This is an in-depth illustrated chronicle of the rise and fall of one of history's most secretive brotherhoods, from its origins as a champion of Christ in the middle ages to its mysterious legacy in the present day. It charts the rise and fall of the order, from humble men of the Cross to powerful warrior-monks. It investigates the templars' mysteries, handed down through the centuries, and their links to the Holy Grail, the Turin shroud, the ark of the covenant, the skull of Sidon, and involvement in the history of freemasonry. It examines the debate on whether the knights were brave crusaders, servants of Christ, treacherous heretics or mercenary outlaws. It is a comprehensive guide, with 200 illustrations. This expert book covers the fascinating and romantic history that surroundes the order of the Knights Templar. It charts the rise and influence of the order, its changing fortunes, losing their base in Jerusalem in the Third Crusade, the fall of Acre and the destruction of the order by Pope Clement V and Philip IV of France. The speculative myths and questions about these legendary knights are fully discussed, as are controversial claims and conspiracies that have surrounded them for centuries. Among these are whether the Templars discovered America and if they were the guardians of the Holy Grail. With well-researched text and evocative illustrations this volume shows the historical legacy of the Templars and how they have influenced contemporary organizations, art, literature and legend.