The downfall of the Templars--The cause
thereof--The Grand Master comes to Europe at the request of the Pope--He is
imprisoned, with all the Templars in France, by command of king Philip--They
are put to the torture, and confessions of the guilt of heresy and idolatry
are extracted from them--Edward H. king of England stands up in defence of the
Templars, but afterwards persecutes them at the instance of the Pope--The
imprisonment of the Master of the Temple and all his brethren in
England--Their examination upon eighty-seven horrible and ridiculous articles
of accusation before foreign inquisitors appointed by the Pope--A council of
the church assembles at London to pass sentence upon them--The curious
evidence adduced as to the mode of admission into the order, and of the
customs and observances of the fraternity.
En cel an qu’ai dist or endroit,
Et ne sait a tort ou a droit,
Furent li Templiers, sans doutance,
Tous pris par le royaume de France.
Au mois d’Octobre, au point du jor,
Et un vendredi fa le jor.
A.D. 1297. IT now only remains for us to
describe the miserable fate of the surviving brethren of the order of the
Temple, and to tell of the ingratitude they encountered from their fellow
Christians in the West. Shortly after the fall of Acre, a general chapter of
the fraternity was called together, and James de Molay, the Preceptor
A.D. 1302. of England, was chosen Grand
Master. * He
attempted once more (A.D. 1302) to plant the banners of the Temple upon the
sacred soil of Palestine, but was defeated by the sultan of Egypt with the
loss of a hundred and twenty of his brethren. This
disastrous expedition was speedily followed by the downfall of the fraternity.
Many circumstances contributed to this memorable event.
With the loss of all the christian territory in
Palestine had expired in Christendom every serious hope and expectation of
recovering and retaining the Holy City. The services of the Templars were
consequently no longer required, and men began to regard with an eye of envy
and of covetousness their vast wealth and immense possessions. The privileges
conceded to the fraternity by the popes made the church their enemy. The great
body of the clergy regarded with jealousy and indignation their exemption from
the ordinary ecclesiastical jurisdiction. The bull omne datum optimum
was considered a great inroad upon the rights of the church, and broke the
union which had originally subsisted between the Templars and the
ecclesiastics. Their exemption from tithe was a source of considerable loss to
the parsons, and the privilege they possessed of celebrating divine service
during interdict brought abundance of offerings and alms to the priests and
chaplains of the order, which the clergy looked upon as so many robberies
committed upon themselves. Disputes arose between the fraternity and the
bishops and priests, and the hostility of the latter to the order was
manifested in repeated acts of injustice, which drew forth many severe bulls
and indignant animadversions from the Roman pontiffs. Pope Alexander, in a
bull fulminated against the clergy, tells
A.D. 1302. them that if they would
carefully reflect upon the contests which his beloved sons, the brethren of
the chivalry of the Temple, continually maintained in Palestine for the
defence of Christianity, and their kindness to the poor, they would not only
cease from annoying and injuring them, but would strictly restrain others from
so doing. He expresses himself to be grieved and astonished to hear that many
ecclesiastics had vexed them with grievous injuries, had treated his apostolic
letters with contempt, and had refused to read them in their churches; that
they had subtracted the customary alms and oblations from the fraternity, and
had admitted aggressors against the property of the brethren to their familiar
friendship, insufferably endeavouring to press down and discourage those whom
they ought assiduously to uphold. From other bulls it appears that the clergy
interfered with the right enjoyed by the fraternity of collecting alms; that
they refused to bury the brethren of the order when deceased without being
paid for it, and arrogantly claimed a right to be entertained with sumptuous
hospitality in the houses of the Temple. For these delinquencies, the bishops,
archdeacons, priests, and the whole body of the clergy, are threatened with
severe measures by the Roman pontiff.
The Templars, moreover, towards the close of
their career, became unpopular with the European sovereigns and their nobles.
The revenues of the former were somewhat diminished through the immunities
conceded to the Templars by their predecessors, and the paternal estates of
the latter had been diminished by the grant of many thousand manors,
lordships, and fair estates to the order by their pious and enthusiastic
ancestors. Considerable dislike also began to be manifested to the annual
transmission of large sums of money, the revenues of the order, from the
[paragraph continues] European states to be
expended in a distant warfare in which Christendom now took comparatively no
interest. Shortly after the fall of Acre, and the total loss of Palestine,
Edward the First, king of England, seized and sequestered to his own use the
monies which had been accumulated by the Templars, to forward to their
brethren in Cyprus, alleging that the property of the order of the Temple had
been granted to it by the kings of England, his predecessors, and their
subjects, for the defence of the Holy Land, and that since the loss thereof,
no better use could be made of the money than by appropriating it to the
maintenance of the poor. At the earnest request of the pope, however, the king
afterwards permitted their revenues to be transmitted for them in the island
of Cyprus in the usual manner. *
King Edward had previously manifested a strong desire to lay hands on the
property of the Templars. On his return from his victorious campaign in Wales,
finding himself unable to disburse the arrears of pay due to his soldiers, he
went with Sir Robert Waleran and some armed followers to the Temple, and
calling for the treasurer, he pretended that he wanted to see his mother's
jewels, which were there kept. Having been admitted into the house, he
deliberately broke open the coffers of the Templars, and carried away ten
thousand pounds with him to Windsor Castle. His son, Edward the Second, on
his accession to the throne, committed a similar act of injustice. He went
with his favourite, Piers Gavaston, to the Temple, and took away with him
fifty thousand pounds of silver, with a quantity of gold, jewels, and precious
stones, belonging to the bishop of Chester.
The impunity with which these acts of violence were committed, manifests that
the Templars then no longer enjoyed the power and respect which they possessed
in ancient times.
As the enthusiasm, too, in favour of the
holy war diminished, large numbers of the Templars remained at home in their
western preceptories, and took an active part in the politics of Europe. They
interfered in the quarrels of christian princes, and even drew their swords
against their fellow-Christians. Thus we find the members of the order taking
part in the war between the houses of Anjou and Aragon, and aiding the king of
England in his warfare against the king of Scotland. In the battle of Falkirk,
fought on the 22nd of July, A.D. 1298, seven years after the fall of Acre,
perished both the Master of the Temple at London, and his vicegerent the
Preceptor of Scotland. *
All these circumstances, together with the loss of the Holy Land, and the
extinction of the enthusiasm of the crusades, diminished the popularity of the
Templars in Europe.
At the period of the fall of Acre, Philip
the Fair, son of St. Louis, occupied the throne of France. He was a needy and
avaricious monarch, and had at different periods
resorted to the most violent expedients to replenish his exhausted exchequer.
On the death of Pope Benedict XI., (A.D. 1304,) he succeeded, through the
intrigues of the French Cardinal Dupré, in raising the archbishop of Bourdeaux,
a creature of his own, to the pontifical chair. The new pope removed the Holy
See from Rome to France; he summoned all the cardinals to Lyons, and was there
consecrated, (A.D. 1305,) by the name of Clement V., in the presence of king
Philip and his nobles. Of the ten new cardinals then created nine were
Frenchmen, and in all his acts the new pope manifested himself the obedient
slave of the French monarch.
The character of this pontiff has been painted by the Romish ecclesiastical
historians in the darkest colours: they represent him as wedded to pleasure,
eaten up with ambition, and greedy for money; they accuse him of indulging in
a criminal intrigue with the beautiful countess of Perigord, and of
trafficking in holy things.
On the 6th of June, A.D. 1306, a few
months after his coronation, this new French pontiff addressed letters from
Bourdeaux to the Grand Masters of the Temple and Hospital, expressing his
earnest desire to consult them with regard to the measures necessary to be
taken for the recovery of the Holy Land. He tells them that they are the
persons best qualified to give advice upon the subject, and to conduct and
manage the enterprize, both from their great military experience and the
interest they had in the success of the expedition. "We order you," says he,
"to come hither without delay, with as much secrecy as possible, and with a
very little retinue, since you will find on this side the sea a sufficient
number of your knights to attend upon you." The Grand
Master of the Hospital declined obeying this summons; but the Grand Master of
the Temple forthwith accepted it, and unhesitatingly placed himself in the
power of the pope and the king of France. He landed in France, attended by
sixty of his knights, at the commencement of the year 1307, and deposited the
treasure of the order which he had brought with him from Cyprus, in the Temple
at Paris. He was received with distinction by the king, and then took his
departure for Poictiers to
A.D. 1307. have an interview with the pope.
He was there detained with various conferences and negotiations relative to a
pretended expedition for the recovery of the Holy Land.
Among other things, the pope proposed an
union between the Templars and Hospitallers, and the Grand Master handed in
his objections to the proposition. He says, that after the fall of Acre, the
people of Italy and of other christian nations clamoured loudly against Pope
Nicholas, for having afforded no succour to the besieged, and that he, by way
of screening himself, had laid all the blame of the loss of the place on
pretended dissensions between the Templars and Hospitaliers, and projected an
union between them. The Grand Master declares that there had been no
dissensions between the orders prejudicial to the christian cause; that there
was nothing more than a spirit of rivalry and emulation, the destruction of
which would be highly injurious to the Christians, and advantageous to the
Saracens; for if the Hospitaliers at any time performed a brilliant feat of
arms against the infidels, the Templars would never rest quiet until they had
done the same or better, and e converso. So also if the Templars made a
great shipment of brethren, horses, and other beasts across sea to Palestine,
the Hospitaliers would always do the like or more. He at the same time
positively declares, that a member of one order had never been known to raise
his hand against a member of the other. *
The Grand Master complains that the reverence and respect of the christian
nations for both orders had undeservedly diminished, that everything was
changed, and that most persons were then more ready to take from them than to
give to them, and that many powerful men, both clergy and laity, brought
continual mischiefs upon the fraternities.
