Category: Paramedia

1980s Film and Television

1980s Film and Television
© 2017 John F. Rychlicki III Leilah Publications
All rights reserved.

If the cinematic era from the 1930s to the late 1950s, beginning arguably with the 1927 release of The Jazz Singer, was Hollywood’s Golden Age, then 1980s film and television was Hollywood’s renaissance.  Hollywood’s Golden Age was built on the success of the studio model of integration; the “Big Five” studios (MGM, Paramount, Warner Bros., RKO and Fox) all controlled stakes, or purchased blocks of films in their own theater chains, ensuring that their films would be distributed.  The “Little Three;” Universal, Columbia Pictures and United Artists,  never owned more than small theater circuits, relying on independent theaters for distribution.

The Golden Age of Hollywood film saw the theatrical shift from silent film to “talkie” movies.  This cinematic wonder changed the landscape of cinema causing many ripples in the industry; vaudeville became deader than disco overnight, unable to compete with the now talking motion pictures.  Former vaudeville and stage actors wound up migrating to film in order to find work.  One of them, a Hungarian immigrant with a terribly thick accent, landed the lead role as “Count Dracula” in Universal’s 1931 picture.  Bela Lugosi was a rare instance of success in the sound-enabled shift from silence.

Along with vaudeville, thousands of piano players who were hired to play the Background Music for silent films also found themselves looking for work.  Smaller production studios that did not have the money to convert to sound-enabled cinema found themselves left behind and bankrupt, solidifying the power of the “Big Eight” Hollywood studios.  The blockbuster renaissance of 1980s cinema began with a series of blockbuster films; Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather I & II (1972, and 1974 respectively) and George Lucas’ Star Wars (1979).  Blockbuster directors George Lucas, Stephen Spielberg, David Lynch, and Stanley Kubrick led a resurgence of blockbuster drama, sci-fi, and action cinema.

A string of blockbuster franchises characterized the film industry of the 1980s; the original Star Trek films, the “Indiana Jones” adventure films, the paranormal comedy Ghostbusters, the sci-fi “Back to the Future” films, and the “Rocky” dramas.  Numerous horror films gained popularity also, shifting from the classic terror films of the 1960s and 1970s namely the memorable “The Exorcist,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” and Roger Corman’s series of horror films under American International Pictures featuring Vincent Price in numerous roles.

Horror films like “Friday the 13th,” “Halloween,” and “Nightmare On Elm Street,” boasted a new breed of violence and gore, with sequels dragging on into the 21st century.  Blockbuster dramas and adventures defined the 1980s and the imagination of an entire generation, while a cluster of “coming of age” films identified Generation X to the world.  Topical Cold War films illustrated the Soviet menace for the Baby Boomers (Doctor Zhivago, Doctor Strangelove, The Manchurian Candidate), while their generation saw Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Audrey Hepburn, and Gary Cooper; Generation X saw the rise of the “Brat pack” movies, defining their generation.

John Hughes wrote and directed a cluster of films that Generation X came to identify their social awkwardness and angst in social acceptance.  Hughes’ “Sixteen Candles,” won unanimous praise and success in 1984 with its honest depiction of upper middle class high school angst that every teenager identified with at the time.  Generation X identified with the themes of acceptance and understanding sprinkled with moments of levity mixed with insecurity, dysfunction, out-of-touch adults in “The Breakfast Club,” “Pretty in Pink,” “Weird Science,” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”  Every GenX teenager could identify with a character, and situations of acceptance and dysfunction in Hughes’ stories.

By mid-decade, the videocassette recorder (VCR) allowed moviegoers to enjoy their favorite blockbusters in the comfort of their homes.  More people watched VHS movies on their VCRs than in the theatre by the mid-1980s.  Contrary to predictions, home video did not kill the movie theatre industry by the decade’s end.  To feed burgeoning home video and cable network sales (buoyed by cable channels Home Box Office/HBO, and Cinemax), independent studios expanded to increase film production.  Thus, cable television and home video drove the expansion theatrical releases of independent studios.

The 1980s blockbusters and many others became part of massive product merchandising and mass-market consumer appeal.  Tim Burton’s “Batman” (1989) became a merchandising empire.  Blockbusters transformed into ‘home entertainment,’ effectively making obsolete the “stand-alone” motion pictures of the 1950s through the mid-1970s.

