The general council of Vienne was summoned by pope Clement V with the bull Regnans in caelis, which he had written on 12 August 1308 at Poitiers (the Roman pontiff had remained in France from the year of his election, thus beginning the period of the church’s history known as the Avignon captivity). The pope was subject to forceful pressure from the European states, particularly from France. Philip IV of France, the king who had opposed Boniface VIII so bitterly, had so much power over Clement V that he seems to have been able to change the whole state of ecclesiastical affairs at will. The council of Vienne is seen as an outstanding example of this political pressure, although the pope energetically defended the liberty of the church as far as circumstances allowed and he himself had the power. The council had been summoned for 1 October 1310 at Vienne. This city did not belong to the kingdom of France, though Philip IV in 1310 had occupied nearby Lyons by force. There were no general summonses and only 231 ecclesiastics were invited; the others however could employ a procurator .
The complaint against the Templars seems to have been the first and greatest concern of the council. Thus the bull convoking the council was written at the same time as Clement V summoned the Templar order to a canonical inquiry. Through the whole of Europe cases were heard concerning the order and individual Templars. This work had not been completed by 1310 and so the pope deferred the opening of the council to 1 October 1311. Events had moved, however, in such a way that the Templars’ condemnation and Philip’s victory seemed very probable. This placed the authority and freedom of the council under severe constraint.
The council began at Vienne on the 16 October 1311 in the presence of 20 cardinals, 4 patriarchs, about 100 archbishops and bishops, and a number of abbots and priors. From the sermon given in the first session by Clement V, three questions were seen as of greatest importance: the case of the Templars, the business of the holy Land, and the reform of the church. Clement-himself gave an account of the allegations which had been made against the Templar order. The work of the council was carried on outside the full assembly, that is to say, through a consistory of cardinals together with the pope, and through a committee which was elected by the council fathers from their own body and which seems to have acted in place of the whole council, the full assembly merely confirmed the decrees and bulls, promulgating them in the second and third sessions. A commission of cardinals was appointed in order to probe the grievances and advice put forward by the bishops and other fathers on the subject of church reform.
The council fathers gave long and careful consideration to the case of the Templars. It is likely that they preferred the order to be allowed to defend itself against the accusations than to condemn it too easily and without sure proof. However, “all the difficult questions which were considered in the council seemed to be left doubtful or unsettled, or else to be treated”. So when the case was still unresolved in January 1312, the fathers devoted themselves to the business of the holy Land and to decrees which seemed timely for the reform of ecclesiastical morals. Regarding the former, the delegates of the king of Aragon thought the city of Granada should first be attacked and occupied in order that the enemy might be enfeebled by a threat to each flank. Other fathers and ambassadors favoured an expedition to the east only. As far as we know, however, after an agreement by kings and princes that a crusade to the holy Land was opportune and necessary, and the imposition of a tithe on all ecclesiastical provinces, no decision was taken.
Meanwhile in March 1312 Philip IV held a general assembly of his kingdom in Lyons, his object being to disturb and steamroller the minds of the council fathers and of the pope himself. Secret bargains had been made between Clement V and the envoys of Philip IV from 17 to 29 February 1312; the council fathers were not consulted. By this bargaining Philip obtained the condemnation of the Templars. It is most likely he used the threat that he would bring a public action against Boniface VIII. The king of France made for Vienne on 20 March, and after two days Clement V delivered to the commission of cardinals for approval the bull by which the order of Templars was suppressed (the bull Vox in excelso). In the second session of the council, which took place on 3 April 1312, this bull was approved and the pope announced a future crusade. The Templars’ property, of immense value, was entrusted to other persons by the bulls Ad providam of 2 May and Nuper in concilio of 16 May. The fate of the Templars themselves was decided by the bull Considerantes of 6 May. In the bulls Licet dudum (18 Dec. 1312), Dudum in generali concilio (31 Dec. 1312) and Licet pridem (13 Jan. 1313) Clement V gave further treatment to the question of the Templars’ property.
In the third session of the council, which was held on 6 May 1312, certain constitutions were promulgated. We do not know their text or number.
. Clement, bishop, servant of the servants of God, for an everlasting record. A voice was heard from on high, of lamentation and bitter weeping, for the time is coming, indeed has come, when the Lord shall complain through his prophet: This house has aroused my anger and wrath, so that I will remove it from my sight because of the evil of its sons, for they have provoked me to anger turning their backs to me, not their faces, and setting up their idols in the house in which my name is invoked, to defile it. They have built the high places of Baal in order to consecrate their sons to idols and demons. They have sinned deeply as in the days of Gibeah. When I learnt of such deeds of horror, at the dread of such notorious scandal — for who ever heard of such infamy? who ever saw the like? — I fell down at hearing it, I was dismayed at seeing it, my heart grew embittered and darkness overwhelmed me. Hark, a voice of the people from the city! a voice from the temple! the voice of the Lord rendering recompense to his enemies. The prophet is compelled to exclaim: Give them, Lord, a barren womb and dry breasts. Their worthlessness has been revealed because of their malice. Throw them out of your house, and let their roots dry up; let them not bear fruit, and let not this house be any more a stumbling block of bitterness or a thorn to hurt.
Not slight is the fornication of this house, immolating its sons, giving them up and consecrating them to demons and not to God, to gods whom they did not know. Therefore this house will be desolate and in disgrace, cursed and uninhabited, thrown into confusion and levelled to the dust, lowly, forsaken, inaccessible, spurned by the anger of the Lord, whom it has despised; let it not be lived in but reduced to a wilderness. Let everyone be astonished at it and hiss at all its wounds. For the Lord did not choose the people on account of the place, but the place on account of the people. Therefore the very place of the temple was made to share in the punishment of the people, as the Lord proclaimed openly to Solomon when he built the temple for him, to Solomon who was filled with wisdom like a river: But if your sons turn aside from me, not following and honouring me but going instead after strange gods and worshipping them, then I will cut them off from before me and expel them from the land which I have given to them; and the temple which I have consecrated to my name I will cast out of my sight, and it will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. Everyone passing by it will be astonished and shall hiss, and shall say, “Why has the Lord done thus to this temple and to this house?” And they will say : “Because they forsook the Lord their God who bought and redeemed them, and followed instead Baal and other gods, worshipping and serving them. Therefore the Lord has brought all this evil upon them'”.
