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The Crusades

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The Crusades

“The Crusades: series of wars by Western European Christians to recapture the Holy Land from the Muslims.” (Encarta “Crusades”) The Crusades first began in 1096 and ended in the late 13th century. The term Crusade originally meant that the European’s would use all their efforts to regain the power from the Muslims. They wanted to retake the city of Jerusalem, which was holy to Christians because that’s where the crucifixion of Jesus Christ occurred. Europeans later used it to allocate any military efforts against non-Christians. The Crusaders also created feudal states in the Near East. The Crusades played an important role of European expansion and colonialism. “They mark the first time Western Christendom undertook a military initiative far from home, the first time significant numbers left to carry their culture and religion abroad.”

(Encarta “Crusades”) In addition to the efforts in the East, the Crusading movement includes other wars against Muslims, pagans, and dissident Christians and the general expansion of Christian Europe. “Originally the object of the crusade was to help the Christian Churches in the East.”(Mayer, 9) “ Also on the agenda was the peace of God, i.e. the prohibition of feuding on certain days and the immunity of certain people, places, and things.”(Mayer, 8). Basically the Crusades were an expression of militant Christianity and European expansion. They combined religious interests with worldly and military views. Christians learned to live in different cultures; they also forced something of their own thoughts and beliefs on these cultures. The Crusades strongly affected the beliefs of people at the time, and to this day they are among the most famous chapters of medieval history.

The crusades began to stir up after the death of Charlemagne, king of the Franks, in 814. After his death Christian Europe was under attack and weak. “Magyars, nomadic people from Asia, pillaged eastern and central Europe until the 10th century.” (Encarta “Crusades”). Starting in the year 800, Viking raids interrupted life in northern Europe and even Mediterranean cities. But the greatest threat came from the forces of Islam. This was in consequence to Muhammad their notorious leader dying, in 632. “By the 8th century, Islamic forces had conquered North Africa, the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, and most of Spain.” (Mayer, 3...

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...Christian banner so far from home, given the contemporary conditions of transport and communication, was impressive.”(Encarta, “Crusades”). The most important effect of the Crusades was economic. The Italian cities prospered from the transport of Crusaders and replaced Byzantines and Muslims as merchant-traders in the Mediterranean. Trade passed through Italian hands to Western Europe with a tremendous profit. This power became the basis of economics in the Italian Renaissance. It also made powers such as the Atlantic like Spain and Portugal to seek trade through India and China. “Their efforts, through such explorers as Vasco da Gama and Christopher Columbus, helped to open most of the world to European trade dominance and colonization and to shift the center of commercial activity from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic.”(Encarta, “Crusades”).

Works Cited

Barker, Ernest. The Crusades: Books for Libraries Press. New York. 1923.

Krey, August C. The First Crusade: The accounts of Eye-Witnesses and Participants.

Princeton University Press. 1921

Mayer, Hans Eberhard. The Crusades: Second Edition. Oxford University Press. 1965

Microsoft Encarta encyclopedia 2004.
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