Thomas Bérard (also Béraud or Bérault) was the 20th Grand Master of the Knights Templar, from 1256 to 1273.
He wrote several letters to the King Henry III of England describing miserable situation in the Holy Land. He initiated cooperation with other two military orders since there had been much rivalry among them before. This was agreed upon by their Grand Masters: Hugo de Revel of Hospitaliers and Anno von Sangershausen of Teutonic Knights. In 1266 the large templar fortress Safed was besieged by egyptian Mamlooks (or Mameluks) after failed attempt to conquer Pilgrim's Castle. It appears that the garrison were betrayed by a hired syrian soldier. All templars (hospitallers as well) were beheaded after they refused to convert to Islam. Other fortresses fell next, among them Beaufort, only recently acquired by the templars. Also the city of Antioch was wiped out and never again reinhabited. Fall of Antioch left templar fortresses in Amman's mountains easily accessible to attackers. Gaston, immensly strong fortification on the road to Syria was defended only by a small templar garrison. Nevertheless they decided to hold the fortress. They were betrayed by one of the brothers. Meanwhile the Grand Master Thomas Bérard sent a messenger carrying an order to retreat to La Roche Guillaume. In February 1271 Chastel Blanc surrendered on orders of the Grand Master Thomas Bérard with permission to retreat to Tortosa. In June, however, Montfort the last inland fortification of Christians in Holy Land was yielded.
Notes and references
- Read, Piers Paul. The Templars: The Dramatic History Of The Knights Templar, The Most Powerful Military Order Of The Crusades. New York: Perseus Books Group. 2006.