Priory of the Holy Grail
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  • The Early Years, 1095-

    In 1095 when Pope Urban II issued the call for the First Crusade, the Western Christian World saw this as a defensive action. Since the early 8th century Europe had been under ceaseless attack from Islamic forces, beginning with the Iberian Peninsula. Not only was most of Christian Spain conquered, but Islamic armies penetrated into the heart of France, only to be halted by Charles Martel in 732. Still, Islamic forces continued to threaten Europe, occupying Sicily, most of Southern Italy, and even besieging Rome in 846 and sacking St. Peter’s Basilica. Yet the First Crusade was not directed at Islam itself, but against the Seljuk Turks, who in their conquest of Palestine replaced the previous Arab tolerance of Christian pilgrims with intolerance and violence.

    By the end of July, 1099 the First Crusade had achieved its objective of restoring the Holy Places to Christian control. It was one thing to conquer; now the challenge was to rule. Immediately two problems confronted the newly created Kingdom of Jerusalem, being one of the worse examples of feudal fragmentation. The vassals of the King of Jerusalem were carving out their own feudal estates and becoming more powerful than their suzerain. They were even engaging in conflict among themselves, often hindering efforts to counter any renewed threat from Islam. The second problem was the lack of a reliable fighting force to defend the conquest. Once the Crusade was finished, most of the surviving crusaders, having fulfilled their vows, returned home. The Knights Templar would provide the solution by becoming the first international standing army.

    The opportunity came in 1118-19, when an idealistic band of knights led by Hugues de Payens offered their services to protect pilgrims in route to the Holy Places. Organizing themselves into a religious community, vows were made to the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, provided them with quarters in what had been the al-Aqsa Mosque, thought to be part of Solomon’s Temple. They became known as the Poor Knights of Christ of the Temple of Solomon, or simply the Knights of the Temple. Perhaps it was the King, who saw in these Poor Knights of Christ, the opportunity to create a fighting force. This was reinforced when the Counts of Anjou and Champaigne joined the Order.

    Now events moved to Europe. If this humble group of knights was to become an effective military force, papal recognition, autonomy, and an economic foundation had to be acquired. Hugues de Payens himself went to Europe on a mission to gain support and recruit new members. More importantly the support of the outstanding church leader of the period was enlisted, Bernard, the Cistercian abbot of Clairvaux. In 1128-29 a Council was held at Troyes in Champaigne in which The Order of the Temple was recognized and provided with a Rule, drafted under Bernard’s guidance. Pope Honorius II approved the recognition, with Hugues de Payens becoming the first Master of the Temple. It was Bernard de Clairvaux, who grasped the historical significance, when he wrote in Delaude novae militae (In Praise of a New Knighthood) that a new type of Order had been created, consisting of laymen who blended the knightly and monastic life. These soldier-monks would fight to protect Christian interests.

    While Hugues de Payens had been the leader with a mission and a vision, an individual possessed of administrative talent was needed. That was Robert de Craon, who became Master of the Temple c 1136. By his death in 1149, a series of popes had granted privileges that made the Templars an autonomous corporate body, answerable only to the papacy. Papal and royal exemptions allowed the Templars to become economically independent, financing their overseas military endeavors in great part from European donations of land and money. In the process the Templars fashioned the first European-wide system of international banking. Their convents, particularly in London and Paris became “clearing-houses” for the deposit, disbursement and transfer of funds. The system’s reliability for efficiency and honesty attracted church leaders and kings to entrust their funds and valuables to Templar security.

    Their independence allowed the Templars to create an effective fighting force, a naval fleet, and a defensive system of fortresses in Palestine/Syria. Within the Iberian Peninsula, Templars supported the Reconquista, led by the Spanish and Portuguese kings. At the height of their power in the 13th century the Order had around 7000 members, including knights, sergeants-at-arms, non-military-sergeants, brothers, and priests. Their network consisted of some 870 castles, preceptories and convents spread throughout most of Christian Europe, Palestine and Syria. They inspired both the Hospitallers and the Teutonic Knights to adopt military roles. The Templars served as a model for new military orders established by the rulers within the Iberian Peninsula, such as Calatrava in Castile and Santiago in Leon.

    In 1146, Pope Eugenius III granted the Templars the privilege of wearing the Red Cross or Cross Patteé on their mantles as symbolic of their willingness to shed their blood. Noted for their bravery, determination and discipline, much of the burden for the defense of the Crusader States fell upon them. Described as “lions in battle” thousands of Templars gave their lives as they won everlasting glory in such battles as Cresson, Hattin, La Forbie and Mansurah. Despite their efforts Jerusalem was lost to Saladin in 1187. The Templars established themselves at Acre, following the limited success of the Third Crusade. After the loss of Acre in 1291, the Templars, evacuating their last castles in Palestine/Syria, retreated to the island of Cyprus.