Indeed a little while ago, about the time of our election as supreme pontiff before we came to Lyons for our coronation, and afterwards, both there and elsewhere, we received secret intimations against the master, preceptors and other brothers of the order of Knights Templar of Jerusalem and also against the order itself. These men had been posted in lands overseas for the defence of the patrimony of our lord Jesus Christ, and as special warriors of the catholic faith and outstanding defenders of the holy Land seemed to carry the chief burden of the said holy Land. For this reason the holy Roman church honoured these brothers and the order with her special support, armed them with the sign of the cross against Christ’s enemies, paid them the highest tributes of her respect, and strengthened them with various exemptions and privileges; and they experienced in many and various ways her help and that of all faithful Christians with repeated gifts of property. Therefore it was against the lord Jesus Christ himself that they fell into the sin of impious apostasy, the abominable vice of idolatry, the deadly crime of the Sodomites, and various heresies. Yet it was not to be expected nor seemed credible that men so devout, who were outstanding often to the shedding of their blood for Christ and were seen repeatedly to expose their persons to the danger of death, who even more frequently gave great signs of their devotion both in divine worship and in fasting and other observances, should be so unmindful of their salvation as to commit such crimes. The order, moreover, had a good and holy beginning; it won the approval of the apostolic see. The rule, which is holy, reasonable and just, had the deserved sanction of this see. For all these reasons we were unwilling to lend our ears to insinuation and accusation against the Templars; we had been taught by our Lord’s example and the words of canonical scripture.
Then came the intervention of our dear son in Christ, Philip, the illustrious king of France. The same crimes had been reported to him. He was not moved by greed. He had no intention of claiming or appropriating for himself anything from the Templars’ property; rather, in his own kingdom he abandoned such claim and thereafter released entirely his hold on their goods. He was on fire with zeal for the orthodox faith, following in the well marked footsteps of his ancestors. He obtained as much information as he lawfully could. Then, in order to give us greater light on the subject, he sent us much valuable information through his envoys and letters. The scandal against the Templars themselves and their order in reference to the crimes already mentioned increased. There was even one of the knights, a man of noble blood and of no small reputation in the order, who testified secretly under oath in our presence, that at his reception the knight who received him suggested that he deny Christ, which he did, in the presence of certain other knights of the Temple, he furthermore spat on the cross held out to him by this knight who received him. He also said that he had seen the grand master, who is still alive, receive a certain knight in a chapter of the order held overseas. The reception took place in the same way, namely with the denial of Christ and the spitting on the cross, with quite two hundred brothers of the order being present. The witness also affirmed that he heard it said that this was the customary manner of receiving new members: at the suggestion of the person receiving the profession or his delegate, the person making profession denied Jesus Christ, and in abuse of Christ crucified spat upon the cross held out to him, and the two committed other unlawful acts contrary to christian morality, as the witness himself then confessed in our presence.
We were duty-bound by our office to pay heed to the din of such grave and repeated accusations. When at last there came a general hue and cry with the clamorous denunciations of the said king and of the dukes, counts, barons, other nobles, clergy and people of the kingdom of France, reaching us both directly and through agents and officials, we heard a doleful tale: that the master, preceptors and other brothers of the order as well as the order itself had been involved in these and other crimes. This seemed to be proved by many confessions, attestations and depositions of the master, of the visitor of France, and of many preceptors and brothers of the order, in the presence of many prelates and the inquisitor of heresy. These depositions were made in the kingdom of France with our authorisation, edited as public documents and shown to us and our brothers. Besides, the rumour and clamour had grown to such insistence that the hostility against both the order itself and the individual members of it could not be ignored without grave scandal nor be tolerated without imminent danger to the faith. Since we though unworthy, represent Christ on earth, we considered that we ought, following in his footsteps, to hold an inquiry. We called to our presence many of the preceptors, priests, knights and other brothers of the order who were of no small reputation. They took an oath, they were adjured urgently by the Father, Son and holy Spirit; we demanded, in virtue of holy obedience, invoking the divine judgment with the menace of an eternal malediction, that they tell the pure and simple truth. We pointed out that they were now in a safe and suitable place where they had nothing to fear in spite of the confessions they had made before others. We wished those confessions to be without prejudice to them. In this way we made our interrogation and examined as many as seventy-two, many of our brothers being present and following the proceedings attentively. We had the confessions taken down by notary and recorded as authentic documents in our presence and that of our brothers. After some days we had these confessions read in consistory in the presence of the knights concerned. Each was read a version in his own language; they stood by their confessions, expressly and spontaneously approving them as they had been read out.
After this, intending to make a personal inquiry with the grand master, the visitor of France and the principal preceptors of the order, we commanded that the grand master, the visitor of France and the chief preceptors of Outremer, Normandy, Aquitaine and Poitou be presented to us while we were at Poitiers. Some of them, however, were ill at the time and could not ride a horse nor conveniently be brought to our presence. We wished to know the truth of the whole matter and whether their confessions and depositions, which were said to have been made in the presence of the inquisitor of heresy in the kingdom of France and witnessed by certain public notaries and many other good men, and which were produced in public and shown to us and our brothers by the inquisitor, were true. We empowered and commanded our beloved sons Berengar, cardinal, then with the title of Nereus and Achilleus, now bishop of Frascati, and Stephen, cardinal priest with the title of saint Cyriacus at the Baths, and Landulf, cardinal deacon with the title of saint Angelo, in whose prudence, experience and loyalty we have the fullest confidence, to make a careful investigation with the grand master, visitor and preceptors, concerning the truth of the accusations against them and individual persons of the order and against the order itself. If there was evidence, it was to be brought to us; the confessions and depositions were to be taken down in writing by a public notary and presented to us. The cardinals were to grant absolution from the sentence of excommunication, according to the form of the church, to the master, visitor and preceptors — a sentence incurred if the accusations were true — provided the accused humbly and devoutly requested absolution, as they ought to do.
