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Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Knights Templar The History And Myths Of The Legendary Military Order

The Knights Templar The History And Myths Of The Legendary Military Order Cover

Book: The Knights Templar The History And Myths Of The Legendary Military Order by Sean Martin

This is an excellent, sober and balanced primer on what has been the subject of hysterical writing in the last few years, especially since the release of The Da Vinci Code. Sean Martin has written a very well structured book. It's divided into four main sections: the origins, activities, and fall of the Templars, as well as an additional section on the current mythology surrounding The Order. Sean Martin has an elegant, simple writing style, making the book a very easy read (which is bad news, because you finish it too quickly).

This book is an essential exploration into the history of a legendary group of Crusaders, which are prominently featured in Dan Brown’s recent best seller, The Da Vinci Code. The Knights Templar rose from humble beginnings to become the Most Powerful military religious order of the Middle Ages. Formed to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land, they participated in the Crusades and rapidly gained wealth, lands, and influence. Seemingly untouchable for nearly two centuries, they fell from grace spectacularly after the loss of the Holy Land. In the ensuing centuries the Templars have exerted a unique influence over European history; orthodox historians see them as nothing more than soldier-monks whose arrogance was their ultimate undoing, while others see them as occultists of the first order. With clarity and ease, Martin navigates between the orthodox and the speculative, the historical and the myth, to bring alive the story of the Templars. Like those other legends of the Middle Ages—the characters of the Arthurian tales—The Knights Templar holds captive the imagination of all those intrigued by conspiracy and how history and myth intertwine to become the stuff of legend.

It lays out the whole history of The Order, from Hughes de Payen's offer to the King of Jerusalem, to Bernard of Clairvaux's lobbying to the Council of Clermont, the first crusade and then on to the eventual downfall of the Templars with Jacques de Molay's execution in 1314. I won't enumerate all the details because if you're reading this review, you are probably a Templar buff, in which case you know all this. For those looking for an Introduction to this subject, this is THE book to get.

Too many history books are written in too scholarly a tone, resulting in a very tedious read-you only need to check some of the weightier volumes on the Crusades. The writing style of this book makes you feel part of the events unfolding page by page. Occasional dry humor that comes out in the writing adds to the enjoyment.

A bonus is that the storyline of the Templars in this book is weaved faultlessly with that of the Crusades, so that it also de facto becomes a primer on the latter. Not too many books on the Templars do this well-Gordon Napier's "The Rise and Fall of the Knights Templar" is one of a few that comes to mind.

Some maps, a chronology of Templar history, the list of Grand Masters (for you conspiracy theorists, this list ends with Jacques de Molay and not someone living today) and the list of formal charges against The Order rounds out what is a great little book.

This book is smaller than most works on this subject, but in my opinion, it is one of the best and if you are interested in the Templars or the Crusades, this is one book you should definitely have in your library. Buy the Pocket Essentials hardcover if you can spend the extra dough, this is one of those books that deserves such a binding.

Buy Sean Martin's book: The Knights Templar The History And Myths Of The Legendary Military Order

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