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Secret Societies of the Middle Ages

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Trena Alloway
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« Reply #105 on: February 01, 2009, 10:49:46 pm »

the general chapter: there brethren were received--the great officers appointed--visitors chosen to be sent to the different provinces. It is remarkable, that a papal legate never seems to have been present at a chapter of the Templars; though the legates frequently assisted at those of the other orders. This is, most probably, to be ascribed to the secrecy in which the Templars were pleased to envelope their councils and proceedings; and as they rarely held general chapters, a suitable pretext could not well be wanting for freeing themselves from the presence of the legate when they desired it. Those who impute to the Templars the holding of a secret doctrine naturally regard this as the cause of their not admitting to their chapters those who were not initiated in it.

A general chapter was not often assembled--a circumstance easily to be accounted for. Though the order was wealthy, it might not be well able to bear, without inconvenience, the expense of deputies from all the provinces journeying to the kingdom of Jerusalem, where the chapters were in general held; and further, it was obviously the interest of the Master and the great officers to avoid assembling a body which would at once assume the powers which they were in the habit of exercising.

In the intervals between the meetings of general chapters, the powers of the order were exercised by the chapter of the Temple at Jerusalem. This was composed of the Master, the dignitaries of the order, such of the provincial masters as happened to be present, the two assistants of the Master, and such knights as he chose to invite to it. This last provision was the great source of the Master's power; and, when he was a man of talent and address, he could, by managing to get his friends and those whom he could depend on into the different offices,

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« Reply #106 on: February 01, 2009, 10:50:11 pm »

and by summoning to the chapter such knights as were attached or looked up to him, contrive to carry any matters that he desired. The laws, however, by way of check upon him, made it imperative that the high officers of the order should have seats in the chapter; and as these were not appointed by the Master, and were independent of him, it was supposed that they would not be his creatures. This chapter could decide on all matters relating to the order, some important affairs, such as war and peace, excepted; make laws and regulations, which were binding on the whole society; and send visitors to the different provinces. All public documents, such as papal bulls, were addressed to it and the Master; all decisions in matters of importance came from it; and all the brethren who were received in the West were sent to it to be distributed where they might be wanting. The declaration made by a French knight on his examination, that the receptions in the chapter of Jerusalem were rare, as the members could be seldom brought to agree respecting a candidate, gives a hint that it was not in general a scene of the greatest harmony and unity. It is, indeed, but natural to suppose, that, as it was the chief seat of the power of the order, it was also the great theatre of intrigue and cabal.

Each province of the order had its general chapter, and also a smaller one, presided over by the great-prior, and composed of the principal officers and such knights of character and estimation as the prior chose to call to it. In like manner every preceptory and every large house of the order had its chapter, at which all the brethren were required to attend. The commander was president, and each question was decided by the majority of voices. The chief transactions in it consisted in the reception of new brethren, and the making up of quarrels and

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« Reply #107 on: February 01, 2009, 10:53:16 pm »

disputes, which must have frequently fallen out among men like the Templars, who were almost all soldiers. It was holden early on a Sunday morning; and the strictest secrecy, as to what took place, was enjoined on all present, for secrecy was the soul of the order.

The ordinary chapters were held in the following manner. Each brother, as he entered, made the sign of the cross, and, unless he was bald, took off his cap. The president then rose and said, "Stand up, beloved brethren, and pray to God to send his holy grace among us to-day." Each member repeated a pater noster, and, if there was a chaplain present, he said a prayer. Search was then made to see that there was no one present but those who belonged to the order. The president then delivered a discourse, exhorting the brethren to amendment of life. During this discourse no one was on any account to leave the room. When it was ended, any one who had transgressions to acknowledge went up to the president and made confession. He then retired out of sight and hearing, and the sentiments of the assembly were taken, which were afterwards signified to him. The brethren were also to remind each other of their transgressions, and exhort to confession and penitence. If any one accused a brother falsely, he was severely punished for it: while the inquiry was going on the accused was obliged to retire from the chapter. The discipline was usually administered in presence of the assembled chapter, with a scourge, or with a girdle. Those who were sick were not punished till they were recovered.

