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Almoço de Reis 2018

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Realizou-se em Sintra o Almoço de Reis do Priorado de Portugal da OSMTHU, evento que abriu as actividades da Ordem para o ano de 2018.

O almoço foi presidido por Luis de Matos, Prior Geral coadjuvado pelos Comendadores de Sintra, Fr+ Paulo Valente KCTJ, Comendador de Lisboa – Colina das Chagas, Fr+ Luis Fonseca KCTJ, in Ecclesia Mons. Tau Christoforus de Lusignan e Comendador do Condado de Arraiolos, Fr+ Rui Herdadinha KCTJ, estando presentes ainda vários irmãos, irmãs, família e convidados.

Como é habitual, além do convívio, da conversa fraterna, da brincadeira costumeira em encontros como o nosso, o Almoço teve um tema sobre o qual se pôde reflectir e fazer alguma instrução de Cavalaria. Sendo dia de Reis, falou-se dos Reis Magos. Contudo, de todas as figuras tradicionais no Presépio, o foco foi colocado o Jumento. De facto, o mais esquecidos dos animais da Natividade tem muito que ensinar. Juntamente com o Bovino (que sublinha a letra B e a força criadora seminal), o Jumento (que sublinha a letra J e a força dócil e suave) expressa a dualidade que venera o Menino na manjedoura. O Jumento não apenas foi fundamental na fuga para o Egipto, como teve ainda um papel central no reconhecimento de Jesus como o Messias (e por isso o Ungido, ou Crestos). De facto, embora a tradição coloque Jesus num cavalo a caminho da Cidade Santa, ao chegar à porta da cidade desmontou e mandou que se buscasse um jumento para que nele montasse antes de entrar na cidade. Era esse o sinal designado por Isaías, que selava a profecia e dava a conhecer o Esperado.

A montada do guerreiro é o cavalo, que nos aparece como sendo branco em muitas histórias. Mas o Sábio apresenta-se num burrico. A dicotomia Cavalo/Jumento é a do Guerreiro/Monge. O clássico de Cervantes “D. Quixote de La Mancha” mostra-nos bem como o idealismo por vezes alucinado de Quixote do alto do seu cavalo Roncinante é equilibrado pela ligação à realidade imediata de Sancho Pança, que, fiel companheiro, como um eco da consciência interior, o segue no seu burrico sem nome.

A discussão e o convívio prolongou-se por muitas horas, com muitas contribuições para a reflexão de muitos dos presentes, sempre inquietos quando estes temas se discutem.

Foi sem surpresa que o nosso grupo foi o último a deixar o Restaurante, já muito próximo das 5:00 da tarde. Um grande obrigado a todos os presentes, pela alegria e boa disposição que trouxeram, e muito particularmente à Irmã Susana Ferreira DTJ que organizou o dia com todo o cuidado e detalhe.

A todos um excelente ano de 2018.


Short English Summary:

The Priory of Portugal celebrated Good Kings Day in a Lunch and debate event in Sintra last Saturday, January 6th 2018. Attending were Fr+ Luis de Matos, Grand Prior General and Chancellor and Interim Master of the OSMTHU, Fr+ Paulo Valente, Commander of Sintra, Fr+ Luis Fonseca, Commander of Lisbon – Chagas Hill and Fr+ Rui Herdadinha, Commander of Arraiolos, as well as numerous brothers and sisters, family and invited guests. The theme of the day was the symbolism o the Donkey in the Nativity scene, the less prominent of all the animals connected with Our Lord, but one of the most interesting in its meaning. With a starting point on the Donkey’s role on the biblical episode of the escape to Egypt and later in the recognition of Jesus as the Messiah when He entered Jerusalem riding a Donkey (as the prophecy had it), the group explored the deep and meaningful role of this animal in the life of Christ. A fulfilling day of joy and fraternal conviviality was closed long after everyone else had left the Restaurant and the group (as always) was the very last to part ways, so interesting and compelling was the discussion. From us all, a wish for a happy and peaceful year of 2018.

