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Shibboleth: A Templar Monitor, by George Cooper Connor, [1894], at

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Monitorial Instructions, Notes, Comments, and Suggestions.


In the year of our Lord 1118 the following gentlemen formed themselves into a society, in the city of Jerusalem, whose duty it was to escort pilgrims to and from the Holy City, through the mountain defiles and dangerous passes, en route, viz.: Hugh de Payen, a gentleman named Rossal, Godfrey de St. Omer, Godfrey Bissol, Payen de Montdidier, Archambaud de Saint-Aignan, and two gentlemen named D’Andre and De Gondemare, respectively. These eight were joined by Hugh of Champagne seven years later. And the society thus formed was without rules, and its members wore no particular habit. They lived in a house close by the Temple, and soon came to be known as Knights of the Temple, and Templars. That house was a part of the palace of the western kings, which had been set apart as the home of the pilgrims, and their guards. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was the chapel of the new society.

Hugh de Payen went to Rome in 1127 to ask of Pope Honorius II a new crusade, and while there besought his Holiness to form the little society at Jerusalem into a religious and military order. The Pope referred him to the Council of Troyes, then in session, which appointed St. Bernard to draw up rules for the Order, and prescribe for it a dress. The white dress prescribed by St. Bernard had a red cross added by Pope Eugenius III, years afterwards.

The name assumed by this society is not known to us with perfect accuracy. They were known as "The Brethren of the Order of the Temple," and as "Brethren of the Soldiery of the Temple," and as "Brethren of the Temple." They were referred to as "Pauperes

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[paragraph continues] Commilitones Christi et Templi Solomonis." It is supposed that their armorial bearing of two knights riding one horse referred to this poverty, but that is not certain. Neither is it clear that the bearing alluded to "Brotherly Love," or even to "Humility." True they were vowed to chastity, poverty, and obedience, but the king supplied all their wants in the beginning, and the Order soon began to revel in opulence.

The enthusiasm which this society of nine gallant young gentlemen aroused all over Christendom tells the story of the popular craze. The Pope, Prelates, Kings, and all the people, praised their chivalry, and eager youths clamored for admission to their ranks. The Pope promised heaven to all who would take the Cross against the Saracens. Kings settled rich estates upon the new Order, on which Priories were founded. The Order increased in numbers with astounding rapidity. They were young nobles of hot blood, of sinews of steel, and of great physical endurance. These became Templars knowing that they were to be forever upon the field, and never to know peace.

The Templars had no lady-love save Mary, Queen of Heaven; they wore no ornaments, their hair was to be kept short, and their dress plain white. They were to eat two and two at the same table, so that each might know that the other did not fast, which was strictly forbidden. They were to attend chapel services, but if on duty at that time they might say their prayers in bed. They were to hold no correspondence with the outer world, nor could a Brother walk alone. Amusements were not encouraged, and all conversation was serious. The Templar had no personal wealth, and if he was taken prisoner by the Saracen he was to be left to his fate,—no ransom could be paid for him. The Templar well knew that his fate was the alternative of the Koran or the sword. Hugh de Payen took three hundred such men back to Jerusalem with him, and before five years had passed every one of these had been killed.

The Hospitalers, which had been organized into a military order by Godfrey de Bouillon, became envious of the reputation of the Templars, and dissensions arose, though both frequently fought gallantly side by side against the common enemy. The dissensions began as early as 1179, and continued, with frequent reconciliations, until the suppression of the Order of the Temple, in 1314. In 1251 the two Orders actually fought a battle, in which the Templars were almost cut to pieces. But their decimated ranks were speedily filled.

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We need not attempt to give even a summary of the great battles that were fought by the Templars, or recite even instances of their almost superhuman prowess. Time and space would fail us. Princes came to fear them, and bishops to hate them. What cared they? They were rich; there were no scandals afloat; they were both churchmen and warriors; their nation was the Catholic Church; their only chief the Pope. They mixed in no struggles unless the Pope's interests were involved; their persons were sacred. They ever held up the Cross against the Crescent. They were proportionally hated, and their counsels were rejected when they could have secured by treaty free access to Jerusalem, and peace with the Soldans in the last crusade. Poor William of Sonnac! His eye had just been dashed out, and he hastened to plead with the Christian chiefs to enter into treaty. His advice was scorned. Then dashing the blood from his eyeless socket he rushed to horse, and wildly shouted, "Beauceant to the front! Beauceant and death!" He and all his companions fell sword in hand that day. Aye, there never was known a Templar who was a coward.

In 1301 Boniface III was Pope, and Philip the Fair was King of France. A feud broke out between them, Boniface claiming temporal power in France. The Templars, as usual, stood by the Pope, and they sent him funds. Boniface died within two years, and his successor, Benedict XI, died within the year of his exaltation. This was the opportunity for Philip, who by intriguing and promises secured the election of the ambitious Archbishop of Bordeaux. He assumed the tiara under the title of Clement V. He had agreed to live in France, and was to do the bidding of Philip. Clement approved the demand which Philip had made upon the priests for subsidies, and said nothing about the Templars being compelled to likewise submit to these taxations. In fact, Philip had called Boniface "His Fatuity" in place of "His Holiness," and burned the Pope's Bull of Excommunication with great eclat. Then he made a prisoner of the Holy Father, which created a great scandal.

