History of the Templars
The New Knighthood: A History of the Order of the Temple, Malcolm Barber, Cambridge University Press (UK) 1994, (US) 1995. Barber is the academic authority on the Templars and this is his definitive work. Lucidly separating myth from history, he offers a full and detailed account of the order, its origins, heyday and suppression, and flourishing afterlife in the popular imagination. However, like all other books reviewed in this section, it was written before the discovery of the Chinon Parchment.
The Trial of the Templars, Malcolm Barber, Cambridge University Press (UK and US) 1993. The motivations of the participants and the long-term repercussions of the trial of the Templars have been the subject of intense and unresolved controversy, which still has resonances in our own time. In this classic account, Barber discusses the trial in the context of the Crusades, heresy, the Papacy and the French monarchy.
The Templars: Selected Sources, Malcolm Barber and Keith Bate, translators, Manchester University Press (UK and US) 2002. A collection of translated contemporary sources that document the origins of the Knights Templar and the circumstances of their suppression and dissolution. It offers a valuable insight into the lives of those who joined, supported and attacked the order and examines the varied facets of its activities during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
The Murdered Magicians, Peter Partner, Oxford University Press (UK and US) 1982. On the one hand an historical account of the Templars, on the other an argument that they were transformed by fairy-tale and myth from dull and obedient servants of the Church into enlightened magicians of freedom and knowledge.
The Templars, Piers Paul Reid, Weidenfeld and Nicolson (UK) 1999, Da Capo Press (US) 2006. A highly readable and sympathetic account of the Templars that draws on sound historical scholarship while delivering a dramatic and driving narrative.
The Knights Templar: A New History, Helen Nicholson, Sutton Publishing (UK) 2001, (US) 2004. This history of the Templars brings in new material from France, Spain, Portugal and elsewhere, much of which English-speaking readers will not have seen before. The book also has the virtue of being highly illustrated with many pictures of Templar sites across Europe and the Middle East.
The Chinon Chart: Papal Absolution to the Last Templar, Master Jacques de Molay, Barbara Frale, Journal of Medieval History, Volume 30, Number 2, Amsterdam 2004. Frale’s discovery of the Chinon chart or parchment in the Vatican Secret Archives in 2001 was little short of a revolution for Templar studies and it is no exaggeration to say that everything written about the end of the Knights Templar before this publication has to be rewritten in its light.
To Be a Pilgrim: The Medieval Pilgrimage Experience, Sarah Hopper, Sutton Publishing (UK and US) 2002. This introductory survey of pilgrimage looks at the reasons for its popularity and explores the medieval pilgrimage experience. The book is illustrated throughout with images from medieval art, surviving artefacts such as pilgrim’s badges, maps of the routes taken and photographs of the sites and shrines visited.
History of the Crusades
A History of the Crusades, three volumes, Steven Runciman, Penguin (UK) 1990, (US) 1987. Runciman succeeds in his magisterial work to enthral the layman as much as he satisfies the historian with the excitement of battle, the interplay of personalities and ambitions, and the effect of the Crusades on European history. The first volume takes the story through the First Crusade to the establishment of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, while the second and third volumes describe the Frankish years of glory in Outremer followed by their defeats and the undermining of the Crusaders’ ideals.
The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, Amin Maalouf, Saqi Books (UK) 2001, Schocken (US) 1989. An interesting sifting of material–though almost everything in this account can be found in Runciman’s History of the Crusades, and Arab writers were in fact never as interested in the Crusades as writers in Outremer or the West.
The Chronicles of the Crusades, Jean de Joinville and Geoffroy de Villehardouin, Penguin (UK and US) 1970. Both accounts are by French soldiers who fought in the holy wars, Villehardouin in the Fourth Crusade and its infamous conquest of Constantinople, and–relevant to the history of the Templars–Joinville in the Seventh Crusade when King Louis of France (the future St Louis) so miserably failed in his invasion of Egypt and cost so many Templar lives.