In the mean time, the secret agents of the
French king industriously circulated various dark rumours and odious reports
A.D. 1307. the Templars, and it was said
that they would never have lost the Holy Land if they had been good
Christians. These rumours and accusations were soon put into a tangible shape.
According to some writers, Squin de
Florian, a citizen of Bezieres, who had been condemned to death or perpetual
imprisonment in one of the royal castles for his iniquities, was brought
before Philip, and received a free pardon, and was well rewarded in return,
for an accusation on oath, charging the Templars with heresy, and with the
commission of the most horrible crimes. According to others, Nosso de
Florentin, an apostate Templar, who had been condemned by the Grand Preceptor
and chapter of France to perpetual imprisonment for impiety and crime, made in
his dungeon a voluntary confession of the sins and abominations charged
against the order. *
Be this as it may, upon the strength of an information sworn to by a condemned
criminal, king Philip, on the 14th of September, despatched secret orders to
all the baillis of the different provinces in France, couched in the following
extravagant and absurd terms:
"Philip, by the grace of God king of the
French, to his beloved and faithful knights. . . . &c. &c.
"A deplorable and most lamentable matter, full
of bitterness and grief, a monstrous business, a thing that one cannot think
on without affright, cannot hear without horror, transgressions unheard of,
enormities and atrocities contrary to every sentiment of humanity, &c. &c.,
have reached our ears." After a long and most extraordinary tirade of this
kind, Philip accuses the Templars of insulting Jesus Christ, and making him
suffer more in those days than he had suffered formerly upon the cross; of
renouncing the christian religion; of mocking the sacred image
A.D. 1307. of the Saviour; of sacrificing
to idols; and of abandoning themselves to impure practices and unnatural
crimes. He characterises them as ravishing wolves in sheep's clothing; a
perfidious, ungrateful, idolatrous society, whose words and deeds were enough
to pollute the earth and infect the air; to dry up the sources of the
celestial dews, and to put the whole church of Christ into confusion.
"We being charged," says he, "with the
maintenance of the faith; after having conferred with the pope, the prelates,
and the barons of the kingdom, at the instance of the inquisitor, from the
informations already laid, from violent suspicions, from probable conjectures,
from legitimate presumptions, conceived against the enemies of heaven and
earth; and because the matter is important, and it is expedient to prove the
just like gold in the furnace by a rigorous examination, have decreed that the
members of the order who are our subjects shall be arrested and detained to be
judged by the church, and that all their real and personal property shall be
seized into our hands, and be faithfully preserved," &c. To these orders are
attached instructions requiring the baillis and seneschals accurately to
inform themselves, with great secrecy, and without exciting suspicion, of the
number of the houses of the Temple within their respective jurisdictions; they
are then to provide an armed force sufficient to overcome all resistance, and
on the 13th of October are to surprise the Templars in their preceptories, and
make them prisoners. The inquisition is then directed to assemble to examine
the guilty, and to employ torture if it be necessary. "Before
proceeding with the inquiry," says Philip, "you are to inform them (the
Templars) that the pope and ourselves have been convinced, by irreproachable
testimony, of the errors and abominations which accompany their vows and
profession; you are to promise them pardon and favour if they
A.D. 1307. confess
the truth, but if not, you are to acquaint them that they will be condemned to
As soon as Philip had issued these
orders, he wrote to the principal sovereigns of Europe, urging them to follow
his example, and sent a confidential agent, named Bernard Peletin, with a
letter to the young king, Edward the Second, who had just then ascended the
throne of England, representing in frightful colours the pretended sins of the
Templars. On the 22nd of September, king Edward replied to this letter,
observing that he had considered of the matters mentioned therein, and had
listened to the statements of that discreet man, Master Bernard Peletin; that
he had caused the latter to unfold the charges before himself, and many
prelates, earls, and barons of his kingdom, and others of his council; but
that they appeared so astonishing as to be beyond belief; that such abominable
and execrable deeds had never before been heard of by the king and the
aforesaid prelates, earls, and barons, and it was therefore hardly to be
expected that an easy credence could be given to them. The English monarch,
however, informs king Philip that by the advice of his council be had ordered
the seneschal of Agen, from whose lips the rumours were said to have
proceeded, to be summoned to his presence, that through him he might be
further informed concerning the premises; and he states that at the fitting
time, after due inquiry, he will take such steps as will redound to the praise
of God, and the honour and preservation of the catholic faith.
On the night of the 13th of October, all the
Templars in the French dominions were simultaneously arrested. Monks were
appointed to preach against them in the public places of Paris,
A.D. 1307. and in the gardens of the Palais
Royale; and advantage was taken of the folly, the superstition, and the
credulity of the age, to propagate the most horrible and extravagant charges
against the order. They were accused of worshipping an idol covered with an
old skin, embalmed, having the appearance of a piece of polished oil-cloth.
"In this idol," we are assured, "there were two carbuncles for eyes, bright as
the brightness of heaven, and it is certain that all the hope of the Templars
was placed in it; it was their sovereign god, and they trusted in it with all
their heart." They are accused of burning the bodies of the deceased brethren,
and making the ashes into a powder, which they administered to the younger
brethren in their food and drink, to make them hold fast their faith and
idolatry; of cooking and roasting infants, and anointing their idols with the
fat; of celebrating hidden rites and mysteries, to which young and tender
virgins were introduced, and of a variety of abominations too absurd and
horrible to be named. *
Guillaume Paradin, in his history of Savoy, seriously repeats these monstrous
accusations, and declares that the Templars had "un lieu creux ou cave en
terre, fort obscur, en laquelle ils avoient un image en forme d’un homme, sur
lequel ils avoient appliqué la peau d’un corps humain, et mis deux clairs et
lui sans escarboucles au lieu des deux yeux. A cette horrible statue etoient
contraints de sacrifier ceux qui vouloient etre de leur damnable religion,
lesquels avant toutes ceremonies ils contragnoient de renier Jesus Christ, et
fouler la croix avec les pieds, et apres ce maudit sacre auquel assistoient
femmes et filles (seduites pour etre de ce secte) ils estegnoient les lampes
et lumieres qu’ils avoient en cett cave. . . . . Et s’il advenoit que d’un
Templier et d’un pucelle nasquit, un fils, ils se rangoit tous en un rond, et
se jettoient cet enfant de main en main,
A.D. 1307. et ne cessoient de le jetter
jusqu’a ce qu’il fu mort entre leurs mains: etant mort ils se rotissoient
(chose execrable) et de la graisse ils en ognoient leur grand statue!" *
The character of the charges preferred against the Templars proves that their
enemies had no serious crimes to allege against the order. Their very virtues
indeed were turned against them, for we are told that "to conceal the
iniquity of their lives they made much almsgiving, constantly frequented
church, comported themselves with edification, frequently partook of the holy
sacrament, and manifested always much modesty and gentleness of deportment in
the house, as well as in public."
During twelve days of severe imprisonment, the
Templars remained constant in the denial of the horrible crimes imputed to the
fraternity. The king's promises of pardon extracted from them no confession of
guilt, and they were therefore handed over to the tender mercies of the
brethren of St. Dominic, who were the most refined and expert torturers of the
On the 19th of October, the grand inquisitor
proceeded with his myrmidons to the Temple at Paris, and a hundred and forty
Templars were one after another put to the torture. Days and weeks were
consumed in the examination, and thirty-six Templars perished in the hands of
their tormentors, maintaining with unshaken constancy to the very last the
entire innocence of their order. Many of them lost the use of their feet from
the application of the torture of fire, which was inflicted in the following
manner: their legs were fastened in an iron frame, and the soles of their feet
were greased over with fat or butter; they were then placed before the fire,
and a screen was drawn backwards and forwards, so as to moderate and regulate
the heat. Such was the agony produced by this roasting operation, that the
victims often went raving mad. Brother Bernarde de Vado,
A.D. 1307. on subsequently revoking a
confession of guilt, wrung from him by this description of torment, says to
the commissary of police, before whom he was brought to be examined, "They
held me so long before a fierce fire that the flesh was burnt off my heels,
two pieces of bone came away, which I present to you." *
Another Templar, on publicly revoking his confession, declared that four of
his teeth were drawn out, and that he confessed himself guilty to save the
remainder. Others of the fraternity deposed to the
infliction on them of the most revolting and indecent torments; and, in
addition to all this, it appears that forged letters from the Grand Master
were shown to the prisoners, exhorting them to confess themselves guilty. Many
of the Templars were accordingly compelled to acknowledge whatever was
required of them, and to plead guilty to the commission of crimes which in the
previous interrogatories they had positively denied.
These violent proceedings excited the
astonishment and amazement of Europe.
