had spread along North Africa and up to the eastern and western fringes of the
Mediterranean world. The Crusades began in 1096 and ended in 1291 (some 200
years) with 8 major crusades and some minor ones.
Pop Urban II initiated them with the main intention of protecting Christianity and
recapturing Religious Holy Sites in Jerusalem from the control of the Muslim “infidels”.
However, there were mixed motives behind the crusades. The kings and feudal lords
saw crusading as a means for obtaining new lands and riches and the clergy found a
new dumping ground for troublemakers. Lastly, the Church would give remission of
penance for past sins and postponements of debts.
Before the crusades, the political structure was feudalistic and ruled by lords. The
average peasant had a small parcel of land, a small home with a thatched roof and dirt
floor, with major obligations to serve his lord in work and produce. Only about 10
percent of the people lived in towns.
The economy was mainly dependant on the agriculture which was in a very poor
state at best. Most of the European Continent was wilderness and what little farmland
existed was uncultivated and overcrowded. Entire royal courts moved from one manor
to another in their realm as the provisions ran out.
The manor on which peasants lived was designed to be self sufficient with no strong
central government; it provided a measure of security and justice and there was little
contact with the outside world. There was no currency and goods were exchanged
mainly by barter.
In contrast to feudal Europe; stood the eastern portion of the Roman Empire with...
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.... The first
crusade was successful by recapturing Jerusalem but short lived. At that time the
Muslims were preoccupied with an internal war among themselves and did not expect
an attack. The Muslims had better advantages on their side with wealth and larger
armies and better skilled warriors and were able to recapture Jerusalem and hold
back the Europeans through all the crusades. However; all was not a lost the overall
gains by the exposure to the Muslim and Hellenic cultures did make a significant impact
to Europe which has and is still in effect today.
Anne, Fremantle. Age of Faith. Ed. Norman P. Ross. Vol. I. New York: Time - Life Books, 1965. I vols.
Wallbank, Walter T. Civilization Past and Present. New YoRK: Scott, Forman and Company, 1949.
"CRUSADES" (Accessed 02/25/11) http://www.luc.edu/faculty/ldossey/crusadesoct21.htm
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