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Why Knights Templar Gave False Confessions of Depravity

The Knights Templar were revered throughout medieval Europe as the fiercest, wealthiest and most powerful military order of the era. So how were they obliterated with such devastating swiftness? Lies, spies and torture—lots of torture—masterminded by a power-hungry, money-mad more

Knights Templar Hot Spots in the Holy Land

This strategic Holy Land port came under Western control during the First Crusade—but changed hands several times after. In 1291 it was the last Christian-held fortress in the Holy Land when it fell to the Mamluks—one of the most devastating events in Templar, and Western, more

Why Friday the 13th Spelled Doom for the Knights Templar

Why are Fridays that fall on a month’s 13th day so fearful? Some attribute the origins to the Code of Hammurabi, one of the world’s oldest legal documents, which may or may not have superstitiously omitted a 13th rule from its list. Others claim that the ancient Sumerians, who more

What Fuels Our Fascination With the Knights Templar?

The medieval crusading period threw up literally dozens of military orders–knights sworn to lead religious lives as well as fighting the enemies of Christ. We never hear about the mysteries of the Hospitallers. Or the secret bloodline of Jesus guarded by the Teutonic Order. Or more

KNIGHTFALL is a docudrama that tells the story about the Knights Templar and their efforts to protect Christianity during a volatile period in history. Landry (Tom Cullen), Godfrey (Sam Hazeldine), Tancrede (Simon Merrells), and Gawain (Pádraic Delaney) are members of the powerful and wealthy secret brotherhood of warrior monks fighting on behalf of the Holy See. When they are not fighting battles in the Holy Land to preserve the faith and its most important relics, they remain in France to defend Christians and Jews who need to be protected from brutal marauders and other injustices. But the efforts of Pope Boniface VIII (Jim Carter) to usurp the authority of European kings leads to strife between the Vatican, for whom they fight, and their king, Phillip IV of France (Ed Stoppard), which puts the members of the Catholic military order in a difficult position. Meanwhile, their own human frailties lead to dark secrets and painful betrayals. The work of the mysterious order is complicated, but they are driven by their mission and are willing to pay for it with their lives.

This dramatic and violent series attempts to demystify the legend of the Knights Templar, a Catholic military order founded during the Middle Ages to protect pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. It reveals the secret missions that they were committed to, including securing the Holy Grail, and highlights the historic feud between the Pope and the King of France during a very tumultuous time.

It has some big battle scenes and some mildly entertaining side plots, but Knightfall feels more Hollywood than historically accurate. Meanwhile, those who are not familiar with the history of the warriors will find it difficult to immediately understand the plotlines being presented. Some may enjoy it, but for fans of good history chronicles, it lacks profundity.

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‘Knightfall’ Review: A Look at the Aftermath of the Crusades That’s Brutal in All the Wrong Ways

This is either the best or worst time to be releasing a new series set in the aftermath of The Crusades, a centuries-long campaign to claim the Holy Land as Christian territory. Regardless of its timing, the new History series &ldquoKnightfall&rdquo falls short of the careful examination that this monumental period of world history deserves. Ambitious in its scale, but hamstrung by its conventions, &ldquoKnightfall&rdquo often confuses violence and brutality for visceral authenticity. Using the Templar Knights as an entry point into a volatile period in France and the world at large, the result is a series that often focuses its energies on the least compelling areas of its tapestry.

As a sword and shield epic, &ldquoKnightfall&rdquo brings a kind of visual comfort that will likely endear it to pre-existing fans of &ldquoGame of Thrones,&rdquo &ldquoLord of the Rings,&rdquo or even &ldquoBraveheart&rdquo (whose antagonist King Edward &ldquoLongshanks&rdquo I is name-dropped here). But even using a familiar template for the brutal hand-to-hand combat (if you love seeing dudes getting stabbed out through their mouths, then this is the show for you!), these battles only matter when you care about who&rsquos fighting. The opening sequence in the pilot tries to convey the grandeur of the fighting that largely brought the Holy Land part of the Crusades to a close, but it&rsquos not really until the individual stories of these Templar Knights get revealed that the show starts to become something deeper than an attempt at merely recreating history for visual splendor.

In the court of the French King Philip IV and Queen Joan, Templar knight Landry (Tom Cullen) becomes far more than just a dutiful servant of the crown and occasional sparring partner for the king. Landry is effectively the show&rsquos lead (he gets the pivotal character-strengthening flashbacks to prove it), and the eventual search for the Holy Grail becomes the eventual backbone for the series.

