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The Knights Templar Burned in the Presence of Philip the Fair and His Courtiers
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Boucicaut Master
French, Paris, about 1415
Tempera colors, gold leaf, and gold paint on parchment
16 9/16 x 11 5/8 in.
MS. 63, FOL. 307

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The French king Philip the Fair and his courtiers watch as executioners burn members of the Knights Templar at the stake. When Philip and other enemies accused them of various crimes including heresy and sodomy, governments--first in France and then all over the world--seized their lands. In 1312 the Pope totally suppressed the chivalric order, which had been founded during the Crusades as a military religious order devoted to the protection of pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. After a series of confessions and retractions, the grand master of the order, whose story accompanies this miniature, was burned in 1314 as a heretic. A hundred years after the event, the illuminator portrayed the knights sympathetically, with their eyes turned toward heaven; one executioner even covers his eyes, unable to bear the sight of their suffering.