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

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  804 ratings  ·  76 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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Simon Mcleish
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...more
John-andrew
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
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
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
Tara
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.
Mel Bossa
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
Jennifer
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.
Curtis Butturff
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...more
Kimberly
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...more
Lisabet Sarai
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...more
Reds_reads
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...more
Spoonbridge
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
Luke
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...more
Corwin
This is one of the least boring historical books I've read in a number of years. The author manages to explain very thoroughly a politically bewildering mess of a thousand years of Europe after the collapse of the Roman empire, describing the political and religious social background to the Templars and that was the background of their wars in and occupation of the Holy Land and that turned on them and led to their persecution and dissolution. It's a bit of a whirlwind read but I had little trou...more
Dave
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
Andrew
Proves to be almost more of a history of the Crusades with some asides to focus on the Templars through the majority of the book, until it covers the trials of the Knights of the Temple of Solomon in the early 14th century to close out the book. All in all, a fun little overview.
Mikael Nerde
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
Darcy Mayo
The Templars, by Pier Paul Read, was a nicely written historical book about the Crusades. It clearly told about the religions and beliefs in the time period and how they played into the the Crusades. It summarizes from beginning to end the kings, fights, and where everything took place during that time period. Although it was a well written summary, often times it would get off track going into overly-detailed descriptions that where unnecessary and only made the reader confused.

I read this book...more
Dave
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
"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
Anton Shevtsov
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
Eric
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...more
Longboardusa5
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
Jimmy
This book does not limit itself to the titular subject, but begins with an overview of the history of the Holy Land and covers the general aspects of the history of the Crusades with an emphasis on the involvement of the Templars. While it covers a large amount of historical ground, it is generally well written and thorough. It is a good introduction for those who are interested in the Order of the Temple, but who have little knowledge of the time and events surrounding them.
Sneaky Miki
This book should be called "The Crusaders" or "The History of the Crusades". It gives the reader very little knowledge about what it is supposed to be about - the Templars. The title has nothing to do with the content, which is disappointing, as Read's history of Holy Wars is written in an interesting, enjoyable way. The title and the subtitle are as misleading as you can't even imagine. This book will make you experts on the Crusades, but still willing to explore the Templars topic
Tiberius63
Well, interesting, well-written, but ultimately disappointing. The majority of the book is a very nice exposition of the first three Crusades, with minor diversions to discuss the Templars. The final chapters are quite interesting, fairly in-depth discussions of the final fall of the Templars, the arrests, the trials, the imprisonments, the confessions, etc. I just wish there had been more discussion of the Templars organization itself along the way.
Trickey
So I finally finished this monster and did not learn what I had hoped to. At the end of the book the author describes how the Templars came to be associated with the Freemasons, which was really what I was interested in. However, the detailed history of the crusades, the military orders, and the papacy was definitely worth while. A long read but informative and well written. A little dense with names and places.
Ann
Having read many of the romantic myths about The Templars, I was interested in this book which seeks to set forth a factual history of the military order. Unfortunately the majority of the book is dry and dull, and in fact the most interesting parts are those on the destruction of the Temple and the verdict of history which takes us back into the romantic myths about The Templars.
Marthalie Thurston
First off, very very informative. Complete appendices. Thought stimulating epilogue. Excellent colored graphics.
The story is told clearly which helps immensely as the period of history is long and rather complicated. Having studied this period with great interest and curiosity I was delighted.
I would easily recommend this book to all readers interested in history.
Justin
Sep 17, 2007 Justin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone looking to gain historical perspective on mid-east politics
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is PACKED with well-researched information, which sometimes makes it a difficult read. However, if you can hang through this, it provides much insight into how western civilization and religion dealt with the (middle) eastern powers of the time. These historical lessons are still VERY relevant today, especially with the current US occupation of Iraq.
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40311
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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