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Many of the Knights Templar in France were arrested on October 13, 1307 at the orders of King Philip IV of France. King Philip was severely in debt to the military order, and hoped to claim their wealth for his own purposes. Scores of charges were leveled at the Templars, many of them similar charges to those which had been directed at other of Philip's enemies, such as heresy and blasphemy. While tortured, some Templars "confessed" to these crimes. Pope Clement V interceded and directed that actual trials take place; however, Philip sought to thwart this effort, and had several Templars burned at the stake as heretics, in order to prevent them from participating in the trials. The actions taken by Philip would eventually lead to the complete disbanding of the Order on March 22, 1312.[1]



It is not easy to appreciate the reasoning of Michelet, [2]who argues that the uniformity of denial in a series of depositions taken by the Bishop of Elne suggests concert of statement agreed upon in advance, while the variations in those who admitted guilt are an evidence of their veracity. If the Templars were innocent, denials of their charges read to them seriatim would be necessarily identical; if they were guilty, the confessions would be likewise uniform. Thus the identity of the one group and the diversity of the other both concur to disprove the accusations. The incontrovertibility of the evidence that the Templar priests did not mutilate the words of consecration in the mass is furnished in the Cypriote proceedings by ecclesiastics who had long dwelt with them in the East.[3] At one point in the Inquisition (Geoffroi) de Charney is questioned about the enforcement of penalties of some tortured Templars and their Initiation Ceremonies. It states: "One, indeed, deposed that he had been offered the choice between renouncing Christ, spitting on the cross, and the indecent kiss, and he selected the spitting. In fact, the evidence as to the enforcement of the sacrilege is hopelessly contradictory. In many cases the neophyte was excused after a slight resistance; in others he was thrust into a dark dungeon until he yielded. Egidio, Preceptor of San Gemignano of Florence stated that he had known two recalcitrant neophytes carried in chains to Rome, where they perished in prison, and Niccolo Eegino, Preceptor of Grosseto, said that recusants were slain, or sent to distant parts, like Sardinia, where they ended their days. Geoffroi de Charney, Preceptor of Normandy, swore that he enforced it upon the first neophyte whom he received, but that he never did so afterwards, and Gui Dauphin, one of the high officers of the Order, said virtually the same thing; Gaucher de Liancourt, Preceptor of Keims, on the other hand, testified that he had required it in all cases, for if he had not he would have been imprisoned for life, and Hugues de Peraud, the Visitor of France, declared that it was obligatory on him.* [4]

Jacques de Molay

On October 24, 1307, Jacques de Molay, the Grand Master of the Temple, was questioned about accusations surrounding his inception into the order. (an example is seen above) At the time, the accusations surrounding the ritual reception into the order were the only charges levied.[5] The accusations stemmed from the initiation ceremony being held privately and at night.[6] Over the next few months, the number of charges would swell to 127, although many of those charges repeat themselves or are nearly identical.

In the Chinon Chart article by Barbara Frale, a dialogue between Molay and Pope Clement takes place in which the Clement wants to see the Templar Rule book and wanted to know if the Templars do in fact worship some sort of idol. With the numerous rumors about Templar initiation, the Pope had to know exactly what it was the Templars were doing to be gaining such attention.[7]

King Philip succeeded in making Jacques de Molay confess to the charges. With the confession of the Grand Master, all of the Templars would be considered guilty.[8] After recanting his confession, Jacques de Molay was convicted for being a relapsed heretic in which the punishment was being burned at the stake. A historical account is as follows. (The day varies by one day, not unusual for the chronicles of the middle ages): "The cardinals dallied with their duty until March 19, 1314, when, on a scaffold in front of Notre Dame, de Molay, Geoffroi de Charney, Master of Normandy, Ilugues de Peraud, Visitor of France, and Godefroi de Gonneville, Master of Aquitaine, were brought forth from the jail in which for nearly seven years they had lain, to receive the sentence agreed upon by the cardinals, in conjunction with the Archbishop of Sens and some other prelates whom they had called in. Considering the offences which the culprits had confessed and confirmed, the penance imposed was in accordance with rule—that of perpetual imprisonment. The affair was supposed to be concluded when, to the dismay of the prelates and wonderment of the assembled crowd, de Molay and Geoffroi de Charney arose. They had been guilty, they said, not of the crimes imputed to them, but of basely betraying their Order to save their own lives. It was pure and holy; the charges were fictitious and the confessions false. Hastily the cardinals delivered them to the Prevot of Paris, and retired to deliberate on this unexpected contingency, but they were saved all trouble. 'When the news was carried to Philippe he was furious. A short consultation with his council was all that was required. The canons pronounced that a relapsed heretic was to be burned without a hearing; the facts were notorious and no formal judgment by the papal commission need be waited for. That same day, by sunset, a pile was erected on a small island in the Seine, the Isle des Juifs, near the palace garden. There de Molay and de Charney were slowly burned to death, refusing all offers of pardon for retraction, and bearing their torment with a composure which won for them the reputation of martyrs among the people, who reverently collected their ashes as relics'[9]

Peter of Bologna and the Defense

Peter of Bologna had been trained as a lawyer and had been the Templar representative to the papal court in Rome. On April 23, 1310, Peter, with three others, went before the commission and demanded what amounts to full disclosure of their accusers and all the information and evidence gathered in the case. They also requested a ban on witnesses conversing with one another, and that all proceedings should be kept secret until they had been sent to the Pope.[10] In May of 1310, the Archbishop of Sens, Philippe de Marigny, took over the trial of the Templars from the original commission. Two days after this change, 54 Templars were burned outside of Paris. When the commission again asked to see Peter of Bologna, they were told that he had "suddenly returned to his former confession, then broken out of jail and fled." He was never seen or heard from again.[11]


