The impact of the Crusade

The notion of Crusades is known as a long-term military and colonizing expedition of European feudal lords that took place at the end of XI and until the end of the XIII century. As a rule, the expedition had a religious character – the cross against the crescent, Christianity against Islam. The purpose of campaigns was officially considered as the liberation of Palestine from the infidels, and the return of the Christians of the Holy Sepulcher, which was the belief of Christians in Jerusalem. In fact, European feudal plundered eastern cities, conquered whole kingdoms, gained new feudal rent payers in the military campaigns.

Crusades were not without important consequences for all of Europe. The unfortunate result was the weakening of the eastern empire, giving the power of the Turks, as well as the deaths of countless people, skid Crusaders of Western Europe Eastern cruel punishment and gross superstition, persecution of the Jews. However, much more important was the investigation, beneficial for Europe. To the East and Islam, the Crusades were far from that value which belonged to them in the history of Europe: they had changed very little in the culture of Muslim peoples in their state and social order. Crusades undoubtedly had some influence (which, however, should not be exaggerated) on the political and social system of Western Europe: they contributed to a fall in its medieval forms.

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Numerous weakening of the baronial knightly class was a consequence of low tide knights to the East, which lasted continuously almost for two centuries, facilitated the royal power struggle with the remaining members of the homeland of the feudal aristocracy. Unprecedented hitherto development of commercial relations contributed to the enrichment and strengthening of the urban class, which in the Middle Ages was a mainstay of royal power and the enemy of the feudal lords. Then, the Crusades in some countries facilitated and accelerate the process of villains’ liberation from serfdom: villains exempted not only because of the care of the Holy Land, but also of the method of repayment of freedom from the barons, who were in need of money in the administration of a crusade, and therefore willing to engage in such transactions.

The crusades began in 1095, when Pope Urban delivered a sermon in with a direct call on Christians to go on a campaign to free the Holy Land and the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. The Muslims occupied precious relics at that time, but the pilgrims from Europe could visit them freely. Now, at the time of the coming of the new invaders, the Seljuk Turks, already threatening the capital Constantinople, the Pope’s speech was very impressive and timely in manner. The crowd of believers made a vow to go on a crusade against the infidels. Their battle cry was: “So God wants.” The participants currently sewed clothes on the crosses, that is why they were called “Crusaders”.

The first campaign was unsuccessful since its members were mostly poor and very poorly armed knights. 1096 was the year of reference of military campaigns. The troops were no longer similar to the first, they became better armed with a large number. In July of 1099, the crusaders took Jerusalem with a terrible massacre of Muslims and the seizure of land. These areas created two counties (Tripoli and Edessa) the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the principality of Antioch. There were Swordtails and Templars in the army of the Kingdom of Jerusalem – who were the knights of the military order. Representatives of all the groups on which the population was divided in the medieval West attended the crusade. Europe, from the largest down to the barons and the masses of simple villains; therefore the Crusades contributed to the rapprochement of all classes together, as well as the convergence of different European nationalities. Crusades for the first time joined in one case, all social classes and all the nations of Europe and awakened in them the consciousness of unity. On the other hand, resulting in close contact with various peoples of Western Europe, the Crusades helped them to understand their own national characteristics. Citing Western Christians into close contact with the lands and peoples of the East heterodox, the Crusades contributed to the weakening of tribal and religious prejudices. Close acquainted with the culture of the East, with the material environment, customs, and religion of Muslims, the Crusaders were accustomed to seeing in their own kind of people and began to appreciate and respect their opponents. The most important consequence of the Crusades was the cultural influence of the East to Western Europe. Very beneficial effects emerged for the first time from contact the East-West European culture with Byzantine and especially Muslim. Direct borrowing from the East, or phenomenon, which owes their origin to the influence of these borrowings and those new conditions, which then became Western Europe were found in all areas of material and spiritual life in the era of the Crusades.

Sailing reached unprecedented development during the Crusades: the majority of the Crusaders set off to the Holy Land by sea; the maritime same route was carried out almost all the extensive trade between Western Europe and the East. The main actors in this trade were Italian merchants of Venice, Genoa, Pisa, Amalfi and other cities. Lively trade relations brought to the West Europe a lot of money, and this, together with the development of trade, led to the decline of the West forms of natural economy and contributed to the economic upheaval that was seen at the end of the Middle Ages. Relations with the East brought a lot of useful products to the West, not known before, or ex rare and expensive. Now, these products began to bring in greater numbers, became cheaper and entered into general use. The following products appeared in this way from the East: carob tree, saffron, apricot, lemon, pistachio (own words for many of these plants – Arabic). Sugar began to be imported in large size, rice came into wide use. There were imported in significant number products of a highly developed eastern industry – paper matter, calico, muslin, expensive silk fabrics (satin, velvet), carpets, jewelry, paint and the like. Familiarity with these objects and with the process for their manufacture led to the development such industries in the West (in France those people, who produced carpets oriental patterns, were called “Saracens”). There were borrowed many items from the East: apparel and home comfort, which are in themselves the names of Arabic origin, some items of weapons (crossbow). A significant number of the eastern, mostly Arabic words entered the era of the Crusades in Western languages, usually indicated borrowing that was indicated by these words. Crusades introduced to Western nations science of Arabic and Greek people (such as Aristotle). Especially a lot of acquisitions were made during this time in geography: West closely acquainted with a number of countries, little known before; extensive development of trade relations with the East made it possible for Europeans to penetrate into such remote and little known then countries of Central Asia (journey of Plano Carpini, William of Rubruk, Marco Polo). Significant progress made then also mathematics, astronomy, natural sciences, medicine, linguistics, history. Some influence of the Byzantine and Muslim art was seen in European art from the era of the Crusades.

