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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: The Rise and Fall of the Knights Templar (Online) (PGHC11571)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course uses the rise and fall of the Knights Templar as a prism though which to view the medieval world. The Templars were a monastic order of warrior-monks, who epitomised the military-religious ideology of Latin Christendom, yet they were also prominent bankers and traders whose networks stretched from Britain to the Levant, and helped connect Christendom to the Islamic world. Their trial and suppression in the fourteenth century still arouses enormous controversy and speculation and is a prime example of the political heresies and the clashes between monarchies and the papacy which dominated the later medieval period and beyond.
Course description The Order of the Temple was established in Jerusalem in c.1119 for the protection of pilgrims visiting the Holy Land. Within years the Templars had become a significant force in Syria, Palestine and in the West, forging a reputation for military prowess as well as accumulating vast wealth and influence. However, in 1307 the Templars in France were arrested on the orders of King Philip the Fair. In the name of the Inquisition, their property was seized and the men charged with a host of severe heresies, including the denial of Christ, homosexuality and idol worship. Confessions extracted under torture were brought before royal and papal tribunals, and although defences were mounted in their support, in 1312 Pope Clement V officially dissolved the Order. In March 1314, Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Templars, was burned at the stake in Paris.

Seven hundred years after the suppression of the Order, the trial of the Templars still arouses enormous controversy and speculation. This course will cut through the rumours and myths surrounding the Templars to examine their rise to power and uncover the causes for their subsequent destruction. It will begin with the establishment of the crusader states and the foundation of the Templars, before exploring their role in the crusades of the thirteenth century and the fall of the Holy Land in 1291. The course will then focus on the situation in Europe at the turn of the fourteenth century, especially the growing influence of the French Crown over the papacy. The arrest and trial of the Templars from 1307-1312 will then be analysed in detail, drawing from a range of sources, including trial records, arrest warrants, confessions, inquisitorial accounts and diplomatic correspondence. The course will end with a look into the trial of the Templars in Scotland and the formation of myths surrounding the last members and the legacy of the Order. By studying this module, students will be able to engage with many pertinent historical themes, including heresy and belief, religious-secular conflict, justice and torture, myth formation and local history.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking The Rise and Fall of the Knights Templar (PGHC11572)
Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. understand the relevant areas of the history of the military orders and the Knights Templar;
  2. execute defined research and produce structured and analytical essays on aspects of the course;
  3. critically analyse the sources relevant to the course and be familiar with their strengths and limitations;
  4. engage with other students through forums discussion;
  5. evaluate the historiography and debate surrounding the Trial of the Templars.
Reading List
Barber, M., The Trial of the Templars, 2nd ed. (2006). E-Resource.

Barber, M., The New Knighthood: A History of the Order of the Temple (1994).

Barber, M. & K. Bate (trans.), The Templars: Selected Sources (2002).

Burgtorf, J., Crawford, P.F., & Nicholson, H.J. (eds), The Debate on the Trial of the Templars (1307-1314) (2010). E-Resource.

Forey, A., The Military Orders: From the Twelfth to the Early Fourteenth Centuries (1992).

Morton, N., The Medieval Military Orders: 1120-1314 (2013). E-Resource.

Nicholson, H.J., The Knights Templar: A New History (2001).

Nicholson, H.J., 'The Changing Face of the Templars: Current Trends in Historiography', History Compass 8 (2010), pp. 653-67. E-Resource.

Nicholson, H.J., The Knights Templar (2021). E-Resource.

The Military Orders, vol. 1 (1994), vol. 2 (1998), vol. 3 (2008), vol. 4 (2008), vol. 5 (2012), vol. 6.1 and 6.2 (2016), vol. 7 (2019). E-Resource.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Assimilate, process and communicate a wide range of information from a variety of sources.

Process and critically assess information derived from historical research, utilising theoretical and methodological knowledge and skills specific to the subject area.

Provide clear written analyses based on historical information.

Master practical skills in accessing and interpreting historical sources.

Construct and pursue a coherent argument driven by analysis of the primary source material.

Analyse, assimilate and deploy critically a range of secondary literature relevant and essential to the student's individual research subject.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Michael Carr
Tel: (0131 6)50 2554
Course secretary
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