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Secret Societies of the Middle Ages

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Trena Alloway
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« Reply #120 on: February 01, 2009, 10:59:17 pm »

in view, and that, like the fabled grant of Neptune to Theseus, it was to be claimed whenever an occasion of sufficient importance should present itself.

Such as we have described them were Philip and the sovereign pontiff; the one able, daring, rapacious, ambitious, and unprincipled; the other mean, submissive, and little scrupulous. As it was the object of Philip to depress the papal power, and make it subservient to his ambition, he must naturally have desired to deprive it of support. The Templars, therefore, who had been on all occasions the staunch partizans of the papacy, must on this account alone have been objects of his aversion; they had, moreover, loudly exclaimed against his repeated adulteration of the coin, by which they sustained so much injury; and they were very urgent in their demands for repayment of the money which they had lent him on the occasion of the marriage of his daughter Isabella with the son of the king of England. Their wealth was great; their possessions in France were most extensive; they were connected with the noblest families in the realm; they were consequently, now that they seemed to have given up all idea of making any farther efforts in the East, likely to prove a serious obstacle in the way of the establishment of the absolute power of the crown. They were finally very generally disliked on account of their excessive pride and arrogance, and it was to be expected that in an attack on their power and privileges the popular favour would be with the king. These motives will, we apprehend, sufficiently account for Philip's anxiety to give a check to the order, beyond which, as it would appear, his plans did not at first extend. We cannot venture to say when this project first entered the mind of king Philip; whether he had the Hospitallers also in view, and whether he impelled the pope to invite the Masters of the two orders to France.

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« Reply #121 on: February 01, 2009, 10:59:42 pm »

As the rivalry and ill-feeling between the two orders had long been regarded as one of the principal causes of the little success of the Christians in the East, the idea of uniting them had been conceived, and Gregory X. and St. Louis had striven, but in vain, at the council at Lyons, to effect it. Pope Boniface VIII. had also been anxious to bring this project to bear, and Clement now resolved to attempt it. On the 6th June, 1306, only six months after his coronation, he wrote to the Masters of the two orders to the following effect;--The kings of Armenia and Cyprus were calling on him for aid; he therefore wished to confer with them, who knew the country well, and were so much interested in it, as to what were best to be done, and desired that they would come to him as secretly as possible, and with a very small train, as they would find plenty of their knights on this side of the sea; he directed them to provide for the defence of Limisso during their absence.

The Master of the Hospital, William de Villaret, was, when the letter arrived, engaged in the attack on Rhodes, and, therefore, could not obey the summons. But De Molay, the Master of the Temple, having confided Limisso and the direction of the order to the marshal, embarked with sixty of his most distinguished knights, taking with him the treasure of the order, consisting of 150,000 florins of gold, and so much silver, that the whole formed the lading of twelve horses. When they arrived in France, he proceeded to Paris, where the king received him with the greatest marks of favour and distinction, and he deposited the treasure in the Temple of that city. Shortly afterwards he set out for Poitiers, where he had an interview with Clement, who consulted him on the affairs of the East. On the subject of a new crusade, Molay gave it as his opinion that nothing but a simultaneous effort of all the Christian powers

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would be of any avail. He objected to the union of the orders on the following grounds, which were, on the whole, sufficiently frivolous. He said, 1st. That what is new is not always the best; that the orders, as they were, had done good service in Palestine, and, in short, used the good old argument of anti-reformists, It works well. 2dly. That as the orders were spiritual as well as temporal, and many a one had entered them for the weal of his soul, it might not be a matter of indifference to such to leave the one which he had selected and enter another. 3dly. There might be discord, as each order would want its own wealth and influence, and seek to gain the mastery for its own rules and discipline. 4thly. The Templars were generous of their goods, while the Hospitaliers were only anxious to accumulate--a difference which might produce dissension. 5thly. As the Templars received more gifts and support from the laity than the Hospitaliers, they would be the losers, or at least be envied by their associates. 6thly. There would probably be some disputing between the superiors about the appointment to the dignities in the new order. He however candidly acknowledged, that the new order would be stronger than the old one, and so more zealous to combat the infidels, and that many commanderies might be suppressed, and some saving effected thereby. Having thus delivered his sentiments, Molay took leave of the pope, and returned to Paris. Vague rumours of serious charges made, or to be made, against the order now beginning to prevail, Malay, accompanied by Rimbaud de Caron, preceptor of Outre-mer. Jeffrey de Goneville, preceptor of Aquitaine, and Hugh de Perando, preceptor of France, repaired once more to Poitiers, about April, 1307, to justify himself and the order in the eyes of the pope. Clement, we are told, informed them of the serious charges of

