• JACQUES DE MOLAY
    
    
    LAST GRAND MASTER KNIGHTS TEMPLAR
     
    BY Lorne Pierce 32 degree
    Past Assistant Grand Chaplain A.F.& A.M. Ontario
     
    Foreword By
     
    D.G. McIlwraith 33 degree
    Sovereign Grand Commander A.A.S.R. for the Dominion of Canada
     
    1943
     
    FOREWORD
     
    It is, I think, a fair assumption that most of us who have received
    the Consistory degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite
    have felt a passing curiosity as to the identity of "the
    illustrious personage represented by the initials," whose martyrdom
    is re-told in the Thirtieth Degree.But very few, I am sure, have
    come away with the urge to turn back the pages of Masonic history
    to discover who and what he was, and why his memory is revered
    nearly six hundred and fifty years after his death.
     
    In the succeeding pages Ill.'. Bro .'. Lorne Pierce has painted a
    vivid picture of the growth of a great Order and of the death of
    its last Grand Master.Once again he has made a valuable and most
    interesting contribution to Masonic education, which should meet
    with peculiar appreciation among our Brethren who have received the
    chivalric and philosophic grades.
     
    I commend it to all Consistories of our jurisdiction as an aid to a
    clearer understanding of the historical background and teaching of
    the Thirtieth and Thirty-second Degrees.
     
    D.G.McILWRAITH.
     
    Jacques deMolay LAST GRAND MASTER KNIGHTS TEMPLAR
     
    1.
     
    The origin of knighthood is lost in the dim past. In early England
    a knight seems to have been a youth who attended a member of the
    court; it was a position of honour and of service and might lead in
    time to Royal recognition and rank.In Germany the early knight
    may have been regarded much in the same way, a disciple. In both
    countries the knights were obviously ambitious and high-spirited
    youths as one might expect.It was in France, however, that the
    idea of chivalry arose, and this conception quickly spread
    throughout Europe.Some knights had made themselves useful to
    Earls or Bishops, that is the principal landlords and magnates and
    military chiefs of the realm, and might be classed as superior
    civil servants in times of peace, becoming leaders of the armies,
    both secular and religious, in times of war.There were, of
    course, many foot-loose knights wandering about Europe in quest of
    adventure, but on the whole a knight was a responsible link in the
    Feudal chain reaching from the king to the peasant. In time the
    ideal of chivalry came to prevail, and the high honour accompanying
    it seems to have derived from prehistoric Teutonic custom. The
    candidate had to submit to a rigorous investigation of his
    character and qualifications.Then the community turned out to
    welcome him with fitting ceremony and investiture with sword and
    shield, with belt and sword, or with gilt spurs and collar, usually
    by the knight's father or some exalted personage. In time t hose
    who had fought against the Saracens became pree minent, and were
    accorded rank and dignity independent of birth or wealth.
     
    The Knights Templar, or Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and of the
    Temple of Solomon, was one of the three out-standing military
    orders of the Middle Ages in Christendom.The brotherhood was
    founded, about 1118, by Hugues de Payns, a nobleman residing near
    Troyes, in Burgundy, and Godefroy de St. Omer (or Aldemar), a
    Norman knight.Their original purpose was to protect pilgrims to
    sacred places, more especially those who sought the Holy Sepulchre.
    At first there were eight or nine Knights Templar.They b ound
    themselves to each other as a brotherhood in arms, and took upon
    themselves vows of chastity, obedience and poverty according to the
    rule of St. Benedict.It is also recorded that they pledged
    themselves to fight against ignorance, tyranny and the enemies of
    the Holy Sepulchre, and "to fight with a pure mind for the supreme
    and true King." Baldwin I, King of Jerusalem, assigned them
    accommodation in his palace, which stood on the site of the T emple
    of Solomon. In this way their name, Templars, was der ived.At
    first the knights wore no uniform or regalia, nothing in fact save
    the cast-off garments that were given to them in charity.It was
    the poverty, sincerity and zeal of the order in its first years
    that endowed it with importance.They sought out the poor and the
    outcast, the excommunicated as well as the unwanted, and shepherded
    them within their fold.
     
