Extract from the
TRANSACTIONS OF THE
BRISTOL AND GLOUCESTERSHIRE
Vol. XVIII. Page 271-286
This brief talk (5,700 words) by the Reverend Samuel Bentley was given to visiting members of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society on 27th July 1894. While not referring to Bosbury, it demonstrates his depth of knowledge of the historical facts and his views on the Templars and their place in history.
THE KNIGHTS TEMPLARS.
By Rev. S. BENTLEY, M.A.,
Vicar of Bosbury, Herefordshire.
The subject which I have been requested to bring before you on the present occasion is, from many points of view, full of great interest. No one who is acquainted with the history of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries can fail to note the influential position which the Knights Templars occupied during that eventful period. The number of the members of that gallant fraternity, their vast possessions, their bravery, and the object which they sought to attain, served to call forth an unusual amount of enthusiasm, and to make them a considerable power in the affairs of Europe and the East. In the time allowed me I cannot hope to do more than briefly to speak of the circumstances which called the Templars into existence, and of the constitution and rules which governed them. The mention of some of the principal events in the chequered history of these brave men, and a short account of the suppression of the Order, will, of course, follow; but I must leave to others who have leisure and inclination to tell the tale of the various expeditions and conflicts in which from time to time they were engaged.
In order clearly to understand the aim and position of the Knights Templars, it will be well to look at the condition of the Holy Land both before and at the time of their institution.
It appears that after the siege and capture of Jerusalem by the Emperor Titus, A.D. 71, a considerable number of Christians for about fifty years continued to live peaceably in the city. No attempt was made for its recovery and deliverance from the Roman yoke until the later years of the reign of Trajan, when a number of Jewish insurgents were led into Palestine from Egypt for this purpose, but only to encounter a speedy defeat. In the reign of Hadrian, however, an insurrection of a formidable character took place, which was not quelled until after many lives had been sacrificed.
Indeed, it appears that at this period it was so extremely difficult to keep the Jews in Jerusalem in subjection that the Emperor formed a plan for the restoration of the Holy City in order to prevent it from becoming a rallying-point and centre of intrigue. But no actual attempt was made to effect this purpose, and Hadrian left the East A.D. 132.
Not long after a widespread conspiracy was entered into by the Jews in Palestine, headed by one Bar Cocheba, which was so popular, and their leader so favourably regarded, that he is said to have been crowned king, and hailed as the long-expected Messiah. The possession of Jerusalem was obtained, and an attempt actually made to rebuild the Temple. So fully alive was the Emperor to the formidable nature of this revolt, that he summoned his greatest general from Britain to command the army in Judea and suppress the insurrection. Two years were spent in the undertaking. The rising was unsuccessful, and Bar Cocheba slain. The sacrifice of life, however, was very great, more than half a million of the insurgents being slain, and the loss on the part of the Romans was not much less. Bar Cocheba left proofs of his occupation of Jerusalem by the coins which were struck during his usurpation.
As a consequence of this revolt, Hadrian now determined not to restore, as on a former occasion, but altogether to blot out Jerusalem from the face of the earth. The ruins of the Holy City which remained after the siege were almost entirely destroyed, and the plough was passed over the ruins of the Temple. A statue of the Emperor was placed on the site of the Holy of Holies, and another of Jupiter was erected on that of the Temple. A new name was given to the city (Ζlia Capitolina). Christians and pagans were allowed to live in it, but Jews were forbidden even to enter on pain of death.
In the fourth and fifth centuries pilgrims were drawn to Jerusalem from all parts of the world, for on the accession and conversion of the Emperor Constantine a brighter day seemed to be dawning on the Christians in the East. The Empress Helena, his aged mother, visited Jerusalem (A.D. 326), and ordered the statue of Jupiter to be removed. She is said also to have built churches at Bethlehem and on the Mount of Olives. The Emperor Justinian (A.D. 528) built a church of some magnificence in Jerusalem in honour of the Blessed Virgin; the empress is also credited with having founded several monasteries, and in A.D. 590 Pope Gregory the Great endowed a hospital for pilgrims.