Clement V was wiser than Boniface III, and Philip had in him an unswerving ally when he sought to suppress the Templars, who sided with his enemy, Boniface III, and desired to gather into the treasury of France the immense riches of that Order. The Templars never suspected for a moment that their only master, the Pope, would betray them; and, in fact, had not a suspicion of their danger. They lived so haughtily apart from all the world that no hint of the

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[paragraph continues] King's desire to procure testimony against them reached their ears. But it reached the ears of others, among whom were two renegades, one a Knight Templar disgraced from the dignity of Prior, the other a member of the Order dismissed for infamous impieties. These wretches were Esquin von Florian, Prior of Montfaucon, the other one Noffodei. They were in prison at Paris, and under sentence of death.

These villains informed their jailer that if their lives were spared they would put the King in possession of the secret impieties of the Templars. The King examined them himself; and the revelations they made, among others, were:

1. The Templars were more like Mohammedans than Christians.

2. The Novices were required to deny Christ, and to spit upon the Cross.

3. The Templars worshiped idols, despised the sacraments, murdered, and secretly buried all betrayers of their secrets, and practiced theft and sodomy.

4. The Templars betrayed the Holy Land to the Infidels.

Philip took down these accusations, and pretended to believe them, although he knew that no intimation of such crimes had even been whispered in any of the states of Christendom, in which the Templars lived and held rich preceptories.

We may well spare the reader a recital of the deceptions, misrepresentations, hypocrisy and falsehoods that attended the so-called inquiries made into those charges by the Pope and his bishops. De Molai had been to see the Pope, in response to an affectionate letter from His Holiness, although the charges were in his hands over a year before writing so affectionately. The Pope did not allude to the accusations, and De Molai had not heard of them. The Grand Master came with a band of trusted Knights, and twelve mules laden with chests of gold and silver. The wily Philip received him without signs of displeasure. It was now 1306, nearly two years since the accusations had been made. Rumors at last reached the Grand Master, and he grew uneasy. He went again to the Pope (1307) taking with him the four French preceptors, and earnestly denied the stories that he had heard. The Pope dismissed him as if he believed the Order innocent.

The conduct of both the Pope and the King lulled the Templars to absolute security all over France, and they continued to live on in haughty and friendless isolation until the morning of October 13,

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[paragraph continues] 1307, when every Templar in France was seized in his bed and carried to prison. The King gave the secret order of arrest, and the bishops, whom the Templars had so long defied, cordially co-operated, and flung them into their filthy dungeons.

Let us omit the farce of a trial, and relate some incidents. The prisoners died rapidly of hunger and exposure while being plied with promises of liberty if they would confess the guilt of the Grand Master, and of the Order. They were assured that the Grand Master had already confessed. A few said "yes," but the mass denied the infamous accusations. Many cried out,—"If the Grand Master so confessed he lied in his throat." These were brutally tortured, and thirty-six of them perished in the tortures. Some broke down and confessed, but withdrew the confession when the tortures had ceased. The poor Pope in horror protested, but the King accused him of trying to conceal the guilt of the Order. The inquiry went on, traitors confessed, Templars were deceived, and came to Paris under lying promises.

It is probable that under torture De Molai, an old man, emaciated by brutal treatment in prison, confessed to the guilt of the Order. But before the Church Commission he appeared stupefied when he heard the confession read. He cried out that the confession was false, averring that he could stand boiling, roasting, or even killing, but that prolonged tortures were beyond human endurance. His hands had been crushed until the blood ran from his nails. Others had had their feet held to the fire until they had dropped off. Confessions were made, and almost immediately withdrawn. A squabble arose between the Papal Commission and the Court of the Archbishop of Sens. This latter court assumed jurisdiction, and burned fifty-four of the Templars in one batch, on the spot where afterwards stood the infamous Bastile. The Commission mildly objected, and finally agreed upon a report that the Order of the Temple had disgraced itself; and should be suppressed. Pope Clement V approved the recommendation, and the Order was officially suppressed.

The tragic end of Grand Master De Molai is worthy of permanent record. The Bull of Suppression was read on a platform set up in the Cathedral Church, on March 18, 1314, and in the presence of the Grand Master and the Priors of France and Aquitaine. When the Cardinal read the vile charges De Molai cried with a loud voice that they were false, but the two Priors, terrified by death at the stake, adhered to their confessions. On the edge of the platform De Molai spoke: "I declare before heaven and earth, and I avow, although to

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my eternal shame, that I have committed the greatest of all crimes; but only by acknowledging the truth of those so foully charged against an Order, of which the truth to-day compels me to say that Order is innocent. The fearful spectacle that fronts me can not make me confirm a first lie by a second. Upon a condition so infamous, I heartily renounce a life already hateful to me."

As the sun went down that same evening the Grand Master perished in the flames on the island in the Seine, professing the innocence of the Order, and welcoming to the same fate one of the Priors who feared to stand by him in the cathedral, but who rallied, and died beside him. It is said that the dying Grand Master summoned both King and Pope to meet him at the judgment. Clement died within a few weeks, in great physical agony, and a vicious horse sent the cruel Philip to his account within a year thereafter.

So ended the ancient Order of the Templars. They were needed no longer, since Palestine had been abandoned to the Infidel. "Empires, monarchies, guilds, orders, societies, religious creeds, rise in the same way, and disappear when they stand in the way of other things."

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