The Atlas of the Crusades, Jonathan Riley-Smith, editor, Times Books (UK), Facts on File (US), 1990. More than 120 maps accompanied by linking narrative, contemporary accounts and illustrations follow the military campaigns in detail and provide reconstructions of Crusader cities and castles and cross-sections of such buildings as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Crusader Castles, Hugh Kennedy, Cambridge University Press (UK and US) 2001. An outstanding study of both Crusader and Muslim castles in the Holy Land, and in particular those castles built by the military orders. The work concludes with comments on the impact of the Crusader experience on castle-building back in the West. An appendix gives detailed coverage of the construction of the Templar castle at Saphet.
Jerusalem and the Temple Mount
A History of Jerusalem, Karen Armstrong, HarperCollins (UK) 1996, Ballentine Books (US) 1997. The way Armstrong uncovers layer after layer of the city’s history is fascinating and informative, though it does suffer from an anti-Jewish and anti-Christian bias.
Below the Temple Mount in Jerusalem: A Sourcebook on the Cisterns, Subterranean Chambers and Conduits of the Haram Al-Sharif, Shimon Gibson and David M. Jacobson, British Archaeological Reports (UK), 1996. Since archaeological research is forbidden on the Temple Mount, the only source for what lies below are the reports, from ancient times to the early twentieth century, gathered here and meticulously analysed.
The Temple of Jerusalem, Simon Goldhill, Profile Books (UK) 2004, Harvard University Press (US) 2005. Part archaeology, and part religious and political history, this is a readable and informed account of the history of the Temple, from its founding to present times.
History of the Middle East
A History of the Arab Peoples, Albert Hourani, Faber (UK) 1991, Belknap Press (US) 2003. A useful general history of the Arab world which gives scant attention to the Crusades–testimony to how little they actually mattered in the larger world view of Arab imperialism.
The Middle East in the Middle Ages, Robert Irwin, Croom Helm (UK) 1986, ACLS History E-Book Project (US) 1999. The only serious study of the Mameluke period, and from that perspective covering the final decades, from 1250 to 1291, of the Crusader presence in Outremer.
Templar Locations in Britain
In Search of the Knights Templar: A Guide to the Sites in Britain, Simon Brighton, Weidenfield & Nicolson (UK and US) 2006. Much of the story of the Templars can be read from their material traces, which form an intimate part of the British landscape. This well-illustrated book is a complete guide to the surprising number of Templar churches, castles, estates and other survivals round the country.
The Holy Grail
Arthurian Romances, Chrétien de Troyes, Penguin Classics (UK and US) 1991. Where the Grail began. The medieval Grail myth was invented by the twelfth-century French writer of courtly romance, Chrétien de Troyes, but he died leaving his story hanging in the air, and it has been tantalising people ever since.
The Holy Grail: Imagination and Belief, Richard Barber, Allen Lane/Penguin (UK) 2004, Harvard University Press (US) 2005. This serious, fascinating and reliable compendium of theology, literary criticism and cultural history adds up to the true biography of a medieval myth.
The Cathars, Dualism and Other Heresies
The Cathars: Dualist Heretics in Languedoc in the High Middle Ages, Malcolm Barber, Longman (UK and US) 2000. Medieval heresy, orthodoxy and the Crusades are the subjects of this book, which also examines the social and political history of Languedoc and the rise of the Capetian dynasty. The Cathars infiltrated the highest ranks of society and posed a major threat not only to the Catholic Church but to secular authorities as well. This is a fascinating study of the development of radical religious belief and its violent suppression.
Montaillou, Emanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Penguin Books (UK) 1980, (US) 1990. The history of a small medieval village in the French Pyrenees, the last to actively support the Cathar heresy, told from a thoroughly human perspective.
The Other God: Dualist Religions from Antiquity to the Cathar Heresy, Yuri Stoyanov, Yale University Press (UK and US) 2000. A comprehensive history of religious dualism, the doctrine that man and cosmos are constant battlegrounds for the forces of good and evil and their supernatural protagonists, from late Egyptian religion to the crusade against dualism in medieval Europe.
King Solomon’s Temple in the Masonic Tradition, Alex Horne, The Aquarian Press (UK) 1972, Wilshire Book Company (US) 1974. Using biblical and non-biblical sources, this work examines the position held by the Temple of Solomon in the allegorical, symbolical and spiritual background to the legends and practise of Freemasonry.
