On this day in 1307 in France, King Philip IV arrested the Knights Templar. All of them.
Templar Knights, burning at the stake
The King, working with Pope Clement V had all the Templars thrown in prison, accused of crimes of treason and heresy, and tortured to get them to confess. Some did confess under torture, to rather fantastical offenses, such as worshipping “a curious head, sometimes called Baphomet. It was described…as carved of wood of painted on a beam, bearded, covered with silver or gold leaf, or with four legs.” While there is no reason to believe these confessions, fifty-four Templars were burned at the stake in May of 1308.
The reason behind King Philips actions, most sources agree, were more a result of his own failings than of anything the Knights did. Over the centuries the Knights became quite a wealthy organization as believers donated land or money to them. At the same time, King Philip IV was good at spending money and not good at saving it, and so was running low on funds. He decided to go after the wealthy Templars.
King Philip IV of France
The king went so far as to get Pope Clement to disband the order, as a result of heresy (and the fact that the city of Jerusalem was now controlled by the Muslims, which took away the order’s reason for existing, but that’s a different story).
Barber, Malcolm, The Trial of the Templars,
Burgtorf, Crawford, and Nicholson, Eds. The Debate on the Trial of the Templars, 1307–1314.