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article imageVatican Parchment Detailing 14th Century Trial Of Templars Discredits Da Vinci Code

By Angelique van Engelen     Dec 16, 2007 in World
The Vatican's release of a historic document revealing the 14th Century trial against the Knights Templars sheds new light on books such as the Da Vinci Code. Large parts of the Templars' history has been unequivocally determined.
In the 14th-Century document, known as the Parchment of Chinon, Pope Clement V absolves the Templars of any wrongdoing. It is perhaps the most important Papal absolution that the world never knew about until a researcher, Barbara Frale stumbled on the document which had been miscategorized, in 2002.
The parchment, which has been released in its entirety last month, is particularly spectacular because it gives a detailed account of the Templar's role in history. Turns out some popular fiction and history writers, including the Da Vinci Code's author David Brown, are way off track. Another writer is so close that it has led to speculation whether he's an 'insider'. A rise of Neo Templarism might be on the cards...
Even though the document is not as important as for instance the Holy Grail, readers of the Da Vinci Code will certainly get some answers about why and how the Templars all of a sudden are left without a trace from the annals of history.
To give you a quick bird's eye view of the setting; the Knights Templar exited human history on a sour note. They were slaughtered by King Philip of France after having been accused of heresy. The king of France had money troubles and simply butchered them shortly after they had received absolution of heresy by the Pope.
Dan Brown describes this event in exactly the opposite way in the Da Vinci code. He says that the Vatican gave the orders for the destruction of the Templars and that the King of France played along.
Frale found the document after it had been overlooked by previous historians. She said that the last time that a thorough check through had occurred in the Vatican's Secret Archives at the beginning of the 20st century and that a catalog entry in 1628 was very vague.
"Unfortunately, there was an archiving error, an error in how the document was described," the Associated Press quoted her as saying. "More than an error, it was a little sketchy." Makes you wonder whether someone had tried to leave a message?
The possibility that the sketchy entry might contain a hidden message must have crossed Frale's mind. She however discovered something far more exciting.
Frale found out that aside from a referral to a minor matter, the note also indicated that three top cardinals, including Pope Clement's right-hand man, Berenger Fredol, had traversed across Europe 'to attend someone's interrogation'.
"Going on with my research, it turned out that in reality it was an inquest of very great importance," she told the AP. The subject of the interrogation? No one other than Grand Master of the Temple, friar Jacques de Molay! Plus other heads of the Templars. At that time, the first phase of the trials, the Pope still had some control over matters in France. Later on he lost all of it.
The pope ascertained that Templars were involved in some serious forms of immorality but that they were not heretics.
The document details that "after the formal abjuration, which is compelling for all those who were even only suspected of heretical crimes, the leading members of the Templar Order are reinstated in the Catholic Communion and readmitted to receive the sacraments."
Clement had plans to merge the Order with his other military-religious fighters; the Order of the Hospitallers. But this was not to be. The King of France set off a blackmail mechanism that forced Clement V to remove the absolution order through a non-definite sentence. The document details how it was legally possible that the Templars were not officially condemned, but instead relegated to the backburner permanently. They were not allowed to use the Church's name or symbols and risked excommunication if they did. A big massacre of Templars took place on a very notorious Friday the 13th.
Now that the Templars are resurfacing (for real), the Vatican sells their secrets in a limited edition. At $8,377 each, 799 copies of the 300 page document have been made available. The work includes a life like copy of the official Chinon Parchment, violaceous stains and all. The book includes the entire documentation of the inquisition's hearings.
Commenting on the work of Ms Frale, a writer for the Malta Times, Lydia Grech, ascertains the virtues of various writers on the topic of the Knights Templar and singles out one author as conspicuously on the money. George Gregory Buttigieg published his A Templar's Chronicles, well before the find in the Vatican Secret Archives. That is why Grech, impressed with the work's accuracy, says that he finds it hard to believe that the book's author is not an 'insider', a Knight himself. (The Order has throughout history been known to have been resurrected, even till today).
"Could A Templar's Chronicles and the release of the Chinon document be part of the establishment's timely reaction to the modern heresies threatening the Catholic Church in the wake of books like The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail and The Da Vinci Code?," wonders Grech.
She might have a point. The Vatican has strongly condemned the Da Vinci Code and called for people to put it aside. People stumble over the assertion that Jesus' bloodline is continued until the day of today almost branding it a "new" heresy. Buttigieg denies assertions that is a Templar, but nevertheless has invented a phrase to keep such suspicions deliciously current; "speculative neo-templarism". You'd think he is casually dropping a hint. If he is, to persist the erroneous nonsense that descendents of Jesus are still among us is not on his agenda. Buttigieg created a character, Henry Tonna Black, a third degree freemason who has little time for such nonsense. It demeans the templars, according to this character. What a modern day Knights Templar would be dreaming up instead? Who knows, perhaps they'd be inventing situations in situation rooms.
But speculations are for once out of order perhaps. The publication of the Chinon Parchment marks an occasion that reveals an unusually sharp take of events that hithertoe had been considered history's most obscured secrets. Whether the Vatican's printing house deliberately timed the publication of Ms Frale's work is is of little importance. It is more likely that the timing of the release simply occurred after Frale and other scholars had concluded their painstaking research. If not, what is wrong with releasing a historic document if it provides conclusive evidence? Spin doctoring of the facts is known to be only harmful when less than savory issues are involved. The release of this document surely is one of the best things that happened in 2007.
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