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The First Grandmaster of the Knights Templar

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The Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon or otherwise known as the Knights Templar are a military order. They were created during the time of the Crusades. Originally the military were founded to protect Christian pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land. The order acquired greater military duties during the 12th century. It was important and due to the growing wealth created enemies within rival orders. Falsely accused of blasphemy and failures in the Holy Land, caused the order was destroyed by King Philip IV of France. A Grandmaster at the beginning of the order went by the name of Hugues de Paeyns. He had a significant relevance to the order.

Payens was born in France sometime around 1070. Not much is actually known about Payens early life except for the fact that he was a knight from the area of Champagne in Burgundy, France. His lord was Hugh, Count of Champagne who eventually joined the Knights.

He was the co-founder and first Grand Master of the Knights Templar. Hugues served in the army of Godfroi de Boullion during the First Crusade. Godfroi was a medieval Frankish knight, a German who was one of the leaders of the First Crusade from 1096 until his death in 1100.

The Count of Champagne visited Jerusalem in 1108 with Hugues. He remained there after the Count returned to France. He organized the original nine monk-knights of the Knights Templar to defend pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land. The creation of this was in response to the call to take action ordered by Pope Urban II..

Hugues and the other Knights approached the King of Jerusalem,King Baldwin II, with the purpose of joining the Cannons of the Holy Sepulchre. The Canons of the Holy Sepulchre were a religious order estimated to have been founded in 1114 .They wanted to put down their weapons and become monks but the King persuaded them to act as body guards for pilgrims and these monks became the Knights Templar.

The other knights were Godfrey de Saint-Omer, Payen de Montdidier, Archambaud de St. Agnan, Andre de Montbard, Geoffrey Bison, Rossal and Gondamer. The last two men were only recorded by these names. The ninth knight remains unknown, although some believe that it was Count Hugh of Champagne himself as he was affiliated with Hugues.

Hugues then became the Grandmaster of the Knights Templar. He led the Order for almost twenty years up until his death in 1136. He helped to establish the Order’s foundations as a prominent military group with a lot of influence.

He ventured to England and Scotland in 1128. There he recruited men and raised money for the Order, and also founded their first House in London and another near Edinburgh at Balantrodoch. It is now known as Temple Midlothian. It is where with Catherine St. Clair, he visited Sir Henry Sinclair of Roslin. A debate remains whether or not Payens was married to Catherine or not.

He died in Outremmer in 1136. Payens was succeeded as Grand Master of the Knights Templar by Robert de Craon.

-Edward O’Neill

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