In 1187, nearly a century after the victorious First Crusade, Saladin captured Jerusalem. The Templars, headquartered on the Temple Mount, were driven from the city along with the Frankish population.The fall of Jerusalem was a turning point, the start of a narrative of desperate struggle and relentless loss. In little more than a century Acre would be destroyed, the Franks driven from Outremer, and the Templars themselves, reviled and disgraced, would face their final immolation.
Michael Haag’s new book explores the rise and fall of the Templars against the backdrop of the Crusader ideal and their settlement venture in Outremer. Haag argues that the Crusader States were a rare period when the population of Palestine had something approaching local rule, representing local interests – and the fall of Jerusalem to Saladin was a disaster. He contends that the Templars, as defenders of the Crusader States, were made scapegoats for a Europe whose newfound nationalism caused it to withdraw support for the Crusader venture. Throughout, he charts the Templars’ rise and fall in gripping narrative, with their beliefs and actions set in the context of their time.