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The Knights Templar have many references in popular culture, yet most of those references quite inaccurate. The truth is that the Knights Templar were a Catholic military order that existed from the 1100s to the 1300s, to provide warriors in the Crusades. They were quite famous in medieval times; stories and legends have grown about them over the centuries.
In modern works, the Templars are generally portrayed in one of three ways: as villains, misguided zealots; or representatives of an evil secret society; or as the keepers of a long-lost treasure.
Receptions in scholarly settings
Their depiction in such works of art has already received considerable scholarly attention as the subject of the Annual Conference of the American Culture Association. Literary theorists puzzle over Eco's use of the Templars as a symbol of postmodernist rewriting of history. Johannes Bertens asks about "a satire on the literary theory of deconstructionism in its near paranoid over-interpretation?" Barber writes that "Mystic Templars are omnipresent in all good conspiracy theories." On Day to Day on NPR, "Alex Chadwick discusses the literary fascination with the Knights Templar with Laura Miller, book critic for Salon.com." Torun Museum had "The Knights Templar - History and Myth" exhibition where "Apart from pieces of "high art," the exhibit will grant equal importance to "popular culture" items (literature, film, Internet content) exploring the subject of the Knights Templar." Finally, a National Post editorial notes that "the Templars remain a living presence in popular culture. This has happened precisely because the historical record concerning their sudden annihilation in the early-14th century at the hands of Philip IV ("the Fair") of France has been so sparse and ambiguous. Time and revolution have damaged and dispersed the sources, and made the Templars a magnet for speculation and imagination."
Novels and comics
A brief list of some works which have featured the Knights Templar:
- Ivanhoe, an 1820 novel by Sir Walter Scott, has as its villain Sir Brian de Bois-Gilbert, a "Templar Knight."
- The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids, an 1855 short story by Herman Melville treats the Templars with great irony.
- Foucault's Pendulum, a 1988 novel by Umberto Eco, which features the mythos of the Knights Templar as keepers and defenders of the Holy Grail.
- Mumbo-Jumbo (1972) has a Templar Knight Hinkle Von Vampton who serves as the main villain in Ishmael Reed's postmodernist satire
- Les Rois Maudits (1973 et seq) by Maurice Druon depicts the death of the last Grand Master of the Order, and plays with the legend of the curse he laid on the pope, Philip the Fair, and Guillaume de Nogaret.
- Swedish author Jan Guillou has written a trilogy about Arn Magnusson (1998 et seq), a fictional Swedish character from the Middle Ages who was forced to become a Knight Templar, went to Jerusalem and after returning to Sweden, was a leading military figure shortly before the time of Birger Jarl.
- Katherine Kurtz has written many books with Templar characters and themes, and edited the Crusade of Fire (2002) anthology
- The Apocalypse Door (2002), by James D. Macdonald. An urban fantasy set in modern times. The Templars are shown as a non-aligned international espionage group.
- The Da Vinci Code, bestselling 2003 novel by Dan Brown. This was also adapted into a film version in 2006.
- The Last Templar (2005), by Raymond Khoury is a Da Vinci Code-style thriller.
- The Revenge of the Shadow King (2006), by Derek Benz and J.S. Lewis, relates an alternate history of the Knights Templar, aligning them with an age-old order whose primary role is to defend the world from the powers of darkness. In this book, the Templars still exist and operate today from the shadows of an underground organization.
- Canadian author Jack Whyte has started a series of books called the Templar Trilogy; the first book is Knights of the Black and White (2006)
- A series of horror films (Tombs of the Blind Dead, Return of the Evil Dead, The Ghost Galleon, Night of the Seagulls and The Church) by Spanish director Amando de Ossorio depict the Knights Templar as resurrected mummies in search of human blood.
- The mythos of the Knights Templar (presented as the fictional "Knights of the Cruciform Sword") as keepers and defenders of the Holy Grail is also a central plot point in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).
- Dolph Lundgren plays the role of a modern day member of the Knights Templar in the 1998 movie The Minion.
