Hugh de Payens

Hugues de Payens

Hugues de Payens, also Hughes de Payns, Hughes de Pagan (English: Hugh of Payens or ""Hugh Pagan"") (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.


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 approached King Baldwin II of Jerusalem with eight knights, two of whom were brothers and all of whom were his relatives by either blood or marriage, in order to form the first of 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.

He died in Palestine in 1136 and was succeeded as Grand Master by Robert de Craon.

In popular culture

It has recently been claimed that the wife of Hugues de Payens was Catherine St. Clair within the context of the alternative histories of Rosslyn.

A biography of Hugues de Payen by Thierry Leroy identifies his wife and the mother of his children as Elizabeth de Chappes. The book draws its information on the marriage from local church cartularies dealing chiefly with the disposition of the Grand Master's properties, the earliest alluding to Elizabeth as his wife in 1113 and others spanning Payen's lifetime, the period following his death and lastly her own death in 1170.


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