In all ages of the Church up to the time of the Reformation pilgrimages were held in high repute. It has been well said that they became the ruling passion of the devout; the spiritual benefits they were believed to confer, the opportunities of change and intercourse with others which they afforded, and the spirit of romance which they kindled, rendered them highly popular. S. Augustine tells us that in his time the whole world flocked to Bethlehem to see the place of our Lords nativity, and that the burial-place of S. Stephen attracted great multitudes. S. Chrysostom also says that the tombs of the Apostles were frequented by a host of visitors, while those of the mightiest emperors and kings were deserted and silent. Pilgrimages in the Middle Ages were very common; indeed, there was a constant flow. In this country we know that for 300 years pilgrimages to the shrine of Thomas a Becket of Canterbury were quite an English institution, and many of us remember how graphically they have been described by Chaucer in his Canterbury Tales.
The rest, however, of the period of which I have been speaking was rudely broken in A.D. 614, when the dwellers in Jerusalem and the neighbourhood had to undergo first the Persian and soon after the Mohammedan invasions. The Persian army first captured Antioch and Damascus, and then took Jerusalem, after great loss of life. Churches were destroyed, and the Holy Sepulchre was partly burnt. But after a struggle lasting for about the space of fourteen years, the Roman army was again victorious, and the Emperor entered Jerusalem in triumph.
The Mohammedan invasion of Palestine soon followed, when the followers of that remarkable man Mohammed, the founder of a religion, and one who has left an indelible mark in the worlds history, swept over the whole country, and subjugated it to their yoke. At first the Christians were treated with forbearance, but the time soon came when a wholly different state of things arose. At one period Mohammed meditated the selection of Jerusalem as the sacred city of his sect, and recent fanatical converts to his faith speedily made the condition of the Christians and of pilgrims to the Holy Land hard and grievous to be borne. Hence arose what are called the Crusades, which, as you know, were a series of expeditions, extending over several centuries, for the recovery of the Holy Places from the hands of the unbeliever.
For a long time before any actual Crusade was started there had been an earnest feeling amongst Christians that the land which had been visited by our Blessed Lord in the days of His flesh, the very place where He was born, the streets which He had trod, the hill on which He was crucified, the spot where His sacred body had lain, and the mount from which He ascended, ought not to be in the possession of those who were deniers of the incarnation of the Saviour of mankind. Moreover, the insult and scorn which pilgrims to the Holy Land had to bear, indeed, the lamentable treatment to which they had been subject, and to which on their return home they bore witness, were sufficient to kindle in the heart of Christendom a longing desire, and at last a stern resolve, to rescue the Holy Places. Hence the first Crusade, set on foot by Peter the Hermit. He it was who strengthened the desire and moved men to engage in this great work. Having been himself an eyewitness of the indignities to which the Christians had been subjected, he soon gathered around him multitudes who were willing to engage in an armed pilgrimage, and to join in delivering the Holy Land from the hand of the infidel. At Peters bidding those who joined him had a cross sewn upon the right shoulder of their outer garment, as a token that they were Christs soldiers pledged to this holy warfare.
This Crusade received high Papal sanction at a council at Clermont in 1095. The Pope (Urban II.), doubtless glad of the opportunity of extending the supremacy of Rome, and evidently a man of strong and earnest feeling, placed himself at the head of this great movement. He spoke at the council of the cruelty, the licentiousness, the sacrilege of the Turks, dwelt on the sanctity of the Land of Promise, the land of which the history had been recorded in both the Old and New Testaments, and of which the foul infidels were now the lords. The holy Temple had become not only a den of thieves, but a dwelling-place of devils. He offered absolution without penance to all who would take up arms in this sacred cause, and he promised eternal life to all who should suffer the glorious calamity of death in the Holy Land, or even on the way to it, and that the Crusader should pass at once to Paradise. The intense eagerness to take part in this armed pilgrimage soon knew no bounds, and France took the lead. Men who had been profane, sacrilegious, impure, given over to all kinds of licentiousness and crime, were suddenly stirred to better things, to lead higher and nobler lives, and to join the Crusade. We must not, however, lose sight of the fact that all who joined the expedition were not actuated by the same high purpose. Many went who were unwilling to be left behind some out of the love of mere adventure; others hoped to find wealth and position in the East. All helped to swell the number of the great army, but it must be confessed that many were far from being faithful soldiers and servants of Christ. The word saunterer leads to this conclusion : it originally meant one who visits the Holy Land la sainte terre. But by degrees pilgrimages to the East degenerated into a mere fashion and pastime. Many, indeed, who called themselves pilgrims never set out. Then the word came to mean little more than a person who idled through life with no fixed aim or purpose.