When these matters were over, the president explained a portion of the statutes, and exhorted all present to live suitably thereto. He then said, "Beloved brethren, we may now close our chapter, for, praise be to God., all is well; and may God and

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« Reply #108 on: February 01, 2009, 10:53:52 pm »

our dear Lady grant that it may so continue, and goodness be every day increased. Beloved brethren, ye mist know how it is with pardon in our chapter, and who has not part therein; know, then, that those have no part either in the pardon of our chapter, or in the other good works of the chapter; who live as they should not; who depart from the righteousness of the order; who do not acknowledge their offences and do penance in the mode prescribed by the order; who treat the alms of the order as their own property, or in any other way contrary to law, and squander them in an unrighteous, scandalous, and foolish manner. But those who honestly acknowledge their faults, and conceal nothing out of shame or fear of the punishment of the order, and are right sorry for their transgressions, have a large share in the forgiveness of our chapter, and in the good works which take place in our order. And to such, in virtue of my authority, I dispense forgiveness in the name of God and of our dear Lady, in the names of the apostles Peter and Paul, of our father the pope, and of you all who have given me authority; and pray to God that, according to his mercy, he will, for the merits of his mother, and of himself, and all the saints, forgive you your sins, as he forgave the famous Mary Magdalene." He then implored the forgiveness of those to whom he might have given any offence or done any injury; and prayed for peace, for the church, for the holy kingdom of .Jerusalem, for the order and all its houses and people, for the brethren and sisters of the order, and for its living and dead benefactors; finally, for all the dead who waited for the mercy of God, especially those who lay buried in the Temple burial-grounds, and for the souls of the fathers and mothers of the Templars. The chaplain, if present, repeated a confession of sin, in which all followed him, and then

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« Reply #109 on: February 01, 2009, 10:54:08 pm »

pronounced an absolution. If there was no chaplain present, each brother repeated a pater and an ave, and so the chapter ended.

The statutes of the order are full of the most minute directions respecting the equipment, clothing, and mode of living of the various members of the order. They were obliged to attend divine service punctually each day at all the different hours at which it was celebrated, and regularly to observe all the fasts of the church; they were also to have at their houses both public and private devotions. Their meals were also strictly regulated. They assembled by sound of bell: if there was a priest in the house he said grace for them, if not, each brother repeated a pater before he began to eat. During the meal a clergyman read out something edifying for them, and when it was over no one was to speak till grace was said. There was no difference made in the quality of the food; all, both high and low, fared alike, and they ate two off one plate. They had flesh-meat but three times a week, unless when festival days occurred. On days when they had no flesh-meat they had but two dishes. When the order were in the field a server regulated the supply and distribution of provisions. Before giving out the provisions he was to direct the serving-brethren to notify it to the superiors of the order, that they might come and select the best for themselves; he distributed the remainder without any other distinction than that of giving the best to the sick. The plate given to every two of the brethren was so large that what remained when they were done was sufficient to satisfy two of the poor. Two brethren were allowed as much food as three Turcopoles, and two of these as much as three of the servants. The brethren were not allowed to seek for any food elsewhere than from the server, vegetables, game, and venison excepted. But as by

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« Reply #110 on: February 01, 2009, 10:54:24 pm »

the rules of the order the chase was prohibited to them, they could not procure these themselves.

