Today marks the 700th anniversary of the execution of Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Knights Templar. For many historians this day marks the unofficial end of the Templars, the military monastic order that for about two hundred years defended Jerusalem and the Holy Land for Roman Catholics.
Dominic Selwood, the resident historian at The Telegraph, has penned a good account of the story of the fall of the Grand Master and his brethren. He writes:
To draw down the final curtain, on the 18th of March 1314 the four most senior living Templars were hauled to Paris. On a rostrum erected on the parvis before the great cathedral of Notre-Dame, they were publicly condemned to perpetual imprisonment. Hugues de Pairaud and Geoffroi de Gonneville accepted the sentences in silence. But Jacques de Molay and Geoffroi de Charney stunned the crowd by talking over the cardinals and professing their innocence and that of the Temple.
The electrifying news was rushed across the city to King Philip at the Louvre. Desperate to crush this dangerous new defiance, he abandoned all legal procedures and ordered the two old Templars to be burned without delay. Click here to read his full article
While the Knights Templar was destroyed in the fourteenth-century, their notoriety and story would continue on to the present day. In his article, Your Conspiracy Theories Began 700 Years Ago Today, Paul Fain notes that their mantle would be taken up by many others. For example:
The early Freemasons claimed ties to the Templars, despite a gap of a few hundred years between their creation and de Molay’s death. A dubious link to the old-school warriors apparently gave them some street cred.
The Templars also made an appearance in the news last week. Mexican police killed Nazario Moreno, the leader of a drug cartel that used the name Knights Templar. According to Time, Moreno’s followers wore white robes and kept statues of him wearing medieval armor. It’s unclear where he hid the Holy Grail.
You can find a lot of information on the Templars – books, video games, even cheesy documentaries like this one: