Bound by religious vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, the Knights Templar were a Military Crusading Order engaged in religious war in the Holy Land. At the end of the thirteenth century, after their withdrawal from Syria, they became the apparently innocent victims of a campaign of slander and persecution mounted against them by the French government.
The ruthless dissolution of the Knights Templar was only the beginning of a new and strange chapter in their history. They soon became the focus of numerous beliefs about their presumed occult powers, and by the eighteenth century their history had undergone a mythical metamorphosis--they figured highly in occult fantasies of magical practices and hidden knowledge as well as in the romance of the Gothic novel, with its frequent tales of monastic impropriety.
In this widely praised book, author Peter Partner elucidates the history of the Templars as well as the beliefs that have developed around them in more recent times. From the tangled traditions of occultism to concepts of crusading chivalry, from political conspiracy to governmental greed and papal corruption, Partner shows how a medieval act of political injustice grew into a modern fantasy.