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Uncovering Templar church ruins with links back to the sixth century still hidden beneath the grounds at Glasgow Airport

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This historic gem dating as far back as the sixth century is attracting lots of interest – and it’s in the unlikeliest of places.

Fly in to Glasgow Airport and you’re likely to see the bright lights of the city to the east, the runway below – certainly a glimpse of the River Clyde winding its way through the city.

What you won’t notice as readily is a piece of history dating back to the sixth century – and the community digging deep to learn more about it. 

On a grassy patch of Glasgow Airport, right below the flight path, lies the ruins of the old All Hallows, a Templar church replaced by nearby Inchinnan Parish Church in the 1960s.

It’s now the site of an archaeological investigation, led by Inchinnan Historical Interest Group and with help from local schoolchildren.

The site is believed to be the burial place of St Conval, an early Christian saint who is said to have floated over from Ireland on a stone (more on that later) – and the earliest settlement dates back to 597 AD.

The first stone-built church, St Conval’s, dates to about 1100 – some 20 years before Glasgow Cathedral – on land then gifted by David I to the Knights Templar.

The medieval building was deemed dangerous in 1828 and replaced with a Gothic-style church, which was built around in the late 19th century to form a third church building, dedicated as All Hallows.

The foundation stone of the replacement church, in Inchinnan, was laid on November 19, 1966, with the old site making way for Glasgow Airport – although much of the old All Hallows was moved, including stunning stained glass windows, the organ and the pulpit.

The All Hallows site remained overgrown until early 2017, when Inchinnan Historical Interest Group gained help from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Environment Scotland and others – including a £4,500 grant from Glasgow Airport’s Flightpath Fund.

Bill McCallum, of Inchinnan Historical Interest Group, told Glasgow Live: “We wanted to research the former site, to see if there was any evidence left of the previous buildings and, if so, what? We also knew from old maps that there were some houses around about, so we set out to find any evidence of habitation around the church in earlier days.

“We were fortunate enough to find a variety of things. Coming upon the 1904 church wasn’t a problem, but getting below that was a little difficult – but we got through and found evidence of the church demolishes in 1828.

“We’ve found a lot of stained glassed thought to be from the middle ages and they’re currently being examined by a specialist. We also found some rubble which we think is the earlier church but have not yet been able to prove that.

“it was important to use to involve the community too, and a number of local schools participated in the project.

“I think it gives people a better understanding of where they came from, from a linear point of view – but it also gives them a better appreciation for the fact that Inchinnan has been a very important area of Scotland for many, many years.”

While the archaeological dig uncovered lots of finds at the site, there was a surprise at the current church too – one which could help put the place on the tourist map and link it to another important place within the city boundary.

PhD student Megan Kasten, an expert on the Govan Stones, was asked to take a look at Inchinnan’s historic stones and unveiled her findings this month.

Using digital photography techniques on the ancient stones, Megan has revealed that one – thought to be medieval in date – was originally carved much earlier, and possibly commemorated an important person in the Kingdom of Strathclyde.

The discovery means that Inchinnan has four large carved stones characteristic of the same group of sculpture known as the ‘Govan School’ of carving.

Megan said: “This new addition is really exciting – we have few historical records for this time period, so each new discovery increases our understanding of the connections between important medieval sites like Inchinnan and Govan.”

Dr Sally Foster, lecturer in heritage and conservation at the University of Stirling and chair of the National Committee on Carved Stones in Scotland, added: “The discovery of a previously unrecognised example of the ‘Govan School’ of early medieval sculpture is a wonderful example of the untapped potential of Scotland’s carved stone resource.”

Work to find out more about the mysterious Inchinnan stones is ongoing, but the archaeological dig at All Hallows has stopped – for now.

The Historical Group hope to continue their work soon, if funding is available, and dig even deeper into the history of such an important site, right under the modern flight path many of us know so well.

