Jacques de Molay (c. 1240/1250 – March 18, 1314) was the 23rd and last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, leading the Order from 20 April 1292 until it was dissolved by order of Pope Clement V in 1307. Though little is known of his actual life and deeds except for his last years as Grand Master, he is the best known Templar, along with the Order's founder and first Grand Master, Hugues de Payens (1070–1136).
Jacques de Molay's goal as Grand Master was to reform the Order, and adjust it to the situation in the Holy Land during the waning days of the Crusades. As European support for the Crusades had dwindled, other forces were at work which sought to disband the Order and claim the wealth of the Templars as their own. King Philip IV of France, deeply in debt to the Templars, had de Molay and many other French Templars arrested in 1307 and tortured into making false confessions. When de Molay later retracted his confession, Philip had him burned at the stake on an island in the River Seine in Paris, on March 18, 1314.
The sudden end of both the centuries-old order of Templars, and the dramatic execution of its last leader, turned de Molay into a legendary figure. The fraternal order of Freemasonry has also drawn upon the Templar mystique for its own rituals and lore, and today there are many modern organizations which draw their inspiration from the memory of de Molay.
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