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KNIGHTS TEMPLARS: God's Warriors, The Devil's Bankers
Bibliophile price: £6.50
The Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon was founded by Hugues de Payen, a knight who had fought in the First Crusade and participated in the capture of Jerusalem. He was a member of the minor nobility, and a vassal of a powerful feudal magnate, the Count of Champagne. The first of many legends surrounding the Templars began at the palace of Baldwin I, the King of Jerusalem. Their new headquarters rested on the ruins of a desecrated Arab mosque under which lay the remains of the ancient Temple of Solomon, the origin of the new order's name, Templars. The knights reportedly spent ten years excavating the site after gaining possession of it in the hopes of finding the Holy Grail, the mythical cup of Jesus' Last Supper. The Temple was more an armoury than a monastery. The First Crusade's stated purpose had been to recover Jerusalem so pilgrims could visit Christ's birthplace, which had been forbidden after the Egyptian Saracens had taken the city at the end of the 11th century. Yet the route to Jerusalem was plagued with bandits, dispossessed Muslims, and terrifying Bedouin horsemen who 'thundered over from their base camps in Jordan'. Sanello's account of the causes and military campaigns are contrasted with analogies between the brutal economics and empire of the 19th century and 21st century forms of money, politics and war. In three parts, this first complete history of the Templars covers Palestine, Europe and Legend. 304pp in softback.

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