Knights Templar

Now available: The Templars and the Grail

Now available: The Knights Templar Encyclopedia

The Knights Templar are one of the best-known military Crusading orders of the Middle Ages. The Order of the Temple was founded in 1118 with the initial aim of protecting pilgrims going to and from Jerusalem, but many believe they were in all probability also searching for hidden treasures under the long destroyed Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, the place where the Order was originally installed. The Templars developed into one of the richest and most powerful organizations in the medieval world, and had a large network of preceptories and commanderies throughout Europe and the Middle East. They were the bankers to kings and originated our modern-day concept of a letter of credit, in addition to fighting in the Crusades and assisting pilgrims.

The Order lasted for nearly two hundred years, before its suppression by both the French king and Pope Clement V – who issued the papal bull Vox in excelso on 22 March 1312 which finally suppressed the Order. The initial event was sudden and brutal – in the early hours of Friday, 13th October 1307, the French Templars were arrested by the officials of King Philip IV in the name of the Inquisition and their property was confiscated by royal representatives and later granted to the other great military order, the Knights Hospitaller. This event also led to the arrest of Templars elsewhere, but the situation was most severe in France. (The sudden arrest of the Templars on Friday 13th gave rise to the saying “Friday the 13th, unlucky for some.”)

The Templars were then arrested, tortured, charged with serious heresies, and brought to trial. They were accused, for example, of worshipping a strange head named Baphomet. Many historians believe that, many of the confessions of “heresy” against the knights are questionable, since they are known to have been extracted by torture by the Inquisition. The leaders of the Templars finally came before the papal representatives in March 1314 and were sentenced to perpetual imprisonment. But Grand Master Jacques de Molay and Geoffroi de Charney, the Preceptor of Normandy, continued to protest their innocence and, that very evening, King Philip IV ordered that they be burned at the stake on an island in the Seine. Many theories – and myths – abound about whether, or how, the Templars might have survived into more modern times. Even more tantalising, for many, is the question of where the Templars hid their treasure, and whether it will ever be found. More research is in progress on this fascinating subject today, by many authors, both academic and popular.

Dr Karen Ralls


This select bibliography does not aim to be comprehensive, but to suggest major works on this topic, both popular and academic, and from a variety of perspectives.

To get started…

For accessible works on the Templars for a general audience:

  • Read, Piers Paul, The Templars, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1999
  • Seward, D., The Monks of War, Penguin Books, London, 1972, rev. ed. 1995
  • Martin, Sean, the Knights Templar, Pocket Essentials, Harpenden, 2004
  • Robinson, J., Dungeon, Fire and Sword: The Knights Templar in the Crusades, M Evans, NY 1991
  • Ralls, K., The Templars & the Grail: Knights of the Quest, Quest Books, Chicago, USA, May 2003
  • Demurger, Alain, The Last Templar, Profile Books, London 2004
  • Burmar, Edward, The Templars: Knights of God, Destiny Books, Rochester, 1986

To go deeper…

For antiquarian / academic works on the Templars:

  • Barber, M., The New Knighthood: A History of the Order of the Temple, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1994
  • Barber, M., The Trial of the Templars, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1978
  • Forey, A., “The Military Orders and the Holy War against Christians in the 13th c.”, English Historical Review, CIV, Longman Group UK, London, 1989
  • Partner, P., The Murdered Magicians: The Templars and their Myth, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1981
  • Lord, E., The Knights Templar in Britain, Pearson Education Ltd, Harlow, 2002
  • Nicholson, Helen, The Knights Templar, Sutton, Stroud, 2001
  • Upton-Ward, J.M., (transl), The Rule of the Templars, Boydell Press, Woodbridge, UK, 1992 [This is an English transl. of de Curzon’s 1886 edition of the French Rule of the Templars]

For a detailed, more comprehensive listing of many bibliographic sources – both academic and general sources – on the medieval Knights Templar and related topics, including books,  journal articles, and periodicals, please see  Gothic Cathedrals: History, Art, Places, and Symbolism,  Ibis/RedWheelWeiser, Lake Worth, FL, 2015,  The Knights Templar Encyclopedia,  The Career Press, NJ, 2007 and Medieval Mysteries: History, Places and Symbolism, Ibis Press/RedWheelWeiser,  Lake Worth, FL, 2014, all titles by Dr Karen Ralls.

Illustrated lectures and more detailed seminars
by Dr Karen Ralls can be arranged.
Please contact Ancient Quest for details.

Ancient Quest, and Dr. Karen Ralls, do not necessarily agree with, or endorse, material in the publications noted above, but provide this list as a general introduction to learning more about this topic.

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