Order in Chaos
In this, the third volume of the Knights Templar Trilogy, Jack Whyte turns his attention to what happened in the aftermath of the mass arrests of the French Templars on Friday, the 13th of October, AD 1317. Philip the Fair, the ambitious and far-thinking King of France was impoverished and powerless to pursue his vast ambitions, bankrupt four times over in terms of what he owed to the Order of the Temple. Philip could not tolerate that situation, convinced as he was that God Himself had chosen him to be King of France. His family, the House of Capet, had descended directly from Charlemagne, and his own grandfather, King Louis IX, had been canonized as Saint Louis. Philip found it exasperating beyond belief that he should be held to account and have his destiny questioned and impeded by an upstart community of monks who controlled the economy of most of the kings and countries of Christendom. He saw the Order clearly for what it was: the wealthiest, most powerful and land-rich organization in the Christian world, and he lusted for everything it controlled.
He ordered his Chief Lawyer, an amoral, conscienceless renegade called William de Nogaret, already rumoured to have engineered the abduction and death of a recalcitrant Pope who had refused to yield to Philip’s wishes, to dig into the mysteries of the Temple monks and devise ways and means whereby he, the King, could bring about the Institution’s downfall and seize its assets. De Nogaret set about his task with the ruthless efficiency and dedication of a zealot, and within a matter of years had constructed a case the the Inquisition brought against the Order. The entire membership of the Order throughout France was arrested on the morning of the same day in 1307—Friday the 13th of October—and the Knights of the Temple effectively ceased to exist from that day forward.
Contrary to general belief, though, not all the French Templars were taken into custody that day, and most of those who escaped and survived belonged to units of the Order’s naval forces anchored in the port of La Rochelle on the morning of the arrests. The story of how they escaped, and what befell them afterwards, is related in “Order In Chaos.”