The Council of Vienne was held in that town in France by order of Clement V, the first of the Avignon popes. The Patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria, 300 bishops (114 according to some authorities), and 3 kings -- Philip IV of France, Edward II of England, and James II of Aragon -- were present. The synod dealt with the crimes and errors imputed to the Knights Templars, the Fraticelli, the Beghards, and the Beguines, with projects of a new crusade, the reformation of the clergy, and the teaching of Oriental languages in the universities.Preview This Lesson
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The town of Vienne is just south of Lyons but it was not part of Philip IV’s French Empire. The Council began on October 16, 1311, and all of the sessions were held in the Cathedral of St. Maurice. Meetings were poorly attended with four patriarchs, 20 cardinals, 29 archbishops, 79 bishops and 38 abbots as delegates. Pope Clement V outlined the goals of the Council — a discussion of the Knights Templar, a new Crusade, liberty of the Church and moral reform. The Council then recessed until April 1312.
As mentioned in the document section, King Philip IV of France marched into Vienne with his army on March 20 and within two days the papal bull Vox in excelso was published suppressing the order of Knights Templar. The Council heard this bull on April 3, 1312, with both King Philip and his son sitting next to the Pope. Delegates were not allowed to discuss the subject under threat of excommunication. All the goods of the Templars were to be given to the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem (also known as the Knights of Malta).
The third session lasted from May 3 to 6, 1312. Doctrinal matters such as Baptism and topics of reform were discussed and the canons were ratified.
The guilt or innocence of the Templars has been debated for 700 years now. Most authors agree that the Templars were innocent — forced to confess through the use of torture or the threat of torture. The majority of the confessions came from areas controlled by France and those confessions were further contorted to form a coherent heresy. Most members of the Council at Vienne believed that the Templars were innocent. Henry Ffykeis wrote on December 27, 1311 to the Bishop of Norwich:
Concerning the matter of the Templars there is great debate as to whether they ought in law to be admitted to the defense. The large part of the prelates, indeed all of them, excepting five or six from the council of the King of France, stand on their behalf. On account of this the Pope is strongly moved against the prelates. The King of France more so, and he is coming in a rage with a great following.
from The Trial of the Templars by Malcolm Barber, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2006, pg. 264-265
After the Council, individual Templars were given life imprisonment or sent to other monasteries. The leading Templars were convicted on March 18, 1314, before a small commission of French ecclesiastics including the Archbishop of Sens. Hugh of Pairaud, Geoffrey of Gonneville, G... Please purchase this lesson to continue learning.
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