    The Blame Game, 1200

    Who was responsible for the loss of the Crusader States? The Templars may have shared in the blame, due to ineffectual leadership and involvement in politics. But there were more important reasons, such as the failure to establish an effective political order in Palestine and the tendency of the great lords to become embroiled in political intrigue instead of defending the Kingdom against the common enemy. The arrival of new crusaders insisting upon pursuing the Holy War often upset the balance of power that had been achieved between the Christians and Moslems, thus encouraging a strong Islamic reaction. The problem of leadership was never solved. Even the kings made poor leaders of the Crusades, since their political distrust followed them to Palestine and they, too, had to return to their home kingdoms.

    The idealism and moral inspiration of the First Crusade became tarnished and corrupted by greed for political power and wealth. Finally, there was the Islamic reaction that found effective leaders, such as Saladin, to lead the counter-attack to the European presence in the Middle East. In short, the odds were not only against the survival of the Crusader States but against the Templars as an enduring fighting force in the Middle East.

    By the late 13th century questions were being raised about the effectiveness of the military orders, with proposals being made to unify them. The fall of Acre made the issue more pressing. While both the Hospitallers and the Teutonic Knights found new roles for themselves, the Templars lacked economic resources that were essential for any renewal of their military prowess due to the loss of lands in Palestine and Syria, the decline from patrons of gifts of land and money, the curtailing of their exemptions, and the impact of inflation. Recruitment became more difficult as the Templars became an aging Order. Moreover, the appearance of possessing great wealth became the kiss of death. Rulers, motivated by greed and jealousy, took advantage of the Templars’ loss of credibility and respect. Already in the early 14th century English kings had violated the temple of the Templars in London.

    Ultimately the fate of the Templars would be decided within France. Philip IV, King of France, made the move to challenge the continued existence of the Templars. Taking advantage of rumors of Templar corruption (no doubt exaggerated) and of a weak and compliant Pope, in 1307, Philip IV ordered the arrest of all Templars in France, including the Master of the Temple, Jacques de Molay. Pope Clement V ordered an investigation into the charges leveled against the Templars. Under immense political pressure the Pope ordered the arrest of all Templars within Christian Europe and the seizure of their property. (Read Pope Clemet V's document issued in the town of Chinon August 17-20 1308) In an attempt to resolve the Templar issue, Clement V convoked the Council of Vienne in 1312. The lack of credible incriminating evidence led the majority of the council fathers to conclude that the charges lacked merit. Then the Pope on his own authority issued the Bull, Vox inexcelso, dissolving the Order. Templars were to be pensioned off and their property turned over to the Hospitallers. The final act came on March 18, 1314, when Philip IV ordered the execution by fire of Jacques de Molay and Geoffroy de Charnay as relapsed heretics. Finding courage at the end, they both vigorously denied the charges against the Order.

    While the widespread Templar saga had come to an end, for a period of time Templar tradition continued to survive within frontier areas of Christian Europe. After Templars played a significant role in the Scottish victoryv at Bannockburn on June 24, 1314, Robert the Bruce joined the Templars and Hospitallers into a new Order of the Temple and of St. John. In the Iberian Peninsula, new military orders were formed under direct royal control. In Aragon King James II established the Order of Montesa, while in Portugal the Order of Christ was created. Perhaps the last Templars were two men who had survived the fall of Acre. About 1340 they were discovered,married with families, serving a Sultan in Palestine. They were repatriated, provided with pensions, and received with great honor by the papal court.

    Restoration of the Order, 1700-

    No historical evidence has surfaced to date that suggests the Templars survived as an “underground” order after 1314, either on the continent of Europe or in Scotland. The last Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, remained faithful to his Catholic Church, despite the papal suppression of the Order and persecution by the French Inquisition under the control of Philip IV.

    In 1736 Andrew Michael Ramsay, a Scottish Freemason and Catholic, delivered a speech to the Masonic Lodge in Paris, insisting that Freemasonry had begun in Palestine among the crusades, particularly the military orders. Theresult was a frenzy of new rituals, symbols, and myths based on the Crusades and the military orders. When the battle of Culloden in1746 ended any hope of a Stuart restoration, French Freemasonry began to develop its own identity.

    Now a German noble and Freemason, the Baron Karl von Hund, revealed his belief that he had discovered a new form of Freemasonry, known as the Strict Observance, directly descendant from the Templars. It was based on Templar survival in the British Isles, particularly in Scotland. This myth of Templar survival became very popular among various Masonic lodges. Meanwhile continental lodges were being influenced by the rationalism of the Enlightenment with many members becoming supporters of revolutionary change directed against absolute monarchy and a social order based on birth and privilege. Then came the French Revolution in 1789, with its promise of a New Order founded on brotherhood, equality and liberty.

