Dungeon, Fire and Sword

Dungeon, Fire and Sword : The Knights Templar in the Crusades

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Over the past thousand years, the bloodiest game of the king-of-the-hill has been for supremacy on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the site of the ancient Temple of Solomon. This book recounts the stirring saga of the Knights Templar, the Christian warrior-monks who occupied the sacred Mount in the aftermath of the butchery of the First Crusade. Recruited to a life of poverty, chastity and obedience intended to lead only to martyrdom on the battlefield, they were totally dedicated to the pious paradox that the wholesale slaughter of non-believers would earn the eternal gratitude of the Prince of Peace. The Templars amassed great wealth, which they used to finance their two hundred years of war against Muslims on the desert, in the mountains, and up the broad sweep of the Nile valley. The Templars' reward for those two centuries of military martyrdom was to be arrested by pope and king, tortured by the Inquisition, and finally decreed out of existence. But their legend and legacy just would not die. In telling the incredible story of the Knights Templar, the author's clear explanation of the cultural and religious differences among the Templars' enemies and friends in the Middle East gives fresh understanding of the people who populate this restless region. Here are the Sunnies and the Shiites, the Kurds and Armenians, the Arabs and Turks, who figure so prominently in today's headlines. The similarity of their antagonisms today and those of eight hundred years ago are often so striking as to be eerie. Dungeon, Fire & Sword is a brilliant work of narrative history that can be read as an adventure story, a morality play, or a lesson in the politics of warfare.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 494 pages
  • 166.9 x 231.9 x 28.2mm | 716.67g
  • M. Evans& Co Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0871316579
  • 9780871316578
  • 2,053,102

About John J. Robinson

John J. Robinson was a business executive and ex-marine as well as the author of several books including the provocative medieval history Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry.show more

Review Text

The author of Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry (1989) - which provocatively argued that the Freemasons are a descendant order of the medieval Knights Templar - now concentrates, in a highly detailed but far less captivating addendum, on the Knights' role in the Crusades. Robinson's fascination with the military monastic order organized by a band of knights in the aftermath of the First Crusade and originally dedicated to the protection of pilgrims in the Holy Land continues. Here, he sets out to recount the Knights' role as trained warriors and, eventually, as international bankers during the nearly 200 years from Pope Urban II's call for the First Crusade in 1095 through the last Crusaders' abandonment of the Holy Land in 1291. Unfortunately, in this version the fascination of the Templar tradition (including the order's secret initiation rites, its rules of chastity and individual poverty, its provision against bathing, and its recruitment from the ranks of murderers, exiles, and excommunicated Catholics) is submerged beneath deadly masses of historic detail concerning the ever-changing political alliances, royal successions, and battle plans that comprised the Christian invasions of the Holy Land. Isolated incidents featuring such swashbucklers as Richard the Lion-Hearted, Frederick Barbarossa, and the Syrian Assassins sparkle occasionally against the otherwise monotonous accounts of skirmishes against the Muslims, disputes among Christian noblemen, and struggles for the crown of Jerusalem - but the Knights themselves are often lost in the background of these events, and only regain their undeniable mystique when Pope Clement V disbands the order at the behest of France's avaricious King Philip IV, and the Knights are reduced to a fugitive, underground existence whose traditions may continue in some form to this day. Lacking the power and focus of Robinson's earlier work, this serves as little more than reference material for die-hard Crusade fans. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Review quote

Long on enthusiasm and colorful narrative... it is high adventure. The New York Times Book Review Just how deep ancient rivalries and hatreds run in the Middle East can be gleaned from this dramatic, gripping history of the Knights Templar... Rich in human incident... This is high adventure of the first rank. Publishers Weekly, (Starred Review) Robinson's account of one of the medieval world's most famous military orders serves as a reminder that history can be more enthralling than even the most imaginative fiction. Booklist, (Starred Review) Dungeon, Fire and Sword is a good book for all who enjoy a well-written, well-researched story of stupidity, greed, barbarity, unspeakable cruelty, deception, fraud, treachery and sanctimony... John J. Robinson has written a fascinating history of an incredible time. The Washington Timesshow more