On the 20th of November, the king of England
summoned the seneschal of Agen to his presence, and examined him concerning
the truth of the horrible charges preferred against the Templars; and on the
4th of December the English monarch wrote letters to the kings of Portugal,
Castile, Aragon, and Sicily, to the following effect:
"To the magnificent prince the Lord Dionysius,
by the grace of God the illustrious king of Portugal, his very dear friend
Edward, by the same grace king of England, &c. Health and prosperity.
A.D. 1307. "It is fit and proper, inasmuch
as it conduceth to the honour of God and the exaltation of the faith, that we
should prosecute with benevolence those who come recommended to us by
strenuous labours and incessant exertions in defence of the Catholic faith,
and for the destruction of the enemies of the cross of Christ. Verily, a
certain clerk, (Bernard Peletin,) drawing nigh unto our presence, applied
himself, with all his might, to the destruction of the order of the brethren
of the Temple of Jerusalem. He dared to publish before us and our council
certain horrible and detestable enormities repugnant to the Catholic faith, to
the prejudice of the aforesaid brothers, endeavouring to persuade us, through
his own allegations, as well as through certain letters which he had caused to
be addressed to us for that purpose, that by reason of the premises, and
without a due examination of the matter, we ought to imprison all the brethren
of the aforesaid order abiding in our dominions. But, considering that the
order, which hath been renowned for its religion and its honour, and in times
long since passed away was instituted, as we have learned, by the Catholic
Fathers, exhibits, and hath from the period of its first foundation exhibited,
a becoming devotion to God and his holy church, and also, up to this time,
hath afforded succour and protection to the Catholic faith in parts beyond
sea, it appeared to us that a ready belief in an accusation of this kind,
hitherto altogether unheard of against the fraternity, was scarcely to be
expected. We affectionately ask, and require of your royal majesty, that ye,
with due diligence, consider of the premises, and turn a deaf ear to the
slanders of ill-natured men, who are animated, as we believe, not with the
zeal of rectitude, but with a spirit of cupidity and envy, permitting
no injury unadvisedly to be done to the persons or property of the brethren of
the aforesaid order, dwelling within your kingdom, until they have been
legally convicted of the crimes laid to their charge, or
A.D. 1307. it shall happen to be otherwise
ordered concerning them in these parts."
A few days after the transmission of this
letter, king Edward wrote to the pope, expressing his disbelief of the
horrible and detestable rumours spread abroad concerning the Templars. He
represents them to his holiness as universally respected by all men in his
dominions for the purity of their faith and morals. He expresses great
sympathy for the affliction and distress suffered by the master and brethren,
by reason of the scandal circulated concerning them; and he strongly urges the
holy pontiff to clear, by some fair course of inquiry, the character of the
order from the unjust and infamous aspersions cast against it.
On the 22nd of November, however, a fortnight previously, the Pope had issued
the following bull to king Edward.
"Clement, bishop, servant of the servants of
God, to his very dear son in Christ, Edward, the illustrious king of England,
health and apostolical blessing
"Presiding, though unworthy, on the throne of
pastoral preeminence, by the disposition of him who disposeth all things, we
fervently seek after this one thing above all others; we with ardent wishes
aspire to this, that shaking off the sleep of negligence, whilst watching over
the Lord's flock, by removing that which is hurtful, and taking care of such
things as are profitable, we may be able, by the divine assistance, to bring
souls to God."
"In truth, a long time ago, about the period of
our first promotion to the summit of the apostolical dignity, there came to
our ears a light rumour, to the effect that the Templars, though fighting
A.D. 1307. ostensibly under the guise of
religion, have hitherto been secretly living in perfidious apostasy, and in
detestable heretical depravity. But, considering that their order, in times
long since passed away, shone forth with the grace of much nobility and honour,
and that they were for a length of time held in vast reverence by the
faithful, and that we had then heard of no suspicion concerning the premises,
or of evil report against them; and also, that from the beginning of their
religion, they have publicly borne the cross of Christ, exposing their bodies
and goods against the enemies of the faith, for the acquisition, retention,
and defence of the Holy Land, consecrated by the precious blood of our Lord
and Saviour Jesus Christ, we were unwilling to yield a ready belief to the
accusation. . . . ."
The holy pontiff then states, that
afterwards, however, the same dreadful intelligence was conveyed to the king
of France, who, animated by a lively zeal in the cause of religion, took
immediate steps to ascertain its truth. He describes the various confessions
of the guilt of idolatry and heresy made by the Templars in France, and
requires the king forthwith to cause all the Templars in his dominions to be
taken into custody on the same day. He directs him to hold them, in the name
of the pope, at the disposition of the Holy See, and to commit all their real
and personal property to the hands of certain trustworthy persons, to be
faithfully preserved until the holy pontiff shall give further directions
concerning it. *
King Edward received this bull immediately after he had despatched his letter
to the pope, exhorting his holiness not to give ear to the accusation against
the order. The young king was now either convinced of the guilt of the
Templars, on the high authority of the sovereign pontiff, or hoped to turn the
proceedings against them to a profitable account, as be yielded a ready and
prompt compliance with the pontifical commands.
An order in council was made for the arrest of the Templars, and the seizure
of their property. Inventories were directed to be taken of their goods and
chattels, and provision was made for the sowing and tilling of their lands
during the period of their imprisonment. This order in council was carried
into effect in the following manner:
On the 20th of December, the king's writs
were directed to each of the sheriffs throughout England, commanding them to
make sure of certain trustworthy men of their bailiwicks, to the number of ten
or twelve in each county, such as the king could best confide in, and have
them at a certain place in the county, on pain of forfeiture of everything
that could be forfeited to the king; and commanding the sheriffs, on pain of
the like forfeiture, to be in person at the same place, on the Sunday before
the feast of Epiphany, to do certain things touching the king's peace, which
the sheriff would find contained in the king's writ about to be directed to
him. And afterwards the king sent sworn clergymen with his writs, containing
the said order in council to the sheriffs, who, before they opened them, were
to take an oath that they would not disclose the contents of such writs until
they proceeded to execute them. The same orders, to be
acted upon in a similar manner in Ireland, were sent to the justiciary of that
country, and to the treasurer of the Exchequer at Dublin; also, to John de
Richemund, guardian of Scotland; and to Walter de Pederton, justiciary of West
Wales; Hugh de Aldithelegh, justiciary of North Wales; and to Robert de
Holland, justiciary of Chester, who were strictly commanded to carry the
orders into execution before the king's proceedings against the Templars in
England were noised abroad. All the king's faithful subjects were commanded to
aid and assist the officers in the fulfilment of their duty.
A.D. 1308. On the 26th of December the king
wrote to the Pope, informing his holiness that he would carry his commands
into execution in the best and speediest way that he could; and on the 8th of
January, A.D. 1308, the Templars were suddenly arrested in all parts of
England, and their property was seized into the king's hands. *
Brother William de la More was at this period Master of the Temple, or
Preceptor of England. He succeeded the Master Brian le Jay, who was slain, as
before mentioned, in the battle of Falkirk, and was taken prisoner, together
with all his brethren of the Temple at London, and committed to close custody
in Canterbury Castle. He was afterwards liberated on bail at the instance of
the bishop of Durham.
On the 12th of August, the Pope addressed the
bull faciens misericordiam to the English bishops as
follows:--"Clement, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to the venerable
brethren the archbishop of Canterbury and his suffragans, health and
apostolical benediction. The Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, using mercy
with his servant, would have us taken up into the eminent mirror of the
apostleship, to this end, that being, though unworthy, his vicar upon earth,
we may, as far as human frailty will permit in all our actions and
proceedings, follow his footsteps." He describes the rumours which had been
spread abroad in France against the Templars, and his unwillingness to believe
them, "because it was not likely, nor did seem credible, that such religious
men, who particularly often shed their blood for the name of Christ, and were
thought very frequently to expose their persons to danger of death for his
sake; and who often showed many and great signs of devotion, as well in the
divine offices as in fasting and other observances, should be so unmindful of
their salvation as to perpetrate such things; we were unwilling
A.D. 1308. to give ear to the insinuations
and impeachments against them, being taught so to do by the example of the
same Lord of ours, and the writings of canonical doctrine. But afterwards, our
most dear son in Christ, Philip, the illustrious king of the French, to whom
the same crimes had been made known, not from motives of avarice,
(since he does not design to apply or to appropriate to himself any portion of
the estates of the Templars, nay, has washed his hands of them!) but inflamed
with zeal for the orthodox faith, following the renowned footsteps of his
ancestors, getting what information he properly could upon the premises, gave
us much instruction in the matter by his messengers and letters." The holy
pontiff then gives a long account of the various confessions made in France,
and of the absolution granted to such of the Templars as were truly contrite
and penitent; he expresses his conviction of the guilt of the order, and makes
provision for the trial of the fraternity in England. *
King Edward, in the mean time, had begun to make free with their property, and
the Pope, on the 4th of October, wrote to him to the following effect:
"Your conduct begins again to afford us no
slight cause of affliction, inasmuch as it hath been brought to our knowledge
from the report of several barons, that in contempt of the Holy See, and
without fear of offending the divine Majesty, you have, of your own sole
authority, distributed to different persons the property which belonged
formerly to the order of the Temple in your dominions, which you had got into
your hands at our command, and which ought to have remained at our
disposition. . . . We have therefore ordained that certain fit and proper
persons shall be sent into your kingdom, and to all parts of the world where
the Templars are known to have had property, to take possession of the same
conjointly with certain prelates specially
A.D. 1308. deputed to that end, and to make an
inquisition concerning the execrable excesses which the members of the order
are said to have committed."