Doctor Heather James, lead archaeologist from Calluna Archaeology, added: “It has been great seeing the community and professionals working together to discover so much more about our fascinating heritage throughout this project.”

in glasgowlive.co.uk by Gillian Loney

KNIGHTFALL: “YOU’D KNOW WHAT TO DO” REVIEW

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History’s Knightfall delivers a fascinating story centered around the Knights Templar and their quest to find the Holy Grail in the early 14th century. Like the network’s flagship series Vikings, Knightfall proves why History needs to develop more original dramas.

Knightfall goes big and bold right from the beginning with a large-scale battle set in the city of Acre. For a TV budget, the assault on the stronghold looks great, but it’s the use of intricately placed cameras that make the sequence shine.

Typically, an actor that wears a helmet, like Thor, finds a reason to take it off, in order to better show the actor’s face. Studios don’t want to pay someone millions of dollars to hide beneath a helmet. Instead of taking the helmets off, Knightfall puts the cameras inside the helmets. It’s a brilliant choice because it creates a feeling of claustrophobia that adds to the intensity of the fights.

The combat is well choreographed and believable. It’s not as flashy as Vikings, but with warriors wearing armor that heavy, it must be difficult to move. The only complaint is the ineffective use of slow motion throughout the episode. It doesn’t ruin any of the skirmishes, but it is distracting. It feels like the show is trying to be overly stylized when it doesn’t need to be.

The characters that inhabit the story are remarkably realized. Landry (Tom Cullen) is one of the lead knights in the order. Cullen (Downton Abbey) brings all the good looks, charm, and toughness needed to carry a historical epic like Knightfall. Early on, Landry’s close relationship with the King is revealed to be a sore spot between Landry and the rest of his brothers. This conflict should make for a compelling story down the road — especially if you know a little bit of the history concerning the Templar order.

Knightfall takes place around the time of the Templars’ downfall, which according to some historical accounts, has to do with the troubled financial relationship between King Philip IV of France and the Templars. This version of the King, skillfully portrayed by Ed Stoppard (The Crown), doesn’t seem like the type of guy who would betray his friends. These are merely first-impressions, but I’m excited to see how it all plays out. History is a network that’s not afraid to toy with expectations, even in a historical setting (e.g. Vikings). Remember, this is a television show after all.

Some of the supporting characters based on their names alone add to the mystery surrounding the Grail legend. Parsifal (Bobby Schofield) is one such character. Schofield (Black Sea) effectively plays the wide-eyed farm boy who’s in over his head. What’s fascinating here is the historical significance of his name. In the legends about King Arthur, Parsifal (Percival) is one of Arthur’s most trusted knights and he’s also part of the Grail legend. It looks like the writers are using various legends and historical accounts to shape their story. This mixture of fantasy and history makes Knightfall all the more delightful.

It’s nice to have a series that gives the Templar’s a story from their point of view. Properties like Assassin’s Creed haven’t painted them in a good light and while there are reasons for that — having a different perspective on the ancient order is enjoyable to watch. Landry and his brothers are seen as protectors of the people, as opposed to cold-blooded killers.

THE VERDICT

Knightfall creates an engaging story centered around the Knights Templar and their search for the Holy Grail. With gorgeous costumes and wonderfully designed sets, Knightfall does a great job of bringing 14th century Paris to life. Backed by a strong performance from Tom Cullen, Knightfall should have enough staying power to see it through until the finale.

in ign.com by DAVID GRIFFIN


Note: This review is reprint from IGN. The OSMTHU has no official review of Knightfall. However, we should point out that Knightfall is a ficcional series with the Templars as a background. It’s not History. You should enjoy it as you enjoy any other great fictional story.

WANT TO ‘GET SWOLE’? TRY THE TEMPLAR KNIGHT WORKOUT, SUGGESTS KNIGHTFALL STAR TOM CULLEN

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If you’re looking to get fit, Tom Cullen, star of History’s Knightfall, has a suggestion for you: wear chain mail.

