1314 – Jacques de Molay, the 23rd and the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, burned at the stake.
Though little is known of his actual life and deeds except for his last years as Grand Master, he is the best known Templar, along with the Order’s founder and first Grand Master, Hugues de Payens (1070–1136). Jacques de Molay’s goal as Grand Master was to reform the Order, and adjust it to the situation in the Holy Land during the waning days of the Crusades.
As European support for the Crusades had dwindled, other forces were at work which sought to disband the Order and claim the wealth of the Templars as their own. King Philip IV of France, deeply in debt to the Templars, had de Molay and many other French Templars arrested in 1307 and tortured into making false confessions.
When de Molay later retracted his confession, Philip had him slowly burned upon a scaffold on an island in the River Seine in Paris. The sudden end of both the centuries-old order of Templars, and the dramatic execution of its last leader, turned de Molay into a legendary figure.
1834 – Six farm labourers from Tolpuddle, Dorset – The Tolpuddle Martyrs – were sentenced to be transported to Australia for forming a trade union. They were a group of agricultural labourers who were arrested for and convicted of swearing a secret oath as members of the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers. The rules of the society show it was clearly structured as a friendly society and operated as a trade-specific benefit society.
James Frampton, a local landowner, wrote to the Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, to complain about the union, invoking an obscure law from 1797 prohibiting people from swearing oaths to each other, which the members of the Friendly Society had done.
James Brine, James Hammett, George Loveless, George’s brother James Loveless, George’s brother in-law Thomas Standfield, and Thomas’s son John Standfield were arrested, tried before Judge Baron John Williams in R v Lovelass and Others. They were found guilty, and transported to Australia.
1877 – Edgar Cayce born. American psychic who allegedly possessed the ability to answer questions on subjects such as healing and wars, and had visions of the world ending. He also gave a reading about Atlantis while in a hypnotic trance.
Cayce founded a nonprofit organization, the Association for Research and Enlightenment.Though Cayce himself was a member of the Disciples of Christ and lived before the emergence of the New Age Movement, some believe he was actually the founder of the movement and influenced its teachings.
Cayce became a celebrity toward the end of his life and he believed the publicity given to his prophecies overshadowed the more important parts of his work, such as healing the sick and studying religion.
Skeptics challenge Cayce’s alleged psychic abilities and traditional Christians also question his unorthodox answers on religious matters such as reincarnation and Akashic records. However others accept his abilities as “God-given”.