Mayor of Wetherby, Coun Cindy Bentley is a keen Francophile and also chairs the Wetherby Twinning Association.
Seeing an earlier article I wrote on the Knights Templar in this column and their influence in Wetherby, she wrote with additional information.
She said: “The story of the Knights Templar is one which has always fascinated me. Towards the end of the 13th century, these soldier-monks were pretty much redundant as the Holy Land had been conquered by Moslem forces – they became bankers/money-lenders in Europe instead of defending Jerusalem.
“Their order was a rich one and Philip IV of France was both short of cash and jealous of the Templars who didn’t pay taxes and were only answerable to the Pope.
“In 1307, he had them all arrested, imprisoned and tortured. Some of them confessed under torture to fictitious, but at the time considered to be heinous crimes such as spitting on the Cross – this led to the suppression of the order by the Pope in 1312.
“Philip managed to get his hands on a substantial part of the Templar treasure.
“After seven years in prison, the Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, and his associate Geoffroy de Charnais were condemned to death by burning after a farcical trial.
“Legend has it that just before succumbing to the flames, Jaques de Molay cursed the King, the Pope and the King’s Chancellor, Guillaume de Nogaret and said they would receive their just punishment before God within a year.
“He also cursed their descendants to the 13th generation.
“All three men were dead within a year and the Capet dynasty died out because none of Philip’s sons produced a male heir.
“If you visit Paris, go to the Ile de la Cite, on the west side of which is the Square du Vert-Galant (the nickname for Henri IV).
“Near the steps down to the Seine, you will find a plaque which marks the spot where Jacques de Molay and Geoffroy de Charnais were burnt to death on March 18, 1314.”