- Dan Jones
I have in my library at least eight books on the story of the Knights Templar and their spectacular rise to wealth, power and eventual downfall on the notorious Friday the 13th. Every tome states that the Templar’s rise from poor Knights of Christ to the wealthiest of international bankers happened overnight; many and varied explanations are given for this from the sublime to the ridiculous. Without even going to the Temple and the Lodge, partly written by my friend Michael Baigent, he does however get a mention by Dan Jones as a pseudo historian I dare say he is turning in his grave now bless him . Also I have read at least eight more, but none come close to Dan Jones's production this is the definitive history until some new documents and archives are discovered . Personally I can't praise it enough and the next paragraph will show you why .
Dan starts as he means to go on providing documentary and archival evidence to firstly show that overnight success of the Templars’ took just over thirty years. Yes nine Knights did form the order in Jerusalem and they sent a couple of them to Europe to try and get the Order ratified by the Pope and King of France. In doing this the King gave them some property which accrued tax revenue to the Order whilst also exempting them from taxes, so the ball was rolling and after 30 years many other nobles etc had followed the King of France and made grants of land, farms and even giving all their property to the order upon there death, all tax free. Meanwhile the Templars were gainfully employed as castle guards in the Outremer as the east was known. Later on Henry II had Templars in his English court to run his finances and he even dressed as a member of the order on occasion; but of course it was two of these Templars who with another knight rode off and killed Thomas a Beckett believing they were helping the King.
We obtain full details of the rules, the clothing, weapons and tactics of the Knights whose advice wad often ignored to the determent of the crusades; see the Horns of Hattim battle as an example.They became international bankers because people trusted them and they had branches every where you could place your money in the Holburn preceptory, hand your chitty in to the Jerusalem branch and withdraw your funds, which was a great asset when travelling across the world on Crusade. The Templars' story is also one of intrigue, deception and betrayal against this 'Saintly' Military Order.
This book is undoubtedly the best that I have read or owned on the subject, it partners Dominic Sellwood's book on the Templars back in Europe. Although the subject is thorny and ancient derived from old archives I can assure you that it reads like a modern thriller, fact is often stranger than fiction. As for the Templars' treasure, forget it as they had almost bankrupted themselves, making loans to France and paying for the wars in the East, and if you still want to find the Holy Grail go to the archives because it didn’t exist until the 12th century and a blockbuster written about Parsifal.
Five Mushroom heads; you must read it if you are a Templar follower. A Beauséant !