The Chinon Parchment, found recently in the Vatican Archives, shows that Pope Clement V had absolved the leadership of the Templars August 17-20, 1308, including Jacques de Molay.[12][13] The parchment reveals that on the way to meet the pope, the four main leaders of the Templars had become ill and they stopped in a city called Chinon to recover. Pope Clement did not want to delay the trials further, three of his cardinals were dispatched to accompany the main leaders of the Templars, including Jacques de Molay. The three cardinals, acting on behalf of the church, did not believe the Templars had committed any sins, should be absolved and receive the sacraments again.[14]

Charges not levied

Usury was a charge which, presumably, the Templars were guilty of, however, this charge is not levied against them.[15] Historian Sharan Newman opines that if the Templars had been charged with usury, then so too would the Hospitallers, and the Italian bankers. For this reason the charge of usury was not brought against them.[16]

Trial timeline

Date Event
1099 Jerusalem Captured during the First Crusade
1119 Knights Templar Founded
1128 Council of Troyes
1274 Council of Lyons
1285, Oct Philip IV becomes king of France
1291 City of Acre is lost to the Saracens
1292, April 20 Jacques de Molay elected as Grand Master
1303 Sept Pope Boniface VIII attacked at Anagni
1305, November 5 Coronation of Pope Clement V
1306, July Jews expelled from France, Philip takes their assets
1307, September 14 Philip dispatches secret orders to prepare for the arrest of the Templars
1307, October 13 Templars arrested in France
1307, October 14 Guillaume de Nogaret lists original accusations against Templars.
1307, October 19 Hearings in Paris begin.
1307, October 24 Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Temple, confesses for the first time.
1307, October 25 Jacques de Molay repeats his confession before the members of the University of Paris.
1307, October 27 Pope Clement V expresses indignation at the arrests to Philip.
1307, November 9 Confession of Hugues de Pairaud.
1307, November 22 de Molay retracts his confession before the cardinal sent by the pope.
1308, Feb Clement V suspends the inquisitors involved in the Templar affair.
1308, August 17-20 Chinon parchment shows clear absolution for leadership of the Templars, including Jacques de Molay and Huges de Pairaud.
1310, March 14 127 Articles of accusation read to the Templars who are prepared to defend their order.
1310, April 7 Defense of the order led by Pierre de Bologna and Renaud de Provins.
1310, May 12 54 Templars are burned at the stake.
1310, May 19 Peter of Bologna and Renaud de Provins summoned before the Commission but fail to appear
1310, December 17 Remaining defenders told that Peter of Bologna and Renaud de Provins had returned to their confessions and that Peter of Bologna had fled.
1312, March 22 The Order of the Knights Templar is officially suppressed.
1314, March 18 Jacques de Molay and Geoffroi de Charney are burned at the stake as relapsed heretics.
1314, April 20 Death of Pope Clement V.
1314, November 29 Death of Philip IV.


  1. ^ Barber, Malcolm The Trial of the Templars, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1978. p 3
  2. ^ (Proems, II. vii.-viii.)
  3. ^ Processus Cypricus (SchottmiiUcr, II. 379, 382, 383). *Procfes, L 404 ; IL 260, 281, 284, 295, 299, 338, 354, 356, 363, 389, 390, 395,407.—Bini, pp. 468, 488.
  4. ^ *Procfes, L 404 ; IL 260, 281, 284, 295, 299, 338, 354, 356, 363, 389, 390, 395,407.—Bini, pp. 468, 488.
  5. ^ Newman, Sharan. "The Real History behind the Templars," New York: Berkley Books, 2007. p 265
  6. ^ Legman, G. et al. "The Guilt of the Templars", New York; Basic Books, inc. 1966. pg 52
  7. ^ Frale "The Chinon Chart" 116
  8. ^ Barber The Trial of the Templars 63
  9. ^ "An Historical Sketch of Sacerdotal Celibacy," "Superstition and Force,", "Studies in Church History"; A HISTORY OF THE INQUISITION OF THE MIDDLE AGES Vol Henry Charles Lea, NY: Hamper & Bros, Franklin Sq. 1888 p.324
  10. ^ Newman, Sharan. "The Real History behind the Templars," New York: Berkley Books, 2007. p 259
  11. ^ Newman, Sharan. "The Real History behind the Templars," New York: Berkley Books, 2007. p 262
  12. ^ (accessed December 8, 2008)
  13. ^ Frale, Barbara. “The Chinon chart Papal absolution to the last Templar, Master Jacques de Molay.” Journal of Medieval History 30 (2004): 109-134.
  14. ^ Frale The Chinon Chart 129
  15. ^ Legman, G. et al. "The Guilt of the Templars", (New York; Basic Books, inc. 1966).p 22.
  16. ^ Legman Guilt of the Templars 22


  • Barber, Malcolm The Trial of the Templars, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1978.
  • Legman, G. et al. The Guilt of the Templars, New York; Basic Books, inc. 1966.
  • Newman, Sharan, The Real History Behind the Templars, New York; Berkley Books, 2007.

Further reading

  • M. C. Barber, The Social Context of the Templars, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5 no 34. (1984) p 27-26.
  • Wikisource-logo.svg 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.
  • Gilmour-Bryson, Anne. The Trial of the Templars in the Papal State and the Abruzzi, Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. 1982.
  • Addison, C. G., The Knights Templar History New York; Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Co. 1912. (reprinted 1978)
  • Anne Gilmour-Bryson. "Sodomy and the Knights Templar", Journal of the HIstory of Sexuality, 7 no 2 (October 1996) p 151-183.


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