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September 23, 2019

A Story About One of History’s First P3 Projects

By Robert Alfert, Jr.

P3 Bulletin

Reprinted with permission from P3 Bulletin

Chastellet Castle and the Siege of Jacob’s Ford (1179 AD)

In this modern era of advanced project delivery methods, one might think that public-private partnerships (P3s) are a new thing. Currently it is the favored delivery method for many large-scale public works projects. And with the spate of new P3 legislation proliferating all over the country, and a cottage industry of consultants, law firms and organizations now hosting conferences on this seemingly novel approach for building, reaching the conclusion that P3 is innovative, cutting-edge, is understandable.

The reality is, in fact, P3 is not new. It has been used throughout history, modern and ancient, by the public sector to carry out major public works projects with private sector assistance.

This article is about the design-build-finance-operation-maintenance of Chastellet Castle during one of the greatest clashes in human history: the Crusades, the battle between the Christian and Muslim world in the late 11th century. The story involves the mysterious Knights Templar, a holy order of Christian Knights that ultimately became an international financial powerhouse, offering an array of financial services from lending, collections, letters of credit, and management, to basic banking. The Knights Templar, ironically enough, were among other things, P3 concessionaires.