But it&rsquos royal envoy William De Nogaret that emerges as the show&rsquos beating heart, for better or worse. As a shadowy string-puller in matters of French governance and literal international affairs, his character is bathed in much of the usual, hushed hallway conversations where characters delight in the how evil and dastardly their schemes are. But Julian Ovenden brings a certain distinct charisma to the character&rsquos sly nature, even as his actions grow increasingly despicable and unforgivable.

The Grail itself is a curious and difficult MacGuffin for the show to build around. The fact that it represents so many different things to different characters on the show is a testament to its power as a cultural symbol, even back in the 13th century. But as a way of focusing the series, it ends up pulling the show in too many directions. When it&rsquos treated as a totemic artifact of faith, the show briefly considers how much value there is in mass slaughter and warfare over control of physical objects. When characters talk about the Grail&rsquos fantastical healing powers, &ldquoKnightfall&rdquo takes on more fantasy airs. When it&rsquos viewed more as a target for rival mercenaries, it becomes the engine for a medieval spy story.

None of these potential directions are necessarily wrongheaded (unless you count the questionable ethical explaining away of why this bloody war is happening in the first place). But when jumbled together, there&rsquos a certain messiness to this history that extends beyond the questionable motivation of its central characters.

Though, it is curious and slightly unexpected, to see a show set in this era treat its royal characters with relative simplicity. Philip (Ed Stoppard) is made to look like a hapless figurehead rather than the megalomaniacal force that most TV kings are painted as (particularly one with theoretical aims of uniting all of Europe under one royal house). Queen Joan (Olivia Ross) faces two very distinct and specific dilemmas, but being a woman in her position in a feudal time, &ldquoKnightfall&rdquo can&rsquot (or opts not to) give her much to do outside the castle walls.

For fans of historical soapiness, there&rsquos plenty of steamy encounters and forbidden love stories to satisfy any basic cable cravings. But while there&rsquos the obligatory level of shady interfamily drama, there&rsquos not a whole lot of specificity here on the palace intrigue side. There&rsquos the pervasive sense that &ldquoKnightfall&rdquo wouldn&rsquot change very much if it was swapped into an entirely different century or set within the hierarchy of a more modern business instead of a burgeoning empire.

Jim Carter as Pope Boniface VIII is a character force that doesn&rsquot always fit with the rest of the show at times, but is a distinct throwback to the historical and religious epics of the past. With the Pope as the benevolent uncle figure type early on, just trying to make sure that all the royals and knights maintain honor and order in equal measure, it&rsquos another example of the show&rsquos curious decision to demystify history when it comes to the people involved.

In regards to the Templars&rsquo treatment of the &ldquoSaracens&rdquo or their response to persecution of members of the Jewish community living in France, the show does have a sheen of saviorhood that feels insincere at times, revisionist at others, and overall a centering perspective that hamstrings the show&rsquos ability to fully invest in anyone not wearing chainmail.

So, at least for the better half of its opening season, &ldquoKnightfall&rdquo is a wispy acknowledgment of a period in time that calls for a more thorough, less surface-level evaluation. There may be a kernel of truth in turning figures from history into petty people with outsized grievances whose grudges and short-sightedness meant bloodshed on a cataclysmic scale. But as the foundation for ten episodes of a TV series, it makes an era that literally changed the world into something that feels so small.

‘Knightfall’: TV Review

'Knightfall,' History's attempt to partially clone 'Vikings,' wants to be King Arthur or Robin Hood more than it wants to be about the Knights Templar.

Daniel Fienberg

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Vikings, which just entered its fifth season, is one of TV’s better unsung dramas. Creator Michael Hirst has consistently delivered muscular action, thoughtful spiritual exploration and some of the strongest female characters around. At this point, History could have a roster of a half-dozen Vikings knockoffs, each with a cast of respectable British thespians having sword fights and talking about their respective version of God in different eras.

On Wednesday, four-plus years after Vikings launched, the first of History’s Vikings knockoffs arrives in the form of Knightfall , a drama about the waning years of the Knights Templar. The series takes a fascinating historical moment and uses it as an excuse to channel a half-dozen fictionalized histories and renders something specific relatively generic.

AIR DATE Dec 06, 2017

Knightfall was created by Don Handfield and Richard Rayner and features an eclectic production team including showrunner Dominic Minghella (Doc Martin), TV veterans Jeff Pinkner , Andre Nemec , Josh Appelbaum and Scott Rosenberg, plus executive producer Jeremy Renner, whose heavily advertised involvement might lead you to believe he also makes an acting appearance. He does not.

