Templars, Treasure, and Friday the 13th

Templar Shield

YOU KNOW, it just struck me that today’s date is the 13th, and it is Friday. Go figure.

It’s been one of my best days in weeks! Ha! No paraskevidekatriaphobia (Fear of Friday the 13th) for me. Hand me that ladder, friend! And get that cat out of here!

As I understand it, one of the origins of the Friday the 13th phenomenon goes back to the Knights Templar.

The Knights Templar are one of the best-known military Crusading orders of the Middle Ages. The Order of the Temple was founded in 1118 with the initial aim of protecting pilgrims going to and from Jerusalem, but many believe they were in all probability also searching for hidden treasures under the long destroyed Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, the place where the Order was originally installed. The Templars developed into one of the richest and most powerful organizations in the medieval world, and had a large network of preceptories and commanderies throughout Europe and the Middle East. They were the bankers to kings and originated our modern-day concept of a letter of credit, in addition to fighting in the Crusades and assisting pilgrims.

The Order lasted for nearly two hundred years, before its suppression by both the French king and Pope Clement V – who issued the papal bull Vox in excelso on 22 March 1312 which finally suppressed the Order. The initial event was sudden and brutal – in the early hours of Friday, 13th October 1307, the French Templars were arrested by the officials of King Philip IV in the name of the Inquisition and their property was confiscated by royal representatives and later granted to the other great military order, the Knights Hospitaller. This event also led to the arrest of Templars elsewhere, but the situation was most severe in France. (The sudden arrest of the Templars on Friday 13th gave rise to the saying “Friday the 13th, unlucky for some.”)

The Templars were then arrested, tortured, charged with serious heresies, and brought to trial. They were accused, for example, of worshipping a strange head named Baphomet. Many historians believe that, many of the confessions of “heresy” against the knights are questionable, since they are known to have been extracted by torture by the Inquisition. The leaders of the Templars finally came before the papal representatives in March 1314 and were sentenced to perpetual imprisonment. But Grand Master Jacques de Molay and Geoffroi de Charney, the Preceptor of Normandy, continued to protest their innocence and, that very evening, King Philip IV ordered that they be burned at the stake on an island in the Seine.

Many theories – and myths – abound about whether, or how, the Templars might have survived into more modern times. Even more tantalising, for many, is the question of where the Templars hid their treasure, and whether it will ever be found. More research is in progress on this fascinating subject today, by many authors, both academic and popular.More – Karen Ralls – Author

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