The Story Behind The Knights Templar Grand Master's Curse

At one point in time, the most powerful group in the world were the Knights Templar. The Knights Templar had the favor of the ruling Catholic pope and were instrumental in the Crusades. Their influence eventually caused the order to fall out of favor and be dismantled.

But the Knights Templar may have had the last laugh, says History. Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master, reportedly placed a curse on the two people responsible for the order's downfall, King Philip IV of France and Pope Clement V. As he burned on the stake, Molay called on Christ to prove the Templars' innocence, and demanding that its enemies feel God's wrath. About a month later, Pope Clement V died and King Philip IV fell ill, dying seven months later. The Capetian dynasty of King Philip IV saw sons become monarchs but die early.

So how did the Templars fall so far that their last Grand Master invoked a curse? It all had to do with the Templars gaining too much power, combined with losses during the Crusades. It also had everything to do with people borrowing money with no intention of ever paying them back.

The Templars first gained prominence in 1129, according to Ancient Origins, and over the centuries amassed and managed a great deal of wealth. Royalty turned to them to help fund campaigns.

False charges

One king who borrowed money was King Philip IV. The monarch, however, had no plans to repay the order, so he took another route. History writes that plans were made for the Templars to merge with the Knights Hospitaller, a rival group that cared for the sick and wounded. Philip commanded the Knights Hospitaller.

But de Molay objected to this plan. Angry, Philip went to Pope Clement V for support and took advantage of rumors of impropriety among the order. France and the papacy created trumped-up charges of heresy — worshipping Satan, homosexuality (which was illegal back then), and subversion. Philip and Clement's men tortured members of the order, including de Molay, whom they forced to sign a confession. The remaining Knights Templar endured seven years of torture. De Molay retracted his confession and was put to trial, but his fate was sealed.

On March 18, 1314, de Molay and other Templars were led to the Isle de Cite in Paris, reports Atlas Obscura. There, they were tied to stakes and set afire. As the flames licked his body, de Molay cursed his enemies and their descendants. Yes, Clement V did die soon after, and so did Philip IV. But the Templars did not disappear into history. They're featured in books movies, even video games. Yeah, de Molay totally had the last laugh.