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Templars: The Knights Who Made Britain

Templars: The Knights Who Made Britain, Steve Tibble

Steve Tibble's new book, Templars: The Knights Who Made Britain, is the latest offering on the tried and tested subject of the Knights Templar. Given that their operations were wound up seven hundred years ago, it is remarkable that the Templars, beyond any of their contemporaries, continue to have such a hold on the imagination, providing academics and internet conspiracy theorists alike with a seemingly endless source of inspiration. As Tibble notes in his introduction, it is likely that there are simply far too many texts available, many of them disappointingly having little to do with reality and more to do with the Templar 'myth'. Yet the truth of the Templars' achievements is rich and fascinating enough to need no added detail or wild speculation. And this is where Tibble's book stands out from the crowd, in providing a book that is not only grounded in reality, but in years of thorough research and specialization in his chosen subject.

But beyond that, and as the title suggests, the focus of Templars is very much on their activities in the British Isles – mainly England – with some occasional interludes in the Holy LandLands comprising of what is now Isreal and Palestine, including the holy land of the Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions. to give context. This is where the book truly comes into its own. Rather than tackling the whole grand story, along with so many other authors, it concentrates on their activity in just one specific location. Of course, as medieval Europe's most famous multinational corporation, the Order's business and actions spanned all of Europe and the Near East, so some might accuse this narrow focus of being myopic. Yet this approach is not only readable and accessible, but it also allows a deeper study of the day-to-day work of the Templar brothers in this one corner of Christendom.

Helping the accessibility is the organization of the book. Instead of structuring Templars into themes, Tibble has opted for the chronological, narrativeA story; in the writing of history it usually describes an approach that favours story over analysis. approach common to popular history. So scenes are set magnificently, readers are drawn into the world, and academic arguments are made both readable and interesting. Yet there are some small drawbacks. Given the lack of detailed sources for the early years of the Order's existence, early chapters are occasionally light on assured statements about the British brothers in particular. However, once we reach the middle of the twelfth century and the Order becomes more established, details and evidence become much more concrete. The book then does a fantastic job of showing how the Templars built and maintained strong relationships with the monarchs and authorities in Britain, up to and including Edward II, who was on the throne at the time of the Order's suppression.

The lack of evidence early in the text could perhaps have been replaced with a few thematic interludes, thus providing the uninitiated with some grounding in what the Templars were up to. We are told often that the Order was at the forefront of agricultural progress, which helped it become financially successful, yet it isn't until two-thirds of the way through that we are given detail about how the Templars ran their estates. Some comparison with common estate management of the era would have helped show how the Templars did things differently, and it would have been fascinating to see whether the Order's activities were emulated in the long term. Similarly, it would have been good to have a little more explanation of how the Templars ran their financial operations, domestically and internationally, and, again, how this may have been revolutionary and ultimately influential.

All this being said, the book certainly does work well as an analysis of how the Knights Templar grew from humble beginnings to a position of great power and influence in Britain. Of course, no book on the Templars would be complete without an analysis of their downfall and some of the bizarre accusations made against them. The final part of the book deals with this and is probably the most satisfying section, for it is here that the decision to look at British Templars, rather than the Order as a whole, really pays off, as suppression in the British Isles played out differently from the more famous crackdown in France. Tibble clearly cares about his subject, feels for the Templars and wants to set the record straight, which he does in some detail and in a style that is entertaining, even when it is dealing with a rather sad, pathetic and sordid affair.

Overall, Templars: The Knights Who Made Britain is a welcome addition to the sizeable body of literature available on the subject. Its narrower focus and sober analysis of British affairs shines a light on the importance of the Templar Order's lesser-known members and their activities, and, as with all good primers, leaves the reader keen to branch out and read more.

Author Info

Steven Port

Steven Port lives in Eynsham, Oxfordshire. He completed his Masters in Historical Studies at the University of Oxford in 2019. He feels he should really find one area of history about which he could become an expert, but he finds it all too damn interesting. He started his own historical blog, The Indecisive Historian, in 2020.

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Templars: The Knights Who Made Britain, Steve Tibble
Templars: The Knights Who Made Britain, Steve Tibble
out of 10

Factual Accuracy









  • +Readable, concise and engaging
  • +Explores lesser-known aspects of the Templar Order
  • +Brings something of a micro-history approach to a big topic
  • +Extensive further reading and resource list for those who want to know more


  • -Minor structural adjustments could have helped build a clearer picture earlier on
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