London, Volume 3

Knight, Charles


LXX--The Temple Church: Its History and Associations.

LXX--The Temple Church: Its History and Associations.




There seems to be a strong under-current of enlightened and generous sentiment respecting the care of our national edifices moving beneath the surface of the bustling, struggling, money-loving world, which it is pleasant to reflect on and still more delightful to see-revealing itself, as it does, in the restoration of --such beautiful structures as the Lady Chapel, ; and Crosby Place; and in the still more important works of reviving the pristine splendour of the Abbey of St. Albans, and of the old and famous church of the Knights Templars, now in progress, the subject of the present paper. In expense, magnificence, and refined taste, this last-mentioned restoration promises--the extent of the original being considered--to surpass every similar attempt known in this country. In looking also at the quarter from whence the funds for these


labours are obtained, finds fresh cause for satisfaction. The benefactors are no longer isolated individuals, but a combination of many, or even public bodies. Thus, whilst the Lady Chapel and: Crosby Place have been, and St. Albans is in process of being, restored, each at the expense of a considerable number of subscribers from different ranks of society, the works at the Temple Church, on which an enormous sum of money is to be expended, are being carried into effect by the unaided efforts of the Societies to which it belongs-those of the Inner and Middle Temple. This is, perhaps, the most cheering symptom of the whole. When we consider how many of our noblest cathedrals, churches, halls, and other public buildings are directly or indirectly connected with wealthy and influential bodies, we may judge what wonders may; be worked by the practical example of the Templars. We see, indeed, good grounds to hope that it will mark an era which the future antiquary-and not him only--will be delighted to refer to;--an era from whence no edifice of real value, whether for its intrinsic grandeur or beauty, its place in the history of art, or for its associations, will be allowed to sink into irretrievable decay and ruin, as too many have done, nay, as too many yet are suffered t do. Apart from the ordinary advantages pointed out by the advocates of such restorations, there is which we do not remember to have seen dwelt on sufficiently. To a large number of persons the intelligent poor, who have no money to buy books, nor leisure to read them, in particular-these national memorials have a peculiar value. They are not to them merely objects of interest; as: the

local habitations

of men and deeds already made familiar by history ;:they. To adduce no other example than that afforded by the subject before us, here in this very low and dark passage, through. which crowds are hurrying, some to the chambers of the men of law who are in this part-so thickly clustered together, some to make a shorter cut from to Blackfriar, and inhale the pleasant breeze from the Temple Garden in their way--in this very passage how often may we not see the artisan, with his basket of tools on his shoulder, pausing to gaze on some peculiar expression that has caught his eye in of the faces of the beautiful Norman gateway before us, and then, by a natural process, on the gate


itself--the church within-into which he peeps curiously whilst, lastly, his thoughts revert to the Knights Templars, whose church he has heard it was, and as he connects the skill, the courage, and the rank conveyed in the idea of knights, with what he sees, the peaceful and holy temple before him, so gloriously adorned with all the braveries of architecture, sculpture, painting, and yet so. simple, almost austere in its general effect, he arrives, perhaps unconsciously, to a very fair notion of that extraordinary and interesting class of men.

Pending the completion of the church, according to the splendid designs for its restoration, we shall not attempt a description of the edifice; but in the mean time let us imagine ourselves entering the interior as it was till recently, and call up some of the historical associations in which it is so rich. The church, as no doubt most of our readers know, is divided into portions, opening, however, into each other--a circular part called the Round, and an oblong. The different architecture as well as the different shapes show that these portions belong not to the same period. The Round is of course the oldest, and is a most remarkable feature, there being but other churches in England of the same form. Above centuries and a half have elapsed since the consecration of this part, an event not merely noticeable in itself as marking the culminating period of the Knights Templars in England, but for the circumstances with which it was attended.

In the year , Hugh de Payens, the head of a new and strange society, which had excited much notice among the pious and warlike of England, arrived in London to explain its objects, and extend its scope and influence. We may imagine the interest with which his auditors (among whom were the King, Henry L., and his court) listened to his tale of the origin and progress of the order. But a few years before, himself and other Knights, pitying the sufferings of the Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem, recently recovered from the Infidels by the Crusaders, entered into a solemn compact to devote their lives and fortunes to the defence of the highway from the inroads of the Mussulmans, and the ravages of the numerous robbers who infested it.

