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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who were the Templars?
"Who were the Templars?" is the opening sentence of Piers Paul Read's Preface to his book, "The Templars. The answer is one of the most powerful and significant groups of knights who combine two of the most important themes of the Middle Ages: the themes of monasticism and chivalry.
The Templars were fighting monks who were prepared, and often did ,...
Published on 8 April 2001 by dmsnape@netlineuk.net

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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A cast of thousands
The author certainly knows his stuff, but if you have little to no knowledge of the subject before you start reading, you may find yourself a little lost.
The first few chapters give a rapid historical overview of the geographical area, and a potted history of the development of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. This can be a little confusing as facts are often...
Published on 18 Sep 2004 by Mr. Gavin P. Brooks


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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who were the Templars?, 8 April 2001
By 
dmsnape@netlineuk.net (Bedfordshire; England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Templars (Paperback)
"Who were the Templars?" is the opening sentence of Piers Paul Read's Preface to his book, "The Templars. The answer is one of the most powerful and significant groups of knights who combine two of the most important themes of the Middle Ages: the themes of monasticism and chivalry.
The Templars were fighting monks who were prepared, and often did , die for the beliefs. Read traces the Templars from the origins of Solomon's Temple to their extermination by Philip IV, King of France in 1312.
Read's book is one of scholarship and has little connection with such works as "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail by Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln. It reduces to half a page connections with Freemasonary. It is, however, a detailed account of the early Crusades when the Templars seemed to be connected to the greatest soldiers, statesmen and kings of the age, Saladin, Richard the Lion Heart and the Kings of Jerusalem march through the pages of this book. The Knights of St John feature heavily as fighting alongside the Templars in the defence of Jeruslam but unlike the Templars were able to develop a further interest in Mediterranean shipping as can be seen in an equally interesting book about the period "The Great Siege of Malta" by Ernle Bradford
The Templars' legacy includes major examples of mediaeval architecure and such was their standing that they were the first to introduce a form of cheque to the world of banking.
Read's book will appeal to the scholar the amateur historian and the casual reader. Yet, in spite of its scholarship, there is a feeling that there is still a element of mystery about the warrior knights.They were often hated by the clergy because of their exemption from tythes and clerical courts, feared by their enemies because of their fanatical bravery and admired by the populace because of their devotion to the Holy Land. Read is able to keep all the claims about their licentious behaviour within bounds and ensure his book is balanced, informative and readable. Whilst it is not popular history it is an engaging work.
Well worth the money!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars History as it Should be Written, 25 Jun 2006
By 
J. Chippindale (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Templars: The Dramatic History of the Knights Templar, the Most Powerful Military Order of the Crusades (Paperback)
Ask any schoolboy to give you his version of what a knight looks like and the chances are he will say that a knight wears chainmail, a helmet and a white surcoat with a red cross emblazoned on it. A pretty good description of what a Templar Knight would have looked like to us, had we been there at the time they were joining the crusades to protect pilgrims and save the Holy Land from attacks by the infidels.

Their Order rose to be one of the most powerful in the Western World, until their wealth and power began to frighten people in high places, no less in fact than the French King, who accused the Order of heresy and even immorality. He extracted confessions from the senior members of the order, through torture and even burning at the stake.

Most of the senior members of the Order were murdered and the few who escaped scattered across Europe.

