The Knights Templar

A New History

by Helen Nicholson
ISBN: 0 – 7509 – 2517 – 5
Sutton Publishing, 2001.
Hardback. 278 pages. £25.00

Knights Templar - the origins of the Order. Photgraphs of their properties and land. Symbolism and connections with Freemasonry. This is a very nice ‘coffee table’ book, a fact that is reflected in the price. Sutton Publishing is: ‘a leading specialist in the history of this legendary medieval order provides an account of the knights of the Order of the Temple of Solomon, to give them their full title, bringing the latest findings to a general audience.’ It is that last comment that reveals the audience for which this book is intended – a general audience. This is bourn out by the contents and is an excellent introduction to the subject of the Knights Templar.

The book is beautifully illustrated and the text clear and easy to read. Much of the details have been provided, in more detail, by other authors in many other publications on the same subject but this is not the purpose of this book. The intention here is provide a high quality, well illustrated, introduction to the history of the Knights Templar and in that aim it does so very well.

Helen Nicholson provides a clear and straightforward history of the Knights Templar, which is to be welcomed, and makes suggestions as to how the development for the fascination of the mystique that exists today began. The author also discusses, briefly, Masonic dimension and the alleged connection(s) with the medieval Order.

Although this is a general book about the Knights Templar it is not superficial. For instance there is an excellent discussion of Templar symbolism, for example the Agnus Dei or Lamb of God. Also of great interest is Nicholson’s discussion of ’round churches’ (actually circular Naves of churches) which she shows were not the exclusive choice of the Knights Templar as such designs where also used but other Military Orders. Interestingly she posits the suggestion that the reason why that ‘shape’ of churches ceased to be used in western Christendom was due to the fact that the authorities did not wish to remind anyone that the capture of the Holy Land had failed. How so? ‘Circular churches’ were modelled on the ‘… circular-naved Church of the Holy Sepulchre… ‘. To continue to build in that style would only serve to remind people of the failure of the Military Orders to hold the Holy Land.

There is much else in this book which is of interest and I have no doubt that, unlike some books on the subject, you will not consider returning it to the bookshop.

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