Historical Origins: Friday the 13th

Text Reads Friday the 13th over flowing lava

Greetings Variants, Rory here to discuss an interesting history tidbit today. With the rapid approach of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, let’s discuss a bit of lore behind the origin of another infamous Friday, the 13th. Most of what I am going to discuss has a basis in historical evidence, but some is conjecture and is still being debated in the historical community today.

First some backstory. This tale is about the Knights Templar, or Knights of the Temple of Solomon. The Templars started as an order of militant Christian knights founded after the First Crusade and the Christian conquest of Jerusalem. Their primary duties were to protect pilgrims and the Realm of Outermere (the Christian holdings in the Middle East.) As time passed and the Crusades became less successful and less frequent, the Templars began to use their logistical holdings in mainland Europe to marshal currency and land, all tax free under the laws governing religious organizations at the time.

With that being said, our story takes us all the way back to the 12th Century AD in Medieval France. The year is 1307 AD and Philip IV of France has a score to settle. Philip had been denied entry into the Templars earlier in his life and coveted the lands and wealth of the Order in France. Philip approached Pope Clement V, currently presiding over the papacy in Avignon, France, who he convinced to decry the Templars as heretics and dissolve the Order. The Pope had little choice but to listen to the king, and did so.

Soon after, Philip had all Templar land, money, and other assets seized in France. Many other European monarchs quickly followed suit, since the Order was no longer protected by the Pope. Many knights and other members, including the Grandmaster of the Order were captured and forced to confess to the claims made by Philip. Those lucky enough to escape either merged with other Orders, such as the Hospitalers, or fled to other parts of Europe and lived their lives in silent exile. The Order was officially disbanded in 1312 by Clement V.

Now, for those of you who haven’t guessed, this all started on Friday the 13 of 1307. While there are other reasons for the day to be held in such disdain, the dissolution of the Templars is definitely a blemish on the day.

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