(Braga 1118 - Tomar 1195)
Dom Gualdim Pais (Gaudinus, Galdinus or Gualdinus in Latin), a Grand Master of the Order of the Temple in Portugal from 1157 to 1195, founded Tomar Castle.
Gualdim Pais, son of Paio Ramires and Gontrode Soares, was born in the Minho province in the north of Braga in 1118.
He was raised in the Santa Cruz Monastery in Coimbra and very early on entered the service of the future king, Alfonso Henriques, whom he assisted with his brothers in arms, the knights Mem Remires and Martin Monis, in all the fighting that had to be waged against the Moors to conquer the kingdom. He made a name for himself during the conquest of Santarem in 1147, followed by Lisbon in 1149, before heading off to Palestine, where he took part in the Siege of Gaza in 1153.
His appearance, his great warrior-like presence and his leadership qualities simply added to the prestige that he had gained through his remarkable skills as a fighter and organiser. His stay in the East put the finishing touches to his already confirmed military experience, and when he returned from the Crusades, he knew exactly what mission was waiting for him. In 1157, he was appointed the fourth Grand Master of the Order of the Temple in Portugal, which at the time was based in Braga.
The Vision of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
A few years earlier, while Alfonso Henriques was preparing for the famous Battle of Santarem, Saint Bernard told Gualdim Pais that the Blessed Virgin had come to him in a dream to reveal that the king would be victorious.
The king immediately vowed to offer Clairvaux all the land and subsidies required to build an immense abbey if he did indeed win the decisive battle. His wish granted, the king kept his promise and Saint Bernard went to Alcobaça in person, accompanied by five monks-architects responsible for determining the land needed for the Foundation, the first stone of which was laid by the young sovereign himself.
But building a monastery in such an outlying location called for a high level of military protection, so the king appointed the Knights Templar, who already owned a few castles in the area. As a reward, the king donated all the land between Santarem and Tomar to the Order of the Temple. Gualdim Pais was responsible for building the defensive ring, which was to enclose Clairvaux's possessions as well as bolster the protection of the Portuguese lines against Arab incursions.
In 1160, Gualdim Pais financed the construction of the Convent of Christ and Tomar Castle, which served as the headquarters of the Knights Templar in Portugal; he took up residence there in 1162. He was also behind the construction of the Castles of Almourol, Idanha, Ceres, Castelo Branco, Monsanto and Pombal. He settled in Pombal in 1174.
In 1190, Tomar was attacked by the Almoravids under the King of Morocco, Yusuf I, but Gualdim Pais and his vastly outnumbered knights managed to defend the castle against the attacking forces, thereby preventing the north of the kingdom from being invaded.
He died in Tomar during 1195 (1233 according to the Spanish Era). His body lies in the Church of Santa Maria do Olival in Tomar, where a wall stele conceals a recess containing the knight's ashes.
Through his personal qualities of bravery, his tireless actions and his achievements, Gualdim Pais was the epitome of a Knight Templar, whose memory continues to be cherished in Portugal. He also represents the perfect initiate, capable of working with foresight for the future of his country, whereby his successors will merely need to finish what he started.
The Establishment of the Order of the Temple in Portugal
Barely two months after the founder of the Order of the Temple had appeared before the Council of Troyes - which was to play a key role in the recognition and development of the order - one of his companions received the order's first major donation from Portugal. On 19 March 1128, Queen Teresa, Count Henry's widow and guardian of their son Alfonso, granted Soure Castle and its outbuildings to the Temple. Other donations quickly came pouring in. They were not necessarily from powerful lords, but many donations were made. For example, between 1128 and 1130, 19 properties, including several rural estates, were fully or partly received by the Temple. In June 1145, Sancha, the daughter of Queen Teresa, and her husband gave Longrovia Castle in Portuguese Estramadura to the Temple, as well as several outbuildings in Braga. That same year, Archbishop John of Braga granted the order a house, a hospital for pilgrims and half of the city's church revenue, including the tithes. At the same time, the Knights Templar pursued an active acquisition policy, which tied in with the piety of the faithful, whose testaments were both regular and considerable.
Permanent Presence of the Knights Templar in Portugal from 1143
The first tangible signs of the Order of the Temple's permanent presence in the kingdom date back to 1143, which is when a French Knight Templar, Hugues de Martone, was appointed Procurator of the Temple in Portugal. The following year, the small Templar garrison at Soure Castle was defeated during a skirmish with the Moorish troops in Santarem. In 1147, the Knights Templar exacted their revenge by taking part in the capture of the city, and in reward for their hard work, the king gave the order the right to receive all the religious taxes collected in Santarem.
At the end of the 1150s, under the rule of Gualdim Pais, the fourth Grand Master of the Temple in Portugal, the order's extraordinary growth began. During the decade, the king gave the Temple a sizable piece of farming land where the rivers Nabao and Zezere flow together; the order used the land to build Tomar Castle, which became the headquarters of the Temple in Portugal, followed by its successor, the Order of Christ. About 10 years later, as part of a decision to grant vast swathes of land south of the Tagus but which went unheeded, the king insisted that the order's resources only be used in the kingdom, especially for pursuing the Reconquest.