Poor fellow-soldiers of Jesus Christ

they then called themselves; but, as their services became conspicuous, and the heads of the church lodged them within the enclosure of the Temple on Mount Moriah (the site of the great Jewish structure destroyed by Titus), and amidst that magnificent assemblage of buildings partly erected by the Christian Emperor Justinian, in the century, and partly by the Mussulman Caliph Omar, in the , this new combination of the somewhat opposite qualities of the warrior and the monk became known as the . Their: rise was rapid, and so was the growth of their ambition. Presently they enlarged their object from the defence of the roads to the defence of the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem itself; and eminent men from various countries joined their society, and threw their whole possessions into the common stock. Hugh de Payens was made Master; who, having succeeded in obtaining the sanction of the Pope in a personal visit, spread everywhere throughout Europe the knowledge of the actual purposes of the new Order, and sought assistance. He Set out from Jerusalem with brethren; he returned to it, after his visit to England, with , all chosen from the noblest families of Europe, and principally from France and England. The days of the


Order when Knights (Hugh de Payens himself and a companion) were compelled to ride horse, a memorable circumstance commemorated in the Seal of the Order, were at an end now; and an opposite danger, that of too much wealth, was, as subsequent events showed, the most to be guarded against. Before Hugh de Payens' departure from England, he placed a Knight Templar, called the Prior of the Temple, at the head of the Society in this country, whose duty it was, in common with all the similarly appointed persons throughout Europe, to manage the estates and affairs of the Order, and transmit the revenues to Jerusalem. Numerous Templar establishments now sprang up in different parts of Great Britain, the chief of which was that of London. The site of the metropolitan house was in , where Southampton House was afterwards erected, and subsequently the existing . And here a very interesting remain was discovered, but we regret to say not preserved, an ancient circular chapel of Caen stone. This house Hugh de Payens himself saw formally established. As the English Knights increased in number and wealth, they purchased the site of the present Temple, and set about erecting their magnificent church and other buildings. To distinguish this house from that of , the was called the , and the other the Temple.

Whilst these works were fast progressing to completion, and the Templars were probably looking for some distinguished personage to consecrate and open their house with suitable honours and ceremonies, the misfortunes of their brethren in Palestine brought no less a personage than Heraclius, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, to England, accompanied by the Master of , now, in emulation of the Templars, a fighting as well as a religious establishment. It was evident that the state of affairs must be critical that could have brought such messengers together. After a long-protracted struggle, attended by many alternations of success to both sides, but ending generally in the increased power of the followers of Mahomet, particularly after the appearance of Saladin on the scene, nearly the whole body of the Templars were destroyed or taken prisoners in a terrific battle between the Christian and Mussulman armies on the banks of the Jordan in . Among the prisoners was Odo de St. Amand, the Master, who truly

perished in his pride,

although his motives demand both sympathy and admiration. Saladin offered him his liberty in exchange for his nephew, who was in the hands of the Templars; but the only reply he could obtain was that a Templar ought either to conquer or die, and that the only ransom he had to give was his girdle and his knife. He was thrown into the dungeons of Damascus, where he languished and died. Subsequent successes, however, enabled the Christian warriors to give Saladin a serious check, when a truce for years was agreed to. It was to make the best use of this temporary suspension of arms that Heraclius the Patriarch, the Master of the Temple, and the Master of , proceeded to Europe. Their chief hope was in Henry II: of England, who had promised, on receiving absolution for the murder of Becket, to proceed in person to Palestine with a great army, and to maintain, in particular, Templars at his own expense. To fortify their position, the trio, obtained letters from the Pope, threatening Henry with the judgment of Heaven if he failed in his engagements. The Master of the Temple died at Verona, on


the way, the other arrived in England in . Henry met them at Reading, and listened with tears to their statements, as, throwing themselves on their knees before him, they described the state of the Holy Land, and besought his assistance. Their reception was very encouraging, and Henry promised to bring the matter before Parliament, when it met, on the Sunday in Lent.