To this letter of the supreme pontiff, king
Edward sent the following short and pithy reply:
"As to the goods of the Templars, we have
done nothing with them up to the present time, nor do we intend to do with
them aught but what we have a right to do, and what we know will be acceptable
to the Most High."
On the 13th of September, A.D. 1309, the
king granted letters of safe conduct "to those discreet men, the abbot of
Lagny, in the diocese of Paris, and Master Sicard de Vaur, canon of Narbonne,"
the inquisitors appointed by the Pope to examine the Grand Preceptor and
brethren of the Temple in England; and the same day be
wrote to the archbishop of Canterbury, and the bishops of London and Lincoln,
enjoining them to be personally present with the papal inquisitors, at their
respective sees, as often as such inquisitors, or any one of them, should
proceed with their inquiries against the Templars.
On the 14th of September writs were sent, in
pursuance of an order in council, to the sheriffs of Kent and seventeen other
counties, commanding them to bring all their prisoners of the order of the
Temple to London, and deliver them to the constable of the Tower; also to the
sheriffs of Northumberland and eight other counties, enjoining them to convey
their prisoners to York Castle; and to the sheriffs of Warwick and seven other
counties, requiring them, in like manner, to conduct their prisoners to the
Castle of Lincoln. Writs were also sent to John de Cumberland, constable of
the Tower, and to the constables of
A.D. 1309. the castles of York and Lincoln,
commanding them to receive the Templars, to keep them in safe custody, and
hold them at the disposition of the inquisitors. *
The total number of Templars in custody was two hundred and twenty-nine. Many,
however, were still at large, having successfully evaded capture by
obliterating all marks of their previous profession, and some had escaped in
disguise to the wild and mountainous parts of Wales, Scotland, and Ireland.
Among the prisoners confined in the Tower were brother William de la More,
Knight, Grand Preceptor of England, otherwise Master of the Temple; Brother
Himbert Blanke, Knight, Grand Preceptor of Auvergne, one of the veteran
warriors who had fought to the last in defence of Palestine, had escaped the
slaughter at Acre, and had accompanied the Grand Master from Cyprus to France,
from whence he crossed over to England, and was rewarded for his meritorious
and memorable services, in defence of the christian faith, with a dungeon in
the Tower. †
Brother Radulph de Barton, priest of the order of the Temple, custos or
guardian of the Temple church, and prior of London; Brother Michael de
Baskeville, Knight, Preceptor of London; Brother John de Stoke,
Knight, Treasurer of the Temple at London; together with many other knights
and serving brethren of the same house. There were also in custody in the
Tower the knights preceptors of the preceptories of Ewell in Kent, of Daney
and Dokesworth in Cambridgeshire, of Getinges in Gloucestershire, of Cumbe in
Somersetshire, of Schepeley in Surrey, of Samford and Bistelesham in
Oxfordshire, of Garwy in Herefordshire, of Cressing in Essex, of Pafflet,
Hippleden, and other preceptories, together with several priests and chaplains
of the order. A general scramble appears to have taken
place for possession of
A.D. 1309. the goods and chattels of the
imprisoned Templars; and the king, to check the robberies that were committed,
appointed Alan de Goldyngham and John de Medefeld to inquire into the value of
the property that had been carried off, and to inform him of the names of the
parties who had obtained possession of it. The sheriffs of the different
counties were also directed to summon juries, through whom the truth might be
On the 22nd of September, the archbishop
of Canterbury transmitted letters apostolic to all his suffragans, enclosing
copies of the bull faciens misericordiam, and also the articles of
accusation to be exhibited against the Templars, which they are directed to
copy and deliver again, under their seals, to the bearer, taking especial care
not to reveal the contents thereof. At the same time
the archbishop, acting in obedience to the papal commands, before a single
witness had been examined in England, caused to be published in all churches
and chapels a papal bull, wherein the Pope declares himself perfectly
convinced of the guilt of the order, and solemnly denounces the penalty of
excommunication against all persons, of whatever rank, station, or condition
in life, whether clergy or laity, who should knowingly afford, either publicly
or privately, assistance, counsel, or kindness to the Templars, or should dare
to shelter them, or give them countenance or protection, and also laying under
interdict all cities, castles, lands, and places, which should harbour any of
the members of the proscribed order. At the commencement of the month of
October, the inquisitors arrived in England, and immediately published the
bull appointing the commission, enjoining the citation of the criminals, and
of witnesses, and denouncing the
A.D. 1309. heaviest ecclesiastical censures
against the disobedient, and against every person who should dare to impede
the inquisitors in the exercise of their functions. Citations were made in St.
Paul's Cathedral, and in all the churches of the ecclesiastical province of
Canterbury, at the end of high mass, requiring the Templars to appear before
the inquisitors at a certain time and place, and the articles of accusation
were transmitted to the constable of the Tower, in Latin, French, and English,
to be read to all the Templars imprisoned in that fortress. On Monday, the
20th of October, after the Templars had been languishing in the English
prisons for more than a year and eight months, the tribunal constituted by the
Pope to take the inquisition in the province of Canterbury assembled in the
episcopal hall of London. It was composed of the bishop of London, Dieudonné,
abbot of the monastery of Lagny, in the diocese of Paris, and Sicard de Vaur,
canon of Narbonne, the Pope's chaplain, and hearer of causes in the pontifical
palace. They were assisted by several foreign notaries. After the reading of
the papal bulls, and some preliminary proceedings, the monstrous and
ridiculous articles of accusation, a monument of human folly, superstition,
and credulity, were solemnly exhibited as follows:
"Item. At the place, day, and hour
aforesaid, in the presence of the aforesaid lords, and before us the
above-mentioned notaries, the articles inclosed in the apostolic bull were
exhibited and opened before us, the contents whereof are as underwritten.
"These are the articles upon which inquisition
shall be made against the brethren of the military order of the Temple, &c.
"1. That at their first reception into the
order, or at some time afterwards, or as soon as an opportunity occurred, they
were induced or admonished by those who had received them within the bosom of
the fraternity, to deny Christ or Jesus, or the crucifixion,
A.D. 1309. or at one time God, and at
another time the blessed virgin, and sometimes all the saints.
"2. That the brothers jointly did this.
"3. That the greater part of them did it.
"4. That they did it sometimes after their
5. That the receivers told and instructed those
that were received, that Christ was not the true God, or sometimes Jesus, or
sometimes the person crucified.
"6. That they told those they received that he
was a false prophet.
"7. That they said he had not suffered for the
redemption of mankind, nor been crucified but for his own sins.
"8. That neither the receiver nor the person
received had any hope of obtaining salvation through him, and this they said
to those they received, or something equivalent, or like it.
"9. That they made those they received into the
order spit upon the cross, or upon the sign or figure of the cross, or the
image of Christ, though they that were received did sometimes spit aside.
"10. That they caused the cross itself to be
trampled under foot.
"11. That the brethren themselves did sometimes
trample on the same cross.
"12. Item quod mingebant interdum, et alios
mingere faciebant, super ipsam crucem, et hoc fecerunt aliquotiens in die
"13. Item quod nonnulli eorum ipsâ die, vel
alia septimanæ sanctæ pro conculcatione et minctione prædictis consueverunt
"14. That they worshipped a cat which was
placed in the midst of the congregation.
A.D. 1309. "15. That they did these things
in contempt of Christ and the orthodox faith.
"16. That they did not believe the sacrament of
"17. That some of them did not.
"18. That the greater part did not.
"19. That they believed not the other
sacraments of the church.
"20. That the priests of the order did not
utter the words by which the body of Christ is consecrated in the canon of the
"21. That some of them did not.
"22. That the greater part did not.
"23. That those who received them enjoined the
"24. That they believed, and so it was told
them, that the Grand Master of the order could absolve them from their sins.
"25. That the visitor could do so.
"26. That the preceptors, of whom many were
laymen, could do it.
"27. That they in fact did do so.
"28. That some of them did.
"29. That the Grand Master confessed these
things of himself, even before he was taken, in the presence of great persons.
"30. That in receiving brothers into the order,
or when about to receive them, or some time after having received them, the
receivers and the persons received kissed one another on the mouth, the navel.
. . . . . . !!
. . . . . . . . .
"36. That the receptions of the brethren were
"37. That none were present but the brothers of
the said order.
A.D. 1309. "38. That for this reason there
has for a long time been a vehement suspicion against them."
The succeeding articles proceed to charge the
Templars with crimes and abominations too horrible and disgusting to be named.
"46. That the brothers themselves had idols in
every province, viz. heads; some of which had three faces, and some one, and
some a man's skull.
"47. That they adored that idol, or those
idols, especially in their great chapters and assemblies.
"48. That they worshipped it.
"49. As their God.
"50. As their Saviour.
"51. That some of them did so.
"52. That the greater part did.
