Robert IV of Sablé

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Robert IV de Sablé (1150 − 23 September 1193)[1][2] was Lord of Sablé,[3] the eleventh Grand Master of the Knights Templar from 1191 to 1192 and Lord of Cyprus from 1191 to 1192. He was known of as the Grand Master of the Knights Templars and the Grand Master of the Holy and Valiant Order of Knights Templars.[4]

Robert IV de Sablé
Armoiries Robert de Sablé.svg
The coat of arms of Robert de Sablé
Grand Master of the Knights Templar
In office
Preceded byGérard de Ridefort
Succeeded byGilbert Horal
English Counselor
In office
MonarchRichard I of England
Personal details
Sablé, Anjou, France
Died23 September 1193(1193-09-23) (aged 42–43)
Arsuf, Palestine
Cause of deathKilled in action
Spouse(s)Clemence de Mayenne
Military service
AllegianceKingdom of England

Personal lifeEdit

He was born to a respected military family in Anjou and was "a leading Angevin vassal of the King".[5] His lordship was based in a cluster of lands in the River Sarthe valley, which he inherited in the 1160s.[5] He married Clemence de Mayenne (died before 1209).[6] He was succeeded in Anjou by his daughter Marguerite de Sablé, who by marriage passed the entire estate to William des Roches, also a knight of the Third Crusade. Robert died in the Holy Land on 23 September 1193. Although there are no exact records of his birth date, it is believed that he was relatively old at the time of his death compared to the average life expectancy of the 12th century.[7]

Military recordEdit

Angevin Civil WarEdit

In 1173, Sablé supported Henry the Young King, heir apparent to the throne of the Kingdom of England and duchy of Normandy, in a revolt against his father Henry II during the Revolt of 1173-1174. The uprising was crushed but Robert must have remained in favour with the Angevin Kings, as Richard would later be instrumental in his appointment as Grand Master.[5] He contributed money to French monastic houses in 1190 as a way of making amends.[5]

Third CrusadeEdit

According to the Gesta Regis Ricardi Robert was one of the chosen leaders of the Crusading Fleet of Richard I that departed from Dartmouth in the spring of 1190. The fleet scattered in the sea of Bisquay a result of a storm and arrived at different times to the Portuguese port of Lisbon. One of this groups was involved helping the Portuguese monarch Sancho I repealed an Almohad attack against the city of Santarem, while another went on a rampage against the local Jews and Muslims in the Christian controlled city of Lisbon. Robert arrived as the Portuguese monarch captured the misbehaved crusaders and was forced to swear an oath to control his forces while in Portuguese territory.[8]

Despite only having a short tenure, Sablé's reign was filled with successful campaigning. Before his election as Grand Master, he led King Richard I's navy from England and Normandy to the Mediterranean, getting involved in the Reconquista in the passage. The combined might of Richard the Lionheart's strategy, seasoned troops, and the elite Templar knights scored many victories. During the Third Crusade, they laid siege to the city of Acre, which soon fell. Throughout August 1191, they also recaptured many fortresses and cities along the Levantine coast in the Eastern Mediterranean, which had been lost previously.

The new coalition's finest hour was the Battle of Arsuf, on 7 September 1191. Saladin's Muslim forces appeared to have become far stronger than the Christians, and a decisive victory was desperately needed. Pooling all of the crusaders' strength, the Knights Hospitaller joined the ranks, plus many knights from Sablé's native Anjou, Maine, and Brittany. They met Saladin's troops on the dry plains and soon broke his ranks. Those who stayed to fight were killed, and the remaining Islamic troops were forced to retreat.

Acquisition of CyprusEdit

At the end of 1191, Richard the Lionheart agreed to sell Cyprus to the Templars for 25,000 pieces of silver. Richard had plundered the island from the Byzantine forces of the tyrant Isaac Comnenus of Cyprus some months earlier and had no real use for it. The Hospitallers would later establish solid bases on the islands of Rhodes and Malta, but Sablé failed to do the same with the island of Cyprus. He was lord for two years, until he gave (or sold) the island to Guy de Lusignan, King of Jerusalem, as he was without a kingdom.

