A Portrait of King Philip IV
In the 30th degree of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (Knight Kadosh or Knight of the Black and White Eagle), we learn of the relationship of Jacques De Molay, the last Grand Master of the Knight Templars, of King Philip IV of France, and of Pope Clement V. In the work, we also see three skulls. The first is adorned with laurels, and represents that of Jacques De Molay. The second is adorned with a regal crown, representing Philip IV of France. The third skull is that of Pope Clement V. These three skulls play an important role in this degree, and shows the significance of these three subjects. Of the three, King Philip IV of France has been labeled a mystery in his own right, as different accounts exist of exactly what kind of man he was, and the role he played in Europe's history.
After the six Crusades failed to free the Holy Land, King Louis IX again prepared his army in 1248 to recapture the Holy Land. He landed with his army in Egypt, capturing the city of Damietta. The next step, attacking Cairo, was a complete disaster. The Egyptians opened the flood gates, trapping his army. Captured, Louis IX had to pay a large sum of money as ransom for his release (167,000 Pounds) and returned to France in 1254. Louis IX did not have a lot of money at the time, and the ransom was paid, reluctantly, by the Knight Templars, after being repeatedly asked to do so by Louis IX. The Knight Templars at the time had formed, and successfully operated, a sophisticated network across Europe. This network enabled the Knight Templars to also move large amounts of funds, without having to actually move the cash, much like a letter of credit as we know it today. Taking a margin on such transactions, the Knights Templars could be regarded as a type of bank as we know it today, and were therefore known, or at least thought to be, very rich - hence Louis IX turned to the Knights Templar for financial assistance.
After returning to France, Louis IX made peace with Henry III of England in 1259, so he could save funds in preparation of his army for another Crusade. The Pope allowed Louis IX to tax the Church for the first time, and with this money, Louis IX was able to launch the seventh Crusade. He sailed with his army for the Holy Land, but fell ill during the journey, and died in 1271 in Tunis. Money problems become worse: The son of Louis IX was Philip III, who also tried to launch another Crusade, called the Aragonese Crusade. It was a disaster. Philip III died, and the Crusade cost France 1,229,000 Pounds. In those days the Crown collected taxes of 656,000 Pounds per year throughout France, and spent 652,000 Pounds annually to sustain the country, hence the total expenditure for this crusade was equal to spending the entire country's funds on nothing else but the Crusade for two years!
The son of Philip III was Philip IV “The Fair” 1268-1314, became King at the young age of 17. He calculated that the debt his father had made would take over 300 years to repay. At the same time, the war with England had to be paid as well. Something had to be done, and as a first step, he ordered Jews to be specially taxed between 1292-1303. In 1306 he ordered the seizure of all Jewish properties. He was also the first to implement a devaluation of the currency, by recalling all coins, melting them down, and re-issuing them with less precious metal content in them.
He also taxed the Church again in 1296, but Pope Boniface VIII issued a Bull in 1302 forbidding the clergy to pay. In retaliation, Philip IV ordered that no more gold be exported, causing the Vatican to lose all income from France. Pope Boniface VIII issued another Bull, known as the “Unam Sanctam” ascertaining the superiority of the papacy over all secular rulers. When Philip IV received the decree, he burned it in front of all assembled.
In retaliation to the papal Bull, Philip IV tries Pope Boniface VIII in abstention on a variety of charges, saying that Boniface VIII was “unfit to sit on the throne of Peter”. Pope Boniface VIII ex-communicates Philip IV as a result. Pope Boniface VIII dies a few weeks later, under mysterious circumstances, after being kidnapped by men that Philip IV had arranged for. Pope Boniface VIII was succeeded by Pope Benedict XI. It is said that Philip IV, feeling that this new Pope was not going to be any friendlier to France, arranged for Pope Benedict XI to be poisoned. Meanwhile, Philip IV arranges for his own Papal candidate, Bernard de Goth (1264-1314), Archbishop of Bordeaux to be named Pope Clement V, but orders him to stay in France (in Avignon). This period is known as the “Babylonian captivity of the papacy”. History shows that Bernard de Goth (the latter Pope Clement V) and Philip IV actually did not get along with each other. In fact, Bernard de Goth sided many times with the then reigning Pope against Philip IV before he was made Pope himself. However, being offered the papacy was what he wanted more than anything else, and simply made a deal. With this new ally in the papacy, Philip IV was able to levy the tax on the Church in France once again. To consolidate his own new power, Pope Clement V appointed 24 new cardinals, 23 of them being French.
The stage is now set: With the mounting debt and excessive taxing, Philip IV was getting in deeper trouble. Riots were breaking out, and the monarchy itself was in jeopardy. Two main riot leaders, Noffo Dei and Squin Flexian are caught, and claim that they are ex-Knight Templars, probably thinking that by claiming such a connection, the authorities would not put them on trial. They are brought before Philip IV, and confess that the Knight Templars are heretic, unlawful, and unfaithful to the Pope amongst other charges. Armed with this excuse, and with his “own” Pope on the Throne of Peter, Philip IV decides to attack the 15,000 Knight Templars in France on Friday October 13, 1307. (It is said that the Western notion that Friday the 13th is unlucky, comes from the events of this day) Many Knight Templars were arrested, and horribly tortured. The Knight Templar’s Grand Master, Jacques De Molay confesses, after lengthy torturing, that the Order does not see Jesus as a God, but denies any other wrong-doing. Pope Clement V asks his Bishops to confirm the Order’s guilt, but the Bishops refuse, citing long and distinguished service to the Church by the Knight Templars over the many years. So Pope Clement V decides to take the matter in his own hands, and abolishes the Order with a Bull, called “Vox in Excelso” on March 22, 1312. He further issues another Bull, called “Ad Providum” on May 2, 1312 ordering all Knight Templar possessions to be given to the Knight Hospitallers (later known as The Knights of Malta). Jacques De Molay amongst others were burned at the stake on March 18, 1314, but before dying, Jacques De Molay curses both Philip IV and Clement V to die within one year. Both died 3 months later. Pope Clement V dies in April 1314, and King Philip IV dies in a hunting accident on November 29, 1314. All three of Philip's sons, become king in their own time (Louis X, Philip V, Charles IV) and his daughter, Isabella, becomes Queen consort to Edward II of England.
It is the abuse of power, the despotism shown by King Philip IV and Pope Clement V that they play such a central role in the 30th degree in which Philip IV symbolizes tyrannical Kings, and Pope Clement V symbolizes ambitious religious leaders. With this, the candidate is ultimately taught the most important lesson, that “Man is supreme over institutions”.
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