The actor stars as Landry, leader of the Knights Templar, in the newest scripted drama from the network home of Vikings — which meant wearing 50 pounds of armor nearly daily for the better part of a year.

“I didn’t want to weigh the costume early on, because otherwise it would just become a thing in my head. I have weighed it since and it has become a thing in my head,” Cullen, who played Lord Gillingham in Downton Abbey, told Rotten Tomatoes. “The costume weighed 50 pounds, which is a lot to be carrying for 14, 15 hours a day when you’re fighting and riding horses. My body changed shape. I went from fit and kind of slender to muscular and big, just from the fact that I was carrying this amount of weight, this heavy costume.

“I couldn’t even get on a horse when I first started,” he confessed. “I had to have a stepladder because I didn’t have the power in my legs to get over the horse. But by the end of the shoot, I was leaping and running and jumping on horses. It was intense.”

So if you want to “get swole,” try the Chain Mail Workout!

“It’s where you wear 50 pounds of chain mail for seven months, every day, 15 hours a day,” Cullen said. “That’s all you have to do. And you’ll end up [muscular]. I’ve had to go to my wardrobe and buy all new trousers because my ass is so big. Honestly, if you want an ass like Kim Kardashian, become a knight.”

Knightfall takes place in the 1300s and follows the Knights Templar as they hunt to recover the Holy Grail in the final days of their reign, ahead of their eventual downfall. The series was shot in Eastern Europe on a Prague backlot — “they built medieval Paris, they built a temple, a palace, streets, a market, a moat, castle walls, a church, shops, alleyways, a pub — it was extraordinary,” Cullen said. The show tackles the later days of the Knights Templar’s reign of power.

“They were such a fascinating, clandestine sect,” Cullen said. “That the myriad of lies and layers that they bathed themselves in — it’s very difficult to unpack all of that. It was fascinating to learn about them. It was a real educational process for me.”

While, like most people, Cullen had a working knowledge of the group, he learned a lot while simply researching for his role.

“One of the things that really stuck with me was that they invented to first bank,” he said. “They created the banking system, and they created the first checks. They became the wealthiest fighting force in the world. And they answered to no country, no king, no queen. They only answered to God and to the Pope. No borders. You could cash your money in France, and you could take it out in Jerusalem. They were kind of untouchable. Fascinating guys. The thing that really surprised me was the level of their power. You learn about how they were in the battlefield. They were extraordinary. They would never leave. Even if they were losing, they would never turn their back and run. They would basically only surrender when the last man had been killed. That level of bravery and intelligence is an extraordinary combination, I think.”

Cullen’s character, Landry, was taken in by the Knights Templar as a 10-year-old orphan.

“All he’s known is war, fighting, and God. When we first see him in episode 1, he’s a very brash young maverick knight who ultimately loses the Holy Grail and loses Acre, the last stronghold in the Holy Land, which is the one thing that he understands himself through. The series is set 15 years after that event, and we find him questioning everything about himself. He’s questioning his faith and his own identity. He’s a very contradictory, very complex character. He is lying to his brothers. He’s having an affair with a woman. But he is immensely loyal. He is maybe the most fearless, brave knight. Yet he is starting to discover his own humanity and his mortality. He is a very pious man and is still a very faithful man, yet he is starting to discover who he is outside of his brotherhood.”

Yes, that’s right — there’s still plenty of sex on this show about religious monks, and Landry’s dedication to the Knights Templar only wavers when his chastity vow is involved.

“He’s very faithful to her,” Cullen said. “He’s a one-woman kind of guy.”

Except he’s supposed to be a no-woman kind of guy.

Added Cullen, “He’s a very complex guy, which is the kind of guy I’m interested in watching.”

The season will include major developments about Landry’s love — in the first episode, even — but his relationship will take a back seat to his main quest: to recover the Holy Grail.

