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Gilbert d'Assailly
Gilbertus Assaliensis/Salliensis
Girardus Assaby

Tenure

c.11653-1169 Abdicated

Nationality

French or English

Birth

Death

c.1170

Notes

According to d'Avity, Fra Gilbert d'Assailly or de Sailly, was of excellent and kindly disposition, but inclined to prodigality, especially where the military was concerned, to the point that he borrowed excessively. Having exhausted the Order's  entire treasury, he was compelled to take on a loan on the condition that he captured Pelusium [a town in Egypt] for the Order, by beating the infidel. This was successfully carried out on 3 November 1168.1

That year he held a Chapter General  in Jerusalem; when he realised that the Order owed over 100,000 gold pieces, the enormity of the debt filled him with loathing and, heartbroken that his plans were not passed, he abdicated from the office of Grandmaster in 1169.1

To be fair to d'Assailly, Saladin was at the start of his great onslaught on the Holy Land which was to culminate in the fall of Jerusalem itself within the next 20 years. According to Seward, the costly and disastrous outcome of the campaign against Saladin, almost bankrupted the Order with the result that d'Assailly suffered a nervous breakdown in 1170, abdicated and became a hermit. He later drowned crossing the English Channel.2

5. Frater Gilbertus Assaliensis aut Salliensis, qui excelso animo et tam liberalis fuit, ut in prodigalitatem inclinaret, praesertim erga milites, adeo ut magnos sumptus fecerit, et exhausto omni aerario Ordinis coactus fuerit pecunias mutuas sumere, hac conditione, ut si Pelusium, infidelibus pulsis, expugnaret, illud Ordini acquireretur, quod III. Novembr. MCLXVIII. feliciter est exsequutus. Eo anno generale Capitulum Ierosolymae habuit: cumque videret, se multum aeris alieni conflasse, et Ordinem plus quam centum aureorum milia debere, taedio affectus, quod sua consilia ex voto non succederent, officio magni Magistri se abdicavit, anno MCLXIX.

1. d'Avity III:33

2. Seward, p.49

3. Pauli, p.42 - Apr 1165 - Donation of two villages (casalia) by Walter, Lord of Galilee to Gilbert, Grandmaster on behalf of the Hospital 

Sources:
Avity, Pierre d'; Gottfried, Johann Ludwig: Archontologiae Cosmicae, Liber III: Origo Ordinum Militarium, tam Regularium, Dissertatio de Ordine Equitum Melitensum, Frankfurt am Main, 1628

Pauli, Sebastiano: Codice diplomatico del sacro militare ordine gerosolimitano, Salvatore e Giandomenico Marescandoli, Lucca, 1733

Seward, Desmond: The Monks of War, Eyre Methuen, 1972.

Blazon

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Engraving by Antonio F. Lucini of Matteo Perez d'Aleccio's fresco