Along with the Hospitallers, the Knights Templar were one of two military orders founded after the success of the First Crusade, and that developed from humble origins into very powerful military organisations. The Knights Templars also became wealthy bankers, with vast estates across western Europe (including the Temple district of London, home to much of London’s legal establishment). However unlike the Hospitallers they were unable to survive the fall of the Crusader kingdoms, and the order was easily destroyed by Philip IV of France.
Eight articles look at the Templars, covering a wide range of topics from their military system to their reputation at the time. We start with a overview looking at their formation, their rise and their fall. Next is an unusual article in which the author focuses on why they chose to write about the Templars. The role of Bernard of Clairvaux is examined, looking at how he saw the Templars as a much more Christian and respectable way of organising the fighting forces of the Crusader kingdoms. A rather fun two page article gives ten obscure facts about them, including their rules about bad breath and the discovery of the very last Templars in 1340, thirty years after the order had been suppressed, living on the coast of the Black Sea after being taken prisoner at Acre! Next comes an examination of the Templar Rule, which guided them for almost two centuries. One article looks directly at their military performance, examining the battle of La Forbie of 1244, a major disaster that doomed the revived Kingdom of Jerusalem. It isn’t really possible to ignore the Templar’s survival in fiction, so this is examined in one article. Finally there is an examination of the arms and armour of a typical Templar knight.
The final three articles move away from the theme. The first of these looks at Henry III’s siege of Bedford Castle in 1224, which benefits from being one of the better documented sieges of the period, allowing us to look at details that are otherwise lost. Next is a look at the Bellifortis of Conrod Kyeser or 1405, a book filled with designs for military machines, most of which were probably never built, but that do tell us what people imagined might be possible. Finally there is a brief examination of the military phrases used in an 11th century Latin textbook.
Who were the Templars? The rise and fall of a military order
Why I write about the Templars - None is more illustrious than it is
The new knighthood - Bernard of Clairvaux and the Templars
Ten facts about the Templars - from blood brothers to bad breath
The Rule - Military secrets of the Knights Templar
Crusader catastrophe - the battle of La Forbie
The afterlife of the Templars - Fighting injustice to ruling the world
Bernard's chosen - Forged in the furnace of holy war
Henry III vs Falkes de Breauté - The Siege of Bedford Castle in 1224
Bellifortis - Conrad Kyeser and his war-book
As useless as a pony in battle - 11th century military wit and wisdom