The Chinon Parchment is a historical document discovered in September, 2001, by Barbara Frale, an Italian paleographer at the Vatican Secret Archives. On the basis of the Parchment, she has claimed that, in 1308, Pope Clement V absolved the last Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, and the rest of the leadership of the Knights Templar from charges brought against them by the Medieval Inquisition.
The Parchment is dated August 17–20, 1308, at Chinon, France, and was written by Bérenger Fredoli, Etienne de Suisy and Landolfo Brancacci, Cardinals who were of Saints Nereus and Achileus, St. Cyriac in Thermis and Sant’Angelo in Pescheria respectively. The Vatican keeps an authentic copy with reference number Archivum Arcis Armarium D 218, the original having the number D 217 (see below for the other Chinon Parchment published by Étienne Baluze in 1693).
The existence of this document has long been assumed. In the bull Faciens misericordiam, promulgated in August 1308, Clement V explained that Templar leaders were supposed to be brought to Poitiers in order to be questioned by the Pope himself, but “since some of them were so unwell at that time that they could not ride and could not by any means be brought into our (i.e. the Pope’s) presence” three cardinals were sent out to perform the necessary inquiries at Chinon. The commissioned envoys were instructed to create an official record of their investigations and, according to the bull, upon returning they presented the Pope with “the confessions and testimonies of the aforementioned Master and Commanders written down as spoken as a legal record by notarial attestation”. In addition, a letter exists, supposedly written by the three cardinals to King Philip IV, in which they inform him of the absolution granted to the high-ranking officers of the Knights Templar (published by Étienne Baluze). The text of the Chinon Parchment is also supported by records in register Avignonese 48 of the Vatican Secret Archives, published in Processus Contra Templarios.