King Philip IV: Greed and Vengeance

King Philip VI of France

King Philip IV of France

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.

Historical Treasures

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 centre of Paris on the 18th March of 1314.  Their ashes were gathered up by holy men and carried away for burial in holy places.

Knights Templar Burnings

French Templar Escapees…

knightteplarsarrested11

The French Monarchy was in debt to the Order of the Knights Templar, and King Philip IV saw French assets dwindling away.

Philip had to come up with a plan of action, one which would destroy the Order of the Knights Templar, and see their wealth confiscated by the French Monarchy.

Any plan of action; had to be undertaken by legal means, and that is where his puppet; Pope Clement V, came in.  Philip convinced Pope Clement that these Knights Templar were committing acts of heresy.

With the Knights Templar disbanded, and many put to death, burnt at the stake on trumped up charges of heresy.  King Philip IV believed the Order of the Knights Templar was destined to come to an end, however that was not to be…  For some leading members of the Order of the French Templar Knights were to escape…

One Humbert Blanc (Humbertus Blancus) an old knight of forty years.  He had seen active duty in the Holy Land, returned to his homeland of France, where he received the appointment of Lieutenant to the master of Auvergne, and in 1299 appointed to the post of Master of Auvergne.  By the time the trials of the Knights Templar had started in France, Humbert Blanc was in England.  In 1308 he was arrested according to Canterbury records, and in 1309 was brought forward to testify at the trials against Templar’s in London.  Depositions made by French Templars in Clermont, reached English shores, and Humbert Blanc was accused of Blasphemy, a charge he denied, but the Judges didn’t believe his claim to innocence.  His sentence saw him sent to prison and clapped in irons.

Knights Templar; Pierre de Boucle (Pierre de Bouch) brother of Petrus de Bocli, who had escaped justice.  This young twenty-five-year-old knight, attempted to evade capture by French forces, by changing his clothes, removing his beard, yet his pursuers caught and arrested this Lieutenant of the Order.

One Renaud de la Folie, a Knight Templar was brought to trial in 1309.  We know little of him, other than he be a member of the Templar Order, who had initially escaped large round ups, and was captured shortly thereafter.

Guillaume de Lins (Gillierm de Lurs), and it is believed he fled the order in 1307, before the roundup of members of the Templar Order in 1308.  It is believed he opposed the action of spitting on the cross.  Once he held the position of Lieutenant of the Visitor Hugues de Pairaud, and if captured could be a valuable witness, if turned by the French against the Knights Templar.

Hugues Daray (Dares) an official within the Temple, who in 1306 was responsible for the acceptance of new recruits into the Order at La Fuilhouse (Fulhosa), Auvergne.

His name was not mentioned in the trials of the French Templars, and as such we have to assume his flight from capture had been a success.

Templar Knight Barral de Gauzignan, Preceptor of Le Puy in Provence.  As Daray and Lurs, played their part in the recruitment of new members, and unlike them he held an important position within the order.  In 1296 he held the post of Preceptor in Saint-Giles, and from 1298 was Lieutenant to the Master of Provence.  The presence of the Provence Templars aroused much interest, for this region was under the reign and jurisdiction of Charles II of Anjou and Count of Provence… and arrests followed Gauzignan flight to safety.  Like others who tried to escape he was caught and arrested and brought to trial, where he admitted that questionable rituals took place within the Temple, and denied taking part in said rituals.

Templar Knight one Hugues de Chalon (Hugo de Cabilone), Preceptor of commandery at Thors, Champagne.  His trial records revealed that he took it upon himself to reduce the alms for the poor.  He was a knight with power, for his uncle was Hugues de Pairaud and as such this contributed to his political career.  In 1302 the Pope summoned leading clerics and religious leaders, and Hugues de Chalon went in place of Hugues de Pairaud.

Hugues de Chalon brother of Gerard de Montclair, together with other accomplices had planned to kill the King of France, an anointed sovereign.

Questions have been asked through history, who is Gerard de Montclair, for his name amongst the Templars does not exist, but one Richard de Montclair, who was in Cyprus around 1304 does.  So could it be, that Richard and Gerard de Montclair be one and the same person.

One of the key figures, a known villain amongst the Knights Templar, is Gerard de Villiers, who in 1297 became Lieutenant to the Master of France, a post held by Hugues de Pairaud.  In 1300 Villiers was appointed Master of France.  He held the second rank in the hierarchy of French Templars, and was often called upon to take the leading role of the ‘Order’ in France.