"53. That they said that that head could save
"54. That it could produce riches.
"56. That it had given to the order all its
"56. That it caused the earth to bring forth
"57. That it made the trees to flourish.
"58. That they bound or touched the head of the
said idols with cords, wherewith they bound themselves about their shirts, or
next their skins.
"59. That at their reception the aforesaid
little cords, or others of the same length, were delivered to each of the
"60. That they did this in worship of their
"61. That it was enjoined them to gird
themselves with the said little cords, as before mentioned, and continually to
"62. That the brethren of the order were
generally received in that manner.
A.D. 1309. "63. That they did these things
out of devotion.
"64. That they did them everywhere.
"65. That the greater part did.
"66. That those who refused the things
above mentioned at their reception, or to observe them afterwards, were killed
or cast into prison."
. . . . . . . . .
The remaining articles, twenty-one in number,
are directed principally to the mode of confession practised amongst the
fraternity, and to matters of heretical depravity. Such an accusation as this,
justly remarks Voltaire, destroys itself.
Brother William de la More, and thirty more of
his brethren, being interrogated before the inquisitors, positively denied the
guilt of the order, and affirmed that the Templars who had made the
confessions alluded to in France had lied. They were ordered to be
brought up separately to be examined.
On the 23rd of October, brother William Raven,
being interrogated as to the mode of his reception into the order, states that
he was admitted by brother William de la More, the Master of the Temple at
Temple Coumbe, in the diocese of Bath; that he petitioned the brethren of the
Temple that they would be pleased to receive him into the order to serve God
and the blessed Virgin Mary, and to end his life in their service; that he was
asked if he had a firm wish so to do; and replied that he had; that two
brothers then expounded to him the strictness and severity of the order, and
told him that he would not be allowed to act after
A.D. 1309. his own will, but must follow
the will of the preceptor; that if he wished to do one thing, he would be
ordered to do another; and that if he wished to be at one place, he would be
sent to another; that having promised so to act, he swore upon the holy
gospels of God to obey the Master, to hold no property, to preserve chastity,
never to consent that any man should be unjustly despoiled of his heritage,
and never to lay violent hands on any man, except in self-defence, or upon the
Saracens. He states that the oath was administered to him in the chapel of the
preceptory of Temple Coumbe, in the presence only of the brethren of the
order; that the rule was read over to him by one of the brothers, and that a
learned serving brother, named John de Walpole, instructed him, for the space
of one month, upon the matters contained in it. The prisoner was then taken
back to the Tower, and was directed to be strictly separated from his
brethren, and not to be suffered to speak to any one of them.
The two next days (Oct. 24 and 25) were taken
up with a similar examination of Brothers Hugh de Tadecastre and Thomas le
Chamberleyn, who gave precisely the same account of their reception as the
previous witness. Brother Hugh de Tadecastre added, that he swore to succour
the Holy Land with all his might, and defend it against the enemies of the
christian faith; and that after he had taken the customary oaths and the three
vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, the mantle of the order and the
cross with the coif on the head were delivered to him in the church, in the
presence of the Master, the knights, and the brothers, all seculars being
excluded. Brother Thomas le Chamberleyn added, that there was the same mode of
reception in England as beyond sea, and the same mode of taking the vows; that
all seculars are excluded, and that when he himself entered the Temple church
to be professed, the door by which he entered was closed after him; that there
was another door looking into the
A.D. 1309. cemetery, but that no stranger
could enter that way. On being asked why none but the brethren of the order
were permitted to be present at the reception and profession of brothers, he
said he knew of no reason, but that it was so written in their book of rules.
Between the 25th of October and the 17th of
November, thirty-three knights, chaplains, and serving brothers, were
examined, all of whom positively denied every article imputing crime or
infidelity to their order. When Brother Himbert Blanke was asked why they had
made the reception and profession of brethren secret, he replied,
Through their own unaccountable folly. They avowed that they wore little
cords round their shirts, but for no bad end; they declared that they never
touched idols with them, but that they were worn by way of penance, or
according to a knight of forty-three years’ standing, by the instruction of
the holy father St. Bernard. Brother Richard de Goldyngham says that he knows
nothing further about them than that they were called girdles of chastity.
They state that the receivers and the party received kissed one another on the
face, but everything else regarding the kissing was false, abominable, and had
never been done.
Brother Radulph de Barton, priest of the order
of the Temple, and custos or guardian of the Temple church at London, stated,
with regard to Article 24, that the Grand Master in chapter could absolve the
brothers from offences committed against the rules and observances of the
order, but not from private sin, as he was not a priest; that it was perfectly
true that those who were received into the order swore not to reveal the
secrets of the chapter, and that when any one was punished in the chapter,
those who were present at it durst not reveal it to such as were absent; but
if any brother revealed the mode of his reception, he would be deprived of his
chamber, or else stripped of his habit. He
A.D. 1309. declares that the brethren were
not prohibited from confessing to priests not belonging to the order of the
Temple; and that he had never heard of the crimes and iniquities mentioned in
the articles of inquiry previous to his arrest, except as regarded the charges
made against the order by Bernard Peletin, when he came to England from king
Philip of France. He states that he had been guardian of the Temple church for
ten years, and for the last two years had enjoyed the dignity of preceptor at
the same place. He was asked about the death of Brother Walter le Bachelor,
knight, formerly Preceptor of Ireland, who died at the Temple at London, but
be declares that he knows nothing about it, except that the said Walter was
fettered and placed in prison, and there died; that he certainly had heard
that great severity had been practised towards him, but that he had not
meddled with the affair on account of the danger of so doing; he admitted also
that the aforesaid Walter was not buried in the cemetery of the Temple, as he
was considered excommunicated on account of his disobedience of his superior,
and of the rule of the order.
Many of the brethren thus examined had been
from twenty to thirty, forty, forty-two, and forty-three years in the order,
and some were old veteran warriors who had fought for many a long year in the
East, and richly merited a better fate. Brother Himbert Blanke, knight,
Preceptor of Auvergne, had been in the order thirty-eight years. He was
received at the city of Tyre in Palestine, had been engaged in constant
warfare against the infidels, and had fought to the last in defence of Acre.
He makes in substance the same statements as the other witnesses; declares
that no religious order believes the sacrament of the altar better than the
Templars; that they truly believed all that the church taught, and had always
done so, and that if the Grand Master had confessed the contrary, he had lied.
A.D. 1309. Brother Robert le Scott, knight,
a brother of twenty-six years' standing, had been received at the Pilgrim's
Castle, the famous fortress of the Knights Templars in Palestine, by the Grand
Master, Brother William de Beaujeu, the hero who died so gloriously at the
head of his knights at the last siege and storming of Acre. He states that
from levity of disposition he quitted the order after it had been driven out
of Palestine, and absented himself for two years, during which period he came
to Rome, and confessed to the Pope's penitentiary, who imposed on him a heavy
penance, and enjoined him to return to his brethren in the East, and that he
went back and resumed his habit at Nicosia in the island of Cyprus, and was
re-admitted to the order by command of the Grand Master, James de Molay, who
was then at the head of the convent. He adds, also, that Brother Himbert
Blanke (the previous witness) was present at his first reception at the
Pilgrim's Castle. He fully corroborates all the foregoing testimony.
Brother Richard de Peitevyn, a member of
forty-two years’ standing, deposes that, in addition to the previous oaths, he
swore that he would never bear arms against Christians except in his own
defence, or in defence of the rights of the order; he declares that the
enormities mentioned in the articles were never heard of before Bernard
Peletin brought letters to his lord, the king of England, against the Templars.
On the 22nd day of the inquiry, the following
entry was made on the record of the proceedings:--
"Memorandum. Brothers Philip de Mewes,
Thomas de Burton, and Thomas de Staundon, were advised and earnestly exhorted
to abandon their religious profession, who severally replied that they
would rather die than do so." *
On the 19th and 20th of November, seven lay
A.D. 1309. with the order, were examined
before the inquisitors in the chapel of the monastery of the Holy Trinity, but
could prove nothing against the Templars that was criminal or tainted with
Master William le Dorturer, notary public,
declared that the Templars rose at midnight, and held their chapters before
dawn, and he thought that the mystery and secrecy of the receptions were owing
to a bad rather than a good motive, but declared that he had never observed
that they had acquired, or had attempted to acquire, anything unjustly. Master
Gilbert de Bruere, clerk, said that he had never suspected them of anything
worse than an excessive correction of the brethren. William Lambert,
formerly a "messenger of the Temple," (nuntius Templi,) knew nothing bad of
the Templars, and thought them perfectly innocent of all the matters alluded
to. And Richard de Barton, priest, and Radulph de Rayndon, an old man, both
declared that they knew nothing of the order, or of the members of it, but
what was good and honourable.