In the mean time the English Templars brought Heraclius to their house and church here (the round portion), now finished, and requested him to consecrate the latter. Familiar as he was with the gorgeous architectural splendours of Jerusalem, Heraclius must have examined with pleasure the beautiful house of the Templars in London, which was not merely beautiful, but replete with all conveniences suitable to so distinguished and wealthy a community, and every way fitted for the due performance of the discipline of the Order. The Church, with its circular, sweeping colonnade and tesselated pavement below, and noble arches, stained windows, and painted and groined ceiling above; the .peaceful-looking cloisters; the separate residences of the Prior or Master, and the Knights, the Chaplains, and serving brethren, the retainers and domestics; the Refectory where they dined, and the Chapter House where they held their meetings; and lastly, the garden or pleasaunce on the banks of the Thames, where the brethren not only walked but trained their horses, and performed military exercise-all betokened the firm hold the Order had here obtained, and the taste and wealth at its disposal. Heraclius now performed the act required of him; and, till the year , when some workmen destroyed it, there was an inscription recording the circumstance placed over the little door leading from the Round into , granting an indulgence of days to those yearly seeking the sacred edifice. On this same visit, it is deserving of notice, Heraclius consecrated the church of the rival Society of Hospitallers, or Knights of St. John, at Clerkenwell.[n.309.1]  In the house of the latter, just month after the performance of the ceremony at the Temple, the Parliament met; when, among other distinguished persons present, were William, King of Scotland, and his brother David. An earnest discussion took place on Heraclius's demands for succour, the King expressing his desire to fulfil his promise, but secretly wishing, there is little doubt, to be spared its performance; whilst the barons, and others present, represented to him that he was bound by the solemn oath of his coronation to stay at home and govern his dominions. They tried a kind of compromise, in offering to raise to defray the expenses of a levy of troops, and added their desire that all Nobles and others desiring to join the Christian bands in Palestine should be freely permitted so to do. The result is thus told by Fabyan, on the authority of a still older chronicler:--

Lastly, the King gave answer, and said that he might not leave his land without keeping, nor yet leave it to the prey and robbery of Frenchmen. But he would give largely of his own to such as would take upon them that voyage. With this answer the Patriarch was discontented, and said,

We seek a man, and not money; well-near every Christian region sendeth unto us money, but no land sendeth to us a Prince. Therefore we ask a Prince that needeth money, and not money that needeth a Prince.

But the King laid for him such excuses; that the Patriarch departed

from him discontented and comfortless, whereof the King being advertised, intending somewhat to recomfort him with pleasant words, followed him unto the sea-side. But the more the King thought to satisfy him with his fair speech, the more the Patriarch was discontented, insomuch that, at the last, he said unto him,

Hitherto thou hast reigned gloriously, but hereafter thou shalt be forsaken of Him whom thou at this time forsakest. Think on Him, what he hath given to thee, and what thou hast yielded to Him again; how first thou wert false unto the King of France, and after slew that holy man Thomas of Canterbury, and lastly thou forsakest the protection of Christian faith.

The king was moved with these words, and said unto the Patriarch,

Though all the men of my land were one body, and spake with one mouth, they durst not speak to me such words.

No wonder,

said the Patriarch,

for they love thine, and not thee; that is to mean, they love thy goods temporal, and fear thee for loss of promotion, but they love not thy soul.

And when he had so said, he offered his head to the King, saying,

Do by me right as thou didst by that blessed man Thomas of Canterbury, for I had liever to be slain of thee than of the Saracens, for thou art worse than any Saracen.

But the King kept his patience and said,

I may not wend out of my land, for my own sons will arise against me when I was absent.

No wonder,

said the Patriarch,

for of the Devil they come, and to the Devil they shall go;

and so departed from the King in great ire.

Such was the result of the Patriarch's mission to England, from which so much had been hoped.

As the consecration of the new Temple Church may be said to mark the consummation of the establishment of the Order in England, we may with propriety follow our notice of that event with a few words on the constitution of the house, and its discipline. Their rule was drawn up by their early patron, St. Bernard; their chief privileges they derived from Pope Alexander, who in promulgated a bull in their favour. The head of the house was now styled the Master of the Temple, and it was to distinguish the supreme head at Jerusalem from these minor potentates that it became a custom to call the latter the Grand Master. The master was elected by the chapter or assembly of the knights from among themselves. His jurisdiction extended not only over his own house in London, but over all the provincial priors or preceptors and their establishments. These houses the master visited in succession. The main body of the Templars were persons who had been previously knights (none other were admitted into their ), and whose fathers were or might have been knights. On their entrance into the Order they had to declare themselves free from all obligations, that they were neither married nor betrothed, had never taken vows nor been consecrated in any other religious order; that they were neither in debt nor diseased, and that they possessed sound, healthy constitutions. On the south side of the Round there was to be found, till the year , an ancient structure, called the Chapel of St. Anne, formerly enjoying a peculiar reputation, as making barren women, who resorted thither to pray,

joyful mothers of children.

