Between hazy theories and historical truths, why do the Templars continue to fascinate us?

They brought together 50,000 spectators in 2014. Fallen by the wayside, despite this record attendance, under the previous municipality and during the Covid years, the historical reconstructions of “Biot and the Templars” are back, nine years later. Throughout this weekend, this town in the Alpes-Maritimes bordering Antibes, better known for its glassblowers than for its past as a commandery, will multiply the entertainment: equestrian shows, raptor shows, clashes of knights, crafts, concerts and medieval music, torchlight parade, etc. “And the expectation was very great, blows the municipal councilor Christine Pélissier-Tabusso. Because this part of history and its legends always make the public dream. »

Seven centuries after its dissolution, the order of the Templars continues to be an object of fascination. But then how to explain it? Beyond their supposed treasure and their aura of “secret society”, “it is undoubtedly the dramatic end of the Templars which arouses this interest, as was the case for Joan of Arc and the Cathars”, theorizes the author Arnaud Baudin, doctor in medieval history.

“An unjust cause to avenge”

Accused by King Philippe IV le Bel of having gone astray, and among other things of heresy and deviant sexual behavior, the military and religious group founded in 1129 was officially suppressed on March 22, 1312 by Pope Clement V. Its members and knights, responsible for protecting pilgrims in the context of the Holy War and the Crusades, were imprisoned for life or sentenced to death at the end of “one of the greatest historico-political trials”, recalls the lecturer Philippe Josserand.

“It was only played on charge, also explains the specialist, co-author with Arnaud Baudin of the book to be published The origins of the temple. The crimes of heresy mentioned were not based on anything at all. All of this created an aura of fascination, an unjust cause to avenge. “What is also certainly fascinating is this somewhat conspiratorial aspect of royal power against minorities”, also advances his colleague.

Prophetic declaration and curse

Jacques de Molay, the last master of the order, burned alive in March 1314 on the Île de la Cité, is the best known of these defendants. Notably for his words spoken (or supposedly spoken) at the stake. According to the literature of the time, he breathed: “God knows who is wrong, who has sinned. Doom will soon befall those who have wrongly condemned us. A prophetic statement. The Holy Father disappears a month later. The king succumbed in September of that same year. What excite certain beliefs.

Still until today. “Especially since many of us have read The Cursed Kings, continues Arnaud Baudin, where Maurice Duron takes up the idea of ​​a supposed curse”, invented by the Italian historian Paolo Emilio. “You will all be cursed until the thirteenth generation”, the victim would have declared.

The Templars, these “pop icons”

An occult force among so many often hazy theories that ended up propelling the members of the order, of which Freemasonry would be the heir, to the rank of “pop icons”, even affirms the Italian author and historian Simonetta Cerrini. Present in the cinema, in comics and video games (Assassin’s Creed in particular), they have become “a cultural fact”, she explains. “They also sharpened a political interest, in certain extremist circles such as with the terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, in Norway, and a criminal interest, explains the specialist. In Mexico, a drug cartel active between 2010 and 2017 called itself the Knights Templar. »

“They have aroused many fantasies which have obscured their reality, continues the author of the book The Last Judgment of the Templars (Flammarion). In fact, the order of the Templars was very innovative in the context of the time, in terms of the spirituality and practices of the society. »

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