The Curse of the Knights Templar

Table of Contents

What are they teaching younglings nowadays for you not to have heard this legendary story?
— Sergeant
 

History

 

Pope Clément!... Chevalier Guillaume!... King Philippe!... Within a year, I summon you to appear before the tribunal of God to receive your just judgment! Cursed! Cursed! Cursed! All cursed to the thirteenth generation of your races!
— Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Knights Templar in The Accursed Kings by Maurice Druon



The Knights Templar

Jacques de Molay was the Grand Master of the order of the Knights Templar, an extremely powerful order of monk-knight whose goal had been the retaking and keeping of the holy city of Jerusalem and the Latin States in the Middle East. Made of an international gathering of knights, the order was extremely respected and powerful. However, it has been mired in controversy since its creation. This all came to a head in the first few years of the 14th century...
 

Military context

In 1291 the crusaders lost Acre and are forced to definitely leave the Holy Land. All religious orders, including the Knights Templar, had to leave with them and resettle in Cyprus. What was the usefulness of the Knights Templar then if there was no Latin States to defend? And what would this enormous group of people do with its military might? 15 000 people and 1,500 trained knights all devoted to the pope and ready to wreck European politics...  
Fact is, they failed in their one and unique task! We all know the fate reserved for losers...
— Sergeant


Economic and social context

The Knights Templar were immensely rich. They had received large donations in testaments, owned enormous lands and monasteries providing agricultural goods, and even benefited from special rights: city toll, customs duty, road tolls, banalités...   And to compound all of that, the Knights Templar also managed a bank to allow people to deposit money in their home country, travel to the Latin States in the Middle East and withdraw money from the bank there. This allowed the Knights Templar to lend money to European monarch, including France, and this made them a lot of enemies...   Socially, the Knights have always been perceived as proud and greedy people living a disordered life, and they were not looked upon favourably as attested by the expression "drink like a Templar" and "swear like a Templar". It was not that difficult to believe there were other things going on below the surface...  
Of course, the Templars did not behave any worse than any other soldiers. That is not the issue. The issue is that they were all high and mighty thinking they were superior to everyone else and showing off their perfect morality and purity in everyone's face! There is no better feeling than crushing a goody two shoes, and they really made it easy with their hypocrisy...
— Sergeant
  The French Kingdom was being wrecked by a financial crisis. King Philippe the Fair had to devaluate the money and raise taxes, and despoilt the belongings of Lombard and Jewish merchants, however it was still not enough. And our French ancestors did not like that at all and, of course, rebelling is our long-held tradition. Violence erupted in Paris. The king urgently needed to find the funds to solve the crisis if he wanted to keep his head. And luckily for him, Philippe was clever and resourceful...  
If Louis XVI only had had half as much good sense! The fate of France would have been very different then...
— Sergeant



The Fall of Acre by Wikimedia Commons



Jacques de Molay by Bibliothèque nationale de France


Political context

In addition, as a religious order, the Order of the Knights Templar is brought into the conflict between the King of France and the Pope regarding who had the supremacy in Europe. The successive popes had been attempting to enforce their power little by little over all European monarchs, and they had finally triumphed against the Holy Roman Empire. However, King Philippe the Fair of France proved to be an adversary up to their level...   When Pope Boniface VIII fulminated the papal bull Unam Sanctam stating the papal superiority over the temporal power of monarch, Philip demanded a council so as to destitute the pope. The pope, of course, did not appreciate that and he had all the French royal family excommunicated. Unfortunately for him, he died shortly after. His successor, Benoit XI, survived him less than a year. And then, with a little convincing by Philippe, the cardinals elected a French pope. Clément V was, of course, favourable to France, and he even moved the papacy to France in Avignon and lifted all condemnations against the king and his family. This finally left the field wide opened for Philippe to make his move against the Knights Templar...  
A good king, Philippe the Fair, a man after my own heart! Who cares about fairness and honour when the state of France and the entirety of its population are at stake? Honour has no place in a government and a monarch. Let the raison d'état triumph!
Philippe the Fair by Wikimedia Commons


Crisis

The situation festered and escalated until King Philippe the Fair accused the Knights Templar of breach of charity, obscene acts and heresy. On a Friday the 13th, all templars were arrested throughout France by Guillaume de Nogaret, first adviser to the king and Lord Chancellor. They were interrogated—understand tortured—for seven years until they admitted to all of their crimes in a big public trial. Yet, in 1314 Molay retracted his confession and recanted. This was bad. For him, of course. This meant he would not be allowed to retire peacefully on a papal pension like his companions, but that he would be treated as all heretics: burnt on the pyre!  
Pyres make such a good show! We should definitely bring back the trend!
— Sergeant


