The Fall of the Knights Templar

The Fall of the Knights Templar and the Final Curse of Jacques de Molay

King Philip IV of France, burdened with heavy debts to the Templars, had previously expelled Jews from France, seizing their assets. He also taxed the clergy, angering Pope Boniface VIII who considered excommunicating him. Philip tried to arrest the Pope for heresy and sodomy, but he escaped with Templar protection, dying soon after. The Pope's successor also died mysteriously, and the next Pope, Clement V, was under Philip's sway.

Philip viewed the Templars as a threat to his divine right to rule. He proposed merging the Templars with the Knights Hospitaller into the Knights of Jerusalem, hoping to control them. Jacques de Molay, the Templar Grand Master, opposed this plan. Amidst rumors of Templar misdeeds, Philip bypassed the Pope and arrested them for heresy on 13 October 1307.

Under torture, many Templars, including de Molay, confessed to heresy, but de Molay later claimed his confession was insincere. The Pope condemned Philip's actions and demanded the Templars' wealth for the Church, which Philip refused. In November 1307, the Pope ordered all Templars' arrest and property seizure for the Church's benefit.

Jacque De Molay
(Jacque De Molay, the last grand master of the Knights Templar)

In 1308, a deal was struck to send 72 Templars to the Pope for interrogation. En route, Jacques and others were secretly taken to Chateau Chinon, where Jacques repented under duress. A papal commission later promised Templars protection, leading them to defend their Order.

However, the Archbishop of Sens, Philip's appointee, branded any retracting Templars as heretics. By 1310, 54 Templars were sentenced to death. The papal commission ended in 1311, and the Pope disbanded the Templars in 1312, with varied fates for its members.

By 1314, de Molay, aged and imprisoned for seven years, was sentenced to life imprisonment at Notre-Dame. He and Geoffroy de Charnay renounced their confessions, leading to their execution on 18 March 1314. De Molay's execution allegedly cursed his persecutors; both the Pope and King Philip died soon after, and Philip's lineage ended, fueling legends of a curse. A memorial plaque marks de Molay's execution site.

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