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The Monks of War

The military orders emerged during the Crusades as Christendom’s storm troopers in the 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 appear since the eighteenth century. Templars, Hospitallers (later Knights of Malta), Teutonic Knights, and Knights of the Spanish and Portugese orders were noblemen who took religious vows and, as the first properly disciplined Western troops since Roman times, played a major role in defending the crusader kingdom of Jerusalem, in the ‘Baltic Crusades’ which created Prussia, in the reconquest of Spain from the Moors, and in fighting the ‘Infidel’ up to Napoleonic times.

This 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.


'The book is excellent and firmly based on the primary sources of which Seward has a remarkable grasp.'

New Society

‘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

'Compulsive reading, attractively written, and retaining one's fascinated interest throughout.'

Catholic Herald

Desmond Seward Buy