Friday, January 13, 2017
King Philippe & Friday the 13th
He made a good many enemies in his own time and today about the only people who speak up for him are those who hate the people he targeted. Scots or Anglophobes sometimes defend him for being an enemy of King Edward I of England, Protestants or anti-Catholics sometimes defend him for being an enemy of Pope Boniface VIII and anti-Semites find at least one thing to praise him for, which was his expulsion of the Jews from France in 1306. This last act, however, came back to bite him quite quickly and he invited the Jews to return. However, his association with the most unlucky day on the calendar came as a result of something that happened a year after his action against the Jews. That was his suppression of the Knights Templar, with many hundreds being arrested in a coordinated, 'surprise attack' as it were on Friday the 13th, 1307.
King Philippe IV had fought with the King of England for the usual reasons of Anglo-French rivalry and he fought with the Pope basically because of an argument over who had the higher authority. The Jews were targeted largely in an effort to seize their wealth and to take control of their extensive money-lending operation. That, however, as mentioned, did not work out well. The agents he put in charge soon proved even more unpopular than the Jews had been when it came to collecting debts that were owed and he soon faced such a clamor that he asked the Jews to return to France. That still left him in need of money. So, he targeted another group that was known to control a great deal of wealth and that was the Knights Templar who, aside from their fame as crusaders, became known as rather successful bankers. However, the Templars only came to be in that position because of their reputation for honesty, piety and bravery. It was necessary then to first smear their reputation.