Thoughts with Richard Bleil
Today should be a holiday. In fact, I think I’ll take it off. Well, for me that’s simple since I don’t currently have a job anyway, but still. Yes, indeed, it is Friday the 13th.
I have a special flag that I like to fly on every Friday the 13th. It’s the flag of the Knights Templar, and kind of an inside joke. I doubt too many people know what the Knights Templar flag looks like, and since Friday the 13th doesn’t come around very often, I assume that very few people would catch that I’m flying it only on that day. Although, one should never underestimate people. The last time I flew it, my next-door neighbor did know what it was, she told me that she noticed that I only fly in on Friday the 13th and even knew why.
For those who do not, let’s go back in time to Friday, October 13, in the Year of Our Lord 1307. King Phillip IV of France found himself very unpopular, and deep in financial debt to the Holy Mother Church’s Military Arm known as the Knights Templar. There were actually two, the Knights Templar who were tasked with securing the holy land of Jerusalem and the land between it and France for pilgrims to travel safely though land occupied by Muslims. The other branch was the Knights Hospitallers who were tasked to travel with pilgrims to the holy land to protect them.
The Knights Templar developed the worlds first successful international banking system. You could deposit your money to the order in France, travel safely without gold, and retrieve it anywhere along the way. Obviously, gold had to travel from fortress to fortress somehow, and as such the Knights Templar became adept at traveling in secret, using signs, secret words and codes to identify themselves to each other in light or dark.
The Knights Templar were also tasked with waging war against the heathen Muslims, which they did in multiple “holy wars”. Unfortunately, these wars were, much like wars today, not based on anything legitimate outside of gaining popularity with the masses (rally ‘round your home country). The church, however, never reinforced or gave funds to replenish the Knights Templar, and war after bloody war, they lost the forts they had built until there was only one, the strongest, in Jerusalem itself. In the final holy war, a handful of Knights Templar became trapped in the fortress, starving to death, as the Muslim army tunneled underneath the trapped men and destroyed the foundations of the fortress. Finally, a side of the fortress collapsed, and the Muslim army simply walked in and slaughtered the weak and starving Knight Templars.
Far from gaining popularity from the war, Pope Clement V insisted that the Knights Templar were to blame. Pope Clement V had gained his title thanks to the political maneuvering of King Phillip IV, and was so much in his debt, in fact, that Pope Clement V moved the seat of the Holy Mother Church from the Vatican the first and only time in history, and he moved it to just outside of Paris. The Pope gaslighted by pointing out the simple truth that the Knights Templar only could have lost the war had they fallen out of favor with the Lord Our God. He sent out letters to all kinds of Europe with the Papal seal in 1307 and strict orders that they not be opened until, you guessed it, Friday, October 13. Inside the letters were orders to immediately arrest the Knights Templar wherever they may be and impound their lands and riches.
This helped out King Phillip IV, but not nearly as much as he had hoped. Of course, the Knights Templar lost all of their land holdings (mostly gifts from wealthy barons and princes for taking their sons into the order), and since the organization had been condemned as illegal by the pope, he no longer owed money to the Knights for their help in France’s wars. What they could not find were the golden treasures (aside from a very small percentage of the estimated value), or the Knight Templar Navy.
As it turns out, the Knights Templar had a formidable navy that they maintained themselves. Not a single ship was captured, and no more than about twenty percent of the Knight Templars themselves were captured (and most likely significantly less). It’s not known if the organization had inside information of what was coming, but they were so well practiced at remaining hidden that they simply couldn’t be found. It seems as though many went to Switzerland, whose government was formed shortly after 1307, famous for its banking industry and with a flag that looks like the photographic negative of the Knight Templar flag. It has also been suggested that these highly trained and experienced knights became something like mercenaries in countries like Scotland.
Either way, the botched orders were another black eye for France and the Pope. The heathen statue Baphomet, representing the devil and claimed to have been worshiped by the Knights Templar, was created by the Church as proof of blasphemy. Whatever the truth may be, there is one thing that you can depend on. At my house, I’m flying the flag of the Knights Templar today.