According to trial records of the Knights Templar, Gerard de Villiers was described as a devil within the Order.  Accusations made under threat of death, demanded that newcomers would deny God and spit upon the cross, as also testified under interrogation by Templat; Nicolas d’Amiens.  Another accusation concerned a mysterious head, which was kept in a leather sack by Hugues de Besancon, Villier’s personal assistant.  Raul de Gizy Preceptor in Lagny-le-Sec, made his deposition in November 1307 concerning this head.  Villiers was accused that in 1302, he fled the island of Rouad with other Templars, which had come under attack by the Mameluks.

One of the most crushing accusations against Gerard de Villier’s was made by Jean de Chalon, Precepto of Namur.  He confirmed total corruption within the Order and blasphemous rites, many of which took place at the Chambers of the French Templars in Paris.  Those who resisted these godless acts would find themselves in the Templar prison in Merlen.  Jean de Chalon, prison guard at Merlon prison witnessed the deaths of nine Templar prisoners.

He further stated that leaders of the Order, feared trouble was at hand, and Gerard de Villiers put to sea with eighteen ships and fifty horses.  One Hugues de Chalon also fled taking with him Hugues de Pairaud’s treasure, which more than likely was the Knights Templar treasure stored at the Templar Temple in Paris.

The Villiers family, noblest within the “Knights Templar.”  Jean de Villiers was Grand Master of the Hospital, who heroically stood by his brothers in defence of Acre in 1291.  Pierce de Villiers another member of the family, held the post of Templar Commander in Aquitaine from 1292-1300.

According to trial records, Templar priest one Guillaume de Villiers, refused to defend the ‘Order of the Knights Templar’ before the papal commission, referring to his old age.  Whilst Bernard de Villiers, Preceptor in Sent-Paul-la-Roche testified against the Knights Templar in 1309 and 1311.

One question one has to ask based on Jean de Chalon’s depositions; How many high-ranking officials of the French Order of the Knights Templar escaped interrogation, prosecution and death?

18th March 1314: Jacques de Molay

de-molay-and-rosenkreutz

Jacques de Molay

The Grand Master of the Knights Templar was the spiritual, political and military leader of the order.  He ran the order from Jerusalem, then Acre, Cyprus and the final years from France.

Jacques de Molay was born in 1244 in Franche-Comte, a region within Burgundy, France and related to the Lords of Longwy.  Around 1265/66 entered the Order of the Knights Templar at the Preceptory of Beune, according to his Chinon confession, and was received by Humbert de Pairaud.

In 1291 fought at the siege of Acre which fell to the Saracens, and some two years later was appointed Grand Master of the Order, taking up his new post in 1293.

De Molay pushed for recovery of the Holy Land, and to this end visited Rome, Paris and London in 1294, gathering support for a new Templar force.  He sought an alliance with the Mongols and Arwad.  He purchased six war galleons from Venice with invasion in mind and re-established a Christian foothold in Syria.  However, his proposed operation was a failure.

In 1306 Jacques de Molay was summoned from Cyprus by Pope Clement V to meet with Fulk de Villaret, his opposite number in the Hospitallers, to discuss plans for a new Crusade and proposals to amalgamate the two orders. De Molay conceded that there were some advantages, but on the whole, it was a bad idea as such rivalry existed between the two orders.  Fulk de Villaret Grand Master of the Hospitallers agreed with Jacques de Molay, that such a merger was doomed to failure.

The Grand Masters of Knight Templar and Hospitallers agreed a large force could be successful in re-establishing the Christian kingdom in the Holy Land.

Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Knights Templar travelled next to Paris.  For on the 12thOctober 1307 he acted as pallbearer to Queen Catherine of Valois funeral.

On the 13thOctober Jacques de Molay Grand Master of the Knights Templar along with 5,000 French Templars were arrested by order of King Philip IV of France and Pope Clement V, charged with blasphemous crimes and heresy.  He underwent interrogation and torture by Royal agents of the crown in the Templars own dungeons in the Paris Temple.

Finally, he confessed on the 24thOctober to some accusations; spitting on the cross and denial of Christ.  However, he would never confess to homosexual practices.

On the 25thOctober, Jacques de Molay had to make a public confession to the masters of the University of Paris, and urge his followers to do likewise.

