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Hidden treasure: templar graffiti

The history of the Knights Templar is shrouded in mystery, but is partially revealed to us in Coudray Tower. Arrested and imprisoned in Chinon, the order’s dignitaries left an indelible mark of their presence through the graffiti etched into the stone.

Coudray Tower bore witness to a major episode in Templar history, when four of the Order’s dignitaries were imprisoned here including Grand Master Jacques de Molay. 

At the time, Phillip the Fair was in conflict with the Papacy, with which the Order was aligned. He arrested and tortured the Templars to force them to confess to the crimes they were charged with. Several months after commanding the arrest of the heretics, Phillip the Fair conceded that they could be sent to the Pope in Poitiers, but he later changed his mind during their transfer and locked them up in Chinon. The Pope decided to send three cardinals to interrogate the dignitaries who went into confession. A parchment confessing their sins and asking for repentance was written at the fortress, and is today conserved in the Vatican archives. 

The Templar dignitaries left the graffiti in the tower’s dungeons as a testimony of their imprisonment. The engravings depict recurrent religious themes among the Templars such as the passion of Christ, two crosses raised on a mound of stones, lances, a figure with a halo and an angel. They are all the more poignant given the end of the tale: just a few years later, the Templars were burned at the stake. 
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