The Freemasons: A History of the World’s Most Powerful Secret Society, Jasper Ridley, Constable and Robinson (UK) 2000, Arcade Publishing (US) 2001. Neither a Freemason nor a conspiracy theorist, Ridley is a veteran historian and biographer who provides a balanced and thoughtful account.
Revolutionary Brotherhood, Steven C. Bullock, University of North Carolina Press (UK and US) 1996. The introduction of Freemasonry from Britain to America in the 1730s and its role in establishing the new republic.
The Rosslyn Hoax?, Robert L.D. Cooper, Lewis Masonic (UK) 2006. Cooper is curator at the Grand Lodge of Scotland Library, and his many works include books on Scottish heritage, Freemasonry, a biography of the Sinclair (St Clair) family and a history of Rosslyn Chapel. Using original documents, he explores the fabrications and wishful thinking that lie behind the claims of a Templar connection with the Freemasons and with Rosslyn, the Sinclairs and Scotland.
The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, Arrow Books (UK and US) 1982. This was the book that brought together and often invented the elements–the Grail as the bloodline of Jesus, Mary Magdalene as his wife, the Templars and the Cathars–that powered Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Two entire chapters, and many other scattered pages, are devoted to misrepresenting and manufacturing Templar history.
The Temple and the Lodge, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, Arcade Publishing (UK) 1991, Arrow (US) 2006. Building on their earlier success, the authors here link the Templars to the Freemasons via the Grail, the Scots Guards, Robert the Bruce, the French royal family, the Rosicrucians and the British Royal Society–and from these to the founders of the United States.
The Templar Revelation, Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, Corgi (UK), Touchstone (US), 1998. The Leonardo da Vinci element in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code came straight out of this book, which also finds new and curious links between Mary Magdalene, the Freemasons, the Cathars and the Templars.
The Hiram Key, Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, Arrow Books (UK and US) 1997. The Temple of Solomon, Hiram, the ancient Egyptians, Gnostics, Jesus, the Freemasons and, yes, the Templars all come together here to explain why ‘the last four thousand years are never going to look the same again’.
There are myriad sites on the Web dealing with the Templars and the Crusades, as well as with such subjects as Gnosticism, the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail. Here are some of the more useful and interesting ones.
Ancient and Medieval History Resources
The Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies
The Crusades, the Templars, Islam, you name it: there is a wealth of serious sources available on this online reference site. Search for Templars, for example, and among other things you get an encylopedia entry by Malcolm Barber, the world’s leading authority on the order, which in turn refers you to such subjects as the Latin Rule of 1129 and St Bernard’s treatise De Laude Novae Militiae. The ORB is an academic site, written and maintained by medieval scholars for the benefit of their fellow instructors and serious students. All articles have been judged by at least two peer reviewers. Authors are held to high standards of accuracy, currency and relevance to the field of medieval studies.
The Internet Medieval Sourcebook
This is a subsection of the Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies and will direct you to original sources for Pope Urban II’s speech at Clermont launching the First Crusade, William of Tyre’s account of the foundation of the Knights Templar, Ernoul’s chronicle covering the battle of Hattin, the Itinerarium Peregrinorium et Gesta Regis Ricardi on how Richard the Lionheart made peace with Saladin, and Ludolph of Suchem’s account of the fall of Acre in 1291. There are also such sources as the Cathar Gospel of John the Evangelist, Al-Makrisi’s account of the Crusade of St Louis, and Benjamin of Tudela’s twelfth-century account of his travels to Jerusalem and beyond.
Internet Ancient History Sourcebook
Also a subsection of ORB, this website provides original sources for ancient history, including ancient Israel, the Graeco-Roman world and early Christianity.
Internet Jewish History Sourcebook
The ORB subsection providing sources for Jewish history.
Internet Islamic History Sourcebook
The ORB subsection providing sources for Islamic history.
