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The Trial of the Knights Templar

The Dissolution of the Order

The Papal Bans

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The Dissolution of the Order

The Papal Bans

"When one considers how the Templars fought and died throughout the crusades it seems hard not to believe in their innocence...It is surely more than coincidence that the most strident accusations came from the heartlands of the Albigensian heresy; Nogaret was a Provencal, Fra. Esquiu a Catalan. Local brethren in these regions could well have turned isolated preceptories into Cathar cells during the previous century when the heresy was at its height, while the Order's bankers would have been quite capable of protecting fugitive heretics to obtain the Cathar treasure which disappeared just before their last stronghold fell in 1244. Admittedly Catharism was almost extinct by 1307. But vague memories from years before of heresy hunts within the Order, kept secret to avoid scandal, may have been the origin of tales of devil worship, secret rites and sodomy which were all charges which had been made against the Cathars." - Desmond Seward, The Monks of War

"...The supposed adherence of the Templars to Catharism [is] nonsense. This belief is to some extent based on the erroneous identification of Bertrand de Blanquefort, a Templar Grand master, with a Cathar nobleman called Bertrand de Blanchefort. It is true that both names appear as 'Blancafortis' in Latin texts, but the Templar came from Guyenne, not Languedoc, and had nothing whatever to do with the Cathars. In any case, there are three towns in France called Blanquefort and one called Blancafort, apart from the Blanchefort from which the Cathar took his title. Since French noblemen were invariable known by the names of their estates and not by hereditary surnames, nothing can be deduced form the coincidence of two men with similar names." - Noel Curer-Briggs, The Shroud and the Grail - A Modern Quest for the True Grail

"Clement V...who became pope in 1305, moved the papal court to Avignon where it remained for over seventy years - 'the Babylonish captivity'. This new Vicar of Christ, weak, racked by ill health, was desperately afraid of his former sovereign who had secured his election by heavy bribes." "At first the pope had protested vigorously, suspending the Inquisition in France on 27 October 1307. But by now Philip was announcing sensational 'discoveries', including a letter of confession from Fra. Jacques, and so, at the end of November, Clement issued a second bull ordering the arrest of all Templars. Courts of enquiry were set up throughout Christendom. In January 1308, with some reluctance, England arrested its Templars. There were not more than 135 in the country - 118 sergeants, 11 chaplains, and only 6 knights....Irish and Scottish Templars were also rounded up. All but two Scottish brethren escaped; shrewd politicians, they may well have found refuge with the Bruce's guerrillas - certainly King Robert never legally ratified the Scottish Temple's dissolution."

"From Spain and Cyprus came news that the Templars were innocent, while investigations in the empire too found them guiltless. Pressure could be brought to bear on England, but here many prisoners had escaped, and when the remaining fifty were interrogated nothing could be extracted; a second enquiry in 1310 examined 228 brethren with no more result. Finally Clement ordered Edward II to use to torture. Eventually King Edward agreed, stipulating that there must be no 'mutilations, incurable wounds or violent effusions of blood'." - Desmond Seward, The Monks of War

"The prime responsibility for the 'discovery, punishment and prevention of heresy' had been bestowed on what by now was known as the congregation of the Holy Office but was still referred to as the Inquisition. Its functions were largely in the hands of the Order of Preachers, the Dominicans, founded by the Spanish priest Dominic Guzman (later St. Dominic), who had made his name by his extraordinary zeal against the Albigensian heretics in southern France." In 1311 in England, the ten professional torturers provided by the pope "were only able to get admissions that to preserve their secrets Templars were told to go only to their own priests for confession, that they might have occasionally absolved each other of sin in special situations, and that the wore a cord next to their skin, although they didn't know why." - John J. Robinson, Born in Blood

In England, "out of more than 200 Templars including confratres and retainers, examined in 1310 and 1311 all of whom were subjected to excruciating agonies, only four admitted to spitting at the cross." In Paris "by the end of May [1310], 120 Templars had been burnt." "Perhaps the Templars' worst anguish was spiritual - it must have seemed that God Himself had died - and probably many brethren went mad. Yet the wildest rumours circulated, for French public opinion undoubtedly believed in the brethren's guilt. They were supposed to have summoned devil women from hell and slept with them, whole bastards were roasted in front of images smeared with children's fat, and cats were worshipped." "Some Castilian Templars were so horrified that they fled to Granada and turned Moslem."

"In February 1312 the French Estates' General demanded the Order's condemnation. Finally, in March, Clement, in private consistory (that is, with his advisers in camera) formally pronounced the Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon to be guilty of all charges made against them. When the council [General Council of the Church] reassembled on 3 April they were presented with a fait accompli, the bull Vox in excelso, declaring the Order dissolved. The pope explained his reasons; canonically the Templars could not be convicted on the evidence, but he himself was convinced of their guilt and had therefore exercised his prerogative to condemn them. The General Council accepted his decision without demur. On 2 May a further bull disposed of the brotherhood's lands which were given to the Hospitallers. Those brethren who had retracted confessions - or refused to confess at all - received life imprisonment, while those who had stuck to their confessions were released on a minute pension, most of them ending up as beggars." "...This was an immense accession of wealth for the Hospitallers. In Germany the vast estates of the Templars enabled the Herrenmeister of the Brandenburg Ballei of the 'Johanniterorden' to become semi-autonomous. English commanderies had to be drastically reorganized to absorb new lands; sometimes the commandery itself was transferred to a former preceptory, as at Egle in Lincolnshire." - Desmond Seward, The Monks of War

 

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