In this chapel, no doubt, according to the custom of the Templars generally, would take place the introduction of new candidates into the Order--a solemn and most impressive proceeding, during which the whole body of knights were present. After a variety of preliminary questions put to the candidate before his entrance into the midst of the assembly of the knights, and satisfactory answers received, he was


conducted to their presence, when, kneeling before the Master with folded hands, he said,

Sir, I am come, before God, and before you and the brethren, and pray and beseech you, for the sake of God and our dear Lady, to admit me into your Society and the good deeds of the Order, as


who will be, all his life long, the servant and slave of the Order.

The Master then replied,

Beloved brother, you are desirous of a great matter, for you see nothing but the outward shell of our Order. It is only the outward shell when you see that we have fine horses and rich caparisons,--that we eat and drink well, and are splendidly clothed. From this you conclude that you will be well off with us. But you know not the rigorous maxims which are in our interior. For it is a hard matter for you, who are your own master, to become the servant of another. You will hardly be able to perform, in future, what you wish yourself. .. When you wish to sleep, you will be ordered to watch; when you will wish to watch, then you will be ordered to go to bed; when you will wish to eat, then you will be ordered to do something else,

&c.: A renewed series of interrogations followed, in the course of which the candidate bound himself by the most solemn asseverations to be obedient to the head of the house and the chief head at Jerusalem, to observe the customs of the Order, to live in perfect chastity, to help, with all the strength and powers God had bestowed on him, to conquer the Holy Land, and never to be present when a Christian was unjustly and unlawfully despoiled of his heritage. He was then received, assured of

bread and water, and the poor clothing of the Order, and labour and toil enow,

and the coveted habit placed on him-by the Master, the famous white mantle with the red cross. The Master and Chaplain then kissed him, and the former, whilst the newly-made Templar sat before him, delivered a discourse in which he admonished the listener not to strike: or wound any Christian; not to swear, not to receive any attendance from a woman without permission, nor to kiss any woman at any time, even his mother or sister, not to assist in any baptismal ceremony, never to abuse or call names, but be ever courteous and polite. He was also directed to sleep in a linen shirt, drawers, and hose, and with a small girdle round his waist, to attend divine service punctually, to sit down to table and rise from it with prayer, and to preserve silence in the interim. Lastly, when e heard of the Master's death he was to repeat immediately, wherever he might be, pater nosters for the repose of his soul. The ceremony over, the new member received clothes, arms, and equipment, and no longer appeared abroad but in his costume of a Knight Templar, such as we here behold him. He was allowed also horses and an esquire, who was sometimes a serving brother, sometimes a hired layman, and sometimes a youth of noble birth, proud to serve so distinguished a personage, Directly attached to the body of knights were other classes, the chaplains and the serving brethren, and somewhat more remotely the affiliated, and the Donates and Oblates. Through the class of serving brethren many found admittance into the Order, who, not enjoying the honour of knighthood, and knightly descent, must have been otherwise by the rules proscribed. Some distinguished men joined the Society even in this comparatively humiliating position. The affiliated comprised persons from all ranks of society and of both sexes, who, desiring to assist the Order, or to share in the advantages connected with


it, such, for instance, as the exemption from the effects of interdict enjoyed by the Templars, were permitted to join the Order, without assuming its habit, its hardships, and its dangers, on taking certain vows, as that of chastity, and engaging to leave their property to the Templars on their death. The great Pope, Innocent III., did not disdain to declare himself as standing in this position to the Society, in of his bulls. The Donates and Oblates were either children destined to the service of the Order, or persons who engaged to promote its welfare to the best of their power while they lived: princes were to be found among the last-mentioned class.

The very duty of the Knight Templar to fight the enemies of his faith, by compelling him to mix continually and largely with the world, prevented him

from observing the strictness of the rules set down for his governance, and; as a very natural consequence, his conduct was no doubt often sufficiently lax when he had no such excuses to plead. Among the rules of the Order that seem to have been religiously observed were those of obedience; at least the punishments were very severe for any breach of such rules, as we are reminded by the sight of the penitential cell of the Temple, which is formed within the solid thickness of the wall of the church, and measures only feet and a half in length, by and a half in breadth, so that the unhappy. prisoner could not lie down except by drawing his limbs together. act of mercy, however, there was for him to be; thankful for. During divine service he could hear and participate in all that was passing, through of the apertures here looking into the church. If the secrets of this prison-house could be made known, they would be --doubtless appalling; for the meagre facts that have oozed out into the light of day are sufficiently terrible. Here Walter le Bacheler, Grand Preceptor of Ireland, was fettered by order of the Master, and left till he died of the severity of his punishment. The corpse was then taken out at daybreak, and buried in the


court between the church and the hall. Besides imprisonment, which was either temporary or perpetual, according as seemed expedient to the Master, the Templars were occasionally scourged on the bare shoulders by the Master's own hands, in the hall, or even whipped in the church on Sundays before the congregation. A knight of the name of Valaincourt once quitted the Order, but, unable most probably to stifle the whisperings of his conscience that he had done wrong, returned, and submitted himself cheerfully to whatever penance the Master thought proper to impose. He was accordingly condemned to eat for a year on the ground with the dogs, to fast days in the week on bread and water, and every Sunday to be scourged in the church before ail assembled.