‘What is the Koran?’ by Toby Lester, executive editor of Atlantic Unbound. www.opendemocracy.net/faith-europe_islam/mohammed_3866.jsp
‘What do we actually know about Mohammed?’ by Patricia Crone, professor of Islamic History, Princeton University.
Established by Andrew Host, an American academic specialising in the Crusades, this website is a hobby with a serious purpose: to serve as a trustworthy tool in providing reliable online material for students or enthusiasts of the period. It provides hundreds of primary and secondary sources on the Crusades, sections on such subjects as women and the Crusades, and on Islam, Judaism and the Crusades, as well as an extensive bibliography and links to each of the Crusades, to the Reconquista, to the military orders and to the Templars in particular.
Jacob’s Ford Castle archaeological site
This site illustrates the continuing archaeological excavation of the Templar castle of Vadum Jacob, that is Jacob’s Ford in northern Israel, which guarded the route across the Jordan river from Damascus. The castle was attacked by Saladin, eight hundred of its defenders were killed and their bodies were thrown into a ditch. These Templar bones and the remains of the castle itself provide new insights into the Crusader past.
Templar History magazine
This website of the leading magazine aimed at Templar enthusiasts contains numerous articles on Templar history, personalities, battles, locations, the myths that have grown up around the order, and so on, plus images, the text of original documents and an introduction to the literature about the Templars. Not to miss a trick, it also sells Templar shirts, hats and mugs.
The Templar Globe announces itself as the bulletin of the International Chancellery of the Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani Universalis; in fact it appears to be a one-man blog, assisted by outside contributions, devoted loosely to things Templar. Its entries are in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, and are generally accompanied by excellent illustrations, photographs and even videos.
Skull and Crossbones
From an orthodox account of the Templars, this site branches out into fanciful and entertaining speculations, such as that the Templar fleet escaped the clutches of Philip IV, sailed for Scotland where the Templars helped Robert the Bruce win the battle of Bannockburn, and centuries later turned to piracy in the Caribbean. There are speculations too on Solomon’s Temple and the exact position it would have occupied on today’s Temple Mount, and articles on such varied topics as Saladin, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Prince Henry the Navigator, Athlit, the last Templar outpost on the mainland of Outremer, and descendants of the Templars now supposedly living in the backwoods of Tennessee.
The Chinon Parchment
The Chinon Parchment at the Vatican Secret Archives
This site displays the original Chinon Parchment recently found in the Vatican Secret Archives and allows you to zoom in on every detail. The parchment gave Papal absolution to Grand Master James of Molay and other leading members of the Templars, clearing them of heresy, blasphemy and the other calumnies heaped upon them by King Philip IV of France.
The Chinon Parchment in Translation
The Chinon Parchment, written in Latin, is here translated into English.
Jerusalem Virtual Library
A cooperative venture between Al-Quds University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, this site provides online access to documents, maps, plans, inscriptions, illustrations and photographs illuminating the history of Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem Archaeological Park
Maps, plans, photographs and virtual reconstructions provide a vivid introduction to the archaeology of Jerusalem.
An illustrated presentation of Jerusalem curiosities, including secret excavations beneath the Temple Mount, controversies over the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the whereabouts of the True Cross, and a madness known as the Jerusalem Syndrome that overcomes a proportion of visitors to the city, usually Protestant Americans, who imagine themselves to be Mary Magdalene, John the Baptist or Jesus Christ.
The Ark of the Covenant
History of the Ark of the Covenant
Speculations on what happened to the Ark of the Covenant, with numerous links.
The Holy Grail
The Camelot Project
This educational website features the history of the Grail legend as told through art and literature. It is part of a project which looks at the Arthurian legend.
Gnosticism, Catharism and the Occult
The Gnostic Society
Website of the Los Angeles-based Gnostic Society, with endless information on Gnosticism including translations and photographs of ancient Gnostic documents.
Gnosticism and Its Successors
An essay on Gnosticism and its successors, including Catharism and the modern-day taste for the occult, by the eminent American critic Kenneth Rexroth.
Pietre-Stones: Review of Freemasonry
The premier educational source for Freemasons in all things to do with Freemasonry, including history, research papers, books, conferences, news and links–in five languages.