On August 15, 1096, Peter the Hermit, though a priest, was made the general of the great army, which was joined by Hugh, brother of the King of France, Robert, Duke of Normandy, Robert, the Count of Flanders, Raymond, Count Tholouse, and Godfrey de Bouillon, Duke of Loraine, and his brothers Baldwin and Eustace, with a number of others of high repute. They purposed to meet, though proceeding by different ways, at Constantinople. The renowned Godfrey de Bouillon started with 10,000 horse and 70,000 foot. Nice was first surrendered to him, after a six weeks siege; he then marched into Syria and took Antioch. Jerusalem was occupied on July 15, 1099, and Godfrey chosen King. We are told that he refused to wear a golden crown in the city in which his Lord had worn one of thorns. Ascalon was soon taken: indeed, so successful was this first expedition that the great work which the Crusaders had bound themselves to perform was considered to be accomplished.
It was not long, however, before another Crusade became necessary. Dissensions within, and disturbances from without from the Mohammedans, and the utter instability of the kingdom which had been set up, brought about a second Crusade, and called into existence the Knights Templars, of whom it is now time that I should more particularly speak.
The institution of the Order of Knights Templars dates from the year 1118, shortly after the success of the first Crusade. It was wholly of French origin, the first members of the fraternity being nine French knights, Hugo de Payens, Godfrey de S. Omer, Raoul, Godfrey Bisol, Pagans de Montdidier, Archembold de S. Aman, Andrew, Gondomar, and Hugh, Count of Provence. So humble was their origin, that on their seals they are represented as two knights sitting on one horse. As poor soldiers of Jesus Christ, their object was the defence of the Holy Sepulchre and the protection of the Christian pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land. Baldwin, the King of Jerusalem at that time, gave them a habitation near the Temple hence their name. Their complete organization consisted of the Grand Master, the Knights, the Chaplains or Priests, and the serving-brethren. The Grand Master ranked as a sovereign prince, and in the councils of the Church had this precedence given him. In the affairs, however, of the fraternity his power seems to have been very limited. The Knights were to be of noble or gentle birth. The Priests, who by Papal license possessed wider powers of absolution than an ordinary priest, accompanied the Knights and brethren, and ministered to their spiritual needs. The serving-brethren, as their name implies, acted as attendants both in the field and in the preceptories. At the Council of Troyes, in 1128, the Order obtained Papal sanction. Paris was the head-quarters, but a Grand Prior was appointed for each country, who was summoned by the Grand Master to attend at Paris when occasions or circumstances arose which required deliberation or settlement. The Templars were a half-military and half-monastic order, and the whole body of Knights and brethren were united and animated by the closest corporate spirit, and under very severe discipline. S. Bernard of Clairvaux at this period was highly esteemed, and had great influence, and if he did not actually frame the rules of life which governed the Templars, his certainly was the inspiration which moulded and settled them. Vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience were required of the members, and all personal property had to be given up. They were enjoined to live frugally, never to be idle, nor to indulge in insolent expressions or even immoderate laughter, and the least murmur was visited with severe correction. The original number of nine soon increased to 15,000, who were some of the best disciplined soldiers that could anywhere be found, were equipped in the most finished manner of the time, and ready at the call of the Grand Master to go anywhere or engage in any service to which he might call them.
Popes and kings in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries granted numerous privileges and exemptions to the Templars. Pope Alexander III., in the great charter which he issued, confirmed them in their possessions and liberties, gave rights of sanctuary in their churches, and ordered that no one should annoy, insult, or injure them ; that such as struck or wounded them should be excommunicated, and that no prelate should demand hospitality of them as of right. As time rolled on, the faithful in all parts of Christendom enriched them with large endowments of land and money, and thus they became a very wealthy and powerful fraternity.
From A.D. 1095 to A.D. 1291 there were no less than eight separate Crusades, in the last seven of which the Templars took part. Richard I. joined the third. All these expeditions met with an alternation of hopeful successes and humiliating defeats, but all at last ended in complete failure. It would be tedious to enumerate the sad list of events which from time to time happened. Suffice it here to say that Palestine was at last left in the hands of its Mohammedan oppressors; pilgrims were outraged and insulted as before; and, after centuries of severe toil and an immense sacrifice of human life (estimated at six millions), no progress had really been made in rescuing the Holy Land from the possession of the infidel.
