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horse), which word became the battle-cry of the knights. The banner bore a cross and the inscription, “Non nobis, Domine, sed nomini tuo da gloriam.” Thenceforth many knights joined the Order, and numerous powerful princes bestowed considerable possessions upon it. Alfonso, king of Arragon and Navarre, even appointed the Templars his heirs, though the country refused to ratify the bequest. Thus they became the richest proprietors in Europe, until they possessed about nine thousand commanderies, situated in various countries of Europe and in Palestine, with an annual rental of one hundred and twelve million francs.
191. Account of Commanderies.—Their commanderies were situate in their eastern and western provinces, the former embracing Jerusalem, Tripoli, Antioch, Cyprus; the latter, Portugal, Castile and Leon, Arragon, France, including Flanders and the Netherlands, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Italy, and Sicily. Whilst Jerusalem was in the hands of the Christians, the chief seat of the Templars was in that city; afterwards it was transferred to Paris, where they erected the large building until lately known as the Temple. It was in this building that Philip the Fair took refuge on the occasion of a riot which took place in 1306, where the Templars protected him until the fury of the people had calmed down. The Knights, it is said, incautiously displayed to the royal cupidity their immense treasures. On a subsequent, but far more momentous rising, the pile which served an ungrateful king for an asylum became the prison of an unfortunate successor. Recently this memento of royal perfidy, and of an avenging fate that struck the innocent, has been levelled to the ground.
192. Imputations against the Order.—Towards the end of the twelfth century the Order counted about thirty thousand members, mostly French, and the Grand Master was generally chosen from among the French. Through the great number of their affiliated members they could raise a large army in any part of the Eastern world, and their fleet monopolised the commerce of the Levant. Hence they departed from their original humility and piety. Palestine was lost, and they made no effort to recover it, but frequently drew the sword—which was only to be used in the service of God, as they understood the phrase—in the feuds and warfares of the countries they inhabited. They became proud and arrogant. When dying, Richard Cour de Lion said, “I leave avarice to the Cistercian monks, luxuriousness to the begging friars, pride to the Templars;" and yet perhaps they only
felt their own power. The English Templars had dared to say to Henry III., “You shall be king as long as you are just ;” portentous words, which supplied matter for meditation to that Philip of France who, like many other princes, wished to be unjust with impunity. In Castile, the Templars, Hospitallers, and Knights of St. John combined against the king himself. Perhaps they aimed at universal dominion, or at the establishment of a Western sovereignty, like the Teutonic Knights of Prussia, the Hospitallers in Malta, or the Jesuits in Paraguay? But there is scarcely any ground for these imputations, especially the first, considering that the members of the Order were scattered all over the earth, and might at the utmost have attempted to seize the government of some individual State, as that of Arragon, for instance, but not to carry out a scheme for which even the forces of Charlemagne had been inadequate. Accusations better founded were, that they had disturbed the kingdom of Palestine by their rivalry with the Hospitallers; had concluded leagues with the infidels; had made war upon Cyprus and Antiochia ; had dethroned the king of Jerusalem, Henry II. ; had devastated Greece and Thrace; had refused to contribute to the ransom of St. Louis; had declared for Arragon against Anjou—an unpardonable crime in the eyes of France —with
many other accusations. But their greatest crime was that of being exceedingly wealthy; their downfall was. therefore determined upon.
193. Plots against the Order.—Philip the Fair had spent his last sou.
The victory of Mons, worse than a defeat, had ruined him. He was bound to restore Guyenne, and was on the point of losing Flanders. Normandy had risen against a tax which he had been obliged to withdraw. The people of the capital were so opposed to the government, that it had been found necessary to prohibit meetings of more than five persons. How was money to be obtained under these circumstances ? the Jews could give no more, because all they had had been extorted from them by fines, imprisonment, and torture. It was necessary to have recourse to some grand confiscation, without disgusting the classes on whom the royal power relied, and leading them to believe, not that booty was aimed at, but the punishment of evil-doers, to the greater glory of religion and the triumph of the law. At the instigation of Philip the Fair, libels were published against the Order of the Knights Templars, in which the most absurd charges were made against the members, accusing them of heresy, impiety, and worse crimes. Great weight was attached
to the statements made against the Templars by two renegades of the Order, the Florentine Roffi Dei, and the Prior of Montfaucon, which latter, having been condemned by the Grand Master to imprisonment for life for his many crimes, made his escape and became the accuser of his former brethren. 194. Attentions paid to Grand Master.—
Bertrand de Got, who, by the influence of the French king, had become Pope under the title of Clement V., was now urged by the former to fulfil the last of the five conditions on which the king had enabled him to ascend the chair of St. Peter. The first four conditions had been named, but Philip had reserved the naming of the fifth till the fit moment should arrive; and from his subsequent conduct there can be no doubt that the destruction of the Order of the Temple was the condition that was in the king's mind when he thus alluded to it. The first step was to get the Grand Master, James de Molay, into
At the request of the Pope that he would come to France to concert measures for the recovery of the Holy Land, he left Cyprus and came to Paris in 1307, accompanied by sixty knights, and bringing with him 150,000 florins of gold, and so much silver that it formed the lading of twelve horses, which he deposited in the Temple in that city. To lull him into false security, the king, whose plan was not yet quite ripe for execution, treated the Grand Master with the greatest consideration, made him the godfather of one of his sons, and chose him with some of the most distinguished persons to carry the pall at the funeral of his sister-in-law. The following day he was arrested with all his suite, and letters having in the meantime been sent to the king's officers in the provinces on the 13th October 1307 to seize upon all the Templars, their houses and property, throughout the kingdom, many thousand members of the Order, knights and serving brothers, were thus made prisoners.