Amusements could not be rigorously prohibited to men who were semi-secular, and had to mingle so much in the world as the Templars. They were therefore allowed to tilt, but only with headless lances; whether only among themselves, or also at public tournaments, is uncertain *. They were permitted to run races with their horses, but for no higher wager than a headless cross-bow bolt, or some other trifle. Chess and draughts were prohibited games; nor were they allowed to play at any other game whatever for a stake. Hawking was absolutely forbidden to the Templar, probably on account of the high price of hawks, and of this being the favourite amusement of the secular knights. The reason assigned by the statutes is:--"Because it is not seemly in the members of an order to play sinfully, but willingly to hearken to the commands of God, to pray often, and daily in their prayers before God to bewail their sins with weeping and tears." A Templar might not even accompany one who was going out a-hawking. Moreover, as shouting and bawling were unseemly in a member of an order, he might not go a-hunting in a wood with bow and crossbow, nor accompany any one thus engaged, except to protect him against the heathen. In fine, every species of chase was forbidden to the Templar, except that of the lion 'who goes about seeking whom he may devour, whose hand is against every one, and every one's hand against him' †"

The battle was the Templar's scene of glory, and



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« Reply #111 on: February 01, 2009, 10:54:51 pm »

consequently every thing relating to the conduct of the order in war was strictly regulated. On the march the Templars, as the guardians of the holy cross, formed the vanguard of the Christian army; in the array they were in the right wing. The Hospitaliers usually formed the rear-guard, and in the field were posted on the left. The Templars mounted and set forward at the voice of their marshal, the standard-bearer preceding them with the standard of the order. They moved in a walk or a small trot. The march usually took place by night, on account of the heat of eastern climes, and every precaution was adopted to prevent confusion or inconvenience. When the standard halted for encampment, the marshal selected a place for his own tent and the chapel, which was to contain the true cross; the tents of the server, and of the great-prior of the province, had also their places marked out. It was then cried out, "Brethren, pitch your tents in the name of God!" on which each Templar forthwith raised his tent in his rank. All the tents were around the chapel, outside of its cords. The herald pitched by the standard. No brother was allowed, on any account, to go out of hearing of the war-cry, or to visit the quarters of any others than the Hospitaliers, in case these last should be encamped beside them. The place for encamping was selected by the prior of the province in which the war was, who was therefore in some sort quartermaster-general; the marshal assigned the different quarters, and over each he set a knight-preceptor to govern and regulate it.

When the battle commenced, the marshal usually took the standard out of the hands of the sub-marshal and unfurled it in the name of God. He then nominated from five to ten of the brethren to

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« Reply #112 on: February 01, 2009, 10:55:13 pm »

surround and guard it; one of these he made a knight-preceptor, who was to keep close by him with a banner furled on a spear, that, in case of that which the marshal carried being torn, or having fallen, or met with any other mishap, he might display it. If the marshal was wounded or surrounded, this knight was to raise the banner in his stead. No one was to lower a banner, or thrust with it, on any account, for fear of causing confusion. The brethren were to fight on all sides, and in every way in which they could annoy the foe, but still to keep near enough to be able to defend the banner of the order, if needful. But if a Templar saw a Christian in imminent danger, he was at liberty to follow the dictates of his conscience, and hasten to his relief. He was to return to his place as speedily as possible; but if the Turks had gotten between him and the banner, he was to join the nearest Christian squadron, giving the preference to the Hospitaliers, if they were at hand. Should the Christians meet with defeat, the Templar, under penalty of expulsion from the order, was not to quit the field so long as the banner of the order flew; and, should there be no red-cross flag to be seen, he was to join that of the Hospitaliers, or any other. Should every Christian banner have disappeared, he was to retreat as well as he could.

Such were the military principles of the order of the Temple--principles which,


                    instead of rage,
Deliberate valour breathed, firm and unmoved
With dread of death to flight or foul retreat;

and never, unquestionably, was more unflinching valour displayed than by the Templars. Where all were brave and daring as the fabled heroes of romance, the Templar was still regarded as prominent, and the Cardinal of Vitry could thus speak of them in

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« Reply #113 on: February 01, 2009, 10:55:29 pm »

the early part of the thirteenth century, when they may be regarded as somewhat declined from their original elevation:--

