Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Real Jacques DeMolay

Whew! It's day four of Blog Week and I've decided to take a break from my ramblings and let someone else share with you today. Last week, during Key Man University, I had a chance to talk with "Dad" Rick Itzenhuiser of Wisconsin DeMolay. During the conference, he gave a presentation on the history of the real Jacques DeMolay versus the Jacques portrayed in our degree work. I thought it would be a great piece to make available for all members of the Order.

It is not a paper, per se, but rather a series of thoughts that lead a discussion, so please read it as such.

Thanks to "Dad" Itzenhuiser for allowing me to publish his artcile! I hope you enjoy it!

A comparison of the represented “truths” portrayed in the DeMolay Degree

to those of actual history.


The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon.
Interesting comparison: Nine original Templars - nine original DeMolay

How accurate is the Orator's opening speech for the DeMolay Degree? 
For the most part it is accurate in as much as it puts in several disclaimers. History has shown that Philip IV was a scoundrel.   Truth – Philip IV orchestrated the arrest of the Templars on Friday, October 13, 1307. In fact it was planned for months. Coordinated between many countries. Many doubted the truth of the charges.

Why did Philip IV have them arrested? 
Money – owed a vast fortune to Templars. 10 years earlier he had borrowed a large sum for the dowry for his daughter, Isabella. He greatly needed a way to cancel that debt.

Were DeMolay and Philip IV long time adversaries? 
FALSE - DeMolay was Godfather to Robert, son of Philip IV. On Thursday, October 12, 1307, DeMolay was a pallbearer at the funeral of Princess Catherine, Philip IV sister-in-law.

Was the commission impartial? 
YES and NO.
DeMolay Trial

The DeMolay Degree portrays the activities of two separate commissions.

Initial Commission (April 1, 1310 – December 1310) ANTI Templar (TRUE) Pope Clement appointed a commission favorable to the wants of Philip IV. The pope was afraid that the king would take the same course with him as he had done with the two previous popes – it is highly suspected that France played a heavy role in the untimely deaths of Pope Boniface VIII and Benedict XI.
Archbishop of Narbonne (Friend of Philip IV)
Archbishop of Sens (22 years old cousin of Philip IV)  He is the model for the Jr. Inquisitor in the DeMolay Degree.
Bishop of Trent 

Final Commission (appointed December 1313) attitude was against the Templars. (MOSTLY FALSE)
Master Inquisitor; Nicholas of Freauville
Sr. Inquisitor; Arnaud Nouvel
Jr. Inquisitor; Arnaud of Auch
Assistant - Archbishop of Sens 

Other Players
Marshal of the Commission; William de Nogaret, keeper of the seal, close advisor to the king and orchestrator of the plan to bring down the Order of the Temple.

In reality 127 total (presented in March of 1310).
Hypocrisy and Treachery in conducting the Crusades in the Holy Land   (FALSE)
Betraying the King (FALSE) the Order of the Temple did not answer to any King. ONLY to the Pope.
Heresy (TRUE) MOST of the accusations where based on heresy.
Living in wealth while the poor starved. (TRUE) However, that was a responsibility of the State not the Church.
Conniving with the infidel to make the crusades fail in their Holy purpose. (TRUE and FALSE)

DeMolay Degree direction says "springing to his feet" – not likely. Although he was never tortured, he was 70 years old and had been languishing in a dungeon for 7 years.

Which Templars were brought before the final commission?
Jacques DeMolay (1244-1314)  – Grand Master  (1293-1314)
Guy of Auvergne – Preceptor of Auvergne (in England) Real name is Imbert Blanke – died in irons in England – 1313.
Godfrey de Goneville – Preceptor of Poitou and Aquitaine
Hughes de Peralde – former Treasurer, bitter rival of DeMolay and close friend of Philip IV
(when Tibald of Gaudin died, he was DeMolay’s challenger for election to GM) the only Templar not to recant his confession) He suffered no torture and live relatively comfortable in prison.
Geoffrey de Charney – Preceptor of Normandy

Was DeMolay the primary defender of the Order?   
Not likely.  November 1309 Stated that he wants to defend the Order. But not personally as he is “a knight, unlettered and poor”

The Defenders: April 1, 1310
Peter of Bologna (Priest with legal training) Most of the words spoken by DeMolay in the Degree would be better attributed to Bologna - December 17, 1310 - disappeared
Reginald of Provins (Priest highly educated) December 17, 1310 - disappeared
William of Chambonnet (Knight) illiterate
Bertrand of Sartiges (Knight) illiterate

Until the final day, DeMolay never appeared before any commission; only “confessors”. This is because he stood fast in his position that he was answerable only to the Pope.
Much of the defense sentiment, used in the DeMolay Degree, can be attributed to Peter of Bologna.

Did the commission had a pile of confessions from other Templars?
TRUE – it’s amazing what truths the torture of medieval dentistry can produce. Interesting note; the inquisition would tackle only one charge at a time. Once they got the answer they were looking for THEN they would move on to the next charge.

Did DeMolay deny the charges? 
TRUE and FALSE - DeMolay confessed and recanted 3 times.

Did the commission offered DeMolay a bribe? 
FALSE – it was made VERY clear from the very beginning that DeMolay was up the creek. There was no way out, it was just a question of how miserable the king would make it for him.

Did the Jr. Inquisitor order DeMolay to be take to the rack? 
FALSE. It is generally agreed that DeMolay was never subjected to physical torture.

Who was NOT burned at the stake?
Guy of Auvergne, Godfrey de Goneville, Hughes de Peralde   

Did the Lord Constable enter the trial and order DeMolay to the stake?
NO.   First - March 18, 1314 – DeMolay and   (de Charney) recanted on the steps of Notre Dame in front of a large public audience. Took the commission completely by surprise. After DeMolay and de Charney recant for the final time, they are taken back to the dungeon, word is sent to Philip IV.   Philip then orders that DeMolay and de Charney be burned at the stake as relapsed heretics. Well within the laws of the day.

How many Crusades, in the Holy Land, were launched?

Which one did DeMolay lead? 
NONE.  The last presence of Crusaders ended on August 14, 1291.

It is a shame that the author of the ritual did not have DeMolays FINAL recant from the steps of Notre Dame, as reported by contemporaries who supposedly heard him say this:

DeMolay: “I think it is only right that at so solemn a moment, when my life has so little time to run, I should reveal the deception which has been practiced and speak up for the truth. Before heaven and earth and all of you here as my witnesses, I admit that I am guilty of the grossest iniquity. But the iniquity is that I have lied in admitting the disgusting charges laid against the Order. I declare, and I must declare, that the Order is innocent. Its purity and saintliness are beyond question. I have indeed confessed that the Order is guilty, but I have done so only to save myself from terrible tortures by saying what my enemies wished me to say. Other knights who have retracted their confessions have been led to the stake, yet the thought of dying is not so awful that I shall confess foul crimes which have never been committed. Life is offered to me, but at the price of infamy. At such a price, life is not worth having. I do not grieve that I must die if life can be bought only by piling one lie upon another.”

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