Have you ever wondered why Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day? The short answer: Greed, the French Monarchy, and the Catholic Church. Like most stories, the long version is more complicated. This is the legend as I heard it:
“The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon” were a military order of men who were living in Jerusalem in 1099 AD, at the tail end of the Crusades. There were nine of them at the time, and they were so poor that they were living in a stable, and begging for food. Legend has it that they discovered some of King Solomon’s treasure while digging in the area.
They returned to Europe, and invented what was essentially the first international banking society. They were involved in shipping, banking, and other money making ventures. They formed large society, which at its peak, was comprised of over 20,000 members. Members held different ranks, with the highest being called Knight Templar. A Knight Templar was similar to what a full partner or a member of the board of directors would be today. The ‘board meetings’ only took place at night, and this was because of the need for secrecy. Remember that this was in the age of pure monarchy, when no one who was not a King could own anything without the King taking a large cut of it.
One odd thing about them was that they practiced elaborate rituals that were designed to ensure secrecy. Since it was a crime punishable by death at the time to engage in any ritual not endorsed by the Catholic Church, any person who took part in such a ritual was bound to keep the secrets of the others, or he himself would be killed.
The Knights Templar hired many men of the free masons’ guild to build large structures, such as the Cathedral at Notre Dame. At the time, the free masons were not especially liked by the Church, mostly because the masons were teaching that mathematics ran the world, and not a deity. The Church had to put up with this to a certain extent, however, because God was not in the business of building the Church’s cathedrals, and the free masons were.
The free masons, having built many buildings for the order, needed to be sworn to secrecy. So they were sworn in as minor members of the order, and were taught many of the Templar rituals.
All went well until October 13, 1307, when the King of France at the time, King Philip IV, entered a partnership with Pope Clement V and decreed that all of the Knights Templar would be declared to be Satan worshipers and would be put to death. The king charged the Templars with usury, credit inflation, fraud, homosexuality, heresy,
sodomy, immorality, and abuses.
Many of the Kinghts Templar were killed at dawn that Friday the 13th, so that their wealth could be confiscated, and at the same time eliminate the possible threat that the military order might pose to Philip’s quest for more power. The ones who weren’t killed were tortured into confessing to their crimes. The Pope then issued arrest warrants for all of the Templars world wide, and the Church confiscated their assets, in order to avoid the military action that Philip threatened to take against the Church. The arrested members of the order were burned at the stake in 1314, and the remainder of the Templars went underground and became a secret society.
King Phillip and Pope Clement both died before the end of 1314, after being cursed by one of the Templars they burned at the stake. According to legend, he called out from the flames that both Pope Clement and King Philip would soon meet him before God.
His actual words were recorded on the parchment as follows : “Dieu sait
qui a tort et a péché. Il va bientot arriver malheur à ceux qui nous
ont condamnés à mort” (free translation : “God knows who is wrong and
has sinned. Soon a calamity will occur to those who have condemned us to
No one really knows if this is the true account of what happened, but that doesn’t surprise me. History is a fiction that is written by the winners. The history of less than 100 years ago, and even this morning’s newspapers are seldom an account of what actually took place.