Guillaume de Beaujeu was born in 1230, with family ties to King Louis IX, Charles of Anjou and King of Sicily. He entered the Order of the Knights Templar in 1250, at the age of twenty, becoming Preceptor of the Province of Tripoli in 1271 and Preceptor of Pouilles in 1272. On the 13th May 1273 Beaujeu was elected as the 21st Grand Master of the Knights Templar.
Beaujeu attended Pope Gregory X’s council in Lyons 1274 advocating professional troops should be brought in to reinforce Acre, and proposed a blockade of Egypt would weaken it automatically.
He argued that Crusaders would need to establish their own fleets so that they did not depend on the Maritime Republics of Genoa and Venice, which were only interested in making money from trading with Muslims. Beaujeu toured European Preceptories before returning to the Holy Land. Closeness to the Capetians compromised his position among Palestinian-Frankish barons of the Holy Land who saw him as Charles of Anjou’s agent. War broke out over control of Sicily between Aragon and Charles of Anjou, it put an end in the eyes of Templars, all hope of relief from the west for the Holy Land had died.
By 1180 Baybars successor was General Qalawun of the Mameluk’s. Qalawun sent forces aimed at reducing Frankish presence in the Holy Land. Beaujeu learned the Mameluk’s planned to attack Tripoli and sent a warning messae to its citizens. Its leaders distrusted Beaujeu, refusing to believe its contents, consequently Tripoli was captured with ease.
Beaujeu informer told him of Qalawun’s attack on Acre, and once again they took no notice. Qalawun died on route, and his son stepped in; al-Ashraf Khalil to lead his father’s army into battle. Acre forces were severly outnumbered, yet they fought brilliantly with determination. Beaujeu fought side by side with Templar forces as they attacked the Mameluk camp, time and time again. Templar and Hospitalier forces defended St. Anthony’s Gate pushing Muslim forces back. Moats filled with bodies as blood flowed, and the Mameluks pressed home their attack. The city’s defensive towers started to crumble… Templars and Mameluks fought for possession.
Guillaume de Beaujeu rushed forth to counter attack, but was wounded and his forces pushed back and back. It is said at one point during the battle, Beaujeu dropped his sword and walked away from the walls. I am not running away, he spoke out loud, for I am all but dead. He raised his arm showing the mortal wound from an arrow which had penetrated his armour. They carried him to the Templar Fortress by the sea, where he died of his wounds. Remaining Templars battled on, but they knew the end was nigh, they would rather die on the battlefield than be taken prisoner.