A public exhibition such as that last named no doubt had a double effect, and edified the world as much as the criminal. The Order for a long time, indeed, seems to have been, as it deserved, highly popular, for its piety, bravery, and humility; and the usual consequences of popularity in those days followed. Great men desired to be buried among them, which could only be accomplished by a connexion with their Society in of the available modes; lands, manors, houses, fairs, privileges were showered upon them; money was deposited with them in cases of peculiar danger; and monarch at a somewhat critical time deposited himself in their community. This was King John, who, during the period of the arrangements connected with the signing of the Great Charter, resided here. Numerous documents of this king's are dated from the Temple. Among other distinguished visitors was the Templars must have been glad to get rid of-Martin, the Pope's nuncio, of whom Matthew Paris says,

He made whilst residing at London in the New Temple unheard--of extortions of money and valuables. He imperiously intimated to the abbots and priors that they must send him rich presents, desirable palfreys, sumptuous services for the table, and rich clothing; which being done, that same Martin sent back word that the things sent were insufficient, and he commanded the givers thereof to forward him better things, on pain of suspension and excommunication.

[n.313.1]  The treasure deposited in the Temple must have been frequently immense, from the quality of the depositors or the circumstances of the deposit. Fully trustworthy, enjoying the privilege of sanctuary, and able so well to defend personally whatever was in their charge, the Templars became distinguished as the safest of guardians on all extraordinary occasions. The king, his court, and chief ecclesiastics, all made the Temple their bank when they pleased, and here, too, were brought all monies collected for the Christian service in Palestine. The most remarkable record on this subject is connected with the great Earl of Kent, Hubert de Burgh, on whose disgrace and committal to the Tower the King began to look shrewdly after the captive's treasures. Matthew Paris says,

It was suggested to the King, that Hubert had no small amount of treasure deposited in the New Temple, under the custody of the Templars. The King, accordingly, summoning to his presence the Master of the Temple, briefly demanded of him if it was so. He indeed, not daring to deny the truth to the King, confessed that he had money of the said Hubert, which had been confidentially committed to the keeping of himself and his brethren, but of the quantity and amount thereof he was altogether ignorant. Then the King endeavoured with threats to

obtain from the brethren the surrender to him of the aforesaid money, asserting that it had been fraudulently subtracted from his treasury. But they answered to the King, that money confided to them in trust they would deliver to no man without the permission of him who had intrusted it to be kept in the Temple. And the King, since the above-mentioned money had been placed under their protection, ventured not to take it by force. He sent, therefore, the treasurer of his court, with his justices of

the Exchequer

, to Hubert, who had already been placed in fetters in the

Tower of London

, that they might exact from him an assignment of the entire sum to the King. But when these messengers had explained to Hubert the object of their coming, he immediately answered that he would submit himself and all belonging to him to the good pleasure of his sovereign. He therefore petitioned the brethren of the chivalry of the Temple that they would, in his behalf, present all his keys to his lord the King, that he might do what he pleased with the things deposited in the Temple. This being done, the King ordered the money, faithfully counted, to be placed in his treasury, and the amount of all the things found to be reduced into writing and exhibited before him. The King's clerks, indeed, and the treasurer acting with them, found deposited in the Temple gold and silver vases of inestimable price, and money and many precious gems, an enumeration whereof would, in truth, astonish the hearers.