The cardinals went to see the grand master, the visitor and the preceptors personally and explained the reason for their visit. Since these men and other Templars resident in the kingdom of France had been handed over to us because they would freely and without fear of anyone reveal the truth sincerely to the cardinals, the cardinals by our apostolic authority enjoined on them this duty of telling the truth. The master, the visitor and the preceptors of Normandy, Outremer, Aquitaine and Poitou, in the presence of the three cardinals, four notaries and many other men of good repute, took an oath on the holy gospels that they would tell the truth, plainly and fully. They deposed one by one, in the cardinals’ presence, freely and spontaneously, without any compulsion or fear. They confessed among other things that they had denied Christ and spat upon the cross at their reception into the order of the Temple. Some of them added that they themselves had received many brothers using the same rite, namely with the denial of Christ and the spitting on the cross. There were even some who confessed certain other horrible crimes and immoral deeds, we say nothing more of these at present. The knights confessed also that the content of their confessions and depositions made a little while ago before the inquisitor was true. These confessions and depositions of the grand master, visitor and preceptors were edited as a public document by four notaries, the master and the others being present and also certain men of good repute. After some days, the confessions were read to the accused on the orders and in the presence of the cardinals; each knight received an account in his own language. They persisted in their confessions and approved them, expressly and spontaneously, as they had been read out to them. After these confessions and depositions, they asked from the cardinals absolution from the excommunication incurred by the above crimes; humbly and devoutly, on bended knee, with hands joined, they made their petition with many tears. Since the church never shuts her heart to the sinner who returns, the cardinals granted absolution by our authority in the customary form of the church to the master, visitor and preceptors on abjuration of their heresy. On their return to our presence, the cardinals presented to us the confessions and depositions of the master, visitor and preceptors in the form of a public document, as has been said. They also gave us a report on their dealings with these knights.
From these confessions, depositions and report we find that the master, the visitor and the preceptors of Outremer, Normandy, Aquitaine and Poitou have often committed grave offences, although some have erred less frequently than others. We considered that such dreadful crimes could not and should not go unpunished without insult to almighty God and to every Catholic. We decided on the advice of our brothers to hold an enquiry into the above crimes and transgressions. This would be carried out through the local ordinaries and other wise, trustworthy men delegated by us in the case of individual members of the order; and through certain prudent persons of our considered choice in the case of the order as a whole. After this, investigations were made both by the ordinaries and by our delegates into the allegations against individual members, and by the inquisitors appointed by us into those against the order itself, in every part of the world where the brothers of the order have usually lived. Once made and sent to us for examination, these investigations were very carefully read and examined, some by us and our brothers, cardinals of the holy Roman church others by many very learned, prudent, trustworthy and God-fearing men, zealous for and well-trained in the catholic faith, some being prelates and others not. This took place at Malaucene in the diocese of Vaison.
Later we came to Vienne where there were assembled already very many patriarchs, archbishops, selected bishops, exempt and non-exempt abbots, other prelates of churches, and procurators of absent prelates and of chapters, all present for the council we had summoned. In the first session we explained to them our reasons for calling the council. After this, because it was difficult indeed almost impossible, for the cardinals and all the prelates and procurators gathered for the council to meet in our presence in order to discuss how to proceed in the matter of the Templars, we gave orders as follows. Certain patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, exempt and non-exempt abbots, other prelates of churches, and procurators from all parts of Christendom, of every language nation and region, were concordantly chosen out of all the prelates and procurators at the council. The choice was made from those believed to be among the more skilful, discreet and apt for consultation on such an important affair and for discussing it with us and the above-mentioned cardinals. After this we had the attestations received during the inquiry read publicly in the presence of the prelates and procurators. This reading went on during several days, for as long as they wished to listen, in the place assigned for the council, namely the cathedral church. Afterwards the said attestations and the summaries made from them were considered and examined, not in a perfunctory manner but with great care, by many of our venerable brethren, by the patriarch of Aquileia, by archbishops and bishops of the present sacred council who were specially chosen and delegated for the purpose, and by those whom the whole council had chosen very carefully and earnestly.
We convoked therefore the said cardinals, patriarchs, archbishops and bishops, the exempt and non-exempt abbots, and the other prelates and procurators elected by the council to consider this affair, and we asked them, in the course of a secret consultation in our presence, how we should proceed, taking special account of the fact that certain Templars were presenting themselves in defence of their order. The greater part of the cardinals and nearly the whole council, that is those who were elected by the whole council and were representing the whole council on this question, in short the great majority, indeed four-fifths among every nation taking part, were firmly convinced, and the said prelates and procurators advised accordingly, that the order should be given an opportunity to defend itself and that it could not be condemned, on the basis of the proof provided thus far, for the heresies that had been the subject of the inquiry, without offence to God and injustice. Certain others on the contrary said that the brothers should not be allowed to make a defence of their order and that we should not give permission for such a defence, for if a defence were allowed or given there would be danger to a settlement of the affair and no small prejudice to the interests of the holy Land. There would be dispute, delay and putting off a decision, many different reasons were mentioned. Indeed although legal process against the order up to now does not permit its canonical condemnation as heretical by definitive sentence, the good name of the order has been largely taken away by the heresies attributed to it. Moreover, an almost indefinite number of individual members, among whom are the grand master the visitor of France and the chief preceptors, have been convicted of such heresies, errors and crimes through their spontaneous confessions. These confessions render the order very suspect, and the infamy and suspicion render it detestable to the holy church of God, to her prelates, to kings and other rulers, and to Catholics in general. It is also believed in all probability that from now on there will be found no good person who wishes to enter the order, and so it will be made useless to the church of God and the carrying on of the undertaking to the holy Land, for which service the knights had been destined. Furthermore, the putting off of a settlement or arrangement of this affair of the Templars, for which we had set ourselves a final decision or sentence to be promulgated in the present council, would lead in all probability to the total loss, destruction and dilapidation of the Templars’ property. This has for long been given, bequeathed and granted by the faithful for the aid of the holy Land and to oppose the enemies of the christian faith.