    Out of the turmoil created by the Revolution, a “child of the Revolution”, Napoleon Bonaparte, rose to power, promising to spread the ideals of the Revolution to all of Europe. After conquering most of continental Europe, he had himself proclaimed Emperor. In that same year of 1804, a new form of Templarism appeared. A “restored” Ordre du Temple evolved out of the Chevaliers de la Croix, a rather conservative Masonic lodge in Paris. The founders included Claude-Mathieu, Radix de Chevillon; a medical doctor, Ledru; and a chiropodist, Fabre-Palaprat, known as “a leading Masonic figure.” Fabre-Palaprat accepted the office of Grand Master.

    At the same time two interesting documents surfaced. One was the Charter of Transmission, by which an alleged successor to de Molay, Jean M. Larmenius provided for the “secret” survival of the Knights Templars. This document, written in ciphers, also included in cipher the “signatures” ”of Grand Masters from Larmenius to Fabre-Palaprat. Conflicting Latin translations only appeared after 1804. The second document was the Statutes of 1705, thought to have been written under the direction of Philip, the Duke of Orleans, whom the founders of 1804 claimed as a restorer of the Templars.

    For motives of his own, Napoleon Bonaparte approved of this “restoration”, even allowing a grand ceremony in Paris, honoring de Molay and all other Templar martyrs. Napoleon, upon becoming Emperor, created a new nobility. Perhaps he saw these new Templars as serving as a counter-balance to the Masonic lodges, whom he distrusted due to their political radicalism. By 1808, through successful recruitment the new Order had established Priories and Commanderies throughout most of the Grand Empire, including Italy and Switzerland. Ties to its Masonic origins were severed, with this Order of the Temple proclaiming its autonomy and adherence to “the Catholic Apostolic and Roman religion.”

    This promising beginning was quickly dashed by Fabre-Palaprat when he revised the Statutes of 1705 to justify assuming absolute power, a schism erupted that lasted until 1814. When unity was finally restored, the Order onceagain prospered. When constitutional monarchy was established in France, the Order supported the restored Bourbon King, Louis XVIII, and the king in return granted the Templars recognition. When Charles X attempted to restore royal absolutism, the Templars supported the revolt of 1830 and the return of constitutional monarchy.

    Once again Fabre-Palaprat became the source of contention. Earlier he had formed the Johannite Church of the Primitive Christians, based on a spurious version of the Gospel of St. John, and the Levitikon, another document “discovered” by Fabre-Palaprat. When, in 1833, he attempted to impose his Johannite beliefs upon the Templars, the result was once more schism. One faction retained its chivalric traditions and obedience to the Catholic Church. The death of Fabre-Palaprat in 1838 provided another opportunity for unity. This attempt failed when the French palaprien Templars refused to accept the choice of Sir William Sidney-Smith, the British Grand Prior, as Grand Master. Within France, the palaprien Templars continued to choose Regents until they had faded from existence by 1870. Many Templar priories then became autonomous.

    Regency, de Sousa Fontes, 1930-

    The Templar revival in the 20th century owed its existence to developments within the Grand Priory of Belgium, which had been founded under Fabre-Palaprat in 1825. Factional disputes between Catholic and Masonic members, along with European political developments, resulted in its disappearance. In 1932, several former members established a new Grand Priory, taking the name of The Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem. Hoping to re-establish this Order of the Temple as an international organization, a regency was formed. Emile-Isaac Vandenberg, as regent, devoted much of his energy to revitalizing Templar Priories across Europe, including France, Italy, Portugal and Switzerland. Such a promising development was cut short by the Second World War. Viewing the German occupation of Belgium as a danger to Templar survival, Vandenberg made a temporary transfer of the leadership and archives of the Order to the care of the Portuguese Grand Prior, Antonio Campello de Sousa Fontes. Once the war had ended, Vandenberg requested the return of the archives. Then de Sousa Fontes took advantage of the sudden death of Vandenberg to assume the title of Regent. Once more there was schism, with some Priories rejecting his leadership. In 1960, Fernando Campello de Sousa Fontes succeeded his father, taking the title of PrinceRegent.

    The history of the American Grand Priory began with the Grand Priory of Switzerland. By 1960 Anton Leuprecht, the Grand Prior of Switzerland, was receiving Americans into the Swiss Grand Priory. As more Americans became Templars, in 1962 Anton Leuprecht and several American Templars, including William Y. Pryor, initiated action to form an American Autonomous Grand Priory. It was decided to incorporate the American Grand Priory in the State of New Jersey. The seven founders signed the Corporate Charter on June 4. 1962. They were Crolian W. Edelen, William Y. Pryor, Herschel S. Murphy, Warren S. Hall, Jr., John D. Leet, Lawrence Stratton and George J. Deyo. The corporate documents were filed on June 13, 1962, with official recognition by the State of New Jersey taking place on June 29 of the same year. Crolian William Edelen became the first Grand Prior.

