What crimes were the Knights Templars accused of that lead to the dissolution of their order? Were they actually convicted?
The pope was quite powerful. Proof was pretty subjective. Some scholars believe that it was because the Knights Templar were becoming too rich and powerful and were a threat to the throne and the papacy. Heresy was your Swiss Army Knife of crimes. It could be used for anything.
I’ll admit to not reading this page but it does seem to answer your question. I hope.
From the bull, in case you don’t want to read it all:
The above sounds suspiciously like something John Ashcroft would have been involved with.
I don’t remember whether it would’ve answered runar’s question, but “Foucault’s Pendulum” is good for sceptical information about the Templars.
That’s “Foucault’s Pendulum” by Umberto Eco, of course.
This article has the official Roman Catholic view:
Catholic Encyclopedia : The Knights Templars
French king Philip the Fair wanted their money but couldn’t get it without the help of the organized Church. So he negotiated with pope Clement V and arranged to have them charged as heretics. Based on “confessions” of some members all Templars were arrested on 13 October 1307. The first trial was by a royal commission. Torture was used to interrogate the accused. Since they had secret initiation rites, unsavoury rumours floated around about what happened during the initiation (e.g. spitting on the Cross, etc…) and since people were tortured (or threatened with torture) until they confessed it’s no wonder that many confessed to such crimes.
Clement V became a little irritated at the usurpation of his powers (Templars were supposed to be under the pope’s jurisdiction) so he annulled the trial. But due to all the confessions made the pope was forced by public opinion to open a second trial - the order to be tried by a papal commission, individuals to be tried by the bishops that had been in charge of the first (royal) commission. The papal enquiry investigated the order in all of Europe, not just France. The order was found innocent almost everywhere except France. The bishops judging individuals put some in prison, but those who recanted their confessions were condemned to death and 54 were burned on 12 May 1310. Most others admitted to being guilty. The papal commission decided that the order did not have heretical practices and the majority said it could remain (decision made at the General Council of Vienne, 16 October 1311). The pope got tired of the whole scandal and decreed the dissolution (not condemnation) of the order by an Apostolic Decree (the aforementioned Bull of 22 march 1312). The property of the order was turned over to the Order of Hospitallers (or some other orders in other countries.) The innocent individuals, former members of the Templar order, could either leave the church or join another order.
The pople himself decided to judge the Grand Master (Jacques de Molay) of the order. The Grand Master was supposed to publicly repent but at the last minute said it was all lies and no one was guilty. He was immediately arrested as a heretic and burned at the stake.
I could never get over that it was Philip the “Fair” and Pope “Clement” who lusted over the Templar fortune to the degree they trumped up charges to acquire it.
Not only that, the Knights were founded as “The Knights of The Poor”.
The story of the Knights Templar is fascinating and interwoven with myth and legend. It leads from France to England,
The Holy Land, Ethiopia, India, Spain, Scotland, Malta, Nova Scotia and some I’ve forgotten. Some of them fought with the Scots against the British (i.e., William Wallace). They figured in the release of King Richard The Lion Heart from capture. They fought in a number of Crusades. They were the self-appointed guardians of the route from Europe to the Orient. It is suspected they found the Ark of The Covenant and the Holy Grail. They are rumored to be the source of the Freemasons.
After reading Eco’s book, I looked up all I could about the Templars, mostly on the web. It was a very rewarding exercise.