Pope Knights of Templar

Why Did The Pope Disband The Knights Templar?

The story of the Knights Templar, a medieval Christian military order, and their ultimate disbandment by the Pope remains one of history’s most intriguing episodes. It encompasses elements of faith, politics, and betrayal and still provokes debate among historians and researchers. If you are curious about the role of the Pope in Knights of Templar, keep reading this blog post. 

The Rise of the Knights Templar

The Templars were established around 1119 AD, during the aftermath of the First Crusade. They were initially charged with protecting Christian pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land, a region under constant threat from various Muslim factions. Over time, they evolved into a powerful military and financial institution with extensive landholdings across Europe and the Middle East. Their influence stretched from the battlefield to the royal courts and, importantly, the papal office in Rome.

The Pope in Knights of Templar

The Pope played a significant role in the Knights Templar’s early rise. In 1139, Pope Innocent II issued a Papal Bull, “Omne Datum Optimum,” recognizing the Templars as a special order answerable only to the Pope. This status granted them extraordinary privileges, including exemption from local laws and taxes and the authority to build their oratories. This close relationship between the Pope and the Knights Templar would persist for almost two centuries, with the order enjoying papal favor and protection.

The Turning Tide

However, the tide began to turn in the early 14th century. The Holy Land was lost, and the Templars, without a clear purpose, became an easy target for kings and nobles who owed them money. The most notable among these was King Philip IV of France, who was heavily indebted to the Templars. He saw an opportunity to erase his debts and consolidate power by dismantling the order.

Pope That Betrayed the Knights Templar

The Pope at the center of the Knights Templar’s downfall was Clement V, a man widely perceived as weak and heavily influenced by King Philip IV. In 1307, on Friday, October 13, a date now infamous for its association with bad luck, Philip launched a surprise arrest of Templars across France, including Grand Master Jacques de Molay. The charges were heresy, sodomy, and blasphemy, among others.

Initially, Pope Clement V was outraged by Philip’s actions. However, under immense pressure and fearing a schism in the Church, he issued the papal bull “Pastoralis Praeeminentiae” in November 1307, ordering the arrest of all Templars and the seizure of their assets. In 1312, after years of trials and torture that forced many Templars to confess to false charges, Pope Clement officially disbanded the order with the papal bull “Vox in excelso.”

A Reluctant Betrayal: Pope Clement V and the Disbandment of the Templars

Pope Clement V, a former Archbishop of Bordeaux, ascended to the papacy in 1305, largely due to the influence of King Philip IV of France. His reign coincided with growing tension between the French monarchy and the Knights Templar.

Although the order had enjoyed a close relationship with the papacy for nearly two centuries, things changed dramatically under Clement’s papacy. The Pope was caught in a political power struggle between the Templars and King Philip. The king, heavily indebted to the Templars and eager to consolidate his power, sought to dismantle the order.

In 1307, Philip launched a surprise attack on the Templars, arresting hundreds on trumped-up charges of heresy, among other crimes. While Clement initially expressed outrage at Philip’s actions, he eventually yielded to the king’s pressure. The Pope’s perceived weakness and inability to withstand secular influence culminated in issuing the papal bull “Pastoralis Praeeminentiae” in November 1307, ordering the arrest of Templars across Europe.

For the next five years, Clement would oversee the inquisition of the Templars, leading to many forced confessions under torture. Finally, in 1312, he issued the papal bull “Vox in excelso,” officially dissolving the order.

The disbandment of the Knights Templar under Pope Clement V was a complex act of reluctant betrayal. Despite the Templars’ unwavering loyalty to the Church, they fell victim to the tumultuous politics of the time, caught in the crossfire between a manipulative king and a pressured pope. This historic episode serves as a stark reminder of the intricate interplay between religious authority and secular power in the Middle Ages.

Did the Knights Templar Go Against the Pope?

