In 1308, January, King Edward II buckled to the pressure from the Pope to arrest all the Templars in England and put them on trial for heresy. At the time Stephen de Staplebrigge was a 25 year old Templar Commander at Dinsley Manor in England. When the arrests began he received word from Templar officials to flee to Ireland to assist the Templar Grand Master there. Four years later Stephen returned to England only to be eventually caught in Salisbury. He was taken to the Newgate Prison and tortured on the rack to get a confession from him regarding the Templar treasure and the inner circle of the Templar order. Stephen never told the torturers that the treasure was in Ireland hidden on an island off the coast. He did however, tell them about being inducted into the inner circle by England Grand Master Brian de Jay and how he threatened by six Templars with swords drawn to spit on the cross and deny Christ. Here is one resource I used for my script below. See the citation after the article since I did not write this piece.
After his capture by the king’s officials, Stephen of Stappelbregge was interrogated and confessed to a second, blasphemous reception that took place following his first, licit one. This second reception included spitting on the cross and denying Christ, both of which were demanded of him at sword-point by the receiving brothers, one of whom, he said, was Thomas Totty. Additionally he confessed to being told that “Jesus Christ was not true God and true man…[and that] he should not believe in the sacrament of the altar.”149 He also confessed that sexual relations amongst the brothers were not frowned upon, but that he himself had never participated in such relations. All other allegations, he denied.
Thomas Totty’s confession paints a fascinating picture. Totty, “calling on God as his witness,” categorically denied the charges of having been received blasphemously and of denying Christ or God,150 though he confessed to having met “four brothers of the Temple received in overseas parts by Brother Humbert Blank [Himbert Blanc, Commander of the Auvergne] whom he had received with denial of Christ and spitting over the Cross…”151 He likewise denied having illicit sexual relations, believing that the Grand Master or other lay Templar could absolve sin, and any charges about idolatry. Rather bizarrely, when asked whether or not he believed that the French Templars had stood before the pontiff and confessed to the myriad heinous charges against them, he responded that he did believe it, because he had been there to witness it:
he replied that what is contained in the charges was true, and he knows this well because the witness was present in the Roman court and heart the aforesaid confessions, and
149 Nicholson, Proceedings: vol. 2, 398. 150 Ibid., 401.