    Hugues de Payns, accompanied by several of his knights, returned
    home in 1127 for the purpose of securing adequate ecclesiastical
    sanction for some of the special privileges which the order had
    usurped.Among the very special privileges was immunity from
    excommunication, which threatened a good deal of trouble.Bernard
    of Clairvaux, the greatest abbot of his day, received Hugues de
    Payns, and not only praised the Knights Templar, but went much
    further.The future St. Bernard did not attend the Council of
    Troyes in 1128, at which the Rule of the Temple was drawn up, but
    he seems to have inspired it - the constitution, ritual, discipline
    and very core of the order.Finally there got abroad the idea,
    that in the rule of the order there existed a "secret rule," and a
    legend speedily grew up around this "lost word." In time this was
    the undoing of the order.The whole Rule of the Temple was
    probably never written out, its more essential parts bein g
    conveyed by word of mouth, by symbol and sign, and protected by
    proper safeguards.The point of importance was, that the order now
    had ample acknowledgement and authority, and from this moment
    onward power and treasure flowed into its hands in an unending and
    broadening stream.
     
    II
     
    The Templars and the Crusades are forever associated in history and
    legend.The Templars, in an astonishingly short time, spread over
    Christendom.They had thousands of the fattest manors in the
    Christian world. They became the bankers of the age, the money
    exchange between Europe and the East, the trust company of the
    time.They provided loans to princes, dowries for queens, ransoms
    for great warriors, safety deposit vaults for the treasure of
    emperors and popes.Their chapters were the schools of dipl omacy
    of the time, training grounds for prospective rulers, colleges in
    commerce and finance, sanctuaries for all who needed protection,
    high or low.It was inevitable that they should attract to
    themselves the envy of the less fortunate orders and guilds.In
    time, in fact before the death of St. Bernard, in 1153, they had
    not only received the tribute of kings and cardinals in the form of
    lands and treasure, but they freed themselves from the n ecessity
    of paying tax, tithe or tribute to any power, prince or pope, which
    privilege they claimed as defender of the Church.This was enough
    to bring upon themselves the inevitable reckoning for overreaching
    ambition, but they went further, very much further.They not only
    claimed exemption from excommunication, but claimed exemption from
    all papal decrees except those specially aimed at them by name, and
    they owed allegiance to no power or authority on earth except their
    own head, the Bishop of Rome.They had become a separate social,
    economic, political and re ligious order, cutting across and
    transcending kingdoms, principalities and archdioceses, with only
    the Vice-gerent of God superior to their Grand Master.The
    enormous powers of the Knights Templar were bound to be challenged
    by the popes as well as kings who demanded loyalty within their
    realms.The order found itself in increasingly compromising
    situations, the victim of treachery on the part of kings and
    princes of the Church, or the instigator of trickery and subterfuge
    on i ts own part to preserve its powers.The King of France,
    Philip the Fair, set out to unite the Hospitallers and the Templars
    into one grand order, The Knights of Jerusalem, the Grand Master of
    which was always to be a prince of the royal house of France.The
    Grand Master of the Knights Templar invariably was Master of the
    Templars at Jerusalem, and in Cyprus after the loss of the Holy
    Land to the Turks.He came in time to live in a sumptuous manner,
    befitting his great wealth and vast powers.In th e field, during
    the campaigns, he occupied a great tent, round, with the black and
    white pennant flying above its high peak, bearing the red cross of
    the Templars.Regional Grand Commanders were accorded similar
    honours and no one took precedence over them except the Grand
    Master, when he was present.
     
    We know little concerning the initiation ceremonies of the Knights
    Templar.Probably there was some cleansing ritual, robing in
    white, the all-night vigil and Holy Communion, gilt spurs, sword or
    other gift of honour, and finally the oath and accolade.Certainly
    the order was a Christian institution.Their war-cry - Beauseant!
    - also inscribed on their banners and pennants, pledged loyalty to
    their friends and promised terror to their foes.Likewise both a
    prayer and a pledge were the well-known words:
     
    Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam.
    Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy Name be the glory.
     
