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Geoffroi de Gonneville: confusions and theories


demolayexecussionGeoffroi de Gonneville (born c. 1260) was the Knights Templar  Preceptor of Aquitaine and Poitou at the time of the infamous arrests.  He was imprisoned along with four other dignitaries of the Order, including the Grand Master, Jacques de Molay.

Ivy-Stevan Guiho makes a surprising  statement about Geoffroi de Gonneville in his L’Ordre des Templiers: Petite encyclopédie: “De même que Jacques de Molay, il se rétracta au dernier moment et fut brûlé comme relaps” (Just as Jacques de Mollay, he recanted at the last moment and was burnt at the stake as a relapsed heretic). This is a very strange assertion, especially because elsewhere in the book Guiho identifies Geoffroi de Charney as the only other Templar who was burnt at the stake at the same time as Jacques de Molay.

Regardless of this confusion, Geoffroi de Gonneville was an interesting character. While most Templars simply admitted to various charges (under torture and fear of torture), de Gonneville attempted to offer different explanations for “irregularities” in the Knights Templar initiation procedures. He said that, according to rumors, a certain Grand Master who had been held captive by the Saracines had to incorporate a foreshadowing hint of similar treatment into the Order’s initiation ceremony, that being a condition for his release. De Gonneville’s second guess was that brother Roncelin (presumably, Roncelin de Fos) may have introduced corruption into the Order’s life. Or it may also have been Grand Master Thomas Berard who was responsible for incriminating practices. Finally, de Gonneville surmised that denials of Christ were committed in imitation or remembrance of St Peter, who thrice denied his Savior (hoc fit ad instar seu ad memoriam beati petri qui abnegavit Christum ter). In other words, the Templars were admitting crimes against religion without having a good idea of why and what they were doing. [click to continue…]

Templars’ absolution in Poitiers. July 2, 1308.

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During the months immediately following the arrests of the Knights Templar by the agents of King Philip the Fair of France, the Holy See made continuous attempts to assert the Pope’s jurisdiction over the military order and assume an active role in the ongoing investigations. Clement V, of course, was much less concerned about the Templars than he was about demanding proper respect for his own authority. He also justly feared that the Order’s lands and financial resources were going to be appropriated by the crown. After prolonged dealings with the King and his investigators the Pope was finally able to have a large group of Templars delivered to Poitiers where he held his court. It has been suggested that these men were carefully chosen to present the Knights Templar in the least favorable light. They were mostly low ranking members of the Order and some of them likely held a grudge against the institution. The leaders of the Knights Templar who were also on their way to Poitiers were diverted to Chinon in an apparent attempt to invalidate papal inquiries. [click to continue…]