Legal History

Vatican Publishes Medieval Trial Docs

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Documents from controversial trials 700 years ago that still fascinate many today are to be published by the Vatican later this month in a limited, leather-bound edition of 799 numbered copies. It features reproductions of handwritten parchment minutes of trials between 1307 and 1312 of members of the Knights Templar, a medieval Christian military group that amassed enormous wealth and political influence before being disbanded after accusations of heresy and sexual misconduct.

In a battle of wills between Pope Clement V and King Philip IV of France, members of the group were tried for heresy—and absolved by the pope in a recently discovered document that had been misfiled long ago. However, Philip’s agents burned a number of Knights Templar at the stake after they confessed, apparently under duress, to the capital crime, reports Reuters.

The massive volume is titled Processus Contra Templarios—Papal Inquiry into the Trial of the Templars, and will cost 5,900 euros ($8,333 in American dollars). It is being published by the Vatican Secret Archives, in collaboration with Scrinium, an Italian cultural foundation which acted as curator and will be the exclusive distributor.

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