All Things Are Lights – Day 200 of 200

And he looked up at the stars that were coming out one by one and whispered to her, “All things that are, are lights.”

Historical Afterword

Louis IX: After the Mamelukes released him he remained in the Middle East, strengthening and unifying the crusader principalities there. He never saw his mother, Queen Blanche, again. She died in 1252, while Louis was engaged in complex treaty negotiations with the sultans of Cairo and Damascus. It was another two years before Louis felt his work in Outremer was done and he could go back to rule France.

He was much concerned with justice. He banned trial by combat and made it a law that a murdered man’s family must wait forty days before taking vengeance.

In 1256 Louis prosecuted the odious Enguerrand de Coucy for hanging without trial three young equerries accused of poaching in his forest. De Coucy, with the support of most of the great barons of the realm, refused to cooperate in the investigation and trial. Louis pressed on against heavy opposition from the nobility, and Enguerrand was convicted and fined 12,000 livres, some of which went to endow perpetual masses for the souls of the men he hanged.

Louis’s reputation for fairness was so great that he was asked to settle quarrels all over Europe, and he arbitrated between the dukes of Lorraine and Burgundy, between the kings of Hungary and Poland, and between the King of England and his barons.

The tragedy of his failed crusade weighed upon Louis and made him a much sadder man than he had been in his youth. He kept his promise to Baibars and waited exactly twenty years before launching another crusade. This one was even more unpopular than Louis’s first crusade had been, and such old comrades as de Joinville flatly refused to go.

Louis’s brother, Charles d’Anjou, had by this time managed to make himself King of Sicily and dreamed of a Mediterranean empire. So he persuaded Louis to try an even more roundabout approach to liberating the Holy Land than he had before, besieging Tunis in North Africa. The Muslims remained secure within their walls while fever spread throughout the French army. Louis’s son Jean Tristan, the baby born at Damietta, succumbed. On August 25, 1270, Louis had himself laid on a penitential bed of ashes and there died.

Charles d’Anjou had his brother’s body boiled in wine to separate the flesh from the bones. The bones were sent to the abbey of Saint-Denis near Paris, traditional burial place of French kings, while the heart and entrails went to the great cathedral of Monreale at Palermo in Charles’s kingdom of Sicily. In 1297 Louis was proclaimed a saint by the Catholic Church; the only King of France to enjoy that honor, which perhaps would have greatly embarrassed him.

Baibars: He did not quite reach his goal of driving every last Christian out of the Middle East, but on the way to it he accomplished much else. On September 3, 1260, at the Well of Goliath near Nazareth, Baibars won one of history’s decisive battles, defeating the Mongols for the first time since the rise of Genghis Khan and saving Islam from a Mongol conquest. When the Sultan of Cairo failed to reward him properly he drove a spear through the Sultan’s back and made himself Sultan.

Baibars now turned his attention to the Christians and systematically conquered stronghold after stronghold along the coast of Palestine and Syria — Caesarea, Haifa, Jaffa, Belfort, Antioch, Krak des Chevaliers, Montfort. Before he could quite finish off the crusaders he died suddenly in 1277, some say of poison. Some even say he mistakenly drank poison he had prepared for another, but Baibars was surely too clever to do that.

In 1291 the last crusader city, Acre, fell to Baibars’s successor, al-Ashraf Khalil, and the era of the crusades was at an end.

The Mamelukes ruled in Egypt for centuries thereafter, continuing their practice of adopting slave boys and training them to be warriors. In 1798 another French army invaded Egypt, and the Mamelukes, recalling the defeat of Saint Louis, rode out against them expecting easy victory. But the world had greatly changed. At the Battle of the Pyramids the French artillery shattered the Mameluke cavalry, and the country was subdued in a matter of weeks by a general almost as talented as Baibars — Napoleon Bonaparte.

The Templars: The Order of Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon was founded in Jerusalem in 1120 by six knights led by Hugues de Payns of Champagne, for the purpose of guarding the routes of pilgrimage to the Holy Land. By the middle of the thirteenth century the Templars had become exceedingly powerful, with hundreds of command posts across Europe and Outremer. Kings and nobles gave them large grants of land. They developed a banking system, and the royal treasury of France was kept at the Paris Temple. The grand master of the Templars was almost a sovereign in his own right.

The Templars maintained strongholds in the Middle East until the last crusaders were driven out. In 1291 the Temple in Acre fought on for several days after the Muslims army took the city. The Templars then moved their headquarters to Cyprus.

Alarmed and attracted by their enormous wealth, Louis IX’s grandson, Philip the Fair, turned against the Templars. He took them by surprise on the night of Friday the thirteenth of October 1307, arresting their leaders all over France, including Grand Master Jacques de Molay, who was visiting from Cyprus. The royal prosecutors charged that the Templar initiation ritual required candidates to deny Christ, spit on a crucifix, and kiss the backside of a superior. They were also accused of sodomy and making secret treaties with the Muslims. The evidence against them was obtained under torture, but with the cooperation of Pope Clement V, many Templars were burned at the stake and others imprisoned for life. The order was suppressed throughout Europe, and its property in France seized by the crown. When Jacques de Molay was burned in 1314, he cried out that King Philip and Pope Clement would join him before the Divine Tribunal within a year. In less than a year the King and the Pope were both dead. Within fourteen years all of Philip’s direct heirs had died. The house of Capet, which had ruled France since the tenth century, was no more, and the throne went to the Valois family.

Historians still disagree about whether there was any truth in the charges against the Templars. Some have suggested that the Templars held Gnostic beliefs, others that there was an order within the Templars whose secrets were known only to an inner circle. The Templars have been claimed as predecessors for the Freemasons, the Ordo Templi Orientalis, and the Ancient Illuminated Seers of Bavaria.

During the French Revolution the last King of France, Louis XVI, was imprisoned in the Paris Temple, from whence he went to the guillotine.

The Cathars: Catharism traces its roots to such primitive Christian sects as the Gnostics, who taught that direct communication with God is possible for each person, and the Manicheans, who believed that good and evil have equal power in the universe. Because Catharism originated in eastern Europe, Cathars were also known as “Bougres” (Bulgars). From the word Bougre, because the Cathars were accused of encouraging homosexuality, comes the term for anal intercourse, “buggery.”

Catharism became widespread in Languedoc during the twelfth century, and by the thirteenth century had so many adherents that Pope Innocent III began to take steps against it. He commanded Friar Dominic de Guzman, later Saint Dominic, to found the Order of Preachers and do missionary work in Languedoc to combat Catharism. In 1209 the Pope proclaimed a crusade against the Cathars, declaring them “worse than the very Saracens.” Attracted as much by the prospect of looting the rich lands of southern France as by the desire to make war on a rival religion, barons and knights from all over Europe invaded Languedoc under the leadership of Simon de Montfort. Catholics and Cathars in Languedoc united in defense of their homeland, but were overwhelmed, and the crusade officially ended in 1229, when Raymond VII, Count of Toulouse, surrendered in Paris to Queen Blanche and the boy-king Louis.

From then on French armies occupied Languedoc, and the Inquisition, most of whose functionaries were Dominicans, carried on the work of stamping out the rival religion. By the middle of the fourteenth century Catharism had all but vanished. But religious dissent endured and eventually gave rise to the Protestant Reformation.


  1. ScottS-M Identiconcomment_author_IP, $comment->comment_author); }else{echo $gravatar_link;}}*/ ?>

    ScottS-M wrote:

    Interesting story. A good page turner like Shike. I wonder if all his books involve secret societies although this one was pretty peripheral.

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