There were therefore two opinions: some said that sentence should immediately be pronounced, condemning the order for the alleged crimes, and others objected that from the proceedings taken up to now the sentence of condemnation against the order could not justly be passed. After long and mature deliberation, having in mind God alone and the good of the holy Land without turning aside to right or to left, we elected to proceed by way of provision and ordinance, in this way scandal will be removed, perils avoided and property saved for the help of the holy Land. We have taken into account the disgrace, suspicion, vociferous reports and other attacks mentioned above against the order, also the secret reception into the order, and the divergence of many of the brothers from the general behaviour, way of life and morals of other Christians. We have noted here especially that when new members are received, they are made to swear not to reveal the manner of their reception to anyone and not to leave the order; this creates an unfavourable presumption. We observe in addition that the above have given rise to grave scandal against the order, scandal impossible to allay as long as the order continues to exist. We note also the danger to faith and to souls, the many horrible misdeeds of so many brothers of the order, and many other just reasons and causes, moving us to the following decision.
The majority of the cardinals and of those elected by the council, a proportion of more than four-fifths, have thought it better, more expedient and advantageous for God’s honour and for the preservation of the christian faith, also for the aid of the holy Land and many other valid reasons, to suppress the order by way of ordinance and provision of the apostolic see, assigning the property to the use for which it was intended. Provision is also to be made for the members of the order who are still alive. This way has been found preferable to that of safeguarding the right of defence with the consequent postponement of judgment on the order. We observe also that in other cases the Roman church has suppressed other important orders for reasons of far less gravity than those mentioned above, with no fault on the part of the brethren. Therefore, with a sad heart, not by definitive sentence, but by apostolic provision or ordinance, we suppress, with the approval of the sacred council, the order of Templars, and its rule, habit and name, by an inviolable and perpetual decree, and we entirely forbid that anyone from now on enter the order, or receive or wear its habit, or presume to behave as a Templar. If anyone acts otherwise, he incurs automatic excommunication.
Furthermore, we reserve the persons and property for our disposition and that of the apostolic see. We intend with divine grace, before the end of the present sacred council, to make this disposition to the honour of God the exaltation of the christian faith and the welfare of the holy Land. We strictly forbid anyone, of whatever state or condition, to interfere in any way in this matter of the persons and property of the Templars. We forbid any action concerning them which would prejudice our arrangements and dispositions, or any innovation or tampering. We decree that from now on any attempt of this kind is null and void, whether it be made knowingly or in ignorance. Through this decree, however, we do not wish to derogate from any processes made or to be made concerning individual Templars by diocesan bishops and provincial councils, in conformity with what we have ordained at other times. Let nobody therefore … If anyone …
Given at Vienne on 22 March in the seventh year of our pontificate.
. For an everlasting record. It belongs to Christ’s vicar, exercising his vigilant care from the apostolic watch-tower, to judge the changing conditions of the times, to examine the causes of the affairs which crop up and to observe the characters of the people concerned. In this way he can give due consideration to each affair and act opportunely; he can tear out the thistles of vice from the field of the Lord so that virtue may increase; and he can remove the thorns of false dealing so as to plant rather than to destroy. He transfers slips dedicated to God into the places left empty by the eradication of the harmful thistles. By thus transferring and uniting in a provident and profitable way, he brings a joy greater than the harm he has caused to the people uprooted; true justice has compassion for sorrow. By enduring the harm and replacing it profitably, he increases the growth of the virtues and rebuilds what has been destroyed with something better.
A little while ago we suppressed definitively and perpetually the order of the Knights Templar of Jerusalem because of the abominable, even unspeakable, deeds of its master, brothers and other persons of the order in all parts of the world. These men were spattered with indecent errors and crimes, with depravity- they were blemished and stained. We are silent here as to detail because the memory is so sad and unclean. With the approval of the sacred council we abolished the constitution of the order, its habit and name, not without bitterness of heart. We did this not by definitive sentence, since this would be unlawful according to the inquiries and processes carried out, but by apostolic provision or ordinance. We issued a strict prohibition that nobody might henceforth enter the order or wear its habit or presume to behave as a Templar. Anyone doing otherwise incurred automatic excommunication. We commanded, by our apostolic authority, that all the property of the order be left to the judgment and disposition of the apostolic see. We strictly forbade anyone, of whatever state or condition, to interfere in any way regarding the persons or property of the order or to act in prejudice of the direction or disposition of the apostolic see in this matter, or to alter or even to tamper; we decreed all attempts of this kind to be henceforth null and void, whether made knowingly or in ignorance.
Afterwards we took care lest the said property, which over a long period had been given, bequeathed, granted and acquired from the worshipers of Christ for the help of the holy Land and to assail the enemies of the christian faith, should be left without management and perish as belonging to nobody or be used in ways other than those intended by the pious devotion of the faithful. There was the further danger that tardiness in our arrangements and dispositions might lead to destruction or dilapidation. We therefore held difficult, lengthy and varied consultations and discussions with our brothers, the cardinals of the holy Roman church, with patriarchs, archbishops, bishops and prelates, with certain outstanding and distinguished persons, and with the procurators at the council of the chapters, convents, churches and monasteries, and of the remaining absent prelates, in order that, through this painstaking deliberation, a wholesome and beneficial disposal of the said property might be made to the honour of God, the increase of the faith, the exaltation of the church, the help of the holy Land, and the salvation and peace of the faithful. After especially long carefully thought out, deliberate and complete consultations, for many just reasons, we and the said fathers and patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, other prelates, and the outstanding and distinguished persons, then present at the council, finally came to a conclusion. The property should become forever that of the order of the Hospital of saint John of Jerusalem, of the Hospital itself and of our beloved sons the master and brothers of the Hospital, in the name of the Hospital and order of these same men, who as athletes of the Lord expose themselves to the danger of death for the defence of the faith, bearing heavy and perilous losses in lands overseas.