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« Reply #122 on: February 01, 2009, 11:00:12 pm »

the commission of various crimes which had been made against them; but they gave him such explanations as appeared to content him, and returned to Paris, satisfied that they had removed all doubts from his mind.

The following was the way in which the charges were made against the Templars.

There was lying in prison, at Paris or Toulouse, for some crime, a man named Squin de Flexian, a native of Beziers, who had been formerly a Templar, and prior of Montfaucon, but had been put out of the order for heresy and other offences. His companion in captivity was a Florentine, named Noffo Dei--"a man (says Villani) full of all iniquity." These two began to plan how they might best extricate themselves from their present hopeless state; and, as it would appear, aware of the king's dislike to the Templars, and hating them for having punished him for his crimes, Squin de Flexian resolved to accuse them of the most monstrous offences, and thus obtain his liberation. Accordingly, calling for the governor of the prison, he told him that he had a discovery to make to the king, which would be more for his advantage than the acquisition of a new kingdom, but that he would only reveal it to the king in person. Squin was immediately conveyed to Paris, and brought before the king, to whom he declared the crimes of the order; and some of the Templars were seized and examined by order of Philip.

Another account says that Squin Flexian and Noffo Dei, who were both degraded Templars, had been actively engaged in an insurrection of the people some time before, from which the king was obliged to take shelter in the Temple. They had been taken, and were lying in prison without any hope of their lives, when they hit on the plan of accusing their former associates. They were both set at liberty; but

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« Reply #123 on: February 01, 2009, 11:00:35 pm »

[paragraph continues] Squin was afterwards hanged, and Noffo Dei beheaded, as was said with little probability, by the Templars.

It is also said, that, about the same time, Cardinal Cantilupo, the pope's chamberlain, who had been in connexion with the Templars from his eleventh year, made some discoveries respecting it to his master.

The charges made by Squin Flexian against the order were as follows:--

1. Each Templar, on his admission, was sworn never to quit the order; and to further its interests, by right or by wrong.

2. The heads of the order are in secret alliance with the Saracens; and have more Mahommedan infidelity than Christian faith; in proof of which, they make every novice spit and trample on the cross of Christ, and blaspheme his faith in various ways.

3. The heads of the order are heretical, cruel, and sacrilegious men. Whenever any novice, on discovering the iniquity of the order, attempts to quit it, they put him to death, and bury him privately by night. They teach the women who are pregnant by them how to procure abortion, and secretly murder the new-born babes.

4. The Templars are infected with all the errors of the Fraticelli; they despise the pope and the authority of the. Church; they contemn the sacraments, especially those of penance and confession. They feign compliance with the rites of the Church merely to escape detection.

5. The superiors are addicted to the most infamous excesses of debauchery; to which, if any one expresses his repugnance, he is punished by perpetual captivity.

6. The temple-houses are the receptacles of every crime and abomination that can be committed.

7. The order labours to put the Holy Land into the hands of the Saracens; and favours them more than the Christians.

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« Reply #124 on: February 01, 2009, 11:00:51 pm »

8. The installation of the Master takes place inn secret, and few of the younger brethren are present at it; whence there is a strong suspicion that he denies the Christian faith or promises, or does something contrary to right.

9. Many statutes of the order are unlawful, profane, and contrary to the Christian religion; the members are, therefore, forbidden, under pain of perpetual confinement, to reveal them to any one.

