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John Edwards    The Templars in Scotland in the Thirteenth Century

page 5


evidence of previous witnesses regarding the secrecy observed at the meetings of the Chapters of the Templars, he adds:
«The Order is defamed in manifold ways by unjust acquisitions, for it seeks to appropriate the goods and property of its neighbours justly and unjustly with equal indifference, and does not cultivate hospitality except towards the rich and powerful, for fear of dispersing its possessions in alms» (1) He evidently knows more than comes out, but is either afraid to speak frankly and freely, or considers that in a trial for heresy evidence of cruel oppression and homicide would not count for much, as compared with proof of falling away from the orthodox faith. We must remember that heresy was looked upon as far more heinous than moral depravity. «Suspected heretics had practically no legal rights, and their capture was the highest duty of all secular officials».(2)
The Templars paid dearly for their possessions and moral delinquencies. Their pride, avarice, and cruelty brought upon them a heavy retribution, though they were innocent of the charges of heresy brought against them. These latter were supported by evidence of the most flimsy kind. In fact, the case and its issue may be very fairly summed up in the words of

1 - Processus factus contra Templarios in Scotia (Spottiswoode Miscellany, vol. II. p. 14).
2 - H. C. Lea, English Historical Review, III. p. 152.


Dr. Gmelin: «So ist, wollen wir alles zusammenfassen, zu sagen, dass die Unterdriickung des Templerordens ist und bleibt ein schmachvolles, in keiner Weise zu rechtfertigendes, Unrecht». (1)
Turning to the Hospitallers in Scotland in the fourteenth century, what light does the procedure detailed in the Charter shed upon their position? It discloses one or two points. For instance, we see that they were in effective possession at this date (1354) of Balantrodach, the Templars' principal preceptory. They were administering the Barony by their own officers William Slyeth, Bailiff, Adam Morcell, Serjeant, and Adam de Wedale, Forester, are all mentioned. Their own tenants, to the number of thirteen, form the jury who try the question of heritable right. It is thus clear that, however uncertain their future undisturbed enjoyment of the property may have seemed, actual possession had been ceded to them.
As to their own preceptory at Torphichen we get no information. Brother Thomas de Lindesay, as we have seen, is not resident there at the date of the Charter, and the Chapter is mentioned as being held at «our principal court at Balantrodach».
One might argue from this that the War of Independence had compelled the Order to vacate Torphichen, and that a Warden having been put in by Bruce they had not recovered possession. The reference to the times of «the most serene prince King Robert the Illustrious» (the only King mentioned by name in the deed) is very courtly, and there seems to be a politic attempt to point out that the suppression of the Templars in Scotland, having taken place in his reign, responsibility for it lay upon him ; the inference being that the patriotic party were thus bound to see that the Hospitallers, who had been solemnly declared their heirs, were put into possession of all Temple lands throughout the realm.


1 - Gmelin, Schuld oder Unschuld des Templerordens, p. 510. This work is an exhaustive critical examination of the case from beginning to end. The twenty carefully prepared Tables forming the appendix give an elaborate analysis of the testimony of the so-called witnesses.


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