Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Paris Temple

The former Temple enclosure in Paris
The tower of the original Paris Temple was used as a prison during the French Revolution to house Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette and their family. It was torn down by Napoleon in 1808 to discourage the pilgrims who were flocking to the site. From the BBC:
Their original estate has long since succumbed to the great march of history, but you can still visit the site on which it once stood on rue de Lobau, located just behind the Hôtel de Ville. Back in the day, surrounding the mansion were miles of uncultivated marshland. In order to make the land arable, the Knights Templar set about drying the marsh – a feat that they were able to fully achieve circa 1240. But though the wetlands have long since disappeared, the area is still referred to as ‘le Marais’ or ‘the Marsh’....

Surrounded by eight 10m-high crenelated walls reinforced by turrets and buttress, this gargantuan fortress once featured towers, a drawbridge, a gothic church, vast stables and homes for the knights. It was here that the Templars guarded mass portions of their treasure and created a powerful ‘state-within-a-state’ that was entirely sovereign from the kings of France.

While this system of sovereignty worked for a time, everything changed in 1303 when the Knights Templar were forced to move their base of operations from the Temple Mount to their European headquarters – the enclos du Temple – after Jerusalem was recaptured by Muslim armies.

The king of France at the time, Philip the Fair, deeply resented the Knights Templar’s powerful ‘state-within-a-state’ and resolved to bring the order down by any means necessary. King Philip’s reasoning for destroying the order is speculated to this day, though many scholars believe his motivations were financial. “Philip could use the silver coin he acquired from the Templars' treasury in Paris to improve the quality of the heavily debased French coinage,” explained Dr Helen Nicholson, author of The Knights Templar: A New History and professor of medieval history at Cardiff University. (Read more.)

From Paris Marais:
To the north east lay stretches of marshland, remnants of the ancient branch of the Seine that had once flowed down from the heights of Belleville, east of Paris. It took the hardy Templars barely a century to turn it into the market garden (marais) of the capital, emulating the monks of Saint Martin des Champs who had dried up the swamps on the western fringe of the future arrondissement a century earlier. Having redeemed the land, they moved to its north-eastern edge, where they built a fortified compound,  l'Enclos du Temple, which also served as their European headquarters.

Forget about Rennes-le-Château and other such fantasies - there was nothing mysterious about the Order. Rather, it was their sophisticated farming methods that enabled them to redeem the marshy land of the future Marais, and it was their acute business acumen that incited them to use their geographical dispersion to advantage and develop a kind of international deposit bank  which contributed to the continual increase of their wealth. This, and their independence, were jealously kept behind the crenellated walls of the Enclos du Temple, roughly on the site of today's rue du Temple, rue de Bretagne, rue de Picardie and rue Béranger, south of Place de la République. It was complete with watch towers and a drawbridge that led to the Temple' only gate (now corner of rue des Fontaines-du-Temple and rue du Temple). (Read more.)
Banner honoring Louis XVII who died in the Temple

More HERE.


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