Of the eminent persons who caused their bodies to be here interred some very interesting memorials are preserved. We allude to the ranges

of monumental effigies of great men reposing in their habits as they lived; of figures on the north side of the entrance to the oblong part of the church; the other of , and a coped stone, the top of a coffin, on the south. The figure on the left in the range here shown is that of Geoffrey de Magnaville, the bold and bad son of the Norman baron of the same name who distinguished himself at the battle of Hastings. This baron, after committing all kinds of excesses


during the troubled reign of Stephen, died excommunicated by the church, and abandoned by all but the Templars, who, finding him repentant, put their habit on him, and enrolled him among their order. On his death, as they dared not bury him in consecrated ground, they hung him up in a leaden coffin on a tree in the garden here, where he remained till absolution was obtained some years afterwards, when they buried him in the portico before the western door. Next to him is the effigy of the famous Protector, the Earl of Pembroke, to whom Henry III. was indebted for the safety of his throne during his minority, and the people of England for healing, as far as they could be healed, the dissensions between the barons, and for driving the French from the country. He was buried here on Ascension-day, . The expressive and beautiful effigy which forms the in the group represents the youthful-looking Lord de Ros, of the foremost of the memorable men who forced the Charter from John. None
of the other figures in this and the following range can be distinguished with any certainty. It is known that of the sons of the Protector Pembroke, William and Gilbert Marshal, were here buried, and the effigies to the right, which have evidently a kind of correspondence (such for instance as the turn of the bodies in opposite directions), are supposed to be theirs. William Marshal another of the patriots of Runnymede, married King John's daughter, and was therefore brother-in-law to Henry III., who was so grieved at his death that, on attending the funeral, he could not conceal his emotion. We need hardly add that all the cross-legged figures represent crusaders. Among other persons of eminence whose remains may yet lie beneath the floor along which we are pacing, are William Plantagenet, son of the king just mentioned, and the Bishop of Carlisle, who was killed in by a fall from his horse, and to whose memory it is supposed the recumbent figure of a bishop in the recess in the south wall was erected. In the tomb beneath, which was opened in , was found, at the feet of the skeleton of the bishop, the skeleton of a very young infant. It may


partly explain this strange circumstance to point out that the tomb had evidently been opened before. Here too the celebrated man of learning, Selden, and Plowden, the eminent lawyer, were both interred.: In the churchyard of the Temple many stone coffins have been found, once filled, no doubt, by persons of distinction in their day, but whose very names are now lost in oblivion.

The extraordinary features which from the characterised the Knights Templars, both in themselves and in their history, and made them so widely and popularly known, and which still invest their name with a romantic associations, were to be equally visible in their melancholy fall and extinction. There seems little doubt but that the body grew in many respects more and more lax in their observance of many of the virtues for which they had at time been so distinguished; but still it is only simple justice to say that, on the whole, they never lost sight of the object for which they had banded themselves together: on the contrary, as the fortunes of the Christians in the Holy Land grew darker and darker, their spirits, throwing off much of the grosser corruptions which their immense wealth and irresponsible power had generated, shone out the more clearly through the gloom. They showed by their heroic disregard of danger, sufferings, and death, that they were still the

fellow soldiers of Jesus Christ,

if no longer the


Their last great act, the defence of Acre in , was a worthy close to their brilliant career. And, if anything could add to our surprise as well as horror at the ultimate fate of the Order, it is the consideration that the period when the circumstances to which we are about to allude took place was not years removed from this event, in which the great body of the Knights Templars perished, the last defenders of the last (with exception) Christian stronghold.

The throne of France, at the beginning of the century, was occupied by Philip the Fair, a man already distinguished for his avarice, and the unscrupulous means he was accustomed to use for its gratification. But all the evil deeds he had ever committed in this way, we might almost say that any powerful tyrant had ever committed from such motives, were thrown into the shade by the proceedings which now took place. The Templars were known to be wealthy; they had houses in every portion of Christian Europe; their manors and lordships were reckoned at not less than ; the popular opinion estimated their annual revenue at millions sterling--an exaggeration most probably, but there was quite truth enough in it for Philip the Fair. He was not covetous; if it should turn out a million or so less, why he would be content. Such, no doubt, was of the directions his thoughts took. Then what an opportunity was afforded by circumstances! That long and expensive day-dream of the Crusades was evidently over; what could the Order want with its wealth? What could the world want with the Order? No doubt the monarch's answers to himself were perfectly satisfactory. Then the example of his brethren of England was before him; both Edward I. and Edward II. had been nibbling at the possessions of the English Templars, influenced most probably by similar considerations. The monarch, on his victorious return from Wales, being short of money, was seized with a sudden desire to see his mother's jewels, deposited in the Temple. Filial piety found its own reward. Being admitted, he was enabled to carry away to Windsor Castle, the Templars said, by breaking


open their coffers. Philip's policy took a subtler--more sweeping course. The Pope, Benedict XI., fortunately died just at that moment, and quickly did Philip obtain the induction of a tool of his own, ready for any work, into the vacant chair of St. Peter. This was Clement V. Rumours, traceable to no particular source, now began to spread abroad through the world that the Templars were not what they seemed, that the Holy Land would not have been lost but for their want of Christianity, and even blacker insinuations were heard. The way thus prepared, the next thing was to secure some base wretch to give these rumours shape by direct accusation. On the , the necessary informations having been obtained from a condemned criminal, said by some writers to be an apostate Templar, Philip struck the and most important blow. Throughout France the proper officers of the different provinces received at the same time a communication commencing in the following portentous language:--