Another cluster of blockbuster films ungracefully mimicked the ideological template of Reaganism and his worldview of the Soviet Union, as an “evil empire” attempting to impose its will on the world.  Cold War productions like “Iron Eagle,” and “Top Gun” (1986), had American fighter pilots combat Soviets and their allied planes.  “Red Dawn” (1986) and “Invasion USA” (1985) featured small bands of gung-ho Americans repelling Soviet invasions on American soil.  The “Rambo” film series had a Vietnam Veteran rescue missing Vietnam War prisoners.  A Rambo sequel portrayed Rambo aiding fictional Afghani rebels fighting the Soviet invasion.  Unfortunately, the fictionalized version of the guts-and-glory Rambo’s fight with the Afghanis actually mirrors Reagan’s military and political support of guerilla fighters who would later organize to become the Taliban, engineering the terrorists behind the September 11 attacks.  Maybe next movie, or inevitable remake, Rambo will get it right?

During the 1980s, instead of making films, Hollywood shifted to the production of film entertainment, a different enterprise that encompassed production and distribution of entertainment in a variety of markets and media, including video games, cable television, publishing, and product mass marketing.  Not only were moviegoers attracted to blockbuster movies on the big silver screen, now children were enticed to by the video games, read the books, and buy the toys, while adults enjoyed the movies on VHS and cable television.

Soap operas, sitcoms, and dramas dominated television programming during the 1980s, long before dramatic programs home to cable TV in the 1990s and during the 2000s.  Drama and soap-opera programming often merged in the form of crime dramas, as prominent evening shows like Dallas, Knots Landing, and Dynasty made way for Hill Street Blues, Cagney and Lacey, and L.A. Law; precursors to the much copied crime drama shows of the 2000s – NCIS, NYPD Blue, CSI, and Law & Order.  The crime drama programming of the 2000s has grown nearly indistinguishable from one another, while the programming of the 1980s maintained unique dramatic themes.

Situation comedies, sitcoms, dealt with the teen angst of middle class America like Growing Pains, Silver Spoons while shows like A Different World, What’s Happening, Sanford & Son, The Jeffersons, and the highly acclaimed Cosby Show appealed to young African Americans by depictions of blacks in various urban situations from not-so-affluent (Sanford & Son) to the affluent “movin’ on up” (Jeffersons, and Cosby Show) premise toppling various stereotypes.

Programs like Gimme A Break, Threes Company, Who’s The Boss, Facts of Life, and Different Strokes played on unconventional living situations, usually an ‘outsider’ moving in with a larger middle class family or oddly matched roommates.  Foreigners, and in one case an alien from outer space became the butt of comedy in shows like Perfect Strangers, Taxi, and Mork & Mindy.  Later in the 1990s, families would see programming mock, and upturn conventional norms of family life with shows like Roseanne and Married With Children.

The premise of 1980s television often echoed the living situations of middle class America – often with a liberal twist in the form of an outsider to the family’s living situation or an antagonistic character within the living situation, or setting – (“Sam” in Cheers, “Archie Bunker” in All in the Family, “Jack” in Three’s Company, “Nell Carter” in Gimme A Break!).  Crime dramas, soap operas, and science fiction serials rang in the decade with mass merchandising targeting the respective viewership for each genre.  Film in the 1980s saw a changing landscape with the Hollywood blockbusters and mass-marketing campaigns.

Though popular in the 1950s and 1960s thanks to John Wayne, Western films did not fare well, compared to the rarely successful crime dramas (Scarface, 1983), (Johnny Dangerously, 1984).  Science fiction, Vietnam War-oriented, and action-adventure blockbusters overshadowed teenage comedies (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 1986 and The Breakfast Club, 1985) and surprisingly successful musicals (Flashdance 1983,  Purple Rain 1984, Footloose and Dirty Dancing 1987, Little Shop of Horrors 1986, and La Bamba 1987).  As the decade ended with a rash of blockbuster sequels in 1989 (James Bond License to Kill, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Back to the Future Part II, Lethal Weapon 2, Ghostbusters II, A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Halloween V, the unforgettable Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) the Blockbuster Era of Hollywood and the long-running 1980s television serials assimilated the home video and cable mass market – giving way to the digital age of the 1990s and 2000s.

Cinematic and television programming themes in the 1980s had many recurring themes, articulating shifts in social and political relations during the decade.  Films and television during the 1980s portrayed hardheaded social realities in dramatized documentary fashion.  There is an aesthetic, anticipatory dimension to 1980s television and film genres that creates an artistic global landscape, transcending the scope of a generation’s vision, articulating future hopes, dreams, or nightmares.

