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The Trial of the Templars by Malcolm Barber

The Trial of the Templars (1978)

by Malcolm Barber

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In 1307 King Philip II of France ordered the mass arrest of the Knights Templar. After interrogation, and confessions of heresy, blasphemy, sodomy, devil worship - everything that the mediaeval mind could think of as shocking and outrageous - there were mass executions, the Order was dissolved and their property confiscated.

The contents of those lurid confessions has haunted the name of the Order ever since. Malcolm Barber quotes from these testimonies, but he also details the tortures applied to extract them. After reading them, I am amazed not by the content of the confessions, but by the number of brave men who nevertheless steadfastly maintained that they and their Order, were innocent of all charges.

The book details the motivation behind the charges: because of their need to raise money in France to fund their operations in the Holy Land, which was their mission, they incidentally developed an early banking system, resulting in the Order being immensely wealthy, with riches in a portable form immensely attractive to a cash-strapped monarch. Moreover, being directly under the authority of the Pope, the Order was a powerful and influential body in France that was independent of royal authority.

The technique of a dictator arresting his most powerful opponent on trumped-up charges, destroying their influence and enriching himself with their assets, is familar enough today. Watching the same scenario play out in mediaeval France is more fascinating than any conspiracy theory.

Malcolm Barber is Emeritus Professor of Medieval European History at the University of Reading. ( )
  Guanhumara | Nov 28, 2017 |
If you want to know what happened at the trial(s), start here. In fact, start with Barber all through this period and THEN go read some of the... alternatives. Not the most scintillating of reads - it requires attention and dedication to get through, but it's worth it. Not a code or da vinci in sight. Deo Gratias.
1 vote tole_lege | Dec 21, 2005 |
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INTRODUCTION -- The Templars were a military religious Order, founded in the Holy Land in 1119.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0521457270, Paperback)

In 1307, the Templars in France were arrested by King Philip IV's officials in the name of the Inquisition, their property seized and the men charged with serious heresies, including the denial of Christ, homosexuality, and idol worship. Confessions, extracted under torture, were brought before royal and papal tribunals, but in 1310 a number of Templar brothers mounted a defense of their Order. Malcolm Barber's fascinating account, assessing the charges brought against the Order, once again puts the Templars on trial.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:01 -0400)

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