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these the most important by far was France.

A majority of all the Templars were French,

and their possessions on French soil exceeded

the aggregate of all others together. It

was estimated that by the middle of the

thirteenth century as many as nine thousand manors were held by the Templars of

France. It naturally came to pass that all

the other elements of society were alarmed

and excited on account of the bloated development of this monopoly of the wealth and

honors of the kingdom. The protection of

pilgrims was meanwhile forgotten in the

rivalry for power and the lust of gain. In

the course of the subsequent Crusades the

Knights not infrequently acted in bad faith

towards those whom they pretended to serve.

When the Christian kingdom in the East

tottered to its downfall, the Templars, with a

strange depravity of principle, attempted to

secure their own interests by separate treaties

with the Moslems; but their fortunes were involved with those of the Western powers, and

all went down together.

The chief seat of the Templars remained

at Jerusalem from the foundation in 1118

to the year 1187, and was then transferred

to Antioch. Here the Grand Master had

his head-quarters for four years, removing

thence, in 1191, to Acre. This stronghold

of Knighthood continued to be the headquarters of the Order until 1217, when a

third removal was made to the Pilgrim's

Castle near Cesarea. With the capture

of Acre, in 1291, and the consequent overthrow of the Christian kingdom, the Templars retired to Cyprus, which they purchased

from Richard the Lion Heart for thirty-five

thousand marks.

About this time the Order fell under

the ban in several parts of the West. Especially in France were the suspicions and

jealousies of the government aroused against

the Knights. Their exemption from all

the burdens of the state, their arrogance,

their pride and licentiousness all conspired to

excite against them the dread and hatred of

the people and the king. Nor is it to be

doubted that the great wealth amassed by

the Order in the course of nearly two centuries had aroused the cupidity of those who,

unscrupulous as the Knights themselves,

were ready to seize the first pretext of violence.

Especially was the hostility of Philip the Fair

of France awakened against a power which

he conceived to be a menace to the perpetuity of his kingdom. He accordingly determined to free the realm of the presence

of the dangerous and ambitious brotherhood.

He took counsel with Pope Clement V how

the Order might be exterminated. A judicial inquiry was instituted, the Knights

being charged with heresy arid immorality.

In 1306 Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of

the Templars, was induced to come to Paris,

and in October of the following year he and

all the members of the brotherhood in France

were seized. Their property was taken to

await the issue of the proceedings. In the

course of the trial many grave accusations,

some of them contradictory of others, were

brought forward, and the brothers were made

to answer. They were charged with infidelity,

Mohammedanism, atheism, heresy, profanation of holy things, and uncleanness. The

prosecution was greatly troubled to produce

evidence, but balked in the usual methods, a

resort was had to torture, and many of the

prisoners made confession. The Pope was loth

to give his sanction to a measure of extermination, but Philip was determined, and the

archbishop of Sens lent his countenance to the


A grand council was called in Paris on the

10th of May, 1310, and three days afterwards fifty-four of the Templars being condemned were led into the field behind the

alley of St. Antoine and burned at the stake.

This example of vindictive fury was imitated

in other parts of the kingdom. The reign

of violence provoked action from the Pope,

who two years later convened the Council

of Venice to consider the question of the

fate of the Templars. It was decided that

the Order should be abolished and its property

confiscated; but at the same time the Pope

reserved his judgment as to whether the

Knights were guilty of the heinous charges

brought against them. The landed possessions of the famous brotherhood were transferred to the Hospitallers, and their movable property went to the sovereigns of the

various states. Everywhere in Christendom,

except in the kingdom of Portugal, where

the brotherhood assumed the name of the

Knights of Christ, the Templars as an organization were suppressed. De Molay himself

and Guy of Auvergne were burned at Paris.