In The Templars, Two Kings and a Pope, an incident at the beginning of the novel involves a monk, Jules, who is after some peasant children. Jules is of noble birth, a typical second-son who joined the church with the full expectation of continuing his worldly habits, which in his case involved young children.
A number of reviewers have called me on it and asked why would I have something so ugly in my book. One refused to review the novel.
My response: because it needs to be there, for the Catholic Church and Christianity as a whole to go forward; for us all to go change and grow, we need to exorcise all of the demons in our midst.
In the last ten years or so, there’s surfaced quite a debacle in the Catholic Church exposing an ugly truth: there are sexual predators who enter the Church as priests and monks. What went on in this country in recent years involving priests and in Ireland a generation ago where monks abused young orphans in their care, is shocking, but unfortunately not singular incidents. Based on statistical probability, we know that this has always been the case, pedophilia is a disease that has always been with us in an equal measure as today, but unlike today’s open society where we can expose wrongdoing without fear (mostly the case) in the Middle Ages the Church was impregnable, its monks and priests quite literally above the law.
I looked for evidence of pedophilia by members of the Church in that world of 700 years ago and found very disturbing incidents that kept popping up over the whole period, a telltale sign that has not been exposed by historians so far. Every so often a young child would be found crucified out on a road, or in open field somewhere. It was always a peasant, and not much thought was given at the time when a peasant was killed, but the crimes traditionally would be blamed on the Jews, along with pestilence and the poisoning of wells. The real perpetrators had nothing to worry about, it was part and parcel of life in medieval times, and eventually, after so many children and so many wells, it was time to raid the local Jewish village and seek retribution. This happened time and time again.
The fact that these acts were committed by pedophiles as a way to silence their victims is a no-brainer. But who would want to cover their tracks? After all, killing peasants was tantamount to killing a wild animal. They were called villeins , which originally meant a worker in a villa of Roman times, and that’s where our word villain comes from. The connotation was they were no good and therefore expendable. An overlord was compensated for the killing of his livestock, or the killing of a merchant under his jurisdiction, but not a peasant. So who cared when a peasant child was crucified? Why cover up the crime, why bother? Obviously the perpetrator(s) needed to keep their identity secret, and the only ones who would have something to lose should a child point an accusing finger, was a member of the Church. So killing the child was necessary to preserve the offending monk’s position, and crucifying just became a sick fad as the means to do it.
In the novel, Jules is about to have his way with two peasant children, and is prevented by his companion, William, who gets in trouble for it and ends up in prison when Jules lies about the incident. After all Jules is of higher social rank and his word carries more weight.
But Jules needs to be stopped. Fortunately, in this case, the Templars intervene.
So how did the Knights Templar deal with this type of situation? We know that they tried to fix wrongs around them; they fought wars to depose tyrants, including Philip IV of France and smaller events such as an intervention in Majorca. They also aided and protected the poor and disenfranchised, and evidently kept a remote and secret prison for criminals beyond society’s reach. It’s an easy conclusion that their prison held quite a few pedophiles that would have otherwise gone about their business unimpeded because of their social rank.
I agree; it’s a very ugly element in my novel, and one that I had a hard time writing and debated for a long time whether to keep. But at the end I decided that it was part of our history and needed to be exposed.
And that’s why I have it in my novel. Those things happened in medieval times and it was part of the environment, as much as jousting and minstrels singing. As a writer and as a spiritual man who incorporates everyone as an integral part of self, I need to look at our common history, the good and the bad, and absorb it, understand it, and grow.
And hopefully help others do the same.