An unprecedented publication

Trial against the Knights Templar (1308)

Parchments of the hearings of the Trial against the Knights Templar (1308)
Vatican Secret Archives, Archivum Arcis Arm. D208, 209, 210, 217

The Vatican Secret Archives preserves the surviving acts of the papal inquiry on the Knights Templar Order, conducted in Poitiers in 1308.
The first three documents (D208, 209, 210) are the surviving remainders of an original corpus of 5 parchment rolls, including the confessions of seventy-two knights questioned by pope Clement V between June 28 and July 2, 1308.

The extended research work on the documentary material to achieve the first facsimile replicas of the ancient parchments, revealed in 2001 a fourth parchment (D217) which later turned out to be the final acquittal granted to Jacques de Molay and to other high dignitaries of the Order by the inquiring cardinals of pope Clement V.

Besides the parchments, the facsimile reproduction of the Trail acts includes also a 24 manuscript leaves, listed in the Reg. Aven. 48 of Benedict XII. It was a sort of booklet, probably belonged to Clement V himself, where he ordered his cardinals to summarize the depositions of the Knights Templar included in the parchments n. 208-210 e 217, but also those reported from other nine inquires mentioned only in the Avignon Register.

Special bilingual (Italian-English) version from the Vatican Secret Archives. Worldwide premiere officially held at the Vatican on October 25, 2007, attended by high Vatican officers, members of the diplomatic body from the Holy Site, academics from Vatican universities, as well as outstanding representatives from the military, politics, professional associations and institutions.

Years of research and organization, conducted by the Vatican Secret Archives on its source material, have made possible the publication of Processus Contra Templarios, the exclusive and previously unavailable hearing of the original acts of the ancient trial against the Templar Knights.
A unique project in the world, this work comes in a limited run of 799 copies, under the supervision of the Papal Archives officials, and includes the faithful replicas of the original parchments kept at the Secret Archives along with a new and exclusive critical edition on the minutes of the inquiry. A thorough analysis of the original parchments, performed through the technique known as “Wood lamp”, which allows the recovery of parts of text unattainable to previous publishers, has made possible for the supervisors to amend older editions, so as to afford a more accurate and genuine reading of the documents.

The filing of pre-existing sources has indeed allowed to recover misinterpreted text sections as well as standardize designations for both people and locations. Therefore, the Vatican Secret Archives gives academics and interested subjects access to a precious and scientifically reliable tool of research into the historical facts related to the Templar Order. Further to the record and transcription of papers and parchment documents, a section focuses on the review of the Templar history and on the trial against them.

This publication is mostly valued with regard to its documents and critical texts, which help throw light onto the events which led the pontiff to acquit the Templar Order from the accusation of heresy. Clements V suspended the Templar Order, without disbanding it, and he eventually admitted the high Templar dignitaries and the entire Templar Order back into the Roman Church community.


Numbered exemplars, certified by the Vatican Secret Archives
Availability: available item | Current quotation: confidential negotiation

The parchments

Rarities and absolute valuable items

Faithful replicas of the original parchments stored at the Vatican Archives, crafted on special parchment paper, through state-of-the-art techniques, which make them even better readable than the originals. Hand-sewn like the original documents, these parchments appeal to the reader in all their solemnity.

The first three documents (filing codes ASV A.A. Arm. 208, 209, 210) refer to the papal inquiry on the Templar Order held in the French city of Poitiers. These are the surviving documents from an original body of five fabric-like rolls, containing the confessions made to Clements V by 72 templar knights under interrogation from June 28 to July 2, 1308.

The fourth parchment (217), discovered on September 2001, includes the original absolution deed granted by the vicar cardinals to the Great Master of the Temple, Jacques de Molay and the high templar dignitaries at Chinon castle, where Philip the Fair had them illegally convicted.

Beyond the parchments, the publication includes the “brogliaccio” (a sort of private agenda), which although belonging to Clements V, was erroneously bound within the Avignon record number 48, addressed to pope Benedict XII (1334-1342). Edited upon order of pope Clements V, the record contains abstracts from the hearings of the Templars which appear on the parchments.

The presence of countless papal notes on the margins, very likely to belong to Clements V himself as he and his collaborators were accomplishing the hearings, gives this document a relevant value.

The recovery of this precious sheet and the most recent find of the Chinon paper have unveiled a new path of research to academics, reinforcing the evidence that Clements V intended to preserve the existence of the Templar Order, assigning it a new role, after reforming both its practice and the discipline.

The parchments measure 53x69 (cm), and 64x77 (cm), in their smallest and largest sizes, respectively. The replica of the record sheets is made on paper from the well-known “Amatruda” papermakers, in Amalfi, Italy. It is a special paper in 100% pure cotton, gr. 150/, manufactured through ancient handmade crafts.

