Two interesting characters in history are Philip the Fair ( Philip IV ) of France
and Pope Clement V, the head of the Avignon Papacy.
They were friends from youth.
King Philip IV was at odds with Pope Boniface VIII. The latter had issued two Papal Bulls. The first was Unam sanctam that asserted religious authority over the rulers of Europe. The second; Clericis laicos, prevented the seizure of church funds and conscription of church armies to fight their secular wars.
When Boniface died in 1303 there was a stalemate between the French and Italian cardinals who were about equal in number. The unofficial story is Philip told the cardinals to elect Raymond Bertrand de Got, his childhood friend. De Got was not a cardinal so Pope Benedict XI was elected instead. Benedict died mysteriously the following year (1304). The cardinals reconvened and elected de Got who became Pope Clement V.
Clement then moved the Papacy to Avignon France and it became the location of the new Holy See. Clement explained away the parts of Clericis laicos that applied to Philip IV and withdrew Unam sanctam. Philip IV’s imperial plans were now unhindered by the Church.
- The fall of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, and return of the Church to its original ideals of humility and poverty;
- The fall of the feudal system;
- Human liberation from any restraint, and from entrenched power;
- Creation of a new egalitarian society based on mutual aid and respect, holding property in common and respecting gender equality.
These were labelled heresies by Clement V.
In 1307, on Friday October 13th, Clement V declared the Knights Templar an illegal sect and had as many of them arrested as possible. Their supposed crimes were Satan Worship and Sodomy. Their Grand Master, Jacques du Molay, was held for 4 years. It was declared he had confessed but he claimed he had not. He was also burned at the stake.
King Philip IV was in considerable debt to the Templar Order. He had financed his wars with loans from the Templar bank.
“Other motives appear to have included concern over perceived heresy, assertion of French control over a weakened Papacy, and finally, the substitution of royal officials for officers of the Temple in the financial management of French government. Recent studies emphasize the political and religious motivations of Philip the Fair and his ministers (especially Guillaume de Nogaret). It seems that, with the “discovery” and repression of the “Templars’ heresy”, the Capetian monarchy claimed for itself the mystic foundations of the papal theocracy. The Temple case was the last step of a process of appropriating these foundations, which had begun with the Franco-papal rift at the time of Boniface VIII. Being the ultimate defender of the Catholic faith, the Capetian king was invested with a Christ-like function that put him above the pope. What was at stake in the Templars’ trial, then, was the establishment of a ‘royal theocracy‘” (Wikipedia).
It seems that Philip the Fair and Pope Clement V had complete contempt for the rest of Europe’s rulers and the Church. The Knights Templar were one of two armies of the Catholic Church. Jacques du Molay was concerned with the appropriation of the Papal Throne to France and Clement’s relationship with Philip the Fair.
Both the French King and his buddy the Pope died in 1314. Philip the Fair died of a stroke while hunting. Clement V died on 20 April 1314.
“According to one account, while his body was lying in state, a thunderstorm arose during the night and lightning struck the church where his body lay, setting it on fire. The fire was so intense that by the time it was extinguished, the Pope’s body had been all but destroyed” (Wikipedia).