    III
     
    Jacques de Molay was the twenty-second and last Grand Master of the
    Knights Templar.He was born about 1240 at Besancon, in the Duchy
    of Burgundy, and was of noble but poor family.He was admitted to
    the order of knighthood, in 1265, at Beaune and proceeded shortly
    to the Holy Land, under the Grand Master William de Beaujeu, to
    fight for the Holy Sepulchre.Jacques de Molay remained in the
    Holy Land for many years, for he was still with the order in
    Jerusalem when, about 1295, he was elected Grand Master upon the
    death of Grand Master Gaudinius - Theobald de Gaudilai.After the
    loss of Palestine by the Templars, de Molay took his few remaining
    knights to the Island of Cyprus.In 1305 he was summoned to a
    conference with the Pope, Clement V, who stated that he wished to
    consider measures for effecting a union between the rival Templars
    and Hospitallers.A long and bitter feud had existed between the
    two great orders.However, both had agreed not to accept
    disciplined members who might desire to transfer their allegiance
    from one order to the other.Also, in battle, it was permitted
    members who became hopelessly separated from the main body of one
    order to rally under the cross of the rival order if near.
     
    Jacques de Molay, accompanied by sixty knights, made a royal
    progress westward.He called upon the Pope who consulted him
    regarding a further Crusade, and de Molay requested an
    investigation into charges that were already being openly made
    against the order.Finally he arrived in Paris with kingly pomp.
    Philip the Fair, King of France, suddenly arrested every Knight
    Templar in France, October 13, 1307, de Molay and his sixty friends
    among them.They were brought before the University of Paris and
    the ch arges read to them.De Molay spent five and a half years in
    prison.Of those arrested, one hundred and twenty-three knights of
    the order "confessed under the torture of the Inquisition." Some
    confessed that at the initiation ceremonies they had spat upon the
    Crucifix.When the Grand Master's turn came he likewise confessed,
    apparently to bogus charges prepared beforehand by the Inquisition,
    fearing torture, but he denied the charges of gross practices
    indignantly, and demanded audience with the Po pe.Th e Pope
    himself believed the Templers were guilty, at least on some of the
    counts, but he resented the intrusion of Philip in what he regarded
    as his own special precinct, in spite of the fact that he largely
    owed his papal tiara to Philip.
     
    Many retracted their confessions regarding their indignity to the
    Crucifix, only to be burned at the stake.Many who returned to
    their homes throughout Christendom, recanted, but the Inquisition
    followed them and they burned.Despotism, naked and cruel, without
    scruple or any capacity for shame, had broken loose upon the world.
    It was a new and bloody technique that proved vastly effective in
    the hands of tyrants - both secular and religious.Civilization
    was to hear a good deal about this arbitrary rul e, this summary
    and vindictive totalitarianism, without conscience, hungry for
    power, wholly wicked, completely mad. In 1311, Clement and Philip
    became reconciled, which prepared the way for the final act in the
    tragedy.The next year, at Vienna, the Pope condemned the order in
    a sermon while Philip sat at his right hand.Later the inevitable
    occurred; the Knights Templar were broken up.Much of their
    treasure was given to the Knights of St. John, but Phil ip the Fair
    and Clement V reserved land and treas ure, castles and Abbeys for
    themselves and their friends.
     
