The Monks of War

Desmond Seward

Introduced by Fra Matthew Festing

The 12th century saw the foundation of the great crusading military orders: the Templars, Knights of Malta and the Teutonic Knights, some of which still survive today. This is a fascinating history of their attempt to fight their way into heaven.

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The Monks of War

'His scholarship is great, his theme both interesting and largely unexplored and his judgment sound'
In the 12th century the Church was in need of crack troops to devote their lives to the Crusades. To address this need, the knight brethren of the military orders banded together: noblemen vowed to poverty, chastity and obedience, living a monastic life in barracks, waging war on the enemies of the Cross. The three great orders were the Templars, Hospitallers (Knights of Malta) and Teutonic Knights, though Santiago and Calatrava were no less formidable. They were the first properly disciplined and officered troops in the West since Roman times.

In this acclaimed history, the only one of its kind, Desmond Seward explores the little-known history of the monks of war. He shows how the brethren fought to hold Jerusalem and Rhodes, their faceless masks and billowing white cloaks striking fear into their adversaries. The Teutonic Knights created the land of Prussia, and their Iron Cross remains the emblem of the German army, while in Spain, the knights of Santiago ranched sheep and cattle on the lonely meseta where no peasant dared settle for fear of Moorish raiders. Seward also explores why one order met a grisly end – the last of the Templars, Jacques de Molay, was burnt alive over a slow fire – while others endure today as religious charities. With a text revised considerably by the author, this is a fascinating account of those who attempted, literally, to fight their way into heaven.
'The work of someone who knows and accepts the standards of critical epic'
Times Literary Supplement

Production Details

The Monks of War book
  • Bound in full cloth, blocked in red and gold foil with a design by Francis Mosley.
  • Set in Minion with San Marco display.
  • 24 pages of plates, 16 in colour.
  • Book size: 9½" x 6¼".
  • 358 pages.


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