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Order of De Molay

The Knights Templar served under twenty three official leaders called "Grand Masters" for approximately two centuries before their eventual demise at the hands of Church persecution. The Grand Masterís official role entitled him to leadership over the military, as well as sovereignty over statehood if the organization was granted a state at the time. Jacques de Molay was the twenty-third and last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, known for his attempt to reform the Order, leading to his eventual defeat and death by burning.

Leadership of Jacque de Molay

Jacques de Molay was appointed leadership in 1292 after the death of the twenty-second Grand Master Thibaud Gaudin. During this time, no crusader states remained, and de Molay sought to re-conquer the Holy Land and strengthen the forces of the Templars. One of the major threats posed at this time was the attack of the Mamluks, a military caste comprised of slave soldiers converted to Islam.

In order to achieve this new "crusade," de Molay and the Knights Templar migrated from England to the Island of Cyprus in order to reorganize the army and gain strength while waiting for public support. De Molay was seeking support from western leaders of the Church in order to aid in his proposed crusade.

The Downfall of Jacques de Molay

Jacques de Molay managed to attract the attention of western leaders; however these lords did not support his mission, and were conversely interested in obtaining the wealth and power of the Templars, who posed a threat to the order of the Church.

In 1305, King Philip of France attempted to gain control over the Knights while de Molay was visiting France in order to meet with the newly elected Pope Clement V. Here, Philip IV proposed to lead the Knights Templar, a prospect that was immediately rejected by de Molay. The conflict led to the beginning of the persecution of the Templars in 1307, who were seized and imprisoned in dungeons largely at the insistence of Philip.

Jacques de Molay and the Knights suffered torture for seven years after their capture by the Inquisitors who endeavored to obtain confessions that would condemn the Knights in the eyes of the public, and disclose information of the whereabouts of funds.

On March 22, 1312, a papal decree officially abolished the order at the Council of Vienne. Jacques de Molay is believed to have remained loyal to the organization. In 1314 he was tried in court, and denouncing a forged confession, was sentenced to death by burning at the stake on the island of Siene.

Interestingly, in 2002, a copy of the Chinon Parchement was found in the secret archives of the Vatican by Dr. Barbara Frale. The document revealed that the Knights Templar were secretly absolved by Pope Clement V in 1308, pronouncing Godís forgiveness of the orderís supposed sins.

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