Jacques de Molay, Raymbaud de Caron, Hugues de Pairaud, Geoffroi de Charney and Geoffroi de Gonneville were moved to Chinon Castle. It was here they confessed to three Cardinals sent by the Pope, who bestowed absolution upon them.  All except Raymbaud de Caron returned to Paris to testify before the Papal Commission.

Within months, Jacques de Molay retracted his confession which had been obtained through torture.  He was held in captivity before being brought before lawyers, theologians and the public on the 18thMarch 1314, to hear his sentence, one of never-ending imprisonment.

Jacques de Molay supported by Geoffroi de Charney stunned their prosecutors by making a passionate last-minute defence of the Order of the Knights Templar.

The rebellious Templars were flung back into jail to await their sentence.  King Philip IV in a rage ordered that these two Templars be condemned to death, burnt at the stake as heretics before the day was out, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

According to the Chronicler; Giovanni Villani friars and holy men gathered up the ashes of these two Templar martyrs, and carried them away for burial in holy places.

Wikipedia Image

Knights Templar: End of a Holy Order

Crusader Wallpaper 1

On the 16th June 1291, marked the end of a Christian presence, in the shape of Crusader’s and Knights Templar in the Holy Land.

The order of the Knights Templar, which had been created to offer protection to pilgrims, left the Holy Land, bound for Cyprus and France.

These pilgrims bound for the Holy Land, to walk in the steps, once trodden by Jesus, were left to the mercy of bandits.

The Knights Templar grew apart from the Catholic Church’s teaching, beliefs and practices.

The war in the Holy Land, had stretched France’s finances, whilst the Knights Templar, had seen theirs grow strength to strength, in property, land and wealth.

France’s finances were under direct control of the Templar’s, making France dependent on them.

King Philip IV of France

King Philip IV of France

Rumours circulated, by the King of France Philip IV, that these Templar’s were devil worshippers.  If proven, Philip IV would have been able to seize their wealth, and take control of France’s finances.

It wasn’t long, before King Philip IV and Pope Clement V, came to the conclusion that these Templar’s, were set on changing the political and religious landscape across Europe.

Orders were issued, that on the 13th October 1307, the King’s men were to carry out arrests, and seize the assets of this decadent and treacherous order.

News must have leaked out; for on the 11th October 1307, twenty-four knights took a fleet of eighteen Templar ship’s from LaRochelle, laden with the bulk of the Templar’s wealth; gold and silver bullion, crown jewels of European countries, sacred artefacts, manuscripts etc.

Knight Templar Ships

Templar Fleet escaping France

Some accounts believe they headed towards Scotland, then on to Canada or America, but her final destination was unknown … there are even suggestions, that some Templar’s took their share, and created the land we now know as Switzerland.  As the treasure moved around, over the centuries, so it grew.

Although Philip IV had succeeded in grabbing the Templar’s land and property, he did not find a single cent or coin of their fabulous wealth.

By order of Philip IV of France, in October of 1307, any Templar found within French lands, would be arrested, sentenced to trial, on charges of homosexual activity and the worshipping of idols etc.  If found guilty, would be burnt at the stake.

In November 1307, orders were sent out by Pope Clement V, across the lands of Europe, that these Templar’s were to be arrested on sight.

In the March of 1312, Pope Clement V dissolved the Knights Templar.  Yet a question has never been resolved, were they guilty of their crimes or not, for they had been tortured, for a yes against the crimes.

Knights Templar Burnings

Burned at the stake

Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, was burned at the stake, on charges of heresy on the 18th March 1314.  He cried out to his God, that Pope Clement V and King Philip IV, his accusers, should join him.

Thirteen months after his persecutors had condemned him to death, his curse became a reality.

Pope Clement V was attacked violently by bouts of dysentery, and quickly sent to his grave.  His dead body was moved to Carpentras, where the court of Rome resided at that time.  His body was placed in a church, which caught fire, and the mortal remains of the pontiff were almost consumed by fire.

He had accrued a vast amount of money and treasure during his lifetime, which had been deposited in a church in Lucca for safe keeping.  Whilst his relations quarrelled over his legacy and their rights, it was stolen.

In the very same year, Philip IV of France died of a disease which baffled his doctors.  Phillip blamed this disease upon the individual, whose information led to the arrest of the Templar’s.  Philip’s informer was hanged.  Philip’s last days, were that of an embittered leader.  He even accused the wives of his three sons with adultery.

Images: Wikipedia