We have observed with the fullness of sincere charity that this order of the Hospital and the Hospital itself is one of the bodies in which religious observance flourishes. Factual evidence tells us that divine worship is fervent, works of piety and mercy are practiced with great earnestness, the brothers of the Hospital despise the attractions of the world and are devoted servants of the most High. As fearless warriors of Christ they are ardent in their efforts to recover the holy Land, despising all human perils. We bear in mind also that the more plentifully they are supplied with means, the more will the energy of the master and brothers of the order and Hospital grow, their ardour increase and their bravery be strengthened to repel the insults offered to our Redeemer and to crush the enemies of the faith. They will be able to carry more lightly and easily the burdens demanded in the execution of such an enterprise. They will therefore, not unworthily, be made more watchful and apply themselves with greater zeal.
In order that we may grant them increased support, we bestow on them, with the approval of the sacred council, the house itself of the Knights Templar and the other houses, churches, chapels, oratories, cities, castles, towns, lands, granges, places, possessions, jurisdictions, revenues, rights, all the other property, whether immovable, movable or self-moving, and all the members together with their rights and belongings, both beyond and on this side of the sea, in each and every part of the world, at the time when the master himself and some brothers of the order were arrested as a body in the kingdom of France, namely in October 1308. The gift is to include everything which the Templars had, held or possessed of themselves or through others, or which belonged to the said house and order of Knights Templar, or to the master and brothers of the order as also the titles, actions and rights which at the time of their arrest belonged in any way to the house, order or persons of the order of Knights Templar, or could belong to them, against whomsoever of whatever dignity, state or condition, with all the privileges, indults, immunities and liberties with which the said master and brothers of the house and order of Knights Templar, and the house and order itself, had been legitimately endowed by the apostolic see or by catholic emperors, kings and princes, or by other members of the faithful, or in any other way. All this we present, grant, unite, incorporate, apply and annex in perpetuity, by the fullness of our apostolic power, to the said order of the Hospital of saint John of Jerusalem and to the Hospital itself.
We except the property of the said former order of Knights Templar in the kingdoms and lands of our beloved sons in Christ, the illustrious kings of Castile, Aragon, Portugal and Majorca, outside the kingdom of France. We reserve this property, from the said gift, grant, union, application, incorporation and annexation, to the disposal and regulation of the apostolic see. We wish the prohibition made a little while ago by other proceedings of ours to remain in full force. Nobody of any state or condition may intervene in any way as regards these persons and property in prejudice to the regulation or disposition of the apostolic see. We wish that our decree concerning these persons and property in the kingdoms and lands of the above kings should remain in full force until the apostolic see makes another arrangement.
Occupiers and unlawful detainers of the property, irrespective of state, condition, eminence or dignity, even if this is pontifical, imperial or royal, unless they abandon the property within a month after it is called for by the master and brothers of the Hospital, or by any of them, or by their procurators [. . .]. The property must be fully and freely restored to the order of Hospitallers and to the said Hospital, or to the master, priors, preceptors or brothers of the said Hospital, in any regions or provinces, or to any of them individually, or to their procurator or procurators, in the name of the said order of Hospitallers, even if the priors, preceptors and brothers and their procurators or any one of them have no special mandate from the master of the Hospital, provided that the procurators hold or show a special commission from the priors and preceptors or from any one of them, in the provinces or regions in which these priors and preceptors have been delegated. The priors, preceptors and brothers are obliged to give a full reckoning to the master concerning everything: conduct, actions, receipts and negotiations. The procurators are to render a similar account to the priors and preceptors, and to each one of them, by whom they were delegated. All who have knowingly given counsel, aid or favour to the occupiers and detainers mentioned above concerning such occupation or detention, publicly or secretly, lie under excommunication. Chapters, colleges or governing bodies of churches and monasteries, and the corporations of cities, castles, towns and other places, as well as the cities, castles, towns and other places themselves which were at fault in this, and the cities, castles and places in which the detainers and occupiers hold temporal lordship, if such temporal lords place obstacles to the giving up of the property and its restoration to the master and brothers of the Hospital, in the name of the Hospital, not desisting from such conduct within a month after the property is called for, are automatically laid under interdict. They cannot be absolved from this until they offer full satisfaction. Moreover the occupiers and detainers
and those who have given them counsel, aid or favour, whether individuals or the chapters, colleges or governing bodies of churches or monasteries, as also the corporations of cities, castles, lands or other places, incur, in addition to the above-mentioned penalties, automatic deprivation of everything they hold as fiefs from the Roman or other churches. These fiefs are to revert freely without opposition to the churches concerned, and the prelates or rulers of those churches may dispose of the fiefs at will, as they judge will be to the advantage of the churches. Let nobody therefore . . . If anyone . . .
Given at Vienne on 2 May in the seventh year of our pontificate.