A deplorable and most lamentable matter, full of bitterness and grief, a monstrous business;

&c., had reached the King's ears; and then followed direct charges against the Templars of the vulgarest as well as the most abominable kind of blasphemy against the Saviour, and of the committal of the worst crimes among themselves; and lastly, an order to seize the Templars suddenly, and place them under the power of an inquisition empowered to try them, and employ torture if necessary during the examination. Human nature recoils at the very mention of the sufferings inflicted upon these brave, and we may safely say on the whole, innocent, but most unfortunate men. Of the who were put to the torture, no less than actually perished in the hands of their tormentors. of the Templars, who confessed what was desired, when subsequently brought before the commissary of police to be examined, revoked his confession, saying,

They held me so long before a fierce fire that the flesh was burnt off my heels;


pieces of bone came away,

which I present to you


These revocations occurred so often, in spite of the remembrance of what had been suffered, and what might in consequence be yet expected, that Philip, like a wild beast who has tasted of blood, became half frenzied apparently at any opposition, and determined to take wholesale vengeance. In decree Templars, who had thus given the most decisive proofs of their innocence (for, be it observed, a continued acknowledgment of guilt would have saved them), were sentenced to be burnt; and this most atrocious act was performed at Paris, in the most barbarous manner. And by a continuance of these processes of the torture and the scaffold in different parts of the country on the hand, and every kind of deceit, persuasion, and threat on the other, Philip, having ultimately succeeded in clearing the body of all the most high-principled and bravest members, managed to make the remainder somewhat more tractable, among which for the present may be included the Grand Master, whom he had inveigled into France, though of him we shall have again to speak. Let us now turn to the progress of affairs in England.

Edward II. was then king; and this monarch at turned a deaf ear to Philip's letters and examples, and even wrote to some of the European princes, urging them to take care that due justice was done to the Templars in their dominions. But a papal bull soon ended the threatened opposition from this quarter; and Edward was convinced, or professed to be so, by the Pontiff's


proofs, which consisted essentially of the confessions obtained in the manner already shown. On the , the English Templars, who had been probably lulled into a sense of security by the King's earlier conduct in the matter, were suddenly arrested in all parts of England, and their property seized. of their number in all were thrown into the different prisons of the country, on similar charges; amongst them was William de la More, the Master of the Temple, and most of the other chief officers of the body in this country. Many escaped to Wales, to Ireland, and to Scotland. What a glimpse of the time and the cruel bloodthirsty hunt that was set on foot for these so recently honoured and distinguished men is afforded by a little incident, the account of which has been preserved in our national records!

THE KING, &c.--Our favourite valet, Peter Auger, the bearer of these presents, having lately made a vow that he would not shave his beard till he had made a journey to a certain place in parts beyond sea; and the said Peter, being afraid that some


, in consequence of his long beard, may suppose him to have been a Templar, and for that cause may hinder or injure him; we being desirous to bear testimony of the truth, by these presents inform you that the said Peter is our valet de chambre, and that he never was a Templar, but permits his beard to grow long for the cause above specified.


With the weakness that characterised Edward's conduct throughout, he could not even abide by his resolution that no torture should be used: the Pope once more induced in him a change. In - the unfortunate Templars were here too given up for some months to the unrestricted management of inquisitors appointed by the Pontiff; and even then their enemies failed. On being brought before certain examiners sitting in the churches of , Ludgate, and in St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, every individual without exception declared the innocence of the Order with respect to the foul and monstrous accusations brought against it. It is probable the torture was not carried to the extreme lengths it had been in France. The inquisitors might not have the same confidence in these horrible outrages of human nature under the hesitating Edward, as under the reckless Philip. They accordingly changed their tactics, and were obliged to content themselves with what we should now think much better evidence, if trustworthy, than any torture could have given--the depositions of other parties. Our readers may judge how trustworthy was the information thus obtained from the mere statement of its character. witness had been told the Templars annually worshipped ; another that a Templar had in his possession a brazen head which answered all questions; a that a Templar had confessed to him that, on his admission into the Order, he had been obliged to deny God and Jesus Christ, and to spit on the cross. This last was the favourite charge of the inquisitors, although not a single case was supported by so much proof as would induce a magistrate of the present day to detain a prisoner for a examination. It moreover failed to satisfy the holy inquisitors themselves; they yearned, no doubt, for their accustomed method, and so were once more indulged with the rack and its kindred influences. A splendid triumph at last was theirs. A chaplain and poor servingmen were overcome,