“Landry goes on a pathological hunt to try and find the Grail, because I think that he entwines a lot of his own identity into that piece of pottery,” Cullen said. “I think that he hopes to find it not only to garner enough power to go back to the Holy Land, which is what he thinks that he should be doing, but also to return himself back to who he was — search for his identity before he became this very complex guy. What’s great is that on the way, we see his life fall apart, and as he discovers more about himself, he discovers more about the people around him and the lies that are entwined around his whole life and his whole existence.”

in rottentomatoes.com by Jean Bentley

Mater Emeritus Antonio Paris Receives Malta Gran Cross

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HE Antonio Paris, Master Emeritus OSMTHU, has received the Gran Cross of the Order of Saint John – Knights of Malta, during a ceremony in the Palace of the Order in La Valeta, from the hands of Grand Master Don Basilio Cali. The Grand Cross is the highest distinction given by the Order.

The Order of Saint John is one of the branches of the Order of the Hospital, that had headquarters in the Hospital of Saint John in Jerusalem at the times of the crusades.

This acts inaugurates a new cycle of cooperation and amity between the OSMTHU and the Order of Saint John, bringing, at the same time, Master Antonio Paris to the forefront of the Templar activity, after a few years of quiet retirement.

The Templar Globe congratulates Master Paris on this happy occasion.

Excavations expose long-lost palace at mythical birthplace of King Arthur

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A DARK Age palace has been discovered, strengthening the likelihood that the legend of King Arthur may be based on a grain of truth.

A DARK Age palace has been uncovered on Cornwall’s windswept coast, strengthening the likelihood that the legend of King Arthur may be based on a grain of truth.

Myth has it that King Arthur will return at the hour of Britain’s greatest need. It could certainly do with some help right now.

Whether or not a new archaeological dig at his supposed birthplace of Tintagel Castle will prompt such a second coming is another matter.

But it may already be adding to the evidence that the myth surrounding the warrior king who, with the knights of his roundtable, struggled to hold back a “Dark Age” from enveloping Britain.

The Dark Age has long since proven to have been not so dark. But the scant records from the time have made pinning down one historical character that best fits the outline of the tale near impossible.

Now, archaeologists have returned to Arthur’s traditional birthplace of Tintagel for the first time since the 1990s. They’ve just completed their first dig in a new five-year excavation.

Last month they sank four trenches into previously unexcavated areas of the ancient island settlement.

What they found may be the remains of a 1500-year-old palace.

BIRTHPLACE OF A LEGEND

Like many prominent British landmarks, Tintagel has long been associated with Arthurian legend.

Like all the others, the evidence has been largely limited to hearsay.

The ruined castle that dominates the Tintagel landscape is believed to be from the Medieval 13th century. This would make it some 700 years younger than the Arthurian tales.

But it’s long been thought that the castle may have itself been built upon the ruins of an older structure.

But it was the discovery of a stone engraved with a name linked to Arthur’s in 1998 that reinvigorated interest in the windswept ruins on Cornwall’s coast.

Archaeologists believe it to have been a foundation/dedication stone dating from the 6th century. It is engraved with the name Artognou.

It’s these ruins that may have been linked to the Arthur of legend.

The tales tell of the seduction — some say by magical means — of the beautiful wife of a local lord by the then King of Britain. The illicit act conceived Arthur.

Mythology goes on to say the young boy was raised as a squire — a knight’s assistant — until fate took its hand and placed the rightful king on his throne.

The first written record of the mystic king comes from a monk named Gildas in the sixth century.

But it was a time where books were scarce and the most common form of transmitting history — and telling tales — was through memorised songs and poetry.

It took two several more centuries before a more detailed account of King Arthur and his actions would be recorded by Geoffrey of Monmouth in 1138AD.

Unwinding his tangle of myth, legend and history has been a challenge for authors and historians ever since.

At the time of Monmouth’s writing, historians believe Tintagel would likely have been little more than a windswept pile of rubble.