Noir and Visionary Film

© The following films are in the public domain.

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Lost Christianities: Knights Templar and the Vatican

Lost Christianities: Knights Templar and the Vatican
© 2013 John F. Rychlicki III Leilah Publications
All rights reserved.

croixOctober 13, 1307 A.D.  At dawn, Pope Clement V and King Phillip IV of France aligned politically and religiously, making plans to bring about the simultaneous arrest of the Knights Templar.  At dawn, sentinels of King Phillip IV and Pope Clement V opened sealed secret orders, simultaneously to arrest all Knights Templar at once; an operation worthy of the Nazi Schutzstaffel, or Gestapo.  The orders were secret and sealed sent throughout France.  As they orders were opened they read, thus:  “All members of the Knights Templar are to be arrested and seized at once, their Preceptories under royal sequestration, their goods confiscated.”

Although Phillip IV’s objective may appear to have been achieved, the concern was the vast repositories of wealth that eluded him and was never “found.”  What became of this fabulous treasure of the Templars has remained a “mystery.”  We are talking about a military order, trained monastics in the arts and strategies of warfare, armed escorts to poor pilgrims on routes to the holy land, on pilgrimages to holy shrines.  The Poor Knights of Christ had at their disposal the wealth of nationa and allegiance a wide scope of Barons, Dukes, Bishops, Kings, and yet seemingly they were arrested and went down without a fight.  Many of them tried and convicted of heresy and treason against the Kingdom of France and committed to the torch.  Much of their squires, and neophytes fled the country, going into exile and concealing their faith.  Why did they go down without massive resistance they certainly were capable of?

So an even greater piece of the puzzle awaits placement in this incredible scheme of authentic heritage that leads us past paranoid conspiracies, revolutions, occult secrets, treachery, and beautiful women.  The elimination of the Templars met with relative levels of ease and difficulties.  Did they go down without a fight or did they not?  Some of the earliest accounts we have of the Templars place the founding of the Order roughly around 1118 A.D.  Reports are ambiguous as to the actual establishment of any Order charter or constitution.  They began their works as armed escorts to poor pilgrims on long perilous journeys to the holy lands.

A Frankish historian, historian Guillaume de Tyre who wrote between 1175 and 1185, during the crusades, provides the first historic information we have on the Templars.  Guillaume de Tyre was writing of events, however, that he had not witnessed, and his authority is uncertain, as there were no Western writers in Jerusalem between 1127 and 1144, the crucial years of the Crusades.  Guillaume states that the Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon were founded in 1118 by Hugues de Payen, a nobleman from Champagne.

Hughes, along with eight companions, reportedly presented at the palace of Baudouin I, king of Jerusalem who received them most cordially, as did the Jerusalem Patriarch.  Guillaume states that the Templars’ objective was to keep the roads safe and to protect the pilgrims.  The king reportedly gave the knights an entire wing of the palace, and the knights moved in.  Legend states that the Templars’ quarters were built on the foundations of the ancient temple of Solomon. When Baudouin later moved to the citadel on the Tower of David, the Temple quarters were left entirely to the Templars.

According to Guillaume, no new knights were admitted for nine years after the founding of the order.  It is implausible, however, that nine men would take on such an immense task of keeping the highways safe and protecting pilgrims.  It is evident that in truth there was much more to the Templars’ purpose.  There is certainly no record of Templars policing the highways.  It was actually the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem who ministered to pilgrims.  It is much more likely that the Templars were the king’s front-line diplomats in the Muslim world.  We have numerous theories that the Templars were founded to be the front men of a secretive order, the Priory of Sion.

The Templars spent at least the first nine years excavating under the Temple Mount.  After the excavation was complete, the Templars swiftly returned to Europe.  In addition to the treasures they allegedly found in Jerusalem, the knights received grants of land from many of the noble families.  Templar holdings soon spread throughout Europe.  The Templars became experts in many enterprises including mining, building, quarrying, and farming, and they became richer than any kingdom in Europe.  They had an impressive fleet of ships, and they ensured the safety of major trade routes, which in turn created security, and a climate of stability for other merchants.

