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This Day in History

World History

Thursday, October 13, 1307. :   King Philip IV of France arrests all the Knights Templars, spawning the superstition which surrounds Friday the 13th.

     The order of the Knights Templar was founded around 1118 to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land during the Second Crusade. The order was recognised at the Council of Troyes in 1128 and confirmed by Pope Honorius III. The order grew to become one of the most powerful in Europe. The Knights Templar started lending money to Spanish pilgrims who wanted to travel to the Holy Land, and they gained wealth as the Church showered blessings and money on the order; but with the wealth came power and corruption. Pope Clement V urged Philip IV of France to find some means to extinguish their presence and power.

Thus it was that on 13 October 1307, Philip IV ordered the arrest of the entire order of Knights Templar in France, and had their possessions confiscated. This act served as the origin of the superstition which regards Friday the 13th as an unlucky day. The knights were put on trial and were tortured to extract confessions of sacrilegious practices, including heresy and witchcraft. Many were burnt and tortured, and under duress, admitted to a variety of heresies. These admissions were later retracted as being forced admissions. The leader of the Templars, Jacques de Molay, was executed on 18 March 1314, by which time the Templars had been virtually hunted out of existence.

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