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The Monks of War: The Military Religious…
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The Monks of War: The Military Religious Orders (original 1972; edição 1996)

por Desmond Seward (Autor)

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685833,803 (3.5)12
The military religious orders emerged during the Crusades as Christendom's stormtroopers in the savage conflict with Islam. Some of them still exist today, devoted to charitable works. The Monks of War is the first general history of these orders to have appeared since the eighteenth century. The Templars, the Hospitallers (later Knights of Malta), the Teutonic Knights and the Knights of the Spanish and Portuguese orders were "noblemen vowed to poverty, chastity and obedience, living a monastic life in convents which were at the same time barracks, waging war on the enemies of the Cross." The first properly disciplined Western troops since Roman times, they played a major role in defending the crusader kingdom of Jerusalem, in the "Baltic Crusades" which created Prussia, in the long reconquest of Spain from the Moors, and in fighting the "Infidel" right up to Napoleonic times. This celebrated book tells the whole enthralling story, recreating such epics as the sieges of Rhodes and Malta and the destruction of the Templars by the Inquisition. Acclaimed on publication, it has now been revised and updated, with a concluding chapter to take events into the 1990s.… (mais)
Membro:JMCH
Título:The Monks of War: The Military Religious Orders
Autores:Desmond Seward (Autor)
Informação:Penguin Books (1996), Edition: Reprint, 416 pages
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The Monks of War por Desmond Seward (1972)

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The author is very thorough, writing about the origins and struggles of the military orders from their beginning in the Holy Land. The many details and strange names makes following the history difficult. The Frankish Knights conquered and occupied Jerusalem during the Crusade of 1099. Palestine, then Outremer, was ruled by Baldwin, who was constantly at war with Turks, Egyptian muslims and brigands. The Templars were the first order to establish themselves, when the French knight Hugues de Payens in 1115 persuaded 7 knights to take vows to protect pilgrims on the road to Jerusalem. Hugues met St. Bernard de Clairvieux a few years later. Bernard establish a rule for the order. When not on campaign, the knights prayed and acted as priests. The Order of St. John of the Hospital, the Hospitallers, began before the Crusade as attendants to a infirmary and inn establish in Jerusalem in 1070. This order survives to this day. The first section of the book describes the wars in Outremer, ending in the storming of Acre in 1291.
The Teutonic Knights started in Outremer, when some German nobleman founded the Order of the Teutonic Knights of St. Mary’s Hospital of Jerusalem. They fought in Palestine, but were overshadowed by the Templars. They transferred their efforts to subduing the pagans in East Prussia. The monasteries of Spain housed several military orders during the Recoquista. Calatrava, Santiago, Alcantara, Montesa, Avis, and Knights of Christ. The jostling and politics between the orders are convoluted.

The Knights Hospitaller held on to Rhodes until 1523, becoming Sea Knights, raiding Turkish ships. The survivors of a months’ long siege and attack by an enormous Turkish army were allowed to leave Rhodes unmolested, and they wandered in Europe until settling at Malta. There they survived another siege by the Turks.

The Templars were accused of heresy, banned by the pope, and disbanded by King Phillip of France, many Knights were burned at the stake. Jacques Molay, the last commander of the Templars, refused to confess to blasphemies, and was roasted over a charcoal fire. The Teutonic Knights were suppressed, but survived until WW1, but required several generations of nobility for membership. The Knights of Malta, were, at the time of the book, still extant, although there was an official branch under the direction of an English Grand Master, American and European branches with varying loyalty.

Quotes:
Page 29: Leper King of Outremer, King Baldwin IV - “He literally dropped to pieces during his reign, a via dolorosa on which he showed political realism and remarkable powers of leadership”

Page 44: “Perhaps the most famous of the castles was Krak des Chevalieres of the Hospitallers ... containing a fine chamber ... whose delicate rib-vaulting and stone roses recall the monasteries of France...An oddly haunting inscription was found in the Great Gallery of Krak: ‘Sit tibi copia/Sit Sapiencia/Formaque Detur/Inquinat Omnia Sola/Superbia si comitetur.’ ‘Wealth may be yours, wisdom too, and you may have beauty, but if pride touches them, all will turn to dross’”

Page 109 “Alfonso IX, el baboso (the slobberer)”

Page 135 - Spain. The short termed master of Santiago - Enrique Villena “Villena was one of the intellectual maestres, a new phenomenon. He made the first translation of the Aeniad into a vernacular language, and the first Castilian translation of Dante. ... and the compiled the first Spanish cookery bock - the Arte Cisoria, whose recipes are so bizarre that some historians think they hastened an early death”

Page 206 - Adrian Fortescue, an English Knight of Honor in the English Knights of Malta, in 1532 - “Repute not thyself better than any other person, be they never so great sinners, but rather judge and esteem yourself most simplest. Judge the best. Use much silence, but, when thou needs must, speak” ( )
  neurodrew | Aug 11, 2021 |
Interesting history about the teutonic knights etc ( )
  Gary_Power | Jul 10, 2016 |
Seward's excellent, thousand-year introduction to the fighting religious orders covers less-frequently discussed orders as well as the popular Templars and Knights of Malta. Topically, this book is a historical narrative rather than sociological illustration (customs, organizational operations, motivations, who they were).

