Renaud de Vichiers was born around 1198 in the familial domain of Vichiers, Champagne.
He was successively Preceptor of Saint-Jean d’Acre(1240), Master of France and finally Marshal when he was elected Master in May 1250. His appointment took place in the middle of Templar reinforcements which arrived just before the battle of Bahr al-Saghir.
Some days after this battle, Louis IX was captured by Mameluks. The captive was to be liberated upon the payment of a 200000 livres ransom. Lord of Joinville, the King’s chronicler, did all he could to gather the sum, but he fell 30000 livres short.
Joinville called on the Master of the Temple to grant him a loan to complete the ransom money.
Renaud de Vichiers, to the astonishment of the Frankish chiefs, refused to loan the money, giving as a pretext that the money present in the Temple Galley off Damiette did not belong the Temple but to a third party.
Nevertheless, Renaud de Vichiers notified Joinville that he would not try anything if he wanted to take the money by force. Joinville complied immediately. He entered the Galley of the Temple, took the 30000 livres and gave the complete ransom to Mameluks.
Some historians mention that the General Chapter of the Order judged the attitude of Renaud de Vichiers as scandalous. They go on to suggest that the General Chapter asked for and obtained the resignation of de Vichiers in 1252. Whether this was true or not, in 1252 Renaud de Vichiers did retire to a monastery where he stayed until his death in 1257.
Another version of history mentions that despite his attitude, de Vichiers accompanied King Louis IX to Saint-Jean d’Acre where he disembarked a short time after his liberation from Mameluks.
de Vichiers apparently then lead several raids to contain the Muslim hordes who were busy destroying the last Frankish possessions. In this version of history de Vichiers lead these raids until his death in 1257.
Back to Masters list