The sensationalism surrounding the mystery of the Templar treasure has led to many theories and accounts of conspiracy easily called into question.  One of the original seals of the Templars displays an image of two Knights riding upon one horse, suggesting ideals of piety, poverty, and fraternity.  The device stems from the first days of the Order, highlighting their supposed devotion to piety and poverty, if they were ever even truly “poor.”  Which they were not.  The Order Poor Knights of Christ and Temple of Solomon was never poverty-stricken they never lived their vows of poverty.  The Knights lived in perpetual luxury with their vast amounts of wealth accumulated from payments and tithe.

An official historian employed by the French Court, Regnault de Chartres comments on the thunderous silence of Templar activity during the first decade of their Order.  Contemporary historians such as Michael Baigent, Lynn Picknett, and Richard Leigh note that the Knights Templar never truly lived their vows of poverty.  One cannot help but wonder how only nine men can hope to complete their self-imposed task of poverty and escorting pilgrims to holy shrines.

Obviously, they began a program of enlistment into their ranks, or associative membership, partnership, or apprenticeship, yet de Tyre states that no new candidates were admitted during the initial nine years from the Order’s founding.  Nonetheless, within a decade, the fame of the Templars broadened throughout Europe.  Ecclesiastical authorities extolled the virtues of the Templar Order as the epitome of Christian life and piety.

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, a nephew of one of the founding nine Knights of the Order, was an influential advocate of the Templars.  At the Council of Troyes in January 1128, Court of the Count of Champagne, Saint Bernard spoke persuasively on the Knights’ behalf, engineering their official recognition and endorsement by the Church at the Council.  Remember this character Saint Bernard.  The official sanction of the Templars endorsed them as soldier-mystics, warrior-monks, and a French nobleman from the Champagne region, Hugues de Payens, created the office of Grand Master of the Order.

The Templars were obligated to take oaths of chastity, poverty, and piety directed the brethren to keep their beards yet cut their hair short, an odd look in an age where most men were clean-shaven.  Diet, dress, social interaction, and public relations were strictly regulated by monastic and military code.  Their monastic vows included celibacy and prohibition of marriage, and intoxicants.  All members were obliged to wear white habits and white mantles that became the trademark attire for the Templars.  Order precepts stated that no one outside the order was permitted to wear the white mantle with a red cross, other than an initiated Knight of the Temple.

In 1139 a Papal Bull, Pope Innocent II issued Omne Datum Optimum.  Pope Innocent II was a former Cistercian and protégé to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the Templar’s Patron.  Keep these characters in mind.  It permitted to Knights to pass freely across any border, owed no taxes, and were subject to the sole authority of the Pope himself.  Omne Datum Optimum totally and fully granted the Templars independence from all kingdoms, fiefdoms, and prelates, free from all religious and political law.  They effectively became an independent empire throughout Europe, an empire without borders.

Interesting how a religious fraternity with strict prohibitions on marriage, wealth, oaths of poverty and piety received unconditional social and political support from the Roman Catholic Church.  The Order thrived rapidly in the following two decades after the Council of Troyes.  Barons, Princes, young Dames, and numerous officials of European courts all lobbied to enroll themselves into the ranks of the Templar Order and initiate.  Real estate propriety was common practice, as donations were claimed from all over Christendom.  Hugues de Payens donated his own property to the Order, as all new neophytes were obligated to do so.  Given such proprietorships, it is no surprise Templar holdings proliferated, increasing the coffers of their vast wealth.  Within two decades after the Council of Troyes, the Order claimed real estate and chapters in Italia, Spain, Germania, Portual, France, Austria, Scotland, and Jerusalem in the Holy Land.

Omne Datum Optimum granted charity status to the Templars across Europe, obligating families of initiates to donate their monies and valuables.  Pilgrims would visit a Templar chapter in their host country, depositing their deeds and valuables, often jewelry or art.  The Templars would then give them a letter of credit, which provided inventory on their holdings.  Modern Templar scholars have stated that the letters were encrypted with a cipher alphabet based on a Maltese Cross.  The Knights increasingly grew involved in banking, their primary function now safeguarding the valuables of  pilgrims more so than the faithful on pilgrimages.  Yet there were vows of “poverty” probably as relevant to a Templar as the executive bonus to a Fortune 500 executive of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or American Insurance Group.

One need only to observe the financial headlines of the past two years to witness the jealousy, corruption, and mismanagement that tails wealth.  If the sacred trust of the Coin {see the interpretations of the Ten of Coins/Disks in the Tarot} is violated, then the loss of wealth ensues when circulation ceases.  This is what befell the Templars.  Who else would grow envious of their coffers?  Not surprisingly, the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon degenerated into corruption, fraud, and intrigue.  ‘To drink like a Templar’ was the catchphase of the times.  Their success attracted the concern of many other orders, with the two most powerful rivals being the Knights Hospitaller and the Teutonic Knights.  Various nobles also had concerns about the Templars as well, for both financial reasons, and nervousness about an independent army that was able to move freely through all borders.