So the notion of it being a powerful palace would have had to have been handed down verbally through the generations.

Just like the tale of Arthur himself.

SCRATCHING THE SURFACE

The archaeologists were guided in their efforts by geophysical surveys of the rocky outcrop’s terraces earlier this year.

Among the ultrasound and radar echoes were outlines of what could be up to a dozen buried buildings, one-metre thick walls and winding paths.

The strategically positioned trenches, two on an upper east terrace and two to the south, have all provided a glimpse of the stonework foundations of long-lost buildings.

From the scattering of potsherds and glass, this places the site smack between 400 and 600AD — precisely the time Arthur is supposed to have led his war band against the invading hordes.

None of this proves Arthur existed.

But the new finds add substance to the idea that the site could have produced cultured but strong warriors as well as influential political figures.

It would have been a beacon of lost civilisation in a world of economic chaos and roving, marauding tribes.

Much of the 150 fragments of glass and pottery recovered had been imported from the far reaches of the then collapsing Roman Empire — indicating a place of both great wealth and trade importance.

One piece was the lip of a Turkish-Phocaean red-slip plate or bowl. It was a particularly fine and highly prized ceramic that would likely have held pride of place on the table of nobility.

Original excavation work in the 1930s led archaeologists to believe the cliffside landmark may have once been an Early Christian monastery.

Later work has steadily strengthened the idea that it may have been an important Dark Age fortress, held by the king of Dumnonia who filled the void in Cornwall left when the Romans abandoned Britain in 410AD.

in news.com.au

Jacques DeMolay, Grand Master of the Knights Templar, cursed a king and a pope as he burned at the stake — launching an undying myth

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SEVEN hundred years ago, a dying knight uttered a curse as the flames of the pyre he was tied to lapped at his feet. Those words continue to haunt us even now.

That knight was Jacques de Molay.

He was the Grand Master of the Order of the Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon, generally known as the Knights Templar.

A fraction more than two centuries after the Knights of Order of the Temple of Solomon had been founded amid the rubble of Jerusalem to defend the Holy Land, it would now be ended by flame in the heart of Paris.

Betrayed by a king he trusted and a pope he was sworn to obey, in his final hours DeMolay fought fervently against the false charges which had destroyed his international network of Christian warriors.

His dying curse was powerful. And effective.

S’en vendra en brief temps meschie / Let evil swiftly befall

Sus celz qui nous dampnent a tort; / Those who have wrongly condemned us;

Diex en vengera nostre mort. / God will avenge our death.

Pope Clement V, complicit by design or cowardice, was dead 33 days later — from a severe bout of dysentery brought about by advanced bowel cancer.

King Philip IV of France, who had been happy to kill and defame Christendom’s defenders for their wealth and land, died within eight months. This time it was a hunting accident.

It was the final act in a power play that makes the schemes of Game of Thrones seem like mere schoolyard squabbles.

De Molay, oddly, lives on.

A contemporary source tells of a group of monks secretly swimming to his funeral pyre on an island in Paris’ River Seine to gather up the old man’s bones as holy relics. His name has echoed through history ever since.

The idea of the Order of the Temple itself refused to die.

Though formally disbanded and its assets nominally handed over to their arch rivals — the Knights Hospitaller — there were few untouched enclaves of Templars who changed their name to escape retribution.

But the black-and-white banner of the Poor Knights would rise time and again throughout history by the oppressed and those seeking association with secrets, occult and mystery.

And, as the likes of The DaVinci Code, Game of Thrones and Ivanhoe attest, it’s an idea that resonates even now.

SIGNED, SEALED — AND DELIVERED?

De Molay’s last stand was something of a surprise.

The supreme commander of more than 2000 knights, sergeants and attendants had put up a pitiful performance after the sudden arrest of his brethren on Friday, October 13, 1307. It was a date that would go down in infamy for its ill fortune.

