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Knights Templar are Arrested

Today in Masonic history the Knights Templar are arrested in 1307.

The Knights Templar, also known as the Poor Knights of Christ, was a monastic order. They were also known as fighting monks.

In 1307 the crusades were winding down. The Knights Templar had become less of a fighting order and more of a group of bureaucrats. They had established a banking system of sorts through out Europe They had loaned money to a variety of people including King Phillip of France.

In 1307 King Phillip invited his friend Jacques DeMolay, who was the head of the Templars at the time, to France for the wedding of one of King Phillip's cousins. This was actually a rouse to get DeMolay to France. King Phillip was in heavy debt to the Templar's and was concerned about the power the Templars were able to exert in his kingdom.

On October 13th, 1307 (a Friday) King Phillip ordered the immediate arrest of all the Templars including DeMolay. He also Ordered all of their land and wealth immediately seized. At the time the Templars were a recognized and supported organization by the papacy. King Phillip sent an immediate dispatch to Pope Clement I asking him to declare the Templars outlaws and order their arrest throughout Europe. Pope Clement eventually yielded to King Phillip's pressure and declared the Templars outlaws.

For several years DeMolay and many of the other Templars were held in prison. Particularly in France information about any hidden treasures were demanded from the prisoner Templars, they were also tortured into confessions of heresy and other crimes of the time. Under torture DeMolay confessed two times to crimes, after he was released from torture he quickly recanted.

When DeMolay was finally put to death, he was put on a stake on an island in Paris. He requested that he be turned to face Notre Dame Cathedral and that his hands be tied in prayer. It is alleged that while he burned he asked God to strike down Pope Clement I and King Phillip. Both men would die within a year of DeMolay's execution.

To this day many people feel that much of the Templar's wealth was secreted away. This is in part due to the fact that three treasure ships from the Templar fleet were seen on October 12th in a harbor. The next morning when the arrests began, the ships had disappeared without a trace.

The date of the arrest of Templars is believed by some to be the origin of the superstition surrounding Friday the 13th as a day of bad luck.

There is no evidence concretely linking the Knights Templar to Freemasonry. It is thought that some of the Knights Templar fled to Scotland. Some gave up the order and joined the military of the country they were in, other than France. Still others joined a competing order that remained intact that was recognized by the Papacy.

Masonry helps feed some of the theories that the Templars are part of Masonic History. The Order of DeMolay was created by and generally sponsored by Freemasons. York Rite, one of the appendant organizations of Freemasonry has as its final degree the making of a candidate a Knights Templar.