Ponsard De Gisi of Payens

Ponsard de Gisi of Payens a Crusader of the Order of the Knight Templars, flourished near the opening of the 14th century. He was a most earnest advocate of the order, and when, in 1309, it was brought to trial, and the papacy was questioning the feasibility of suffering its existence, Ponsard boldly declared himself ready to undertake its defense. All the enormous charges against the order were utterly, absolutely false; false were all the confessions, extorted by terror and pain, from himself and other brethren before the bishop of Paris. Those tortures had been applied by the sworn and deadly enemies and accusers of the order, by the prior of Montfacon and William Roberts the monk. He put in a schedule: "These are the traitors who have falsely and disloyally accused the religion of the Temple-William Roberts the monk, who had them put to the torture; Esquin de Florian of Beziers, prior of Montfalcon; Bernard Pelet, prior of Maso, Philip's envoy to England; and Gervais Boysol, knight of Gisors." Had Ponsard himself been tortured? He had been tortured before the bishop of Paris three months ere he made confession. He had stood thus in a pit for the space of an hour. He protested that in that state of agony he should confess or deny whatever they would. He was prepared to endure beheading, the stake, or the caldron for the honor of the order; but these slow, excruciating torments he could not bear besides the horrors of his two years' imprisonment. He was asked if he had anything to allege wherefore the court should not proceed. He hoped that the cause would be decided by good men and true. The provost of Poitiers interposed: he produced a schedule of charges advanced by Ponsard himself against the order. "Truth," answered Ponsard, "requires no concealment. I own that in a fit of passion, on account of some contumelious words with the treasurer of the Temple, I did draw up the schedule." Those charges, however, dark as were some of them, were totally unlike those now brought against the brotherhood. Before he left the court, Ponsard expressed the hope that the severity of his imprisonment might not be aggravated because he had undertaken the defence of the order. The court gave instructions to the provost of Poitiers and De Jamville that he should not be more harshly treated; but he was finally condemned to death, and was burned at the stake. See Milman, Hist. of Latin Christianity, 6, 429 sq.; Porter, Hist. of the Knights of Malta (see Index). (J.H.W.)

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