When I finished watching The Last Kingdom, I was looking desperately for something to satisfy my Dark Ages addiction. Knightfall showed up, and quickly I found myself hooked on the last years of the infamous Templars.
The Official Summary
In 1306, the Knights Templar were winding down their run as one of the most powerful organisations in the Christian world. Acre, the Templar’s last stronghold, has fallen, and years later, a rumour is heard that the lost Grail is still in that area.
The Templars, led by the courageous, headstrong, but noble Templar Knight Landry, have shifted their attention to regaining a foothold in the Holy Land. They take their battle back to the Holy Land, and their battles become the Crusades.
The Templars are now losing allies and gaining new and powerful enemies, including the King of France. The legendary, wealthy and secretive military order of warrior monks is entrusted with protecting the Holy Grail and any secrets that are capable of destroying the Church.
My Overall Summary Of Knightfall
WARNING: Mature Audience | Mild Spoilers.
TRIGGERS: Torture | Gore | Sex | Suicide | Adultery | PTSD | Child Abuse.
The series takes place in the last years of the Knights Templar. As a historical fiction series, Knightfall is quite impressive in its depiction of what the Templars did and how they went about getting as feared as they once were.
The story revolves around a fictional romantic triangle that is added for story purposes regarding Queen Joan of Navarre and Landry De Lauzon behind King Philippe IV Le Bel of France. While King Philippe considers Landry to be one of his closest friends and council, the moment De Nogaret reveals a possible romance between the two, as a personal counsellor to the king and a vicious backstabber, everything goes downhill.
While the Grail is of the foremost importance to the Templars and brings in the presence of the historical Pope Boniface, the intimate relation between Queen Joan and Master Landry becomes harder to hide.
Because Queen Joan never loved Philippe and, in her heart, did her duty of giving him four heirs in their earlier days of marriage, she refused to share her bed with her husband. King Philippe Le Bel is still in love with his queen, shares his bed with no one else, and turns to Landry for advice.
Sadly, betrayal among the Templars spreads, and words get to De Nogaret, who learns about Queen Joan’s pregnancy and that it might not be King Philippe’s after all. This leads not only to a tragic close of a most beautiful but impossible love story but also marks the beginning of end of the Knights Templar.
The Historical Facts Addressed In Knightfall
As an avid Assassin’s Creed fan since its beginning, my passion for history is quite fervid, and the Knights Templar intrigued me. I was always curious why Ubisoft chose the religious organisation as the most powerful enemy for centuries. The answer is simple: they were everywhere and commanded by the pope.
For centuries the Knights Templar were the greatest army, nearly an unstoppable force. It had the Knights Templar feared and capable of rivalling Muslim and Asian armies, which were just as effective.
They often took the knights themselves at a young age. Often orphans, widows, poor, and beggars, and given a purpose to their misery. They would vow their lives, including celibacy, to the Church and go under one of the most severe training regimens.
Other Historical Knightfall Addictions
In the last years of their reign, the Knights Templar lost their main common goal, the Crusades. It led them to change hobbies, and because of their fortune, they turned to become a bank.
King Philippe owed much money to the Templars and wanted to avoid repaying his debt. In fact, the king desired to overthrow the papacy and take control over everything by dismantling the Templars. He succeeded, but not without karma coming after him.
Throughout the series, we witness the entire downfall of the Knights Templar. Because something spread too thin, they couldn’t remain one of France’s most powerful knights.
France expanded, and King Philippe was one of the most influential figures in Europe. He was also a cruel king and ensured he placed all pawns for a checkmate across the Knights Templar’s board. Sadly, because of the king’s intentions, it was the kiss of death for the organisation.
The Realism Of The Knightfall Series
The Knightfall series ended much too soon and should have lasted longer. The production in Knightfall was impressive. The subject was fascinating and in line with the History Channel despite being an A&E production.
The fighting scenes were exquisite and executed with finesse. We have no fantasy move of sword manipulation or elaborated choreography requiring spins and overboard flexibility. We witness thrusts, fallbacks, blade crossing, raw power and brutality.
Every move is a calculation but accurate to the time. In fantasy, the choreography aims for ‘epicness’ while in reality, it is ‘kill and move on to the next’ as fast as possible, so you don’t become the next corpse. No time for sword prowess!
As for the period clothing, it is impressive and accurate. Such beauty in the fabric and detail might be too ‘well-done’ but still reflects the France Royal court. Regarding the Knights Templar’s clothing, it is precisely as one would see in Assassin’s Creed or history books. The attention to detail is engrossing in the story, and even the scenery and castles are believable.
