“Crimes” and Punishment

Today in History, March 18: 1314 – Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Knights Templar, and Geoffroi de Charney, Master of Normandy, are taken to an island in the middle of the Seine and very slowly burned to death. The Templars were men from wealthy European families that took vows of devotion to God, and fought in the Crusades. In the process, the Templars amassed a lot of property and wealth, all owned by the order, as the Knights themselves took a vow of poverty. French king Phillip IV was in a fix…the royal coffers were all but empty and he owed an incredible sum to the Templars. To fix his problem he accused the Knights of heresy, saying that they did several things against God during their initiations. He ordered them arrested and seized their wealth; now he had their money and their property, and no longer owed them anything. Many were burned at the stake. The others were imprisoned while Phillip and the Pope went back and forth over what was to be done with them. de Molay was tortured and eventually confessed to his “crimes”. When later questioned by Cardinals, he recanted the confession. After languishing in prison for 7 years, he and the others were brought out into public and sentenced to be imprisoned for the remainder of their lives. de Molay and de Charney both stood and publicly stated that the only crime they had committed was to betray the order by making false confessions to save their own lives. Phillip was enraged. While the Cardinals sent by the Pope discussed this new development, he had the two troublesome Templar leaders taken to Isle de Juifs, secured to scaffolds, and slowly burned; if they “confessed” again, they would be spared. de Molay remained calm and stoic, refusing to betray his Order again. How often have we seen the corrupt accuse the righteous of committing crimes to cover their own?

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