We therefore commission you by our apostolic letters, that acting together or in pairs or singly, directly or through one or more others, you induct the master or priors or preceptors or brothers of the Hospital, or any individual member, or their procurator or procurators, in the name of the Hospital, into possession of the house of the Knights Templar and of their other houses, churches, chapels, oratories, cities, castles, towns, lands, granges, places, possessions, jurisdictions, revenues and rights to all their other movable, immovable and self-moving property, with all their members, rights and belongings, both on the near and far side of the sea and in every part of the world, which the order, master and brothers of the Knights Templar had, held or possessed, directly or through others, at the time of their arrest. The Hospitallers are to be inducted by our authority and defended afterwards; occupiers, detainers, administrators and conservators are to be removed. You are to ask a full account from those who have been delegated by apostolic authority and any other, including those sub-delegated, to care for the aforesaid property. The account is to comprise all the fruits, revenues, incomes, rights and accretions. The occupiers or detainers, administrators, conservators and others, unless within the prescribed time they abandon the property and revenues, and restore them freely and fully to the order of the Hospital and to the same Hospital, or to the master, prior, preceptors or brothers of the Hospital, in the regions and provinces in which the property has been, including to each of them individually, or to their procurator or procurators, in the name of the Hospital, as said above, as well as those who give help, counsel or favour to the occupiers, detainers, administrators or conservators, are to be excommunicated by you, if they are individuals; but if they are chapters, colleges, convents or corporations, as well as the cities, castles, towns and places themselves at fault in this, and those in which the detainers and occupiers have temporal dominion and are obstructive when asked to abandon the property and restore it to the master and brothers of the Hospital, in the name of the Hospital, and refuse to desist from such conduct within a month, you are to lay them under interdict. The offenders are also to be deprived of all property which they hold in fief from the Roman or any other church. You will give notice everywhere where you think it useful and have it announced by others that the excommunicated persons are to be strictly avoided until they have made suitable satisfaction and merited absolution. No exception is to be made on account of any indult from the apostolic see to the effect that they cannot be laid under interdict, suspended or excommunicated by apostolic letters which do not make an express, full and word for word declaration. You are also to suppress any other objectors, if there be such, by ecclesiastical censure, disregarding appeals. It is our will also and we decree by our apostolic authority, that with the present instruction you all and singly are given power and jurisdiction in every detail of this matter. You may from now proceed freely as if this same jurisdiction were perpetuated by citation or by any other lawful way. The jurisdiction shall be considered perpetuated as though the case were no longer undecided. Each of you may continue the part which has been left unfinished by one of your colleagues, in spite of his opposition and unhampered, notwithstanding the constitution of pope Boniface VIII, our predecessor of happy memory, as often and whenever this is suitable. Given as above.
. Clement, bishop, servant of the servants of God, for assurance in the present and for future record. The inquiries and various processes commissioned not long ago by the apostolic see through all parts of Christendom against the former order of Knights Templar and its individual members, concerning accusation of heresies, brought them into grave disrepute. In particular there was the accusation that the brothers of the former order at, and sometimes after, their reception denied Christ and spat in his dishonour on a cross held out to them, and sometimes trampled it underfoot. The master of the order, the visitor of France, the chief preceptors and many brothers of the order confessed at their trial to these heresies. The confessions cast grave suspicion on the order. In addition, the widespread disgrace, the strong suspicion, and the clamorous charges of the prelates, dukes, communes, barons and counts of the kingdom of France also gave grave scandal which could hardly be allayed without suppression of the order. There were many other just reasons mentioned in the legal process which influenced us. We therefore, with the approval of the sacred council, our heart filled with great bitterness and sorrow, suppressed and abolished the said former order of the Temple and its constitution, habit and name and we forbade its restoration. We did this, not by definitive sentence since we could not legally do this according to the inquiries and processes mentioned above, but by apostolic provision and ordinance. We reserved the persons and property of the order to the decision and disposal of the apostolic see. In doing so, however, we had no intention of derogating from the processes made or to be made concerning individual persons or brothers of the said former order by diocesan bishops and provincial councils, as we have ordained elsewhere.
Now therefore we wish to provide more suitably for individual persons or brothers. We reserved lately for our own disposition the master of the former order, the visitor of France and the chief preceptors of the holy Land, Normandy, Aquitaine, Poitou and the province of Provence, as well as brother Oliver de Penne, a knight of the said former order, whom henceforth we reserve to the disposition of the apostolic see. We have decided that all the other brothers should be left to the judgment and disposition of provincial councils, as we have indeed done until now. We wish judgment to be given by these councils in accordance with the different cases of individuals. Thus those who have been legally acquitted, or will be acquitted in the future, shall be supplied with the goods of the former order whereby they can live as becomes their state. With those who have confessed concerning the above errors, we wish the provincial councils prudently to temper justice with mercy: the situation of these men and the extent of their confessions are to be duly weighed. With regard to those who are impenitent and have relapsed, if any — which God forbid — be found among them, justice and canonical censure are to be observed. As for those who even when questioned have denied their involvement in the above errors, the councils are to observe justice and equity according to the canons. With the approval of the sacred council, we hereby cite those who have not yet been questioned and who are not held by the power or authority of the church but are perhaps fugitives, to appear in person before their diocesans within a year from today. This we assign them as a precise and final limit. They are to undergo an examination by their diocesans, receiving a just judgment from the said councils according to their deserts. Great mercy however is to be shown and observed both to these last and to those previously mentioned, except the relapsed and impenitent. They should also be provided from the property of the order with the necessities of life; all the brothers of the former order, whenever they return to the obedience of the church and as long as they persist in that obedience, shall be maintained as becomes the circumstances of their state. All of them shall be placed in houses of the former order or in monasteries of other religious, at the expense however of the former order itself according to the judgment of the said provincial councils; but many of them shall not be placed together at the same time in one house or monastery.
We order also and strictly command all those with whom and by whom the brothers of the former order are detained, to surrender them freely whenever required to do so by the metropolitans and the ordinaries of the brothers. If within the year those cited do not appear before the diocesans, as stated above, they incur automatically sentence of excommunication; and because in a case especially concerning the faith, contumacy adds strong presumption to suspicion, the contumacious who stubbornly remain excommunicate for a year are henceforth to be condemned as heretics. This citation of ours is made of set purpose and we wish the brothers to be obliged by it as if they had received a special citation personally, for as vagabonds they can in no way be found or at least not easily. In order, then, to prevent all subterfuge, we publish our edict in the present sacred council. And in order to bring this citation more assuredly to the knowledge of the brothers themselves and to the general knowledge of all, we shall have papers or parchments containing the citation and sealed with our bull hung or fastened to the doors of the principal church of Vienne. This will secure a loud and widespread publication of this citation, so that the brothers whom the citation concerns can claim no excuse that the citation has not reached them or that they were ignorant of it, since it is improbable that what is so openly made public to all can remain unknown or hidden to them. Furthermore, in order to observe greater precaution, we order the local diocesans to make public this edict of our citation, as soon as conveniently possible, in their cathedrals and in the churches at the most conspicuous places in their dioceses.