    After the Prince Regent, de Sousa Fontes had recognized the American Grand Priory, in April of 1964 the Grand Prior of the USA asked Peter II, the former king of Yugoslavia, to become the Royal Patron of the American Grand Priory. Upon the King’s acceptance he was made a Knight Grand Cross. Peter II remained the American Royal Patron until his death on November 4, 1970.

    In 1970 the Prince Regent convoked a Convent General of The Sovereign Military Order of The Temple of Jerusalem, with one session to meet in Chicago, Illinois, showing the growing importance of the American Grand Priory. Atthe Chicago Convent, it was decided that while the Catholic roots of the Order would be honored, the Order would be open to all Christian membership. Nearly 20 years later in 1990, the Prince Regent issued revised Statutes forthe Order on his own authority, which allowed him to assume the title of Grand Master and to designate his successor. Once more dispute and division resulted, with Grand Priories re-affirming or revoking their ties to de Sousa Fontes.

    Separation and Unification, 1995-

    Under the leadership of two American Grand Priors, Donald Roderick Perkins and his successor James J. Carey, the American Grand Priory assumed an important role in the international arena of Templar affairs, working towards healing the division among the Grand Priories, bringing about reform and resolving the divisive issue of the Prince Regent.

    In the Fall of 1995 a Templar Grand Convent met in Salzburg, Austria. When the Prince Regent refused to recognize this Convent and to accept a compromise, offering him the title of Prince Regent Emeritus, a consensus was reached to withdraw recognition from his leadership. A Council of Grand Priors was formed to administer the Order, led by Col. Joseph Esposito, Grand Prior General of NATO. A second meeting was held at Salzburg in November of 1996 to approve revised statutes and consider candidates for Grand Master. This convent ended in dispute and division.

    To retain some semblance of unity and to promote continued reform, the American Grand Priory led the effort to form an International Grand Council with Major General Sir Roy Redgrave, K.B.E., the British Grand Prior, as Grand Commander. This resulted in the creation of the North Atlantic Obedience of O.S.M.T.H., whose membership included Grand Priories from the United States, England-Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, Scandinavia and NATO. Since 1997 the goal of this organization has been to develop practical steps towards a confederation of Templar Grand Priories, allowing for the election of a Grand Master.

    Meanwhile in 1997 the American Grand Priory found a new Royal Patron in Princess Elisabeth of Ysenberg und Büdingen, Princess of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. Since her appointment, Princess Elisabeth has played a significant role in the affairs not only of the American Grand Priory, but of the Atlantic Obedience of Grand Priories.

    © Copyright 2000, The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, Inc

    The Priory of The Holy Grail wishes to thank the Priory of St. Michael & St. George of New York City for granting permission to use the "History of the Order" on this website.

  • Were the Knights Templar pardoned?

    A rough translation of an obscure document that seems to demonstrate that the leaders of the Order of the Knights Templar were pardoned by papal investigators.

    Original document formed by a large parchment folio (700x580mm), initially provided with the hanging seals of the three papal legates who formed the special Apostolic Commission ad inquirendum appointed by Clement V: Bérenger Frédol, Cardinal Priest of the titular church of the Most Holy Nereus and Achilleus and nephew of the pope, Étienne de Suisy, cardinal priest of St. Cyriac in Thermis, Landolfo Brancacci, cardinal deacon of St. Angelo. In a reasonable state, even though there are some big violaceous stains, caused by bacterial attack. 
    The original one came along with a plain copy still kept at the Vatican Secret Archives, with the reference Archivum Arcis, Armarium D 218.  ASV, Archivum Arcis, Arm. D 217



    Rosi Fontana, who has helped the Vatican coordinate the project, said, "The most incredible thing is that 700 years have passed and people are still fascinated by all of this. The precise reproduction of the parchments will allow scholars to study them, touch them, admire them as if they were dealing with the real thing. But even better, it means the originals will not deteriorate as fast as they would if they were constantly being viewed."  

    The minutes of trials against the Templars, "Processus Contra Templarios -- Papal Inquiry into the Trial of the Templars".  The Vatican Secret Archives are publishing 799 copies of a document that was found in 2001 after being lost for centuries.
     

     

     

     

     

     



     

          


    The document suggests that Pope Clement V, depicted below in a painting, did not think the Knights were guilty of heresy, but felt pressure from the French King and ordered the group to disband.

