Bound by religious vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, the Knights Templar were a Military Crusading Order engaged in religious war in the Holy Land. At the end of the thirteenth century, after their withdrawal from Syria, they became the apparently innocent victims of a campaign of slander and persecution mounted against them by the French government.
The ruthless dissolution of the Knights Templar was only the beginning of a new and strange chapter in their history. They soon became the focus of numerous beliefs about their presumed occult powers, and by the eighteenth century their history had undergone a mythical metamorphosis--they figured highly in occult fantasies of magical practices and hidden knowledge as well as in the romance of the Gothic novel, with its frequent tales of monastic impropriety.
In this widely praised book, author Peter Partner elucidates the history of the Templars as well as the beliefs that have developed around them in more recent times. From the tangled traditions of occultism to concepts of crusading chivalry, from political conspiracy to governmental greed and papal corruption, Partner shows how a medieval act of political injustice grew into a modern fantasy.
Peter Partner, Ph.D. is the author of several books and articles on medieval and Renaissance history. He has worked as a journalist in Italy, the Middle East, and North Africa, and has taught at Winchester College (England) since 1955.
"An excellent argumentative discussion...often original and always fascinating."
– London Times Literary Supplement
"A systematic examination of the Knights Templar around whom such great magical myths have arisen . . . excellent work."
– The Book Reader
"Illuminating and very well written...enlightening and entertaining."
– Religious Studies Review
"A systematic examination of the Knights Templar around whom such great magical myths have arisen... Partner has created a rational, terrifying picture of the barbaric times when popes were cruel and kings killed with impunity...Excellent work."
– The Book Reader
"Refreshing reading in light of much of Templar oriented books over the last 10 or 15 years. Well worth reading . . . clear, to the point, and supported with numerous references."
– Mark Stavish, Voxhermes
"This book is well-written and informative. And, while it probably won't appeal to the New Age-style reader, it deserves a place on the bookshelves of those seriously interested in the history of this intriguing organization."
– Mike Gleason, Witchgrove, March 2007
"This book is well written and can easily serve as an introduction for those interested in the subject. . . . it lays a solid foundation for further reading and research."