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The Crusades Essay

The Crusades were a series of wars that were fought by Christians for religious cause, to obtain the Holy Land, and mainly attack upon infidels. “The Crusades began in 1095 after Seljuk Turks took control of Jerusalem and began restricting access to Christian pilgrims. Pope Urban II called for a Christian army to retake the city from its Muslim rulers” (BBC News). The crusades brought both positive and negative influence to the people, it also brought culture diffusion. People were considered barbaric in countries, people used brutal war-tactics, churches played an important role before, during, and after the Crusades, and it was considers a failure for the Europe. The crusades brought many major changes that affected in the way different cultures spread, mingle, grew, and change through the interaction of ideas. On the history of the civilization the Crusades influenced the wealth and power of the Catholic Church, political matters, and intellectual development.

The crusades also prompted the famous voyages of discovery. “It received stimulus from the voyages of exploration undertaken by England, Spain, and other nations to Africa, Asia, and the New World.” (www.britannica.com) Western Europe benefited from the economic as it got better. The trade increased as European ports were opened in the Middle East. A lot of the shipbuilding and navigational skills increased as people traveled out to seas. New age of exploration was setup due to travel expands. When crusaders returned from the crusades they brought back things that include architecture, herb and spices, and foods such as: sugar cane, lemons, apricots, plums, dates, rhubarb, almonds, shallots, and watermelons. The trade brought clothing materials like silk, cotton, linen, and velvet they also brought goods like pearls and ivory including rouge, henna, and glass mirrors. Town merchants benefited from the increase of trade and loaned money.

During this time many schools and universities were built around the monasteries. People had the opportunity to study liberal arts; they could earn special degrees in law, medicine, and theology. The down side of this was that women were not to attend or teach. For them it was important to take care of their house and their children. During the medieval era people in Europe and Muslim countries lived very different life. In Western Europe people primarily focus on the wealth, power, classes, and land. For them education didn’t really matter at the time, and they were satisfied with the current level of knowledge they had. Religious tolerance was another issue in Western Europe. People did not tolerate non-Christians. European had banned the non-Christians from Jerusalem. Western Europe had many reasons for wars. They protected lands from Muslim Turks, because Turks were overtaking Byzantine Empire and threatened its existence.

Due to this Pope sent crusaders to “rescue” the Byzantines and make behold to the Romans for getting them out of trouble. This was more like a religious piety, because the real purpose was to real the Great Schism and put the Eastern Church under the control of the Pope. They had many wars related to trade, and Holy Land. They protected trade routes and flow of the goods and they fought the Muslims for the Holy Land. Western Europe had a lot of church conflicts that were generally between the Roman Catholics and Byzantines. In 1064 the church split when Eastern Church refused to accept papal supremacy called the Great Schism. This cause many problems for both churches and the people. As for the Muslim countries, they were primarily focused on religion unlike Western Europe. Education was quite important in Muslim countries. They spent majority of their time learning and praying.

They built universities and vast libraries in major cities. Religious tolerances played an important role in Muslim countries. People were very tolerant of the Jews and Christians. They even allowed Jews to live in Jerusalem in relative peace. Muslims progressed in science, because they translated great works of ancient Greek done by great people like Aristotle. They used this great works to advance in math, physics, medicine, and other science. They developed great amount of medical literature, based on ancient scientists. Just like Western Europe, the Muslim countries had many reasons for wars. Their wars were mainly between the Shiite and Sunni. “Shiite believed that the true successors to the Prophet are the descendants, called Imams” (Ellis, Esler 311). The compromise group, which forms almost all of the Muslims in the world, is the Sunnis. “The Sunni believed that inspiration comes from the example of Muhammad as recorded by his early followers” (Ellis, Esler 311). The same reasons between Sunnis and Shiites lead to church conflicts. Muslims developed a lot of traveling methods.

Their maps were detailed; they reintroduced three merchant ships to Mediterranean. For them traveling far out to east introduced them to paper instead of parchment. They also allowed people to keep records and made copies of the Quran. During the Medieval Era Europe faced many problems. Corrupted churches were concern with the money, so they appointed church officials based on their ability to pay for the positions. In Muslim countries they were not concerned about thing being corrupted because it didn’t exist in the Islam culture. In Western Europe the feudal system was way far outdated. They had too much individual ruling, and they didn’t adapt to new commerce and trade opportunity. Europe was more concern about protecting their little world. On the other hand Muslims were making constant improvements in commerce and trade. In Europe as towns grew, towns’ people had to pay more taxes to the feudal lords and vassals.

As for the Muslim countries they didn’t have anything like that to worry about. As a result Europeans were more barbaric than the Muslims. Crusaders used many brutal war-tactics in attempted to justify those deeds. “Wherever their ideas came from, it was clear, that to the Franks, any engagement was to subdivide the army into a number of smaller units and to marshal them in the field in a prearranged order.” (www.umich.edu).This war tactic started a regimented order that was necessary when a battle began; this was to help the commander facilitate the control over the army. The crusader’s main military weapon was the mounted knight; this was a serious threat in any confrontation.

During the crusades the Church played a big role before, during, and after. The church was a big reason that started many crusades to gain the Holy Land. The church was very important during the middle Ages, because people believed that their souls were the most important things and being a Christian was the only way to save them. The church guided the people with baptism, confession, and absolution. The crusades represented a great power of the church. They took over the Holy Land and held it briefly. The churches was a counter to kings who wanted absolute power.


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