10. No vice or crime committed for the honour or benefit of the order is held to be a sin.

Such were the charges brought against the order by the degraded prior of Montfaucon--charges in general absurd, or founded on gross exaggeration of some of the rules of the society. Others, still more incredible, were subsequently brought forward in the course of the examinations of witnesses.

Philip and his ministers, having now what they regarded as a plausible case against the Templars, prepared their measures in secret; and on the 12th September, 1307, sealed letters were sent to all the governors and royal officers throughout France, with orders to arm themselves on the 12th of the following month; and in the night to open the letters and act according to the instructions contained therein. The appointed day arrived; and, on the morning of Friday, the 13th October, nearly all the Templars throughout France saw themselves captives in the hands of their enemies. So well had Philip taken his measures, that his meditated victims were without suspicion; and, on the very eve of his arrest, Molay was chosen by the treacherous monarch to Le one of the four pall-bearers at the funeral of the Princess Catherine, wife of the Count of Valois.

The directions sent by the king to his officers had been to seize the persons and the goods of the Templars; to interrogate. torture, and obtain confessions

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« Reply #125 on: February 01, 2009, 11:01:07 pm »

from them; to promise pardon to those who confessed; and to menace those who denied.

On the day of the arrest of the Master and his knights, the king took possession of the Temple at Paris; and the Master and the preceptors of Aquitaine, France, and beyond sea, were sent prisoners to Corbeil. The following day the doctors of the University of Paris and several canons assembled with the royal ministers in the church of Notre Dame, and William de Nogaret, the chancellor, stated to them that the knights had been proceeded against on account of their heresies. On the 15th the University met in the Temple; and some of the heads of the order, particularly the Master, were examined, and are said to have made some confessions of the guilt of the order for the last forty years.

The king now published an act of accusation, conceived in no moderate or gentle terms. He calls the accused in it devouring wolves, a perfidious and idolatrous society, whose deeds, whose very words alone, are enough to pollute the earth and infect the air, &c. &c. The inhabitants of Paris were then assembled in the royal gardens; and the king's agents spoke, and some monks preached to them against the accused.

Philip, in his hostility to the order, would be content with nothing short of its utter ruin. Almost immediately after his coup d’état of the 13th October, he despatched a priest, named Bernard Peletus, to his son-in-law, Edward II., king of England, inviting him to follow his example. Edward wrote, on the 30th of the same month, to say that the charges made against the Templars by Philip and his agent appeared to him, his barons, and his prelates, to be incredible; and that he would, therefore, summon the senechal of Agen, whence this rumour had proceeded, to inform him thereupon, before proceeding any farther.

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« Reply #126 on: February 01, 2009, 11:01:42 pm »

Clement had been at first offended at the hasty and arbitrary proceedings of the king of France against the Templars; but Philip easily managed to appease him; and on the 22d November the pope wrote to the king of England, assuring him that the Master of the Temple had spontaneously confessed that the brethren, on their admission, denied Christ; and that several of the brethren in different parts of France had acknowledged the idolatry and other crimes laid to the charge of the order; and that a knight of the highest and most honourable character, whom he had himself examined, had confessed the denial of Jesus Christ to be a part of the ceremony of admission. He therefore calls on the king to arrest all the Templars within his realms, and to place their lands and goods in safe custody, till their guilt or innocence should be ascertained.

Edward, in a letter, dated November 26, inquired particularly of .the senechal of Agen, in Guienne, respecting the charges against the Templars. On the 4th December he wrote to the kings of Portugal, Castile, Aragon, and Sicily, telling them of what he had heard, and adding that he had given no credit to it; and begging of them not to hearken to these rumours. On the 10th, evidently before he had received the bull, he wrote to the pope, stating his disbelief of what he had heard, and praying of his holiness to institute an inquiry. But when the papal bull, so strongly asserting the guilt of the order, arrived, the good-hearted king did not venture to refuse compliance with it; and he issued a writ on the 15th December, appointing the morn of Wednesday after Epiphany, in the following month, for seizing the Templars and their property, but directing them to be treated with all gentleness. Similar orders were forwarded to Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, on the 20th; and on the 26th he wrote to

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« Reply #127 on: February 01, 2009, 11:01:55 pm »

assure the pope that his mandates would be speedily obeyed. The arrests took place accordingly; and the Templars and their property were thus seized in the two countries in which they were most powerful *.

