“the Burgundian” (dc.1149)
Grand Master of the Temple (Knights Templar) (1136 – c.1149).
Robert was descended from a powerful family in town of Craon, Anjou; others have said he was from the Languedoc region of southern France.
It was said that Robert was one of the nine founding knights of the Order of the Knights Templar. Robert was Seneschal of the Templars (1125) prior to succeeding Hugh de Payens as Grand Master (1136).
Robert was an excellent administrator. Under him, the Order achieved its hierarchial and management structure, and its international organization, based on the system pf Provinces and Preceptories. The Order at this time was permitted to wear the red cross on the white tunic, which became the symbol of the Templars.
Robert was able to secure autonomy from Pope Innocent II. Following a series of discussions with the Pope in Rome, a Bull was issued for creation of chaplain-brothers (1139). That same year another Bull was issued – the Omne Datum Optimum – which exempted the Templars from paying taxes and tithes. The Templars were also permitted to build chapels, preceptories, oratories and cemeteries.
The Templars translated their Rule from Latin into French – and further amendments were added to the Rule (1139 – 1140).
Unfortunately for Robert, military success did not come so easily. Following his defeat of Zenghi, the Emir returned with an even stronger army and destroyed the troops who had remained pillaging. And a naval expedition to Lisbon by the Spanish Templars ended in defeat. However, the outnumbered Templars did manage a victory of sorts at Tecua / Teqoa (1140) where the Templars sacrificed many knights in order to protect the Frankish army.
Following the death of Fulk of Anjou, King of Jerusalem (1143), Robert attempted to mediate, unsuccessfully, in the dispute between Queen Melisende and her son, King Baldwin III, who was still a minor. The result of this civil war was the loss of Edessa to the Turks (1144).
The date of Robert’s death has been of some conjecture.
Robert was said to have participated in the Assembly at Jerusalem (2nd January 1148) and the Assize of Acre (July 1148) in which the Crusading army of King Louis VII of France was diverted to Damascus. He was said to have died the following year (1149). However, the Obituary of Rheims dates his death as January 1147 – prior to the Second Crusade.
Robert was succeeded by Everard des Barres as Grand Master of the Order of the Knights Templar.