“The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon” were commonly known as the Knights Templar, the Order of the Temple or simply as Templars. They were among the most famous of the Western Christian military orders.
Founded in 1119 the order originated in the feverish aftermath of the first crusade, when the French knight Hugues de Payens proposed to create a monastic order with the object of providing protection for pilgrims to the Holy Land. At first the Knights Templars upheld their impoverished status, but this did not last. Very soon they were receiving huge donations while they at the same time began to function as bankers for crusaders and other pilgrims to Jerusalem. Until the dissolution of the order in 1307 they managed large economic investments and properties as well as building fortifications across Europe. At some point they even owned all of Cyprus.
However, when the Holy Land was lost, their support dwindled and the French king, Philip IV, who was deeply in debt to the Order, orchestrated a full-scale attack. In 1307, many of the Order’s members in France were arrested, tortured into giving false confessions, and then burned at the stake. For instance, the Templars were coerced to confess that they had spat on the Cross. Finally in 1312 Pope Clement V, under pressure from the king, disbanded the Order referring to the many charges of apostasy, idolatry, heresy, obscenities, sodomy, corruption and fraud, which the leaders had confessed.
These interrogations were recorded on a thirty-meter long parchment, kept at the “Archives Nationales” in Paris, which is the centrepiece of a newly opened exhibition in Troyes in France. The exhibition, which is organised by the National Archive together with the Aube Conseil Général, tells the factual story behind these events. Thus it is an exemplary opportunity to peel off much of the more or less romantic nonsense, which so often accompanies the modern myths about the Templars. The exhibition is organised in commemoration of the dissolution 700 years ago.
Templiers – Une Histoire, notre trésor
Hôtel-Dieu-le-Comte, Rue de la Cité – Troyes
16.06.2012 – 31.10.2012
Lux in Arcana
At the same time - until september – it is possible to view a number of central documents pertaining to the Papal handling of the dissolution of the order in Rome at the Capitol.
There is a general presentation of this exhibition in Medieval Histories 2012:2