Hugues de Payens, also de Payns (English: Hugh of Payens) (c. 1070–1136), a French knight from the Champagne region, was the co-founder and first Grand Master of the Knights Templar. With Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, he created the Latin Rule, the code of behavior for the Order. The "Rule" was in fact written solely by St. Bernard, with little or no imput from the Templar Grand Master.
He was probably born at Château Payns, about 10 km from Troyes, in Champagne. He was originally a vassal of Count Hugh of Champagne, whom he accompanied on the First Crusade. It is likely that Hugues served in the army of Godfroi de Boullion during the Crusade. Count Hugh of Champagne visited Jerusalem for a second time in 1108, accompanied by Hugues, who remained there after he returned to France. He organized the original nine monk-knights to defend pilgrims to the Holy Land in response to the call to action of Pope Urban II.
De Payens and his brother Knights approached King Baldwin II of Jerusalem with the intent of joining the Cannons of the Holy Sepulchre. The would-be Templars wanted to put down their arms and become monks. The King convinced them to act as gaurds for pilgrims and these brothers became the Knights Templar.
The other knights were Godfrey de Saint-Omer, Payen de Montdidier, Archambaud de St. Agnan, Andre de Montbard, Geoffrey Bison, and two men recorded only by the names of Rossal and Gondamer. The ninth knight remains unknown, although some have speculated that it was Count Hugh of Champagne himself.
As Grand Master, he led the Order for almost twenty years until his death, helping to establish the Order's foundations as an important and influential international military and financial institution.
On his visit to England and Scotland in 1128, he raised men and money for the Order, and also founded their first House in London and another near Edinburgh at Balantrodoch, now known as Temple, Midlothian, where, with Catherine St. Clair, he visited Sir Henry Sinclair of Roslin. Whether he was married to Catherine has never been verified, and remains a matter of contention.
Notes and references
- It is believed that de Payens is buried near the old Knights Templar headquarters of the Al Aqsa Mosque; though if this is true, it is almost near impossible to verify, due to the fact that in 1187 following the Battle of Hattin, any Western tombs near the Al Aqsa Mosque most likely would have been destroyed by Saladin's forces.