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The Templars: The History and the Myth: From Solomon's Temple to the Freemasons Paperback – September 8, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 134 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Haag sifts through the history and the legends to illuminate these mysterious Holy Warriors. . . . Readers of The Da Vinci Code and other fictions relating to the Templars will enjoy this well-written, copiously illustrated, and solidly researched book. Highly recommended.” (Library Journal)

From the Back Cover

The first history of the legendary knights since the Vatican momentously released the records of their trial and exoneration

Who were the Templars?
What was the secret of their wealth and power?
Why did the pope and the king of France act to destroy them?

The Knights Templar were founded on Christmas Day 1119, on the very spot in Jerusalem where Jesus Christ was crucified. A religious order of fighting knights, the Templars defended the Holy Land and Christian pilgrims in the decades after the First Crusade. Legendary for their bravery and dedication, the Templars became one of the wealthiest and most powerful bodies of the medieval world—until they were condemned for heresy two centuries after their foundation, when the order was abolished and its leaders were burned at the stake.

In The Templars, renowned historian Michael Haag investigates the origins and history, the enduring myths, and the soaring architecture of an enigmatic order long shrouded in mystery and controversy. The hand of the Templars, many believe, can be found in everything from Cathar heresy to Masonic conspiracies, and the Knights Templar still inspire popular culture, from Indiana Jones to Xbox games, to the novels of Dan Brown.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; First American Edition edition (September 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061775932
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061775932
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Anytime I pick up a book with "The History and the Myth" of some subject in the title, there is usually more myth still being presented as history than history itself and the book turns out to be a disappointment. This book is surprisingly different and surprisingly readable.

For one thing, the book is not just about the Templars, but about the Templars and their times (from their inception Christmas Day, 1119 to November, 1312, when Pope Clementine, under pressure from the king of France, Philip IV, disbanded the group and ordered all Christian monarchs to arrest them and seize their assets). In learning about the Templars, you also learn a lot about the first Crusades, the history of Europe and the Roman Catholic Church, the Byzantine Empire, Saladin (conqueror of Jerusalem), and a host of other matters and people.

For another, the actual background and history of the Templars is much more interesting, and fascinating, than any fictionalized accounts in the movies, think Indiana Jones, or books, think Dan Brown novels.

There are many reasons the Templars did not fade into history after being disbanded. This book ably reviews them all, including their renown at the time as warriors (although somewhat surprising only about a tenth of its members were actually frontline fighters) and code of conduct, their wealth as an Order, and their construction of great castles and cathedrals.

Overall, the book is a very worthy, and up to date, history on this fascinating group.
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This book gives a very good narration about the history of The Crusades fron the First Crusade to the 13th. The explanation about the crusades, from the causes, the principal actors etc is very comprehensive but written in an easy to understand style. On the other hand, the history about The Templars is also written comprehensively, but only fills about 30 - 40 % of the book's content, so most of this book's contents is more about the history of The Crusades.
Whatever, after reading this book, I have reached the conclusion that what has been popularly written or filmed about The Templars by authors such as Dan Brown etc, is more myth or fiction than historical facts.
At the end of the book Michael Haag also gives a list of other books, films, videos currently on the market about the Templars, so the reader can delve deeper about the subject or just find other material for comparison.
Anyway, Micael Haag's book provides good reading and is a must for history buffs.
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Michael Haag's book is an honest history that is well-researched, relying on documented history rather than myth and speculation. It does address all the hoopla surrounding the order in an excellent chapter entitled "Conspiracies" where he sheds light on many myths. The photos of famous Templar places at the end of the book are also welcome. My only criticism is the short shrift he gives to the later crusades, in particular the Richard the Lion Heart era which only warrents a page or two. Like many books on the Templars, at times the focus wanders to a discussion of the crusades in general. Although to some extent the context is necessary, more detail on the Templars proper, especially during the 1200's, would have strengthened the book.

All in all a good book, but if you are already a crusade/Templar buff there won't be too much new aside from a nice discussion on the Chinon parchmant and other recent discoveries.
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Format: Paperback
What sets Michael Haag's book apart from the normal fare of books about the Templars is how much time he spends not talking about the Templars, but rather other groups, movements and religions that existed alongside the Templars. This is a real strength of the book, as he sets the tone for understanding how the Templars came into existence and the politics that allowed them to become the movement they were, as well as the politics and intrigue that eventually led to their demise. Haag is also very good about presenting, classical thinking about the Templars, and then alongside this he includes newer source material that the modern view. Throughout the book he intersperses short essays on related topics to give the reader a better feel for the history of the time, with topics such as: The White Slave Trade; Chivalry and Reality; Richard the Lionheart and the Templars, etc.

There are times when he presents older and outdated thinking about certain subjects, such as the history of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple during the first Jewish Revolt and presents these as fact. Only much later in the book does he add the relevant current thinking and correct himself. This is a very minor issue and the fact that he eventually includes modern sources to support these events makes up for these minor inconsistencies and in my mind validates that he has poured over many source materials to get to the true nature of the Templars.

Haag includes a discussion about conspiracy theories concerning the Templars and he is clear to separate fact, fiction and far-fetched myths. This allows one to get to know the true Templars, while also enjoying the legends and myths that have grown around them.
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