I heard an interesting BBC interview of the author of the book, The Templars: History & Myth. Part of the effectiveness of the interview was oddly heightened by the fact that the interviewer really didn't know very much about the subject, and that came the author, Michael Haag, the opportunity to attack a few myths. Pretty interesting.
For instance, one that really surprised me is that when Sidon fell in the late 13th Century, thereby ending the Templar presence in the region, and effectively ending the Crusader Kingdom period, the majority of people in the Middle East were Christian. I would have thought that by that period in the majority were Moslem, but not so. Apparently following the fall of Sidon Moslem repression of Christians became intense, and that's when the region really began to become Islamic. Moslems were a minority in overlord status where they were in control.
I also didn't appreciate the extent to which the Islamic conquest in the region was Turkish, rather than Arab. Or the extent to which it didn't come about until Moslem rulers started to consolidate power. Saladin is estimated to have spent 11 out of 12 years of his conquest period fighting Islamic rulers, and only one fighting Christian forces.
Nor, as a final example, was I aware of the fairly seamless French colonization of the region up until things went badly, as apparently French agricultural colonists were largely welcome by the inhabitants of the region.
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