The execution and its consequences

In 1314, Jacques de Molay showed no sign of fear while he was led to his pyre or even while being burnt to death. His unperturbable calm and last words greatly impressed all watchers, but the events would have probably dimmed in people's mind if not for what came afterwards...   Both King Philippe the Fair and Pope Clément V died within a year of those events in an extraordinary "coincidence"... Clément from a long illness, Philip to a stroke while hunting. At the time of his death, King Philippe had three sons and a daughter married to the King of England. the future of France appeared to be assured. And yet... In just a few years, all those sons and a grandson died one after another, leaving his daughter's English son with the most direct claim to the throne, an intolerable perspective for the French nobility who prefer to elect Philippe VI, nephew of Philippe the Fair and thus leading to the Hundred Year War.   It was obvious to everyone in Europe that this was all because of Jacques de Molay's execution. The 300-year-old House of Capet collapsed and France devastated. God could not have not intervene.   And yet, this was only the beginning   For, of course, if you calculate thirteen generation, you arrive (almost) neatly to the revolution of 1789 and the beheading of Louis XVI and his family...  
Thirteen, fourteen, who counts? That thirteenth king might even have been the Sun King, but does it really matter? Whatever magic Molay sent, it was so powerful that it took some time to take full effect. The results speak by themselves.
— Sergeant


Knights Templar on the pyre by Wikimedia Commons




Death of Philippe the Fair by Wikimedia Commons




Execution of Louis XVI by Antoine-Jean Duclos (1794), Bibliothèque nationale de France
 

Legacy

 

The renewal of prophecy and curse magics in Europe

Nobody in Europe can bring themselves to believe that this story was all coincidence. There have been too many disasters of a too big magnitude and touching the most powerful mages in Europe. What other explanation could there be?   The only question is: was this a curse or a prophecy? This might seem trivial, however the answer has important economic consequences. After all, the revolution and "accomplishment" of whatever it had been has made both fields of magic extremely trendy and encouraged a lot of emulators. Both sides count many followers ready to offer their service to the highest bidder and make a fortune! And they are not above using the same magical skills against their adversaries...   European prophets have traditionally used astronomy and horoscope to make their prediction. However, with all the younglings eager to enter the field, this has brought two new waves: the Roman augur imitators who prophesise by reading the entrails of animals or analysing their behaviours, and the spiritualists who are in contact with otherworldly spirits with vast knowledge beyond human understanding.   The curse-wielders use a variety of means to tailor and fuel their curse, going from the relatively benign ingredients made from plants and animal corpses to full human sacrifices. Curses have to be carried on in long and complex rituals and even after all this preparation and effort it is extremely difficult to get them to attach to the desired target, even before taking into account the potential protections worn by the targets in question.  
Whoever you chose to believe, follow my advice and do not get close to any of them. You might think both groups are completely useless, with the prophets seeing whatever they want - or whatever their patrons want - in their signs, and the curse-wielder not truly able to bypass the protections on their target and only making wild promises of the curse taking effects years done the line. Do not. Never underestimate what greed and pride can push a mage to do...
— Sergeant
 

Revolutionary Secret Societies

  Another consequence of the advent of de Molay's prophecy/curse is how fervently the subject is being considered by all the secret societies that have been pullulating through France and especially Paris. In particular, the templars' curse/prophecy is the new rallying call of all groups that stand against the return of the "legitimate" royal family to the throne.   Numerous political factions are in opposition in France, always keeping the country in the middle or on the verge of civil war, and all having an opinion on the templars' curse/prophecy.  

The legitimists


The Bourbons' flag by Sodacan on Wikimedia Commons
They are for the return of the old absolute monarchy and the Bourbon royal family. They had their chance when with the support of England they managed to get Louis XVII and Charles X, both brothers Louis XVI, elected. However, the authoritarianism and inflexible nature of this branch of the family put off many French people who have no wishes to pretend that the revolution did not occur. For others, however, this is exactly what is necessary for a prompt return to peace. Charles X's grandson, Henri, is the current contender. All of them obstinately refuse to even contemplate the possibility of the prophecy/curse being real.

The Orléanists


Louis-Philippe's flag by Trajan117 on Wikimedia Commons
They are for the election to the throne of the cousin branch of the Bourbon, the Orléans with Louis Philippe as king. They are far more moderate than their cousins but considerate as traitors for having voted for the death of Louis XVI. The rivalry between both sides is extremely bitter. The Orléanists consider the templar's prophecy/curse as having been accomplished but that it would be prudent to change the ruling branch of the family just in case.

The Bonapartists


The Bonapartists' flag by Trajan117 on Wikimedia Commons
Napoléon Bonaparte was obviously the best rulers France had in the last two centuries. Facts speak by themselves. It only makes sense that now that he is dead, his son, the Aiglon François, should succeed him. Or if that son's being raised by the enemy Austrians is too much for French sensibility, Napoléon's ambitious nephew, Louis-Napoléon, would be a good compromise. Most of them have started muttering that the templars' business is not finished yet as witnessed by the continuing civil wars and that what is needed is a change of regime. Why not establish an empire?

The Lucienniens


They currently have the upper hand and their leader is in power as King Lucien Esselin. They are attempting to balance the traditional and conservator side that is highly prevalent in French society with the liberal views that have carried them to power. They consider the templar's matter dealt with and now wish to focus on modernising France and fully entering the industrial era.

