This expertly presented book is an authoritative, informed account of the rise and fall of the Knights Templar, from their rapid progression from humble men of the cross to powerful warrior-monks, and to their arrest, persecution and dissolution in a tempestuous period of history covering two centuries. Clad in a white mantle with the splayed red cross the knights took part in the Crusades with martial zeal and strength - but their influence at the height of their powers extended well beyond war, into diplomacy, politics and the banking and technology of the age. The book looks at the speculations, myths and mysteries of these legendary knights in a period that lasted only 200 years, but still holds fascination some 700 years later. It looks at controversial claims and conspiracies surrounding the Knights Templar and makes informed opinions about likely truths behind them - such as whether they discovered America and whether they had guardianship or special knowledge of the Holy Grail. It also makes links with the Turin Shroud, the Ark of Covenant, the Skull of Sidon, Freemasonry and other mysteries that have passed down the centuries. It shows the historical legacy of the Templars today and how they have influenced modern ways of life and modern organizations. Beautifully illustrated with more than 200 photographs and fine art images.