The original Templars were founded in the 12th Century to guard pilgrims on their way along the dangerous roads that led to Jerusalem. Its members were effectively armed monk-like knights who were granted certain legal privileges and whose status was backed by the church. They were reputed to be the possessors of great wealth and power.
King Philip IV
In 1306, King Philip IV expelled all Jews from France, seizing their property and confiscating the monies owed to them. Philip’s devotion to St. Louis was witnessed that same year by elaborate ceremonies in his honor, and Louis’s anti-Semitic proclivities might have inspired Philip to act against the Jews, whose usefulness as a source of regular revenue had in any case been exhausted by his earlier repeated impositions.
|Clement on throne|
In 1311, Council of Vienne was convened to pass judgment. Most of its 300 members thought the charges unproved but Philip himself testified to the order's guilt. Then, the Bull Vox in excelsis, dated March 22, 1312, written by Clement, was read. In this Bull, "the pope said that though he had no sufficient reasons for a formal condemnation of the order, nevertheless, because of the common weal, the hatred borne them by the King of France, the scandalous nature of their trial, and the probable dilapidation of the order's property in every Christian land, he suppressed it by virtue of his sovereign power, and not by any definitive sentence." Many of the knights were executed, and the order's wealth was confiscated. Although the order's assets were meant to devolve to the Hospitallers, they were appropriated by Philip. The guilt or innocence of the Templars is one of the more difficult historical problems, partly because of the atmosphere of hysteria that had built up in the preceding generation and the habitually intemperate language and extravagant denunciations exchanged between temporal rulers and churchmen, and partly because the subject has been embraced by conspiracy theorists and pseudo-historians.
Clement V died in April 1314. According to one story, while his body was lying in state, a thunderstorm developed during the night and lightning struck the church where his body lay, igniting the building. The fire was so intense that, when it was extinguished, the body of Pope Clement V was almost completely destroyed. He is buried at La Chaise-Dieu in Auvergne.