"They seek to expel the enemies of the cross of Christ from the lands of the Christians, by fighting manfully, and by moving to battle at the signal and command of him who is at the head of their forces, not impetuously or disorderedly, but prudently and with all caution--the first in advance, the last in retreat; nor is it permitted to them to turn their backs in flight, or to retreat without orders. They are become so formidable to the adversaries of the faith of Christ, that one chases a thousand, and two ten thousand; not asking, when there is a call to arms, how many they are, but where they are: lions in war, gentle lambs at home; rugged warriors on an expedition, like monks and eremites in the church." The language of the worthy cardinal is no doubt declamatory, and rhetorical, and some deduction must consequently be made from it; but still enough will remain to prove that the chivalry of the Temple must still have retained no small portion of the virtues for which they had been originally renowned.


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Footnotes
272:* Sir W. Scott would probably find some difficulty in justifying his making his Templar accept the combat à outrance at the "gentle and free passage of Ashby de la Zouche."

272:† It is not clear whether this is to be understood literally or metaphorically.



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« Reply #114 on: February 01, 2009, 10:56:22 pm »

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CHAPTER IX.

Molay elected Master--Last attempt of the Christians in Syria--Conduct of the Three Military Orders--Philip the Fair and Pope Boniface VIII.--Seizure of the Pope--Election of Clement V.--The Papal See removed to France--Causes of Philip's enmity to the Templars--Arrival of Molay in France--His interviews with the Pope--Charges made against the Templars--Seizure of the Knights--Proceedings in England--Nature of the Charges against the Order.

WE have, in what precedes, traced the order of the Templars from its institution to the period when the Latin dominion was overthrown for ever on the coast of Syria, and have described, at some length, its internal organisation, and exhibited its power and extent of possessions. It remains for us to tell how this mighty order was suddenly annihilated, to examine the charges made against it *, and, as we have promised, to establish the falsehood and futility of them--a task far from ungrateful, though not unattended with pain; for it is of advantage to strengthen our love of justice and hatred of tyranny and oppression, by vindicating the memory even of those who perished their victims centuries agone. It is also of use to furnish one instance more to the world of the operation of the principle which will be found so generally


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to prevail, that, let falsehood and sophistry exert their utmost to conceal the truth, means will always remain of refuting them, and of displaying vice, how- ever high seated, in its true colours.

In the year 1297, when the order had established its head-quarters in the isle of Cyprus, James de Molay, a native of Besançon, in the Franche Comté, was elected Master. The character of Molay appears to have been at all times noble and estimable; but if we are to credit the statement of a knight named Hugh de Travaux, he attained his dignity by an artifice not unlike that said to have been employed by Sixtus V. for arriving at the papacy. The chapter, according to De Travaux, could not agree, one part being for Molay, the other, and the stronger, for Hugh de Peyraud. Molay, seeing that he had little chance of success, assured some of the principal knights that he did not covet the office, and would himself vote for his competitor. Believing him, they joyfully made him great-prior. His tone now altered. "The mantle is done, now put the hood on it. You have made me great-prior, and whether you will or not I will be great-master also." The astounded knights instantly chose him.

If this account be true, the mode of election at this time must have differed very considerably from that which we have described above out of the statutes of the order. This election, moreover, took place in France, where, in 1297, Molay, we are told, held the fourth son of the king at the baptismal font.

One feeble attempt, the last military exploit of the Templars, was made by the Christians to acquire once more a footing on the continent of Asia during the mastership of Molay. In 1300, the Mongol chief Gazan came to the aid of the king of Armenia, against the Turks. As it was the policy of the Tartars, who had not as yet embraced Islam, to stir up enemies to the Mohammedans, Gazan, after overrunning

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« Reply #115 on: February 01, 2009, 10:57:01 pm »

the country as far as Damascus, sent an embassy to the Pope, Boniface VIII., inviting the Christians, particularly the three military orders, to come and take possession of the Holy Land. The Templars, Hospitaliers, and Henry, king of Cyprus, forthwith manned seven galleys and five smaller vessels. Almeric de Lusignan, Lord of Tyre, and the Masters of the two orders, landed at Tortosa, and endeavoured to maintain that islet against the Egyptian sultan, but were forced to yield to numbers. The Templars fought gallantly to no purpose, and a few of them, who defended a tower into which they had thrown themselves, surrendered, and were carried prisoners to Egypt.