The military acumen of the Templars began to lurch in the 1180s.  On July 4, 1187 came the disastrous Battle of the Horns of Hattin, a turning point in the Crusades.  The battle involved the legendary Muslim Saladin, who was soundly defeated by the Templars in 1177 in the legendary Battle of Montgisard near Tiberias. Yet this time, the Battle of the Horns of Hattin yielded different results for Saladin, as he was better prepared.  Further, the current Grand Master of the Templars was involved in the battle, Gerard de Ridefort, who had just claimed the office years earlier.  Gerard de Ridefort was not elected as a military strategist, and committed fatal errors, venturing out with his misconceived force of 80 knights without adequate supplies or water, under the unforgiving desert sun.

The Templars were overcome by the desert heat within a day, and then surrounded and massacred by Saladin’s army.  Ridefort then committed a grave mistake that was destined to demoralize the entire Templar Order; rather than fighting to the death as Templar code demanded, he was captured, and allowed himself to be ransomed by surrendering Gaza to Saladin.  Ridefort tried enacting revenge against Saladin a few months later at the Siege of Acre, but again his ill-fated campaign ended in failure and capture, and he was beheaded publicly.  By 1291, Jerusalem and Palestine had fallen under Saracen control, further demoralizing the Order.

So much for the noble objectives of the Templars, for in 1291 Acre, the last vestiges of Christian territory in Palestine fell to the Islamic Mamluks.  As defeat accumulated for Christian crusaders, such as 1250’s Battle of al’Mansurah and the 1266 Siege of Safad, the Roman Catholic Church had less interest in pursuing the losing battles of the Crusades.  With the Siege of Acre, the Order was forced to relocate its mother chapter to the isle of Cyprus, as the Holy Land was again recaptured under the Sword and Crescent, the Knights Templar lost their Raison d’être.

A century earlier, the Knights Templar presided over the establishment of the Order of the Teutonic Knights of St. Mary’s Hospital in Jerusalem {Latin. Ordo domus Sanctæ Mariæ Theutonicorum Hierosolymitanorum}.  The Teutonic Knights wore white surcoats with a black cross pattée.  The Teutons also escorted the religious on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and established hospitals all across northern Europe.  In the thirteenth century, the Teutonic Knights focused their strategic campaigns in northeastern Europe.  From their inception, the Templars envied amongst their chapters, the immunity, and sovereignty of fellow monastics such as the Knights Hospitaller and the Teutonic Knights.

According to accounts from Templar historians Henry Lincoln, Michael Baigent, and Richard Leigh, the Order settled into a more congenial region, the Languedoc, in southern France historic home of the Gnostic Cathari.  According to sensationalist accounts, at least one of the co-founders of the Templars, the fourth Grand Master Bernard de Tremelay was raised in a Cathari household.  Interestingly enough, during the Albigensian Crusade, the remnants of the Templars remained strictly neutral in the affair, staying the role of religious counsel to numerous Cathari charged with heresy.  The Albigensian Crusade saw a relative influx of Cathari into quietly sympathetic Templar chapters.

In Languedoc, France, native Templars leaned their faith toward Gnostic Catharism rather than Roman Catholicism.  So we now have accounts of Templars taking up the ritual customs of the Cathari, also the Templars assimilated ritual customs observed in their travels during the Crusades.  This cultural and spiritual assimilation proved a source of contention among Roman Catholic patrons, who once officially endorsed the Order, now grew weary of its rumored intrigue and bizarre initiations.  The Hashish Takers, as referred to by Farhad Daftary and Dr. Bernard Lewis, are known commonly as the Order of Assassins, and according to scholars initiated a political and economic connection with the Templar Order.  Templars often employed Arabic secretaries in the eastern chapters, as many Knights were fluent in Arabic.

The Templars were exposed to many ritual customs the Roman Catholic ecclesia were not ordinarily exposed to.  Jacques de Molay, who was to be the last of the Order’s Grand Masters, took office around 1292.  One of his first tasks was to tour across a demoralized Europe, to raise support for the Order and try to organize yet another Crusade.  De Molay met the newly-invested Pope Boniface VIII, who granted the Order the same privileges at Cyprus as they had assumed in the Jerusalem.  Charles II of Naples and Edward I invested their coffers into dwindling Templar chapters in Italia, either continuing to exempt the Templars from taxes, or pledging to finance a new army.

