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The Templars: The Secret History Revealed [Paperback]

Barbara Frale , Umberto Eco , Gregory Conti
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 1 2011
Barbara Frale gives us an explosive, exhaustively researched history of the medieval world’s most powerful military order, the Templars. At its height, the Order of the Knights Templar rivaled the kingdoms of Europe in military might, economic power, and political influence. For 700 years, the tragic demise of this society of warrior-monks amid accusations of heresy has been plagued by controversy, in part because the transcript of their trial by the Inquisition—which held the key to the truth—had vanished.

Templar historian Barbara Frale happened to be studying a document at the Vatican Secret Archives when she suddenly realized that it was none other than the long-lost transcript! It revealed that Pope Clement V had absolved the order of all charges of heresy. The Templars chronicles the spectacular rise and fall of the organization against a sweeping backdrop of war, religious fervor, and the struggle for dominance, and finally lifts the centuries-old cloak of mystery surrounding one of the world’s most intriguing secret societies.

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About the Author

Dr. Barbara Frale is a historian on staff at the Vatican Secret Archives. An expert in ancient documents, the Templars, and the Crusades, Frale is the author of several books including The Last Battle of the Templars, The Papacy and the Trial of the Templars, and The Templars. She is also the author of the acclaimed The Templars: The Secret History Revealed. Frale earned her PhD at the University of Venice.

Gregory Conti is a professor of modern Italian history at the University of Rochester, a lecturer in English at the University of Perugia, and a freelance translator. He lives in Perugia, Italy.

Umberto Eco is a professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna and the author of Foucault’s Pendulum, The Name of the Rose, and other international bestsellers. He lives in Milan, Italy.

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Format:Paperback
Barbara Frale works in the Vatican Secret Archives as a Historian. The book is relatively short, but full of facts from pages 1 to 201. Detailing the life that Templars lead and that it was the King of France, Philip the Fair and had the Templars arrested under false acquisitions of heresy and other crimes. The Pope Clement V lead a two year inquisition into the Templars with selected bishops and found the Templars innocent these said heresies and crimes. This is a quick and direct summary of what happened according the the Vatican Secret Archives.