- The film Revelation (2001), in which the order tries to clone Jesus Christ for evil purposes.
- The Templar Knights are featured in the 2001 French film Le Pacte des loups, in which the symbol of the Templar Knights is seen upon the walls of an old Templar stronghold and upon the Beast's armor. The cult seen in the movie is also supposedly a rogue Templar organization, originally sent by the Pope to teach the King of France a lesson.
- Das Blut der Templer (2004) shows the Knights Templar as being descended directly from Jesus Christ and having half of his DNA, while members of the Priory of Sion have the other half of that same DNA. When a Templar has a child by a member of the Priory, the child combines the two strands and becomes capable of reactivating the Holy Grail.
- National Treasure, 2004
- Kingdom of Heaven, 2005 shows the incompetent last King of Jerusalem, Guy de Lusignan, and his bloodthirsty henchman, Reynald de Chatillon (not a Templar himself), as Templars.
- The Ballad of Parzival by Sir Walter Scott, features Parzival the hero as a Knight Templar. The ballad is the basis for Richard Wagner's great opera with the same name.
- Knights of the Cross is a concept album about the Templars by German metal band Grave Digger.
- The Templars (band) a NYC Oi! band is inspired by the Knights Templar. Similarly, their record label, Templecombe Records, is named after a Knights Templar site in Sommerset, England.
- HammerFall, a Swedish Power metal band, refer to themselves as "The Templars of Heavy Metal", making frequent reference to the Templars on many of their albums.
- Holy Knights, an Italian Power metal band, has an album titled "A Gate Through the Past" which describes the story of the Knights Templar.
- Broken Sword (1996) was the first video game to reference the Knights Templar. Its plot revolved around a group of Neo-Templars.
- The High and Dark Templar are both units of the Protoss race in the game Starcraft (1998).
- Utilizing material from the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail the third Gabriel Knight (1999) game, Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned, posits both an alternative history of Christ and the suggestion that the Templar treasure, buried in France's Languedoc, is Christ's remains.
- Neo-Templars feature in Deus Ex (2000). As with Broken Sword the Neo-Templar plot is derived from the Illuminatus trilogy.
- In Medieval II Total War (2002), most Catholic factions can train Templar units into their armies or hire them as mercenaries while on a crusade.
- Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne (2003) depicts the Templar Knights idol, Baphomet as a recruitable demon of the Vile Clan. He is also responsible for the rushed summoning of the Buddhist demon, Mara that resulted in Mara materializing in a slime body.
- In Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader (2003), a fictionalised version of the Knights Templar appear as a playable faction and play a major role in the game.
- Knights of the Temple: Infernal Crusade (2004) by TDK and Starbreeze.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006) borrows extensively from the history of the Knights Templar, and the game features a group of warrior-monks known as The Blades.
- The Templars are the main antagonists in the Assassin's Creed (2007) series, with Robert de Sablé as their leader and Rodrigo Borgia in the sequel.
- Aion's (2008) tanking role warriors are called Templars.
- Dragon Age (2009) features a mage- and demonhunting inquisition called Templars.
- The Black Templars Chapter of the Space Marines from the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop wargame are based directly on the historical Knights Templar.
- ↑ Karen Ralls, Knights Templar Encyclopedia: The Essential Guide to the People, Places, Events, and Symbols of the Order of the Temple (New Page Books, 2007).
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Masons, Templars and the Holy Grail: Historical Conspiracies and Popular Culture
- ↑ Bertens, Prof.dr. J.W.
- ↑ Barber's The New Knighthood (Cambridge U Press, 1995) paraphrased by Elaine Graham-Leigh
- ↑ Knights Templar Inspires Trio of Best-Selling Books
- ↑ "THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR - HISTORY AND MYTH" at Torun, District Museum, October 23 - November 28, 2004
- ↑ Marni Soupcoff, "The Post editorial board: The truth about the Templars," National Post (October 22, 2007).
- ↑ Dr. Cathy Schultz, "Making the Crusades Relevant in KINGDOM OF HEAVEN," History in the Movies and Providence Journal (5/6/05).