Templars at the guillotine – myth or reality?

One of the most curious stories about the Knights Templar may have been fabricated hundreds of years after they were crushed – by a French Freemason who was the illegitimate son of the penultimate king of France, Louis XV.

This is a bizarre tale of revolution, the Illuminati, Freemasons, Templars and two famous deaths by execution. The two executed individuals were the last Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay, burned to death in the year 1314, and the last King of France, Louis XVI (son of Louis XV) guillotined in 1793.

So – here’s the curious story: We need to go back two hundred years to the French Revolution when the monarchy had been overthrown, a Republic declared and the last monarch had been sentenced to death. Louis XVI was accused of conspiring with foreign powers to restore himself to the throne. That was the last straw for the revolutionaries who voted to behead the hapless king on a charge of treason.

Templar at the guillotine – or was it a Freemason?

One wintry day he was led from his prison – a huge fortress that, ironically, had been built by the Knights Templar as their French HQ centuries before. At the moment that Louis XVI lost his head on the guillotine on 21 January 1793, a man in the crowd watching this gory spectacle allegedly yelled:

“Jacques de Molay you are avenged!”

The story runs that this man was most likely a clandestine Templar descended from the original medieval knights. Part of a secret brotherhood that deliberately fomented chaos and plotted bloody revolution. And his cry referred to a curse put on the French monarch by De Molay just before the fire was started that would consume his body.

The old Templar Grand Master asked for his hands to be untied so he could pray as he burned and prophesied to those present that both King Philip IV (who had ordered his execution) and the compliant Pope Clement would soon be dead as well.

DISCOVER MORE: Where was Jacques de Molay executed in Paris?

King and Pope did indeed die shortly after. But was the guillotining of Philip’s successor as king 450 years later anything to do with De Molay’s curse. And did this incident of the man in the crowd uttering such words actually happen?

Illegitimate Freemason concocts the story

The source for this story is a strange chap called Charles Louis Cadet de Gassicourt (1769 – 1821). His father was a renowned chemist but it seems that in reality his mother, Francoise Basselet, had become pregnant with Charles as a result of a fling with the King of France – Louis XV (grandfather of the beheaded Louis XVI).

Charles’ official father was enraged at what the king had done and never forgave the libidinous monarch – which might explain why Charles, as a young man, became a very enthusiastic supporter of the French Revolution in 1789, which overthrew the monarchy and declared a Republic.

Throughout this period, Charles (pictured below) was a Freemason. In 1794, he became the Master of a Lodge in Paris. And like many revolutionaries, he despised the Roman Catholic church, organised religion and religious orders like the Jesuits. He supported attempts to de-Christianise France and to launch a new official state cult based on the God of Reason.

But his revolutionary enthusiasm didn’t last. Charles became disillusioned by the so-called Reign of Terror – when hundreds of aristocrats and alleged plotters were beheaded on the notorious guillotine. He watched with increasing dismay as the huge blade decapitated countless princes and dukes.

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the revolution then started to devour its own children. Revolutionaries turned on each other with death sentences passed on men who had once been heroes like Danton and Robespierre. Even Charles had to flee after being suspected of counter-revolutionary sentiments.

Templar conspirators pretending to be Freemasons to blame

Though he remained a Freemason and was broadly supportive of the revolution, Charles tried to make sense of what had gone wrong in France. Why had there been a turn to mass bloodshed and cruelty? Who was responsible?

In a 1796 book called Le Tombeau de Jacques Molay (the tomb of Jacques de Molay), he pointed an accusing finger at a determined conspiracy of undercover Templars and Illuminati bent on creating chaos and destruction. These 18th century Templars had burrowed their way into some Masonic lodges united by an oath to “exterminate all Kings” and to “destroy the power of the Pope”.

The Masonic lodges under Templar control had links to similar underground lodges in Italy, Germany and England. They had formulated some of the key concepts of the French revolution including the notion of equality and – the red, white and blue of the French flag that still exists today.

Charles explained in his book:

“The true Templar Freemasons are eight hundred lodges about the Earth bent on vengeance, ambition and their system and have sworn to massacre kings for the independence of the world.”

Charles went on to assert that these contemporary Templars spread fear of conspiracies that didn’t actually exist. They created a sense of impending danger when there was nothing to actually worry about. All of this designed to create revolutionary instability. And when their own activities were occasionally uncovered – they would accuse their opponents of being the real trouble makers.

Charles also alleged that a certain Italian nobleman called Count Alessandro di Cagliostro had been inducted into the Bavarian Illuminati and was the Templar emissary to Paris stirring dissent behind the scenes to advance the Templar agenda.

This was definitely questionable.

The real Calgliostro was a low-born conman from Sicily called Giuseppe Balsamo who toured Europe fooling the gullible with tales about himself and he made up the Illuminati connection while on trial and facing a death sentence in Rome. Cagliostro also invented a branch of Freemasonry he called “Egyptian”, which had one positive aspect – it allowed women to join and hold senior positions. So Charles was essentially bigging-up a known fraudster.

Evil Templar run Freemason lodges versus other Masons

Charles claimed the malign Masonic Templars were called Amis Reunis and included top revolutionaries like the aforementioned Robespierre and Danton. Neither of them were around to deny this by the time Charles made these claims having had their heads removed in public.

So why did the Amis Reunis inject such a bloodthirsty tone into the French Revolution? Because, Charles explained, they saw themselves as part of an unbroken line to the original medieval Knights Templar. Therefore, they were intent on destroying the Bastille – where they believed Jacques de Molay had been imprisoned – and claiming the life of the King of France as an act of revenge.

I’m happy to be put right by any Masons out there. But my reading of Charles Louis Cadet de Gassicourt is that he didn’t think all Freemasons were implicated in dark and murderous plots – only those who saw themselves as latter-day Templars. And he believed they had now become very numerous like a “Hydra of a hundred heads” and had seized control of the French Revolution for their own ends.

Even at the time, this incendiary book with its claim of Templar conspiracies to overthrow the monarchy came under sharp criticism. So much so that shortly before his death, Charles wrote a follow-up tome justifying his claims again.

He repeated his allegation that the radical Jacobin faction during the French revolution had been set up by Masons and the Illuminati and that the Templars had been a driving force behind the French Revolution.

Templar or Freemason or neither at the guillotine?

All of which brings us to a man shouting “Jacques de Molay you are avenged!” at the guillotining of King Louis XVI in 1793. I’d always assumed this story was intended to be sympathetic to the Knights Templar. A way of saying that you don’t mess with these heroic knights without some consequences.

But what it really seems to have been is a yarn spun by Charles and his supporters to prove that wicked latter-day Templars were behind the bloody chaos of the French revolution. And that they had to be stopped from causing more mass violence in the future.

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