Posted by: Nyxks | December 3, 2007

The Knights Templar in the Golden Age of Spain

The Knights Templar in the Golden Age of Spain
by Juan Garcia Atienza © 2006
Destiny Books
ISBN 159477-98-0
English translation
296 pages includes End notes, Bibliography, and Index
Paperback
$16.95 (U.S.)
Reviewed by: Mike Gleason

This book, originally published in Spanish five years ago, is aimed primarily at a specialized audience. Not only is it designed to cover the Order of the Knights Templar, but it is specifically on the role of that organization in the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula, and their role in the life of the people living there. The author has written more than 30 books and is considered one of the leading Spanish experts on the Templars and mystery traditions.

I found myself in over my head early on for two very simple reasons. The first is that most histories of the Templars I had read previously concentrated on their activities in the Holy Land and their destruction in France with little discussion of their existence on the Iberian Peninsula. The second reason is geographical – this book was written by a Spanish historian for an audience already very familiar with Spanish history and geography. Since I am not terribly conversant with either of those two aspects of the author’s background, I had some catching up to do before I could get up to speed.

Senor Atienza tackles an aspect of Templar history which has been much neglected until this point. There is very little documentation available in the standard historical accounts regarding the Templars in Iberia. He is forced to draw conclusions from legends, stories, and coincidental mentions in official records.

The author’s interpretation of the goal of the Templars, and the meanings of many of their actions, is at odds with those of many others who have explored the topic. He does not see deep, mystical goals, but more practical, even if ecclesiastical, ones. Is his interpretation valid? It is certainly as probably (and provable) as any other advanced over the years.

One item which I would, personally, have appreciated and which was not included is a time-line or chronology of the Templar on the Iberian Peninsula and the relationship with the rest of Europe and the Holy Land. Unless one is immersed in Templar studies it is sometimes difficult to remember the sequence of events.

Admittedly, I had trouble following some of the author’s narratives and reasoning. Of course the fact that this book was written in a different language (with the differences in perceptions this involves) and then had to be translated into English (thus filtering through the personal bias and perceptions of the translator0< and that it deals with a little-understood aspect of a frequently misunderstood group, didn’t aid the understanding.

This is a book which I recommend only for those with a serious interest in the activities of the Templars. There is no attempt made to delve into the alleged mystical actions of the Order, although there is discussion of their occult (in the sense of “hidden”) activities and plans. This book is concerned primarily with the attempt (in the author’s mind, at least) to create a religious atmosphere of tolerance where Christian, Jew, and Muslin would each be respected for who they were not what they believed.

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