Volume LVIOctober 2009Number 3

"The Templars: the Secret History Revealed"
by Barbara Frale  Reviewed by Cathy Giaimo, Assistant Librarian

The Order of the Knights Templar has remained one of the most well-known and discussed military religious orders since its demise in the early 14th century. The reasons for this may be not so much the Order's bravery in fighting the heathen in Palestine and surrounding areas, or the power they wielded rivaling any European ruler of the day. It may just be their dramatic fall from grace, the tales surrounding their rituals and lifestyle and finally the deaths of their leaders by burning at the stake.

What has been lacking for the past 700 years are any trial records concerning the supposed heresy and blasphemy that the Templars perpetuated. Ms. Frale, a historian at the Vatican Secret Archives, was reading over the inventory of documents on the Templar trials in the Archive for what seemed like the thousandth time in September 2001 when she noticed a document on a particular trial held in Tours, France. The unusual aspect of this trial was that it was conducted by Cardinal Bérenger Frédol, an eminent canon lawyer and a member of Pope Clement V's inner circle. The document, known as the Chinon Parchment, contained the trial of Grand Master Jacques de Molay and other Templar leaders, and it had been hidden in plain sight all these years!

Like any good historian, Ms. Frale puts her story in the context of the religious, social and political developments of the time. We learn of the events that led to the formation of the Order by Hugh de Payens in the 12th century, how it came under papal authority, the Templars' many successes and failures and their final and tragic defeat at the hands of King Philip IV of France. With her reading of the Chinon Parchment, Ms. Frale confidently puts to rest the accusations of the Templars being heretics and blasphemers. There are still some missing details about the more questionable rituals that were performed, but Pope Clement V must have been confident of his findings, for the Templars are absolved of heresy and welcomed back into the Church's fold.

For those of you who have already read John J. Robinson's "Born in Blood" or "Dungeon, Fire and Sword," here is a must read that offers new information and insight. For these and other books on Knights Templar, please go to the Circulating Library Web site at www.pagrandlodge.org or call the Library toll-free at (800) 462-0430, ext. 1933.

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