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The Trial of the Knights Templar

The Dissolution of the Order

Denouement

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The Dissolution of the Order

Denouement

"On 14 March 1314 the four Templar great officers were paraded on a scaffold outside Notre-Dame to hear their sentence - life imprisonment." - Desmond Seward, The Monks of War

Jacques de Molay, the Grand Master of the Order unexpectedly recanted his confession.

"I think it only right that at so solemn a moment when my life has so little time to run [he was nearly seventy] I should reveal the deception which has been practiced and speak up for the truth. Before heaven and earth and with all of you here as my witnesses, I admit that I am guilty of the grossest iniquity. But the iniquity is that I have lied in admitting the disgusting charges laid against the Order. I declare, and I must declare, that the Order is innocent. Its purity and saintliness is beyond question." - Master fra. Jacques de Molay

"Two of his brethren listened fearfully, but the Preceptor of Normandy, Fra. Geoffroi de Charnay, rallied to the Grand Master, speaking with equal defiance. Next morning the two brothers in religion were burnt alive over a slow charcoal fire on an island in the Seine, shouting their innocence through the flames. The crowd was inclined to think them martyrs. A legend grew up that Fr. Jacques had summoned Philip and Clement to come before God for judgment; certainly the pope was dead within a month, the king by the autumn, and his three sons and successors all died young." - Desmond Seward, The Monks of War

"There were no Templar martyrs, as has often been observed. The aim of the examination of the Templars was to obtain confessions of guilt; so far as we know, once these had been obtained no Templar was ever made to suffer capital punishment on their account unless he went back on the confession. Both the fifty four Templars burned in 1310 and the two Templar leaders burned in 1314 died while asserting their religious orthodoxy and Catholic loyalty." "Convincing or specific evidence that the Templars were Cathars cannot have existed, or the prosecution would have used it, as it did use the rather technical charge that the officers in chapter absolved the brothers after their confession of sin as though the officers had been priests. It seems unlikely that the Templars would have pursued a way of salvation other than that offered by the Church, when the path to their life's end which was laid down by the official Order seemed to promise just that certainty of salvation for which men craved. Perhaps, particularly after the return from the Holy Land which deprived them of the chance of a martyr's death in battle against the infidel, some Templars strayed into unorthodox ways. But the evidence of the examinations outside France suggests that if there were such men, they were only a few, and that though there may have been irregularity, there was no real heresy."

In the eighteenth century "the German Masonic bookseller, Friedrich Nicolai, produced an idea that the Templar Masons, through the medieval Templars, were the eventual heirs of an heretical doctrine which originated with the early Gnostics. He supported this belief by a farrago of learned references to the writings of early Fathers of the Church on heresy, and by impressive-looking citations from the Syriac. Nicolai based his theory on false etymology and wild surmise, but it was destined to be very influential. He was also most probably familiar with Henry Cornelius Aggripa's claim, made in the early sixteenth century, that the medieval Templars had been wizards." - Peter Partner, The Murdered Magicians

 

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