Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Tuesday 18 March 2014

The deaths of Jacques de Molay and Geoffrey de Charnay in 1314

This evening is the 700th anniversary of the burning at the stake of Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Order of the Temple, and Geoffrey de Charnay, the Master of the Order in Normandy in Paris. There is an online life of the Grand Master here, and there is one of Geoffrey de Charnay here. The Charnay family in later generations had custody of the Shroud of Turin as set out in Ian Wilson's book The Holy Shroud, which links its transmission to the west to the Templars.

There is an illustrated online blog post today on the Daily Telegraph website by Dominic Selwood about the events in the years 1307-1314 that occurred leading to the suppression of the Order of the Temple and the deaths of Molay and Charnay. It can be viewed here.

Malcolm Barber has written what is, I suppose, now the standard book on the topic in The Trial of the Templars.  The executions of 1314 also appear in the first part of Maurice Druon's splendid series of novels The Accursed Kings - the first of these The Iron King begins with the burnings of the Templars and ends with the death of the King in November that same year, and covers the intervening crises which in Druon's interpretaion led to the Hundred Year War. A really splendid series of novels and wonderful televison in the original 1973-4 version - but do ignore the remake!

These days I tend to ignore anything about the Knights Templar that is not solid history like the work of historians like Barber, or clear dramatic recounting of specific events such as in Druon's books. Whatever the Templars did do - and they did much that was certainly good - or did not do - the allegations against them appear to be a mixture of some truth, falsehood, misunderstanding and very serious political manipulation - they do not deserve their continuing current fate of attracting so many loopy theories and associations.

The downfall of the Templars is a far from edifying episode - and really is so for all concerned. The Papacy was weak and vacillating, the French Crown cynical and mercenary, the Templars had perhaps lost something of their origibal vision as well as purpose - possible or actual abuses by a few of them could be made to besmirch the whole Order, which seems a rather contemporary point.  


coodieo said...

Would you mind telling me if the queen mother was anointed and crowned in 1937. And if the Duchess's of Cornwall and Cambridge will have a similar role at Charles and Williams coronations.

Once I Was A Clever Boy said...

Queen Eizabeth was anointed and crowned in 1937 immediately after King George VI in the Coronation ceremony at Westminster..
Although it was stated some years ago that the Duchess of Cornwall would be Princess Consort I think most people now expect her to be Queen and therefore crowned alonside her husband, and this would certainly apply in the fullness of time for the Duchess of Cambridge.