Geoffrey de Charney

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Geoffroi de Charney, (first name sometimes spelled Geoffrey, surname sometimes spelled de Charnay and de Charny), was Preceptor of Normandy for the Knights Templar. Charney was accepted into the Order of Knights Templar at a young age by brother Amaury de la Roche, the Preceptor of France. Present at the ceremony was brother Jean le Franceys, Preceptor of Pédenac.

He is not the French Knight of similar name who died at the Battle of Poitiers.

Inquisition and Imprisonment

It is not easy to appreciate the reasoning of Michelet (Proems, II. vii.-viii.), who argues that the uniformity of denial in a series of depositions taken by the Bishop of Elne suggests concert of statement agreed upon in advance, while the variations in those who admitted guilt are an evidence of their veracity. If the Templars were innocent, denials of their charges read to them seriatim, (one after another; in a series) would be necessarily identical; if they were guilty, the confessions would be likewise uniform. Thus the identity of the one group and the diversity of the other both concur to disprove the accusations. The incontrovertibility of the evidence that the Templar priests did not mutilate the words of consecration in the mass is furnished in the Cypriote proceedings by ecclesiastics who had long dwelt with them in the East. At one point in the Inquisition de Charney is questioned about the enforcement of penalties of some tortured Templars and their Initiation Ceremonies. It states: "One, indeed, deposed that he had been offered the choice between renouncing Christ, spitting on the cross, and the indecent kiss, and he selected the spitting. In fact, the evidence as to the enforcement of the sacrilege is hopelessly contradictory. In many cases the neophyte was excused after a slight resistance; in others he was thrust into a dark dungeon until he yielded. Egidio, Preceptor of San Gemignano of Florence stated that he had known two recalcitrant neophytes carried in chains to Rome, where they perished in prison, and Niccolo Eegino, Preceptor of Grosseto, said that recusants were slain, or sent to distant parts, like Sardinia, where they ended their days. Geoffroi de Charney, Preceptor of Normandy, swore that he enforced it upon the first neophyte whom he received, but that he never did so afterwards, and Gui Dauphin, one of the high officers of the Order, said virtually the same thing; Gaucher de Liancourt, Preceptor of Keims, on the other hand, testified that he had required it in all cases, for if he had not he would have been imprisoned for life, and Hugues de Peraud, the Visitor of France, declared that it was obligatory on him."


Sadly, at this time, we know almost as much about this man's imprisonment and death, as we know of his life, except that in his imprisonment and death, he showed a tremendous amount of courage. His exact day of death in disputed by scholars. This source records his death as follows: (The day varies by one day, not unusual for the chronicles of the middle ages): "The cardinals dallied with their duty until March 19, 1314, when, on a scaffold in front of Notre Dame, de Molay, Geoffroi de Charney, Master of Normandy, Ilugues de Peraud, Visitor of France, and Godefroi de Gonneville, Master of Aquitaine, were brought forth from the jail in which for nearly seven years they had lain, to receive the sentence agreed upon by the cardinals, in conjunction with the Archbishop of Sens and some other prelates whom they had called in. Considering the offences which the culprits had confessed and confirmed, the penance imposed was in accordance with rule—that of perpetual imprisonment. The affair was supposed to be concluded when, to the dismay of the prelates and wonderment of the assembled crowd, de Molay and Geoffroi de Charney arose. They had been guilty, they said, not of the crimes imputed to them, but of basely betraying their Order to save their own lives. It was pure and holy; the charges were fictitious and the confessions false. Hastily the cardinals delivered them to the Prevot of Paris, and retired to deliberate on this unexpected contingency, but they were saved all trouble. 'When the news was carried to Philippe he was furious. A short consultation with his council only was required. The canons pronounced that a relapsed heretic was to be burned without a hearing; the facts were notorious and no formal judgment by the papal commission need be waited for. That same day, by sunset, a pile was erected on a small island in the Seine, the Isle des Juifs, near the palace garden. There de Molay and de Charney were slowly burned to death, refusing all offers of pardon for retraction, and bearing their torment with a composure which won for them the reputation of martyrs among the people, who reverently collected their ashes as relics'.

Legacy and the Curse

The fact that, in little more than a month, Clement died in torment of the loathsome disease thought to be lupus, and that in eight months Philippe, at the early age of forty-six, perished by an accident while hunting, necessarily gave rise to the legend that de Molay had cited them before the tribunal of God. Such stories were rife among the people, whose sense of justice had been scandalized by the whole affair. Even in distant Germany, Philippe's death was spoken of as a retribution for his destruction of the Templars, and Clement was described as shedding tears of remorse on his death-bed for three great crimes, the poisoning of Henry VI, and the ruin of the Templars and Beguines.


  • Processus Cypricus (SchottmiiUcr, II. 379, 382, 383).*Procfes, L 404 ; IL 260, 281, 284, 295, 299, 338, 354, 356, 363, 389, 390, 395,407.—Bini, pp. 468, 488.
  • Procfes, L 404 ; IL 260, 281, 284, 295, 299, 338, 354, 356, 363, 389, 390, 395,407.—Bini, pp. 468, 488.
  • 141.—Stemler, Contingent zur Geschichte der Tcmplcr, pp. 20-1.—Raynouard,pp. 213-4, 233-5.—Wilcke, II. 236, 240.—Anton, Vcrsuch, p. 142
  • A History of the Inquisition of the Middle ages, Vol III by Henry Charles Lea, NY: Hamper & Bros, Franklin Sq. 1888 p.324. Not in copyright.
  • Raynald. ann. 1313, No. 39.—Raynouard, pp. 20.J-10.—Cbntin. Guill. Nangiac. ann. 1313.—Joann. de S.Victor. (Bouquet, XXI. 658).—Chrou. Anon. (Bouquet, XXI. 143).—Godefroy de Paris v. G033-6129.—Villani Cbron. viii. 92.— hron. CorneL Zantfliet ann. 1310 (Martene Ampl, Coll. V. 160).— Trithem. Chron. Hirsaug. ann. 1307.—Pauli ^mylii de Reb. Gcst. Franc. Ed. 1509, p. 431

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