Late Christmas present to my loyal blog followers!

Should you wish to truly immerse yourself in the world of the 12th century in a journey that will take you from Jerusalem then London and finally modern day Portugal (then a battle ground between Christianity and Islam), then I offer you two options as we go forward into 2016:

  1. From Monday 4th January to Friday 8th January, UK Amazon shoppers can get Quest for the True Cross FREE of charge. Just click Join the Quest! and download within those days. US readers will get a free offer soon but for now it’s at a super low price at US Templar quest on Kindle!
  2. Quest is also now out in paperback on Amazon.com and readers can buy it in US dollars at Quest in dollars! While UK blog followers can get the paperback at Quest in pounds!

To get a flavour of what you are in for – watch the promotional trailer video and look out for blog posts telling you more about the world of the 12th century, the Knights Templar and the crusades.

Hitler and the Teutonic Knights

In the late 1930s, Hitler was menacing central and eastern Europe – and the Soviet Union, after initially attempting to appease him, was finally realising the scale of the threat posed by Nazi Germany. So how to get the Soviet public onside? Step forward brilliant movie director Sergei Eisenstein. In a film called Alexander Nevsky, he depicted the heroic struggle of the Russian medieval armies against the Teutonic knights. The Battle of the Ice still chills me to the bone – a fantastic piece of film making. The music is by the composer Prokoviev. Unfortunately, Stalin pulled the movie after he decided to enter into new negotiations with Hitler.

How much the Templars can teach us today

I’d like your thoughts on how much we can learn today from the experiences of the Knights Templar in the 12th and 13th centuries. We have certainly entered into a period where faith, politics and history have combined to create a particularly toxic brew. So could we find solutions by delving into the past?

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Can the period of the Knights Templar shed any light on today’s events?

What we find might surprise us. Listening to several podcasts lately on medieval history and especially the story of the Byzantine empire, I’m struck by how fluid the boundaries were between Islam and Christianity in the Middle Ages. Those boundaries are becoming more fluid again.

I’ve blogged many times in the past about how the caliphate once dominated southern Europe. Spain and Portugal were majority Muslim from 711CE to around the start of the 13th century. Sicily was an emirate and Greece was swallowed up by the Ottoman empire in the late Middle Ages. For many centuries, the boundaries between the two faiths seemed set, into modern times, but that situation is changing. The question is – can we live in harmony?

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The boundaries between Islam and Christianity have always been shifting

Just as parts of Europe were Muslim in the Middle Ages – so was the presence of Christianity surprisingly strong in North Africa and the Levant. Not just as a result of crusader conquest, but populations that had remained Christian long after the Arab conquest of the seventh century. Egypt, for example, was more than likely majority Christian for at least three hundred years after the Arabian armies stormed in. Syria had large Christian populations that are only now being finally decimated by war and terrorism. Constantinople was the capital of an eastern Christian empire that – at times – dominated Asia Minor and the Balkans until it was crushed by the Turks in the middle of the fifteenth century.

Religious zealotry – what we might now term ‘extremism’ – abounded in the medieval period. On the Christian side, new monastic orders preached asceticism and violent crusade. On the Muslim side, a violent interpretation of jihad was demanded from those who felt the caliphate had grown soft and corrupt. As Spain was slowly invaded by Christian crusader kingdoms in the north, waves of Muslim zealots – the Almohads and Almoravids – tried to put backbone in to the caliphate with a return to perceived theological purity. Sound familiar?

Cicero once correctly noted that those who ignore history fail to grasp the present and future. Quite right! So I’d like to know what you think the past can teach us today. Your thoughts would be very welcome.

 

 

 

 

THIS CHRISTMAS – ask yourself: Do you really understand the Knights Templar?

And if the answer is no or a slight equivocation – there is a new paperback that you need to read. Now available to buy, it’s a story that will immerse you in the 12th century and leave you knowing more about the Knights Templar than you could have imagined.

At last – in paperback – for you this holiday season – Quest For The True Cross – official launch in January but users of this blog get the chance to buy early!  Click Quest for the True Cross to go to Amazon!

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Save human civilisation from ISIS thuggery

ISIS has not only been destroying ancient Roman and Assyrian monuments but also the medieval Christian and Muslim heritage of Syria and Iraq. For example, the Mar Elian monastery dated back to the 4th century when the Roman empire converted to Christianity. ISIS bulldozers brought its walls crashing down.

Dura-Europos was described as the Pompeii of the desert yielding amazing remains of Roman armour and many temples. Needless to say that aerial photographs show it to have now been looted and demolished in a mindless display of barbarism.

Mosul saw the infamous attack on the city’s museum but less well reported was the burning of the university library and the central public library. In those flames went thousands of ancient books, manuscripts and scientific instruments developed by medieval Arabic scholars. UNESCO said it was possibly one of the worst destructions of libraries in history.

The Mar Behnam monastery survived centuries of the Islamic caliphate and the Mongol invasion of the Middle Ages. But then ISIS showed up and rigged the 4th century site with explosives pulverising a saint’s tomb and exquisite decoration. Save human history from ISIS