Originally posted on CHW on April 9, 2018
Knights Templar, also known as the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, the Order of Solomon’s Temple, or the Templars, are an extinct group of warriors, whose memory is shrouded in a myriad of myths and legends, which still grips the imagination.
So what exactly happened to the Catholic Military Order, who exercised financial authority over countless, prominent, royal houses and major capitals in Europe?
One of the many legends surrounding them indicates that their demise began in France, on the most notorious of all days, Friday the 13 in the year 1307. It is unclear if their destruction was a reckoning for insinuations of misuse of power or a political gamble.
What is known is that after they lost the Holy Land to the Muslims during the Crusades, their order’s entire existence came into question and lost support. Rumors sprang up about their secret initiation ceremonies, sewing seeds of doubt and mistrust.
One man who seized upon this opportunity was King Philip IV ‘the fair’ of France. He was indebted to the Templars and wanted to snag their great wealth for himself.
In 1307, King Philip IV had members of the order in France arrested. Once incarcerated, the knights were tortured mercilessly into giving false confessions of heresy, sodomy, and treason that were made public.
For seven years, the Templars were subjected to official inquiries and public executions, where hundreds were burned at the stake. Pope Clement tried to save the Templars but was unsuccessful.
Finally, after much pressure from the King of France, in 1312, at the Council of Vienne, Clement dissolved the Knights Templar and ordered all Christian monarchs to arrest the remaining members.
He also issued a Papal Bull giving the Templar lands to the Knights of Hospitallers. In March 1314, outside the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral, Jacques de Maloy, the last Templar Master died, after retracting his confession.
The secrets and mysteries surrounding the Knights Templar have ignited colorful conspiracy theories and stories that still delight modern-day audiences. A few of the most popular are The Da Vinci Code, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and National Treasure.