This is an excellent book, descriptive and well written. Nothing like the dusty, dry volumes that I read in large numbers in sixth form college, more years ago than I would care to remember. This book is exciting and has the pace to grip the reader like a novel would, rather than a book with factual content. The truth well told will always beat fiction, at least in my book it will.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 17 Feb 2006
This review is from: The Templars: The Dramatic History of the Knights Templar, the Most Powerful Military Order of the Crusades (Paperback)
The book gives an overview of the history up to the crusades and then goes on into the crusades. As the title implies, the Templars are major players in the history described. As the record of the Templars order was largely destroyed, the author is unable to bring out a lot of detail. While the book is a good read about the crusades, the Templars get lost among all the events taking place.
In his preface, the author compares past and present. Reading this book with that comparison in mind is, as the author suggested, thought-provoking.
Also in the preface, the author mentions that he wanted to tell about the Templars within the context of the crusades. The history of the crusades was interesting and the general history is necessary; it’s just that most books about a multi-national organization have more pages devoted to some type of description about the organization. Perhaps the title is wrong; perhaps its original title was different. The book seems to have been issued at different times by five different publishers. A regional thing? Or are publishers merging that fast these days?
So, if you’d like a good history of the crusades and a lot about the history leading up to the crusades then this book will be a good read. This book can be useful when thinking about the conflicts in the region today. It may be that understanding the past can help in understanding the present.
If you want lots and lots about the Templars, there may not be enough here to satisfy. For that reason I had to go with 4 instead of 5 on the star rating scale.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-researched and finely written, a highly enjoyable read., 3 Dec 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Templars (Hardcover)
This book is a history of the Templar knights from the order's inception in the early twelfth century until it's dissolution by the Pope in the early fourteenth and tells the story of their rise and fall played out against the greater background of the Christian Crusades against Islam in the Holy Land.
Despite the title, this book reads more like a general overview of the history of the Crusades than a dedicated history of the Templars themselves. The first three chapters set the scene by discussing the history of The Holy Land and it's importance to Christians, Jews and the followers of Islam. Succeeding chapters deal with two main themes, namely the story both of The Templars and of the Crusades including the monarchs, Popes and warriors who waged this series of holy wars. The epilogue wraps up proceedings nicely with the author sharing his views on some important questions regarding the legacy of these warrior monks whose order was disolved in disgrace by Pope Clement V.
This book is well-researched and finely written though the author's self-confessed omission of the more fantastic and speculative stories of Templar history may disappoint some readers. While commendable in it's own right, this concentration on fact sometimes makes the book seem a little pedestrian but the more you read, the more gripping the tale becomes until the final pages seem to hurtle past like like an express train. There are frequent quotations throughout but for some reason most of these do not appear as numbered footnotes leading to some frustration for the reader when trying to figure out who exactly said what and when they said it. Another frustrating side to the book is the enormous number of old Christian and Islamic names which appear in every chapter. Again, this has the potential to bewilder the reader unless they have prior knowledge of the Crusades or an astonishingly good memory. But perhaps the biggest drawback is that this book doesn't really examine Templar history in any great detail. Perhaps the author became side-tracked or, more likely, without the aforementioned 'conspiracy theories'there simply aren't enough known facts on Templar history to fill an entire book. These points aside, the book proved engrossing and enjoyable to read.
If you are after a detailed and exhaustive history of the Templars then you may well be disappointed. I don't believe the knowledgeable reader will find any new information here though this book is still a more-than-worthy addition to any collection. However, for the casual or first-time reader who wants an introduction to this knightly order and the times it lived through then this book is a truly excellent place to start and I certainly enjoyed it. Just watch out for all those names!
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A cast of thousands, 18 Sep 2004
This review is from: The Templars: The Dramatic History of the Knights Templar, the Most Powerful Military Order of the Crusades (Paperback)
The author certainly knows his stuff, but if you have little to no knowledge of the subject before you start reading, you may find yourself a little lost.
The first few chapters give a rapid historical overview of the geographical area, and a potted history of the development of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. This can be a little confusing as facts are often written along side 'religious events'. Personally, I found these chapters a little hard going, and not entirely interesting, but they do give you some background to the events that follow.
The rest of the book charts the history of the Templars. There are many characters that played a part in their history, and the shear number of these people can be daunting. If you know nothing about the period or people, then there is a lot to take in. There are bits of Latin with no translation, which although irritating at times, does not really affect your understanding.