    No full hearing seems to have been given to all the charges, or any
    comprehensive judgment handed down on the order as a whole.
    However, in 1314, Jacques de Molay, whose fear had made him a
    pathetic figure, and whose craven "confessions" contrary to the
    oath of his order had sent hundreds to their death, again
    confessed, again recanted his confession, again confessed, each
    time shrinking miserably in stature both as a man and Grand Master
    and having humiliation and utter disgrace heaped upon him for his
    pa ins.Finally, after the long imprisonment and tragedy and
    sorrow of it all, he was led out upon the scaffold in front of
    Notre Dame in Paris, in company with his friend Gaufrid de Charney,
    Preceptor of Normandy.The papal legates were in attendance and a
    vast multitude of people filled the square.He was to confess by
    arrangement and hear the legates sentence him to life imprisonment.
    Jacques de Molay finally atoned.Instead of confessing he
    proclaimed the innocence of the order.King Philip the Fa ir did
    not hesitate or consult with the Pope's legates; he had de Molay
    burned forthwith, "between the Augustinians and the royal garden."
    Guido Delphini was burned with them, and also the young son of the
    dauphin of Auvergne.With his dying breath Jacques de Molay
    shouted to the multitude that King and Pope would soon meet him
    before the judgment seat of God.The common people gathered up his
    ashes, and before many days it was as de Molay had for etold, Both
    Clement V and Philip the Fair were dead.
     
    IV.
     
    The immortal Dante maintained the innocence of the Knights as did
    many another famous contemporary.Today it is generally admitted
    that the Inquisition went to the poor knights in prison, told them
    that their officers had confessed to spitting upon the Crucifix,
    and then wrung from them "confessions" by the most brutal of all
    institutions.The confessions are all discounted.The evidence
    against them was from their rivals, the Dominicans and Franciscans
    and others, all worthless.
     
    The Order had long held the Turk in check, and kept alive the dream
    of a united Christendom.It had given to the world the idea of the
    chivalrous man as a religious man, the servant of his state not
    ashamed to own his God.It had paved the way for the large part
    laymen were to play in the religious life of the nations.It was
    the school of diplomacy and commerce, of international finance and
    opinion.Those who destroyed the order opened the way for Turkish
    conquests in the West.They also made known th e horrors of
    despotism, of trial by pogrom and purge, which kindled again in the
    wicked days of St. Bartholomew's and in the mad days of the French
    Revolution - the cult of cruelty, that ran its course even in the
    New World with witch huntings and burnings, and that is not yet
    dead. It has been said that the thirteenth of October, 1307, was a
    day of humiliation for the whole race. If the world remembers, and
    recovers its sense of shame, its capacity for indign ation, it may
    not have been in vain.
     
    The Middle Ages were past, and deep rivers of Christian blood had
    flowed for two hundred and fifty years, before the Turk was
    expelled from the Spanish peninsula.Under Don John of Austria the
    Mediterranean states, organized into a league, sent an armada of
    two hundred ships against the Turkish fleet that had sailed
    westward from Cyprus and Crete.Christian met Saracen off Lepanto,
    October 7, 1571, broke the naval power of the Turks forever and set
    barricades to their western expansion to this day.Thus was
    October 13, 1307, at last avenged.Nearly every European state and
    noble family was represented.There was also present a humble
    Spaniard who had his arm shattered but who lived to write a book,
    with his one good hand, the novel Don Quixote, that laughed the
    last dregs of a corrupt and bogus chivalry out of Europe.He died
    in 1616, the year our Shakespeare died, and an era ended.The era
    of the common man followed; a new day had dawned.
     
    THE SCHOOL OF CHIVALRY
     
    There are, if I may so say, three powerful spirits, which have from
    time to time moved over the face of the waters, and given a
    predominant impulse to the moral sentiments and energies of
    mankind.These are the spirits of liberty, of religion, and of
    honour.It was the principal business of chivalry to animate and
    cherish the last of these three. And whatever high magnanimous
    energy the love of liberty or religious zeal has ever imparted, was
    equalled by the exquisite sense of honour which this institutio n
    preserved.
     
    Valour, loyalty, courtesy, munificence, formed collectively the
    character of an accomplished knight, so far as was displayed in the
    ordinary tenor of his life, reflecting these virtues as an
    unsullied mirror. Yet something more was required for the perfect
    idea of chivalry, and enjoined by its principles; an active sense
    of justice, an ardent indignation against wrong, a determination of
    courage to its best end, the prevention or redress of injury.
     
    EUROPE DURING THE MIDDLE AGES,
     
    HENRY HALLAM
     

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