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The Trial of the Knights Templar

The Dissolution of the Order

"Spare No Known Means of Torture"

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The Dissolution of the Order

"Spare No Known Means of Torture"

"The standard nature of the confessions bespeaks the standard application of a questionnaire, which as in most subsequent witchcraft trials guaranteed a remarkable uniformity in details." - Peter Partner, The Murdered Magicians

"The inquisitors had orders to 'spare no known means of torture' so they could let their wild imaginations run free. Some Templars had their teeth pulled out one at a time, with a question between each extraction, then had the empty sockets probed to provide an additional level of pain. Some has wood wedges driven under their nails, while others had their nails pulled out. A common device was an iron frame like a bed, on which the Templar was trapped with his bare feet hanging over the end. A charcoal brazier was slid under his oiled feet as the questioning began. Several knights were reported to have gone mad with the pain. A number had their feet totally burned off, and at a later inquiry a footless Templar was carried to the council clutching a bag containing the blackened bones that had dropped out of his feet when they were burned off. His inquisitors had allowed him to keep the bones as a souvenir of his memorable experience. The hot iron was a favourite tool because it could be easily applied again and again to any part of the body. It could be held a couple of inches away, cooking the flesh while the question was asked, then firmly pressed against the body when the answer came out incorrectly or too slowly." - John J. Robinson, Dungeon, Fire and Sword (1991)

"Of 138 Templars questioned in Paris during October and November, 105 admitted that they had denied Christ during their secret reception into the order, 123 that they had spat at, on, or near some form of the crucifix, 103 that they had indecently kissed, usually on the base of the spine or the navel, and 102 implied that homosexuality among the brothers was encouraged (although only 3 admitted directly engaging in homosexual relations). This immediate and virtually unanimous confession of guilt on the part of the Templars, including the Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, and the Visitor, Hughes de Pairaud, cast a pall over the order from which it never recovered. Although the confessions were extracted by torture and later denied before papal inquisitors, the Templars had sentenced themselves out of their own mouths. " - Gabrielle M. Spiegel

In France "it is not surprising that thirty-six brethren died, or, that out of 138 examined 123 confessed to the least nauseating charge, spitting on the crucifix, for medieval man was accustomed to swearing oaths under duress and then obtaining absolution once he was safe. Even Jacques de Molay stooped to this stratagem, humiliated by a charge of homosexuality which he furiously denied. However, though his 'confession' may have been politic it unnerved the brethren. Fra. Hughues de Peyraud frightened them still more by admitting every accusation; 'made of the willow rather than the oak' the wily Treasurer cooperated with gusto, declaring he worshipped an idol in chapter. At Carcassonne two brethren agreed they had adored a wooden image called 'Baphomet' while a Florentine Templar named it 'Mahomet' and another brother said it had a long beard but no body. Royal agents hunted frantically for Baphomet and 'discovered' a metal-plated skull suspiciously like a reliquary. These avowals of idolatry only served to discredit other evidence for in extremities of pain and anguish man will say anything. Yet only three brethren would confess to homosexual practices, a refutation of 'indecent kisses'. It was alleged that in the rite of profession, postulants were required to kiss their superior on the navel or the base of the spine - possibly a few preceptors indulged in mumbo-jumbo but it is highly unlikely. And intensive searches failed to find 'the secret rule'." - Desmond Seward, The Monks of War

"The course of the trials in England, Aragon, Navarre (ruled by Philip the Fair's eldest son, Louis), Majorca, Castile, Portugal, Italy and Germany demonstrates incontestably that only in France or in territories under French influence were there substantial confessions to the alleged crimes. In England and Aragon, whose laws of procedure forbade the use of torture, confessions came only after the papal inquisitors had taken over and introduced torture. The sole exception was the admission of the English Templars to a belief in the power of absolution exercised by the Grand Master and regional preceptors in chapter, which Barber [The Trial of the Templars] convincingly explains as a consequence of Templar confusion over the changing definition of absolution in the thirteenth century, to which Templar practice did not conform. The sharp distinction in obtaining confessions between countries that did and did not employ torture makes entirely plausible Barber's conclusion that 'it would now be difficult to argue, as some nineteenth-century historians did, that the Templars were guilty of the accusations made against them by the regime of Philip the Fair'." - Gabrielle M. Spiegel

In England, "if the Templars would confess to the sin of a layman granting absolution and swear their own condemnation of the Templar heresies charged in the papal encyclicals, they could perform a minor penance and be free men, back in the bosom of the Church. That was too good a bargain to pass up, and most of the English Templars agreed. They made their confession in public, then were sent into monasteries to perform their penances. With that done, a few went into the Hospitallers, but most returned to secular lives, with meagre pensions based on what the Church felt was the minimum amount required by a monk for food and clothing." - John J. Robinson, Dungeon, Fire and Sword (1991)

 

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