The Catholic Church hunted down and killed heretics including the Templars therefore the Templars must have been heretics.

While this seems a simple conclusion, there were other factors involved. Philip the Fair, who was behind the Pope's charge of heresy against the Templars in 1307, didn't believe they were heretics, he just saw it as a way to dissolve the order. His reasons for targeting the Templars were money and power. He thought the Templars had treasure and he was afraid of their power to put a trained army in the field against him should they want his throne. He had reason to worry. With the Templars finally getting kicked out of their last strongholds in the Holy Land by the Moslems, it's possible that they were looking around for a new place to call home. Their activities in Southern France may have been a clue that they were planning on taking the Languedoc as their new home base. If this was true then there's no telling where the Templars intended to go from there. Maybe they did have their eyes on Philip's throne. After all, the Templars had seen first hand what happened to kingdoms that refused to be part of greater France. Hadn't the Cathars in the south been massacred in the 1200's and with the same charge of heresy? If the Templars were planning on starting their own kingdom then they had to know that the king in Paris wouldn't just stand by and watch such a thing happen.

That the Cathars actually were heretics didn't matter to Philip. The Cathars had been wiped out therefore the Templars could be wiped out too. At first there seems to be no comparison here. The Cathars were just folks where the Templars were experienced fighting men. However, there were plenty of Cathar knights who died in the massacres and how many Templars could there be? Maybe he could catch them with their pants down. Call it a Holy Crusade, get the Pope's backing and keep the plan a secret until the last minute. What did he have to lose? When the Templars were actually taken into custody and tortured all sorts of bizarre confessions came from them. Philip must've smacked his lips with delight at being justified in calling them heretics. Here were his enemies admitting that they worshipped bearded heads. The confessions also served to turn the general population against the Templars thus insuring they would never again have the awe and reputation they had once enjoyed.

What of the confessions wrenched from tortured Templars? They worshipped bearded heads named Baphomet? If someone had hot irons to your limbs, you'd scream out whatever your tormentor wanted to hear too. It's possible that Philip knew about the head and had his torturers ask that particular question on purpose. Yet, this doesn't entirely explain why several of the confessions had similar themes. While it's possible that these Templars were just parroting things they'd heard while in the order, or misunderstanding some ceremonies that they saw, there was the whole trampling on the cross thing that still can't be explained. What were these knights up to behind the closed doors of their commanderies?

History records that people really didn't care. The Templar's day was over. There were wars, famines and plagues on the way and these were more important problems then a bunch of arrogant knights and their cross stamping. It's only centuries later that people began to wonder and they had different reasons for their curiosity. The Freemasons wanted to establish a pedigree that included the Templars. Other esoteric groups also wanted to claim them. After all, these knights were brave and powerful and died martyrs. They were so mysterious that almost any claim could be made about them and not a one could be disproved entirely. Today writers have linked the Templars with the Shroud of Turin, the Holy Grail and even the Ark of the Covenant.

But, were they heretics? They had secret meetings, they apparently had a ceremony that included defiling the cross and they came in contact with many heresies of their day. Yet, they were men after the same things that men have always been after: power. Possibly they saw heresy as a way to bind them all together with a common belief. Maybe by bucking the established church they thought they could replace it with one where they were the power. This is pretty gutsy when you consider that they owed their existence and allegiance to the Pope. In the end they lost their gamble and disappeared from the world stage, but we still remember and are fascinated by them.

Maybe they won a victory after all.

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