Monday, January 24, 2011
Philip IV and the Knights Templars
Philip IV (1268 - 1314)
Philip le Bel, or Philip the fair, was called thus for his apparent good looks. Too bad his personality didn't match his looks; he was known to be inflexible and to have others do his dirty work for him.
He became king of France at the age of 16 or 17 (depending upon what you read), he married queen Joan I of Navarre shortly before becoming king.
Philip le Bel gobbled up land, adding to his monarchy: he wrestled Navarre form his wife's grip, took over Lyons in 1312, and tussled with Edward I of England, stripping him of all his land in France, creating hostilities that would be a precursor to the Hundred Years War which began in 1337.
All the warmongering left the king broke, so he arrested all Jews in France, expelled them from French territory in 1306, and seized their assets. Philip le Bel loved to spend money. He quickly ran through the Jewish money and began levying heavy taxes on the French clergy. Pope Boniface VIII freaked out and issued a Papal Bull forbidding the transference of church property to the French crown. Philip le Bel condemned the Pope with an assembly of French Bishops, nobles, and bourgeois, had the Pope arrested, a new Pope, Clement V, elected and set up in Avignon, France where the French king could keep an eye on him.
Still spending money like it was water, Philip le Bel ended up hugely in debt to the Knights Templar. The Knights Templar was a monk-like order of Knights set up to keep the roads between Europe sand the Holy Land safe for pilgrims wishing to travel to Jerusalem. They had also become the world's first bankers over the two hundred years of their existence (hence Philip le Bel owing them money).
The Knights Templar answered to no one but the Pope. As Pope Clement V was a pawn in Philips Le Bel's pocket, on Friday, October 13, 1307, the king had hundreds of Knights Templar arrested in one fell swoop, tortured into admitting all kinds of heinous acts, and burned at the stake. The Pope eventually disbanded the Knights Templar.
In 1314, Philip le Bel burned the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar at the stake in Paris. Jacques de Molay cursed the king of France and the pope as he burned upon the stake, saying that they would answer to God for their false accusations and murders of innocent people. Both King Philip le Bel and Pope Celment V died within a year of the Grand Master's death.
France never ceases to amaze me with her rich history and fascinating stories.
Bon, gros bisous de Philip le Bel, who wasn't all that beautiful, et a demain!