It had been an extraordinary operation: King Philip’s sheriffs all through France had been secretly notified to conduct the coordinated arrests that same night. Once hauled forward to face trumped up charges of heresy, sodomy and sedition, the stunned church seemed powerless to defend its own. Torture did the rest, quickly extracting confessions for the most heinous of crimes — heresy.

But by 1314 the scandal had died down. The arrest and accusations against the Templars was old news. The fate of its members — and its wealth — seemed little more than a formality.

A papal commission of inquiry was appointed to pass final judgment on four of the Templar’s most senior commanders. Two of the inquisitors were considered “royal” men — being close associates of King Philip “the Fair”. The third cardinal was one of Pope Clement’s closest friends.

Naturally, the outcome was a foregone conclusion.

It was to be a public show trial, carefully scripted and conducted under the watchful eye of King Philip’s city guard and most loyal followers and performed on scaffolding erected in front of the famous Notre Dame cathedral.

But something inside de Molay had changed.

The seven years of torture and imprisonment had not weakened his spirit. It had reinforced it.

In fact, the Grand Master had been held in solitary confinement the dungeon of his own Paris fortress for the previous four years. Now in his 70s, de Molay’s body must have been wracked by injury, malnutrition and lack of sunlight.

Stepping out into the warm light and seeing his brothers-in-arms again after so long must have ignited his spirit in a way it had never been before.

He and his colleagues — Geoffroi de Charney, Hughes de Pairaud and Goeffroi de Gonneville — were dressed in their Order’s iconic white robes emblazoned with the blood-red cross and paraded in front of the crowd.

It was intended to be their final humiliation.

LAST ACT OF DEFIANCE

The people of Paris were expecting a show. A performance. A tragedy.

They got what they wanted — but not the anticipated script.

The day, March 18, 1314, started well. The full list of charges was read out to the crowd: Heresy. Homosexuality. Corruption.

All were reminded that the Templar commanders — including de Molay — had long since confessed to these most awful of crimes.

It was time to pass sentence. As the senior cardinal began to read from a decree announcing that the three Templar leaders would face perpetual imprisonment, he was unexpectedly interrupted.

By de Molay.

The Grand Master who had seemingly confessed so easily to such serious sin seven years earlier — and who had refused to speak out during the show trials which followed — finally found his voice.

He demanded to be heard.

He asserted his innocence, and that of his colleagues. He accused the king and pope of false accusations and of rigging the trials.

The crowd was shocked.

They knew what this meant.

An unexpected spectacle: A burning at the stake.

Such was the fate of all confessed heretics who renounced their crimes.

But the performance was not yet over.

De Molay’s old colleague under the searing sun of the Holy Land, Geoffroi de Charney, suddenly took up the battle cry.

Both launched into a forceful defence of their innocence and a blistering attack on those who sought to steal their land, their power, and their honour.

They harangued the esteemed cardinals for their complicity. They emphatically denied the allegations and pointedly revoked every aspect of their prior confessions.

De Molay and de Charney knew the consequences.

So did the remaining two Templar officials — de Pairaud and de Gonneville. Both cowered into the background, abandoning their superiors to their last stand.

The cardinals were stunned. They quickly fled the uproarious scene.

The king’s men knew what to do. Such a revocation of guilt meant the Grand Master and the Preceptor of Normandy had voided the protection of the Church and were now under royal jurisdiction.

They dragged the two Templars away.

FINAL OUTRAGE

King Philip heard of the outburst within minutes. His extravagant new palace was just a few hundred meters up the road.

It was too much for the troubled king to tolerate. His family was torn by scandal — the wives of his three sons all having been found guilty of adultery only months earlier. Any other such challenge to his flagging authority and reputation needed to be stamped upon, and quickly.

He summoned an immediate session of his royal council.

Nominally it was to discuss and pass judgment upon the two relapsed heretics. In reality it was most likely a shouting session.

The verdict was arbitrary anyway.

