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Trial of the Knights Templar

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Cross of the Knights Templar

This article is part of or related
to the Knights Templar series

Many of the Knights Templar in France were arrested on October 13, 1307 at the orders of King Philip IV of France. King Philip was severely in debt to the military order, and hoped to claim their wealth for his own purposes. Scores of charges were leveled at the Templars, many of them similar charges to those which had been directed at other of Philip's enemies, such as heresy and blasphemy. While tortured, some Templars "confessed" to these crimes. Pope Clement V interceded and directed that actual trials take place; however, Philip sought to thwart this effort, and had several Templars burned at the stake as heretics, in order to prevent them from participating in the trials. The actions taken by Philip would eventually lead to the complete disbanding of the Order on March 22, 1312.[1]

Jacques de Molay

On October 24, 1307, Jacques de Molay, the Grand Master of the Temple, was questioned about accusations surrounding his inception into the order. At the time, the accusations surrounding the ritual reception into the order were the only charges levied.[2] The accusations stemmed from the initiation ceremony being held privately and at night.[3] Over the next few months, the number of charges would swell to 127, although many of those charges repeat themselves or are nearly identical.

In the Chinon Chart article by Barbara Frale, a dialogue between Molay and Pope Clement takes place in which the Clement wants to see the Templar Rule book and wanted to know if the Templars do in fact worship some sort of idol. With the numerous rumors about Templar initiation, the Pope had to know exactly what it was the Templars were doing to be gaining such attention.[4]

King Philip succeeded in making Jacques de Molay confess to the charges. With the confession of the Grand Master, all of the Templars would be considered guilty.[5] After recanting his confession, Jacques de Molay was convicted for being a relapsed heretic in which the punishment was being burned at the stake.

Peter of Bologna and the Defense

Peter of Bologna had been trained as a lawyer and had been the Templar representative to the papal court in Rome. On April 23, 1310, Peter, with three others, went before the commission and demanded what amounts to full disclosure of their accusers and all the information and evidence gathered in the case. They also requested a ban on witnesses conversing with one another, and that all proceedings should be kept secret until they had been sent to the Pope.[6] In May of 1310, the Archbishop of Sens, Philippe de Marigny, took over the trial of the Templars from the original commission. Two days after this change, 54 Templars were burned outside of Paris. When the commission again asked to see Peter of Bologna, they were told that he had "suddenly returned to his former confession, then broken out of jail and fled." He was never seen or heard from again.[7]

Absolution

The Chinon Parchment, found recently in the Vatican Archives, shows that Pope Clement V had absolved the leadership of the Templars August 17-20, 1308, including Jacques de Molay.[8][9] The parchment reveals that on the way to meet the pope, the four main leaders of the Templars had become ill and they stopped in a city called Chinon to recover. Pope Clement did not want to delay the trials further, three of his cardinals were dispatched to accompany the main leaders of the Templars, including Jacques de Molay. The three cardinals, acting on behalf of the church, did not believe the Templars had committed any sins, should be absolved and receive the sacraments again.[10]

Charges not levied

Usury was a charge which, presumably, the Templars were guilty of, however, this charge is not levied against them.[11] Historian Sharan Newman opines that if the Templars had been charged with usury, then so too would the Hospitallers, and the Italian bankers. For this reason the charge of usury was not brought against them.[12]

Trial timeline

Date Event
1099 Jerusalem Captured during the First Crusade
1119 Knights Templar Founded
1128 Council of Troyes
1274 Council of Lyons
1285, Oct Philip IV becomes king of France
1291 City of Acre is lost to the Saracens
1303 Sept Pope Boniface VIII attacked at Anagni
1305, November 5 Coronation of Pope Clement V
1306, July Jews expelled from France, Philip takes their assets
1307, September 14 Philip dispatches secret orders to prepare for the arrest of the Templars
1307, October 13 Templars arrested in France
1307, October 14 Guillaume de Nogaret lists original accusations against Templars.
1307, October 19 Hearings in Paris begin.
1307, October 24 Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Temple, confesses for the first time.
1307, October 25 Jacques de Molay repeats his confession before the members of the University of Paris.
1307, October 27 Pope Clement V expresses indignation at the arrests to Philip.
1307, November 9 Confession of Hugues de Pairaud.
1307, November 22 de Molay retracts his confession before the cardinal sent by the pope.
1308, Feb Clement V suspends the inquisitors involved in the Templar affair.
1308, August 17-20 Chinon parchment shows clear absolution for leadership of the Templars, including Jacques de Molay and Huges de Pairaud.
1310, March 14 127 Articles of accusation read to the Templars who are prepared to defend their order.
1310, April 7 Defense of the order led by Pierre de Bologna and Renaud de Provins.
1310, May 12 54 Templars are burned at the stake.
1310, May 19 Peter of Bologna and Renaud de Provins summoned before the Commission but fail to appear
1310, December 17 Remaining defenders told that Peter of Bologna and Renaud de Provins had returned to their confessions and that Peter of Bologna had fled.
1312, March 22 The Order of the Knights Templar is officially suppressed.
1314, March 18 Jacques de Molay and Geoffroi de Charney are burned at the stake as relapsed heretics.
1314, April 20 Death of Pope Clement V.
1314, November 29 Death of Philip IV.

Notes

  1. Barber, Malcolm The Trial of the Templars, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1978. p 3
  2. Newman, Sharan. "The Real History behind the Templars," New York: Berkley Books, 2007. p 265
  3. Legman, G. et al. "The Guilt of the Templars", New York; Basic Books, inc. 1966. pg 52
  4. Frale "The Chinon Chart" 116
  5. Barber The Trial of the Templars 63
  6. Newman, Sharan. "The Real History behind the Templars," New York: Berkley Books, 2007. p 259
  7. Newman, Sharan. "The Real History behind the Templars," New York: Berkley Books, 2007. p 262
  8. http://www.inrebus.com/chinon.php (accessed December 8, 2008)
  9. Frale, Barbara. “The Chinon chart Papal absolution to the last Templar, Master Jacques de Molay.” Journal of Medieval History 30 (2004): 109-134.
  10. Frale The Chinon Chart 129
  11. Legman, G. et al. "The Guilt of the Templars", (New York; Basic Books, inc. 1966).p 22.
  12. Legman Guilt of the Templars 22

References

  • Barber, Malcolm The Trial of the Templars, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1978.
  • Legman, G. et al. The Guilt of the Templars, New York; Basic Books, inc. 1966.
  • Newman, Sharan, The Real History Behind the Templars, New York; Berkley Books, 2007.

Further reading