English people like to pride themselves on their sense of fair play and tolerance. So – were they willing to crush the Knights Templar just because the King of France and Pope Clement demanded it? Well, the answer is that initially – no, they didn’t. England did not want to arrest and execute its brave and courageous Knights Templar.
Templar doom in France – but not England
If you look back in history, it can sometimes appear that if France decided to do one thing – England could be relied on to do the opposite. So when King Philip of France resolved to destroy the Knights Templar – the English baulked at the idea.
The chances are that England knew what motivated King Philip of France. He needed to raise money. And why did he need to do that? To fight wars against England. So just because he was now strapped for cash and wanted to get his hands on Templar wealth didn’t meant the English wanted to help him out.
Therefore the initial call to crush the Templars from a pope who was totally under French control didn’t go down well in England. On the contrary – they simply stuck their fingers in their ears and ignored the noise from the other side of the English channel.
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England does not burn the Knights Templar
Take into consideration as well that the Templars had bases all over England. These were industrious hives of activity giving thousands of people work. And the knights had been bankers and advisers to successive English monarchs. There just wasn’t a compelling case to go and beat up the Templars.
Dr Helen Nicholson is an academic expert on the Knights Templar. She found in her extensive research that there were no burnings of Knights Templar in England. Some Templars did go missing but then reappeared and one assumes they decided to lie low for a while and who wouldn’t? There were the usual accusations of bizarre rituals, murders and secret meetings but England just doesn’t seem to have warmed to this sensationalist stuff.
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Pope loses patience with England over the Knights Templar
In 1312, Pope Clement ordered that Templar assets should be transferred to the rival Order of the Hospitallers. But some major foot dragging in England meant that those assets were only transferred – and not all of them – by the 1330s.
King Edward II showed a marked unwillingness to squash the Templars though eventually saw their wealth as a useful tool for funding his Scottish campaigns. But in spite of officially handing over Templar estates to the Hospital, he didn’t enforce his own law – not with any enthusiasm anyway.
Should anybody wish to see an original account of the Templar trial in England, a version is held by the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Failing that, Dr Nicholson is the guru and her writings are thoroughly reliable.