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Military Orders

Gervais du Bus, Extract from Le Roman du Fauvel

Translation and notes by Helen J. Nicholson

Ed. note: the following original translation was provided to ORB by Dr. Helen Nicholson. Dr. Helen Nicholson, who teaches at the University of Wales-Cardiff College.

INTRODUCTION by Helen Nicholson

Gervais du Bus was a French contemporary of the Trial of the Templars. The "Fauvel" of the title is a bay-coloured mule which represents vanity, flattery, greed, villainy, cowardice and envy. The order of things has been turned upside down when Fauvel, who ought to serve people, becomes lord and everyone tries to stroke and pat him. Spiritual powers should be more powerful than temporal, but Fauvel has made the temporal powers greater than the spiritual. Gervais criticises the pope, the bishops and canons of cathedrals, and the friars and other religious. Then he comes on to the Templars. After this he discusses the laity, kings and nobles. He ends by lamenting the state of the world; the end of the world must be at hand.

Everything in brackets [] has been added by the translator.


[Lines 945-1020] God save me! Fauvel has succeeded in disordering all the religious orders. It is clear that Fauvel is a bad leader; he has recently brought to grief an order which used to be one of the most honoured of all.

This animal has succeeded in making our mother, Holy Church, grieve and lament. The open fraud of the Templars, which condemned them to death and loss, has made our mother sad and sorrowful, sigh and sob, so that every man who is a good son of the Holy Church ought to shudder. The Templars have brought her to grief, so that she laments in great distress and bewails like this:

"Alas! what bad luck, what grief, what severe fortune, when my children have abandoned me! The Templars whom I so loved and honoured have brought me into dishonour and calumny. They have denied my dear Spouse, who was crucified for them, whose sign they bore. Alas! Why did they want to do this? I have always been their sweet, gracious and benign mother. They bore the sign of the cross; they should have upheld Christendom and been her champions. They were highly honoured for this reason, exalted everywhere and they held rent and great possessions. I never did them any harm; no, they had an immeasurable quantity of the good things of the true Crucified One, freedoms and privileges. Alas! now they have become heretics and sinners against nature.

"My heart is depressed and shudders because they have been bound to the enemy for so long. They were all infected by it; it is more than a hundred years since their mischief first appeared. Between them they have made an order which is so foul, vile and horrible that it is hideous to speak about it. As soon as they received someone into their order, they made him deny God and despise Jesus Christ and the Cross, commanding him to spit on it. They kissed each other's buttocks. They did many things. Alas! it is a shame that they were ever born of Adam, because they will all be condemned and scattered and destroyed. Alas! Alas! And with good reason! for they have carried on in this foul way for too long; if they had reigned any longer, Christianity would certainly have been completely poisoned.

"God, who wished to avenge himself on them, was very gracious to the king of France, in enabling him to perceive what was going on. In His love, God called him and revealed this evil to him, which could never be known before. Saint Louis and the king of Sicily did hear tell in their time about suspicions of the Templars and tried very hard to find out about them; but no one could get certain evidence in their day. However, this nephew of Saint Louis ought to be praised and congratulated because he has detected and seen the truth. He has put in great labour and effort to make the matter certain. He has done his duty very well. Diligently, like a worthy man, he pursued this matter before the pope of Rome, until some of the greater Templars acknowledged their shame before the pope.

"There is so much sadness and great shame in spinning out the story that it is better for me to be quiet. They were condemned and put to death.

"So those who do not avoid doing things to please Fauvel are right fools! Fauvel taught them to live falsely in the world. Such is the payment for those who serve such a master. When Fauvel has got his servants lost, he gives them their payment."

Translated from the edition by A. Langfors, Société des anciens textes franàais (Paris, 1914-9).

Copyright (C) 1998, Helen J. Nicholson. All rights reserved.. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.

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