Brian Kannard: “The law of unintended consequences, often cited but rarely defined, is that actions of people—and especially of government—always have effects that are unanticipated or "unintended."” The above statement by Forbes columnist Rob Norton can be applied to a majority of historical, and many of my personal, missteps. No truer statement could be made about the events that happened after the arrest of the Knights Templar on 13 Oct 1307. Arguments can be made that the infrastructure the Templars had created in Europe disappearing literally over night caused a certain amount of upheaval. Possibly the effects of the “1315-1322 Great Famine” could have been lessened had the Templars still been in control of their vast farm holdings.
However, the effects of the Great Famine were a trifle compared to that of the Black Death. Between the years of 1347-1352, the Plague consumed 25 million lives throughout Europe. The Plague, according to most historical accounts, began to infect Europe in October 1347. The Plague actually originated in Mongolia in the 1330’s and spread throughout Chinese run ports. A group of merchant ships returning brought the Plague to Sicily after trading at one of these ports on the Black Sea.
By the time the merchants reached Europe, a number of crew members and rats were infected with the disease. The rats were the primary cause of the disease spreading so quickly. The Plague vectored from infected fleas that transmitted the disease to rats. The rats in turn spread like rats do, depositing infected fleas everywhere they went. The infected fleas would transmit the Plague to humans and other rats. The cycle repeated itself until virtually no part of Europe was immune.
There was little or no barrier to the rats spreading the disease. The flea carrying rat population ran unchecked because the rat’s main predator, the common house cat, was in short supply. It was that little matter of “unintended consequences” that had reduced the population of cats in Europe.
During the trials of the Templars, a number of charges were leveled against the members of the Order. One of which was in relation to worshiping the head of Baphomet who, “…sometimes it is accompanied or replaced by the devil in the form of a black or gray cat or raven, who occasionally answers the questions addressed to him”(quote from: A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages. Volume: 3. Henry Charles Lea) While this was not the first time cats had been linked with devilish deeds, it certainly was the catalyst that insured their undue persecution.
Cats had been linked to the Black Arts notably from Pope Gregory IX in the 1232. The Pope’s issued a bull that year that deemed the common house cat as diabolical. Charges of heresy after that became increasingly associated with cats. The Church leveled charges, similar to the Templars, against the Cathars. But it was the trial of the Templars that catapulted demonizing cats into the minds of most Europeans.
The Templars were involved in most facets of the European infrastructure by 1307. Templar endeavors in: banking, inns, farm holdings, and shipping affected the lives of a great portion of the European populace. When Black Friday occurred, and subsequent trails, people throughout Europe wanted to know why. In time the news of the heretical charges against the Templars spread. It’s not hard to believe the common man felt betrayal by the Templars
Fueled by feeling of betrayal and the notion cats were linked to the Devil, people turned to killing cats as way to insure evil forces would not overtake them. The populace of Europe paid the price for this misconception. Forty years of slaughtering cats dissolved the one barrier that could have given some protection from the Plague.
In this way, the Black Death might have been said to be the Templar’s Plague. The governments and peoples of Europe had unwittingly sentenced themselves a steep toll for their undue persecution of the Templars.
Brian Kannard is a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason that lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife and fellow Grail Seeker Laura, and his son Robert. His keen interest in topics on the Holy Grail, the Knights Templar, and Freemasonry are also chronicled his blog Grail Seekers. Brian can be contacted here at Unexplained Mysteries under the user name of Grail Seekers. Sources available upon request.
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The Templar’s plague
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