Let us return to the Templars, and see the circumstances which brought about their untimely end. It has been generally held by writers on the subject that their suppression need be no matter for surprise, seeing that they were guilty not only of great avarice, pride, and licentious living, but also of most atrocious crimes. Celebrated writers in France and Germany speak of them as a corrupt association, as unfaithful to their vows, and, consequently, as holding a very low place in public estimation. That out of so large and mixed a body of men a few, perhaps many, fell lamentably short of the high standard set before them is neither more nor less than what any reasonable man might expect. But that they were guilty of the things laid to their charge in the measure and degree imputed to them cannot be maintained in the face of much information which has lately been brought to light. It should also be remembered that the cruel author of the suppression he who was the sanctioner and abettor of the manner in which it was done was in a position and surrounded by circumstances which made such a mournful tragedy a means of relief from the difficulty in which he was placed.
Philip IV. (the Fair, as he is called), King of France at this time, was a cruel and unscrupulous man, though simulating much zeal for the Church and in the cause of freedom. At this period the finances of the kingdom were in a most embarrassed condition, and no means of relief seemed at hand; taxation had reached its limit, and in consequence of the war (in Flanders) in which Philip was engaged, his designs and political schemes seemed on the point of becoming failures altogether. Bankers, and brokers, and Jews had all been stripped, and whither to turn he knew not. The riches of the Templars occurred to him. If the Order were suppressed, and its riches appropriated by him, a solution at any rate, to a certain extent of the difficult problem he had to solve was at hand. So it was; and this has generally been believed to be the motive which prompted the King to the act, and all that followed serves only to confirm the truth of the imputation.
For the commission of so atrocious an act some excuse must be found, and this was not far to seek. The Templars must be accused and convicted of heinous crimes. And so, at a meeting held at Lyons in 1305 between Philip and the Pope (Clement V.), the King asserted that the Order of Knights Templars was utterly corrupted, and full of abuses of the worst kind. At this first interview the Pope refused to believe the charge, and declined to sanction any proceedings against them. But Philip was bent on carrying out his infamous purpose, and to this end, in 1308, had two more interviews with Clement. At the second of these he took with him the most notable men in Church and State, and in the name of a large popular assembly held at Tours declared that their prosecution was a matter of supreme importance to his kingdom. The Pope was very much the creature of the King. At one time he was a subject of Philip, and as Bertrand de Got, Archbishop of Bordeaux, owed his elevation to the Papal throne to his intrigues. It has even been said on good authority that one of the promises which he made to the King on his election was a consent to the suppression of the Templars. The Cardinals at this time were for the most part Frenchmen, so that all seemed to favour the Kings design. After some hesitation, for the Order had from time to time been favoured and protected by Papal authority, Clement was induced reluctantly to yield to the pressure put upon him, and to submit to the wishes of the King.
The charges brought against them were very many, involving the commission of crimes and offences of the most atrocious kind, and no time was lost in arresting and bringing them to trial. On the night of October 13, 1307, in compliance with the Kings orders, every house of the Templars in France was suddenly surrounded by a body of soldiers, and all the Knights and brethren were taken prisoners. Sealed instructions had been given to the high officers of the realm, which were not to be opened until this eventful night. The instructions were to seize and commit to custody the Templars, to put the royal seal on all their goods, and to make an inventory of them. The Kings orders were obeyed; there was no resistance, and no attempt at flight. The members of this high-born and gallant fraternity were dragged forth to prison, confiding, doubtless, in their innocence of the charges made against them. The Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, and the other Knights in Paris were arrested and confined in separate dungeons, and the stately mansion in Paris, the head-quarters of the Order, and which had once been a place of refuge for Philip, was taken possession of by his officers. It is said that every Templar in the realm of France was a prisoner.
France at this time was subject to the Inquisition, that cruel and tyrannical tribunal, which had the power to enforce its laws with the utmost severity. One of its foremost laws was that every one was bound in conscience, under pain of excommunication, to give information of anything whatsoever of an heretical nature in word or deed that came under his notice, even if the circumstances were such as merely to rouse suspicion. For a man to neglect to do so was at once to draw suspicion on himself, and to render himself liable to excommunication.
The Inquisitor-General was William of Paris, Philips confessor, and the inquisitors were in the pay of the King. It is easy to note the chain of circumstances which led to the conviction and suppression of the Order. Indeed, as Dr. Dollinger remarks, the annihilation of the Templars could never have been accomplished but with the help of the Inquisition and of the statutory powers at its disposal.
Let us glance, in passing, at the state of things in England while this foul conspiracy was being carried on in France.
In 1307 Philip wrote to his son-in-law, King Edward II., and informed him of the abominable heresies of the Templars. The reply of Edward was that he would communicate to the prelates of England the information he had received. Philip next prevailed on the Pope to issue a Bull to Edward II., asking and exhorting his Royal Highness that all and singular of the Templars in his kingdom, and all their goods, movable and immovable, should be taken in one day, and in the best way possible.
