The preceptory of Bertransart

Translation : Andrew Zolnai
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Belgique, Province of Namur

Belgium, Province of Hainaut, about 10 km south of Charleroi, commune of Gerpinnes.

According to some sources, the origin of the Templars' settlement in Bertransart came from a gift made by Godefroid III (or Godescal III) of Morialmé(1) to the Order when he left for the Holy Land with the armies of the Emperor of Germany..

Although some mention the existence of a charter given by the Marquis(2) of Namur, Philippe I of Hainaut(3) in 1196 and mentioning the house of Bertransart, the first certified mention dates from June 21, 1240, and is included in the settlement of a conflict between the brothers of Bertransart and Marguerite, abbess of Moustier-sur-Sambree(4), about allods(5) located in Gerpinnes. This act is countersigned by brother Renaud, preceptor of Hainaut and Brabant.

In 1243, Jean Colon, bailiff of Namur, gave a judgement to close a territorial dispute that the brothers of Bertransart had with Otton de Morialmé, Lord of Loverval, about the wood of Ruzomont (or Rujemont). This wood had been given to the Templars by the Count of Hainaut(6) in the presence of brother Jacques, preceptor of the said house of Bertransart, in exchange for a setier(7) of annuity to be paid to the Lord of Loverval.

A last charter, dated May 5, 1267, shows us a certain Lord Jean de Henripot (or Henripont) giving to Notre-Dame of the temple of Bertransart his serf Colart Bornart de Boufioulx’s worldly goods, in return for an annual "capitation"(8) of 12 deniers(9) and the best "catel"(10) payable upon his death. Among the witnesses are Brother Adam, preceptor of the temple, Brother Jean Briges and Brother Guillaume Chamas.

Through various texts, the names of 5 commanders of Bertransart are known to us: Brother Eustache (1210-1218), Brother Baudouin (1225), Brother Jacques (1230-1237), Brother Adam (1267) and Brother Georges (1275-1280). This information tells us that the preceptory of Bertransart was created, at the latest, in 1210.

The inventory of 1313, carried out by the Hospitallers after they had inherited the property of the Order of the Temple, indicated that the preceptory owned lands in Florennes, Samart and Philippeville. In Florennes, the preceptory owned a house and 30 "bonniers"(11) of meadows. In Samart, the Templars owned the conferrement(12) of the parish.
The estate of Bertransart was composed of 80 bonniers of arable land, 50 bonniers of bad land, 60 of large woods completely devastated and 80 of small woods in the same state.

An report of the visit in 1315 of Brother Le Rai, preceptor of France of the Order of Saint John, noted that the preceptory had been looted.
In 1364, Bertransart became dependent on the Grand Priory of France.
In 1503, the property came under the control of the priory of Villers-le-Temple. Subsequently, the buildings were destroyed, the materials were recovered and the current Bertransart farmhouse took the place of the former Templar house.

Notes :

(1)Godefroid III of Morialmé, also mentionned as Godescal or Gottschalk III, was lord of Morialmé and Ham-sur-Heure, Ruler of the Abbey of Saint-Feuillien. He was born around 1130 and died in the Holy Land in 1189. He was the son of Arnould III de Morialmé and Ida van der Aa, daughter of Léo van der Aa, Lord of Brussels. He took part in the 3rd Crusade in the ranks of the army of the German Emperor. On the eve of his death, he entered the Order of the Hospital of St. John.

(2)The county of Namur was elevated to a marquisate on 23 September 1190, during the Schwäbisch Hall Diet, by the King of Germania Henri VI to consolidate the legacy of the last count of Namur, Henri the Blind, who died in 1186 without male descendant.

(3)Philippe I of Hainaut, also called "the Noble". He was Marquis of Namur from 1195 until his death in 1212. He was born in 1174. He was the eldest son of Baudouin V, Count of Hainaut and Namur, and of Marguerite d'Alsace, Countess of Flanders. He had to fight against Thiébaut 1st de Bar, son-in-law of Henri the Blind, who also coveted the legacy of the Marquisate of Namur. After 3 years of fighting, a treaty was signed in Dinant on July 26th 1199 and recognised Philippe's possession of Namur. On the 1st August 1206, he married Marie de France, daughter of King Philippe II Auguste. He died of dysentery in Valenciennes on October 09, 1212 without descendants.

(4)The abbey of the nuns was founded in the middle of the 7th century, under the influence of Saint Amand, also known as Amand of Maastricht. The abbey was founded on land that belonged to Pepin II of Herstal, mayor of the Palaces of Austrasia. Legend had it that the abbey was plundered by the Normans at the end of the 9th century. At the beginning of the 10th century, the abbess, with the support of Etienne, bishop of Liège, undertook to rebuild the abbey. In the middle of the 13th century, the monastery was converted into a chapter of noble canonesses. The chapter continued until 1787, when it was reunited with the chapter of Andenne and transferred to Namur.

(5)Free land belonging to no lord and free from all feudal duties.

(6)Thomas II of Savoy, also known as Thomas II of Piedmont. He was born around 1199 in Montmélian and died on 7 February 1259 in Chambéry. He was Lord of Piedmont (1235-1259), became Count of Flanders and Hainaut (1237-1244) by his marriage. He was the son of Thomas I, Count of Maurienne and Savoy, and of Béatrice-Marguerite de Geneva, daughter of Count Guillaume I of Geneva. As the youngest son, he was initially promised a career in the church. He was first provost of the Church of Valence, then canon of Lausanne from 1224 to 1227 before becoming canon of Lyon. On the death of his father in 1233 Thomas II left the priestly habit to join his elder brother who made him lieutenant general of his states. In 1236, he lived at the French court with his niece, Marguerite de Provence, wife of King Louis IX. In 1237, the King of France allowed him to marry Jeanne, Countess of Flanders and Hainaut, widow of Ferrand of Flanders. Becoming a widower in 1244, he ceded his rights over Flanders to his nephew by marriage William III of Dampierre and returned to Savoy, where he died in 1259.

(7)Ancient measure of volume (capacity) varying according to the regions and the material measured. In Paris, a setier of grain was equivalent to around 152 liters.

(8)The capitation tax is a tax per head, the amount of which is the same for all persons belonging to the same caste, or class. It is not based on property or income, it is due by reason of the existence of the person.

(9)The denier (denarius is spec. Roman) is one of the basic currencies of the medieval monetary system. Generally speaking, the denier corresponded to a 1g. silver coin.

(10)The catel is the total property owned by a person. The expression "best catel", according to the “Dictionnaire du Moyen Français” (, means "the Lord’s share in case of inheritance".

(11)A bonnier, bonier or bunder is an old unit of area measurement, used in Flanders and neighbouring regions, which, depending on the region, was between 1 and 1.4 hectares.

(12)The "collation" is the right to confer an ecclesiastical benefit.

  1. Compte rendu des séances de la Commission Royale d'Histoire ou Recueil de ses Bulletins - Tome 70
    Commission royale d'Histoire ; Librairie Kiessling, 1901
  2. Les Templiers en Flandre, Hainaut, Brabant, Liège et Luxembourg
    Laurent Dailliez ; Impress Sud, 1978

More references on the Web... Internet sources
  1. "Le Cercle d'Histoire de l'entité de Walcourt"
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Translation : Andrew Zolnai
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