Despite their tragic end, no historical evidence indicates that the Knights Templar ever went against the Pope. Their loyalty to the papal office remained unwavering, even when subjected to brutal persecution. Their downfall was less a result of their actions and more a consequence of political machinations and the Church’s inability to withstand secular pressure.

When Did Pope Benedict Absolve the Knights Templar?

Centuries later, the Church would reevaluate its stance on the Knights Templar. In 2007, a document known as the “Chinon Parchment” was discovered in the Vatican Secret Archives. Dated to 1308, it records Pope Clement V absolving the Templars of heresy charges, though it didn’t prevent their suppression.

Almost 700 years later, Pope Benedict XVI implicitly acknowledged the injustice done to the Templars. The Vatican published the Chinon Parchment in a book titled “Processus Contra Templarios” in October 2007. The publication of these documents can be viewed as a form of absolution for the Templars, although the Vatican has not officially reversed Clement V’s decision to disband the order.

The Knights Templar and Pope: A Relationship of Faith and Betrayal

In retrospect, the relationship between the Knights Templar and the Pope is marked by faith and betrayal. The Templars, created with papal blessing, grew to be one of the most powerful entities in Christendom under the Pope’s protection. Yet, they were ultimately disbanded by the same authority that once nurtured them.

The story of the Knights Templar and the Pope that betrayed them is not merely a historical event but a cautionary tale of unchecked power, greed, and political manipulation. It speaks to the corrupting influence of wealth and power and the fragility of institutions when subjected to external pressures.

Innocent or Guilty? Debunking the Charges Against the Templars

The charges leveled against the Knights Templar by King Philip IV were largely baseless and concocted to justify their persecution. Among the many accusations were heresy, blasphemy, idolatry, sodomy, and financial corruption. These charges were designed to tarnish the order’s reputation and undermine its standing with the Pope and the public.

To lend credibility to these accusations, the king relied on a campaign of misinformation and forced confessions extracted through torture. Many Templars, subjected to brutal interrogation techniques, confessed to crimes they did not commit in a desperate bid for mercy. These confessions were then used as ‘evidence’ of the order’s guilt, providing the pretext for their dissolution.

In the years that followed the disbandment of the Templars, numerous investigations and historical analyses have debunked most of the charges against them. For instance, the accusation of heresy, centered around the alleged worship of a pagan idol called Baphomet, has been widely discredited. Scholars now believe that the concept of Baphomet was a fabrication by the order’s enemies, intended to portray the Templars as religious deviants.

Similarly, charges of financial corruption were likely exaggerated by the king, who had a vested interest in seizing the order’s wealth to settle his debts. While the Templars were undeniably wealthy, little evidence suggests they engaged in any widespread financial malfeasance.

The accusation of sodomy, too, has been largely dismissed by historians as a smear tactic. Like other religious orders of the time, the Templars were required to take vows of chastity. Accusing them of sexual impropriety was a convenient way to damage their reputation and justify their persecution.

In light of these findings, it becomes clear that the charges against the Knights Templar were primarily driven by political motivations rather than any genuine evidence of wrongdoing. Their downfall resulted from a calculated campaign of deception and betrayal orchestrated by a desperate king and facilitated by a reluctant pope.

Legacy of the Knights Templar

Despite their disbandment, the legacy of the Knights Templar persists. They are often romanticized as warriors of faith and have become a subject of fascination in popular culture. They are also remembered as early pioneers of banking, as during their peak, they implemented a system of loans and credits that was a forerunner to modern banking.

As for their relationship with the Pope, the story serves as a reminder of the complex and often tumultuous relationship between religious and secular power. While the Knights Templar may have been absolved by Pope Benedict centuries later, the story of their downfall continues to provoke thought and discussion about the intersections of faith, power, and justice.


In conclusion, the disbandment of the Knights Templar by Pope Clement V was a multifaceted event influenced by political, economic, and religious factors. The Templars’ downfall was not because they went against the Pope but because they became victims of royal manipulation and papal capitulation. Their story reminds us of the complex power, faith, and betrayal dynamics in our shared human history.