The Knights Templar by Stephen Howarth
Here is a complete account of one of the strangest phenomena of medieval history: The Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ, the Knights of The Temple of Solomon - more popularly known as The Knights Templar. In their brotherhood, the Knights united two conflicting medieval ideals, for they were both monks and warriors, committed to God and committed to war. In the strict hierarchy of the feudal world, where every man owed loyalty and allegiance to his overlord, The Templars obeyed no one except The Pope. Acquiring land and castles by gift conquest and purchase in every part of Europe and the eastern Mediterranean, they became a church within the Church - a state within the State. They were bankers, merchants, diplomats and tax gatherers and though themselves poor the wealth of their order was legendary. They led the Crusades against Moslem States of the East, yet when their order was destroyed in 1314, its enemies were not Muslims but Christians. Individually and as a group they were accursed of heresy, treachery, sodomy, usury, blasphemy, idolatry and a number of unspeakable sins. Pope Clement to whom The Order owed complete allegiance described them as 'horrible, wicked and detestable'. Charting the rise and fall of The Order, tracing the lives and deaths of its members, examining the motives of its supporters and opponents, Stephen Howarth cuts through the myths and legends and sets out the true historical facts.