Friday, October 26, 2007

Tied to a stake, wearing the paper miter of heresy, Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Knights Templar, was burned to death in the year 1314. But before he died, his stentorian voice cried out a terrible curse against his enemies: Pope Clement V. his prosecutor, Guillaume de Nogaret, and the coldly handsome King Philip IV of France. Historians still argue over the guilt or innocence of the Templars,*but most agree that they had to be swept away before Philip's kingdom could become a nation of Frenchmen instead of warring congeries of Burgundians, Gascons, Provengals, Normans. To unite France, Philip set out not only to destroy the Templars but to defeat the great barons, carry blood and sword to the rebellious Flemings, even capture the Papacy and remove it from Rome to Avignon.

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