Friday, 13 October 1307 - an affair of state

The arrest of the French Templars on Friday 13 October 1307 left its mark on the minds of contemporaries. It even gave rise to myths and superstition linked to the choice of the date of Friday the 13th, which today has become both a day of misfortune for the superstitious and a day of luck for the French national lottery. Unlike often thought, the arrests were an initiative of the French King Philip the Fair, without consent of or cooperation by Pope Clement V who alone held supreme authority over the Templar Order.

It should be noted that the king himself had chosen this date to mark the spirits, Friday reminding everyone of the day of Christ's death and the number 13, being betrayel of Christ by Judas. Thus, Philip the Fair intended the arrest to be associated with the putting out of action of religious people who had betrayed their mission as soldiers of Christ by adopting heretical practices. The trial itself, from the arrest in 1307 to the burning of the last Grand Master in 1314, had lasted seven years during which the reputation of the brothers of the Temple was constantly tarnished. Seven years of investigation, interrogations, cross-examinations and confessions extracted under torture.

Seven years of misfortune that will remain engraved in people's minds and will lead to the dissolution of the memory of the Poor Knights of Christ and the erasure of their exploits from the memory of history.  

Among the charges brought by the trial investigators were the usual charges in any heresy trial: denial of the Christian faith, veneration of idols, and enrichment of an order dedicated to poverty. If these few charges are also found in the trial against the Cathars, it is because the king of France's lawyers were conducting a trial for heresy, the only way to obtain the suppression of a religious order, but which legally could only be conducted by the pope. It was therefore an illegal trial that the King of France, Philip the Fair, and his men conducted against those of the Temple.

They deliberately violated canon law as they had already done against the Bishops and even the previous Pope Boniface VIII. These cases show a well-honed procedure that bore fruit in the struggle of royal power against pontifical power in France, where the king intended to control the clergy as he controlled his people. 

The Templar affair was therefore in no way a plot by the king and the pope to abolish the order, but rather an affair of state, the main aim of which was for Philip the Fair both to purge the kingdom of an institution that he believed to be corrupt and to weaken the authority of the pontiff on a long-term basis. the authority of the pontiff.

This blog is a slightly edited translation by TemplarsNow of  the chapter  "La fin de l'ordre du Temple" (The end of the Order of the Temple) from Les nouveaux Secrets des Templiers by Thierry P.F. Leroy (Éditions Ouest-France, 2017, pp 116-118)). Illustration shows Pope Clement V (to the left) and King Philip IV the Fair facing the Templars, by Master of Boucicaut, 15th century (source Wikipedia). In reality King and Pope never questioned Templars together.

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