Given at Vienne on 6 May 1312 in the seventh year.
. To all the administrators and guardians of the property of the former house and order of the Knights Templar, delegated by apostolic and any other authority. Recently we held, as the Lord so disposed, a general council at Vienne. There we gave long and careful consideration to the disposal of the former house and order of the Knights Templar. We thought it more acceptable to the most High, more honourable to those who worship in the true faith, and more useful for the aid of the holy Land, to grant this property to the order of the Hospital of saint John of Jerusalem, rather than to give it or even attach it to a new order to be created. There were some, however, who asserted that it would be better to confer the property on an order to be newly created than to attach it to the order of the Hospital, and so we were unable to obtain the result we hoped for. At last, however, by God’s favour, on 2 May of this present month, with the approval of the sacred council, we judged that the property should be granted and attached and even united to the said Hospital or order. We made an exception, for certain reasons, of the Templars’ property in the kingdoms and lands of our beloved sons in Christ, the illustrious kings . . . of Castile, . . . of Aragon, . . . of Portugal, and . . . of Majorca’, outside the kingdom of France. We reserved this property for our disposition and that of the apostolic see, until some other arrangement be made by us and the apostolic see for its use to aid the holy Land.
We therefore strictly command all of you, by apostolic ordinance, to restore in full, in the name of the said Hospital and order, this property with the revenue gathered from it, after all expenses have been paid, to the master and brothers of the Hospital, or to restore individual items to the said Hospital’s individual priors or preceptors of the provinces or cities or dioceses or places in which the property lies, or to the procurator or procurators of one or more of them, according to the terms of your commission, within a month of being so required. For this the master, brothers, priors and preceptors, or their procurator or procurators, shall fittingly commend you, and we shall rightly acknowledge your prompt and devoted obedience.
Given at Livron in the diocese of Valence on 16 May in the seventh year.
.Our redeemer, the only-begotten Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, loved so much the daughter of Zion, the holy Land, that he chose her as his inheritance and his own patrimony. He therefore, clothed with our flesh, honoured her with his presence and consecrated her by the shedding of his precious blood. But we mourn and bitterly lament that so noble an inheritance of our redeemer has been turned over to strangers and laid low by the frenzy of the Babylonian persecutor, trampled underfoot by the feet of the defiled. She is dishonoured by the vile grasp of the unclean Saracens, faithless enemies of the christian name. She has been occupied and wretchedly retained, the christian people have been savagely slaughtered. To the insult of the creator, to the outrage and sorrow of all Christendom, the name of Christ is horribly blasphemed by the filthy and detestable conduct of the enemy. This sad region therefore weeps under the lash and repeatedly laments to the vicar of Christ about this intolerable persecution. Wounded by her disgrace, she pleads with christian princes and the catholic people. She uncovers her wounds to those from whom she awaits the work of the healer. She demands liberation from those for whose salvation the author of salvation bore within her borders the suffering of the cross. All this and more besides, which the mind cannot fully conceive nor the tongue tell, rose to our heart and roused our mind as soon as we were called by divine favour, though unworthy, to the summit of apostolic dignity. We gazed tenderly at the doleful state of the holy Land and we applied ourselves to think out remedies by which, with the aid of heaven, that Land, freed from the enemy’s criminal hands, might see, after the darkness of so many tribulations, the bright times of longed-for peace
For this and other holy works acceptable to God, to be advanced by his almighty power, we convoked a general council in the city of Vienne. Then, together with our brothers the cardinals of the holy Roman church, the patriarchs, archbishops, bishops and other prelates and our beloved sons in Christ the illustrious kings Philip of the Franks and Louis of Navarre, who were present at the council, as also some other eminent men and the procurators of the remaining absent prelates and of chapters, convents, churches and monasteries, assembled at the council, we held a long, complete and careful discussion on bringing aid to the holy Land. At last we resolved, with the council’s approval, to succour the holy Land by a general crusade. Intending to use our apostolic power zealously to this end, and having duly weighed all we have said, we judged, with the approval of the sacred council, that a tithe should be imposed by our apostolic authority on all ecclesiastical revenues and incomes throughout the world. Only the persons and places belonging to the Hospital of saint John of Jerusalem and the other military orders were to be exempted. The tithe was to be collected and paid for six years to be reckoned from 1 January last, in fixed installments, as we should find best, and to be directed to helping the holy Land and opposing the infidels and the enemies of the catholic faith.
But actually we reflected of late that our letters concerning the imposition, collection and payment of the tithe had not reached you by I January, nor could easily do so in a short time, on account of the great distance of those parts from the Roman curia. Wishing, then, to consult your ease and convenience, we have decreed that the six years are to begin in your region on I October next. We therefore ask, admonish and earnestly exhort you, also commanding you strictly by apostolic ordinance in virtue of obedience, to pay without difficulty the tithe for six years beginning from I October. The tithe is to be paid in the customary way, namely for the first half of the first year on 1 October next, and for the second half on I April immediately following, and in the same way for each of the remaining five years. Each of you is to pay it in full from your ecclesiastical revenues and incomes. If you fail to pay the tithe within the above periods, each of you automatically incurs sentences similar to those pronounced for nonpayment by you or by the suitable and trustworthy persons delegated by you to collect the tithe in your cities and dioceses.