The waning of the Templars grew irreversible, and the final curtain fell on the Templar act over the affair of a loan.  Young Philip IV, King of France {‘Philip the Fair’ remember} needed equity for his war with the English and asked the Templars for financing.  They refused.  Phillip “the Fair” assigned the Holy See the right to tax the French clergy, and requested the Pope to excommunicate the Templars, but Pope Boniface VIII refused, instead issuing a Papal Bull in 1302 to reinforce that the Papacy had absolute supremacy over earthly power, even above a king, and excommunicated King Philip in a reversal of his fortunes.

Phillip IV responded in kind by sending his councilor, Guillaume de Nogaret, in a plot to kidnap the Pope from his castle in Anagni in September 1303, charging him with dozens of trumped-up charges such as sodomy and heresy.  This incident inspired Dante Alighieri in his Divine Comedy: the new Pilate has imprisoned the Vicar of Christ.  The local militia, led by Templar Knights of Anagni rose up and rescued the aged Boniface VIII, but he perished a month later from shock due to the harsh imprisonment.

Pope Boniface’s successor, Benedict XI, lifted the excommunication of Philip IV yet refused to absolve de Nogaret, excommunicating him and all the other Italian kidnap co-conspirators on June 7, 1304.  Benedict died just eight months later in Perugia, poisoned by an agent of Nogaret.  There followed a year of discord between the French and Italian cardinals over the desired nationality of the next Pontiff, before investing the non-Italian Bertrand de Goth who took the name Clement V, in June 1305.

Clement V was a childhood friend of Philip, and retracted the Papal Bulls of Boniface VIII that had conflicted with Philip IV’s conspiracy, invested nine additional French cardinals, and administered over a failed attempt to merge the Templars and the Hospitallers.  Clement V agreed to Philip IV’s demands for an official inquiry of the Templars.  Pope Clement V also moved the papacy from the Italian Anagni to the more palatable and congenial French Avignon, initiating the era in the Church called the Avignon Papacy.

King Philip had other reasons to mistrust the Templars, as the Order brazenly had declared its desire to form its own sovereign state, similar to how the Teutonic Knights had founded Prussia.  The Templars preferred location for this was in the Languedoc of southeastern France, home to their fraternal monastics, the Cathars. They had also made a case for the island of Cyprus.  In 1306, the Templars had supported a coup on that island, which had forced Cypriot King Henry II to abdicate his throne in favor of his brother, Amalric of Tyre.

King Philip was justifiably apprehensive, as just a few years earlier; he had inherited the region of Champagne that was the Templars’ old headquarters.  The Templars were already a ‘state within a state,’ akin to the Vatican, were institutionally wealthy, owed no taxes, and had a large well-trained and battle-tested army which by papal decree could move freely through all European borders, yet had no presence in Jerusalem, which left the army without a battle or battlefield.  These factors and that Philip inherited an impoverished kingdom from his father, and was deep in debt to the Templars, led to the actions of Friday the 13, 1307.

The events of the morning of Friday the 13th October 1307 rocked the delicate equipoise of Medieval Europe.  Contemporaries and confederates of the Templars were well aware that an arrest order was underway, that the simultaneous arrest of the Templars meant King Phillip IV had challenged Papal authority by arresting a powerful and wealthy religious order directly answering to Pope Clement V himself.  Thus in one royal seizure seen as unexpected, sudden, unheard of, and blasphemous (subito capaintur; Latin for sudden capture) by sir Knights; the Templar brethren who had managed tax collection, the royal treasuries of England and France, and the real estate of French nobility, found themselves sitting in stinking dungeons.

The charges of Phillip the Fair’s “Arrest Order” were shocking to Christendom, yet only the first haze of astonishment in a trial that would last seven years.  The warrant consists of two parts intended for consumption of clergy, theologians, and finally French and English royal academia.  The rhetoric of the opening indictment is impressive:

A bitter thing, a lamentable thing, a thing horrible to think of and terrible to hear, a detestable crime, an execreable evil deed, an abominable work, a detestable disgrace, a thing wholly inhuman, foreign to all humanity, has, thanks to the reports of several persons worthy of faith, reached our ears, not without striking us with great astonishment and causing us to tremble with violent horror, and, as we consider its gravity an immense pain rises in us, all the more cruelly because there is no doubt that the enormity of the crime overlfows to the point of being an offence to the divine majesty, a shame for humanity, a pernicious example of evil and a universal scandal.”

