England’s history with the Knights Templar started in 1118, when Hugh de Payens, founder and Grand Master, visited England, looking to raise money and warriors, to fight in the crusades.
King Henry II granted these Holy men of God, these warriors, land across England, where they built their round churches, based on the design of Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
In 1184, the Knights Templar built their new headquarters in London; Temple Church similar in design to that of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. This building was consecrated in 1185, and became known for initiation rituals for new followers.
As the Templar’s grew, so did their holdings in land and buildings across the country.
In 1137, Queen Matilda of England, gave Cressing in Essex to the Templars, followed up in later years with; Witham in Essex and Cowley in Oxfordshire.
Matilda had strong connections, to the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Her uncle’s; Godfrey of Bouillon and Baldwin of Edessa, had been the first rulers of Jerusalem. As did her husband, King Stephen, son of the Count of Blois, one of the leaders of the First Crusade.
King Henry I
Henry I of England, predecessor of Stephen, is known to have given Hugh de Payens, Grand Master of the Templars, money in 1128, and permission to collect donations across England.
What will be remembered is Queen Matilda’s gift to the Templar’s, laying the foundations, of what would be a relation between the Knights Templar and the Kings of England, which would last for hundreds of years.
When Richard I (Richard the Lionheart) was in the Holy Land, England was ruled by his brother John. His policies led to England being excommunicated, and it was the Templars who stepped in, arranging the reversal of this decision, with papal envoys. They went one step further, lending him the money, which paid for his absolution.
Queen Matilda and King Stephen gave much land to the Templar’s, followed by King Richard I, King John and King Henry III, who gave money and land to the order.
Temple Church – London
A period building, built on the design appearance of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and was consecrated by the Patriarch of Jerusalem; Heraclius.
Knights Templar founded the town of Baldock, their administrative headquarters from 1199-1254. Tunnels ran to Hertford Castle, where four Templar’s were arrested by order of Edward III, for it was believed they were storing treasures.
Henry II gave the royal manner of Strood in Kent to the Templar’s in 1159, and they added extra wood structures; timber hall, barns, kitchens and stables, to the existing stone building.
The war in the Holy Land, had stretched France’s finances, whilst the Knights Templar had seen theirs grow in property, land and wealth. So much so, France’s finances were under direct control of these Templar’s making France dependent upon them.
King Philip IV of France
King Philip IV of France saw their finance’s dwindling away. France was heavily in debt to the order, and the Templar’s had become the banker’s of France.
He came up with this cunning plan, to rid France of the Templar’s and turn France’s finances from the red into the black. Rumours were circulated by King Philip IV, that these Templar’s were devil worshippers. If proven, he could seize their wealth, and retake control of France’s finances.
On the 11th October 1307, twenty-four knights took a fleet of eighteen Templar ships from the port of LaRochelle, laden with the bulk of the Templar’s wealth; gold and silver bullion, crown jewels of European counties, sacred artefacts, manuscripts etc.
On the 12th October 1307, the Grand Master of the Knights Templar; Jacques de Molay was honoured, as one of the pall bearers at the funeral of Catherine I of Courtenay, the Latin Empress of Constantinople, and wife of Charles of Valois, at her burial at the Abbey of Maubuisson. Charles of Valois, was the brother of King Philip IV of France.
Jacques de Molay, had sent much of the Templar’s wealth away, and was prepared to sacrifice his life, to preserve the Knights Templar.
King Philip IV, attended the service knowing full well, that the next day, Molay would be his prisoner, and he would get his hands on their wealth, so he thought.
Each man attended the funeral, hoping to outwit the other. The wealth and reputation of the Knights Templar was at stake.
On the 13th October, French soldiers under orders of King Philip IV of France, rounded up and arrested hundreds of Knights Templar across France. These knights were charged with acts of devil-worshipping, cannibalism and sodonomy.
They were subjected to brutal acts of torture, until they confessed to the crimes. Some thirty-six died under torture in the first few days, and fifty-four were burned at the stake on charges of heresy.
The events taking place in France shocked the Christian world… What Philip IV was doing, to these men of God seemed inconceivable? For these Knights Templar owed an allegiance to none other than the Pope.
King Philip IV needed Papal support for his actions, as he raided Templar properties, seizing their wealth. The Pope feared King Philip IV, and capitulated to his demands, and the Templar’s were sacrificed, by the Kings puppet, the Pope.
King Edward II of England, received documents, proving the guilt of the Templar’s. Shocked by the evidence, he refused to believe its authenticity, thus contacting the King’s of Portugal, Castile, Aragon and Sicily, denouncing the King of France. He requested, recipients of his letter should denounce these charges, against these men of God… for it was nothing more than slander.
King Edward II
Edward suggested that the Pope should hold an inquiry, but the reply he received from Pope Clement V in November 1307, called for their arrest on sight.
Edward received formal papal instructions on the 15th December 1307, an order from the Pope, which he was expected to comply with. Edward had his doubts, and delayed carrying out the order until the 7th January 1308; enabling many Templar’s to flee.
In 1308, twenty-five Templar’s were arrested in Yorkshire and imprisoned in York Castle, on charges of heresy, as ordered by the Pope and King Philip IV of France. Who had his own agenda.
Templar lands and assets in England, were passed to the “Order of the Hospital of Saint John,” a hospice founded in 1070, to care for pilgrims in the Holy Land.
The evidence submitted at the trial, was so flimsy, no conviction could be reached. The Templar’s did not admit guilt, and agreed to join Monasteries and Cistercian orders.
Edward informed the Pope, he would not force confessions out of these Templar’s, by use of torture. Come 1311, Edward had not complied with the order, and faced excommunication. The Pope sent ten torturers’s to England, to extract confessions by any means possible, much to the dislike of Edward. He complied, but insisted, no mutilation of bodies, breaking the skin or causing blood to flow.
In March of 1312, Pope Clement V dissolved the Knights Templar, leaving a question unanswered… were they guilty of their crimes?
In 1314 Pope Clement V issued a Papal Bull, granting the lands of the Knights Templar to the Knights Hospitaller.
Grand Master burnt at the stake
Jacques de Molay the Grand Master and Geoffrey de Charney, Marshal of the Knights Templar, retracted their confessions which had been obtained under torture, and were burned at the stake, in the presence of King Philip IV of France, on the 18th March 1314.
Jacques de Molay cried out to his God, calling for Pope Clement V and King Philip IV of France, his accusers, should join him. Within a year, both had died.
It is believed many Templar’s, met secretly in caves, tunnel and cellars, across Europe, keeping the order alive, century after century.
The French Revolution was started by the poor and hungry, and the first execution by guillotine, took place in January of 1793, when King Louis XVI lost his life.
Execution of King Louis XVI of France
On that day history tells us of an individual, who dipped his finger in the King’s blood, and called out to the crowd. “Jacques de Molay, you are being avenged,” and the crowd cheered.
Many from the Order of the Knights Templar went underground in the 1300’s, so it is possible, the movement continued, and they played a part in the French Revolution, exacting revenge on the French monarchy.
All Images: Wikipedia