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

3.56  ·  Rating Details ·  1,170 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
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 a ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published October 14th 2000 by St. Martin's Press (first published 1999)
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Oct 03, 2015 Dimitris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Accurate, detailed, professional, yet a real joy to read!
Simon Mcleish
Nov 26, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it liked it
Originally published on my blog here in July 2001.

In Eco's novel Foucault's Pendulum, every conspiracy theory, every mad story about secret societies, all of them involve the Templars. Their dramatic downfall and the bizarre accusations made against them tend to overshadow the rest of their two centuries of history and the purpose for which they worked.

Read aims to set out something of the true history of the Templars, avoiding the sort of speculation that Eco was talking about. His book is aime
I expected more from Read, as he is a tremendous writer. However, he used too many pages to describe relationships rather than the Templar knights themselves. I wanted to know more about their tactics, how they came into their wealth, their contributions to international banking, and the ideas they brought back with them from The Holy Land. Also disappointing to me was Read's need to anglicize French names. There's no need to do that, especially considering the preponderance of books on the subj ...more
David Melbie
Oct 29, 2016 David Melbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hsitory buffs
Recommended to David by: Bought it at a book sale.
The perfect book for learning the fascinating story of The Knights Templar. Separates the fantasies regarding them from the facts. Published in 1999, it precedes 9/11 enough to recognize how this story of humankind, both Christians and Muslims, at war constantly, and the perceived valor, honor, and glory of that which they consider holy warfare by both sides, is still being played out in the world today.
Thomas Jacob Jr.
I am very interested in learning more about the Crusades, but with only a cursory knowledge of this time period of European history, I found the entire first part of this book to go way over my head. Piers Paul Read takes several centuries worth of religion fanaticism and violence and runs through it at breakneck speed, with dozens upon dozens of names, figures, and places dropped and passed by in a blink of an eye. Without a firmer grounding on the subject, I am afraid this book is of little va ...more
Steve Cran
1099 the first crusade commences. saint Bernard clairvaux encourages people to take the cross and liberate Christian lands. Antioch a city near Antolia falls to muslim forces. The crusade reaches Jerusalem and in time Crusader Kingdoms are established. Political rule is hardly secure and pilgrims are not only harrassed but they are robbed, murdered and kidnapped. Hugh D'payens decides that a military order needs to be created in order to protect Christian pilgrims. Hugh convinces the pope and th ...more
Devin Hicks
Oct 05, 2011 Devin Hicks rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The Templars, by Piers Paul Read, is an historical book of the Crusades. It tells of Christian, Jewish, and Islamic history, with many deaths and births. This three part text is informational and well written. It tells of the Temples and the Orders, the kings and the queens, the land and the sea, spanning all over Europe. It tells of treachery and truce, love and loss, and the ways of the medieval people. Also included is the separation of the sexes, the ways of the knights, and the punishment ...more
Gavin White
Dec 06, 2016 Gavin White rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I used to think that the Templars were rather interesting - all those rumors about devil worship, their supposed riches, the mystery concerning their sudden and brutal end. But after reading this book, I have started to find them rather dull and boorish.
In essence, the Templars were the military wing of the Catholic church. And they were prey to the same fanaticism, bigotry and desire for world domination that inspired corporate 'Christendom' in medieval times.
As other reviewers have indicated
I gave this book only two stars because it was not the book I thought it was going to be. After reading the title and description I was basically expecting a biography on the The Templars. Instead what I got was a history of the crusades. It was overly detailed at times and I felt that the author sometimes jumped around on the time line so I was very confused in parts. Overall it was an interesting but if you are wanting to learn more about the Templars, this is not the book to read.
Though this book is primarily about the Templars, it's also a history of the crusades. I actually learned more about the crusades from this relatively small book than I did from one 4 times its size. I guess the only part that irritated me a bit was I felt like the author spent more time than necessary pointing out anything that would justify the crusades. Otherwise 4 stars.
Robert Hepple
Jun 23, 2017 Robert Hepple rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published in 1999, The Templars looks at the history of The Knights Templar. In putting this in context, quite a few pages are spent describing, in an objective way, the creation and spread of Christianity and the consequent creation of the Catholic Church, and the church's part in instigating the crusades to reclaim parts of the Holy Land from the spread of Islam. The Knights Templar were the most prominent of a number of monastic orders of Knights taking part in the crusades, and the book look ...more
Sherry Cooper
Read for our trip to Malta. On our way now.
Curtis Seven
Jan 28, 2010 Curtis Seven rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
OK having finished up this read I'd say that it's a good book as a basic starting point and it connects the past to the present in some respects but it's not really the ambition of the author to write a seminal ground changing work here. The Templars are important to understand in the sense that they were an important organization at the time when Europeans were just beginning to emerge into the modern era.

