In 2012, I visited the ancient town of Acre in modern Israel (now called Akko). It’s still dominated by the castle built by the Knights Hospitaller and underneath this mighty medieval construction is a secret tunnel – its purpose still shrouded in mystery. This is where the crusader defeat at the Siege of Acre spelt the end for the crusader project in the Holy Land.
In 1099, Christian crusader armies stormed into Jerusalem and established kingdoms along the Mediterranean coastline. But two hundred years later, the crusaders – and the Knights Templar – were in retreat. Jerusalem had reverted to Muslim control. The Templars found themselves holed up in Acre.
In 1291, Acre finally fell and with that the crusades began to disintegrate. By 1302, there was no crusader presence in the Holy Land. This undoubtedly spelt doom for the Knights Templar. Their reason to exist had disappeared.