The King, in reply to this mandate, sent a message to the Pope to the effect that, having regard to the former noble deeds of the Templars for their Church, and their purity, he could not credit the suspicions until he was more certainly notified of them on proof. He wrote at the same time to the Kings of Portugal, Castile, Sicily, and Aragon, begging them not to believe or give ear to the accusations, which were made not for the love of rectitude, but were the breath of covetousness and envy; and not to molest or seize the Templars or their possessions, or suffer it to be done, until they were lawfully condemned, or something had been decided against them in England.
Notwithstanding the belief of Edward II. in their innocence, and no doubt in consequence of the pressure put upon him by the Popes legates, who delivered the mandates to him, he soon basely submitted, and before the year closed wrote to the Pope to say that he would carry out his wishes with respect to the Templars. He therefore ordered writs to be issued for seizing the persons and possessions of the Order in England, Scotland, and Ireland, which were immediately executed. Many of them were forthwith imprisoned, and for the most part treated with great severity in the Tower of London, York, Lincoln, and other places, and in course of time Inquisitors and Papal Nuncios were sent by Clement to try them.
To return to France. The day after the seizure of the Knights they were brought to trial in the chapter-house of Notre Dame, where the Chancellor, the Kings Confessor, the Grand Inquisitor, and others of his ministers were assembled. To them the whole business was entrusted, and forthwith they were arraigned on the following charges :
1. The denial of Christ, and insult to the Cross.
2. The adoration of an idolatrous head.
3. Kisses at their receptions.
4. Omission of the words of consecration in the Mass.
5. Unnatural crimes.
It was hoped, we are told, by their accusers that confessions of guilt might be obtained from some of the brethren, in order that they might receive the pardon which was (said to be) promised by the King; but as such were not forthcoming, torture of the most horrible kind was applied to them. At the same time forged letters were read from the Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, to the effect that he had himself confessed his guilt, and exhorted the brethren to do the same. Some of them fell into this snare ; others of the braver sort suffered the most cruel martyrdom, and maintained their innocency to the last. Some who under torture had confessed, when released from their agony, recanted. It has been said on good authority that at no time, nor anywhere in the whole of Christendom, did a Templar make any confession, except when it was wrung from him by the infliction or through the fear of torture. The Grand Master, it is true, through dread of suffering confessed, but afterwards retracted. The members of the fraternity were, alas! soon subjected to the most frightful cruelty which the mind of man can conceive. Amongst the tortures which these unfortunate men had to undergo the following may be mentioned: The feet of the Templar were placed in stocks, then rubbed with oil and lighted ; iron boots were fitted to the naked heels and contracted; splinters of wood were driven up the nails into the finger-joints; teeth were wrenched out; heavy weights hung on the most sensitive parts of the body. Knights were put on the rack; some were roasted at slow fires, and every kind of torture, indignity, insult, and injury these unhappy men were called to endure. But there is no need further to dwell on this mournful history; the recital of the sufferings of these brave men is enough to make the flesh to creep and the ears to tingle, and to lead us to mourn over the depth of degradation to which our human nature reached at this time. Suffice it to say that at the Council of Vienne in 1312 the Order was suppressed. Both in France and England many of them were condemned, some acquitted. Others were placed in the custody of sheriffs ; a few were sent to do penance in monasteries. The possessions of the Templars in France were seized by Philip; in England they were handed over to the King to be disposed of by him at his pleasure.
The learned historian and theologian, Dr. Dollinger, after a careful examination of the subject, formed a decided opinion as to the innocence of the Templars. His words are: What will you feel when you first make acquaintance with the acts of the Templars trials ? . . . I am convinced that you will shed tears over them, for I was myself deeply agitated. . . . Were I to select a single day in the whole course of history which in my opinion might most emphatically be described as a dies nefastus, it would be none other than October 13, 1307. Pope Clement died in 1314, and has left behind him a name branded with the deepest infamy. His disreputable personal character, and deeds of great baseness and servility, have sufficed to stamp him as a disgrace to his order, and an example to be shunned by all who call themselves Christians. The aged Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, not long before he was led out to the stake, spoke, in a calm voice in the ears of his judges, those memorable words: Before heaven and earth, on the verge of death, where the least falsehood bears like an intolerable weight upon the soul, I protest that we have richly deserved death, not on account of any heresy or sin of which ourselves or our Order have been guilty, but because we have yielded, to save our lives, to the seductive words of the Pope and of the King, and so by our confessions brought shame and ruin on our blameless, holy, and orthodox brotherhood . . Clement, iniquitous and cruel judge, I summon thee within forty days to meet me before the throne of the Most High.
