POPE BONIFACE TAKEN PRISONER
 YOU have heard how often the kings of France were at
war with the nobles, and how
gradually their power was reduced while that of the
king increased. Philip IV.
struggled, not against the nobles, but against the Church.
Wealthy persons had been used, when they were dying, to
leave all their lands and
riches to the Church, but Philip forbade them to give
her more than a certain
portion of their wealth or property. He also refused to
let any of the clergy sit in
the law courts. Nor was this all. Being in need of
money, the king determined that
the clergy should be taxed, a thing unheard of until
Boniface VIII., who was Pope at this time, was very
angry when he heard that the King
of France had dared to tax the clergy. He at once wrote
to Philip, saying that the
priests were his subjects and could not be taxed
without his permission. If the king
would not "amend these matters of his own good will," the Pope threatened to correct
Philip more severely.
Philip could ill brook the Pope's reproof. He answered
that the King of France could
tax whom he would in his own realm, and had done so
before ever a Pope had ruled at
The Pope with some sharpness retorted that if the king
did not humble himself, and
that speedily, he, Boniface, would excommunicate him;
nay, he would do more, he
would even depose him.
 As Philip did not submit, a Bull of
Excommunication was actually sent to
France. The decree was called a Bull from the golden
bulla or ball to which the
Pope's seal was attached. But the bearer of the Bull
was thrown into prison when he
reached France, and Philip proceeded to attack the
The French king had in Italy at this time a captain
named Nogaret. He, by Philip's
orders, joined an Italian prince called Colonna, who
for long had had a family feud
with the Pope.
Nogaret and Colonna then hired soldiers and set out to
seek the Pope, who was
staying in a palace in the town of Anagni.
In September the soldiers, led by Nogaret and Colonna,
entered the town, the gates
being flung wide for them to enter, for Nogaret had
bribed the captain of Anagni
Boniface was an old man, over seventy years of age, but
when he heard that his
enemies were near, he threw over his shoulders the
cloak of St. Peter, put the crown
that had belonged to him as Pope upon his head, and,
taking the Cross in his hands,
awaited the soldiers without a trace of fear. As they
entered the palace he said to
his enemies, "Here is my neck and here is my head!"
Colonna would fain have killed the old man on the spot,
and when Nogaret interfered,
the Italian prince is said to have struck Boniface with
his mailed hand, until the
blood streamed down his face.
The soldiers then sent the Pope's attendants away,
placed the old man on a horse,
with his face to the tail, and led him away to prison.
For two days Boniface dared neither to eat nor drink,
lest his enemies should poison
him. On the third day the people of Anagni could no
longer bear to think of their
Pope in prison. Forgetting their fear of the French,
they rose and drove Nogaret's
soldiers out of the town,
 and set Pope Boniface
free. Then in triumph they led
him back to his palace, and because he was faint with
fasting, they fed him with
bread and gave him wine to drink.
When the Romans heard how the Pope had been treated,
they sent their soldiers to
bring him back to Rome. But soon after the old man,
worn out by all that he had
suffered, took ill and died. From that time the worldly
power of the Pope was
In the following year, 1304, Philip was forced to
recognise the independence of
Flanders, and Count Guy's eldest son came to do homage
to the French king as his
lord. Save for two or three frontier towns, Flanders no
longer belonged to the
kingdom of France.
The war had emptied Philip's treasury. To fill it
Philip did two cruel deeds. The
Jews in France were known to be wealthy. The king
accused them of horrible crimes,
such as using evil spells and poisoning wells of water.
Then he banished them from
the land, and himself took possession of all their
Not satisfied with this, Philip next attacked the
Knights Templar, who were also
known to be rich and to possess much property.
Long before this time, in 1119, nine knights had gone
to live in a house near the
Temple at Jerusalem. They called themselves its Knights
Defenders, and were the
beginning of the order of the Knights Templar.
At first these knights lived simple lives, under the
control of a Grand Master,
whose power was supreme. Over their armour the Templars
wore a white cloak, with a
red cross fastened to it on the left side, over the
heart. They were half soldiers,
half monks, living on alms, and possessing neither
lands nor money, and they were
among the bravest of those who fought in the crusades
to recover the Holy Sepulchre
from the Infidels.
Gradually, when the crusades were ended, the Knights
 Templar forgot their vow of poverty. They grew
rich and powerful, and owned
lands and property in both France and England.
In Paris they built the Temple, which was a strong
fortress close to the Louvre,
while in London the Temple Church was founded, and took
its name from these knights
of long ago.
Dark tales began to be told of the order in the reign
of Philip IV. People believed
that its members trampled and spat on the crucifix.
They believed that the knights
did many other horrible deeds, and they knew that they
were idle and proud.
These tales gave Philip the chance he wished, and in
1807 he suddenly ordered all
the Templars in France to be thrown into prison, while
he seized their wealth to
fill his treasury, just as he had seized the Jews'
wealth when he banished them from
Many of the knights were tortured and put to death,
while the Grand Master and one
other were taken to a little island on the Seine.
There, at the hour when the vesper
bell called to evening prayer, they were tied to a
stake and burned to death.
Philip thought nothing of the sufferings he had
inflicted on these knights, but the
nation was growing angry with their king's cruelty.
The nobles and burghers leagued themselves together,
and presented Philip with a
petition, begging him to relax his taxes and
oppressions. At the head of those who
signed this paper was the name of Joinville, the
chronicler of St. Louis's time, who
was now almost a hundred years old. Philip was as much
surprised as angry when he
received the petition. Shortly afterwards, as he was
out hunting, he was wounded by
a wild boar. From this wound he never recovered, dying
in November 1814, at the age
 France had suffered too much under Philip's reign
to be sorry when she heard
of his death.
"God forgive him his sins," says a writer of his day,
"for in the time of his reign
great loss came to France, and there was small regret
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