On October 24th and 25th, Grand Master of the Order Jacques de Molay (who for the course of the Papal commissions of 1309-1310 was largely segregated from his fellows) and dozens of prominent high officials of the Order were paraded before an audience composed of academia from the University of Paris.  Downtrodden and mishappen, de Molay confessed in public to crimes and heretical practices of nascent witchcraft none would have believed him capable a fortnight earlier.  It is well known that de Molay, high ranking preceptors like Hugues de Pairaud, and simple-serving Neophytes of the Order confessed under torture and threat of torture.

Essentially the brief days from the mass arrest of Friday 13th October through de Molay’s confession of the 25th October, concluded the downfall of the Order.  On the morning of Saturday, March 14th the full accusations against the Templars were published to the common folk and greater public.  The 127 articles were slowly and dutifully read aloud first in Latin, then in more common French, the core of accused depravity of the Order of the Knights of the Temple.  The 127 articles are divided into nine categories:

•           That during the reception ceremony new brethren was required to deny Christ Jesus, God, the Virgin, and the Saints on command of those receiving them.

•           That the brethren committed various sacrilegious acts either on the cross or upon an image of Christ.

•           That the receptors practiced the Obscene Kiss on new neophytes, on the mouth, upon, the navel or buttocks.

•           That the priests of the Order did not consecrate the host, and the brethren did not believe in the sacraments.

•           That the brethren practiced idol worship, of a cat, or a head.

•           That the brethren encouraged and permitted the practice of  sodomy.

•           That the Grand Master, and other officials, absolved fellow Templars from their sins.

•           That the Templars held their reception ceremonies and chapter-meetings in secret at night.

•           That the Templars abused the duties of charity and hospitality, and used illegal means to acquire property and increase their coffers.

The compendium of charges against the Templars is a summary of exceptional acumen of the sharpest legal scholars of the royal court.  The charges in effect were a consortium of inventions, half-truths, near-truths, fantasies, and suggestive associations.  These accusations as a whole would never be disproven to the satisfaction of the court; such was the legal dilemma of the Templar defence counsels.  But the Templars did not desist and hundreds of brethren banded together in 1310 to defend their honour.

As the trial ran its course through a series of hearings and commissions, 1310 was a date in which King Phillip the Fair had ordered fifty-four recalcitrant Templars imminently burned at a public stake.  The fifty-four condemned were hastily marched through the outskirts of Paris on the road to Meaux, the present rue du faubourg Saint Antoine, and burned as the horses arrived at the stake. They suffered the indignation of not even being tied at the stake.

There were several more isolated burnings of Templars in the weeks that followed, some burned in the number of nine fellows, whilst solitary Templars were marched and burned before as their fellow Knights looked on. By Midsummer, Phillip the Fair had effectively broken and demoralized the Templar defence movement, as a total of sixty-eight Templar brethren were burned at the stake in May alone.  Final interrogations of the Order of the Temple lasted from December 1310 to 26th May 1311.  Pope Clement V called the Council of Vienne to convene in October 16, 1311 by issuing the bulls Faciens misericordiam and Regnans in coelis in August 1308.  The Council of Vienne was to withdraw Vatican support of the Templar Order.  Further papal seizures of Templar real estate were also proposed.

The Pope issued to the commission of Roman Catholic Cardinals for approval the bull to suppress the Templars in Vox in excelso (A voice from on high), 22nd March 1312.  Vox in excelso was approved by the Council on 3rd of April 1312 as the Pope pronounced a future crusade. The bulls, Ad providam of 2 May and Nuper in concilio of 16 May confiscated Templar real estate through England, France, and Iberia. The fate of the Templars themselves was decided by the bull Considerantes of 6 May.

On 12th May the Council closed, as the remaining real estate was disbursed to the Order of the Hospital of Saint John, and the Teutonic Order, several priories and chapters of former Templars were merged with monastic orders living on Templar property or simply disappeared into the rural hamlets and villages of Europe.  All save for the Masters of the Order; Hugues de Pairaud, Geoffroi de Gonneville, Geoffroi de Charney who had all been reserved for Papal judgment, including Grand Master Jacques de Molay.