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Tom Cullen leads a cast in which roughly two-thirds of the performers have Downton Abbey among their credits.

The story starts in 1291 as Cullen’s Landry and his fellow Templar knights are in the waning days of the Siege of Acre, a defeat that marked the last of the Crusaders’ strongholds in the Holy Land. In the conflict, warrior Gawain ( Padraic Delaney) is injured protecting Landry, who makes a desperate final attempt to safeguard the Holy Grail, only to see it lost, seemingly for good.

Fifteen years later, Landry is stationed with many of his fellow knights in Paris, where he offers military training to King Philip IV (Ed Stoppard) and relationship advice (and more) to Queen Joan (Olivia Ross). The fate of France may hinge on the proper nuptials of the King’s daughter Isabella (Sabrina Bartlett), and that nation-binding union may rely on a blessing from Pope Boniface VIII (Jim Carter), which worries Philip’s scheming counselor Guillaume de Nogaret (Julian Ovenden ). The Knights Templar are getting impatient about their role in a world in which there are no Crusades, but things are about to change when a tragedy leads Landry to a clue about the whereabouts of the Grail, in turn unearthing Muslim Saracens and a mysterious brotherhood.

Per actual history, the Templar Knights had an important role in Paris in this period and were, indeed, seen as a threat by Guillaume de Nogaret and a variety of European royals. Most of that had to do with the size of their army and the fullness of their coffers, and to give the series some credit, these are points that it makes, albeit fleetingly, through six of the first season’s 10 episodes.

If you were to watch Knightfall while being periodically distracted by Twitter or checking your email or flipping over to see the score of a basketball game, you’d very likely come away with the conclusion that the Templar Knights existed for one reason, and that reason was, “Something something something The Holy Grail.” That’s a long way from the Templar Knights’ actual business with the cup that Jesus drank from at the Last Supper, which is somewhere between “None, if you demand hard historical evidence” and “Perhaps some, if you like your history interwoven with folklore and legend.” There’s nothing inherently wrong with the latter approach and that’s what the series embraces, as the storyline likely to captivate most viewers relates to an assembling of clues of the sort that would usually attract characters played by Nicolas Cage or Tom Hanks with bad haircuts.

What things are distinctive and interesting about the Templars are given lip service. Mostly, though, they’re a framework for a story that’s a little bit King Arthur and a little bit Robin Hood (Minghella’s BBC drama Robin Hood yields much overlap) and even occasionally a little bit Game of Thrones, and if you’re going to push the story that aggressively in those derivative directions, you can’t blame me if I’m going to start yelling, “It’s just a flesh wound!” or “I fart in your general direction!” when things get excessively earnest and, in turn, excessively silly, which happens often. One of the great pleasures of Vikings is all of the “that can’t possibly be true” elements that prove to have concrete basis, while Knightfall‘s fits of fancy are more often embellished or cool things from other sources grafted into the real backdrop.

Another of the great pleasures of Vikings has always been a cast of quirky actors doing quirky things, from Travis Fimmel’s tormented mumbling to the glorious weirdness of Gustaf Skarsgård. It’s a showcase of character actors playing beefy warriors.

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Knightfall, in contrast, goes right down the middle with nearly every performance. Cullen is good-looking and sturdy and delivers every line in identical hallowed tones (except for the rare moments in which he bellows hilarious). The other various knights are interchangeably British and bearded and defined by at most one character detail. By virtue of being the smartest character in the story and the only one not talking about the Holy Grail incessantly, Ovenden’s Nogaret emerges as a solid villain, and I’ll never quibble about listening to Jim Carter make grand pronouncements with his impeccable voice.

The women are instantly all more complex and spirited, with Ross and especially Bartlett making good impressions. Sarah-Sofie Boussnina is less well-treated as Adelina, an occasionally appearing vestige of a woefully thin subplot involving a threat to Paris’ Jewish community.

Photographed by Christopher Manley, Knightfall looks great. Probably too great. This is a version of 14th century Paris in which every interior is immaculately cleaned and the bleaching budget for the Knights Templar’s white robes must be astronomical. I want a whole episode about laundry day.

The battles and sword fights are staged competently, but the only memorable parts tend to be the abrupt and surprisingly violent climaxes, often involving people getting swords or crucifixes rammed down their throats. A lot of what goes into making period pieces like this feel modern is the updated proto-feminist heroines, but nearly as much updating comes from gleeful appreciation that people in the past were as into torture and pervy sexuality as our hip, contemporary cable dramas. So Knightfall plays that game as well, tepidly.