I guess you have to read the book yourself.....
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5.0 out of 5 stars True, not revisionist, history....finally June 18 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book, written several hundred years after the execution/burning of the last GM, de Molay, finally proves unequivocally that the Knights did not break their vows to the Lord and the Church......
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  24 reviews
49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great work on the Templars. Jan. 19 2009
By Robert Busko - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
It goes without saying that much of what has been written about the Templars is pure poppy-cock. The Templars have been linked with the Grail legend and Dan Brown's book The DaVinci Code didn't help clarify the mystery surrounding the Templars, and, in fact his novel Angels and Demons probably muddied the waters even more. There are some wonderful works providing valid insight into this historically famous (some would say infamous) band of brother knights, and Barbara Frale's The Templars: The Secret History Revealed has to go to the head of a very short list.
Frale, a Vatican Secret Archives historian has access to a document trove virtually unlike any other in the world. She is a specialist on the Templars and is recognized as a specialist on the crusades and the papacy.
Frale gives us an almost intimate introduction into the beginnings of the Templars. During the Middle ages the Holy Land had become the destination of many pilgrims from Europe. Jerusalem Christians had marked virtually all of the significant sites important to the faith. However, in the seventh century Jerusalem had been overrun by Muslim raiders and would remain in Muslim hands for quite sometime. Initially, the Muslim rulers were relatively tolerant of the Christian citizens of the area as well as the pilgrims. However, in time the pilgrims became easy pickings for raiders and this, in time became the basis of the early Crusades.
After a time, Jerusalem is re-captured from the Muslims and becomes a Christian kingdom. However, Christian pilgrims are still harassed by Muslim bandits. Herein lies the beginning of the Templars. Initially established by Hugh de Payens to protect pilgrims from harassment, sanctioned by Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, the Templars would eventually become a military arm of the Pope, and responsible only to the pope. The order was exempt from taxes, and were not beholding to any secular authority. In many ways, the Templars became a multinational corporation and terribly wealthy in the process. Frale is a master of her topic. Her love of her specialty is clearly obvious from the first page. Best of all, Barbara Frale has discovered new evidence in the case of the Templars; The Chinon Parchment, missing almost since it was written has now seen the light of day thanks to her hard work.
The Templars: The Secret History Revealed is not a long book. At a mere 232 pages (and that includes the Bibliographic Note section and the Index) The Templars will not take a great deal of time to read. However, don't let that mislead you. This is a scholarly work. As Umberto Eco states in the foreword, "There are numerous books on the Templars. The only problem is that in 90 percent of the cases they are pure fantasy. No other subject has ever inspired more hacks from more countries throughout time than the Templars." He goes on " Barbara Frale's stunning discovery of the long-lost Chinon Parchment in the Vatican Secret Archives allows us to see in a new light the church's role in the process against the Templars."
If I had to mention a weakness in The Templars it would have to be the complete lack of maps. Certainly, any work of history that is important is deserving of illustrations that relate to the topography of the area being studied. This is still a five star read, however. As I read the book, I kept a good atlas at my side.
The Templars: The Secret History Revealed is a must read for anyone with a more than passing interest in this historical era.
I highly recommend.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Authoritative and Comprehensive History of the Templars April 28 2009
By Julie Merilatt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you're looking for a book that venerates the mysteries and conspiracies of the Knights Templar (unimaginable treasures found under the Temple of Solomon, their protection of the Holy Grail, etc.) this is not the book for you. This is a concise and direct history of the Order, almost a "Templars for Dummies" that outlines its formation, its role in the Crusades and defense of the Holy Land, and its muddled dissolution due to conflict between the Pope and the King of France. While it does touch on some of the stranger initiation practices, it does not perpetuate the fantastical rumors of bizarre rituals or heretical acts. It simply addresses the Order's functions, characters, and key players during its tumultuous history, which Frale does in a simplistic and well-researched way. What pleased me the most was the final statement Frale makes in her afterward, which I will let you discover for yourself.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, A Real Templar History Sept. 20 2009
By OtherWorlds&Wisdom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
While nothing as earth-shattering as the cover may indicate, this is nonetheless a stand-out in Templar books for one main reason: It's real history. In fact, using Vatican documents and real scholarly research, Frale clarifies the Templars and dispels myths. Perhaps she should analyze all of wild post-Templar disbandonment theories as well. See also Knights Templar: The Essential History and Dungeon, Fire and Sword: The Knights Templar in the Crusades.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Knights and Dazed April 16 2009
By Writetrak - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Before you run off to Rennes-le-Chateau in search of ancient Templar myths you might want to pick up a copy of Dr. Barbara Frale's THE TEMPLARS-THE SECRET HISTORY REVEALED.
Frale, a staff historian at the Vatican Secret Archives offers up a better fact-based take on the Spartan-like Knights Templar than many of the books on the subject today.
Her discovery of The Chinon Parchment shines new light into the realm of these Holy Warriors, their secret initiations, their hard fought battles, and the political chicanery that deftly demonstrates that not all of their life and death struggles came in defense of the Holy Land or against their Muslim opponents.
This well researched and impressive work details the nearly 200 years and eight Crusades of the Templar's existence from their founder Hugh de Payens in 1120 to the execution of their last Grand Master Jacques de Molay in 1314 at the bloodied hands of France's Phillip the (not always) Fair.
The book is for the serious student or reader that wants to bring the Order of Knights Templar out of the realm of myth and lore and back into a more human focus and reality. Frale's book will often remind you too that fact is sometimes stranger than fiction with a learned nod regarding the bizarre Cadaver Synod and how one King sought to resurrect it.
A brilliant historical book that reads like a good novel!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars May Very Well Be the Last Word in Templar Studies Nov. 1 2012
By Lee Freeman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Professor Frale's book *The Templars: The Secret History Revealed* is a great addition to Templar studies, especially concerning their trial and dissolution. Despite what the title might suggest the book stays well away from the ridiculous pop conspiracy theories, indeed gives them a crushing blow. This book (and Frale's other books) are based on sound scholarship not popular fantasy.

Citing a heretofore unknown, misdated transcript of a papal inquisition regarding the Templars she discovered by accident several years ago, the "Chinon Parchment," Frale proves, once and for all, that the Templars were innocent of the charges leveled against them by Philip the IV (something everyone in the 14th century knew and all academic historians have since known), as they were absolved by Clement V of all the charges save blasphemy (as a test to prepare them for possible capture by Muslims, Templar novices in their initiation were required to spit on the cross and renounce Christ, as Muslim prisoners were often required to do; Clement understood that this was simply a training exercise, that the Templars weren't really renouncing Christ, nevertheless it still technically counted as blasphemy, which he felt he had to hold them accountable for). Certainly he pronounced them innocent of the other charges of sodomy, heresy and idol worship. Clement was then forced by Philip to dissolve and disband the order against his wishes. However Clement's secret inquisition and the Templars' subsequent absolution is the "lost history" alluded to in the books title.

The book sets out a general history of the order before proceeding to the piece de resistance, the examination of the secret papal inquest at which Clement V absolved the Templars. The book is relatively short and easy to read, yet the final chapters alone make it worth the price.

*The Templars: The Secret History Revealed* should put to rest all the silly conspiracy theories that have surrounded the Templars (if Peter Partner's book *Murdered Magicians: The Knights Templar and their Myth* didn't already do so), but alas, it probably won't, because facts never got in the way of a good conspiracy theory. So I'm afraid the Masonic/Dan Brown/Michael Baigent/Lynn Picknett disciples probably won't be convinced. This isn't the book for people who refuse to acknowledge the facts because they still want to believe the Templars were guardians of the grail (whatever they think that actually was) or murdered magicians.

On the other hand, every serious medievalist and Templar student should have this book in their library next to Barber, Partner and Demurger. One hopes it and its author receive the praise and adulation they deserve. After reading this book one should then get Prof. Frale's *The Templars and the Shroud of Christ,* which, if possible, is even better than this one. Frale's discovery of the Chinon Parchment may be the last word in studies of the Templars' trial and dissolution.
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