KNIGHTS' tempters. This order has been suppressed for many centuries, but as they were once considered a very pow erful body, and had large possessions in England, of which the extensive and valuable domain, still known by the name of the Temple, in London, was a part, a slight sketch of their history ap pears to be necessary.
The order was instituted in the year 1118, for the actual defence of the places rendered sacred by the residence and acts of Jesus Christ, in the city of Jeru salem and its neighbourhood ; and the house which they occupied, being pur posely situated near the temple there, they acquired the name of Templars ; and, from the same cause, their principal mansions throughout Europe were called temples. The Council of Troyes con, firmed and established them in the rule of St. Bernard, in the year 1127, and the brethren were divided into two classes,'; knights, and servitors. Saladine having invaded and conquered the territories they had bound themselves to protect; they were compelled to leave the Holy Land, and to establish the order where they found a kind reception, which was almost in every part of the world then under the influence of the Christian re ligion, as they had double claims on the pious, proceeding from their peculiar profession and sufferings for the cause of the Saviour. During the period they de, pended upon the alms and bounty of the public, they were distinguished for their meek and meritorious conduct, which operated so greatly in their favour, that gifts flowed into their treasuries from the sovereign to the peasant, in every coun try where a house of knights' templars existed. Matthew Paris asserts, the or der possessed 9,000 rich convents ; and other writers add, that they had 16,000 lordships, with subordinate governors distributed in every part of Europe.
Under these prosperous circumstances, they became inflated by pride, and inso lence usurped the place of meekness :re, lying upon their presumed consequence, they did not attempt to conciliate where they had offended ; nor did they seem to suspect the hatred they had generated, till it was too late to resist or refract ; such is the general tenor of the accounts given of the conduct of the knights temp tars by historians ; but although those may be founded in fact, it is not to be sup posed that pride alone caused the disso lution of the order : avarice, on the part of their oppressors, was the grand agent, and the riches of the knights the tempta tion to plunder them. Some of the mem bers, resident in Paris, were indiscreet or wicked enough to cause a, riot in the streets of that city. Philip the Fair, then on the throne of France, seizing on this opportunity, determined to make use of it to accomplish the total ruin of the or der ; he therefore procured the evidence of many infamous brethren, either by bribery or other means, who charged the knights generally with the most shocking enormities. Acting upon this base testi mony, the king ordered the arrest of every templar in his dominions, abolish ed the order, and even caused fifty-seven of them to be burned to death : the Pope, influenced by the same spirit of in justice, and probably invited to partake of the plunder, called a general council at Vieima, by which the order was laid under an interdict.
Philip immediately communicated his to our monarch, Edward II. who returned an answer, dated October 1307, in which he expressed great 'astonishment at the accounts received of the abominable heresy of the templars, and declared his intention of obtaining further information through the Seneschal of Agen. Clement directed a brief to
Edward, dated the 30th of November following, explaining the conduct of Philip, and asserting, that the Grand Master had confessed, that the knights, at their admission into the order, denied the divinity of Jesus Christ, spit upon the crucifix, and worshipped an idol in their chapters; adding other charges, which appear equally wicked and incredible, but calculated to exculpate Philip, whose example the holy father recommended Edward to imitate in his own dominions. Edward seems to have acted, on this de licate occasion, with some degree of wis dom and resolution ; but he was deficient in that firm spirit which governed Henry VIII. This is proved by a circular letter from him, directed to the Kings of Cas tile, Arragon, Portugal, and Sicily, dated December 4th, 1307 ; and another to the Pope, in each of which he expressed his disbelief of the accusations against the templars, and mentioned a priest who had endeavoured to confirm them to him, but ineffectually, as he was convinced the public agreed with himself in approving their manners and conduct ; and yet, such is the weakness and instability of human nature, this very king was prevailed up on to issue an order, addressed to the sheriffs, for the apprehending of every templar in the kingdom, upon the feast of the Epiphany, 1308.
The Pope, fearful of the wavering dis position of the Monarch, sent another brief into England, repeating all the old charges, and producing others, which he addressed to the Archbishop of Canter bury, and his suffragans, at the same time informing them he had appointed three cardinals, four English bishops, and seve ral of the French clergy, to manage the process to be instituted here against the unfortunate order. After the arrival oe the commissioners alluded to, Edward had the good sense and precaution to com mand the invariable attendance of the British part of it on every day the business was prosecuted, by a letter directed to the Bishop of Lincoln, dated September 13th, 1309 ; thus sheaving, that had he dared to save the templars, he would have done so without hesitation ; but the king and the nation were equally alarmed at the consequences of anathemas and interdicts, and were compelled to acquiesce in the dictates of the commissioners, who sen tenced the knights to eternal separation, and the loss of all their territories in Great Britain. To the everlasting honour of Edward, he rejected the cruel example of the King of France, and, instead of burning the knights, he merely confined them in different monasteries, where they resided, secure and comfortable, till their deaths. The estates of the Knights Tem plars having been confiscated, the king very naturally concluded that he was en titled to them, and consequently proceed ed to sell and give them away ; the Papal see, however, thought otherwise, and a fresh bull arrived, demanding them for the knights of the order of St. John of Jerusalem in England; as the same causes existed for compliance with this new man date, which induced the suppression, the property in question was conveyed to the