                                          



    Investigation carried out by the fathers commissioned by Pope Clement V in the town of Chinon, diocese of Tours,  Chinon, August 17-20, 1308

    In the name of the Lord, amen. We, Berengar, by the mercy of God cardinal presbyter of SS. Nereus and Achileus, and Stephanus, cardinal presbyter of St. Ciriacus in Therminis, and Landolf, cardinal deacon of St. Angel, declare through this official statement directed to all who will read it that since our most holy father and lord Clement, by divine providence the supreme pontific of the holy Roman and universal church, after receiving the word of mouth and also clamorous reports from the illustrious king of France and prelates, dukes, counts, barons and other subjects of the said kingdom, both noblemen and commoners, along with some brothers, presbyters, knights, preceptors and servants of the Templar order, had initiated an inquiry into matters concerning the brothers, [questions of Catholic faith] and the Rule of the said Order, because of which it suffered public infamy, the very same lord Pope wishing and intending to know the pure, complete and uncompromised truth from the leaders of the said Order, namely brother Jacques de Molay, grandmaster of the Order of Knights Tempar, brother Raymbaud de Caron, preceptor the commandaries of Templar Knights in Outremer, brother Hugo de Pérraud, preceptor of France, brother Geoffroy de Gonneville, preceptor of Aquitania and Poitou, and Geoffroy of Charny, preceptor of Normandy, ordered and commissioned us specifically and by his verbally expressed will in order that we might with diligence examine the truth by questioning the grandmaster and the aforementioned preceptors – one by one and individually, having summoned notaries public and trustworthy witnesses.

    And having acted according to the mandate and commissioned by the said Lord Supreme Pontific, we questioned the aforementioned grandmaster and the preceptors and examined them concerning the matters described above. Their words and confessions were written down exactly the way they are included here by the notaries whose names are listed below in the presence of witnesses listed below. We also ordered these things drawn up in this official form and validated by the protection of our seals.

    In the year of our Lord 1308, the 6th indiction, on the 17th day of August, in the 3d year of the pontificate of the said Pope Clement V, brother Raymbaud de Caron, preceptor the commandaries of Templar Knights in Outremer, was brought in front of us, the aforementioned fathers, to the town of Chinon of the Tours diocese. With his hand on the Holy Gospel of the Lord he took an oath that he would speak pure and complete truth about himself as well individuals and brothers of the Order, and about the Order itself, concerning questions of Catholic faith and the Rule of the said Order, and also about five particular individuals and brothers of the Order. Diligently interrogated by us about the time and circumstances of his initiation in the order he said that it was been forty-thee years or thereabouts since he had been knighted and admitted into the Templar Order by brother Roncelin de Fos, at the time preceptor of Provence, in the town of Richarenchess, in the diocese of Carpentras or Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux, in the chapel of the local Templar commandery. During the ceremony the patron said nothing to the novice that was not proper, but after the admittance a servant-brother came up to him whose name he does not recall, for he has been dead for a long time. He took him aside holding a small cross under his cloak, and when all the brothers exited and they remained alone, that is this brother-servant and the speaker, this brother-servant showed this cross to the speaker who does not recall whether it bore the effigy of the crucifix or not, but believes however, that there was a crucifix either painted or carved. And this brother-servant told the speaker: “You must denounce this one.” And the speaker, not believing himself to be committing a sin, said: “And so, I denounce.” That brother-servant also told the speaker that he should preserve purity and chastity, but if he could not do so, it was better to be done secretly than publicly. The speaker also said that his denunciation did not come from the heart, but from the mouth. Then he said that the next day he revealed this to the bishop of Carpentras, his blood relative, who was present in the said place, and the bishop told him that he had acted wrongly and committed a sin. Then the interrogated confessed on this account to the same bishop and was assigned penances with he completed, according to him.

    When asked about the sin of sodomy, he said that he never was a part of it neither performing or enduring, and that he never heard that knights Templar engaged in this sin, apart from those three knights who had been punished by perpetual incarceration in Castle Pilgrim. When asked whether the brothers of the said Order were received into the order in the same manner he was received into it, he replied that he did not know that, because he never initiated anyone himself and did not see anyone being accepted in the Order other than two or three brothers. Regarding them he did not know whether they denounced Christ or not. When he was asked about the names of these brothers he said that one had the name of Peter, but that he did not remember his family name. When he was asked how old he was when he was made brother of the said Order he replied that he was seventeen years of age or thereabouts. When he was asked about the spitting on the cross and about the worshipped head, he said that he knew nothing, adding that he had never heard any mention of that head until he heard the lord Pope Clement speak of it this past year. When he was asked about the practice of kissing, he replied that the aforementioned brother Roncelin kissed him on the mouth when he received him as a brother; he said that he knew nothing about other kisses. When he was asked whether he wanted to maintain what he had said during the confession, whether it was done according to the truth, and whether he had added anything untruthful or withheld anything that is truthful, he replied that he wanted to maintain what he had previously said in his confession, that it was truthful and that he neither added anything that was untruthful nor omitted anything that was truthful. When he was asked whether he had confessed due to a request, reward, gratitude, favor, fear, hatred or persuasion by someone else, or the use of force, or fear of impending torture, he replied that he did not.