The reluctance of the king of England and his parliament to proceed to any harsh measures against the Templars affords some presumption in their favour, and would incline us to believe that, had Philip been actuated by a similar love of justice, the order would not have been so cruelly treated in France. But Philip had resolved on the destruction of the society, and his privy councillors and favourites were not men who would seek to check him in his career of blood and spoliation. These men were William Imbert, his confessor, a Dominican monk, one of an order inured in Languedoc to blood, and deeply versed in all inquisitorial arts and practices; William Nogaret, his chancellor, the violator of the sanctity of the head of the church; William Plasian, who had shared in that daring deed, and afterwards sworn, in an assembly of the peers and prelates of France, that Boniface was an atheist and a sorcerer, and had a familiar demon. The whole order of the Dominicans also went heart and hand in the pious work of detecting and punishing the heretics. We must constantly bear in mind that the charges made against the Templars, if they may not all be classed under the term heresy, were all such as the Church was in the habit of making against those whom she persecuted as public heretics. And in this, Philip and his advisers acted wisely in their generation; for treason, or any other political charge, would have sounded dull and inefficient in the ears of the people, in comparison with the formidable word heresy.



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Footnotes
276:* The proceedings against the Templars have been published from the original documents by Mowdenhaler, in Germany; but the work has been bought up by the freemasons, who fancy themselves descended from the Templars, so that we have been unable to procure a copy of it. Wilike has, however, extracted largely from it.

281:* Sismondi Républiques Italiennes, iv. p. 143.

291:* The arrests were made in England in the same secret and sudden manner as in France. Rymer iii. 34, 43.



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« Reply #128 on: February 01, 2009, 11:02:46 pm »



Philip le Bel.
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« Reply #129 on: February 01, 2009, 11:03:07 pm »

p. 293

CHAPTER X.

Examination of the captive Knights--Different kinds of Torture--Causes of Confession--What Confessions were made--Templars brought before the Pope--Their Declarations--Papal Commission--Molay brought before it--Ponsard de Gisi--Defenders of the Order--Act of Accusation--Heads of Defence--Witnesses against the Order--Fifty-four Templars committed to the flames at Paris--Remarkable words of Aymeric de Villars-le-Duc--Templars burnt in other Places--Further Examinations--The Head worshipped by the Templars--John de Pollincourt--Peter de la Palu.

THE charge of conducting the inquiry against the society was committed by Philip, without asking or waiting for the Pope's approbation, to Imbert, who lost no time in proceeding to action. He wrote to all the inquisitors of his order, directing them to proceed against the Templars, as he had already done himself; and, in case of ascertaining the truth of the charges, to communicate it to the Minorite Friars, or some other order, that the people might take no offence at the procedure; and to send the declarations as soon as possible to the king and himself. They were to use no cruelty towards the prisoners; but, if necessary, they might employ the torture. On the 19th October, six days after their seizure, Imbert commenced his examinations at the Temple of Paris. One hundred and forty prisoners were examined; when, by promises and by the aid of the torture, confessions in abundance were procured. Thirty-six of . he knights expired under the gentle method employed

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« Reply #130 on: February 01, 2009, 11:03:26 pm »

to extract the truth from them. The zealous Imbert then proceeded to Bayeux, Metz, Toul, and Verdun; in all which places examinations were held and confessions extorted in the same way. It was, however, carefully stated in each deposition, that the witness had spoken without any constraint.

As our readers fortunately cannot be supposed familiarly acquainted with the mild and gentle modes employed by the brethren of St. Dominic, for eliciting the truth, we will present a slight sketch of some of them, that they may be able to form some idea of the value of rack-extorted testimony.

