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The Knights Templar have an enduring reputation―but not one they would recognise. Originally established in the twelfth century to protect pilgrims, the Order is remembered today for heresy, fanaticism, and even satanism.
In this bold new interpretation, Steve Tibble sets out to correct the record. The Templars, famous for their battles on Christendom’s eastern front, were in fact dedicated peace-mongers at home. They influenced royal strategy and policy, created financial structures, and brokered international peace treaties―primarily to ensure that men, money, and material could be transferred more readily to the east.
Charting the rise of the Order under Henry I through to its violent suppression following the fall of Acre, Tibble argues that these medieval knights were essential to the emergence of an early English state. Revealing the true legacy of the British Templars, he shows how a small group helped shape medieval Britain while simultaneously fighting in the name of the Christian Middle East.
We think we know the crusades - the archetypal clash of civilisations, Christianity versus Islam, in a series of dramatic conflicts that have shaped the modern world. But just how accurate are those assumptions?
In this ambitious work, Steve draws on a wide range of Muslim texts and archaeological evidence as well as more commonly cited Western sources to analyse the respective armies’ strategy, adaptation, evolution, and cultural diversity - he shows just how sophisticated the crusader armies were even by today’s standards.
In the first comprehensive account of the subject in sixty years, Steve challenges existing orthodoxies and reveals fighting men, their tactics, their defeats and their triumphs from an entirely fresh vantage point. He makes the controversial proposition that the crusades were driven as much by the age-old tension between nomads and settled societies as by religious conflict. This fluently written, broad-ranging narrative provides a crucial missing piece in the study of the crusades.
Medieval states, and particularly crusader societies, have often been considered brutish and culturally isolated. It may seem unlikely that they could develop 'strategy' in any meaningful sense. Contrary to our prejudices, however, the crusaders were actually highly organised in their thinking and their decision making was rarely random.
In this lively account, Steve draws on a rich array of primary sources to reassess events on the ground and patterns of behaviour over time. He shows how, from aggressive castle building through to implementing a series of invasions of Egypt, crusader leaders tenaciously pursued long-term plans and devoted single-minded attention to clear strategic goals.
The crusader states were permanently on the brink of destruction; resources were scarce and the penalties for failure severe. For these fragile societies intuitive strategic thinking, Tibble argues, was a necessity, not a luxury.
Using contemporary sources, especially the charters of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Steve studies the shifting balance of power in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.
He argues that the relative power of the lords has been substantially overstated, and instead demonstrates the unprecedented strategic and economic influence wielded by the Templars and the Hospitallers in determining the political future of the region.
Einaudi have produced a beautiful edition of The Crusader Armies for Italian speakers. If you are interested in foreign language rights for my other books, or in other languages, please contact me directly, or get in touch with the lovely foreign sales team at Yale University Press.