In 1187, nearly a hundred years after the victorious First Crusade, the Templars were driven from Jerusalem, by Saladin. Little more than a century later, Acre would be destroyed, the Franks driven from the Holy Land and the Templars themselves disgraced and facing their final immolation.
In Michael Haag’s book, written in 2012, he explores their remarkable rise and fall against a backdrop of the Crusader ideal and the Latin Christian states of Medieval Palestine. The story of the Templars charts two centuries of distinctive culture and benevolent Frankish rule in the Levant, the desperate struggle to sustain it and the tragedy of its ultimate destruction for Christians and Muslims alike. This is a very readable book on the Crusades, and whilst not a confident reviewer, mainly down to my woeful lack of knowledge on the subject, it has given me unbelievably valuable insights, for example the genesis of Islam, the reason for the conflict between Sunni and Shia which still resonates even to these modern times and that the struggle between Islam and Christianity in the Mediterranean world was really the central issue. The first third of the book is devoted to setting the scene for the rise of the Order by detailing the situation and events in the Levant prior to the First Crusade whilst the remainder covers the rise of the Templars, their role in the affairs of Outremer, and their suppression by Phillip the Fair and Pope Clement. This book by no means “dumbs down” the history but is far more accessible to the novice reader like me.