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Torture and Confessions

A fter the arrests, Philip had virtually all Templars in France under his thumb. Philip was very much under pressure to extract as many confessions from the prisoners as possible, because the arrests had been done on such flimsy grounds. He had to be able to demonstrate that the Order had indeed been a genuine threat to the Catholic faith and that he had acted in the best interest of the Holy Church. The Pope Clement V was not at all happy because of the arrests, since he had been discussing such action with Philip only at a very superficial level, with no details at all.

P hilip wrote to his neighboring rulers to try and persuade them to follow suit agains the Order. He wrote as the head of the French government, as if it was France that was pressing the charges, not the Church. To the fellow monarchs, this only added to the confusion. Lack of overt Papal endorsement on the matter cast serious doubts as to the legitimacy of the affair, and kings were on their guard. The King also set Guillaume de Paris to write to the Inquisition officials in Toulouse and Carcassonne on September 22, 1307. He was to enlist the Inquisition in the process of hearing the Templars and to see if they were to prove successful with their advanced methods.

S o we have the Order subjected to intense questioning, loss of sleep, deprivation of food other than bread and water, and arduous physical humiliation. Ato de Salvigny, Preceptor of the Templar house of La Chapelle in the Cahors region, sustained for four weeks in irons before confessing to the alleged crimes. The Inquisition did not need to put out fully, since most of the Templars were but simple workers, whose minds were enough terrorized merely by the fact that they were in the hands of the King and not in the daily tasks of the Order. Still, there were several methods of torture used:

S urely it is easy to see why the methods proved extraordinarily successful. Out of the 138 Templars questioned in Paris, a full 134 admitted to the charges either in full or in part, and about the same rate applies throughout France. Obviously such results did not flood in from outside France, where the Inquisition had no jurisdiction. Most Templars portrayed themselve as hapless victims of a cruel and inhuman Order, which suited Philip just fine, as it was against the Order he fought, not against individuals. The confessors said they had committed the crimes ore et non corde, in the mouth only and not in the heart, in vain attempts to save themselves. Very few risked themselves by attempting to defend the Order.

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