    Afterwards, this very brother Raymbaud standing on his knees with his hands folded asked for our forgiveness and mercy regarding the abovementioned deeds. And as he pleaded so, brother Raymbaud denounced in our presence the abovementioned heresy, as well as any other heresy. For the second time he took an oath with his hand upon the Holy Gospel of our Lord in that he will obey the teachings of the Church, that he will maintain, uphold and observe the Catholic faith which the Roman Church maintains, upholds and proclaims, as well as teaches and requires of others to observe it, and that he will live and die as a faithful Christian. After this oath, by the authority of lord Pope specifically granted to us for that purpose, we extended to this humbly asking brother Raymbaud, in a form accepted by the Church the mercy of absolution from the verdict of excommunication that had been incurred by the aforementioned deeds, restoring him to unity with the Church and reinstating him for communion of the faithful and sacraments of the Church.

    Also, on the same day, brother knight Geoffroy of Charny, preceptor of commanderies of the Templar Order in Normandy, appearing personally in the previously described manner and form, in our presence, and in the presence of notaries, as well as witnesses, modestly swore with his hand on the Gospel of the Lord and was questioned about the manner of his reception into the said Order. He testified that it has well been forty years or thereabouts since he was accepted into the Order of Knights Templar by brother Amaury de la Roche, the preceptor of France in Étamps of the diocese of Sens, in the chapel of the local Templar commandery. Present at the ceremony were brother Jean le Franceys, preceptor of Pédenac, and nine, ten or so brothers of the said Order whom he all believed to be dead now. And then, once he had been accepted in the order and the cloak of the order had been placed on his shoulders, the brother who performed the ceremony took him aside within the same chapel and showed him a crucifix with an effigy of Christ, and told him that he should not believe in the Crucified, but should in fact denounce Him. Then the newly accepted brother at the demand of the said recipient denounced Him verbally, but not in his heart. Also, he said that at the time of his induction, the novice kissed the recipient on the mouth and in his chest through the garment as a sign of reverence.

    When asked whether brothers of the Templar Order while being initiated into the order were accepted in the same manner that he was, he said that he did not know. He also said that he himself received one brother into the said Order through the same ceremony through which he himself was accepted. Afterwards he accepted many others without the denunciation described earlier and in good manner. He also said that he confessed about the denunciation of the cross which he had done during the ceremony of induction and about being forced to do so by the brother performing the ceremony, to the Patriarch of Jerusalem of the time, and was absolved by him.

    When diligently questioned regarding the spitting on the cross, the practice of kissing, the vice of sodomy and the worshipped head, he replied that he knew nothing of it. Further interrogated, he said that he believed that other brothers had been accepted into the Order in the same manner that he was. He said however that he did not know that for sure since when these things took place the newly received were taken aside so that other brothers who were present in the building would neither see nor hear what went on with them. Asked about the age that he was in when accepted into the said Order, he replied that he was sixteen, seventeen or thereabouts.

    When he was asked whether he had said these things due to a request, reward, gratitude, favor, fear, hatred or persuasion by someone else, or the use of force, or fear of impending torture, he replied that he did not. When he was asked whether he wanted to maintain what he had said during the confession, whether it was done according to the truth, and whether he had added anything untruthful or withheld anything that is truthful, he replied that he wanted to maintain what he had previously said in his confession during which he had only said what was true, that what he said was according to the truth and that he neither added anything that was untruthful nor omitted anything that was truthful.

    After this, we concluded to extend the mercy of absolution for these acts to brother Geoffroy, who in the form and manner described above had denounced in our presence the described and any other heresy, and swore in person on the Lord’s Holy Gospel, and humbly asked for the mercy of absolution, restoring him to unity with the Church and reinstating him for communion of the faithful and sacraments of the Church.

    On the same day, in our presence and the presence of notaries, as well as the witnesses listed below, brother Geoffroy de Gonneville personally appeared and was diligently questioned about the time and circumstances of his reception and about other matters described above. He replied that it has been twenty eight years or thereabouts since he was received as a brother of the Order of the Knights Templar by brother-knight Robert de Torville, preceptor of the commandaries of the Templar order in England , in the city of London, at the chapel of the local commandery. And this receptor, after bestowing the cloak of the Knights Templar upon the this newly received member, showed him the cross depicted in some book and said that he should denounce the one whose image was depicted on that cross. When the newly received did not want to do so, the receptor told him multiple times that he should do so. And since he completely refused to do it, the receptor, seeing his resistance, said to him: “Will you swear to me that if asked by any of the brothers you would say that you had made this denouncement, provided that I allow you not to make it?” And the newly received answered “yes”, and promised that if he was questioned by any of the brother of the said Order he would say that he had performed the said denouncement. And, as he said, he made no denouncement otherwise. He also said that the said receptor told him that she should spit on the described cross. When the newly received did not wish to do so, the receptor placed his own hand over the depiction of the cross and said: “At least spit on my hand!” And since the received feared that the receptor would remove his hand and some of this spit would get on the cross, he did not want to spit on the hand with the cross being near.

