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The date that the Templars first took possession of the fortress is unknown, but it is known that the fortress was previously occupied by the de la Roche family.
Legend states that in 1188, Saladin placed the castle under siege because Jehan Mange, a knight against whom he sought revenge, was there. Years prior, Mange had been excommunicated from the Christian community for murder and had found refuge with Saladin in Muslim territory. Saladin charged Mange with the education of his nephew, but wanting to regain his standing among the Christians, Mange turned over Saladin's nephew to the Templars, driving Saladin to vengeance. Saladin may have taken Roche-Guillaume, but news from Palestine that King Guy de Lusignan had led knights into Tripoli as forebearers of the Third Crusade brought an early end to his siege of the castle.
In 1203, the king of Lesser Armenia took the castle, but it was reclaimed by the Templars in 1237, around the same time as they launched a campaign to recapture the castle of Trapessac, located about 15 kilometers away. Roche-Guillaume was reconquered by the Muslims in 1298-99 when the sultan of Egypt sent an army to invade northern Syria. The castle of Servantikar was also seized in the campaign.
In 1298 or 1299, the military orders—the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller—and their leaders, including Jacques de Molay, Otton de Grandson and the Great Master of the Hospitallers, briefly campaigned in Armenia, in order to fight off an invasion by the Mamluks. However, they were not successful, and soon, the fortress of Roche-Guillaume, the last Templar stronghold in Antioch, was lost to the Muslims.
The fortress occupies a strategic location on a 1,250-metre (4,100 ft) rocky precipice above the plain of Karasu Çayı. The castle also controlled the road that led to Antioch and the plain below.
Today, little remains of Roche-Guillaume but ruins. These, however, show that the constructors of the fortress used the rock upon which the castle was built as a cut foundation. The castle's remains suggest that the structure may be Byzantine in origin, or at the very least it was maintained at some length by the Byzantines.
The best-preserved portion of the fortress is the chapel, which was common in fortresses of military orders. The presence and current state of the chapel further suggests Byzantine custodianship.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Forteresses d'Orient. "Roche Guillaume, la (Turquie) :: Principauté d'Antioche". http://maxime.goepp.free.fr/site.php?site=guillaume. Retrieved 2007-09-05.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Demurger, p.142-143
- ↑ Hayton of Corycus mentions "Otton de Grandson and the Masters of the Temple and of the Hospitallers as well as their convents, who were at that time [1298 or 1299] in these regions [Cilician Armenia]", quoted in Demurger, p.116
- ↑ Newman, p. 231, that says that De Molay had an "ill-fated expedition to Armenia around 1299, in which the last Templar holding in that kingdom was lost."