The Medieval Ways Of Healing In Knightfall
Regarding the wounds and torture from battles or prisoners, realism is crucial as it can either pull you in or out of the story. It is important to know history so the choice of instruments, whether to cure or torture, is correct and fits the time. Believe me. They nailed it and, despite my years of desensitisation to horror and heavy gore, did not prepare me for what I saw.
In multiple episodes, viewers witness how the Royal Court would proceed to either ensure one is pure or poisoning through powder or liquid kept in jewellery and abortion. With healing, we see the difference between what the common people could do versus nobility.
The most significant mind-blowing moment is the torture of the Templars. The only method of torture missing in the series is fire torture, which is not to be mixed with burning at the stake.
The Importance Of History And Betrayal In Knightfall History
Writing historical fiction for novels, video games, or scripts is complex. It is a challenging, rigorous task because the fandom of ancient history is vast. While it is impossible to satisfy everyone, it can unite many fans.
The main focal points are armour, the passage of time, and warfare tactics. Time passes through the looks of the characters, hairstyle and fashion. The French army didn’t wear the same armoury as the Knights Templar in the series, and rightfully so.
Not all of them had full head-to-toe metal plates because one of their vows was to remain poor. However, their weaponry was on point in achieving their defence of Catholicism.
Regarding the choice of King Philippe IV’s tactic to ambush the Knights Templar and isolating their best warriors was a realistic approach. It is vicious and unfair but taught by the Ancient Roman Empire and passed down through generations through their invading years.
Isolating an army’s best knights in a soldier square was not just a Roman tactic but also a Viking strategy known as ‘the square.’ Once the warrior is surrounded by a shield wall, the trap is set. The prisoner is ready for whoever wants to weaken him.
In Knightfall, Landry was the best sword master and King Philippe, though still at novice skills compared to an accomplished Knights Templar, cornered Landry. This is not historical, but I appreciated the historical display of that warfare method.
A Knightfall Of All Downfalls
If going in as a non-historical nerd, Knightfall is not complicated to follow as history is spread out in a simple plot and subplots. What is obvious is the Church since the Templars were a religious organisation.
The overly joyful excitement is if the viewer is an Assassins’ Creed fan! I could point out the number of times I said, “I remember that!” or “Yes! You bastard, I know your name!” I could even compare the methods of medicine and fighting skills!
In history, Boniface dies escaping De Nogaret and is replaced by an appointed pope, Clement V, chosen by King Philippe IV, which occurs in the series. Politics is part of the series but not so prominent that it takes away from what the Templars must face. We see the ugly side of the Church, such as the abandonment of its most powerful warriors and nobility.
The Romance Doomed To A Knightfall
The Templars were guilty of many crimes. It doesn’t take Assassin’s Creed to prove it. But here, we focus on the knights going to war, not the highly ranked ones. So, the betrayals and trials within the organisation’s walls are even more poignant.
Despite the romance being fictional in Knightfall, there is a place for those who love a good romance story. I’m not a romantic, yet I was swept off my feet by Queen Joan and Landry’s story. The delivery is magnificent and heartbreaking in the most shattering way.
For those of us who know the history and especially the downfall of the Knights Templar at the hands of King Philippe IV Le Bel of France, we know what is to come, and it keeps one on the edge of one’s seat. I assure you that whether or not you know the story is irrelevant. Knightfall will surprise you.
My Last Thoughts On Knightfall
We learn about the Knights Templar’s dirty secrets, why there are so many passageways in France, and how they found one another after battles. There are subjects in the series that are intriguing and amazing to learn about.
Although I understand why the second season lost some viewers, the series ended much too soon. A third season or ‘movie’ could have ended it better. Those who watch can understand what I’m referring to because it is a cliffhanger, yet a closure. While the ending was satisfying, there were still questions that needed answers.
I give Knightfall a high ranking because of its accuracy when addressing history and the choice of when to alter it. They made each decision about the history between King Philippe and the Knights Templar with educated knowledge and careful choices.
A Rivalry Like No Other Leading To Glory And Gore
The choice for King Philippe, Queen Joan, William De Nogaret, Landry and Gawain were so on point! I even praise the casting for impeccable and impressive acting.
King Philippe’s austere facial traits and shorter height, rivalling Landry’s softer yet very masculine and tall muscular looks, were meant to have the viewer cheer for the Templar.
The rivalry between the two is brutal at times to pick sides due to the nature of the love story between Queen Joan and Landry. However, it doesn’t justify the cruel, torturous sadistic nature of King Philippe.
The hero’s journey chart is tested in this series, which is still underrated and ended much too soon.
* There was never an Iron Maiden in history built for torture and use!
8.2/10 is my rating!