     

    When diligently questioned regarding the sin of sodomy, the worshipped head, about the practice of kissing and other things for which the brothers of the said order received a bad reputation, he said that he knew nothing. When asked whether other brothers of the Order were accepted into the Order in the same way as he was, he said that he believed that the same was done to others as it was done to him at the time of his described initiation.

    When he was asked whether he had said these things due to a request, reward, gratitude, favor, fear, hatred or persuasion by someone else, or the use of force, or fear of impending torture, he replied that he did not. After this, we concluded to extend the mercy of absolution for these acts to brother Geoffroy de Goneville, who in the form and manner described above had denounced in our presence the described and any other heresy, and swore in person on the Lord’s Holy Gospel, and humbly asked for the mercy of absolution, restoring him to unity with the Church and reinstating him for communion of the faithful and sacraments of the Church.

    Then on the nineteenth day of the month, in our presence, and in the presence of notaries and the same witnesses, brother Hugo de Pérraud, preceptor of Templar commanderies in France appeared personally and took an oath on the Holy Gospel of the Lord, placing his hand upon it in the manner described above. This brother Hugo, having sworn as indicated, and being diligently questioned said about the manner of his initiation that he was received in London at local Templar commandary, in its church. It was forty six years ago this past feast of St. Magdalene. He was inducted as a brother of the Order by brother Hubet de Perraud, his own father, a Visitator of the Templar commanderies in France and Poitou , who placed upon his shoulders the cloak of the said Order. This having been done, some brother of the said Order, by the name of John, who afterwards became preceptor of de La Muce, took him to a certain part of that chapel, showed him a cross with an effigy of Christ, and ordered him to denounce the One whose image was depicted there. He refused, as much as he could, according to him. Eventually, however, overcome by fear and menaces of brother John, he denounced the One whose image was depicted there only once. And although brother John multiple times demanded that he spit on that cross, he refused to do so.

    When asked whether he had to kiss the receptor, he said that he did, only on the mouth.

    When asked about the sin of sodomy, he replied that it was never imposed on him and he never committed it.

    When asked whether he accepted others into the Order, he replied that he did many times, and that he accepted more people than any other living member of the Order.

    When asked about the ceremony through which he accepted them, he said that after they were received and given the cloaks of the Order, he ordered them to denounce the crucifix and to kiss him at the bottom of the back, in the navel and then on the mouth. He also said that he imposed on them to abstain from partnership with women, and, if they were unable to restrain their lust, to join themselves with brothers of the Order.

    He also said under oath that the aforementioned denunciation, which he performed during initiation, as well as other things described that he demanded from those received by him, was done in word only, and not in spirit. When asked why he felt pained and did not perform in spirit the things that he did, he replied that such were the statutes or rather traditions of the Order and that he always hoped that this error would be removed from the said Order.

    When asked whether any of the members newly received by him refused to perform the described spitting and other dishonest things listed above, he replied that only few, and eventually all did as ordered. He also said that although he himself instructed brothers of the order whom he initiated to join with other brothers, nevertheless he never did that, nor heard that anyone else commit this sin, except for the two or three brothers in Outremer who were incarcerated for this in Castle Pilgrim.

    When asked whether he knew if all brothers of the said Order were initiated in the same manner as he initiated others, he said that he did not know for sure about others, only about himself and those whom he initiated, because brothers are initiated in such secrecy that nothing can be known other than through those who are present. When asked whether he believed that they were all initiated in this manner, he said that he believed that the same ritual is used while initiating others as it was used in his case and as he himself administered when he received others.

    When asked about the head of an idol that was reportedly worshiped by the Templars, he said that it was shown to him in Montpellier by brother Peter Alemandin, preceptor of that place, and that this head remained in possession of brother Peter.

    When asked how old he was when accepted into the said Order, he replied that he heard his mother say that he was eighteen. He also said that previously he had confessed about these things in the presence of brother Guillaume of Paris, inquisitor of heretical actions, or his deputy. This confession was written down in the hand of the undersigning Amise d’Orleans and some other notaries public. He wishes to maintain that confession, just as it is, as well as maintain in the present confession that which is in concord with the previous one. And if there is anything additional in this confession in front of the Inquisitor or his deputy, as has been said above, he ratifies, approves and confirms it.

    When he was asked whether he had confessed to these things due to a request, reward, gratitude, favor, fear, hatred or persuasion by someone else, or the use of force, or fear of impending torture, he replied that he did not. When he was asked whether he, after being apprehended, was submitted to any questioning or torture, he replied that he did not.

    After this, we concluded to extend the mercy of absolution for these acts to brother Hugo, who in the form and manner described above had denounced in our presence the described and any other heresy, and swore in person on the Lord’s Holy Gospel, and humbly asked for the mercy of absolution, restoring him to unity with the Church and reinstating him to communion of the faithful and sacraments of the Church.

