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The Templars

The Dramatic History of the Knights Templar, the Most Powerful Military Order of the Crusades

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


In 1099, the city of Jerusalem, a possession of the Islamic Caliphate for over four-hundred years, fell to an army of European knights intent on restoring the Cross to the Holy Lands. From the ranks of these holy warriors emerged an order of monks trained in both scripture and the military arts, an order that would protect and administer Christendom's prized conquest for almost a century: the Knights of the Temple of Solomon, or the Templars.

In this articulate and engaging history, Piers Paul Read explores the rise, the catastrophic fall, and the far-reaching legacy of these knights who took, and briefly held, the most bitterly contested citadel in the monotheistic West. Drawing on the most recent scholarship, and writing with authority and candor, Read chronicles the history of the blood-splattered monks who still infiltrate modernity in literature, as the inspiration for secret societies, and in the backyard fantasies of any child with access to a stick and a garbage can lid.

More than armed holy men, the Templars also represented the first uniformed standing army in the Western world. Sustaining their military order required vast sums of money, and, to that end, a powerful multinational corporation formed. The prosperity that European financiers enjoyed, from the efficient management of Levantine possessions and from pioneering developments in the field of international banking, would help jump-start Europe's long-slumbering Dark Age economy.

In 1307, the French king, Philip IV, expropriated Templar lands, unleashing a wave of repression that would crest five years later. After Templar leaders broke down and confessed, under torture, to blasphemy, heresy, and sodomy, Pope Clement V suppressed the Order in 1312. Was it guilty as charged? And what relevance has the story to our own times? In this remarkable history, Piers Paul Read explores the Crusades and the individual biographies of the many colorful characters that fought them.

From Publishers Weekly

Oct 02, 2000 – The Knights Templar are not very well known today; but many of those who know them consider them as a corrupt order of monks who administered a citadel in Jerusalem during the Crusades. Arguing that the Templars deserve a better reputation than this, Read's balanced study judiciously synthesizes the history of this important religious movement. Formed in the aftermath of the First Crusade, the Templars were members of a monastic order who helped protect Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land. Although similar to military orders like the Teutonic Knights and the Hospitalers, the Templars weren't, for the most part, warriors. When Christian forces held the Holy Land, most Templars aided them by managing the European estates that supported the military activities of the order. After the fall of the Crusader states, the Templars lost their military importance--but because their economic importance continued to grow, the pope and the king of France engineered their downfall through what Read considers to have been a miscarriage of justice. Templar leaders confessed, under torture, to all manner of sinful behavior and the order was destroyed. Best known for Alive (his best-selling account of cannibalistic survivors of a plane crash in the Andes), Read uses his keen eye for detail and facility with language to good effect here. Though he draws mostly from secondary sources, he enlivens his account with visual details; as he considers the larger political and religious significance of the Templars, he also describes the conditions of the monks' lives what they ate, where they lived, how they resisted sexual temptation, etc. But more compellingly, as he considers the rise and fall of this order Read tries to make their stories resonate in our own age (for instance, he notes that "the attitudes of many Muslims in the Middle East to the modern state of Israel is very like that of their ancestors to the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem)--and he occasionally succeeds.
The Templars
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Europe
  • Published: Jul 08, 2014
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Seller: Macmillan
  • Print Length: 368 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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