Sablé did manage to establish a Chieftain House of the Order in Saint-Jean d'Acre, which remained for almost a century.

Delayed electionEdit

Sablé was lucky to have been Grand Master at all, as at the time of Gerard de Ridefort's death, he was not even a member of the Templar Order. However, the senior knights had become increasingly opposed to Masters fighting on the front line, and the capture and beheading of Grand Master Gerard de Ridefort became the final straw. They delayed elections for over a year so that the rules regarding active service of Grand Masters could be reviewed. During this hiatus, Sablé did join the order, just in time to be considered for election. When he was made Grand Master, he had been a Templar knight for less than a year. He died in 1193.[3]

In popular cultureEdit

Robert de Sablé is a character in the 2007 video game Assassin's Creed. He is the leader of the Knights Templar[9]who are the main antagonists and are depicted as acting behind the scene on both sides of the holy war, to further their own ideological goals and to obtain the Piece of Eden.[10] Al Mualim, the leader of the Assassins orders Altaïr to kill Robert, which is depicted as taking place in 1191 at the battle of Arsuf.[11] Maria Thorpe, his stewardess, later became Altaïr's wife.[12]


  1. ^ Sharan Newman (2007). The Real History Behind the Templars. Penguin Publishing Group. p. 99. ISBN 978-1-4406-2328-8.
  2. ^ Malcolm Barber (1994). The New Knighthood: A History of the Order of the Temple. Cambridge University Press. p. 122. ISBN 978-0-521-42041-9.
  3. ^ a b Barber, Malcolm (2012). "Index". The Crusader States. Yale University Press. p. 320. ISBN 9780300189315.
  4. ^ Scott, Walter (22 June 1825). The Talisman. Tales of the Crusaders. Archibald Constable.
  5. ^ a b c d Barber, Malcolm (2005). La storia dei Templari (in Italian). Piemme. p. 479. ISBN 9788838410208.
  6. ^ Power 2004, p. 508.
  7. ^ Baluze, Etienne; Mollat, Guillaume (1914). Vitae paparum avenionensium : hoc est Historia pontificum romanorum qui in Gallia sederunt ab anno Christi MCCCV usque ad annum MCCCXCIV. 2. Paris: Letouzey et Ané. p. 1034.
  8. ^ Villegas-Aristizábal, "Revisión de la crónicas", p. 167, n. 91.
  9. ^ Nichols, Derek (27 September 2013). "History Behind the Game – Assassin's Creed Characters". VentureBeat. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  10. ^ Gallagher, Jason M. (26 October 2017). "Assassin's Creed Origins and the Story So Far". Den of Geek. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  11. ^ Delrio, Francesco (31 January 2018). "Assassin's Creed: Mito, Storia e Videogioco (Prima Parte)". Every Eye (in Italian). Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Maria Thorpe". IGN. Ziff Davis, LLC. 29 December 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2018.


  • Power, Daniel (2004). The Norman Frontier in the Twelfth and Early Thirteenth Centuries. Cambridge University Press.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Whyte, Jack (24 January 2008) [18 October 2002]. Standard of Honor. The Templar Trilogy. 2. Penguin Publisher. p. 800. ISBN 9781101215296.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Villegas-Aristizabal, Lucas (2009). "Revisión de las crónicas de Ralph de Diceto y la Gesta regis Ricardi sobre la participación de la flota angevina durante la tercera cruzada en Portugal". Studia historica. Historia medieval (in Spanish). 27: 153–170. ISSN 0213-2060.
  • Robert-De-Sable 161, the name lives on in the form of a Knights Templar preceptory in the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Freemasonry being the continuation of the original order. See sworn in secret for further reading.

External linksEdit

Religious titles
Preceded by
Gerard de Ridefort
Grand Master of the Knights Templar
Succeeded by
Gilbert Horal