    Then on the twentieth day of the month, in our presence, and in the presence of notaries and the same witnesses, brother-knight Jacques de Molay, grandmaster of  the Order of Knights Templar appeared personally and having sworn in the form and manner indicated above, and having been diligently questioned, said it has been forty-two years or thereabouts since he was received as a brother of the said Order by brother-knight Hubert de Pérraud, at the time Visitator of France and Poitou, in Beune, diocese of Autun, in the chapel of the local Templar commandery of that place.

    Concerning the way of his initiation into the Order, he said that having given him the cloak the receptor showed to him <the cross> and told him that he should denounce the God whose image was depicted on that cross, and that he should spit on the cross. Which he did, although he did not spit on the cross, by near it, according to his words. He also said that performed this denunciation in words, not in spirit. Regarding the sin of sodomy, the worshipped head and the practice of illicit kisses, he, diligently questioned, said that he knew nothing of that.

    When he was asked whether he had confessed to these things due to a request, reward, gratitude, favor, fear, hatred or persuasion by someone else, or the use of force, or fear of impending torture, he replied that he did not. When he was asked whether he, after being apprehended, was submitted to any questioning or torture, he replied that he did not.

    After this, we concluded to extend the mercy of absolution for these acts to brother Jaques de Molay, the grandmaster of the said order, who in the form and manner described above had denounced in our presence the described and any other heresy, and swore in person on the Lord’s Holy Gospel, and humbly asked for the mercy of absolution, restoring him to unity with the Church and reinstating him to communion of the faithful and sacraments of the Church.

    On the same twentieth day of the month, in our presence, and in the presence of notaries and the same witnesses, brother Geoffroy de Gonneville freely and willingly ratified, approved and confirmed his signed confession that was read to him in his native tongue, and gave assurances that he intended to stand by and maintain both this confession and the confession he made on a different occasion in front of the Inquisitor or inquisitors regarding the aforementioned heretic transgressions, in as much as it was in concordance with the confession made in front of us, the notaries and the aforementioned witnesses; and that if there is something extra contained in the confession made in front of the Inquisitor and inquisitors, as it was said earlier, he ratifies, approves and confirms that.

    On the same twentieth day of the month, in our presence, and in the presence of notaries and the same witnesses, brother-preceptor Hugo de Perraud in a similar way freely and willingly ratified, approved and confirmed his signed confession that was read to him in his native tongue.

    We ordered Robert de Condet, cleric of the diocese of Soissons, a notary by apostolic power, who was among us together with notaries and witnesses listed below, to record and make public as evidence these confessions, as well as each and every thing described above that occurred in front of us, the notaries and the witnesses, and also everything done by us, exactly as it is shown above, and to validate it by attaching our seal.

    This was done on the year, indiction, month, day, pontificate and the place indicated above, in our presence and the presence of Umberto Vercellani, Nicolo Nicolai de Benvenuto and the aforementioned Robert de Condet, and also master Amise d’Orleans le Ratif, notaries public by the apostolic power, as well as pious and distinguished brother Raymond, abbot of the Benedictine monastery of St. Theofred, Annecy diocese, master Berard de Boiano, archdeacon of Troia, Raoul de Boset, confessor and canon from Paris, and Pierre de Soire, overseer of Saint-Gaugery in Cambresis, who were gathered specifically as witnesses.

    And I, Robert de Condet, cleric of the diocese of Soissons, notary by apostolic power, observed with other notaries and witnesses each and every thing described above that occurred in the presence of the aforementioned reverend fathers lords cardinal presbyters, myself and other notaries and witnesses, as well as what was done by their lordships. On the orders from their lordships the cardinal presbyters, I made this record, and put in the official form, and sealed it with my seal, having been asked to do so.

    And also I, Umberto Vercellani, cleric of Béziers, notary by apostolic power, observed with other notaries and witnesses each and every thing described above that occurred in the presence of the aforementioned lords cardinal presbyters, as well as what was done by their lordships cardinal presbyters just as it is shown above in fuller detail. On the orders from these cardinal presbyters, for further assurance, I wrote underneath this record and sealed it with my seal.

    And also I, Nicolo Nicolai di Benevento, notary by apostolic decree, observed with other aforementioned notaries and witnesses each and every thing described above that occurred in the presence of the aforementioned lords cardinal presbyters, as well as what was done by their lordships just as it is shown above in fuller detail. On the orders from these cardinal presbyters, for further assurance, I wrote underneath this record and sealed it with my seal.

    And also I, Arnulphe d’Orléans called le Ratif, notary by the power of the Holy Roman Church, observed with other aforementioned notaries and witnesses confessions, depositions and other each and every thing described above that occurred in the presence of the aforementioned reverend fathers lords cardinal presbyters, as well as what was done by their lordships just as it is shown above in fuller detail. On the orders from these cardinal presbyters, as a testimony of truth, I wrote underneath this record and sealed it with my seal, having been asked to do so.