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The times were medieval but there was something surprisingly modern about the way the scandal broke - via a low-life with a salacious story to sell to the highest bidder.
The man's name was Esquin and he came from south-west France, where, for some routine misdemeanour, he had been locked up in prison with a cellmate who kept him entertained with tales of profane goings-on among warrior monks from a secretive order known as the Knights Templar.
Christian - Holy - Land
Originally, they had been set up to protect Christian pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land.
The man had been a member of the order and told of indulging in blasphemy, devil-worship and initiation ceremonies that involved intimate kissing and much more besides.
Esquin - Templars - Opponents - Places - Information
Esquin knew the Templars had opponents in high places who would pay handsomely for such inside information. So, once he was freed, he first approached a contact in the entourage of the King of Aragon, in Spain, offering his story for 3,000 livres (pounds) cash and a further 1,000 every year once it was verified. He was sent packing.
Then he took his tittle-tattle to the court of the King of France, Philip IV. And there he struck gold.
Philip - Monarch - Royal - Coffers - Jews
Philip was a money-grabbing monarch who had already filled his royal coffers by shaking down the Jews in his kingdom for their silver and expelling them. Now he had set his avaricious sights on the vast wealth the Templars were known to possess.
He had ordered a secret dossier to be compiled on them and Esquin was exactly the sort of whistleblower his spies had been dying to find.
Allegations - Depravity - Witch-hunt - Years - Moles
With his allegations of depravity to work from, they launched a full-on witch-hunt and over the next two years unearthed more moles and compiled more damning and lurid gossip from disgruntled members of the order who had been expelled or...
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