Gerard de Ridefort, was of Flemish extraction, a member of the Second Crusade who chose to remain in the East.
Gerard obtained service as a knight under Raymond III of Tripoli, and was promised land and the hand in marriage of Lucia of Botrun. Raymond reneged on the arrangement, when Plivano a Pisan merchard offered Raymond, Lucia’s weight in gold for her hand in marriage and power in Botrun.
Gerard joined the Order of the Knights Templar, holding a bitter grudge against Raymond. He rose through the ranks to become Seneschal in 1183, and elected as the 10th Grand Master of the Order in 1185. In 1186 the boy King Baldwin V died, plunging the kingdom of Jerusalem into crisis. Raymond III led the barons who opposed the ascension of Sibylla and Guy de Lusignan. Gerard supported Guy and Sibylla much to spite Raymond.
Gerard de Ridefort Grand Master of the Templar Order and his forces aided Sibylla and Guy de Lusignan, which facilitated Guy’s coronation as co-ruler.
Gerard believed in his own invincibility, when in May of 1187, news reached him that a 7,000 Muslim force entered Crusade Galilee. Gerard with 130 knights which included 90 Templars intercepted the strong 7,000 strong Muslim force at Cresson. He attacked amidst objections from the Hospitaller Grand Master; Roger de Moulins and Marshal of the Temple Jacques de Mailly. It proved a disaster as Gerard and a few other’s evaded capture and death.
Later that year Saladin with a full force of 40,000 – 60,000 warriors, crossed the River Jordan, to come face to face with the army of Jerusalem, consisting of 20,000 knights, which included six-hundred Templar Knights.
Raymond advised Guy not to take the army of Tiberias, but force Saladin to come to them. Gerard visited King Guy in the knight to persuade him to advance across the dessert, even though such a march would weaken their forces, leaving them vulnerable. Gerard said that Raymond be the traitor, and as such failure to act against Saladin would seem weak and unworthy.
So it came to pass at the “Battle of Hadwin,” weary and parched Christians fought bravely. Templar and Hospitallers taken prisoner were beheaded. Saladin spared the life of Gerard de Ridefort, he who was kept for ransom, until his release in May of 1189. He led the Templars at the “Siege of Acre,” his bold charge led them to their slaughter, and he died this day in battle, he fell with his forces in 1189.