King Philip gave the two Templars what they wanted.

He immediately issued his decree: Jacques de Molay and Geoffroi de Charney were to be burnt at the stake that very evening, at the hour of Vespers.

The place of execution was ordered to be a small sandbank at the foot of the island in the middle of medieval Paris which formed the seat of royal and religious power.

It sat in full view of the island’s royal gardens and palace, and of the Monastery of St Augustine on the opposite bank of the River Seine.

Meanwhile, the Templars Hughes de Pairaud and Goeffroi de Gonneville had been whisked away by church officials to serve their sentences of life imprisonment. Both would die prolonged, miserable deaths.

BURNING RIGHTEOUSNESS

De Molay and De Charney were bundled through the seething crowds filling Paris’ streets. Word of their fate had spread. Nobody wanted to miss the show.

It was the end of an era. All knew this.

All wanted to see how this suddenly courageous Grand Master faced his death.

Chroniclers from the time tell of how de Molay willingly cast off his clothes and walked up to the pyre dressed only in his undershirt. Some say he asked to be tied to the stake with his hands free so he could pray.

All paint a picture of a calm and determined man, content with his fate.

As the flames took hold, they seem to have only ignited anger within the old knight.

The Chronicler of Paris wrote:

Seignors, dis il, sachiez, sans tere, / Sirs, he said, know, without any doubt

Que touz celz qui nous sont contrere / That all those who are against us

Por nous en arront a souffrir. / For us will have to suffer.

It was an age of superstition. While the sparks of the Renaissance were beginning to fly — particularly among the new universities of Paris — there was still a pervasive belief in the power of curses, prayer and prophecy.

The chroniclers tell of “how gently” de Molay met his execution.

To the silent crowd, this would have only added to the power of his final words.

De Charney, seeing the extraordinary manner in which his commander had died, declared he was proud to burn in the colours of his Order, and desired to do so with the same grace as his Grand Master.

The righteous piety in which the two knights were immolated was in stark contrast to the stories of cowardice, corruption and heresy the Paris crowd had been sold over so many years.

Their deaths invoked so much admiration among the crowd that it inspired centuries of doubt as to their guilt.

It also inspired the myths that seemingly will not die.

THE TEMPLAR CODE

It’s a story with stark relevance to the modern world.

The Templars were, in essence, an international corporation. A network of farms, estates, banks and markets which fed a bureaucracy full of infighting, divergent purposes and ambition under the helm of a single chief executive officer — in this case Jacques de Molay.

King Philip’s government was bankrupt. He’d squandered his wealth on a series of failed wars and expensive monuments to his ego. He needed cash. He needed income. He lusted for power.

The manner in which the hearts and minds of Europe’s pious public were played, how the legal system was manipulated and how the cowed Catholic Church capitulated still triggers fears of grand-scale, high-level conspiracy and corruption.

But the Templars themselves — as pious knights, as warrior-monks sworn to fight for their beliefs — reflect our fear for modern religious-inspired terrorism and the righteous claims of those who fight against it.

Add to the mix the charges of heresy, magic and conspiracy and you have a rich recipe few authors — and charlatans — can resist.

They’ve been linked to the Turin Shroud, the Holy Grail and the ‘hidden bloodline’ of Jesus Christ.

From Ivanhoe to Indiana JonesHellbound to Assassin’s CreedKingdom of Heaven to The DaVinci Code — the myth of the Templars all play a part.

And the name of the Order has been invoked by secret societies for centuries, seeking to draw upon the mystical might of the knights’ name.

It’s a power still present today: One of Mexico’s most powerful drug gangs has twisted the image, and the name — The Knights Templar Cartel — to suit their own anti-authoritarian needs.

But put aside the myth and the mayhem and you will find the real history of the Order of the Poor Knights of Christ of the Temple of Jerusalem to be fully fascinating in itself.

As the final hours of Jacques de Molay show: There is no need for embellishment.

in news.com.au