The series moves at a very fast clip because it offers little to digest. Landry gets basically a clue-per-week on his Grail search, which rarely touches on real religion or faith. For a man working without cellphones or email, de Nogaret’s plotting goes at a whiplash pace, especially in the last of the six episodes I watched. Since I don’t have a clue where the show can progress if it leaves actual history behind and just embraces the Grail pseudo-history, I may keep watching to see when real history dovetails back in, or just because shouting Monty Python dialogue at a drama taking itself too seriously amuses me.

The True Stories In 'Knightfall' Are Actually Way Cooler Than The Search For The Holy Grail

Knightfall, the new television series from the History Channel, chronicles the fall of the Knights Templar, a military group that fought on behalf of the Catholic Church – and follows one member who wants to find the legendary Holy Grail. The show is a window into the distant past, and while Knightfall isn't entirely historically accurate, it uses fiction to explore the complicated history of this historic organization.

"We take the key events and characters and weave our story into them," Knightfall showrunner Dominic Minghella tells Bustle. "Much of our content is true to the historical record, and while we take some liberties for the purposes of drama and intrigue, history gives us at least the framework. And — since the Templar story is so rich — often much more!"

While Knightfall doesn't present a 100 percent accurate account of the organization's fall from grace, it combines the real story of the Knights Templar with popular fiction surrounding them. The long-standing fictional narratives about the Knights Templar have become as important to their legacy as the reality of their existence as a powerful military and financial force.

Perhaps the biggest leap from fact to fiction that the show takes is the nature of the Holy Grail and the Knights Templar's relationship to the object. As historian and Knightfall lead consultant Dan Jones explains in his book The Templars: The Rise and Spectacular Fall of God’s Holy Warriors,

Much of Knightfall focuses on the Templar's leader, Landry, and his own personal quest to find the Holy Grail. While any and all Holy Grail-related material from Knightfall can be safely considered fiction, the connection between the two has historical precedence. Over time, fictional stories about the Templar's relationship to the Holy Grail has transformed them "from a crusader militia into the guardians of the mythical Grail" in the public eye.

When the series isn't following the quest for the Holy Grail, Knightfall's depiction of the Knights Templar seems to be deeply rooted in reality. Not all of the names are entirely accurate, but Knightfall does manage to present a striking glimpse at the group's military and political prowess. The Knights Templar rose from being bodyguards, protecting western pilgrims in Jerusalem to powerful warriors in the Christian crusades, and eventually "one of the medieval world’s richest organizations."

Knightfall introduces the Knights Templar near the height of their power, just before their downfall. At their peak, the power of the Knights Templar rivaled that of other powerful medieval entities. Jones explains that at the peak of their power, The Knights Templar "helped finance wars, loaned money to pay kings’ ransoms, subcontracted the financial management of royal governments, collected taxes, built castles, ran cities, raised armies, interfered in trade disputes, engaged in private wars against other military orders, carried out political assassinations and even helped make men king."

The Knights Templar may have never found the Holy Grail, and likely never even searched for it in the first place, but their actual accomplishments far outweigh finding a special cup. The power that this paramilitary organization held over the world at large makes their decline, chronicled in Knightfall, all the more shocking. While the more fantastical elements of Knightfall may be fictitious, the amazing truth behind the Knights Templar is what makes this show a must-watch for any medieval history buff.

‘Knightfall’: History Sets Cast for Jeremy Renner-Produced Drama Series

History has set the cast for its 10-episode straight-to-series historical drama Knightfall, executive produced by Jeremy Renner. In addition, Dominic Minghella (Doc Martin) has been tapped as executive producer and showrunner.

Joining previously announced Tom Cullen are Bobby Schofield (Black Sea), Sabrina Bartlett (DaVinci&rsquos Demons), Julian Ovenden (Downton Abbey), Sarah-Sofie Boussnina (The Bridge), Padraic Delaney (The Wind That Shakes the Barley), Simon Merrells (Dominion) and Olivia Ross (War and Peace).

Created by Don Handfield and Richard Rayner, Knightfall chronicles the mysterious but true accounts of the Knights Templar, the elite warriors of the Crusades. It delves into the great secrets protected by the Templars and tells the story of faith, loyalty and brotherhood that help sustain these warriors on the battlefield, and the dark events that would forever sear the infamous date of Friday the 13th into the world&rsquos psyche.