Spanning a period of about 200 years, it would be impossible for the book to cover every event that occurred. A lot of the book focuses on who did what to whom, and when they did it. Power play between Grand Masters, Popes, Caliphs, etc forms a large part of the book. There are mentions of where and when battles took place and why they happened, but not much of the gory details, which is no bad thing.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the book is where it begins to tell of the fall of the Templars. There is still speculation to this day about the nature of accusations that were made, and the motivation of those that made them.
All in all this is not a book for those who want a basic outline of the Templars. However, if you already have some knowledge of the subject, this book is sure to enrich and add to it.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Free of hocus pocus..., 11 Oct 2004
This review is from: The Templars: The Dramatic History of the Knights Templar, the Most Powerful Military Order of the Crusades (Paperback)
Read's book on the Templars is both enjoyble and informative. It provides a wonderful account of the Templars role in the Crusades, as well as a great 'primer' on their history and causes. I was very please to see that misguided and arrogant politicians and statesmen are not just a preoccupation of our times, but were present then too.
Its is also unbiased to a large extent, and although the authors own beliefs are obvious, it leaves you to make up your own mind about the motives and schemes of the major figures of the time.
From a personal perspective, the most enjoyable aspect of it was its distance from the more wild beliefs circulating about the Templars. I originally got interested about the Templars through Umberto Eco's 'Foucault's Pendulum' (which I also recommendfor anyone who wants a bit of escapism), and trying to find a serious book about the Templars rather than their place in the greatest conspiracy every is nigh on impossible.
If your looking for an enjoyable, interesting and hous pocus free account of the Templars, I strongly recommend this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, recommended, 27 July 2007
By 
James Adams (dom rep) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Templars: The Dramatic History of the Knights Templar, the Most Powerful Military Order of the Crusades (Paperback)
I believe this is a good read and you should perhaps ignore the 1 or 2 star reviews and that do not give a constructive criticism for this book. Perhaps this book may disaapoint those who want a difintive guide to the Templars but we cannot forget that you have to the Templars in the context in which they are set, along with other orders and religions. The writing is not at all pro-catholic as someone has written;in fact the balance of the book is very sound and does not seem to have any bias at all- its very refreshing. In fact one of the most enjoyable aspects of the book is the way Read considers many scholars opinions when discussing events and not just give his own judgements based upon political and religious motive. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and whereas it may not be considered the absolute authority on the Templars its a very good overview of the history of early Christinity, Islam and the Crusades. From this book I have a deeper interest and knowledge of historical characters ......Read lets us make us our own judgement based upon the facts we know and not political bias.....Read questions several myths about historical characters which is really interesting. I think its a great book and I recommend it....
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A serious history of the Templars and the crusades, 3 Oct 2001
By A Customer
This is a first class, thoroughly researched, brilliantly written text, and a serious, objective history of the Knights Templar and the era of the crusades.
I recommend the book to anyone with a serious commitment to learning about the Templars or an interest in this period of history. The Templars is profoundly intellectual, and rich in facts and detail which make this a challenging read. The book is often very heavy-going, but the reader's perseverance is rewarded with a high-standard of information and top-quality written English.
Much of the mystery and intrigue of the Knights Templar is beyond the scope of such a serious book, but when considering any of these topics the reader is sure to benefit from the abundance of textbook-level information provided in The Templars.
It is worth spending the time and effort to better understand this important and interesting chapter of human history that has exerted a major influence on the development of contemporary civilisation. The repercussions of these events reverberate strongly in the modern world today - perhaps more deeply than most people appreciate...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read, 21 July 2003
This review is from: The Templars (Paperback)
As a person new to the subject matter I found the book entertaining, informative and enthrawling. It covers a sizable period of time in good detail and without becoming a general history of the era (a trap other similar books fall into).
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4.0 out of 5 stars History as it Should Be Written, 31 Jan 2008
By 
J. Chippindale (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Ask any schoolboy to give you his version of what a knight looks like and the chances are he will say that a knight wears chainmail, a helmet and a white surcoat with a red cross emblazoned on it. A pretty good description of what a Templar Knight would have looked like to us, had we been there at the time they were joining the crusades to protect pilgrims and save the Holy Land from attacks by the infidels.

Their Order rose to be one of the most powerful in the Western World, until their wealth and power began to frighten people in high places, no less in fact than the French King, who accused the Order of heresy and even immorality. He extracted confessions from the senior members of the order, through torture and even burning at the stake.

Most of the senior members of the Order were murdered and the few who escaped scattered across Europe.

This is an excellent book, descriptive and well written. Nothing like the dusty, dry volumes that I read in large numbers in sixth form college, more years ago than I would care to remember. This book is exciting and has the pace to grip the reader like a novel would, rather than a book with factual content. The truth well told will always beat fiction, at least in my book it will.
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