195. Charges against the Templars. — The Templars were accused of denying Christ, the Virgin, and the Saints, and of spitting and trampling on the cross; of worshipping in a dark cave an idol in the figure of a man covered with an old human skin, and having two bright and lustrous carbuncles for eyes; of anointing it with the fat of young children roasted; of looking upon it as their sovereign God; of worshipping the devil in the form of a cat; of burning the bodies of dead Templars and giving the ashes to the younger brethren to eat and drink mingled with their food. They were charged with various unnatural crimes, frightful
debaucheries, and superstitious abominations, such as only madmen could have been guilty of, and as could only be thought of in an age of frightful ignorance, stupidity, and superstition. To make them confess these crimes they were put to the torture, not only in France, but also in England, for Edward II. leagued with Philip to destroy the Order. Many knights in the agonies of the torture confessed to the crimes they were charged with, hundreds expired under it without making any confession, many starved or killed themselves in other ways in prison.
The trial was protracted for years; the persecution extended to other countries; in Germany and Spain and Cyprus the Order was acquitted of all guilt; in Italy, England, and France, however, their doom was sealed, though for a moment there seemed a chance of their escaping, for the Pope, seeing that Philip and Edward had seized all the money and estates of the Templars, and seemed inclined to deprive him of his share of the spoil, began to side with the Order. But on some concessions being made to him by the two kings, he again supported them, though in the end we find him complaining of the small share of the booty that came into his hands.
196. Burning of Knights.—The tedious progress of the sham trial was occasionally enlivened by the public execution of knights who refused to acknowledge crimes of which they were not guilty. Fifty-nine gallant knights were led forth in one day to the fields at the back of the nunnery of St. Antoine, where stakes had been driven into the ground, and faggots and charcoal collected. The knights were offered pardon if they would confess; but they all refused and were burned by slow fires--that is, clear charcoal fires. At Senlis nine were burned, and many more in other places. On all these occasions, as well as in the awful scenes of the torturechamber, the Dominican friars were the mocking witnesses.
197. James de Molay.--The Grand Master remained in prison five years and a half, and there is no doubt that he was repeatedly put to the torture. The confession he was said to have made was probably a forgery. Finally, on the 18th March 1313, he and Guy, the Grand Preceptor of the Order, were burnt by a slow fire on a small island in the Seine, between the royal gardens and the church of the Hermit Brethren, where afterwards the statue of Henry IV. was erected, both to the last moment asserting the innocence of the Order.
198. Mysteries of the Knights Templars.-Without laying too much stress on confessions extorted by violence, or de
nunciations proceeding from revenge, cupidity, and servility, it is manifest that the Templars, in their ordinances, creed, and rites, had something which was peculiar and secret, and totally different from the statutes, opinions, and ceremonies of other religio-military associations. Their long sojourn in the East, in that dangerous Palestine which overflowed with schismatic Greeks and heretics, who, driven from Constantinople, took refuge with the Arabs; their rivalry with the Hospitallers; their contact with the Saracen element; finally, the loss of the Holy Land, which injured them in the opinion of the world, and rendered their lives idle—all these and many other circumstances would act on this institution in an unforeseen manner, differing from the tendencies of the original constitution, and mix up therewith ideas and practices little in accordance with, nay, in total antagonism to, the orthodox thought that had originated, animated, and strengthened this military brotherhood.
199. The Temple and the Church.— The very name may in a certain manner point to a rebellious ambition. Temple is a more august, a vaster and more comprehensive denomination than that of Church. The Temple is above the Church; this latter has a date of its foundation, a local habitation; the former has always existed. Churches fall; the Temple remains as a symbol of the parentage of religions and the perpetuity of their spirit.
The Templars might thus consider themselves as the priests of that religion, not transitory, but permanent; and the aspirants could believe that the Order constituting them the defenders of the Temple intended to initiate them into a second and better Christianity, into a purer religion. Whilst the Temple meant for the Christian the Holy Sepulchre, it recalled to the Mussulman the Temple of Solomon; and the legend which referred to this latter served as a bond to the rituals of the Freemasons and other secret societies. Further, the Church might be called the house of Christ; but the Temple was the house of the Holy Spirit. It was that religion of the Spirit which the Templars inherited from the Manichæans, from the Albigenses, from the sectarian chivalry that had preceded them. The initiatory practices, the monuments, even the trial, showed this prevalence of the religion of the Spirit in the secret doctrines of the Temple. The Templars drew a great portion of their sectarian and heterodox tendencies from that period in which chivalry, purified and organised, became a pilgrimage in search of the San Greäl, the mystic cup that received the blood of the Saviour; from that epoch