Philip survived him only a few months, at the age of forty-six a miserable man, the last years of whose life were those of disaster and disgrace. His financial embarrassments went from bad to worse, as he deserved that they should. He became hateful to his subjects, and died at Fontainebleau, a hypocrite, it seems, to the last, with every demonstration of piety.
A few words must now be said about the possessions of the Order. These are believed to have been greatly exaggerated. According to one authority (Dugdale), they were estimated at £6,000,000; but this seems almost incredible, especially when we consider the value of money at that time and its worth at the present day. In England and elsewhere we know that they had numerous manors, which were sources of wealth and influence, and no doubt rendered them liable to charges of avarice and pride. It must, however, be remembered that the cost of the maintenance of the fraternity was very great, for the members had to be in a state of constant preparation for war, and were a very large body, and, further, that their riches, whatever they might be, were not laid up for themselves, but for the welfare of the Order. Each member on joining the fraternity solemnly renounced all personal property; and seldom, if ever, was a Templar charged with a breach of this vow. At the different preceptories, as they were called, or homes, there is no reason to think that there was any approach to luxurious living, but rather the reverse.
There was but one preceptory in Gloucestershire, at Quenington. The manor was given by Agnes de Lasces, or Lacy, and her daughter Sibylla before i. Joan. It was valued 26 Henry VIII. at £209 16s., MS. Le Neve; at £137 7s. 1½d. per annum, Dugdale and Speed; but in Bishop Tanners M.S Valor at £25 16s. 6d. only; and granted 37 Henry VIII. first to Sir Richard Morisine and to Sir Antony Kingston.
The preceptory was endowed also with considerable gifts of land in other parts of the shire. Gilbert de Laci bestowed upon it Temple Guiting; Richard, son of Roger de Calmsden, gave lands at Calmsden, in North Cerney; and Asculf Musard gave Rysangre, now Wishanger, in Miserden. Robert, Earl of Gloucester, who died in 1147, gave a part of his manor of Bedminster, afterwards known as Temple Fee, in Bristol, to the Templars; but as Bedminster lay in Somerset, this estate appertained to the preceptory of Temple Combe, in that shire, and not to Quenington.
But the earliest and greatest settlement of the Templars in England was in London, on the site of the present Southampton Buildings, on the east side of Chancery Lane, Holborn, not far from Holborn Bars. Early in the reign of Henry II. they purchased land on the north bank of the Thames, between Whitefriars and Essex Street, and on this site they erected the present Temple Church and a magnificent house. The nave or round part of the church is Norman, the choir Early English. An inscribed stone in the wall shows that the dedication took place A.D. 1185. They had churches in other places in England, as well as on the Continent. It was on May 15, 1213, in their church at Dover, that King John, in the presence of a large company of bishops, barons, and knights, on his knees before Pandulph (afterwards Bishop of Norwich), the Papal Legate, took an oath of fealty to Pope Innocent. He committed the humiliating and infamous act of surrendering the realm of England and the lordship of Ireland to be thenceforth fiefs of the Holy See. And in 1268 Prince Edward and 104 Knights received the cross from the hands of the Popes Legate at the church at Northampton.
Though more might well be said on the subject, the time has now come to draw to a conclusion. The institution, rise, and fall of so large and important an Order as the Knights Templars, composed of men of such noble purpose and undaunted courage, and animated by so chivalrous a spirit, are full of the most tragic interest. If we are sometimes tempted to wonder how it came to pass that the lofty purposes and designs of such men were permitted to be so ignominiously frustrated, and the men themselves so mournfully to perish, we must remember that though we are unable fully to comprehend the Divine purposes, they are yet those of infinite wisdom. He who orders the lives of individual men and women controls also the destinies of nations and the affairs of institutions, and sends chastisements and blessings as He sees fit. He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
We may rest in the sure conviction that He doeth all things well, though His ways are not as our ways, and that out of evil He can bring abundant good.
One of our wisest Bishops (Thirlwall) has said generally, and with the quotation of his words I will conclude: I should myself hesitate to say that whatever is, is best; but I have a strong faith that it is for the best, and that the general stream of tendency is toward good.