The Knights Templar
by Sean Martin

See Book Review below:

Sean Martin's book on "The Knights Templar" was published in March 2004.

Publication details: Pocket Essentials, Harpenden, March 2004. ISBN 1 904048-28-5. Hardback, 160 pages*, 3 maps, 3 Appendices. £9.99.

In the book Martin covers the history of what had become the most powerful military religious Order of the Middle Ages. Formed to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land following the success of the First Crusade, the Templars rapidly gained wealth, lands and influence and were answerable only to the Pope. In addition to having a fearful military reputation, they invented the modern banking system still in use today. Seemingly untouchable for nearly two centuries, the Templars fell from grace spectacularly after the loss of the Holy Land: in 1307, all Templars in France were arrested on charges of heresy, homosexuality, denial of the cross and devil worship. The Order was suppressed by the Pope in 1312, and Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master, was burnt at the stake.
For further details see;

*Please note that the USA edition is a paperback of 96 pages.

To order a copy of the book goto:
Knights Templar Bookshop. 

Book Review.

Martin, Sean. The Knights Templar, Pocket Essentials, Harpenden, 2004.
*Please note that the USA edition is a paperback of 96 pages.

If you are looking for the essential historical information on the Knights Templar, in a handy format then this book is a recommended buy!

Sean Martin's book is a good starting point from which to study the Knights Templar. Three essential points commend his book;

• The book is an easy read. This is not due to its short length (132 pages of text) but due to the author's easy going style. With some books you can struggle with the text, especially those which weave complex themes throughout the narrative. With this book, the subject matter is presented clearly and there is a flow to the text.
• The book gives a clear and useful survey of the history of the Knights Templar, from their foundation to their suppression in 1307.
• The book makes clear what we know about the Templars and what belongs to the realm of speculation.

The introduction to the book explores the various images that people have held, or still hold, concerning the Knights Templar, from the historical to the speculative.
The historical survey in the book, provides details such as the background to the First Crusade and the foundation of the Templars in response to a need to have at hand a standing army. Discussed is the theological underpinning by St Bernhard (who as revealed by Martin, was a nephew of one of the Templars) - which perhaps in this day and age we might call "spin". The act of killing an enemy of the cross (and we must remember that Islam had overrun the Christian East - and such warfare in which the Templars were involved, was seeking to reclaim territory) was not "homicide" but "malecide" - the eradication of evil! Martin reminds the reader of the extensive European support network which is often forgotten, that allowed the support by the Templars to maintaining the Christian nations in the Holy Land. Brought into relief is the very close and interwoven relationship with France (as part of the support network) and in particular with the French Monarchy, which ultimately brought the downfall of the Templars.
There are of course some elements in the Templars history, where there are real gaps in what we know. Martin is aware of those authors who seek to fill these gaps by speculation. In the Bibliography, the books are divided into two groups; "Orthodox", and "Speculative", which should assist any reader who seeks to follow up the history in closer detail. Sean Martin however does not forsake entirely the area of these gaps in our knowledge which is known as the "Templar Mysteries" For example; (a) that the exact beginnings of the Order are shrouded in mystery - when were they actually formed?, (b) what was going on at the Templar Site on the Temple Mount - what did they find there?, (c) did the Templars possess the Holy Grail (the chalice used at the Last Supper)?, (d) what was the Templar's relationship with the Arab world?, (e) were the Templars heretics?, (d) did they worship some strange head?, (e) what happened to the Templar treasure and Fleet?, (f) what happened to those Templars which escaped imprisonment and execution?
These questions all form the last chapter in the book.

I have several books on the Knights Templar, mainly those in the Orthodox book list which Martin provided. However there are a few on my book shelves that I have not read yet due to their larger size (and that I am seeking to read at least three serious books at one time!). The advantage of martin's book was its size. Not only is it a handy size  in terms of book dimension (186 x 124mm) for travelling around with, but at 275-280 words per page, with only 132 pages of the main text, to read the whole book was not a difficult task.

Essentially the book is what it says it is; a pocket essential, and it does that job extremely well. If you are in need of a starting guide from which to learn about the history of the Knights Templar, this book is a bargain and worth buying.

The Reverend Dr Michael Foster.
Thursday, 18th March 2004.

Created 22nd April 2004
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