A major new history of the knights Templar--holy warriors, bankers, priests, heretics--by the bestselling author of The PlantagenetsJerusalem 1119. A small group of knights seeking a purpose in the violent aftermath of the First Crusade decides to set up a new order. These are the first Knights of Templar, a band of elite warriors prepared to give their lives to protect Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land. Over the next two hundred years, the Templars would become the most powerful religious order of the medieval world. Their legend has inspired fervent speculation ever since. But who were they really and what actually happened? In this groundbreaking narrative history, the bestselling author of The Plantagenets tells the true story of the Templars for the first time in a generation, drawing on extensive original sources to build a gripping account of these Christian holy warriors whose heroism and depravity have so often been shrouded in myth. The Templars were protected by the pope and sworn to strict vows of celibacy. They fought the forces of Islam in hand-to-hand combat on the sun-baked hills where Jesus lived and died, finding their nemesis in Saladin, who united Syria and Egypt to drive all Christians out of the Middle East. They were experts at channeling money across borders, immune from taxation, and beyond the control of kings. They established the medieval world's first global bank and waged private wars against anyone who threatened their interests. Then, in 1307, bogged down in a faltering war in the Middle East, the order fell foul of the king of France. On Friday, October 13, hundreds of brothers were arrested en masse, imprisoned, tortured, and disbanded amid accusations of lurid sexual misconduct and heresy. They were tried by the Vatican in secret proceedings, but were they really heretics? Dan Jones goes back to the sources to tell their story, often in their own words. At once authoritative and compulsively readable, The Templars brings their dramatic tale, so relevant to our own times, to life.