Friday, 27 September 2013

Tragedy of the Templars: a 'vigorous questioning of standard assumptions'

The Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount, photograph by Michael Haag.  The crusaders believed it had been built by Solomon and called it the Templum Solomonis which gave its name to the Templars whose headquarters this became.
The Tragedy of the Templars: The Rise and Fall of the Crusader States by Michael Haag’ is a ‘sober and thought-provoking study. This is the second tome that Haag has written on the order, and his ease and confidence in discussing various aspects of the Templars is one of the strengths of the book.’

So begins a review in The Catholic World Report by professor Vincent Ryan, which goes on to point out that 'this is not a standard study of the Templars', rather ‘Haag’s book is better understood as a history of Outremer (see his subtitle) in which the Templars play a leading role. This is not a critique. Indeed, this approach makes the book feel fresh even as it covers well tread terrain.’ ...

‘Even more intriguing is his argument that though much of the Levant had come under Muslim control by the time of the Crusades, the population of the region was still predominantly Christian. This interpretation is certainly controversial, but is not without some merit.’ ...

‘Based on his assessment of the Christian demographics in the Levant Haag frequently describes the campaigns of Saladin and other Muslim leaders as “Islamic imperialism” and portrays the Crusades as a counter to a new wave of Islamic expansion throughout the Mediterranean world. ... Contrary to the claims of some modern commentators, the Crusades did not just emerge out of nowhere; they are best understood as a phase in the often combative relationship between Christians and Muslims that had been going on since the seventh century.’ ...

‘It is an engaging read on a fascinating era. Haag might not have all the answers, but his vigorous questioning of standard assumptions makes The Tragedy of the Templars a worthy contribution.’

To read the full review, click here.
The Temple Mount in the late 19th century. The Dome of the Rock is on the right.  The Aqsa mosque, headquarters of the Templars, is on the left.