The volume

A special edition from the Vatican Secret Archives

It includes the critical edition of the trial papers, thanks to a meticulous and painstaking sifting of the original documents attained through the use of the “Wood lamp”, effective toward the recovery of text parts unavailable to previous publishers. A scientific work which surpasses the previous edition released by Schottmüller back in 1887, and includes documents of recent find. Further to the record and transcription of papers and parchment documents, a section focuses on the review of the Templar history and on the trial against them.

Foreword by S. E. Mons. Sergio Pagano, prefetto (legal officer) of the Vatican Secret Archives.
Critical Edition by Marco Maiorino and Pier Paolo Piergentili, supervisors of the Vatican Secret Archives.
Historical facts on the trial by Barbara Frale, supervisor of the Vatican Secret Archives.
Research and investigation on the seals by Luca Becchetti, supervisor and restorer of the seals of the Vatican Secret Archives.

The volume, elegantly bound in parchment with golden writings on its front and back, measures 29X45 (cm), comes in 256 entirely hand-sewn pages, and can be regarded among high quality art publications.
Text parts are printed on pure cotton paper from the “Armatruda” papermakers in Amalfi, Italy. This special paper (160 gr/ is manufactured through ancient procedures, thanks to a particular grain employed only for the Vatican Secret Archives special editions; the book outlines are hand-finished.

Along with the written section, and aside from the drawings, the edition includes, appropriately appended, three replicas of previously unreleased engravings by Domenico Marchetti, taken from a sketch by Tommaso De Vivo, and realized on clear outline, “water-cut” sheets (taglio a filo d’acqua), thanks to refined graphic technique.

After 700 years here comes the light

The red wax seals belonging to the inquiring cardinals Pietro Colonna, Pierre de La Chapel and Berenger Frèdol look identical to the originals in their richest and characteristic iconography; the seals are made from moulds kept at the Vatican Archive, through an accurate sequence of manual crafts, and the delicate coating phase, which dramatically ages each single seal of 700 years.


The official warranty document is endorsed and signed in person by the Legal Officer pro tempore of the Vatican Secret Archive, who certifies the authenticity of each individual item of the Exemplaria Praetiosa, the limited run of the publication, the filing number, and the faithful, accurate compliance to the original documents.

Classiness and unmatched quality

The natural-leather case, “Tuscan-style” (Toscano pieno fiore), craftily assembled thanks to a procedure known as “concia vegetale”, is hand-finished and measures 47X33X12.5 (cm). The case is made from a unique streak of leather, which wraps either the documents’ box and the commentary volume.

It is assembled through ancient manual crafts; the leather on the back is engraved with a motif which dates back to the 12th century and recalls the Templar cross, suggesting the elegant finishing of the two sheltered items.

The style of the documents’ box recalls the stiff bindings in use at archives for many centuries. Wrapped in a single goat-leather parchment, treated upon ancient crafts, it is an exact replica of the chests used to store documents at the Vatican Secret Archives across the centuries. The documents’ box is entirely handmade; all details are reproduced with the same refinement as the originals.

All materials have been selected based on their durability, and have been crafted according to ancient skills: this allows them to appear as if they would shift colours, nuances, and shades as time flows by.

Technical features

The acquittal of the Templar Order

After years of study and investigations, the Secret Archives of the Vatican decided to publish the first accurate facsimile replicas of the unabridged acts of the trial against the Templar Order (June 28 - August 20, 1308), accompanied by a thorough critical edition and accurate transcription of the parchment texts.

The ancient manuscripts, precious relics of the papal inquiry, the private notes of pope Clement V and the parchment of Chinon, are the proofs of the pope's final attempt to save the Order. An unprecedented cultural initiative to reveal the truth of a crucial event in the past history.

Commentary - size 29 x 45 - in luxury edition, including rare illustrations and engravings by Pietro Marchetti dating 1840. Print on watermarked paper cotton; precious binding in whole goat parchment achieved according to the ancient techniques, with fornt and back titles in pure gold.

Faithful replicas of the documents:

  • Parchment from Archivum Arcis, Armadium D208-209-210-217. In over 6 meters of parchment, the hearings of the Trial and depositions of the "warrior-monks". Parchment manuscript from Archivum Arcis. Armarium 217 - the Chinon paper which revealed a new perspective on the Trial against the Knights Templar. Pages from pope Clement V' s private notebook - Avignon records n. 48.
  • Red-wax seals of inquiring cardinals Berenger Fredol, Pietro Colonna, Pierre de la Chapelle.
  • World print run of 799 items, numbered and certified by the Vatican Secret Archives' Prefect.

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