Forget black cats – avoid people who owe you lots of money on Friday the 13th
So today is supposed to be unlucky.
If you’re the superstitious type you’re probably avoiding black cats and making sure you don’t walk under ladders. Why though is this day considered unlucky at all?
There is one popular theory (some say modern urban legend) that claims the origins of Friday the 13th comes from the Knights Templar. And like any good story, it includes themes of betrayal, revenge, greed, injustice and secret treasures.
The original Knights Templar were a Christian military order existing from the 12th to 14th centuries and mainly associated with fighting during the Crusades.
They fought alongside the likes of King Richard I, or Richard the Lionheart, and were an elite fighting force. The Knights were highly trained, well-equipped and highly motivated. As part of their religious order they were forbidden from retreating in battle, unless outnumbered three to one, and even then only by order.
For two hundred years the Knights Templar were the most dominant force in Christendom.
The Templars were institutionally wealthy, paid no taxes, and had a large standing army, which by papal decree could move freely through all European borders.
They were a fixture of everyday life. They were significant landholders, employers and the head of an international banking system that allowed nobles to deposit funds and valuables for safekeeping.
However after their defeat at the Siege of Acre and the loss of the Holy Land, the Knights Templar’s influence began to wane and enemies began to appear.
King Philip IV of France had borrowed enormous sums of money from the Knights to finance a war with England, a war he later lost.
King Philip saw an opportunity to reduce the Knights’ power and avoid repaying his financial debts.
On Friday, 13 October 1307, King Philip ordered the simultaneous arrest of scores of Templars and the seizing of all of their property.
The Templars were charged with heresy, worshiping false idols and other crimes against the church. Many of them were tortured until they ‘confessed’ to their crimes.
Despite the dubious nature of the confessions and a questionable trial, the Knights were burned at the stake, leading to other arrests across Europe.
In 1312, and under pressure from King Philip, Pope Clement V issued an edict officially dissolving the Order.
Some stories claim that a group of Templars had managed to evade King Philip and escape with vast stores of treasure and holy relics.
Theories popularised in modern culture also claimed the Knights were keepers and defenders of the Holy Grail – we’ve all seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade haven’t we?
Even if Friday the 13th didn’t originate from the Knights Templar, and religious views and plausibility aside, as a fan of historical fiction I think it makes a pretty good yarn.
So have a happy and safe Friday the 13thand avoid any Kings that owe you large sums of money.