In 1302, Pope Boniface VIII issued a Papal Bull; King Philip IV of France was excommunicated. King Philip retaliated by having Pope Boniface kidnapped, little did he expect, that the shock of it would kill him.
Pope Benedict XI, successor to Pope Boniface died suddenly, and history believes he may have been assassinated on the orders of the French King; Philip IV of France.
The church found itself under duress from King Philip IV, having two Popes recently die, and King Philip complicit in their deaths. The Vatican felt it had no choice but to elect Bertrand de Goth, childhood friend of King Philip, as “Pope Clement V.”
With the infrastructure and institution of the Vatican, ruled by King Philip, and used by the French King to prosecute the Knights Templar. So, it came to pass, the “Order of the Knights Templar,” were arrested on Friday 13thOctober 1307, tortured and put on trial.
“Friday the Thirteenth,” became known as a day of evil, based on what the French King had carried out, one based on greed and jealously, a day motivated by pure evil.
Pope Clement V, found himself in a difficult position, having been made Pope by King Philip, former childhood friend, and he questioned the validity of the charges against the Knights Templar, and confessions under torture. He resented the King’s interference with an Order operated under papal jurisdiction, friend or no friend, he felt it was wrong, and called that they should be released.
The persecution of the Templars was solely driven by one man, King Philip IV, in his desire for their wealth. The Vatican played an active part in their destruction, ever being controlled by the French King.
King Philip brought down the wrath of theologians from the University of Paris down on him. They informed their King, he was in violation of Canonical Law in using military forces for their arrest, and interrogations. Any interrogations should have been undertaken by the Holy Mother Church, and judgements be rendered in ecclesiastical courts only.
In 1308, Pope Clement V issued the “Chinon Parchment,” which exonerated the “Order of the Knights Templar,” and their Grand Master; Jacques de Molay of all charges.
In 1311, the Council of Vienne, voted that the Vatican would actively support the Knights Templar.
This didn’t change anything in the eyes of King Philip, he continued in his quest to rid himself of the Templar Order.
In 1312, Pope Clement V was forced into issuing the Papal Bull – Vox in Excelso (Voices from on High), changing the status of the Knights Templar from an active order to a suspended order. The Order of the Templars, was only suppressed within the Vatican and its grounds, and purely as a political move, more to satisfy the French King.
According to historical documents, the Pope faced a situation not of his making. On one hand, he had no sufficient reasons for a formal condemnation of the Order of the Knights Templar.
Whilst on the other hand, he had King Philip IV who hated them so much, who had taken them to trial on charges of heresy. He wanted their assets; property, land, gold and money.
All official Vatican statements, highlighted pressure and interference from the French King, and it was noted any Papal Bull issued in favour of the Knights Templar, would not be accepted as a legal document by the French King.
The Vatican had already granted the Order of the Knights Templar permanent and independent sovereignty in its own right, on the basis of its own ecclesiastical authority of the Templar Priesthood, per the Papal Bull “Omne Datum Optimum” of 1139. Thus, the Pope had no formal ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the Templar Priesthood. Under Customary and Canon Law, the Pope had no power to assert any sovereignty over the Templar Order.
By definition the Pope could only exercise Vatican sovereign power over his own institution, known to us as the Vatican itself.
By 1312, French persecution had effectively suppressed the Order of the Knights Templar, and forced them to survive as an underground network.
Based on the terms of the Chinon Parchment, Templars who had been pardoned and absolved from any acts of heresy, would be legally acquitted.
Jacques de Molay and Geoffroi de Charney had confessed to three Cardinals, acts of heresy at Chinon Castle, and were given absolution. Within months they retracted their confessions which had been obtained through torture.
In a rage King Philip IV of France condemned to death these two Templar’s, to be burnt at the stake in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower in Paris on the 18th March of 1314. Their ashes were gathered up by holy men and carried away for burial in holy places.