An Illustrated History of the Knights Templar

An Illustrated History of the Knights Templar

A comprehensive look at the mysterious history of the Order of the Knights Templar.

Lavishly illustrated in full color.

by James Wasserman


Paperback: 192 pages, 173 illustrations

Destiny Books: ISBN: 1-59477-117-0

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Despite the increasing scholarship devoted to the study of the Templar order, founded in 1119, the mystery surrounding the Templars endures. Secret societies from the Freemasons to the Ordo Templi Orientis claim descent from this religious order of warrior-monks. As the private army of the pope, the Knights Templar were initially established to protect Christian pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land but grew to become one of the most powerful organizations in the Middle Ages.

James Wasserman, author of the bestselling The Templars and the Assassins, provides a fascinating history of the Order and the many mysteries and legends that still surround it through a unique and lavish assemblage of more than 170 period illustrations from manuscripts from the Crusades, interpretive romantic paintings from the great masters of the 18th and 19th centuries, and contemporary photographs of former Templar strongholds in Europe and Jerusalem. Awarding-winning photographer Steven Brooke's images of the Holy Land highlight the profound emotional attachment shared by Christianity and Judaism for the birthplace of their religions as well as the equally passionate Muslim love for the region. An extremely rare photograph of the interior of the al-Aqsa mosque is complemented by another of the Pope's private prayer chapel.

The rich visual display of battle scenes, portraits of the most influential people of the times, Templar rituals and spiritual iconography, and pivotal historical events is accompanied by an equally comprehensive text that chronicles the founding, structure, and doctrines of the Order as well as the 200-year period of the Crusades and the cultural conditions that led to them. Wasserman presents the evidence for the Templar connection to mystical Islamic organizations such as the Assassins as well as their ties to "heretical" groups such as the Cathars, who were targeted by a crusade in southern France to expunge the challenge they presented to the orthodoxy of their time. The extensive photographs of the Cathar region of France by Vere Chappell shed light on what the author suggests to be one of the most important areas of ingress of the alleged Templar heresy. In addition to chronicling the Templars' actions during the Crusades, Wasserman revisits the trial and charges leveled against them, showing how the Order was ruthlessly crushed. He also explores the nature of the treasure they left behind, which has fueled popular imagination for centuries. Weaving together truth and romance, An Illustrated History of the Knights Templar captures the essence of the historical reality, the undying myth, and the spiritual legacy of this most fascinating and enduring influence on Western civilization.

About the Author

James Wasserman, a member of the Ordo Templi Orientis, is the author of the bestselling The Templars and the Assassins: The Militia of Heaven, The Mystery Traditions, and The Slaves Shall Serve: Meditations on Liberty. A longtime student of the occult sciences, he has a played a key role in the publication of many seminal works by Aleister Crowley and is responsible for the widely acclaimed restoration of the Papyrus of Ani, The Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Book of Going Forth by Day.

"A stunning collection of images selected by one of the field´s most accomplished scholars. Wasserman´s valuable commentaries help to present the legacy of the Templars as never before."

— David L. Vagi, author of Coinage and History of the Roman Empire, and Tiberius.

"James Wasserman, occultist, historian, and independent scholar extraordinaire, is also perhaps our best curator of mystical and esoteric images. In this stunning book, he has gathered the most beautiful, authoritative, and complete collection of Crusader and Templar images available anywhere. But this is not just a picture book. Wasserman's text also gives us an exceptionally clear, historically accurate, and esoterically true account of the history of this most mysterious of medieval knightly Orders. His overriding sense of the way in which Templar esotericism fuses Judaic, Islamic (Ismaili), and Christian elements to create a new "pan-Abrahamic" spirituality is a welcome and convincing alternative to the usual conditioned view that sees three great religions separate and opposed."

— Christopher Bamford, author of An Endless Trace: The Passionate Pursuit of Wisdom in the West.