The “Crusades” was a military campaign of Christians in Western Europe whose purpose is to reclaim the Holy Land from the Muslims. The Roman Catholic Church stimulated most of the support for the war, showing its intolerance to both Islam and Orthodox Christianity. Although religious in nature, the Crusades had become a bloody frenzy. Six military campaigns comprised the period, starting from the First Crusade in 1096, inspired by Pope Urban II, and ending in the Sixth Crusade in 1254, led by the king of France, King Louis IX.
To this day, the Crusades is still a controversial because of the military excesses during the battles. However, many outcomes came out of the movement: First, the European horizon expanded; second, the encounters with the different cultures promoted learning as well as commerce between different civilizations; third, as a result of the eastern influence, there was growth in western scholasticism and philosophy; and fourth, it sparked a dangerous concept adapted in monarchy and politics. Among the noted significance of the first crusades was the increased contacts between the Europeans and the Byzantines and Muslims.
During this time, the Byzantine was already beginning to decline and Islam was not as powerful as it once was, although still a formidable force. As regards the original intention of the Crusades, the Christians' success of having Jerusalem under their control never reached permanence. However, the first crusades effected the expansion of Europe, meaning it gained more strength than other competing civilizations did. Moreover, there became a balance of power between the Muslims and the Christians.
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During the First Crusade, supporters of the movement, such as those from Pisa and Genoa, sailed the Mediterranean Sea to bring help to Jerusalem. As a result, the sea was again reopened to western shipping, and, in turn, communication was reestablished between the east and west. Although at several points the Christians ruled over the Holy Land, Muslims were able to conquer it again in the 12th century. However, the Christians continued to hold power over the sea. Thus, the ports in the countries such as Levant in the border of the sea were under their control.
The number of commercial establishments grew rapidly in the ports of Syria and Egypt, and the Christians held autonomy over operations in the areas of Corsica, Sardinia, and Sicily, which were originally controlled by the Saracens (Riley-Smith 85). The sea routes were open for trade, allowing products of Asia to come in. In short, the Crusades opened the lines of communication and exchange of knowledge between the eastern and western civilizations through the trade. This made a significant contribution to the development of Europe in terms of both knowledge and economy.
Some of the practices of Muslim science, literature and philosophy, as well as medicine had found its way to Christian tradition (Riley-Smith 87). In time, the crusading movements were divided into two groups: the external Crusades and the internal Crusades. The former was directed mainly against Muslims, whereas the latter was a war against the perceived enemies of the Christian world. Unfortunately, the development of the internal Crusades enforced a violent thinking---that is, violence is sanctified in ideological pursuits.
The Crusades was originally a war to retrieve the Holy Land, but the concept of sanctified violence extended to the monarchy and the political sphere. What used to be the holy cause of defending the Church became a moral duty of defending the state (Riley-Smith 90). Indeed, the Crusades was a crucial moment in history, and one that people can learn from. That is, the good things that came out of it should be emulated, and its detrimental effects should serve as a warning to modern society. Works Cited Riley-Smith, Jonathan. “The First Crusade and the Idea of Crusading”. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1991. 85-96.
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