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JACQUES DE MOLAY (d. 1314)

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Originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 652 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JACQUES DE MOLAY (d. 1314), last grand master of the Knights Templars, was born of a noble but impoverished family, at a village of the same name in the old province of Franche-Comte (mod. department of Haute-Saone), about the middle of the 13th century. The family property being the inheritance of an elder brother, Jacques was thrown upon his own resources. Having been brought up in the neighbourhood of a commandery of the Temple, he entered the order in 1265 at Beaune in the diocese of Autun. It is probable that he at once set out for the East to take part in the defence of the Holy Land against the Saracens. About 1295 he was elected grand master of the order. After the Templars had been driven out of Palestine by the Saracens, De Molay took refuge with the remnant of his followers in the island of Cyprus. Here, while attempting to get together a force to retrieve the disasters to the Christian arms, he received a summons (in 1306) from Pope Clement V. to repair to Paris. The pope's pretext for the summons was his desire to put an end to the quarrels between the Templars and the Knights of St John, and to concert plans for a new crusade; in reality he had entered into a secret agreement with the king of France for the suppression of the Templars. Molay left Cyprus with a retinue of 6o followers, and made a triumphal entry into Paris. On the 13th of October 1307 every Templar in France was arrested, and a prolonged examination of the members of the order was held. De Molay, probably under torture, confessed that some of the charges brought against the order were true. He was kept in prison for several years, and in 1314 he was brought up with three other dignitaries of the Temple before a commission of cardinals and others to hear the sentence (imprisonment for life) pronounced. Then, to the surprise of the commission, De Molay withdrew his confession. Immediately the king heard of it he gave orders that De Molay and another of the four, who had also recanted, should be burnt as lapsed heretics. The sentence was carried out on the 1th (or 19th) of March 1314. De Molay's ashes were gathered up by the people, and it is said that with his last breath he summoned the king and the pope to appear with him before the throne of God. For the charges brought against the Templars and the famous process in connexion with them, see TEMPLARS; J. Michelet, Proces des Templiers (1841–1851) and Lavocat, Proces des freres et de l'ordre du Temple d'apres des pieces inedites publiees par M. Michelet (1888); E. Besson, Etude sur Jacques de Molay ' in Memoires de la soc. d'emulation du Doubs (Besancon, 1876) ; H. H. Milman; Hist. of Latin Christianity, bk. xii., ohs. 1 and 2 ; H. Prutz, Entwickelung and Untergang des Tempelherrenordens (Berlin, 1888).
End of Article: JACQUES DE MOLAY (d. 1314)
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