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"Molist opens up a window on to the Templars in a thriller full of enigmas."
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Church of Santa Ana.
The Ring
Church of Santa Ana.

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The ring   In the church of Santa Anna can also be found the sepulchre of the Captain General of the Spanish galleys in the times of Ferdinand the Catholic and Charles I of Spain.

   There is little written about the sea and the Templar Order, but during the almost two hundred years from the foundation of the Order until its abolition, it became one of the biggest maritime powers of its time..

Article published in Revista de Arqueología

The Templars and the sea

The ring   he job of seaman was not considered very honourable for a noble in the XII to XIII centuries, since at that time the nobility was associated with the knights that fought on horseback. The Templars, like the other military equestrian orders of the time, retained these social differences, so someone not belonging to the nobility could not become a Templar knight, and only could reach the rank of sergeant. So the ships were commanded by sergeants, with the irony that a sergeant could be in charge of a powerful galley with 200 people on it, while a knight could only have direct command over his squire.

   All the economic efforts of the Templars in their rural possessions, mining, trade, collection of donations, and so on, had the sole objective of generating wealth in order to finance and sustain the war in the Holy Land, and to fulfil their fundamental goal of keeping it open for Christian pilgrims.

   Then they had to transport horses, weapons, soldiers and many different goods to the Holy Land, not only from Mediterranean countries but also from the Baltic and the Atlantic. And the only way to do that was by sea.  This is why expertise in transportation by sea was so valuable to them. But such transportation was not possible in the Mediterranean, full of pirates and under the Muslim threat, unless they had a powerful armada.

   So control of the Mediterranean was vital for the Templars, and the galley, in its different versions, was the prototype of the warship of that time. During their time the Templars, thanks to their galleys, were able to stop the maritime expansion of Islam.

   This is why in my novel The Ring the Mediterranean Sea - the coasts of the Costa Brava and Valencia - becomes a main character, along with the last of the Templars, the captain of a powerful galley.

Maltas order, successor of the Templars, galleyMaltas order, successor of the Templars, galley
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   But there are also some legends about Templars and the Atlantic Sea. The most popular is the one claiming that it was they who discovered America, and that they had secret maritime commerce with the new lands, from which they imported huge quantities of silver. Their knowledge of the Atlantic was transferred to the Order in Portugal, which was protected by the king, only changing their name; and finally it is said that Columbus’ sails had the Templar cross on them.

   When the Templars were abolished, the Order of Saint Jean of the Hospital inherited, on the Pope’s orders, most of their ships, and they continued the maritime war against Islamic expansionism.  When they were ousted from the Holy Land they settled in Rhodes, and when they were also kicked out of that island by the Turks, they settled again in Malta (given to them by Charles I of Spain) and finally came to be known as the Order of Malta.


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