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 Edward II and the Templars

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MaryReedMcCall

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Age : 51
Location : Upstate New York
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PostSubject: Edward II and the Templars   Tue Oct 16, 2007 11:22 am

As this post addresses aspects of Edward II's personality/character, I thought it might fit here best, even though it concerns the Templar Order as well. Smile

Much of the information contained herein comes from a book called The Knights Templar in Britain by Evelyn Lord, however, I've gleaned it from other sources as well over the past few years.

Edward had only been on the throne for four months when the French Templars were arrested. He received first notification of the arrests from Philip IV (his future father-in-law at that point) on October 16, 1307, and treated it with incredulity. He replied to Philip, defending the Templars and telling him he didn't believe the charges (pretty gutsy, that, considering, methinks! )

In early December 1307 Edward went further and wrote to the kings of Aragon, Castile, Portugal and Sicily, again defending the Order and asking them to do the same. He then wrote to Pope Clement, letting him know how disgusted he was at the arrests. Philip IV was not amused.

Still, Edward didn't capitulate and arrest the Templars in England until he received the official papal bull Pastoralis praeemienitiae, threatening him with excommunication unless he did as instructed and arrest the Templars. He reluctantly agreed, and the Close Rolls and other official documents give the following sequence of events:

December 15 - an order sent to all county sheriffs telling them to choose 24 men to attend them the following Sunday, when they'd receive a sealed mandate from Edward II.

December 30 - the sealed mandates are prepared and given to the royal clerks to deliver to the sheriffs. It went out to all county sheriffs, the justiciar of Ireland, John de Breton, Earl of Richmond in Scotland, and the justices of north and west Wales and Chester.

December 26 - Edward wrote to Clement to tell him he'd done as requested, although the actual arrests did not take place until January 9-10, 1308. Edward made sure the Templars were treated well, regardless; as Evelyn Lord writes, "He allowed the brothers to take their own bedding and other possessions with them into prison, and made sure they were treated honourably." (p.193) All in all, the entire arrests and confinements were incredibly lax, compared to what had occured in France. Added to this was the fact that English law forbade torture, so no confessions could be extracted through this means by the papal Inquisitors, once they arrived.

Edward finally had to give in and allow the Inquisitors to torture the English Templars in 1310, upon direct orders from the pope - and even then he handled it cleverly, transferring all the Templars in the Tower of London into the hands of the sheriff of London and telling him to place them in prisons within the city gates before permitting the inquisitors to do as they would according to ecclesiastical law; this meant that the Templars were no longer Edward's responsibility, but rather that of the city of London and the Church.

He sent similar orders to York and Lincoln. All the recipients of the orders were slow to comply. The first was sent out in August 1309, but by October nothing had happened and the orders had to be re-issued. The Templars at Lincoln were examined in March/April 1310. They were eventually transferred to London in March 1311. The York Templars were questioned in April 1310. All protested their innocence as the other Templars had done, and all were eventually also transferred to London.

Allow me to interject now to say that stumbling upon tidbits like this during my research of the Templars/their trial, as I prepared to write my Templar trilogy a few years ago, is what brought Edward II firmly to my attention in the first place and compelled me to present him in my stories in a sympathetic, hopefully more complex way than he's often presented - i.e. the way he's depicted in BRAVEHEART, for example. The man had to have some finely-honed courage to thumb his nose at what was then the most powerful king in Europe - not to mention the trouble he had to know he was causing himself in the fact that this king was also going to be his father-in-law. I truly believe the incident of the Templars is in large part responsible for the coolness that Philip seems to have exhibited to Edward from that point onward (as Edward's marriage to Isabella took place in January 1308, right around the time the Templars were finally being arrested in England) - only granting Edward favors etc, if Isabella was the one asking or at least present.

Edward's reaction to the "Templar problem" reveals, in my mind at least, that he was at the least courageous and at the most perhaps a little foolhardy when it came to caring about what other, often powerful people thought. Perhaps an early foreshadowing of some of the problems to come for him?


Last edited by on Mon Nov 26, 2007 2:09 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Melisende

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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and the Templars   Mon Nov 26, 2007 2:05 pm

Mary,

Edward II does stand out as one of the very few European monarchs to put his support firmly behind the Templars.

Just because Philip was to become his father-in-law did not mean that Edward was going to toe the "official" family line - his views about their innocence were his own, formed by what information he no doubt had to hand and more probabaly of his experiences in his dealings with them.

Philip was just a greedy petulent man who saw the downfall of the Templars (in France at least) as a means to solve his fiscal problems - and I really think that the other monarchs of the time were not so blinded to this as some may have previously assumed.
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