Sometimes the patient was stripped naked, his hands were tied behind his back, heavy weights were fastened to his feet, and the cord which confined his hands passed over a pulley. At a given signal he was hoisted into the air, where he hung suspended by his arms, which were thus drawn out of their natural position: then suddenly the cord would be let run, but checked before the patient reached the ground, and thus a tremendous shock given to his frame. Another mode of torture was to fasten the feet of the patient on an instrument, which prevented his drawing them back; they were then rubbed with some unctions substance, and set before a flaming fire; a board was occasionally placed between his feet and the fire, and withdrawn again, in order to increase his pain by intervals of cessation. The heel of the patient was at times enclosed in an iron heel, which could be tightened at pleasure, and thus caused excruciating pain. What was regarded as a very gentle mode, and only indulged to those who had not strength to undergo the preceding tortures, was to place round sticks between their fingers, and compress them till the bones of the fingers were cracked. The teeth of the Templars were occasionally drawn, their feet roasted, weights suspended

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« Reply #131 on: February 01, 2009, 11:03:49 pm »

from all parts of their bodies; and thus they gave their testimony without constraint!

What is understood as testimony or confession, by inquisitors, is an affirmative answer to such questions as they ask. They usually assume the guilt of the accused; and no witnesses for the defence are heard. It is useless to prove the absurdity and unreasonableness of the charges; for that would be impugning the sense and judgment of those who gave ear to them; and promises are always held out that, if full and free confession is made, the criminal will he gently dealt with. The accused is, moreover, always confined in a solitary cell; he has none to console and cheer him; he feels abandoned by the whole world;. conscious innocence is of no avail; his only hope is in the mercy of his judge. The Templars, we must recollect, were seized towards the commencement of winter; and at that season a dungeon of the middle ages must have been cheerless beyond description. They were barely allowed the necessaries of life; they were stripped of the habit of the order, and denied the consolations of religion, for they were treated as heretics; and they were shown a real or pretended letter of their Master, in which he confessed the crimes of the order, and exhorted them to do the same. Enthusiasts in religion or politics are supported by the consciousness of rectitude, and bear up against privations or torture in firm reliance on the favour of the Divinity, or the praise and esteem of a grateful and admiring posterity. But the great majority of the Templars were far from being such characters; they were illiterate knights, who had long lived in luxury and indulged in arrogance; they knew themselves to be objects of dislike to many, and felt that their power was gone. Need we then be surprised that, beguiled by the hopes held out, numbers of them readily acknowledged all the charges made

p. 296

against their order? and must we not so much the more admire the constancy of those who, unseduced by flattering hopes, and undismayed by menaces and torture, yielded up their breath rather than confess a falsehood?

At Paris the knights who confessed acknowledged the denial of Christ (this was the point which the inquisitors were most anxious to establish), but in an uncertain; contradictory manner. as what was said on one examination was retracted on another, or was enlarged or diminished. It was also confessed that an idol was adored in their chapters. At Nîmes, in November, 1307, forty-five knights confessed the guilt of the order. They afterwards retracted; but in 1311 the torture made them revert to their original declaration. At Troyes two knights confessed everything that was required of them. At Pont de l’Arche seven confessed. These and six others were again examined at Caen; they terminated their declarations by imploring the mercy of the Church, and entreating with tears to be spared the torture. Those examined at Carcassonne all deposed to the worship of the image; but some of them afterwards retracted that admission, and died maintaining the innocence of the order. Six Templars at Bigorre * and seven at Cahors confessed; but several of them afterwards retracted.

Philip and his creatures were at this stage of their career, when the pope began to testify some little dissatisfaction at the irregularity of the proceedings. The king instantly wrote to upbraid him


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« Reply #132 on: February 01, 2009, 11:07:41 pm »

with his lukewarmness in the cause of religion. He stated that the bishops, who were his (the king's) helpers in the government of the Church, were the fittest persons to carry on the business, on account of their local knowledge; and added that neither he nor they could comply with the desires of the pope "he acted," he said, "as the servant of God, and must render to God his account." Clement could not venture to impede the pious labours of such a zealous servant of the Lord; he cancelled the bull which he had prepared on the subject, only requiring that each bishop's inquisitors should be confirmed by a provincial council, and that the examination of the heads of the order should be reserved for himself. Philip then condescended to offer to put the captives into the hands of the papal judges, and to devote the goods of the order to the profit of the Holy Land. The clergy declined taking charge of the knights, and the king and pope managed the property of the order in common.