The republicans


Republican flag by Wikimedia Commons
Revolution was stopped halfway by cowards who were too frightened to go to the end of their ideas. This half-state has already allowed the Bourbon to come back twice, and France has always had to suffer with two little men with delusions of grandeur in the person of Napoléon and Lucien. The republicans believe that the templars accomplished a just vengeance against a tyrannical state and that they are the one who should carry their inheritance by finally getting rid of this corrupt French monarchy. Their leader is Lafayette.

The Foreign states


English flag by Wikipedia Commons
France is might and its glory shines over all of Europe. This causes a lot of resentment, envy and fear among its neighbours who are ready to do anything to bring it low. Interfering in French politics has become a speciality for them and the factionalisation and constant civil wars have only made this too easy... While they pretend to support the legitimists, in reality as soon as they were back in power most foreign nations quickly grew tired with them and they were not too sad to see them go. Rumours are that the English are now looking favourably at the Orléanists, while the Austrians obviously prefer Napoléon's son... All foreign states loudly proclaim that France had its revolution coming because of what it did to the templars and that therefore no other people should try to imitate them by staging their own revolution.

The Francs-maçons


Francs-maçons' flag by Wikimedia Commons

The francs-maçons, who have long claimed to be direct descendants of the templars, even have their own secret society. Many of their members have attempted to take advantage of the situation and their renewed prestige to interfere with French politics and attempt to dictate the fate of France, using the threat of a new prophecy or curse to get what they want. They are helped by the fact that being rich and well connected are requirements to enter the order...
 
Whatever political opinions you have, you better keep them to yourself. Here we do not want to see anything but unfiltered enthusiasm for King Lucien and gratitude for all that he has done for the army and the wellbeing of all French soldiers! If you insist on throwing any other idea in our face, be assured that we will take the time to educate you...
— Sergeant


Cover image: Knight templar by DangrafArt on Pixabay

Comments

Author's Notes

Summer Camp 2021 prompt 9: A myth or fairytale about a prophecy, oracle, fortune-telling or other revelation   Source:
The Accursed Kings series by Maurice Druon. Go read it, it's amazing!
The real Jacques de Molay is not believed to have actually pronounced those words. The legend appears to come from a mixture between what he actually said and what some other Knights Templar said themselves.


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4 Jul, 2021 13:58

As always, such impressive depth of detail and richness of writing that makes it a real treat to read. That Sergeant really has an axe to grind against the templars too, but I guess that might not have been uncommon. Pyres were quite the show indeed :D   Excellent work as always :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
4 Jul, 2021 14:25

Thanks :D The Sergeant is just very pro the current government. But criticising everyone is a French national sport :p

To see what I am up to, my latest article is a choose-your-own-adventure story featuring a job interview to become one of the Dark Lord's evil minions :D
4 Jul, 2021 14:34

That checks out XD


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
4 Jul, 2021 21:29

Ah 3 hours later I've reached the end! No I'm joking it honestly read very fluently and as a coherent story. The sergeant is quickly becoming one of my favourite persons in your world! And you do a great job both explaining the complicated history and the complicated current political affairs with all the seperate parties and all. Looking forward to the next one!

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
4 Jul, 2021 22:12

Thanks :D Politics at the time (or any time really :p ) were a huge mess so it's hard to write concisely. The only constant was that nobody liked the guy in power and that even their own parti started to get divided as soon as got into power :p Lots of fun possibilities for stories!   I really have to write the Sergeant's own article this month :D I wanted to have him as a background character in the novel, but I think he is worthy of more...

To see what I am up to, my latest article is a choose-your-own-adventure story featuring a job interview to become one of the Dark Lord's evil minions :D
4 Jul, 2021 22:59

Yes finally I got to this tab and I must say once again very good job Amélie! Very well explained history of the templars and well written. Makes it easy and fast to read through! Nice how the curse neatly ties together with the political situation :p

Feel free to check out my River challenge article and my Secrets in the swamp Adventure article if you want to see what I am up to!
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
5 Jul, 2021 06:38

Thanks :D How neatly it ties to the revolution entirely depends on how good at maths you are XD But since it's something that people have been saying in real life too...

To see what I am up to, my latest article is a choose-your-own-adventure story featuring a job interview to become one of the Dark Lord's evil minions :D
5 Jul, 2021 08:07

I want to believe ! We need to change maths :p

Feel free to check out my River challenge article and my Secrets in the swamp Adventure article if you want to see what I am up to!
8 Jul, 2021 18:57

Really enjoyed all the details and breakdown of everything! There's so much to unpack and going through it and seeing all the images makes it such an in depth read!   Also, the Sergeant is great and such a highlight through all of this! XD


Seek out Fate in the world of Auriga!   Also, feel free to check out my Progress Report for this year's World Ember... AND if you want to see what I'm working on, you can check up on my prompt worksop space!
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
8 Jul, 2021 21:28

Thanks for the comment :D Yes, lots of politics here and the 19th century was fun for that :p

To see what I am up to, my latest article is a choose-your-own-adventure story featuring a job interview to become one of the Dark Lord's evil minions :D
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