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This article is taken from PN Review 44, Volume 11 Number 6, July - August 1985.

Defence of the Templars (translated by Michael March and Jarosław Anders) Zbigniew Herbert

High Jury,

The role of the defence in this trial, lasting six and a half centuries, is not an easy one. We cannot summon the prosecutors, witnesses or defendants, whose bodies were consumed by fire, their ashes scattered by the wind. Apparently everything speaks against them. The prosecutor has thrown down upon the table a pile of documents, from which an unbiased reader can reconstruct a sombre picture of the crimes and misdeeds of the accused, and find convincing proof of guilt. Convincing, since the accused level the most severe accusations at themselves. We shall make it our task to call the reliability of these documents into question and to encourage you, High Jury, to read between the lines, to make you understand the background and mechanism, as well as the methods of the investigation. Thus we must return to events preceeding this cool evening when the stake was set alight. The leaders of the Templars, Jacques de Molay and Geoffroi de Charney, died in its flames. The time and place of the execution: 18 March 1314, a small island on the Seine within the borders of Paris. The sole mercy granted to the executed was to die facing the white towers of Notre-Dame. The last words: 'The bodies belong to the King of France, but the souls belong to God.'

Experts usually treat these final words with scepticism. Historians question their authenticity. But their value consists in the fact that they are the creation ...

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