STARRED REVIEW
September 19, 2017

The Templars

By Dan Jones
In his new book, bestselling author Dan Jones aims to unpack the myths to get at the history of the Knights Templar.
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The mythical Knights Templar pervade popular culture: from the video game Assassin’s Creed to The Da Vinci Code and Game of Thrones. Warriors who lived like monks, the Templars have been inspiring legends from the time of their founding in the 11th century. In his new book, bestselling author Dan Jones aims to unpack the myths to get at the history of the Knights Templar.

The Templars were an order of Christian soldiers founded in 1119 to support the Crusades in the Middle East. Then, as now, the city of Jerusalem was both a site for religious pilgrimage and violent political dispute. Sponsored by the Catholic Church, the Crusades were in essence religious wars between Christian and Muslim armies for control of the Holy Land. Despite their vows of poverty and chastity, the Templars soon amassed great wealth, and during the two centuries of their greatest influence controlled much of the economic infrastructure of Europe. Their spectacular rise and fall as soldiers and bankers is the focus of Dan Jones’ carefully written and researched book.

The Templars exemplified the idea of militant Christianity, of the sword rather than the word. Dan Jones makes this the starting point of his narrative, emphasizing the Church-sanctioned violence of the era. This makes for sometimes-uncomfortable reading. It’s fun to read rollicking fiction about the Templars as defenders of the Holy Grail, but it’s sobering to read history about Christians killing in the name of God. Indeed, the Norwegian fascist Anders Breivik—who killed 77 people in an act of domestic terrorism in 2011— claimed to be part of a contemporary order of the Knights Templar.

The violent fanaticism lurking behind the image of the Knights Templar is an important reason for getting their story as historically accurate as possible. Dan Jones accomplishes this goal and more with The Templars.

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The Templars

The Templars

By Dan Jones
Viking
ISBN 9780525428305

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