand Chatelenie, near St. Amans, 4 miles south of Muret until her marriage. Anne was the last of the Saint-Amands and when she married Bernard D'Aspit in 1662, Bernard added her name to his creating the name "D'Aspit de Saint-Amand."


Odo de Saint-Amand was the 8th Grand Master of the Templars. His brother, Godfrey de Saint-Amand and Hugh des Payens founded the group. The following is the story of the Templars.

The Templars, officially the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon (Pauperes commilitones Christi templi Salomonici), were one of the first of 12 religious military orders of knighthood that came into being between 1100 and 1300. It was founded c. 1119 to protect and guide pilgrims in the Holy Land.

The foundation of the Templars was inspired by the religious military order of the Knights Hospitallars, whose purpose was to aid pilgrims upon their arrival in the Holy Lands. The Hospitallars ministered to exhausted pilgrims within the city of Jerusalem; travelers, however were exposed to dangers on the way to the city and needed guides and protectors. A group of knights (seven or nine) filled this need and formed the nucleus of the Templars. It is generally accepted that the Burgundian knight, Hugh des Payens and a knight from northern France, Godfrey of Saint-Amand were its founders. They organized a religious community, taking an oath to guard the public routes and, in the presence of Warmund, the Patriach of Jerusalem, promised to observe the three monastic vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. All pomp was eliminated, and no distinctive dress characterized the new order. An order such as the Templars was unusual and new to Christianity; the older communities were reluctant to live by the sword, but the Templars unhesitatingly combined religious and military life.

Baldwin II (d. 1131), King of Jerusalem, turned over to the knight a part of his palace, believed to be the Temple of Solomon, whence is derived their name. Because of their pronounced state of poverty, they became known as "the poor brothers of the Temple." Gradually the Templars added to their original duties the obligation to fight all "infidels" threatening Christianity and to repel any force menacing Jerusalem or their religion.

As the fame of the new order grew, partly through the propaganda writing of Bernard of Clairvaux (De laude novae militiae, 1128) it began also to increase in size. Recruiting members from the nobility and waxing rich on gifts from grateful kings and princes, the Templars developed into a efficient military organization that adopted absolute secrecy to cover all internal activities. They became extremely influential -- their influence, together with their mounting prosperity, created enemies. Applicants ranged from lords who wished only to be considered part of the order to excommunicated knights who, after absolution by their bishop, joined in active participation hoping to expiate their sins. The latter group was responsible for the eventual privilege of the order whereby no member of the Temple could be excommunicated.

At the Council of Troyes (Jan. 13, 1128), at which Hugh appeared in person, the rule of the order, prepared by Bernard of Clairvaux, was considered and approved. The Templars were permitted to wear the white mantle of the Cistercians, to which, in the pontificate of Eugene III, the distinctive red cross was added. Heading the order was the Grand Master of the Temple of Jerusalem, assisted by a hierarchy of lesser officers. Though his power was not absolute, he had great authority over his subjects. Under certain specified circumstances, he was obligated to consult the general chapter, from which his authority was derived through a complicated election process. The first grand master was Hugh des Payens.

Before 1153 the order had been established in many kingdoms of Christendom: gifts of money and property were lavished upon it by royal families, and spiritual gifts and privileges were bestowed by the popes. Because the Templars were defenders of the Church, they were exempt from paying tithes (taxes to the church) and, unless referred to by name, even from the effects of general papal decrees. At first only knight were admitted, and no specific length of service was required. Gradually the order began to admit members of three categories: knights, chaplains, and sergeants. The knights surrendered all their property, joining for life. Originally they had the prerogative to leave at will; later, however, they could leave only to join another order with stricter rules. The chaplains were priests bound to the order for life, administering the Sacraments and serving the religious needs of the knights, owning obedience only to the grand master and to the pope himself. The sergeants were a group composed of wealthy bourgeois. Since the order formed an exempt ecclesiastical organization directly subject to the pope, frequent feuds resulted between the Templars and the bishops in whose diocese they had been established. Numerous papal decrees were issued on their behalf, and as long as the defense of the Holy Land was in question, attacks on the Templars were unsuccessful.

For more than 100 years the Templars remained powerful, influential, and wealthy. Their properties were scattered throughout Europe, and in consequence they competed with other religious military orders, such as the Hospitallers. Each order rivaled the other in its holdings and membership, and on occasion the orders engaged in actual skirmishes. But perhaps the seriousness of this competitions has been exaggerated. The rivalry was actually productive, for the order strove to outdo each other in magnificence and in other accomplishments in keeping with their rule.

