THE TRAGEDY OF THE TEMPLARS by Michael Haag

THE TRAGEDY OF THE TEMPLARS

The Rise and Fall of the Crusader States
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A long, complicated history of the Knights Templars in the Middle East.

The Middle East has a long history of hatred, war and massacres in the name of religion. Haag (The Templars: The History and the Myth, 2009, etc.) lays out 1,000 years of Middle Eastern history before he gets around to the Templars. In the first quarter of the book, the author explores the history of the Abbasid, Umayyad, Arab, Muslim and Turkish wars—many names and places will be unfamiliar to the majority of Western readers. Haag’s scholarship on the subject is obvious, but the main attraction is supposed to be the Knights Templar, a military order formed by French knights in 1120 and blessed by the pope to protect pilgrims from marauders on their trek to Jerusalem. They were primarily monks who lived the monastic life, but they were also well-organized, professional soldiers who did their best to save the mostly inept crusaders. Blessed with large donations, grants of land, and tithes from the church and Europe’s most powerful nobles, the Templars became the wealthiest and most potent financial military organization in the medieval world. With the Knights Hospitaller, who cared for the sick and needy, they held most of the lands and castles in Outremer, the entire eastern edge of the Mediterranean. The Templars were France’s treasurers and Europe’s bankers, as well as large landowners, traders and sailors. Saladin did great damage, as did the Turks, but it was the Mamluks, ferocious slave soldiers originally from the Russian steppes, who destroyed the crusader states and left the Templars to the greed of France’s King Philip IV.

A solid picture of the Templars but a difficult read, with enemies coming from all directions. Be prepared to read it twice and take notes.

Pub Date: Aug. 13th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-06-205975-8
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2013




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