Such borrowing might be traced in the architecture (horseshoe arches and complex, in the form of a trefoil arch and spiky, flat roof), a sculpture (“arabesque” – the name refers to the borrowing from the Arabs), in art crafts. Crusades yielded a wealth of material to spiritual and secular poetry. Western poets developed strong acting on the imagination; they introduced the Europeans Treasure poetry of the East, a lot of poetic material, many new stories moved from the West. In general, the introduction of the Western nations with new countries, with other than in the West, political and social forms, with many new events and products, new forms of art, with other religious and scientific views extremely expanded mental horizons to Western peoples, showed them hitherto unprecedented breadth. The Western thought was the stand out of the rut in which the Catholic Church had held overall spiritual life, science, and art. The authority of the Roman Church was severely eroded by the failed aspirations and expectations, which led the church to the Crusades. The extensive development of trade and industry under the influence of the Crusades and through the Syrian Christians contributed to the economic prosperity of countries that took part in this movement and gave the space a variety of worldly interests, and this was even more undermined building medieval church and its ascetic ideals. West better acquainted with a new culture, making it accessible to the treasures of thought and art of the Greeks and Muslims, developing worldly tastes and views of the Crusades were preparing the so-called Renaissance, which chronologically directly adjacent to it and to a large extent have their effect. In this way, the Crusades indirectly contributed to the development of a new direction in the spiritual life of mankind and prepared, in part, the basis of a new European civilization. In addition, there was a growth of European trade: due to the fall of the Byzantine Empire the domination of Italian merchants started in the Mediterranean Sea.

Crusades as a military expedition ended in complete failure for the warlords. They had to leave almost all of the occupied territories. A number of reasons contributed to the fact that the European feudal lords had no desire to organize a new crusade. By the end of the XIII century, they completely changed the political situation in Europe. On the other hand, due to the growth of the productive forces and the further development of commodity-money relations, the knights could receive large revenues from their peasants. Moreover, the Middle East at this time, on the contrary, had already been plundered and depleted by the Crusaders. Then, in the XIII century. Mongol invasion from Central Asia to further worsened the situation in the Middle East, making it difficult to trade with India and China. Thus, the East had lost its former attracting power. The Crusades were no longer a tempting thing.

Yet, in spite of the military failure, the value of the Crusades to the development of Western Europe was very large. First, they helped European trade in the Mediterranean. As a result, they had crushed the monopoly of Arab and Byzantine merchants in the Middle East trade and established the hegemony of the Italian, French and South-Eastern Spanish towns. These cities were playing the role of intermediaries between the East and the rest of Europe. Trade links with Western Europe with the East acquired regular character during the Crusades. Levantine trade, as it was called in Europe, became a lively part of the economy of Western Europe. A number of goods brought from the East at the beginning of the Crusades had multiplied tenfold. Venice and Genoa particularly far penetrated the eastern half of the Mediterranean Sea up to the northern Black Sea coast, where they were founded numerous outlets. Next Crusades helped familiarize Europeans with the eastern industrial and agricultural machinery. Europeans had learned during this time many oriental techniques of textile and metallurgical production, dyeing business, perfume, cooking drugs and moved to Europe such valuable crops like buckwheat, saffron, rice, etc.

After the Crusades began the decline of feudal society in Europe, that is, the disintegration of the feudal foundations began. The outlook of the Europeans changed, who previously thought that the peoples of the East were the barbarians. However, experience had shown that they possessed a rich, strong culture, traits which they had adopted. Arab culture had been actively distributed in Europe after the hikes. The Crusades represented a serious blow to Europe’s economic situation, but the opening of new trade routes boosted the coffers. The Crusades led to the gradual and inevitable decline of the Byzantine Empire. After it ransacked, it was not able to recover from the blow, two centuries later the Muslims captured it. Italy had become a major trading power in the Mediterranean, it also contributed to the fall of the Byzantine Empire. Both sides: the Christian and the Muslim world lost a great deal, including human losses. Moreover, people were dying not only at war but also from diseases, including the plague. The position of the Catholic Church in society significantly deteriorated since people lost faith in it, and saw that the papacy was only interested in their own wallets. There appeared prerequisites for the reform (religious) movements in Europe – the emergence of Protestantism, humanism. The stereotype of hostility to the Muslim world was established in the Christian world.

Of course, the papacy in the XX century brought a profound apology for the Crusades to the Muslim world. Orient also had a great influence on the Europeans in terms of everyday life: the Europeans began to look more carefully at their bodies, faces, hair. It became fashionable and comfortable to take bath. A new addictive game, inscribed with the East appeared in the knights’ castles that was known as chess. Europeans because of communication with the East broadened their horizons considerably. They previously had no idea that there were cultural nations in the East. The crusades started with a religious character, though  many Western European feudal lords and merchants having acquainted with the life of the East, became more tolerant of other religions. Comparing their Christian faith with Islam, Europeans could come to some conclusions about the Christian religion itself, and especially about the idea of theocracy, which was so directly conducted by the  medieval Catholic Church just in the era of the Crusades.