“While I was doing my research for my Ph.D., I found the Chignon Parchment in the Vatican Secret Archives,” says ‘The Templars: The Secret History Revealed’ author Barbara Frale “I couldn’t quite believe it! The first people I showed my research thought I was crazy. Other people thought I was a genius.”
The Chignon Parchment is a record of the trial of the Templar leadership authorized by Pope Clement V. The document reveals details of the orders’ scandalous secret initiation ceremony. It also reveals that the Grand Master and other high ranking Templars were found innocent.
In The Templars: The Secret History Revealed, Barbara Frale explains how the Templars transformed from being monks to warriors to being disbanded. Entrusted with the money to fight the Crusades against the Muslims, the Templars become so rich and powerful they become a threat to royal houses in Europe and to the Catholic church. France’s King Philip IV, plots the downfall. He gets a secret loan from the Templars, then asks Pope Clement V to disband the Templars.
Frale’s Italian editor is Ugo Berti at Il Mulino. She corresponds by email with her American editor Casey Ebro. The two have never met.
“I studied history at university and wrote my thesis on the Templars in 1993, way before Dan Brown popularized the subject,” says Arcade Publishing editor Casey Ebro. “So when I learned about the book, I was over the moon with excitement. After I’d acquired it, a very good editor friend agreed to pass on my request for a foreword to Umberto Eco! And he agreed! Days like that are why I’m an editor.”
Eco, an Italian philosopher and novelist, is known for writing The Name of the Rose, which was made into a film starring Sean Connery, and for writing Foucault’s Pendulum, a novel about a plot created by the Medieval Templars to take over the modern world.
“There are numerous books on the Templars,” says Eco. “The only problem is that in 90 percent of the cases they are pure fantasy. No other subject has ever inspired more hacks from more countries throughout time than the Templars. Barbara Frale’s stunning discovery of the long-lost Chinon Parchment in the Vatican Secret Archives allows us to see in a new light the church’s role in the process against the Templars.”
The popularity of her Templars book took Frale by surprise. “It’s just a little book, but suddenly I was known around the world in certain circles.”
Frale has written two books that haven’t been published. “I was twenty-five years old when I wrote two historical novels,” says Frale. “In one, the action is set in 11th century Italy, where the future pope Gregory VII and a handful of brave monks defend the Church against attack. The other is set in 9th century Spain, with Muslims and Christians living in peace and religious tolerance.”
The Templars: The Secret History Revealed is a must-read for anyone with a more than passing interest in the Templars and this historical era. The book is scholarly, but a fascinating read. It’s too bad the book lacks maps to give a clear picture of where things happen.
Barbara Frale lives in Viterbo, Italy, where she was born. She’s a historian and an archivist. She’s written four historical essays. Her two historical essays about the Shroud of Turin will be published by Il Mulino in 2009.
The Templars: The Secret History Revealed by Barbara Frale
Hardcover, 232 pages
Publisher: Arcade Publishing
Release: January 12, 2009
by Gabrielle Pantera