The Hospitallers, in the year 1306, renewed their attacks on the isle of Rhodes, where they finally succeeded in expelling the Turks, and planting the standard of their order. The Teutonic knights transferred the sphere of their warfare to Russia, and the adjacent country, whose inhabitants were still heathens. The Templars meantime remained inactive in Cyprus, and seem even to have been meditating a retreat to Europe.

France was at this time governed by Philip the Fair, son of St. Louis. Philip, who had come to the throne at the early age of seventeen years, had been educated by Giles de Colonna, afterwards archbishop of Bourges, a man distinguished for his learning and for the boldness of his opinions. One of his favourite maxims was, "that Jesus Christ had not given any temporal dominion to his church, and that the king of France has his authority from God alone." Such principles having been early instilled into his mind, the young monarch was not likely to be a very dutiful son of the Church, and the character of Boniface VIII., who, without possessing the talents or the virtues of a Gregory or an Innocent, attempted to stretch the papal pretensions to their greatest extent,

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« Reply #116 on: February 01, 2009, 10:57:18 pm »

soon roused him to resistance. In the plenitude of his fancied authority, the pope issued a bull, forbidding the clergy to give any subsidies to lay-powers without permission from Rome. Philip, in return, issued an order prohibiting the exportation of gold, silver, or merchandize from France, thereby cutting off a great source of papal revenue. In the course of the dispute, Boniface maintained that princes were subject to him in temporals also. Philip's reply was,--"Philip, by the grace of God, king of the French, to Boniface, acting as supreme pontiff; little or no health. Let your extreme folly know, that in temporals we are not subject to any one." Shortly afterwards he publicly burned a bull of the pope, and proclaimed the deed by sound of trumpet in Paris. Boniface, raving with indignation, summoned the French clergy to Rome, to deliberate on the means of preserving the liberties of the Church. Philip convoked a national assembly to Paris, in which, for the first time, there appeared deputies of the third estate, who readily expressed their resolution to stand by their monarch in defence of his rights, and the clergy willingly denied the temporal jurisdiction of the pontiff. Several prelates and abbots having obeyed the summons of the pope, the king seized on their temporalities. The pope menaced with deprivation all those who had not attended, and, in his famous bull of Unam sanctam, asserted that every human being was subject to the Roman pontiff. Another bull declared that every person, be his rank what it might, was bound to appear personally when summoned to Rome. Philip forbade the publication of these bulls; and the states general being again convoked appealed to a council against the pope. Commissaries were sent through France to procure the adhesion of the clergy to this act, which was given in some cases voluntarily, in others obtained by means of a little wholesome rigour. The king, his wife, and his son,

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« Reply #117 on: February 01, 2009, 10:57:56 pm »

pledged themselves to stand by those who adhered to the resistance made by France to papal usurpation. Boniface next excommunicated the king, who intercepted the bull, and prevented its publication. The pope finally offered the crown of France to the emperor Albert of Austria. Matters were now come to an extremity, and Philip ventured on one of the boldest acts that have ever been attempted in the Christian world.

