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The Templars: The Dramatic History of the…

The Templars: The Dramatic History of the Knights Templar, the Most… (1999)

by Piers Paul Read

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Really tells you nothing about the Templars..........I understand that you cannot tell the story of the Templars without telling the story of the Crusades but I am sure there is enough information and research out there to flesh this out a little more and engage the reader on a different level. ( )
  Joe73 | May 9, 2017 |
I suspect this book was published to capitalize on the Da Vinci Code success, but was in the works for awhile. This book is rich in details, explaining the history and the Knight Templars. And pretty much everything you know about them is wrong.

First, they were organized to protect Christian Pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem from slavers, pirates, and the Islamic Caliphate. Their loyalty was to the Pope, not to any state or king. As their power grew, they turned into a military force that warred with the Caliphate, also interested in the area. Sometimes it was the Caliphate who initiated the violence, other times, it was the Christians. At the end, an initiate that was kicked out, claimed that the Templers were actually in league with the Devil, including holding Satanic Masses. It started a witch hunt, and nations that were upset about having to support the Templars, used this as an excuse to take away Templar property, lock up Templars (even the old and elderly) and generally take control from the Pope.

This book is dense. Lots of names, every chapter lasts around 25 years or so. As a result, it can be difficult to follow the narrative. There is so much to time to cover, that the individual details tend to blur together. This is a book I can only read a few pages at time, and it took me most of the year to do it. However, the result was worth reading. The real history of the Knight Templars is so much better than the mythology.

Some interesting points from this book:

Free Masonry was associated with the Knight Templars. But, in this book, they were only mentioned a handful of times, and that was in conjunction with building castles and fortresses.

On Homosexuality - at different times, the Church had different views on what was homosexual activities. A monk wrote in a letter about 100 years before the founding of the Knight Templars: "Of course if you get a bunch of men together, they are going to do certain acts". Also, at the time, only one act counted as sex, and it was only between a man and women.

On Judaism - I never realized why Islam is against Jews. Its the same reason as Christians are - At the time, Muslims considered Jews to be a cousin tribe - so rejection of Mohammad is a bit of a slap in the face to the family.

On Christian Kingdoms - Europe has actually set up a Christian Kingdom in Jerusalem and manage to hold it for a a few hundred years - something I did not know. ( )
  TheDivineOomba | Jan 1, 2017 |
Oh, my what an informative book. It packs so much detail into its pages, and explains the history of the Templars from the earliest days of Christianity (how did hermits come to be, then evolve into monks, anyway?) and their creation as a Christian answer to the invasions by the Seljuk Turks into Western Europe. I do agree that it is quite disjointed in much of its historicity and continuity, and it was not until I sat down to write out notes for a talk that I was giving on the history of the Knights Templar that I was able to puzzle out the timeline and personae of this book.

Read gives the names and the histories of all of the Popes who were involved with the Templars, a very, very helpful thing for those not steeped in Western European or Catholic history. He also gives a concise background on the individuals who were involved with funding the Knight's Templar, as in this passage, p. 91: In 1104 Count Hugh of Champagne came to the Holy Land with a retinue of knights. From Troyes on the upper reaches of the River Seine he ruled a large and rich principality that had formed part of the West Frankish kingdom left by Charles the Bald. Hugh was pious and unhappily married--unsure whether or not he was really the father of his eldest son. Among his vassals was a knight called Hugh of Payns. Payns, a few miles downstream from Troyes on the Seine, was probably his birthplace; . . . In 1108, Count Hugh returned to Europe but was back in Jerusalem in 1114. Whether or not Hugh of Payns had accompanied him on his first pilgrimage, or came to the Holy Land only now, he seems to have remained there when Count Hugh again returned to Europe." What I got out of this quote was that there were 2 Hughs (Count Hugh AND Hugh de Payns/Payens), that the upper Seine was a notable place in the history of the Knights Templar, and what various people's movements were in that very important time. As a myth debunker, Read shows that there was much activity that went on in that section of the upper Seine simply because of gifts of lands and one's birthplace, not because of any mysterious or transcendental "stuff." Those parts of Champagne and Burgundy are close to where Bernard de Clairvaux established his famous Abbey on land donated by Count Hugh, and Read gives the necessary family tree to establish ties between the Abbeys of Cluny, Citeaux, and Clairvaux. The establishment of the history of St. Bernard and his abbey is necessary to show how the Knights Templar received his endorsement in their early years.

