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M.Besant E.Walter
Jerusalem, the city of Herod and Saladin

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M.Besant E.Walter
Jerusalem, the city of Herod and Saladin
page 327



been transferred to the Christian camp. Moreover, there would have been a precedent which history lacks of the conversion of a whole tribe or nation from Islamism to Christianity. What sort of religion the sheikh of the Assassins contemplated is difficult to tell. But he could not have been a worse Christian than the defenders of Palestine. And then comes the question, why did the Templars kill the messenger ? what reason had they for thwarting the sheikh and the king ? why, considering the indemnity they were to receive, should they wish to prevent the arrangement ? And what could have been their motive for preventing the conversion of the Assassins to their own religion ? One answer only occurs to us. It has always seemed to us that the Templars, towards the close of the Christian rule in Palestine, were actuated by a deep and firmly rooted ambition. They proposed, seeing the weakness of the kingdom, and the worthlessness of its barons, to acquire for themselves castle after castle, strong place after strong place, till, when King Amaury was dead, and his son, already known to be tainted with leprosy, was on the throne, the kingdom would drop quietly into their own hands, the only strong hands left in the country. With this end in view they were acquiring forts in Cilicia and Armenia, all over Phoenicia, and across the Jordan. Palestine proper was dotted with their manors and fiefs. Nor was this all. In Europe their broad lands increased every day, and their income, even now, one hundred and fifty years before their dissolution, was enormous. There can be no doubt that the Templars, had they chosen to concentrate their forces, and to get together all the knights they could muster, might have deferred for long, and perhaps altogether, the final fall of the kingdom. But they did not perceive the immediate danger, and while the Mohammedan forces were uniting and concentrating, they probably still believed them to be divided and dissentient. On no other ground than the hypothesis of this ambition


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