With reviews mentioning "dense" or "scholarly" (re: "laborious") in mind, I was surprised to find the language readable, leaning toward informal. Readers may be surprised to find the Orders behind or involved in many key historic events besides the Levantine Crusades - Prussia's beginnings and that of the modern state, the Spanish Reconquista, Portugal's age of exploration, Champlain in North America, why the Barbary Coast pirates only became a problem toward the close of the 18th century, and some modern medical services.

Unfortunately with so much breadth, coverage is shallow. Important events and their impact on the respective order are often less than two pages, excepting the Battles of Rhodes and Malta. Distinguishing details are inserted into the historical narrative as convenient; the reader doesn't get a sense of what differentiated the orders and who the knights were, aside from geography. Seward mentions the important points - specific clothing, weapons, rough organization, rule, some daily activities, important strongholds, and economic facets. But don't blink. Analysis is usually inferred from the wording, such as his description of Reynald de Chatillon ("murderous throwback", "irresponsible berserks").

The 2 excellent, compact narratives covering the Battles of Malta and Rhodes attest to Seward's excellent writing abilities. I was left hoping an expanded edition would apply the same gifts to major events such as Tannenberg and Hattin.

While overall organization was excellent, some paragraphs do not flow logically or smoothly to the next and the writing quality suffers at times. Awkward or unrelated sentences and inconsistencies crop up. Page 137 of the 1995 Penguin paperback edition is full of bad examples. In a single paragraph, he uses "Cracow" and in the next sentence "Krakow." In the next paragraph he mentions years 1527 and 1530. Then "in the next year" he talks about 1526. One sentence's punctuation is so awkward that it renders a whole paragraph incomprehensible. Thankfully, these occasions are rare and mispellings are nonexistent. If another edition corrects these errors, this would be a 5 star history.

For most people, this is a good place to start and end their readings. Others, seeking more about a particular order, would be served better by a book specifically on that order. ( )
1 vote Hae-Yu | Apr 26, 2015 |
Ultimately, this book is an overview of the religious orders created with the purpose to defend against invading Muslim armies or recover the territories lost to them. If you as a reader are very interested in a particular order it may be better to find a book that deals with that order alone or a particular time in that order's history to best meet your needs.

A couple parts of the book almost lost me with a quick succession of dates, names, and events with little background or "story" to ground the information. However, there were several parts with rather epic history, such as the defense of Rhodes, where the story/narrative provided a very interesting stage for the information about the knights of Malta. I may try to find some additional reading about the fall of Rhodes as this is very interesting. Could make an amazing movie or even a very interesting documentary.

The history and explanation of how the orders came into being, how their simple goals of feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, and helping pilgrims safely travel to holy sites created the need for a bureaucracy and resulted in very wealthy organization being created is well told. There is some analysis about how this wealth ended up corrupting the orders and their purpose to some degree. Also related is how Prussia was created, how the Templars fell, and how some orders still exist in some form. Mostly very readable and accessible to the any interested person, but also, researched and sourced enough for academic perusal and citation if needed. ( )
  Chris_El | Mar 19, 2015 |
This book contains a series of essays regarding the social values and functions of the major military orders. There are also the foundation histories. Their are lists of the grand masters of many of the orders. What it doesn't contain is an extensive review of their influences on their societies and much mention of their military histories. I would have to describe it as a book of limited utility. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Aug 7, 2014 |
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The military religious orders emerged during the Crusades as Christendom's stormtroopers in the savage conflict with Islam. Some of them still exist today, devoted to charitable works. The Monks of War is the first general history of these orders to have appeared since the eighteenth century. The Templars, the Hospitallers (later Knights of Malta), the Teutonic Knights and the Knights of the Spanish and Portuguese orders were "noblemen vowed to poverty, chastity and obedience, living a monastic life in convents which were at the same time barracks, waging war on the enemies of the Cross." The first properly disciplined Western troops since Roman times, they played a major role in defending the crusader kingdom of Jerusalem, in the "Baltic Crusades" which created Prussia, in the long reconquest of Spain from the Moors, and in fighting the "Infidel" right up to Napoleonic times. This celebrated book tells the whole enthralling story, recreating such epics as the sieges of Rhodes and Malta and the destruction of the Templars by the Inquisition. Acclaimed on publication, it has now been revised and updated, with a concluding chapter to take events into the 1990s.

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