Philip had afforded an asylum at his court to some members of the Colonna family, the personal enemies of the pope. His chancellor and fast adherent was William de Nogaret, who had been his agent in the affair of appealing to a general council, by presenting to the states general a charge of simony, magic, and the usual real or imaginary crimes of the day against the pontiff. This man, and some of the Italian exiles, attended by a body of 300 horse, set out for Italy, and took up his abode at a castle between Florence and Sienna, under pretext of its being a convenient situation for carrying on negotiations with Rome. The pope was meantime residing at Anagni, his native town. Nogaret having, by a liberal distribution of money, acquired a sufficient number of partisans, appeared before the gate of Anagni early on the morning of the 7th September, 1303. The gate was opened by a traitor, and the French and their partisans ran through the streets, crying Live the king of France, die Boniface. They entered the palace without opposition; the French ran here and there in search of plunder, and Sciarra Colonna and his Italians alone came in presence of the pope. Boniface, who was now eighty-six years of age, was clad in his pontifical vestments, and on his knees before the altar, in expectation of death. At the sight of hint the conspirators, whose intention had been to slay him, stopped short, filled with involuntary awe, and did not dare to lay a hand upon him. During three

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« Reply #118 on: February 01, 2009, 10:58:15 pm »

days they kept him a prisoner; on the fourth the people of the town rose and expelled them, and released the pontiff. Boniface returned to Rome; but rage at the humiliation which he had undergone deranged his intellect, and in one of his paroxysms he dashed his head against the wall of his chamber, and died in consequence of the injury which he received *.

Benedict XI., the successor of Boniface, absolved Philip, and his ministers and subjects, from the sentence of excommunication. As he felt his power, he was proceeding to more vigorous measures to avenge the insulted dignity of the holy see, when he died of poison, administered, as a contemporary historian asserts, by the agents of Philip. During ten months the conclave were unable to agree on his successor among the Italian cardinals. It was then proposed by the partisans of the king of France, that one party in the conclave should name three ultramontane prelates, from among whom the other party should select one. The choice fell on Bertrand de Gotte, archbishop of Bordeaux, who had many serious causes of enmity to Philip and his brother Charles of Valois. Philip's friend, the cardinal of Prato, instantly sent off a courier with the news, advising the king to acquiesce in the election as soon as he had secured him to his interest. Philip set out for Gascony, and had a private interview with the pontiff elect, in an abbey in the midst of a forest near St. Jean d’Angély. Having sworn mutual secresy, the king told the prelate that it was in his power to make him pope on condition of his granting him six favours. He showed him his proofs, and the ambitious Gascon, falling at his feet, promised everything. The six favours demanded by Philip were a perfect reconciliation with the Church; admission to the communion for himself


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« Reply #119 on: February 01, 2009, 10:59:01 pm »

and friends; the tithes of the clergy of France for five years, to defray the expenses of his war in Flanders; the persecution and destruction of the memory of Pope Boniface; the conferring the dignity of cardinal on James and Peter Colonna. "The sixth favour," said he, "is great and secret, and I reserve the asking of it for a suitable time and place." The prelate swore on the host, and gave his brother and two of his nephews as hostages. The king then sent orders to the cardinal of Prato, to elect the archbishop of Bordeaux, who took the name of Clement V.

Whet her urged by the vanity of shining in the eyes of his countrymen, or by dread of the tyranny exercised by the cardinals over his predecessors, or, what seems more probable, in compliance with the wishes of Philip, or in consequence of impediments thrown by that monarch in the way of his departure, Clement, to the dismay of all Christendom, instead of repairing to Rome, summoned the cardinals to Lyons for his coronation. They reluctantly obeyed, and he was crowned in that city on the 17th December, 1305, the king, his brother, and his principal nobles, assisting at the ceremony. Clement forthwith created twelve new cardinals, all creatures of Philip, whose most devoted slave the pope showed himself to be on all occasions. His promises to him were most punctually fulfilled, with the exception of that respecting the memory of Boniface, which the cardinal of Prato proved to Philip it would be highly impolitic and dangerous to perform; but Clement cheerfully authorised him to seize, on the festival of St. Madelaine, all the Jews in his kingdom, to banish them, and confiscate their property in the name of religion.

What the sixth and secret grace which Philip required was is unknown. Many conjectures have been made to little purpose. It is not at all improbable that the king had at the time no definite object.

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