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Bobby Schofield will play Parsifal, a young man of ordinary birth who will join the Knights Templar seeking revenge, but ultimately finds a higher purpose Sabrina Bartlett is Princess Isabella, Queen Joan and King Philip’s daughter, her upcoming wedding stands to forge a powerful political alliance for France Julian Ovenden is De Nogaret, King Philip&rsquos Machiavellian lawyer and right hand man Sarah-Sofie Boussnina plays Adelina, as a child she was rescued in the Holy Land by the Templar Knights, but now in her early 20s, she lives on the streets of Paris as a thief Padraic Delaney is Gawain, once the greatest swordsman of the Templar Order whose role with them is at a crossroads Simon Merrells plays Tancrede, a veteran sergeant fanatically devoted to the Templar Knight cause and Olivia Ross is Queen Joan of Navarre, Queen of France and Queen Regnant of Navarre, a devoted mother, warrior, and a formidable diplomat and strategist.

Tom Cullen stars as Landry, a veteran warrior of the Crusades, who becomes the leader of the Templars and serves as the driving force behind their quest to retrieve Christianity&rsquos most prized relic: The Holy Grail. Renner is expected to guest star on a recurring basis. Production on Knightfall begins this summer in the Czech Republic and Croatia.

Schofield is repped by Lou Coulson Associates Bartlett is repped by Independent Talent, UK Ovenden is repped by Affirmative Entertainment, Independent Talent and Hertz Lichtenstein & Young Boussnina is repped by UTA & Lindberg Management Delaney is repped by Lisa Richards Agency Merrells is repped by D2 Management and Conway van Gelder Grant Ross is repped by Sophie Holden at Curtis Brown Group Ltd and Dominic Minghella is repped by Greg Slewett at Bloom Hergott, WME, Grandview, and 42 (UK rep).

Knightfall hails from A+E Studios, Jeremy Renner&rsquos and Handfield&rsquos banner The Combine and Midnight Radio (Jeff Pinkner, Andre Nemec, Josh Appelbaum and Scott Rosenberg).

Points of Divergence

Ögedei Khan, a ruler of the Mongol Empire who opened the Mongols to Central and Western Europe.

In our timeline, Tolui, brother of Ögödei sacrificed himself in order to cure Ögödei from a very severe illness during a campaign in China. The shamans had determined that the root of Ögödei's illness were China's spirits of earth and water, who were upset that their subjects had been driven away and their land devastated. Offering land, animals, and people had only led to an aggravation of Ögödei's illness, but when they offered to sacrifice a family member, Ögödei got better immediately. Tolui volunteered and died directly after consuming a cursed drink. Ögdöei kept peace among his family, criticizing his son and Chagatai's grandson. The sudden death of Tolui seems to have affected him deeply. Tolui sacrificed his own life, accepting a poisoned drink in shamanist ritual in order to save Ögödei who was suffering from illness. In Knightfall, Chagatai sent an entrusted official to convince Ogödei to control his habits, influencing him to reduce the cups he drank per day. Had this not happened, Ögödei would fall victim to alcoholism. 

Knightfall: Cancelled, No Season Three for History Channel Series

The knights have fallen ahead of season three. History has cancelled the Knightfall TV show after two seasons and 18 episodes.

A Middle Ages drama, Knightfall tells the story of the Knights Templar. Mark Hamill joined the History drama for season two, with Tom Cullen, Pádraic Delaney, Ed Stoppard, Simon Merrells, Julian Ovenden, and Jim Carter returning. Also new in the second season are Genevieve Gaunt, Tom Forbes, and Clementine Nicholson. The series explores the secret world of these warrior monks. With the downfall of the Templar Order looming, season two focuses on themes including power, redemption, revenge, betrayal, family, and an epic war between church and state.

The second season of Knightfall averaged a 0.13 rating in the 18-49 demographic and 652,000 viewers. Compared to season one, that’s down by 48% and 47%, respectively. Knightfall is History‘s lowest-rated series. The last episode of season two aired nearly a year ago, on May 13, 2019.

History’s Project Blue Book has also been cancelled after two seasons so that leaves Vikings as the channel’s only remaining scripted series. That show is currently in its sixth and final season with the final 10 episodes still waiting to be scheduled.

What do you think? Are you a fan of the Knightfall TV series? Would you have watched a third season?

Knightfall season 3 trailer: When will we see it?

Not for a very long while &ndash if ever. But as soon as the trailer lands, if it does, we'll stick it into this feature, so bookmark this page for all the latest Knightfall news, scoops and reveals.

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Watch the video: Knightfall: Official Trailer. Series Premiere December 6 at 109c. History (February 2023).

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