13 October 1307 - The day that changed the world

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In 1305, the new Pope Clement V, based in France, sent letters to both the Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay and the Hospitaller Grand Master Fulk de Villaret to discuss the possibility of merging the two Orders. Neither was amenable to the idea but Pope Clement persisted, and in 1306 he invited both Grand Masters to France to discuss the matter.

De Molay arrived first in early 1307. Villaret was delayed for several months. While waiting, De Molay and Clement discussed charges that had been made two years prior by an ousted Templar. It was generally agreed that the charges were false but Clement sent King Philip IV of France a written request for assistance in the investigation. King Philip was already deeply in debt to the Templars from his war with the English and seized upon these rumours for his own purposes.

Philip began pressuring the Church to take action against the Order, as a way of freeing himself from his debts. On Friday October 13, 1307 Philip ordered de Molay and scores of other French Templars to be simultaneously arrested. The Templars were charged with numerous heresies and tortured to extract false confessions.

The confessions, despite having been obtained under duress, caused a scandal in Paris. Again under pressure from Philip, Pope Clement issued the bull Pastoralis praeeminentiae on November 22, 1307, which instructed all Christian monarchs throughout Europe to arrest all Templars and seize their assets.

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