The Chinon Parchment of 1308 - Templars absolved

The parchment of Chinon contains the absolution by Pope Clement V of the leading members of the Templar Order. It was issued after the hearings held at Chinon, at the
Diocese of Tours, on August 17th to 20th, 1308. What was the meaning of this absolution for the Order as a whole?

The original document is a large parchment folio (700x580mm), initially provided with the hanging seals of the three papal legates who formed the special Apostolic Commission ad inquirendum appointed by Clement V: Bérenger Frédol, Cardinal Priest of the titular church of the Most Holy Nereus and Achilleus and nephew of the pope, Étienne de Suisy, cardinal priest of St. Cyriac in Therminis, Landolfo Brancacci, cardinal deacon of St. Angelo. (...)

The document contains the absolution Pope Clement V gave to the Grand Master of the Temple, friar Jacques de Molay and to the other heads of the Order, after they had shown to be repented and asked to be forgiven by the Church. 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. 

The document, which belongs to the first phase of the trial against the Templars, when Pope Clement V was still convinced to be able to guarantee the survival of the military-religious order, meets the apostolic need to remove the shame of excommunication from the warrior friars, caused by their previous denial of Jesus Christ when tortured by the French Inquisitor. As several contemporary sources confirm, the pope ascertained that Templars were involved in some serious forms of immorality and he planned a radical reform of the order to subsequently merge it into one body with the other  important military-religious order of the Hospitallers. 

The Act of Chinon, which absolves the Templars, but does not discharge them, was the assumption required to carry out the reform, but it remained dead letter. The French monarchy reacted by triggering a true blackmail mechanism, which then urged Clement V to reach the ambiguous compromise ratified during the Council of Vienne in 1312.

Unable to oppose himself to the will of the King of France, Phillip the Fair, who imposed the elimination of the Templars, the pope removed the order from the reality of that period, without condemning or abolishing it, but isolating it in a sort of “hibernation”, thanks to a clever device of the canon law. After explicitly declaring that the trial did not prove the charge of heresy, Clement V suspended the Templar Order by means of a non definitive sentence, imposed by the necessity to avoid a serious danger to the Church that banned them, under penalty of excommunication, to use such name or their distinctive symbols. "

Obviously, the matter of the Templar Order was not resolved at Chinon. For the final solution Pope Clement V summoned another council to meet later the same year, in August 1308. The city chosen was Vienne, which is on the Rhône river in the south of modern France and at the time was outside the direct control of Philip IV. The neutral setting was intended to give the impression of independent action. The main item on the agenda of the Council not only cited the Order of Knights Templar itself, but also "its lands", which indicated that further seizures of property were proposed. However the agenda also invited archbishops and prelates to bring proposals for improvements in the life of the Church. Political developments resulting from the power struggle between Pope and king resulted in delay of this Council, which finally convened on October 16, 1311.  

First paragraphs and illustration, showing the Chinon Parchment at the Vatican Archives  ASV, Archivum Arcis, Arm. D 217,  from this source  Last paragraph based on Wikipedia

Support TemplarsNow™ by becoming a Patrontipping us or buying one of our Reliable Books


No comments: