The notoriety of the Templars has greatly increased in the current century, due to controversy-stirring portrayals by The History Channel and novelists such as Dan Brown (“The DaVinci Code”). Ignatius Press has done the public a great service by publishing this excellent book by Regine Pernoud, translated by Henry Taylor . An expert in medieval history, Pernoud has set out to set the record straight on the purpose and activities of the Templar Knights.
The order of the Knights of the Temple of Solomon was founded in 1119 by Hugh of Payns, a knight from Champagne in eastern France. A group of monk-knights took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and banded together to protect pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem from Muslim bandits. In 1128 the council at Troyes gave them official recognition and organization under the “Latin Rule”.
Pernoud quotes the Latin Rule in detailing the very strict rules that were followed in the daily life of the Templars, and the way novitiates were received into the order. She goes into their architecture in great detail. The great battles fought by the Templars, and the many men who gave their lives in carrying out their missions, are documented in the chapter ”The Templar Epic”.
The author explains how the Templars acted as the first international bankers, using their treasuries in various locations as credit for Kings and Queens. Their power and control of these great treasuries incited the jealousy of the French crown; Pernoud makes the case that monarchial greed might have been the prime cause of their ultimate downfall.
The Templars were accused of heresy and crimes of indecency; the French inquisitors tortured many into making confessions, and burned at the stake those who maintained their innocence. Most of the Templars were killed and their reputation was sullied for all future generations.
Pernoud makes a powerful argument for the innocence of the Templars, through great detail in documentation and explanations of how mistranslations and misunderstandings were carried through the centuries. The reader is left sharing in the author’s astonishment at the accusations that have been left standing against a group of Christians who gave up everything to defend the faithful.
This book was sent to me as part of the Tiber Review Program by Aquinas and More in exchange for my honest review. For ordering information please click here.