André de Montbard - co founder of the Knights Templar

André de Montbard (ca 1068-17 October 1156) was the fifth Grand Master of the Knights Templar and also one of the early members if not one of the founders of the Order. His life started and ended in Burgundy, France, heartland of the Knights Templar as well as the Cistercians. It shows a remarkable link to both.

He was born at Montbard castle in Burgundy as second son of the first count of Montbard, Bernard I (ca 1040-1103) and his second wife Humberge de Tonnerre d'Angoulême (ca 1025-1068). He had an elder brother, Raynard de Montbard (1043-1120) who inherited the county on the death of his father in 1103. His sister was Aleth de Montbard (1060-1107). Aleth was the mother of Bernard of Clairvaux this made Andre an uncle of Bernard.

André went to the Holy Land before 1120. There he belonged to the group of knights (according to the myth only nine) that had formed (around 1115-1118) an group of armed canons, related to the Holy Sepulcher, who set themselves the goal to defend pilgrims en route in the Holy Land. Their first post was Destroit Tower near Atlit. This group was officially acknowledged by local clergy and nobility at the Nablus council of 23 January 1120. Later in 1120 André, together with co-founder Godfrey de Saint-Omer, took a letter from King Baldwin II of Jerusalem to Bernard de Clairvaux, imploring him to assist in obtaining papal recognition and a Rule for the group. These were obtained on 13 January 1129 at the church council at Troyes, France. A meeting where he met again with his nephew Bernard.

Within the Templar group he was seneschal, deputy and second-in-command to the Grand Master between 1148 and 1151. After the Siege of Ascalon in August 1153, André was elected as fourth Grand Master. That election took place by the end of 1154, after a delay because of opposition to his candidature by king Louis VII of France who favoured another candidate. He replaced Bernard de Tremelay, who had been killed during an assault on the city of Ascalon.

André died in 1156, either on 17 January (according to the martyrology of Reims) or 17 October (according to the orbituary of Bonlieu). The earlier date seems to pertain to André relinquishing his post of Master to his successor Bertrand de Blanquefort (Master from January 1156 to 1169). After this André retired to Clairvaux Abbey, as did his predecessor Evrard des Barres. There he died only a few months later, in October 1156. 

Sources,Wikipedia. Illustration Seal of André de Montbard, Public Domain source

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