Even after almost a thousand years, the names of the great religious orders still resonate, inspiring legends and myths in equal measure.
But this is their real story.
During the Crusades groups of military religious orders emerged across Europe who were to turn into the storm troopers of the savage fight against Islam. Part monastery, part barracks, at their bases they moulded their recruits into formidable fighting men dedicated to their cause. Along the way, they accumulated huge influence, wealth, glory and power. Through force of arms, they re-shaped a continent, and in charitable works their legacy lives on to this day.
The Monks of War is the finest general history of the orders yet written.Praise for The Monks of War:
'Undeniably the work of someone who knows and accepts the standards of critical history but... who sees the past also as an epic or a colourful spectacle' - Professor David Knowles, The Times Literary Supplement.
'His scholarship is great, his theme both interesting and largely unexplored, and his judgement sound' - The Economist
Desmond Seward is a British popular historian, best known for The Hundred Years War, never out of print since 1978, The Wars of the Roses and Richard III - all republished by the Folio Society. His latest is The Demon's Brood, a history of the Plantagenet kings in one short volume.