A recently rediscovered document has shed new light on the trial and suppression of the legendary Knights Templar. CNA previously reported that the document would be published, but now more details have become available.
The Knights Templar were a military order formed during the early Crusades to protect Christians in the Holy Land. They became very wealthy, owning property all over Europe and the Middle East. They even began an early international banking system.
In the early fourteenth century the French King Phillip IV ordered the Grand Master of the Order and other knights burned after the order was accused of heresy, blasphemy, and sexual misconduct. Various legends have accrued to their reputation, including the most recent claim that the knights possessed the Holy Grail.
The rediscovered document, known as the Chinon parchment, is an original account in Latin of the investigation and trial of the Knights Templar. The investigation took place in Rome between 1307 and 1312. According to the document, Pope Clement V exonerated the Templars on the charge of heresy, but found them guilty of other infractions. He also ordered the Knights Templar to disband.
The Chinon parchment was lost for centuries after a cataloguing error. It was rediscovered five years ago by Barbara Frale, a historian who works in the Vatican Library's Secret Archives.
The new book’s publisher, Scrinium, has already published two other digitally mastered and hand-finished collections of color reproductions of precious documents from the Secret Archives.
The document is 20 inches wide by six and a half feet long - the size of a small dining table.
The parchment is being reproduced for academic libraries. Copies will be printed on synthetic parchment and packaged in a soft leather case with a reproduction of the original papal wax seal. Each of the eight hundred copies will cost $8,000. Seven hundred and ninety nine copies will be available for sale and the final copy will be presented to Pope Benedict.