The fall of Jerusalem to the Moslems (October 1187) was a critical event in the history of the Templars. As each new crusade, launched to recapture the city, failed, the crusading spirit waned and the military orders became largely anachronistic. After the Christians had been ousted from the Holy Land by 1291, the other religious orders sought new goals: the Hospitallers transformed themselves into a maritime peace force to combat Moslem piracy in the Mediterranean; the Teutonic Knight retired to the Baltic provinces of the Empire to give their full attention to the heathen Slavs. The Templars, on the other hand, seemed to become a standing international mercenary force at the disposal of anyone who had most to offer them. They thought of retiring to France, where they were particularly right and powerful, centering their activity in Paris. There (and in London) the Temple became the depository of their wealth at which princes and commoners banked their private property. Even the royal funds of France were deposited there.

In 1285 when Philip IV the Fair (1268 - 1214) ascended the French throne, the country was neat bankruptcy. The King was constantly in need of money and land, and the Templars possessed both a great abundance. Their destruction would prove lucrative to Philip, and it would also give him an opportunity to strike indirectly at the papacy, with which he was in open conflict. He decided to humble the papacy vicariously; for if he attacked Boniface VIII directly, the Pope would turn the religious military order against the French throne.

Philip began his campaign by blaming the Templars for the loss of the Holy Land, accusing them of being more interested in banking and finance, and in their rich establishments, than in the Holy City. It seems probably that Philip was convinces that the Templars were plotting to establish a French enclave and that, consequently, they were dangerous.

For at least 40 years there had been rumors of heretical practices within the Temple, thought there was no actual proof because of the complete secrecy of all rituals. This secrecy was especially strict with reference to initiation into the order; any revelation of those rites constituted grounds for expulsion. This reputation tended to bring together enemies of the Templars and gave Philip the weapon he requires. He devised false initiation rites for the order; and when these alleged rites were publicly revealed, the Templars of course denied them. The charges made by Philip claimed that the candidates had to undergo a ceremony involving sacrilegious and obscene practices. Feeling secure because of the protection of the Church and the falsity of the accusations, the Knights did nothing. By 1307, however, Philip had drawn up specific charges against the order and sent them to Pope Clement V (1305 -14), asking for an investigation. The Pope promised one.

Regarding the Pope's promise as consent, Philip then sent out orders to have all Templars in France (approximately 2,000) arrested on the same day, October 13, 1307. The lands of the order were occupied by royal officers, and its property sequestrated. Public opinion in France was stirred up against the order by a vicious and skillful propaganda campaign, depicting the "fighting arm of the Church" as a rich, decadent organization, a malignant grown on the body of the Church and state alike.

Philip, however, was not satisfied to break the order only in France; he wanted to destroy the Templars throughout the Christian world. To do this he would have to prove to the Pope that his charges were universally true. After a period of hesitation, the vacillating Clement (July 1308) approved a double inquest into the affairs of the Templars, one of the individual members, the other on order itself. The former was to fall within the competence of the local ordinary with judgment rendered by provincial council; the latter was to await the decision of the general Council of Vienne. Philip, however, conducted his own inquest -- without papal approval -- using the services of the general inquisitor for France.

Extorting confessions under torture, the inquisitor ("demonstrated" the guilt of the leading French Templars, mostly knight, including Grand Master Jacques de Molay. In England, Scotland, Ireland, Aragon and Castile, and Germany the Templars were found innocent on all accounts; but not in France and in areas under French influence, such as Provence, the Kingdom of Naples, and even the States of the Church, they were accessed guilty as charged. At length Clement brought the final decision to the floor of the Council, hoping that by satisfying Philip in regard to the Templars, he would be spared from undertaking the King's other demand: the canonical process leading to the condemnation of the memory of Boniface VIII. Early in December 133, the Council voted overwhelmingly against the abolition of the Templars on grounds that the charges had not been proved. But in the bull "Vox in excelso" )ConOecDecr 312-319) of March 22, 1312, read in the second session on April 3, Clement suppressed the order by papal provisions, reserving the disposition of persons and property to the Pope. Nevertheless, by order of the King, Jacques de Molay and the highest dignitaries of the order were burned at the stake (March 1314), repudiating their confession and asserting the complete innocence of the order.

The Pope had no alternative but to dissolve the Templars. Yet Philip had not completely won. Since the order was condemned as heretical, its possessions still remained in the hands of the Church. It was finally agreed that they be turned over to the Knights Hospitaller. In Spain and Portugal, however, their property went to such military orders as the Order of Christ and the Knights of Mostesa. Philip did not accept the decision; he claimed that the Temple owed him money and presented a greatly exaggerated list of expenses incurred by the state. This enormous debt was settled by the Hospitallers.

The spectacular end of the Templars was, and remains, one of the most debated events in history. It is easy to understand that Philip the Fair, debt-ridden and desperate, would want to abolish an organization that represented a threat to his absolute power, especially if at the same time he could fill his coffers. It is likewise understandable that a weak and reluctant Pope, who owed his election to King Philip, was forced to comply. It is clear also how public opinion could be turned against a prosperous and influential order that was accountable only to the Pope, having an income four times that of the King of France. But it remains a mystery why the order, entrenched in the impenetrable Temple of Paris, submitted without resistance to the certainly inferior forces of the King.