This blog, written by Thomas E. Rutledge, focuses primarily on business entity law in Kentucky. Postings on contract law, contractual and statutory construction, and the entity law of other jurisdictions appear as well. There may as well be some random discussions of classical, medieval and renaissance history.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
The Arrest of the Knights Templar
Arrest of the Knights Templar
Today marks the widespread arrest in 1307
throughout France of the members of the Order of Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ
and Temple of Solomon, better known as the Knights Templar.
Founded shortly after the First Crusade
as a monastic order, the mission of the Templars was to provide protection to
pilgrims coming to the Holy Land and otherwise protect the Latin Kingdom.Eventually, the Order developed a rather
sophisticated banking organization.For
example, one proposing to travel from England to the Holy Land could deposit
funds with the Templars in England, receiving in return what was essentially a
letter of credit against which the individual could make withdrawals as they
travelled through Europe and ultimately to the Holy Lands.The military component of the Order, although
not high in actual numbers (never more than 1,500 to 2,000 knights), was
considered highly effective – after the Battle of Hattin, Saladin ordered the
execution of all captured Templars.
With the eventual loss of the Holy Land
territories by the turn of the 14th century, the Templars were without a reason
for existence.At the same time, Philip
IV of France, anxious to expropriate Templar property and as well exterminate
his substantial debts to the Order, fabricated numerous salacious allegations
against the Templars, leading to their mass arrest on October 13, 1307.Ultimately Pope Clement V, then resident in
Avignon and largely a pawn of the French crown, issued a bull directing that
Templars, wherever located, should be arrested.The remnants of the Order, other than those executed on spurious charges
of heresy, were eventually either pensioned or absorbed into other military
orders such as the Knights Hospitaller or the Teutonic Knights.
A papal finding (a/k/a the Chinon
parchment) determined that the Templars were not guilty of the many charges
against them including idolatry and heresy.Their actual failing was having lost their mission while being at least
perceived as being wealthy while a king needed funds. Those assertions are in many instances
questionable – a detailed review of the inventories of the English properties
of the order demonstrated a far less than extravagant lifestyle. Although the
Templars would be found innocent of heresy, as a political concession the Order
was dissolved in 1312, its properties turned over to the Knights Hospitaller.
Notwithstanding the efforts of numerous
modern authors, the Templars did not possess the Holy Grail, irrespective of
whether that was a physical cup or, as suggested in one particularly fanciful
book, an oblique reference to Mary Magdalene and, ultimately, the line of
Merovingian kings. Ignore the movies as well – Guy de Lusignan was not, as “The
Kingdom of Heaven” would have you believe, a Templar.
Philip's moniker is “the Fair”; who says
history does not have a sense of irony?