In modern day Europe, people fail to see the many impacts Islam has had on one of the most powerful continents in the western world. To see these impacts, we have to go back in history, from about 1000 C.E. to 1750 C.E. The impacts made by the Islamic world during this time have shaped Europe to the power house it is now.
Most of the political impact Islam made on Europe happened during the Crusades. The Crusades began in 1095 when Pope Urban II called for the nations in Europe in unite for one cause. Before Pope Urban’s calling, Europe was divided into civil wars, but he had called for a union. The Crusades were directed towards Muslims, concentrating on the city of Jerusalem. The Crusades brought power and recognition to the pope but as the Crusades became less successful, the pope lost this power and popularity. The Crusades also brought more power to the kings. Prior to the Crusades, the kings had little power because most of the land was owned by rich aristocrats who owned small armies. During battle, these aristocrats were killed without picking an heir. Because of the lack of an heir these aristocrats had, the land was given to the king, thus giving the kings more power.
Trade brought to the Christian world by the Islamic world boosted Europe’s economy greatly. Before the Crusades, trade in Europe was almost nonexistent, causing a negative impact on its economy. The Crusades, however, created a large influx of Muslim goods and luxuries. Want for these goods became very apparent with the rich giving the merchants the idea to create trade with the Islamic world. Preceding the 12th century, much of the Islamic and European trade was one sided, Islam exporting to Europe. However, during the 12th century, the major Islamic trading hub, Andalusia, helped Europe expand its exportation. Also, Muslims introduced and banking and credit system into Europe.
The cultural effect Islam had on Europe was very substantial considering the technological advancements made by the Islamic world at the time. Before 1400, the only schooling facilities in Europe were monasteries. The development of universities came to Europe when European scholars discovered Muslim translation of long-lost Greek and Roman scholarship. Not only did Islam help establish schooling in Europe but it also gave new technology to the Europeans. For example in mathematics. Prior to the Islamic influence, Europeans used cumbersome roman numerals. After 1150, the Hindu-Arabic numeral system was introduced to Europe. Arabic nummerals, with an additional character for zero, gradually became standard, aiding in the development of math. They also made advancements in medicine. The European way to treat infectious disease was based on superstition. After the 1300’s, medicinal knowledge developed on medical schools based on the Arabic medical encyclopedia. These advances paved the way for modern practices.
These impacts made in Europe by Islam also had an effect globally. Without the development of kings gaining more power, our government today would be completely different, as well as our social classes. This medieval trade to Europe from the Islamic world comes to today with the oil trade. The mathematical advancements made by Arabic Empires gave us our modern understanding of all types of math; same with medicine. These effects did not only impact Europe but the entire world, modern and historical.