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DEATH OF THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR
 OWING to his many wars and sinful extravagance, Philip
needed a great deal of money, which he tried to obtain
in every way in his power. Besides imposing heavy taxes
on the people, and despoiling the Jews,—whom he
finally drove out of France,—he also clipped the
coin, and minted money of such low value that he was
dubbed "the False Coiner."
All these ways not being sufficient to supply his vast
demands, Philip next resolved to confiscate the wealth
of the Knights Templar, many of whom, after about two
hundred years, had come to settle in France. Besides
the castles they owned here and there in all parts of
the country, they were masters of a large part of the
city of Paris, where they had a huge fortress known as
Because they formed a secret society, and because the
members of their order were pledged never to reveal
what passed I their meetings, common people suspected
them of horrible and impious ceremonies. All manner of
 were thus laid at their door, and although nothing
could be proved against them, the king had them
arrested in 1307.
To force the Templars to confess that they were guilty,
they were subjected to awful tortures, after being
weakened by long imprisonment. While on the rack, many
of these poor sufferers acknowledged anything that was
asked, but many of them took back their confessions as
soon as they were released and had recovered their
senses. These men were them condemned to be burned at
the stake as perjurers and heretics.
The Grand Master of the order, Molay, was kept in prison for several years, and them met the same fate.
He showed great courage on this occasion, and died like
a hero, singing hymns even when the flames arose around
him. He is also said to have uttered an awful prophecy
from the pyre, declaring that the Pope—who had
permitted the arrest and execution of the Knights of
Templar—would die within forty days, and King Philip
within the year. Strange to relate, this prophecy came
true. The Pope died while on a journey, within the
given time; and, before the year ended, Philip, too,
passed away, owing to a hunting accident.
During his reign Philip increased his estates by adding
to the crown lands Flanders, Champagne, and the city of
Lyons, which had hitherto been a free commune. Many
important institutions also date back to the time of
this king, among others the assembly known as the
"States-General" 1302. This was composed of three
divisions,—the nobles, the clergy, and the burghers,—forming
the three estates or three classes of
society. They were
 called together mainly to help the king secure more
money for his many needs.
Philip IV. left three sons, who, in the course of the
next fourteen years, came to the throne in turn; they
were the last of the direct Capetian line. The first of
these princes was Louis X., the Quarrelsome. No sooner
had Philip died, and this young prince succeeded him,
than the nobles—still striving to recover some of
their lost privileges—rebelled again. But the new
king soon succeeded in quieting them.
The people, having been overtaxed during his father's
rule, also clamored for redress, so the king, not
knowing how else to satisfy them, allowed them to
persecute his father's minister of finance, who was
accused of having robbed the country to enrich himself.
This poor man was also charged with using magic arts to
cause the king's death, and for that reason was
arrested and hanged.
Being in constant need of money, yet not wishing to
enrage his people any further by imposing new taxes,
Louis X. allowed serfs on his estates to buy back their
freedom, and thus, while the king's needs were
relieved, the number of serfs in France was greatly
Although strong and healthy, Louis X. died young, having
taken a drink of very cold water after overheating
himself at a game of tennis. During his brief final
illness, this king arranged that his children should be
placed in the care of his brother Philip, who should be
regent of the realm for the next eighteen years. But
Louis's only son (John I.) having died shortly after
this, in infancy, Philip promptly claimed the crown for
himself, in preference to his little niece, declaring
only males could occupy the throne.
 Although women were allowed to inherit other estates in
France, the lawyers—who all sided with the regent,
Philip—agreed to this, and enforced what is known as
the "Salic Law," whereby women could not claim the
crown on France.
Philip V., the Long, thus succeeded his elder brother.
During his brief reign of six years, he effected many
wise reforms, not only in government and in finance,
but also in the laws of the country. It happened,
however, that they very law which he had so eagerly
revived to deprive his niece of the throne, was
enforced by his younger brother Charles when Philip
died, leaving daughters but no son.