They operated at a time before banks, before factories, before voting, before common folks
Jan 09, 2011 Kimberly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suny, history
This book is popular fiction, which the author clearly states in the preface. That being said, the book read like a general overview of the Crusades, with occasional references to the Templars thrown in. I felt like the Templars got squeezed out of their own book.

The first section provided a good overview of the three Abrahamic faiths and the reason why the Temple was so important. Read provided somebasic information regarding what influenced crusaders to desire to form and join military orders
I am an average history fan. I love history. I had history class in high school and everything else I know about history I learned on my own. Having sad that one may get a better understanding of my rating of this book.

When I started reading I expected author to closely follow Knights Templar from their beginning to their end. However, the book opens up with quite detailed explanation of the origins of the three "big" religions and with roots of religious conflicts that are ongoing even today. I
Lisabet Sarai
Mar 20, 2012 Lisabet Sarai rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This lively, even-handed history of the Knights Templar taught me a great deal. I had no idea how complicated the political situation was in both Europe and the Middle East between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries - that there were kingdoms ruled by "Latins" all up and down the eastern coast of the Mediterranean - that French kings ruled in Sicily and English kings in Cyprus - that the "Saracens" had as many competing factions as the Christians.

Mr. Reid begins his story with a lucid summar
Dec 22, 2011 Harris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A sober and measured account of the legendary Templars, Piers Paul Read writes quite a useful tome exploring the background, rise, and fall of the famous order of military soldier-monks. However, I was quite surprised at how dry I found the writing given that Read is a novelist (though I am unfamiliar with his other work) and I must admit finishing "Templars" was a bit of a struggle. Beginning with overviews of the religious history of the three Monotheistic religions of the Holy Land and contin ...more
I chose this book as I felt I needed some facts about the Templars, rather than the conspiracy theories of late, and this book certainly was factual. The first few chapters provide a good whistle-stop summary of the history of Jerusalem and the Middle East as a background to the Crusades. The book then moves onto the events of the Crusades themselves, the formation of the Order and finally its destruction.

The major problem I had with the book was that whilst the historical background was informa
Mel Bossa
Jun 02, 2014 Mel Bossa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0007-history
Over all, very well done. Favorite chapters being Frederick 11, whom the author compares to a mix of Newton and Mengeles, and of course, the chapter on Philip the Fair who turned out to be one ugly bastard. I'm very interested in that period in history, so I'm biased when it comes down to books covering it, but that being said, this dramatic account of the forming and undoing of the Templars, all though comprehensive, missed something. I think I wanted more Templars, less KIngs and Popes and Gra ...more
Nov 09, 2013 Luke rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While nobody reads historical books expecting some Holy Blood, Holy Grail, The Da Vinci Code style excitement, a little bit of zazz would go a long way.

Read is diligent, and manages to reduce the Templar story to a selection of dates and names, eye-glazingly repeated. There's some terrible scenes to imprint on the mind - how many ways can you dance on corpses once you've retaken Jerusalem? - but it's a slog.

When the fall of the order comes about, things pick up a little - but it's too little t
Mikael Nerde
Jun 30, 2010 Mikael Nerde rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Just up front: I was expecting a book about the inner life of the templar order, some insight into their daily life and details on maybe specifc grand masters or elevated knights etc. The bokk contains nothin of the sort. It is historic timeline of the the inception, evolution and the eventual fall of the templar order. Reed does that well, giving insight into a lot of circumstances, the church and the rulers involved. He also captures major events well, but don't expect too many details. As a d ...more
Caito Junqueira
This book is a fantastic narrative that helps us understand the roots for many of today's conflicts.

