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philip the fair

Satan’s Claw


Kalkow church doorIn the village of Kałków (Southwestern Poland) there is a church which was, according to the local tradition and the inscription that can no longer be seen, built by the Knights Templar. The church’s remote location would have made it suitable for keeping treasures and secrets. The legend has it that when King Philip the Fair of France started his campaign against the Knights Templar, but failed to appropriate their wealth, he was determined to search far and wide. The Church of St. George in Kałków became a target for the King’s next strike. They say that this time Philip IV directly requested assistance from Satan himself. The enemy of mankind came to Kałków with the intention to lift the entire church building from its foundation and deliver it to the French monarch with everything that was inside it. However, first he had to overcome St. George, the church’s patron. Their battle lasted all night. Several times during the struggle Satan attempted to grab the church and pick it up, but his efforts were thwarted by St. George. The Evil One was forced to flee at the cry of the first rooster. To this day, there is a mark left by Satan’s claw near the entrance into this church.

This image by Stok appears to be of that exact entrance to the church. You can judge for yourself!

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

Death of Philip the Fair


Accordingdeathofphilipthefair to some legends, Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, predicted that the King of France, who spearheaded the campaign against the Order, would not outlive him by much. Indeed, Philip the Fair died on November 29th, 1314 at the age of 46. The exact cause of his death has never been established by historians. One widely accepted account insists that an accident occurred during a stag hunt:

He saw the stag coming and drew his sword, and clapped spurs to his horse and thought to strike the stag, but his horse carried him so violently against a tree that the good king fell to the ground, and was very severely hurt in the heart, and was carried to Corbeil. There his malady grew very sore.

However, this account comes from a source published in 1572. Michelet says that contemporary sources simply indicate that Philip died without fever or any visible sickness, “to the great astonishment of his physicians.” This may mean various things, including a stroke. But according to  rumors that circulated soon after the king’s death, he was killed by a wild boar. This image from an old manuscript illustrates the demise of Philip the Fair, as it was imagined by some. Among those who believed in the boar story certainly was Dante, who unsympathetically wrote in Paradiso:

19.118 Lì si vedrà il duol che sovra Senna 
19.119 induce, falseggiando la moneta,
19.120 quel che morrà di colpo di cotenna.

(There shall be seen the woe which he who shall die by the blow of a wild boar is bringing upon the Seine, by falsifying the coin.)

The reference to Philip the Fair, the king who was debased French coinage in 1306, leading to the livre loosing two-thirds of its value, is unmistakable.  There are some indications that if the accident did in fact involve a boar, the animal simply startled the king’s horse. It is evident, however, that many contemporaries wished for Philip the Fair to have died in the most unpleasant and demeaning fashion: mauled by a wild pig.

Divine judgement upon Clement V and Philip the Fair?


templarburningLegend concerning the deaths of Pope Clement V and King Philip the Fair, according to Nicholas Guertler (Latin text included):

“The initiators of the Templars’ destruction, the Pope of Avignon and the King of France, did not outlive them by much. As a matter of fact, Clement V concluded his last day on the 12th day before the Calends of May, 1314, the eighth year and tenth month of his pontificate, afflicted with various illnesses, after suffering from dysentery and pain in his sides. Philip the Fair also did not have a long road ahead of him after this, and his son Louis X was anointed with holy oil by the archbishop of Reims on the feast day of St. Steven, the first martyr, of that very year. Fuglosus reports (see Wirth and Wolf) that a certain Templar, Neapolitan by birth, who was condemned to be burned at the stake in Bordeaux, screamed out in loud voice, while the Pope and King Philip were seen in the window: Clement, ruthless tyrant, I don’t have anyone left among mortals for me to appeal to on account of my grievous death that you have caused through injustice. I call upon Christ, the just judge, who redeems me, and summon you to His tribunal, along with King Philip, so that within one year and one day both of you appear there. There I will plead my case, and uncorrupted justice will be administered to each one. And within this period of time both Clement and the King died. As far as I am concerned, there is not enough to either confirm or deny this story. However, I see that Drexelius, a Jesuit father, both believed this story and took it so close to his heart that in “On the judgment of Christ” (book 2, chapter 3) he exclaims: Who would deny that there is some congeniality and divine intervention in this matter, as ordained by the Supreme Will?” [click to continue…]