The Templars: ~ by Dan Jones

Oh I enjoy Dan Jones (The Plantagenets andThe Wars of the Roses links to my reviews on this site),  so when The Templars came out I immediately put it on my TBR-type Wish List at Audible.

And it was actually nominated by another member on the All-nonfiction list and it got voted to go on the schedule for October 2018.   So yes (!) I’m finally reading it.  I don’t like to read reading group selections too early.

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The Templars: The Rise and Spectacular Fall of God’s Holy Warriors
by Dan Jones
2018/ 444 pages (Kindle)
read by Dan Jones (author) 15h 30m
rating:  8.5 / history medieval 
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I don’t know when I first came across the Templars as an organization,  probably in high school world history.  But I became very interested in them when I read Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum a long time ago, 1992 or so? And I’ve read some other stuff about the group in books like The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (an entertaining but historically awful book).

Although it’s fiction,  Umberto Eco’s version is satire and it’s for readers who think, he is an historian of medieval aesthetics.

Back to the narrative of Dan Jones.  In the Introduction he carefully delineates a bit of background on the subject, what he will cover in the book,  and his method.  This is a great example of a good introduction imo, and I rather enjoy history in chronological order although there is a case to be made for the topical or thematic organization if you want to know about specific things,  their battle tactics for instance,  or eating habits, or the economics of a group or nation.

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The first Part is about the establishment of the Templars, the times, the situation in Europe and the area around today’s Israel.  This involved some philosophical issues on the parts of Popes and other powers-that-were.

“If a cleric takes up arms in the cause of self-defense, he shall not bear any guilt.”  (p. 30)  

And that settled the foundation that the Crusader states (of the 1st Crusade on) could be defended by religious men.   Enter Hugh of Payns, a pilgrim who instead of going back home to France joined up with a few  other like-minded souls (between 9 and 30 men), ex-patriot knights maybe, in a loose brotherhood of warrior knights who seriously decided to live a monastic life. Rather inspiring.

Part 2 concerns the military actions and alliances of the Knights Templar,  including the battles in places from Aleppo in today’s northern Syria, to Damietta which is south of Gaza at the mouth of the Nile.   And here’s Saladin and Richard the Lion Hearted.  Very clever in some cases.

“If a cleric takes up arms in the cause of self-defense, he shall not bear any guilt.”  (p. 30)  

Part 3 concerns the banking and property the Templars accrued.  There was a LOT and it made them both popular and the objects of envy.  More fighting of course – the appendices and maps are very helpful.

Part 4, “Heretics,”  is about those who saw the Templars as enemies  – both within and without – from  Egypt to Paris.  Pretty horrific.

Good book –  I’ll read it again.

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/09/knights-templar-crusades-dan-jones/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/the-historical-reality-of-the-templars-of-the-da-vinci-code-and-assassins-creed/2017/11/10/2fb8f012-b805-11e7-a908-a3470754bbb9_story.html?utm_term=.45f397216b00

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5 Responses to The Templars: ~ by Dan Jones

  1. I am keen on Dan Jones too. I read historical fiction too. I read Michael Jecks a local Devonian writer in the early 90s and via him to Ian Mortimer, a historian who lives near me. He wrote “The Time Traveller’s Guide to the 14th century” , a dreadful title but real history. From him I developed a liking for all medieval history, and thus to Dan Jones. I have just received “The Templars”, and can’t wait to start it. I am enjoying your WordPress updates immensely, so thanks.

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    • Oh good to see you Clare. I also was interested in medieval history for a long time but got waylaid into something else and now Jones has re-interested me. It’s mostly nonfiction but history is often written by very knowledgeable writers.

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  2. Helen says:

    I enjoyed Dan Jones’ books on the Plantagenets and Wars of the Roses too and I would like to read this one eventually. I’m only familiar with the Templars through fiction, so it will be good to read some factual information about them. I’m glad you liked this book enough to want to read it again!

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  3. Carmen says:

    I have the books on Plantagenets and War of the Roses on my TBR. I, too, have encountered the Templar Knights in fiction, Da Vinci Code and stuff like that. I don’t know when I’ll get through those books though…

    Liked by 1 person

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