I asked Dan Owen (our nephew and photographer) what our next blog post should be about. He said, “Don’t talk about any more dead people.”
I’m doing research for two books on Paris during times where people got their heads chopped off and were burned at the stake (among other agonizing events). So how could I NOT talk about more dead people?
We were on our way to the second district on our (translated: mine) prescheduled itinerary for the day when I abruptly got everyone off the Metro. We were so close to the Pont Neuf that I couldn’t resist. Sandy and I had never been down to the lower level of the point of the island (the extreme western side of the Île de la Cité). One of the attractions of going to the lower point is to see the real level of the island when the Romans began their colony.
However, in keeping with the “dead people” thing, it really was all about going down to see where they burned the Grand Master, Jacques de Molay and his two “helpers.” I remember in high school some of my friends belonging to the a club called “de Molay.” I had no idea what it was at the time. It turns out that my friends were all Knights of the Templar (but I’m not sure they knew it at the time).
You see, Jacques was the Grand Master of the Knights of the Templar from 20 April 1292 to 1307 when Pope Clement V dissolved the order. Jacques de Molay was the 23rd and last Grand Master of the Knights Templar because the French king, Philippe le Bel (aka Phillip the fair: an oxymoron – trust me) wanted the Templar’s treasure.
So the king brought up charges that were pretty severe at the time (I won’t go into them as I’m sure children will be reading this blog post – but stay tuned). They imprisoned Jacques and several of his right hand guys. They tortured them to the point that Jacques admitted to the charges. But wait. Eventually he recanted his admissions thus opening himself up to charges of heresy.
At that point, the king could only pursue his original plans and that was to get rid of Jacques. So on 18 March 1314, Jacques and his two friends were burned at the stake. They burned them on one of the two little islands at the tip of the Île de la Cité.
Don’t despair though. Jacques was a pretty smart guy. As they lit the wood beneath him, Jacques yelled out to the witnesses, which included the king and the pope, that each of them would die within one-year.
He was right. Within one-year of Jacques’ execution, both the king and pope died.
Do we have a lot of stories? Of course we do. I’m looking forward to sharing these with you. Please continue to visit our blog.
Thanks so much for following my blog and my little journey through this incredibly interesting process of writing a book and then getting the bloody thing published.
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Copyright © 2013 Stew Ross