The Knights Templar were an unusual order in that they were not merely knights but monks as well. Founded by Hugh de Paynes in 1118 as a charitable order, the Knights took up residence in the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, and dedicated themselves to protecting pilgrims who ventured to the Holy land during the Crusades. They became wealthy, which made them envied, and branched out into the money lending business, which made them powerful, so much so that Pope Innocent II granted them immunity from excommunication. But with power comes politics. When they started to build their own castles in Europe and cart around their treasure in a private fleet of ships, to and from secret ports, they became more than envied by the kings of Europe. They became feared. Especially by King Philip “The Fair” of France.
On Friday the 13th 1307, 123 members of the Knights of the Temple of Solomon, including Grand master Jacque de Molay, were arrested and subjected to torture until they confessed to a number of crimes. These included: blasphemy, black magic, homosexuality, heresy, spitting on the crucifix and idolatry. Specifically, worshipping a severed head.
Some theories suggest that the head was ornamental, either brass or wood, either with two faces or just one, maybe female, maybe male, possibly with four legs. Other stories suggest that the head was none other than that of John the Baptist and, if the stars were right, would speak in an oracular voice, predicting events cosmic and miniscule. Still others suggested that it was not a head at all, that this particular story was merely Inquisitor’s mythologizing, that in fact the Templars had worshipped a small black doll that was an idol of a devil named Baphomet.*
In 1314 Jacque de Molay renounced his confession, declaring that the various charges were erroneous and extracted under duress of torture, especially the charges of Black Magic. For his honesty, he was burned at the stake and the Order of the Knights Templar were disbanded. As the flames licked his boots, Jacque de Molay cursed the Pope and the King of France, inviting them to join him in death within the year. Pope Clement V died one month later and King Philip IV, seven months after that.
Most historians regard the allegations of Satanism and idolatry as trumped up charges by a jealous royalty in order to seize the wealth of the Templars. Very few have anything to say on the happenstance of the predicted deaths of the Pope and king of France, other than vague allusions and nervous jokes.
* Baphomet may actually be a name for Sophia, used in the Atbash Cipher. Sophia, in Gnosticism, is the Godess of Wisdom, often seen as the female counterpart to either God or the companion of Christ.