Sadly, Read spends a lot of time on the Knights Templar during the Crusades, and not much on what they did throughout the rest of Western Europe with the banking system, acquisition of lands, etc. Yes, it does touch on those, especially when the Templars are arrested, but not to the extent that it examines the history of the Crusades.

The insight it gives into the trials of the Templars is another noteworthy section. Read discusses the age of the Templars at the time of their arrest as older, retired fighters who were probably content to tend their lands after the fall of Acre and Jerusalem. Fighting men who had seen too much is a theme throughout history. He also shows how the Templar treasure, that famed, mythical treasure so written about by way too many pseudo-scholars, was spent by Philip and his cohorts in the years after the Templar trials to pay for, well, legal expenses. And that there was no time for the Templars to load their ships and escape once the word for the arrests went out. That all makes for interesting fiction, but it should never be confused with fact and history.

It does jump around, though, so sitting down and reading it from cover to cover is not a realistic scenario. But I was so very pleased to at last read something that was so well-researched and gave true history to a mis-represented group. As I said during the talk I gave, the Knights Templar were probably much closer to their portrayal in the movie "Kingdom of Heaven" than they were to true mystic Christians." ( )
  threadnsong | Jun 18, 2016 |
Three stars because PPR is a good craftsman, not because I fully endorse his ideas. This book has potted Histories of Christianity and Islam, is short on Outremer & Extramadura, and then good stuff on the trials and the Holy Grail sillies. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Aug 13, 2014 |
More a history of the Crusades than the Templars, I found. Quite a long windup at the beginning, some Templar material mixed in with a general history of the Crusades in the middle, and a bit more Templar-focused in the final chapters. But I thought Read might have done quite a bit more with the order itself than he did, so this was something of a disappointment in that regard. ( )
1 vote JBD1 | Feb 19, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Piers Paul Readprimary authorall editionscalculated
Harrison, DickPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nyqvist, PerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0306810719, Paperback)

The Knights Templar remain the most glamorous, but also the most mysterious, of all religious organizations. Romanticized by Walter Scott in his novel Ivanhoe and by Wagner in his opera Parsifal, the Templars have been both celebrated as ascetic martyrs, dying for the greater good of Christianity, and condemned as deviant heretics, thieves, and sodomites who sold the Holy Land out to the Muslim Infidels. In his carefully researched study The Templars, the acclaimed novelist Piers Paul Read investigates the truth behind the myth. Placing his account of the rise of the Templars within a wider historical and political context, Read argues that "The Templars were a multinational force engaged in the defence of the Christian concept of a world order: and their demise marks the point when the pursuit of the common good within Christendom became subordinate to the interests of the nation state."

This approach takes Read back into the Dark Ages and the context for the first Christian Crusade, which culminated in the capture of Jerusalem in 1099. In an attempt to hold on to Jerusalem and one of the holiest sites in Christendom, the Temple of Solomon, the Templars were formed as a strict religious-military order, committed to poverty, chastity, and the protection of pilgrims en route to the Holy Land. Read charts their rise to political and financial power and influence throughout Europe and the Holy Land, and their bloody (and ultimately unsuccessful) conflict with the forces of Islam over the subsequent two centuries. Read's account is painstakingly recounted, but often lacks the verve and pace demanded by the colorful cast of characters, including Saladin and Richard the Lionheart. The best sections of the book deal with the shockingly cynical destruction of the Order by Pope Clement V and King Philip the Fair in 1312, preceded by the torture and death of hundreds of Templars who had already fought bravely for the cross in the Holy Land. The Templars are fascinating, but in his attempt to avoid the more colorful and conspiratorial stories associated with the Order, Read's book may strike some as a little turgid, despite its admirable historical detail. --Jerry Brotton, Amazon.co.uk

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:02 -0400)

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The dramatic, ultimately tragic history of the Knights of Templar, the largest and most powerful military order of the crusades..

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