The Knights Templar and Historical Revisionism in the Modern Era
Paper by Rory MacLellan
Given online for the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland on April 26, 2021
Abstract: The Knights Templar are among the best-known elements of the medieval period. They were the first of the military-religious orders and important players in the Crusades. Their dramatic end as accused heretics has since spawned endless conspiracy theories and the Templars, or groups inspired by them, have repeatedly featured in films, novels, comics, and video games. But this fame has also led to darker appropriations. As early as the nineteenth century, many political extremists have modelled themselves upon the Templars. Today, both the US and UK are home to groups that imitate these medieval knights, pledging to fight a ‘new crusade’ against multiculturalism, ‘cultural Marxism’, or a ‘New World Order’.
In this online talk, Dr Rory MacLellan will discuss how certain members of the far-right have appropriated the memory of the Knights Templar for their own ends. He will then examine why the Templars hold such a strong appeal for parts of the far-right and how pseudo-histories and myths about the order can act as an entry-point for this dark historical revisionism.
Dr Rory MacLellan is a postdoctoral research fellow at Historic Royal Palaces. He specialises in medieval religious history, especially the crusades and the military-religious orders. His first book, Donations to the Knights Hospitaller in Britain and Ireland’, 1291-1400, is published by Routledge.
A recording of my talk on modern misuse of the Templars by political extremists and the role that pop culture and pseudo-histories play in this #twitterstorians #medievaltwitter https://t.co/K1mC4taIoM
— Rory MacLellan (@RFMacLellan) April 28, 2021
Top Image: Representation of a Templar (Duinenabdij, Koksijde, Belgium). Photo by JoJan / Wikimedia Commons