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de molay

Last day of Jacques de Molay



A painting by Fleury-François Richard (1777-1852). Original title: Jacques de Molay, grand Maître des Templiers (1806). This masterpiece of flawless composition depicts a scene from Jacques de Molay’s final day. King Philip’s personal confessor is visiting the imprisoned Grand Master of the Knights Templar, attempting to persuade him to admit the guilt for the crimes that de Molay never committed. The priest representing the king is shown sitting on what resembles a throne, while de Molay stands in front of him, shackled. The guard is visibly anxious, perhaps awaiting those who will be coming in order to take the Templar to the place of execution. The dark alcove in the background looks almost like an altar – a reminder of the fact that the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar insisted on daily celebration of mass. It is not easy to interpret the gesturing of the two main characters. Perhaps the confessor wants de Molay to consider divine judgment, while the Grand Master himself points in the direction of the door that will lead him to the seat of the true King who will not find any guilt in him?

Amazon has reproductions of this painting.

See also:
Initiation of Jacques de Molay by François-Marius Granet
Knights Templar initiation practices

“Jacques de Molay, you are avenged!” — NOT a legend from 1975.



I am all for debunking stories that are not based on facts. However, it has to be done fairly and accurately. When a Wikipedia article on Knights Templar legends dismissed the Templar-related legend about the execution of Louis XVI I was a bit surprised:

A frequent recurring legend relates how when Louis XVI was guillotined, an anonymous French Freemason rushed from the crowd, dipped his hand in the king’s blood (or grabbed the head and held it) and yelled, “Jacques de Molay, thou art avenged!” This story first appeared in The Illuminatus! Trilogy, a work of science fiction, in 1975.

The reference points to the 1975 book in question.

Really? That recently? Then it took no time at all for this legend to become commonplace! Is it because it was mentioned by Umberto Eco? Perhaps. However, it did not take long for me to find a book published in 1957 that recounted the episode with the same exact phrase being spoken. It’s a book entitled “Cathedral and Crusade: Studies of the Medieval Church, 1050-1350” by Henri Daniel-Rops. Publisher Information: London; New York E. P. Dutton & Co. 1957. More interestingly, the author does not present the story as something new: “Tradition still maintains that the Temple was in fact a secret society; and it is related that, as Louis XVI’s head was severed by guillotine, an unknown voice was heard to cry: ‘Jacques de Molay, you are avenged.'” pp 577-78.

Michael Haag in his book “The Templars: The History and the myth” insists that it was Charles de Gassicourt who first related this episode in his “Le tombeau de Jacques Molai.” Most likely, Haag followed  Malcolm Barber who speaks about de Gassicourt seeing Templar vengeance being finally served to the French kings, but there is no mention of the actual phrase. By the way, Barber points to pp. 10-11 in the 1796 edition of “Le tombeau” as containing an interesting episode about the Templars, disguised as masons, collecting the ashes of Jacques de Molay. The story actually seems to appear on page 27 of that edition.

I have poured over “Le Tombeau” for quite some time and was unable to find the desired reference, although the spirit of vengeance towards the crown and the popes is indeed very strong. It is very likely that de Gassicourt’s work acted as the catalyst for the legend. Sadly, I do not know where the actual source for this interesting story is. But for sure, it did not surface for the first time in 1975.

See also: Legends of the Knights Templar

Initiation of Jacques de Molay by François-Marius Granet



Initiation of Jacques de Molay at the Beaune commandery in 1265 by François-Marius Granet(17 December 1775 – 21 November 1849). A discerning eye might find some neoclassical influences in Granet’s works. As far as resemblance to the actual event, it is almost certain that the depiction is purely hypothetical. This painting is sometimes erroneously believed to describe de Molay’s elevation to the rank of the Grand Master of the Knights Templar. It is very clear that the brother on the left is holding the newly created Templar’s mantle and sword, while the initiated is wearing civilian clothes.


See also:
Knights Templar Initiation