Furthermore, you are to collect the tithe from our beloved sons, the abbots, priors, deans, archdeacons, provosts, archpriests and other prelates of churches, the chapters, colleges and convents of the Cistercians, Cluniacs, Premonstratensians, of saint Benedict and saint Augustine, of the Carthusians, Grandmontines and other orders, and other non-exempt secular and regular ecclesiastical persons, in your cities and dioceses, that is, each of you in each city and diocese. The priors, preceptors, masters and other persons and the places of the Hospital of saint John of Jerusalem and of the other military orders are to be the only exceptions made. The tithe is to be collected by
you or by other suitable and trustworthy persons delegated by you for this service in each of your cities and dioceses. It is altogether our wish and command that you should delegate such persons. We entrust to them and command them by this document to claim and collect it in full by our authority, in each of the cities and dioceses where they are delegated, from our beloved sons the abbots, priors, deans, provosts, archdeacons, archpriests and other prelates of churches, and the exempt chapters, colleges and convents of the above-mentioned orders, in your cities and dioceses. Only the priors, preceptors, masters, persons and places of the Hospital of saint John of Jerusalem and of the said other military orders are to be excepted.
The tithe is to be claimed and collected in full from the ecclesiastical revenues and incomes, by our authority, in the customary way according to the years and periods mentioned above. The delegates are to collect it from both the exempt and the non-exempt: each is to hand over and assign it for each period to the person among you by whom he was delegated, without delay or as soon as he conveniently can. You are to compel them by ecclesiastical censure, without any appeal, to give you an account of the money claimed and collected from the aforesaid non-exempt persons, as well as to hand over and assign the tithe claimed and collected from both the exempt and the non-exempt. Public instruments are to be drawn up and other due precautions taken concerning the handing over and assigning of the tithe. In this way, when needed, it can be established how much, from whom, when and for what period the delegates received the money and how much, when and for what period they handed over and assigned it to each of you.
The money which has been duly claimed and collected by you and your delegates from the exempt and non-exempt persons and has been handed over to you, including that which has been claimed and collected by your delegates from the said exempt persons, as mentioned above, and also the money which you will pay from your own revenues and incomes, is to be put away by each of you, together with your cathedral chapter, beneath the church or even elsewhere, as you think best, in some more becoming and safe place. Here, at your expense and that of the chapter, you will have it guarded carefully and faithfully, to be consigned by each of you to our delegates as and when shall seem good to us, for the business of the holy Land and the service of the faith.
In order that you may more easily and effectively collect this tithe, we grant by this document full and unrestricted power to each of you to constrain by ecclesiastical censure directly or through your delegates, disregarding any appeal, the abbots, priors, deans, provosts and other aforesaid non-exempt persons, in your cities and dioceses. We grant the same power to your delegates, in each city or diocese for which they have been delegated, with regard to the abbots, priors, deans, provosts and other aforesaid exempt persons. This power may also be used to constrain any opponents and rebels. In addition, we grant full and unrestricted power to you to absolve in your cities and dioceses, after satisfaction has been made, the aforesaid non-exempt persons, and to your delegates regarding the aforesaid exempt persons who, because of non-payment of the tithe in due time, are bound by sentences of excommunication, suspension or interdict; also to dispense from irregularity contracted by celebrating divine worship or taking part in it while bound by one or more of the above sentences. In order that you and your delegates may have a reward for the labours undertaken, we enjoin on you the above things in remission of your sins.
The tithe is to be paid even if the apostolic see has granted an indult to you or some of you, or to the abbots, priors and other aforesaid exempt or non-exempt persons, or to anyone else, that you are not obliged and compelled to pay, or that you cannot be laid under interdict, suspension or excommunication by apostolic letters which have not made full and express mention of this indult and its tenor word for word, or of the names of your orders, localities and persons. The same applies to any privileges, indulgences, exemptions and apostolic letters which have been granted generally or specially in any form of words by the said apostolic see to any dignities, orders, places or persons, and of which and their whole tenor there should be made in our letters word for word, special, full and express mention. Consider, besides, that in these duties you are engaged in God’s business, and that you are acting in the sight of him who sees all. You will therefore be obliged to render an account to him and to us; we intend to use all diligence in this matter. You will receive due reward from both him and us. You should therefore act prudently and carefully, not only to avoid the danger of punishment and confusion, but also to gain the glory of praise and well-deserved reward.
It is our wish also that each of you oblige the persons delegated by you for collecting the tithe, to swear that they will be diligent and careful in their work and to use this formula: “I swear . . . by you, lord . . ., who am delegated by the authority of the apostolic see and by the same see itself to claim, collect and receive a tithe of all ecclesiastical revenues and incomes from all exempt and non-exempt ecclesiastical persons in your city and diocese, that I will faithfully claim, collect, receive and guard this tithe which has been imposed by the apostolic see for the business of the holy Land and of the catholic faith. Only the priors, preceptors masters and other persons and places of the Hospital of saint John of Jerusalem and of the other military orders are excepted. I shall not give way in this to any person, of whatever dignity, status or condition, whether from entreaty, fear, gratitude, favour or any other cause. I shall restore and consign the full tithe to you at your order. I shall render a final and integral account concerning everything in detail, namely to you regarding what I have claimed, collected and received from non-exempt persons, and to the delegate or delegates of the holy see regarding exempt persons. If you lay down your office in this matter, I shall do the same according to the orders of your successor. So may God help me and these holy gospels of God.”
Given at Avignon on 1 December in the eighth year.
. For future record. Not long ago, in the general council at Vienne, we transferred, with the approval of the sacred council, the property, rights, privileges, indults, immunities and liberties of the former order of the Temple to the order of the Hospital of saint John of Jerusalem. For the sake of greater peace and concord between prelates of churches and other clergy on the one hand, and the brothers of the order of the Hospital on the other, as also for other justifiable reasons, we suspended, in the last
session of the council, all the privileges granted to the Hospital by the apostolic see, and with them as a necessary consequence the privileges of the former Temple, which should be thought of as belonging to the said Hospital and transferred to it. We excepted the privilege of exemption, if they had any. We wished these privileges to be suspended at our good pleasure. There are some, however, who assert on insufficient grounds that the suspension of these privileges of the Hospital does not extend to the privileges of the former order of the Temple. Although there is not the faintest reason for such an assertion, we wish to remove from their minds the slightest doubt that it was our intention, by the said suspension of the privi