At the end of the 11th century, the Infidels captured Jerusalem. On November 27th, 1095, the call went out from Pope Urban II to the Kingdom of Western Europe to march and reclaim the city in the name of Christendom. The response was overwhelming, and according to the chronicles of Eleanor de Payens, one hundred thousand men, women, and children joined the Army of God and marched east. The first Crusade had begun. With Eleanor was her brother Hugh and Godfroi of St. Omer, and it was these two who were to found the Order of the Templars with Hugh becoming the first Grand Master.
This is no romanticised notion of what took place from the time the Crusaders left Europe with high hopes to July 1099 and the recapture of Jerusalem. Of those that set out only twenty thousand finally arrived.
Paul Doherty paints a vivid picture of the First Crusade with all its battles, privations, brutality and squalor. You can feel the squelch of the mud, hear the screams and smell the camps along the way. This is history come truly alive. It is a compelling read but not one for the queasy or fainthearted.
This is the first book in a new series charting the history of the Templars, and I can’t wait for the second one.