On the 25th of November, a provincial council
of the church, summoned by the archbishop of Canterbury, in obedience to a
papal bull, assembled in the cathedral church of St. Paul. It was composed of
the bishops, abbots, priors, heads of colleges, and all the principal clergy,
who were called together to treat of the reformation of the English church, of
the recovery and preservation of the Holy Land, and to pronounce sentence of
absolution or of condemnation against singular persons of the order of the
chivalry of the Temple in the province of Canterbury, according to the tenor
of the apostolical mandate. The council was opened by the archbishop of
Canterbury, who rode to St. Paul's on horseback. The bishop of Norwich
celebrated the mass of the Holy Ghost at the great altar, and the archbishop
preached a sermon in Latin upon the 20th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles;
after which a papal bull was read, in which the holy pontiff
A.D. 1309. dwells most pathetically upon
the awful sins of the Templars, and their great and tremendous fall from their
previous high estate. Hitherto, says he, they have been renowned throughout
the world as the special champions of the faith, and the chief defenders of
the Holy Land, whose affairs have been mainly regulated by those brothers. The
church, following them and their order with the plenitude of its especial
favour and regard, armed them with the emblem of the cross against the enemies
of Christ, exalted them with much honour, enriched them with wealth, and
fortified them with various liberties and privileges. The holy pontiff
displays the sad report of their sins and iniquities which reached his ears,
filled him with bitterness and grief, disturbed his repose, smote him with
horror, injured his health, and caused his body to waste away! He gives a long
account of the crimes imputed to the order, of the confessions and depositions
that had been made in France, and then bursts out into a paroxysm of grief,
declares that the melancholy affair deeply moved all the faithful, that all
Christianity was shedding bitter tears, was overwhelmed with grief, and
clothed with mourning. He concludes by decreeing the assembly of a general
council of the church at Vienne to pronounce the abolition of the order, and
to determine on the disposal of its property, to which council the English
clergy are required to send representatives. *
After the reading of the bulls and the closing
of the preliminary proceedings, the council occupied themselves for six days
with ecclesiastical matters; and on the seventh day, being Tuesday, Dec. 2nd,
all the bishops and members assembled in the chamber of the archbishop of
Canterbury in Lambeth palace, in company with the papal inquisitors, who
displayed before them the depositions and replies of the forty-three Templars,
and of the seven witnesses previously examined. It was decreed that a copy
A.D. 1309. of these depositions and replies
should be furnished to each of the bishops, and that the council should stand
adjourned until the next day, to give time for deliberation upon the premises.
On the following day, accordingly,
(Wednesday, December the 3rd,) the council met, and decided that the
inquisitors and three bishops should seek an audience of the king, and beseech
him to permit them to proceed against the Templars in the way that should seem
to them the best and most expedient for the purpose of eliciting the truth. On
Sunday, the 7th, the bishops petitioned his majesty in writing, and on the
following Tuesday they went before him with the inquisitors, and besought him
that they might proceed against the Templars according to the ecclesiastical
constitutions, and that he would instruct his sheriffs and officers to that
effect. The king gave a written answer complying with their request, which was
read before the council, and, on the 16th of December, orders were sent to
the gaolers, commanding them to permit the prelates and inquisitors to do with
the bodies of the Templars that which should seem expedient to them according
to ecclesiastical law. Many Templars were at this period wandering about the
country disguised as secular persons, successfully evading pursuit, and the
sheriffs were strictly commanded to use every exertion to capture them.
On Wednesday, the ecclesiastical council again met, and adjourned for the
purpose of enabling the inquisitors to examine the prisoners confined in the
castles of Lincoln and of York.
In Scotland, in the mean time, similar
proceedings had been instituted against the order. On the 17th of November,
Brother Walter de Clifton being examined in the parish church of the Holy
Cross at Edinburgh, before the bishop of St. Andrews and John de Solerio, the
pope's chaplain, states that the brethren
A.D. 1309. of the order of the Temple in
the kingdom of Scotland received their orders, rules, and observances from the
Master of the Temple in England, and that the Master in England received the
rules and observances of the order from the Grand Master and the chief convent
in the East; that the Grand Master or his deputy was in the habit of visiting
the order in England and elsewhere; of summoning chapters, and making
regulations for the conduct of the brethren and the administration of their
property. Being asked as to the mode of his reception, he states that when
William de la More, the Master, held his chapter at the preceptory of Temple
Bruere in the county of Lincoln, he sought of the assembled brethren the habit
and the fellowship of the order; that they told him that he little knew what
it was he asked, in seeking to be admitted to their fellowship; that it would
be a very hard matter for him, who was then his own master, to become the
servant of another, and to have no will of his own; but notwithstanding their
representations of the rigour of their rules and observances, he still
continued earnestly to seek their habit and fellowship. He states that they
then led him to the chamber of the Master, where they held their chapter, and
that there, on his bended knees, and with his hands clasped, he again prayed
for the habit and the fellowship of the Temple; that the Master and the
brethren then required him to answer questions to the following
effect:--Whether he had a dispute with any man, or owed any debts? whether he
was betrothed to any woman? and whether he had any secret infirmity of body?
or knew of anything to prevent him from remaining within the bosom of the
fraternity? And having answered all those questions satisfactorily, the Master
then asked of the surrounding brethren, "Do ye give your consent to the
reception of brother Walter?" who unanimously answered that they did; and the
Master and the brethren then standing up, received him the said Walter in this
A.D. 1309. manner. On his bended knees, and
with his hands joined, he solemnly promised that he would be the perpetual
servant of the Master, and of the order, and of the brethren, for the purpose
of defending the Holy Land. Having done this, the Master took out of the hands
of a brother chaplain of the order the book of the holy gospels, upon which
was depicted a cross, and laying his hands upon the book and upon the cross,
he swore to God and the blessed Virgin Mary to be for ever thereafter chaste,
obedient, and to live without property. And then the Master gave to him the
white mantle, and placed the coif on his head, and admitted him to the kiss on
the mouth, after which he made him sit down on the ground, and admonished him
to the following effect: that from thenceforth he was to sleep in his shirt,
drawers, and stockings, girded with a small cord over his shirt; that he was
never to tarry in a house where there was a woman in the family way; never to
be present at a marriage, nor at the purification of women; and likewise
instructed and informed him upon several other particulars. Being asked where
he had passed his time since his reception, he replied that he had dwelt three
years at the preceptory of Blancradok in Scotland; three years at Temple
Newsom in England; one year at the Temple at London, and three years at
Aslakeby. Being asked concerning the other brothers in Scotland, he stated
that John de Hueflete was Preceptor of Blancradok, the chief house of the
order in that country, and that he and the other brethren, having heard of the
arrest of the Templars, threw off their habits and fled, and that he had not
since heard aught concerning them.
Brother William de Middleton, being
examined, gave the same account of his reception, and added that he remembered
that brother William de la More, the Master in England, went, in obedience to
a summons, to the Grand Master beyond sea, as the superior of the whole order,
and that in his absence Brother
Hugh de Peraut, the visitor, removed several preceptors from their
preceptories in England, and put others in their places. He further states,
that he swore he would never receive any service at the hands of a woman, not
even water to wash his hands with.
After the examination of the above two
Templars, forty-one witnesses, chiefly abbots, priors, monks, priests, and
serving men, and retainers of the order in Scotland, were examined upon
various interrogatories, but nothing of a criminatory nature was elicited. The
monks observed that the receptions of other orders were public, and were
celebrated as great religious solemnities, and the friends, parents, and
neighbours of the party about to take the vows were invited to attend; that
the Templars, on the other hand, shrouded their proceedings in mystery and
secrecy, and therefore they suspected the worst. The priests thought
there guilty, because they were always against the church! Others
condemned them because (as they say) the Templars closed their doors against
the poor and the humble, and extended hospitality only to the rich and the
powerful. The abbot of the monastery of the Holy Cross at Edinburgh declared
that they appropriated to themselves the property of their neighbours, right
or wrong. The abbot of Dumferlyn knew nothing of his own knowledge against
them, but had heard much, and suspected more. The serving men
and the tillers of the lands of the order stated that the chapters were held
sometimes by night and sometimes by day, with extraordinary secrecy; and some
of the witnesses had heard old men say that the Templars would never have
lost the Holy Land, if they had been good Christians! *
A.D. 1310. On the 9th of January, A.D.
1310, the examination of witnesses was resumed at London, in the parish church
of St. Dunstan's West, near the Temple. The rector of the church of St. Mary
de la Strode declared that he had strong suspicions of the guilt of the
Templars; he had, however, often been at the Temple church, and had observed
that the priests performed divine service there just the same as elsewhere.
William de Cumbrook, of St. Clement's church, near the Temple, the vicar of
St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, and many other priests and clergymen of different
churches in London, all declared that they had nothing to allege against the
On the 27th of January, Brother John de Stoke,
a serving brother of the order of the Temple, of seventeen years' standing,
being examined by the inquisitors in the chapel of the Blessed Mary of
Berkyngecherche at London, states, amongst other things, that secular persons
were allowed to be present at the burial of Templars; that the brethren of the
order all received the sacraments of the church at their last hour, and were
attended to the grave by a chaplain of the Temple. Being interrogated
concerning the death and burial of the Knight Templar Brother Walter le
Bachelor, he deposes that the said knight was buried like any other Christian,
except that he was not buried in the burying-ground, but in the court, of the
house of the Temple at London; that he confessed to Brother Richard de
Grafton, a priest of the order, then in the island of Cyprus, and partook, as
he believed, of the sacrament. He states that he himself and Brother Radulph
de Barton carried him to his grave at the dawn of day, and that
A.D. 1310. the deceased knight was in
prison, as he believes, for the space of eight weeks; that he was not buried
in the habit of his order, and was interred without the cemetery of the
brethren, because he was considered to be excommunicated, in pursuance, as he
believed, of a rule or statute among the Templars, to the effect that every
one who privily made away with the property of the order, and did not
acknowledge his fault, was deemed excommunicated. Being asked in what respect
he considered that his order required reformation, he replied, "By the
establishment of a probation of one year, and by making the receptions
Two other Templars were examined on the same
27th day of January, from whose depositions it appears that there were at that
time many brethren of the order, natives of England, in the island of Cyprus.