Read starts explaining, first, the basis of all three religions involved in the Crusades. The Crusades were the sole purpose of the creation of the Christian military orders and are intimately connected with the Templars, the Hospitallers, and the Teutonic Knights. It's impossible to tell the story of the Templars without versing about the Crusades over and over.

One excellent quality of this book
Jan 07, 2009 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, history
I enjoy reading books that "fill in the gaps" in my understanding of history, and this one does exactly that. I didn't know much of anything about the Crusades of the twelfth through fourteenth centuries, and the history of the Templars is really a history of the Crusades. It turns out they weren't really such a mysterious organization as Dan Brown would relate in his novels, but they had a fascinating two centuries of influence, and a very bloody end, thanks to the Pope and the King of France. ...more
If you want to know all about the Templars, then this is not the book. There may be other books from the same author which may give an insight about who Templars really were. There are also several great books from other authors which try to reveal the true identity of the Poor knights of the Christ. However if you want to know about the political situation in Europe during the crusades, the constant holy wars between Christians and Muslims during the era of templars, then this is definitely a g ...more
Anton Shevtsov
May 25, 2011 Anton Shevtsov rated it it was amazing
Очень и очень основательный, пределельно детальный и масштабный труд о истории ордена тамплиеров. Начинается книга с зарождения христианства и оканчивается современным анализом взаимотношений хриастиан и мусульман. Даже сложно представить, как автор может уложить в голове все о чем написано - настолько широкий обзор дат, имен, событий.. Прочтя эту книгу, вы, конечно же, узнаете о истории тамплиеров (без мифологизации так свойственной многим изданиям), кратко о других орденах (госпитальеры, тевто ...more
Dec 07, 2008 Dave rated it it was amazing
Another fine book on the Crusades, this one devoted to an in depth discussion of the Knights Templar, or Knights of the Holy Temple. The Order came into existence in 1119 on the occasion of the First Crusade. It existed until 1314 when it was destroyed through the avarice of Phillip the Fair of France and Pope Clement V, in particular the former who had its Grand Master, Jacque DeMolay and three of his fellow knights burned at the stake outside Paris. Before dying DeMolay prophesied that both Ph ...more
Savannah C
Oct 06, 2011 Savannah C rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"The Templars", by Piers Paul Read,is a very informal book. It has many large and many-lettered words. It definitely has some very interesting facts, but this isn't the book for kids who get bored easily. But still, some people may enjoy it. Personally, I think that Mr. Read could have made the book on a point of view instead of like 3rd person view because it's very hard to follow along. Because I love 1st person view better than any other, but of course, history books are not in 1st person vie ...more
Jun 29, 2015 Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is another book that will appeal only to history nerds (like myself), but it was incredibly well researched, thorough, and interesting. I knew very little about the history of this organization, and in fact I had only cursory knowledge of the Crusades, before I read the book. It more than made up for it. I think the thing that appealed to me the most was its ability to put the Crusades into a historical context, while still sticking to the gritty details of the Knights Templar. I would reco ...more
This book is a very informational book. It informs readers about medieval templar history and some history of the Middle Eastern countries during that time. It is a very good read if you are doing a project on the templar’s. If you are looking for a book about history not a fiction read then this is the best book you can find. The only problem with this book is that it is very dry. The reason being is that history repeats it’s self. I for one enjoyed this book very much but for the others who re ...more
Dec 08, 2008 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really fascinating history of the Crusades (starting all the way back with the foundation of the Jewish temple and then the origins of Christianity--so it is a pretty epic history). I learned so many new and surprising things reading this book, and it really puts what is going on in the Middle East in a historical perspective. That said, it is also a little bit dense in parts, but if you are willing to slug through, it definitely pays off.

On the down side, it kind of takes all of the w
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British novelist and non-fiction writer. Educated at the Benedictines' Ampleforth College, and subsequently entered St John's College, University of Cambridge where he received his BA and MA (history). Artist-in-Residence at the Ford Foundation in Berlin (1963-4), Harkness Fellow, Commonwealth Fund, New York (1967-8), member of the Council of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (1971-5), member of ...more
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