Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in History



First Advisor

Joelle Rollo-Koster


The military orders , especially the first, the Order of the Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon (Knights Templar) played a critical role in the preservation of the Crusader kingdoms in Palestine between 1119 and their fall in 1291. It is generally acknowledged that part of the Templars' success, in both Palestine and Spain, stemmed from their ability to deal with the Muslim enemy in a variety of situations. This naturally involved some assimilation of the Templars into the local culture during the 12th and 13th centuries.

This thesis explores the nature of that assimilation (either arabization or islamization), and how it changed over time and geography. The Templars' arabization appears to have been an adaptive mechanism.There is apparently no more tolerance toward Islam inherent in the Order's structure than in other medieval Christian institutions. Under the right conditions, Templars could be as intolerant as any other Christian group of the era. The Templars came under severe criticism during this period for their real, and perceived arabization. Their perceived arabization was, in fact, much greater than their real assimilation . It was this perception which brought about their eventual downfall.

Chapters One and Two discuss the overall career of the Templars: their origins, their rise, their success in Palestine and Spain, and their sudden suppression, which ended with the burning of their last Master in 1314. Chapter Three gives an overview of the Crusades, both in Palestine and in Spain (the Reconquista). Chapter Four explores the nature of the arabization of the Templars, both real and perceived, its limits, how it affected their place in medieval society, and how it led to their suppression. Chapter Five discusses how, and why, the perceived arabization of the Templars has affected their place in history, even leading some modern groups to imitate the fantasies created to destroy the Order.



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