In the beginning of the year 1308, we are told *, the Master of the Templars, the preceptor of Cyprus, the visiter of France, and the great-priors of Aquitaine and Normandy, were brought before the pope at Chinon, where they voluntarily, and without the application of any torture, confessed the truth of the enormities laid to the charge of the order. They abjured their errors, and the cardinals implored the king in their favour.

M. Raynouard †, we know not on what authority, positively denies that the Master and his companions were ever brought before the pope. He says that, in the month of August following, they were on their way to Poitiers, in order to be examined by the pontiff



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« Reply #133 on: February 01, 2009, 11:09:17 pm »

in person; but that, under pretext of some)f them being sick, they were detained at Chinon, instead of being brought on to Poitiers, where the pope remained, and were finally conducted back to Paris without having seen him. He does not give the date of this occurrence, but it it would seem to have been in the following autumn.

The proceedings against the Templars were so manifestly contrary to the interest of the pope, that Philip deemed it necessary to keep a strict eye over him. Having, in May, 1308, convoked an assembly of the states at Tom's, and obtained from them a declaration of his right to punish notorious heretics without asking the consent of the pope, and in which he was called upon to act with rigour against the Templars, he proceeded with it himself to Poitiers, and presented it to Clement. During the negotiations which took place at that time, the pope attempted to make his escape to Bordeaux, but his baggage and his treasures were stopped by the king's orders at the gate of the town, and Clement remained in effect a prisoner.

While the supreme pontiff was thus in his power, Philip, who still remained at Poitiers, by way of removing all his scruples, had, on the 29th and 30th June, and 1st July, seventy-two of the Templars, who had confessed, brought before Clement and examined. As was to be expected, the greater part repeated their former declarations of the impiety, idolatry, and licentiousness of the order. From these depositions it appears clearly that the torture had been employed to extract the former confessions.

Pierre de Broel said that he had been stripped and put to the torture, but that he had said neither more nor less on that account. He added that those who tortured him were all drunk.

Guillaume de Haymes had not been tortured, but

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« Reply #134 on: February 01, 2009, 11:09:43 pm »

he had been kept a month in solitary confinement on bread and water before he made any confession.

Gerard de St. Martial, who confessed to having denied Christ, and spitten beside the cross, said that he had been cruelly tortured, being at first ashamed to acknowledge these facts, although they were true.

Deodat Jafet had been tortured, but it was the inspiration of God and the blessed Virgin Mary, and not the rack, which had made him confess. He acknowledged every crime imputed to the order. Speaking of the idol, he said, "I was alone in a chamber with the person who received me: he drew out of a box a head, or idol, which appeared to me to have three faces, and said, Thou shouldst adore it as thy Saviour and that of the order of the Temple. We then bent our two knees, and I cried, Blessed be he who will save my soul, and I worshipped it." Yet Jafet afterwards retracted this deposition, and stood forth as one of the defenders of the order.

Iter de Rochefort, though he said he had confessed, had been tortured repeatedly, with a view to extracting more from him. He declared that, having been received in the unlawful way, he had confessed himself to the patriarch of Jerusalem, who had wept bitterly at hearing of such wickedness. As Raynouard very justly observes, the patriarch, who could hardly be a friend to the Templars, was not very likely to content himself with shedding a few useless tears had the knowledge of such a heresy come to his ears.

Pierre de Conders had confessed at the sight of the rack.

Raymond de Stéphani had been severely tortured at Carcassonne. Being asked why he did not then tell the truth, he replied, "Because I did not recollect it; but I prayed the senechal to allow me to

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