Knights Templar and Philip IV

Knights Templar Falsely Accused

Have you noticed most issues are not how they seem to be on the surface?  Take the end of the Knights Templar for instance.  Their demise had nothing to do with heresy and everything to do with money.


The Knights Templar were one of the most respected orders in medieval times.  In a world where both the crown and the church were corrupt beyond belief, the Knights Templar seem to have actually taken their vows to the people seriously.  They protected the people, provided for them, and in the process managed to create what would become our modern banking system.

In in early 1300’s Philip IV of France deceived Edward, King of England.  The stage was set for the French/English 100 year’s war.  The problem for Philip was how to pay for it.  

Philip began with the Jews, who he ran out of France in 1306 keeping their vast holdings for himself to pay for his war.  He then turned his sights on the Knights Templar, from whom he had borrowed enormous sums over the years and now needed to borrow even more.  Why borrow when you can confiscate.

First Philip IV found a willing and motivated partner for the deed at hand, the Pope.  The Pope also had issues with the Knights Templar since their reputation, wealth and power were clearly in competition with that of the church.  It did not hurt a thing that it was Philip’s power and money that got Pope Clement V elected in the first place.

In 1307 Philip IV ordered Templars all across France to be arrested.  They were accused of every type of heresy you can imagine.    They were accused of spitting on the cross in their induction ceremony, indecent behavior with each other, fraudulent fiscal practices, and much more.  They were tortured and finally burned at the stake.  Of course Philip IV inherited all of their wealth and the war with the English was financed.

Since Pope Clement V was the Pope that moved the Vatican to Avignon, it was easy for him to oversee the actions against the Templars and for Philip IV to oversee him.  Clement V convened the Counsel of Vienne and in 1312, inside the Cathedral St Maurice in Vienne, the Knights Templar were dissolved.

I learned that story sitting on a pew inside the Cathedral St. Maurice where the actual judgement against the Templars was announced.  It was eerily quiet, everyone imagining the horrors the Knights Templar endured only to be falsely convicted and mercilessly killed.

Vienne France is not remembered for the actions taken there against the Knights Templar however.  It is famous for the lovely Roman Temple to August and Livia right in the heart of the café district, and the Roman Theater and Forum a few blocks away.

As we stood in front of the Temple to Augustus and Livia we noticed a plaque on the wall with a familiar face on it.  Could it be?  Yes, it was Thomas Jefferson.  Jefferson loved France and especially Vienne.  In fact you can follow in his exact footsteps around the town to see where he went and what he did on his visits to the beautiful city.

Vienne was established by the Romans back in 90 BC and continues to thrive to this day.  With Roman ruins, medieval timbered storefronts, modern cafes and the gorgeous Rhone, what else could a vacation location in southern France ask for?  

Vienne can be experienced as a stop-over on a river cruise, as a great place to stay for a few nights and investigate the surrounding countryside, or as part of an escorted tour.  However you chose to see it, be sure to see Vienne, a truly authentic and charming city in the south of France.

Joy Gawf-Crutchfield owns and operates The Joy of Travel. 

EuropeJoy Crutchfield