So, okay, Dana Stabenow, BA, MFA, NATS* here.
Seriously. It says something about the enduring mythology of the Knights Templar that today, 700 years after the last Templar Grand Master was burned at the stake in Paris, France, a drug cartel names itself after them.
There are lots and lots and lots of books written about the Templars.
So when it came time to write a Templar character into By the Shores of the Middle Sea, the second book in the Silk and Song trilogy, I had plenty of historians who had done the grunt work for me. Herewith The Knowledge I Have Gleaned.
The Knights Templar began in 1113 when Frankish knight Huges de Payen volunteered his and nine (unless it was thirty) other knights’ services to King Baldwin of Jerusalem to guard the safety of pilgrims traveling from where they landed on the coast to the Holy Sepulcher. Unless they were founded in Easter of 1119, when a group of pilgrims was massacred by Saracens. Unless you don’t think they were really Templars until the Catholic church annointed them as such at the Council of Troyes in 1128. And if you thought they weren’t Templars until they were granted the right to wear a red cross on their mantles, that wouldn’t be until 1147.
The Templars were founded as a community of warrior priests, bound to celibacy and poverty. Unless they were international financiers as honest and honorable as Jamie Dimon. They were verray, parfit, gentil knights, like Parsival and Lancelot. Unless they were some of the richest landowners in Europe. They took oaths to serve only God and were sworn to kill only Muslims. Unless they were swords for hire, indeed, Assassins in Christian clothing, and even colluded with the actual [Muslim] Assassins now and then.
The Templar order was suppressed in 1312 by papal bull, its Grand Master burned at the stake in 1314, a victim of a jealous Philip the Fair of France who wanted all their money and possessions. Unless they were guilty as charged of idolatry, heresy and sodomy. Which pretty much no one except William of Tyre thought they were.
And then I remembered: I’m writing a novel. As in, in the immortal words of Mike Doogan, Made Right Up.
What a relief.
*NATS: Not A Templar Scholar.
Everything Under the Heavens in audio download:
The Silk and Song slideshow is here, and I’m going through it a slide or two at a time, with commentary, most Tuesdays here.