who confessed, publicly, the guilt of the Order as to its contemptuous denial of the Saviour; and, for so doing, were reconciled to the Church. But the main body were as resolute as ever, and a kind of compromise was devised (it were worth knowing by whom) of an ingenious nature. The Templars, it appears, were guilty of believing that the Master had the power of absolution, and had always acted accordingly. It was now kindly pointed out to them that this was a grievous heresy; that the Master, as a layman, could have no such power: the Templars were too wise to quarrel about words, for as a thing it was evident it would never concern them again, so they observed they were ready to abjure that and all other heresies. The admission seems to have been made as much of as if it alone had been the object of all the torture and suffering inflicted. The Templars, in successive bodies, made a public acknowledgment in accordance with what they had said, ; and they too, like their apostate brethren, were reconciled to the Christian community and its ecclesiastical head. And in this almost ludicrous manner terminated the previously solemn and terrible proceedings against the Templars in England. We must add, however, that their property, in common with the property of the Order generally, was transferred, nominally, by the Pope to the rival Order of St. John, who, it is said, ultimately obtained about a part of their possessions, and the rest was swallowed up by Philip, the Pontiff, Edward II., and the other European Princes, &c. As to the rightful owners, the pettiest meanness was added to all the other atrocities committed upon them; many of the members were reduced almost to starvation, till some of the chief English ecclesiastics interfered and procured their admission into different monasteries. The Order was finally abolished by the Pope in , and the site and buildings of the Temple, with the Church, soon after fell into the hands of the students of the law, recently, and for the time in England, formed into a society.

All this time the Grand Master, James de Molay, with others of the most illustrious men among the Knights Templar%, were kept in close confinement in Paris; and in , as a final close, we presume, to the affair, they were brought out on a scaffold in front of the great church of Notre Dame, to renew their confessions before the eyes of the world. of the did whatever was required, but the Grand Master, to the astonishment of every present, advancing to the edge of the scaffold, raised his chain-bound hands on high, and, addressing the mighty multitude assembled, said in a loud voice:--

It is just that, in so terrible a day, and in the last moments of my life, I should discover all the iniquity of falsehood, and make the truth to triumph. I declare then, in the face of heaven and earth, and acknowledge, though to my eternal shame, that I have committed the greatest of crimes; but it has been the acknowledging of those which have been so foully charged on the Order. I attest, and truth obliges me to attest, that it is innocent. I made the contrary declaration only to suspend the excessive pains of torture, and to mollify those who made me endure them. I know the punishments which have been inflicted on all the knights who had the courage to revoke a similar confession; but the dreadful spectacle which is presented to me is not able to make me confirm


lie by another. The life offered me on such infamous terms I abandon without regret.

The Templar followed the grand example set him, when


bothwere hurried back to prison. And so maddened was Philip by this unexpected overthrow of all his precious schemes to leave the evidence of the head of the Order on record against it, that that very same evening he and his companion were burnt to death by small fires of charcoal, which protracted their agonies to the last possible moment. No traces of the former weakness or indecision were visible; the died as greatly as they had determined to do; Molay, according to a widely-believed tradition, summoning, with his dying breath, the Pontiff to appear before the last awful tribunal within days, and the King within months. If the people had half thought the Templars martyrs before, they must have made sure of it when the times mentioned elapsed; and both parties, by their deaths, appeared to have obeyed the dread summons.


[n.309.1] For an account of this body, including some notices of its quarrels with the Templars, the burning of the Temple by Wat Tyler, &c., see St. John's Gate, vol. ii. p. 133.

[n.313.1] Transcribed for Mr. Addison's History of the Knights Templars, p. 113.

[n.314.1] History of Knights Templars, p. 112.

[n.318.1] Translated from the original Latin passage, as given in the History of the Knights Templars, with the following references: Pat. 4. E. II., p. 2, m. 20. Dugdale, Hist. Warwickshire, vol. i. p. 962, ed. 1730 .