On the 29th of January, the inquisitors
exhibited twenty-four fresh articles against the prisoners, drawn up in an
artful manner. They were asked if they knew anything of the crimes mentioned
in the papal bulls, and confessed by the Grand Master, the heads of the
order, and many knights in France; and whether they knew of anything sinful or
dishonourable against the Master of the Temple in England, or the preceptors,
or any of the brethren. They were then required to say whether the same rules,
customs, and observances did not prevail throughout the entire order; whether
the Grand Preceptors, and especially the Grand Preceptor of England, did not
receive all the observances and regulations from the Grand Master; and whether
the Grand Preceptors and all the brethren of the order in England did not
observe them in the same mode as the Grand Master, and visitors, and the
brethren in Cyprus and in Italy, and in the other kingdoms, provinces, and
preceptories of the order; whether the observances and regulations were not
commonly delivered by the visitors to the Grand Preceptor of England; and
A.D. 1310. whether the brothers received in
England or elsewhere had not of their own free will confessed what these
observances were. They were, moreover, required to state whether a bell was
rung, or other signal given, to notify the time of the assembling of the
chapter; whether all the brethren, without exception, were summoned and in the
habit of attending; whether the Grand Master could relax penances imposed by
the regular clergy; whether they believed that the Grand Preceptor or visitor
could absolve a layman who had been excommunicated for laying hands on a
brother or lay servant of the order; and whether they believed that any
brother of the order could absolve from the sin of perjury a lay servant, when
he came to receive the discipline in the Temple-hall, and the serving brother
scourged him in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,
Between the 29th of January and the 6th of
February, thirty-four Templars, many of whom appeared for the first time
before the inquisitors, were examined upon these articles in the churches of
St. Botolph without Aldgate, St. Alphage near Cripplegate, and St. Martin de
Ludgate, London. They deny everything of a criminatory nature, and declare
that the abominations mentioned in the confessions and depositions made in
France were not observances of the order; that the Grand Master, Preceptors,
visitors, and brethren in France had never observed such things, and if they
said they had, they lied. They declare that the Grand Preceptor and
brethren in England were all good men, worthy of faith, and would not deviate
from the truth by reason of hatred of any man, for favour, reward, or any
other cause; that there had been no suspicion in England against them, and no
evil reports current against the order before the publication of the papal
bull, and they did not think that any good man would believe the
contents of the articles to be true. From the statements of the prisoners, it
appears that the bell of the Temple was
A.D. 1310. rung to notify the assembling of
the chapter, that the discipline was administered in the hall, in the presence
of the assembled brethren, by the Master, who punished the delinquent on the
bare back with a scourge made of leathern thongs, after which he himself
absolved the offender from the guilt of a transgression against the rule of
the order; but if he had been guilty of immoral conduct, he was sent to the
priest for absolution. It appears also, that Brother James de Molay, before
his elevation to the office of Grand Master, was visitor of the order in
England, and had held chapters or assemblies of the brethren, at which he had
enforced certain rules and regulations; that all the orders came from the
Grand Master and chief convent in the East to the Grand Preceptor of England,
who caused them to be published at the different preceptories. *
On the 1st of March, the king sent orders
to the constable of the Tower, and to the sheriffs of Lincoln and of York, to
obey the directions of the inquisitors, or of one bishop and of one
inquisitor, with regard to the confinement of the Templars in separate cells,
and he assigns William de Diene to assist the inquisitors in their
arrangements. Similar orders were shortly afterwards sent to all the gaolers
of the Templars in the English dominions.
On the 3rd of March five fresh interrogatories
were exhibited by the inquisitors, upon which thirty-one Templars were
examined at the palace of the bishop of London, the chapel of St. Alphage, and
the chapter-house of the Holy Trinity. They were chiefly concerning the
reception and profession of the brethren, the number that each examinant had
seen received, their names, and as to whether the burials of the order were
conducted in a clandestine manner. From the replies it appears that many
Templars had died during their imprisonment in the Tower. The twenty-sixth
prisoner examined was the Master of the Temple, Brother William de la More,
who gives an account of the number of persons he had admitted into the order
during the period of his mastership, specifying their names. It is stated that
many of the parishioners of the parish adjoining the New Temple had been
present at the interment of the brethren of the fraternity, and that the
burials were not conducted in a clandestine manner.
In Ireland, in the mean time, similar
proceedings against the order had been carried on. Between the 11th of
February and the 23rd of May, thirty Templars were examined in Saint Patrick's
Church, Dublin, by Master John de Mareshall, the pope's commissary, but no
evidence of their guilt was obtained. Forty-one witnesses were then heard,
nearly all of whom were monks. They spoke merely from hearsay and suspicion,
and the gravest charges brought by them against the fraternity appear to be,
that the Templars had been observed to be inattentive to the reading of the
holy Gospels at church, and to have cast their eyes on the ground at the
period of the elevation of the host. *
On the 30th of March the papal inquisitors
opened their commission at Lincoln, and between that day and the 10th of April
twenty Templars were examined in the chapter-house of the cathedral, amongst
whom were some of the veteran warriors of Palestine, men who had moistened
with their blood the distant plains of the far East in defence of that faith
which they were now so infamously accused of having repudiated. Brother
William de Winchester, a member of twenty-six years’ standing, had been
received into the order at the castle de la Roca Guille in the province
of Armenia, bordering on Palestine, by the valiant
[paragraph continues] Grand Master
William de Beaujeu. He states that the same mode of reception existed there as
in England, and everywhere throughout the order. Brother Robert de Hamilton
declares that the girdles were worn from an honourable motive, that they were
called the girdles of Nazareth, because they had been pressed against the
column of the Virgin at that place, and were worn in remembrance of the
blessed Mary; but he says that the brethren were not compelled to wear them,
but might make use of any girdle that they liked. With regard to the
confessions made in France, they all say that if their brethren in that
country confessed such things, they lied! *
At York the examination commenced on the
28th of April, and lasted until the 4th of May, during which period
twenty-three Templars, prisoners in York Castle, were examined in the
chapter-house of the cathedral, and followed the example of their brethren in
maintaining their innocence. Brother Thomas de Stanford, a member of thirty
years’ standing, had been received in the East by the Grand Master William de
Beaujeu, and Brother Radulph de Rostona, a priest of the order, of
twenty-three years’ standing, had been received at the preceptory of Lentini
in Sicily by Brother William de Canello, the Grand Preceptor of Sicily.
Brother Stephen de Radenhall refused to reveal the mode of reception, because
it formed part of the secrets of the chapter, and if he discovered them he
would lose his chamber, be stripped of his mantle, or be committed to prison.
On the 20th of May, in obedience to the mandate
of the archbishop of York, an ecclesiastical council of the bishops and clergy
assembled in the cathedral. The mass of the Holy Ghost was
A.D. 1310. solemnly celebrated, after which
the archbishop preached a sermon, and then caused to be read to the assembled
clergy the papal bulls fulminated against the order of the Temple. *
He exhibited to them the articles upon which the Templars had been directed to
be examined; but as the inquiry was still pending, the council was adjourned
until the 23rd of June of the following year, when they were to meet to pass
sentence of condemnation, or of absolution, against all the members of the
order in the province of York, in conformity with ecclesiastical law.
On the 1st of June the examination was
resumed before the papal inquisitors at Lincoln. Sixteen Templars were
examined upon points connected with the secret proceedings in the general and
particular chapters of the order, the imposition of penances therein, and the
nature of the absolution granted by the Master. From the replies it appears
that the penitents were scourged three times with leathern thongs, in the name
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, after which they were
absolved either by the Master or by a priest of the order, according to the
particular circumstances of each case. It appears, also, that none but
preceptors were present at the general chapters of the order, which were
called together principally for the purpose of obtaining money to send to the
Grand Master and the chief convent in Palestine.
