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T he Castle of Baghras in the frontier zone between Syria and Asia Minor was vital to the defence of the city of Antioch. It came into Templar possession maybe in 1131 when Fulk of Jerusalem travelled north to Antioch, or at the latest in 1137-37 when Raymond of Poitiers ventured north to fight the Armenians of Cilicia. Along with Roche Roussel and Darbsak it was the first important donation the Templars had in the Holy Land.

T he ownership of this castle was particularly lively. It passed from the hands of Muslims to Christians and back again at surprising speed: it is on record as being held by Templars in 1156, in 1160-61 it constituted a fief of the Prince of Antioch along with its surrounding territory, and in 1175 it was again the northern headquarters of the Templars. Saladin took it in 1188, but the Order regained it for the period 1216-1268.

T he last bit of the history of Baghras is interesting. In 1283 the Templars burned the stronghold and abandoned it after Baybars took Beaufort. This can be seen as indicative of the waning strength of the Order in Palestine. In its days of glory such action would never have occurred to the Order, which rather fought to death over its possessions than gave anything away.

Armory Bailey Barracks Chapel Dungeon Library Pub

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