The former masters of the Temple remained chained to dungeon walls in Paris until March 1314 until summoned to public execution.  There is lacking scholarly evidence that suggests de Molay and the Templar dignitaries we listed above left the dungeons in four years, three of which were harsh treatment that would make Abu Ghraib Prison and Guantanamo Bay Prison look like nurseries.

To be let into the open air must have been exhilarating for de Molay and the other dignitaries.  De Molay was about seventy; his fellow Knights were in the mid and late sixties.  De Molay and his fellows were led out in front of a crowd of Parisians nigh the hour of Vesper, on the Ile-des-Javiaux.  Hugues de Pairaud and Geoffroi de Gonneville were sent back to the dungeons in life imprisonment as unrepentant heretics.

Six chroniclers were alleged to have witnessed the execution of the Templar Masters.  Here then is the last prayers of Frater Jacques de Molay, including the infamous “curse” of Phillip IV and Clement V, reported by Geoffroi de Paris:

Le Mestre, qui vit le feu prest,

S’est despoillié sanz nul arrest.

Seingnors, au mains,

Lessiez moi jondre un po mes mains,

Et vers Dieu fere m’oroison,

Car or en est temps et season.

S’en vendra en brief temps meschié

Sus celz qui nous dampnent a tort:

Diex en vengera nostre mort.

Seignors, dist il, sachiez, sanz tere,

Que touz celz qui nous sont contrere

Por nous en aront a souffrir.

En ceste foy veil je mourir.

Vez ci ma foy; et je vous prie

Que devers la Vierge Marie,

Dont Nostre Seignor Crist fust nez,

Mon visage vous me tornez.

In 2002, Italian scholar Barbara Frale located a copy of the Chinon Parchment in the Vatican Secret Archives and published it in her book Il papato e il processo ai templari (2004).  Several books and much reference material on the Templar trials refer to the Chinon Parchment.  The document was published by Étienne Baluze in Vitae Paparum Avenionensis (Lives of the Popes of Avignon), Paris, 1693.  The Vatican keeps an authentic copy with reference number Archivum Arcis Armarium D 218, the original having the number D 217 (“The Parchment of Chinon – The absolution of Pope Clement V of the leading members of the Templar Order”. Vatican Secret Archives. Vatican Library. ( Retrieved 2010-02-05)

According to the parchment, Clement V charged Berengar, cardinal priest of SS. Nereus and Achileus, Stephanus, cardinal priest of St. Cyriac in Thermis, and Landolf, cardinal deacon of St. Angel, to perform an inquisition of the accused. The cardinals thus:

“…declare through this official statement directed to all who will read it… the very same lord Pope wishing and intending to know the pure, complete and uncompromised truth from the leaders of the said Order, namely Brother Jacques de Molay, Grandmaster of the Order of Knights Templar, Brother Raymbaud de Caron, Preceptor (of) the commandaries of Templar Knights in Outremer, Brother Hugo de Pérraud, Preceptor of France, Brother Geoffroy de Gonneville, Preceptor of Aquitania and Poitou, and Geoffroy de Charney, Preceptor of Normandy, ordered and commissioned us specifically and by his verbally expressed will in order that we might with diligence examine the truth by questioning the grandmaster and the aforementioned preceptors—one by one and individually, having summoned notaries public and trustworthy witnesses.”

– Robert de Condet, cleric of the diocese of Soissons, an apostolic notary prepared the Chinon parchment for Clement V.

The apostolic notaries public are listed as; Umberto Vercellani, Nicolo Nicolai de Benvenuto, Robert de Condet, and Master Amise d’Orléans le Ratif.  Witnesses of the proceedings are listed as:  Brother Raymond, abbot of the Benedictine monastery of St. Theofred, Annecy diocese, Master Berard (Bernard?) de Boiano, archdeacon of Troia, Raoul de Boset, confessor and canon from Paris, and Pierre de Soire, overseer of Saint-Gaugery in Cambresis.

The Chinon Parchment illustrates the failure of Pope Clement V to preserve the Templars from the political intrigues of Phillip the Fair, by pronouncing that the Templars were not heretical, should be absolved of guilt and allowed to reform under the aegis of the Church.  As the commissions progressed, and the fires were lit in 1310, it became apparent of Phillip the Fair’s determination to abolish the Order, thus Pope Clement V consigned them to their fates.  On October 13, 2007, the Vatican published the Chinon Parchment on the 700th anniversary of the arrest of the Templars.