After closing the examinations at Lincoln, the
abbot of Lagny
A.D. 1310. and the canon of Narbonne
returned to London, and immediately resumed the inquiry in that city. On the
8th and 9th days of June, Brother William de la More, the Master of the
Temple, and thirty-eight of his knights, chaplains, and sergeants, were
examined by the inquisitors in the presence of the bishops of London and
Chichester, and the before-mentioned public notaries, in the priory of the
Holy Trinity. They were interrogated for the most part concerning the penances
imposed, and the absolution pronounced in the chapters. The Master of the
Temple was required to state what were the precise words uttered by him, as
the president of the chapter, when a penitent brother, having bared his back
and acknowledged his fault, came into his presence and received the discipline
of the leathern thongs. He states that he was in the habit of saying,
"Brother, pray to God that he may forgive you;" and to the bystanders he said,
"And do ye, brothers, beseech the Lord to forgive him his sins, and say a
pater-noster;" and that he said nothing further, except to warn the
offender against sinning again. He declares that he did not pronounce
absolution in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost!
and relates, that in a general chapter, and as often as he held a particular
chapter, he was accustomed to say, after prayers had been offered up, that all
those who did not acknowledge their sins, or who appropriated to their own use
the alms of the house, could not be partakers in the spiritual blessings of
the order; but that which through shamefacedness, or through fear of the
justice of the order, they dared not confess, he, out of the power conceded to
him by God and the pope, forgave him as far as he was able. Brother William de
Sautre, however, declares that the president of the chapter, after he had
finished the flagellation of a penitent brother, said, "I forgive you, in the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," and then sent him
to a priest of the order for
A.D. 1310. absolution; and the other
witnesses vary in their account of the exact words uttered, either because
they were determined, in obedience to their oaths, not to reveal what actually
did take place, or else (which is very probable) because the same form of
proceeding was not always rigidly adhered to.
When the examination was closed, the
inquisitors drew up a memorandum, showing that, from the apostolical letters,
and the depositions and attestations of the witnesses, it was to be collected
that certain practices had crept into the order of the Temple, which were not
consistent with the orthodox faith. *
194 Raynald, tom. xiv. ad ann. 1298.
Cotton MS. Nero E. vi. p. 60. fol. 466.
194 Marin Santa Torsell. lib. iii. pars.
13, cap. x. p. 242. De Guignes, Hist. des Huns, tom. iv. p. 184.
195 Acta Rymeri, tom. i. p. 575,
576-579, 582, tom. ii. p. 250. Martene, vet. script. tom. vii. col.
196 Acta Rymeri, tom. ii. p. 683. ad
196 Chron. Dunmow. Annals of St.
196 Ipse vero Rex et Petrus thesaurum ipsius
episcopi, apud Novum Templum Londoniis reconditum, ceperunt, ad summam
quinquaginta millia librarum argenti, præter aurum multum, jocalia et lapides
preciosos. . . . Erant enim ambo præsentes, cum cistæ frangerentur, et adhuc
non erat sepultum corpus patris sui--Hemingford, p. 244.
197 Chron. Triveti, ad ann. 1298.
Hemingford, vol. i. p. 159.
197 Dante styles him il mal di
Francia, Del. Purgat. cant. 20, 91.
198 Questo Papa fue huomo molto cupido di
moneta, e fue lusurioso, si dices the tenea per amica la contessa di Paragordo,
bellissima donna!! Villani, lib. ix. cap. 58. Fuit nimis cupiditatibus
deditus. . . Sanct. Ant. Flor. de Concil. Vien. tit. 21. sec. 3. Circa
thesauros colligendos insudavit, says Knighton apud X script. col.
2494. Fleuri, l. 92. p. 239. Chron. de Namgis, ad ann. 1305.
198 Rainald. tom. xv. ad ann. 1306, n.
12. Fleuri, Hist. Eccles. tom. xix. p. 111.
199 Bal. Pap. Aven, tom. ii. p. 176.
200 Bal. Pap. Aven. tom. i. p. 99. Sexta
Vita, Clem. V. apud Baluz, tom. i. col. 100.
202 Hist. de la Condemnation des Templiers.--Dupuy,
tom. ii. p. 309.
202 Mariana Hispan. Illustr. tom. iii. p. 152.
Le Gendre Hist. de France, tom. ii. p. 499.
202 Acta Rymeri, tom. iii. p. 18. ad
203 Les forfaits pourquoi les Templiers furent
ars et condamnez, pris et contre eux approuvez. Chron. S. Denis. Sexta
vita, Clem. V. Dupuy, p. 24. edition de 1713.
204 Liv. ii. chap. 106, chez Dupuy.
204 Sexta vita, Clem. V. col. 102.
205 Ostendens duo ossa quod dicebat ilia esse
quæ ceciderunt de hills suis. Processus contra Templarios. Raynouard
Monumens Historiques, p. 73, ed. 1813.
205 In quibus tormentis dicebat se quatuor
dentes perdidisse. Ib. p. 35.
205 Fuit quæstionibus ponderibus appensis in
genitalibus, et in alibi membris usque ad exanimationem. Ib.
205 Tres des Chart. TEMPLIERS, cart. 3, n.
207 Dat. apud Redyng, 4 die Decembris.
Consimiles litteræ diriguntur Ferando regi Castillæ et Ligionia, consanguineo
regis, domino Karolo, regi Siciliæ, et Jacobo regi Aragoniæ, amico Regis. Acta
Rymeri, tom. iii. ad ann. 1307,p. 35, 36.
207 Acta Rymeri, tom. iii. p. 37, ad
208 Dat. Pictavis 10, kal. Dec. Acta Rymeri,
tom. iii. ad ann. 1307, p. 30-32.
209 Acta Rymeri, tom. iii. p. 34, 35, ad
209 Ibid. p. 34, 35.
209 Ibid. p. 4.5.
210 Knyghton, apud X. script. col. 2494,
210 Acta Rymeri, tom. iii. p. 83.
211 Acta Rymeri, tom. iii. p. 101, 2, 3.
212 Acta Rymeri, tom. iii. p. 110, 111.
Vitæ paparum Avenion, tom. ii. p. 107.
212 Ibid., tom. iii. p. 121, 122.
212 Ibid. p. 168.
212 Ibid. p. 168, 169.
212 Ibid. p. 174.
213 Acta Rymeri, tom. iii. p. 173, 175.
213 Rainald, tom. xv. ad ann. 1306.
213 Concil. Mag. Brit. tom. ii. p. 346,
214 Acta Rymeri, tom. iii. p. 178, 179.
214 Concil. Mag. Brit. tom. ii. p.
214 Processus contra Templarios, Dugd.
Monast. Angl. vol. vi. part 2, p. 844-846 ed. 1830.
219 The original draft of these articles of
accusation, with the corrections and alterations, is preserved in the Tresor
des Chartres Raynouard, Monumens Historiques, p. 50, 51. The
proceedings against the Templars in England are preserved in MS. in the
British Museum, Harl. No. 252, 62, f. p. 113; No. 247, 68, f. p. 144. Bib.
Cotton Julius, b. xii. p. 70; and in the Bodleian Library and Ashmolean
Museum. The principal part of them has been published by Wilkins in the
Concilia Magnæ Britanniæ, tom. ii. p. 329-401, and by Dugdale, in the
Monast. Angl. vol. vi. part 2. p. 844-848.
223 Actum in Capella infirmariæ prioratus
Sanctæ Trinitatis præsentibus, etc. Concilia Magnæ Britanniæ, tom. iii. p.
344. Ibid. p. 334-343.
225 Concil. Mag. Brit., tom. ii. p.
226 Concil. Mag. Brit., tom. ii. p.
226 Acta Rymeri, tom. iii. p. 194, 195.
226 Ibid., p. 182.
229 Et ad evidentius præmissorum
testimonium reverendus in Christo pater dominus Willielmus, providentiâ divinâ
S. Andrew episcopus, et magister Johannes de Solerio prædicti sigilla sua
præsenti inquisition appenderunt, et eisdem sigillis post subscriptionem meam
eandem inquisitionem clauserunt. In quorum etiam firmius testimonium ego
Willielmus de Spottiswod auctoritate imperiali notarius qui prædictæ
inquisitioni interfui die, anno, et loco prædictis, testibus præsentibus supra
dictis, signum meum solitum eidem apposui requisitus, et propriâ manu scripsi
rogatus.--Acta contra Templarios. Concil. Mag. Brit., tom. ii.
p. 380, 383.
230 Act. in ecclesiâ parochiali S. Dunstani
prope Novum Templum.--Ib., p. 349.
233 Acta contra Templarios. Concil.
Mag. Brit., tom, ii. p. 350, 351, 352.
233 Acta Rymeri, tom. iii. ad ann. 1310.
p. 202, 203.
234 Acta Rymeri, tom. iii. p. 179, 180.
Concil. Mag. Brit., tom. ii. p. 373 to 380.
235 Terrore tormentorum confessi sunt et
mentiti.--Concil. Mag. Brit., tom. ii. p. 365, 366, 367.
235 Depositiones Templariorum in Provinciâ
Eboracenai.--Concil. Mag. Brit., tom. ii. p. 371-373.
236 Eodem anno (1310) XIX. die Maii apud Eborum
in ecclesiâ cathedrali, ex mandato speciali Domini Papæ, tenuit dominos
Archiepiscopus concilium provinciale. Prædicavitque et erat suum thema;
omnes isti congregati venerunt tibi, factoque sermone, recitavit et legi
fecit sequentem bullam horribilem contra Templarios, &c. &c.
Hemingford apud Hearne, vol. i. p. 249.
236 Processus observatus in concilio
provincials Eboracensi in ecclesiâ beati Petri Ebor. contra Templarios
celebrato A.D. 1310, ex. reg. Will. Grenefeld Archiepiscopi Eborum, fol. 179,
p. 1.--Concil. Mag. Brit., tom. ii. p. 393.
236 Concil. Mag. Brit., tom. ii. p. 367.
238 Acta contra Templarios. Concil.
Mag. Brit., tom. ii. p. 358.