La rue du Temple was leading to the vast estate owned by the powerful knights Templar. Their Order, both religious and military, was initially founded in 1118 by nine knights in order
to protect the pilgrims to the Holy Land and to defend the Holy Sepulchre.
The Templar has been named from the house, close to the ancient Solomon's Temple that Beaudoin II, King of Jerusalem, assigned to them. The Templars, as much soldiers as
monks, had to take a vow of poverty, chastity and obedience, following the Saint-Bernard's strict rule. However, the number of gifts bestowed upon them during the crusades made them very wealthy. Over time, even after their military involvement ended, they
nevertheless maintained their prestige and received many gifts and privileges granted by kings, one of which being tax exemption.
When the Templars came back to France, their military power transformed into a financial
power. It can be read that they owned over nine thousand castles across Europe. By 1140, they settled in Paris, close to today's Hôtel de Ville, rue de Lobau where they drained the swamps on the northern fringe of Chaussée Saint-Antoine; then
in the middle of the 12th century they moved more to the North on a wide territory. In this land, in the middle of the fields, they built a cloister protected by walls and a huge dungeon.
The enclosure – l'enclos
du Temple – grew into a small city inside Paris with many privileges. Anybody having crossed the drawbridge was getting protection against a sum of money to be paid to the Grand Master's collector. In 1307, Philip IV of France – Philip the Fair
– in need of money, seized their possession and accused the Order of heresy. The Templars were tortured by the Inquisition and forced to confess being devil worshippers, while the Templar holdings were confiscated.
After more than six years in jail, the Grand Master of the Temple, Jacques de Molay was again questioned and finally burned at stake on a small island in the Seine, the Ile des Juifs (The Jews Island), nowadays the Vert-Galant public garden on
Ile de la Cité. As Jacques de Molay was burning, he shouted the famous curse warning the Pope and the King Philip IV would die within one year and the curse for the next three Kings – all happened. The Templar possessions were handed over to the
Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem (which later became the Order of Malta) until the French Revolution.
In a strange turn of history, the curse of
Jacques de Molay seems to have put a spell beyond the accursed kings up to the dark times of the French Revolution with the captivity of Louis XVI in the Temple dungeon … At the Revolution, few buildings remained from the Temple fortress, basically
the palace of the Grand Prior of the Temple rebuilt during the 17th century and a disused large tower, chosen on 13th August, 1792 by the Commune of Paris to lock up the King Louis XVI and his family. The Temple dungeon was located now rue Eugène-Spuller,
between the Temple public garden and the 3rd district town hall. King Louis XVI was imprisoned in the dungeon until his trial and execution on 21st January, 1793 in the Place de la Concorde. On 2nd August, 1793 Marie-Antoinette was transferred from the
dungeon to the Conciergerie to be executed on 16th October, 1793.
“She was awakened if indeed she slept. She embraced her daughter and her sister-in-law - her son had
been taken from her a month before - and then she passed down the stairs of the Tower and out into the stifling, oppressive night. Surrounded by commissioners and soldiers she crossed the silent garden of the Temple; not, we may well believe, without turning,
as Louis XVI had turned on the 21st January, to look her last at the Tower that loomed, huge and sinister, in the darkness. A cab awaited her at the steps of the palace; the great gate opened to let her pass: She and her guard briskly crossed
the sleeping town. ”“
The last days of Marie-Antoinette – G. Lenôtre (translated by Mrs.Rodolph Stawell)
It is said that Louis XVII, Dauphin of France, separated from his mother on 3rd July, 1793 and since completely isolated and uncared-for, died on 8th June, 1795 in the Temple, when he was
10 year old. However, some disturbing facts have questioned the official story and the enigma is still unresolved.