Importance and History of the Bayeux Templars

The Templar presence around Bayeux, although unknown, is attested by many sources. Its history is inseparable from that of a noble family of Bessin in the region of Bayeux: the Bacon family, also known as "Bacon du Molay".The origin of their lineage goes back to the year one thousand. The family had a barony, and their stronghold was the area of Molay (Molay-Littry).

 

William II Bacon du Molay accompanies, around 1096, Robert Courteheuse, eldest son of William of Conqueror, in the Holy Land, during the first crusade. It seems that from this time, the family Bacon du Molay had contact with the canons of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, and probably with Godefroy de Bouillon. These canons surrounded themselves, a few years after their founding, with lay knights led by Hugues de Payns, supported in this undertaking by the powerful Count Hugues de Champagne. Towards 1114 nine knights adopted, along with the canons of the Holy Sepulcher, the rule of Saint Augustine and created in 1119 the first templar order, installed near the alleged Temple of Solomon. The order, The Poor Knights of Christ, will later be officially recognized at the Council of Troyes, in 1129, on January 13th.

 

In Normandy, the grandson of Guillaume II Bacon of Molay, Roger III, lord of Molay, Breuil, Saon, Saint Contest and Planquery, founded very early in 1148 the commandery of Baugy, on the territory of the forest of Balleroy, whose origin of the name would be closer to "King Baal".

It should be noted that a house of the order, with a chapel, seems to have existed at this location, before the official donation ratified this state of affairs.

This is possibly one of the very first commanderies of the order, since it was created around 1130-1135.

The commandery was founded by a charter, the content of which is well documented, since we know that Roger Bacon du Molay donated to the Poor Knights of Christ the Baugy estate, formed from certain lands from Balleroy to Planquery. This estate was accompanied by other donations, such as woods and rivers at the places of Rihous and Baugy, a fishpond, a small island, rights to other lands, a mill, pastures and the church of Saon and its income. The vassals of Roger Bacon donate similarly, according to their relative wealth.

 

The inventory drawn up during the arrest of the Templars, the year 1307 shows us other possessions of the commandery, acquired in the following century by the order; they are: A Templar house in Bayeux, rue des Chanoines, near the city gate, a manor in Saint-Loup-Hors, also known as the Domain of the Temple in Saint-Loup-Hors, and finally another house in Bayeux with many incomes from real estate located in the same sector.

 

The elder branch of the Bacon du Molay family disappeared in the 14th century, following the death of Jeanne Bacon, daughter of Roger V, who died without issue. Only an indirect line, English, survived in the person of Richard Bacon, son of William III Bacon and an illegitimate daughter of Ranulf the Meschin. He founded a priory in Staffordshire and became Earl of Chester. Some claim that among the descendents of this branch was Sir Francis Bacon, Chancellor of England at the time of King James I, but this remains conjecture. It is interesting to note that the stronghold of Molay seemed to have some importance, especially in regard to several English personalities. It is known that on the edge of the former Balleroy Forest (formerly more extensive than it is now), not far from the very old village of Noron, called at that time Nogrondus, a powerful castle had been erected. According to the memoirs of the Antiques Society of Normandy, This was Bur Castle; the ducal residence of King Henry II Plantagenet.